Wednesday, September 14, 2005

When the Tiara Slips

Queen Me Speaks ...

Adolescence was a painful time for me. As evidenced by an excerpt from Grab the Queen Power, not only did I lose my footing, I lost the very foundation of my strength. The solid ground I stood on when eight and nine eroded under my feet and pushed me off balance.

By 9th grade the new game consumed me. I was moving into the world of where boys and girls were different species, and girls were different from the children they had been. Always a great strategist, it didn’t take me long to figure out the rules, all with one intent—fit in. To be what my friends thought I should be. To never be, perish the thought, different. I didn’t even have to make a conscious choice about whether to play or not. I already knew to be loved and accepted I had to follow the rules. So I looked and listened, and with each new tidbit of information, I deleted some aspect of myself that was as wrong as my shoes.

I picked up my mask. I left behind the little girl who knew what she wanted, and became somebody I didn’t know. If you had asked me what was happening to me, I couldn’t have told you. I could barely comprehend the turmoil seething
in me, or the shame when all of my choices seem destined to fail someone—my parents, or my friends, or the person I had been up until then.

At age fourteen I had essentially fallen asleep, like the sleeping princess Briar Rose in Grimm’s fairy tale. I had become the Princess seeking rescue and all the while trying with every piece of myself to go away—slip away in a deep, deep sleep. Once Briar Rose pricked her finger and the spell was cast on everyone within the castle, outside a great barricade of thorns sprang up, keeping all rescuers away. For me life was filled with thorns. To feel was painful. To love was painful. To need something from others was painful.

To be was painful.

Studies conducted by Harvard professor Carol Gilligan and Colby College professor Lyn Mikel Brown from 1986 to 1990 have revealed that something truly phenomenal happens to girls around adolescence. They undergo a gradual change in which they lose their feisty spirit, courage and willingness to speak out—qualities they had known in girlhood. Around this time their truth becomes silenced, held back. They become afraid of conflicts with males, because they know on some level that males hold the power. They become—perhaps forever—good little girls, settling into the clichés and limits imposed on their gender. So sleep begins.
—Sue Monk Kidd

Ah yes, I’m not the only one who struggled. Unfortunately, it’s more likely you’ll have a hard time finding the ones that didn’t. While reading School Girls by Peggy Orenstein, I again was reminded that maybe I have more healing to do. Maybe I have more to remember and to process before I am able to truly release and let go and ultimately help my daughter—a daughter nearing the crossroads. In the introduction, Peggy shared her experience.

She started by telling readers that there’s a completely different book she could write. “It would be about how, in spite of all of our success, in spite of the fact that we have attained the superficial ideal of womanhood held out to our generation, we feel unsure, insecure, inadequate.”

She further explains that her previous tendencies had been to use the “stick-your-head-in-the-sand” approach. Despite working with adolescents on a daily basis, she at first resisted thinking about her own experiences and intentionally did not examine the past. A little later in her narration she shared, “I wouldn’t look through it at thirteen, when I lowered my hand in math class, never to raise it again, out of a sudden fear that I might answer incorrectly and be humiliated. I wouldn’t look through it at sixteen when I winnowed forty pounds from my body, refusing food and binging on laxatives, eventually losing the ability to eat at all. I wouldn’t see it when I declined to try out for my college newspaper, even though I dreamed of becoming a journalist. Nor would I see it at twenty-one, when I became paralyzed during the writing of my senior thesis, convinced that my fraudulence was about to be unmasked. Back then, I went to my advisor and told her of the fears that were choking me.”

Her advisor, it turns out, gave a halfway decent answer—an answer that allowed her to move forward instead of backwards. The advisor said, “Don’t worry about it. All smart women feel that way.”

Ouch! Really? Is that the truth? It worked for Peggy. She accepted that piece of advice and continued on … completing her thesis and then by building a successful career in journalism. Peggy, turns out, worked through her pain and became successful despite it. Hey, that’s my story—and yep, it’s also the story of so many others.

Something stinks and it has been stinking for a long, long time. Our daughters, granddaughters, and all the girls we know who are on the verge of meeting themselves at the crossroads—the place where the transition from girl to woman begins—need our help and guidance. As mentioned in Grab the Queen Power…we can offer them assistance by first helping ourselves—by first remembering, forgiving, and then forgetting the pain.

From Grab the Queen Power:

Within us all is the power to shape and alter our culture and it is important that we do that while keeping in mind the desired result—finding the conditions under which most women flower and grow while providing the tools to become powerful, loving and spirited women …


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Am I Okay?

Queen Me shares ...

The same questions follow every woman through girlhood and adolescence: Can I really do this? Will I get it right? Am I okay?

—Oprah Winfrey

Actually, I didn’t even know if I would make it to the other side (adulthood). And if I did make it, who would I be? Would I like the person that emerged on the opposite shore?

While researching for my upcoming book tentatively titled Raising Up Queens, I read the work of Lyn Mikel Brown and Carol Gilligan. In Meeting at the Crossroads, Brown, Gilligan and collaborators followed girls as they transitioned from ages 8 and 9 to fourteen or so. Not surprisingly, their words described my experience—the experience I wrote about in Grab the Queen Power: Live Your Best Life! Although sometimes explained in clinical speak while using words like “disassociate” or “relational crisis,” the girls they studied described me. If it described me, then it probably described you too.

Neeti, a girl featured in the book, transitioned from being an outspoken twelve-year-old girl to an ‘underground woman’—a woman who covered up her feelings to protect herself and to avoid hurting others. Each year, the researchers observed Neeti adapt and change, disassociate and remove herself from relationships. According to the authors, “She (Neeti) described this move in vivid detail and was aware of leading a double life—knowing and yet pretending not to know what she really felt and what was really happening in her relationships.”

Another ‘problem’ adolescent girls seem to face more than their male peers, is the need to be perfect or play the good girl role.

Interestingly, Neetie understood that she was not perfect and that being perfect was an unattainable goal even though her comments to interviewers told a different story. Another subject Liza, at age fifteen, asked the therapists: “I would just like to know from you as a psychologists or people with that kind of degree, is there such a thing as a person who is not necessarily perfect but who has everything together all the time? Not appears to be, just does mentally, psychologically? Is there such a person? Is that possible?”

Of course, it’s not possible. Of course not! But how many of us spent so much of our lives trying to be the perfect girl? The good girl? Why did we expend the energy? And whom were we trying to please?

At the end of the study, female teachers at the Laurel School, the school the girls attended, had to ask themselves difficult questions. Led by Patricia L. Hall, psychologist and former Dean of Students for the school, the women attended three retreats to address the problems presented by the study. Patricia shared with researchers:

“It was first with a sense of shock and then a deep, knowing sadness that we listened to the voices of the girls tell us that it was the adult women in their lives that provided the models for silencing themselves and behaving like ‘good little girls.’” And after processing their ‘sadness’ and ‘remorse,’ the women realized something important. “Unless we, as grown women, were willing to give up all the ‘good little girl’ things we continued to do and give up our expectation that the girls in our charge would be as good as we were, we could not successfully empower young women to act on their own knowledge and feelings. Unless we stopped hiding in our expectations of goodness and control, our behavior would silence any words to girls about speaking in their own voice.”

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. It’s really true! We must start with ourselves first before we can help our girls. Oh my. I tell you that I’m not playing the ‘good little girl’ role anymore. At least, compared to how I used to play it, I’m not. But still there’s a small voice that whispers to me, “You are still playing.” And the voice also whispers that the eyes of a very impressionable eight-year-old daughter are watching, learning.

Being angry or experiencing discord still feels wrong or bad. I don’t like it. I’m not comfortable expressing my truest feelings to others, especially if they hurt someone’s feelings or make someone mad. Good girls don’t act out. Good girls don’t say things that will be hurtful to others or make others mad. They don't say what they really mean. They don’t. They simply don’t. I don’t.

So for me, it’s about coming to grips with myself each and every day. By doing so, I will help my daughter navigate adolescence—what Mary Pipher refers to as a hurricane for unsuspecting girls.

Most girls recover from adolescence. It’s not a fatal disease, but an acute condition that disappears with time. While it’s happening…nobody looks strong. From the vantage point of high school, strong girls can tell their stories, but in junior high, they have no perspective. It’s impossible to have much perspective in a hurricane.
—Mary Pipher

To change the course for our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, or girls in general, we must fully come to grips with ourselves. We must recognize where we are still falling under a spell. As Brown and Gilligan tell us: “Women have to experience the present as different from the past—to feel that now we are not without power or all alone.”

Okay, I’m listening.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Wynonna Judd Way (Weigh)

Queen Me shares ...

I was reading a magazine yesterday—Good Housekeeping—and it featured an interview with Wynonna Judd. Seeing the feature, I purchased the magazine at the grocery store. You see I happened to see the Oprah show where Wynonna shared her agony, shame, and frustration over her weight. And then (sorry Oprah), I missed the follow-up show. So, I never KNEW what happened. Did she lose weight? What?

Oh joy! This magazine had the answers. Yes, she lost weight. She claims about 20 pounds. Wynonna wants to lose more, but isn't stressing about it (she swears). Instead she's attempting to live a healthy life—by making better choices and getting to the bottom of her 'emotional' eating habits. So, good for Wynonna. You go girl! I wish you the best.

Now, what about me? Wah! This excess weight issue has plagued me since 8th grade. Sad, huh? And just like Caroline Knapp (remember last week’s blog?)—until nine years ago—my views were warped! In 2005, my views are no longer warped. It’s reality. I need to shed some weight.

So what happened nine years ago? Yep, I got pregnant. Pre-pregnancy, I worked out regularly. Although not completely happy with my physical appearance at the time, for the most part, I felt comfortable in my own skin.

Now, I don’t. Yuck. It all started because I found this book titled: Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy. Darn it! I believed the author when she said, “Girlfriend. Stop exercising! Don’t worry about it. Hey, I’m your girlfriend and I’ve had five babies. I know what I’m talking about. As soon as you get that little baby out of you, you can return to exercise. Really. I mean it.” That day I stopped. And I never “returned to it” like she promised I would. Sorry, girlfriend, but buying your book destroyed my life. Well, okay, so I’m exaggerating a little.

After dropping my fifteen-year-old exercise habit, I couldn’t find my way back to it. Oh, not too long ago I picked up tennis again. And, well, that most certainly helped a little. But playing tennis two to three times a week (or less) will not do anything for weight loss or maintenance efforts. I know. I’ve tried it for five years!

Did I tell you I threw out my scales last month? I decided ... NO MORE. Actually, my dearly departed scales stopped working. Don't laugh; I never owned the digital kind. Ha! It had actually reached the point where I could trick myself and adjust the setting a little. “See, I still weigh what I did last week. See?”

But at the moment I stepped on my broken-down scales, I had an epiphany. And girlfriend here’s what You should have been telling me nine years ago. Why weigh? Who cares what you weigh? Weighing makes NO sense. None.

Let’s get real. When you try on your clothes in the morning, aren’t you more concerned with how they fit? Weight is such an arbitrary thing. Line up three women weighing 165 pounds and you’ll have a range of sizes (height, width, muscle mass). It makes much more sense to focus on the size you are comfortable wearing. Doesn’t it?

So when did I most enjoyed wearing clothes? Yep, that would be nine years ago—and two sizes smaller than I am now. My scale had no way of telling me what size I felt comfortable wearing. So, I chunked it and swore NOT to replace it. And I haven't. The only obstacle left to face is at the doctor's office! Well, look out Doc! I'm going to throw a fit if you insist that I weigh. I started playing tough about three years ago (at the doctor’s office). But it was all talk. Never have I refused to weigh even though I practiced refusing all the way to the weigh-in checkpoint. Why did a doctor’s scale bother me more than my own scale? Are you kidding me? The doctor’s scale lies! Always! The doctor’s scale added five to seven pounds to my frame. Well, I’m not playing anymore—not this time sisters. I don’t do scales anymore. And Doc, if you want to know how I’m doing weight wise, then ask what size clothes I wear—see if I’m wearing the same size I did last year. Heck, check the label when I’m not looking if you have to.

Now, just so you know, this tale does have a happy ending. Well, at least I’m heading towards one. Obviously, I still wear a size I don’t like. So, what am I doing about it? Besides playing tennis one to three times weekly, I’ve added walking to my routine. Lordy, why didn’t I think of this sooner? It’s so easy to do. Cheap too. I can’t tell you why I suddenly decided to do something more, but I did. I’m ready to take charge and make changes. Those changes involve regular exercise and attention to what I’m eating. Dieting doesn’t work for me. It makes me mad and angry. I feel deprived and frustrated. Funny, that I did something on and off for nine years that made me feel bad. Anyway, I’m not dieting. Instead I’m focusing on making healthier choices—like Wynonna. There is nothing off limits—just a time and a place and a portion.

I have no idea if I’ll ever return to my previous size. This time I’m not making myself empty promises. What I am promising myself is that I’ll be in better shape and health. And that’s a promise I’m planning to keep.

While reading the article about Wynonna, I had to laugh. Turns out Wynonna chunked her scale too. She wants to start a scale-chunking movement. I like this woman. Mine is already gone. What about yours? Join me! We are sisters. We are Queens! We are scale-less. Come on. Why wait? Throw that sucker away.
It feels too good!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Beyond Bad Hair

Queen Me shares ...

I love to walk into a bookstore and then wait for a book to find me. And you know, 'it' always does.

On this particular trip with hubby and daughter in tow, a book titled The Merry Recluse caught my attention. The book is a compilation of mostly reprints from a weekly column written by the late Carolyn Knapp in the Boston Phoenix. I first experienced Caroline's work when I read Appetites: Why Women Want. Caroline, like Anne Lamont of Traveling Mercies (another favorite author) shares openly the chapters of her life. I mean, she tells it all—good, bad and the ugly, and everything in-between. Caroline had so many demons, but the ones that tormented her the most were food and alcohol. Eventually, Caroline died of cancer in 2002. She was only 42 years old.

The other day, one essay grabbed my attention. Actually, she intended to make us laugh with this one. But as I read it, I wasn't laughing because I could see pain in those words—for me, for her, and for so many women. In “Beyond Bad Hair: Thin Lips, Square Breasts, and Other Horrors” Caroline shares the things that plague most women. She claims having a bad hair day is the least of our worries.

The introduction to this article centers on her weight. On this day, she felt LARGE. Although I certainly can sympathize with her ramblings—heck, I've had plenty of LARGE days myself (as recent as this week)—I can't take her views on weight seriously. This woman weighed less than 110 pounds at her heaviest and thought people who ate corn on the cob were gross. What’s the matter with corn on the cob? I love corn on the cob! And as I muttered under my breath about Caroline's perception of her weight, I knew that I owned her problem (even if in a smaller way). Oh, I have sooooo many feeling LARGE days and even though I could be thinner (YES!), they are mostly unjustified.

She shared plenty of other examples with us:

*Why-are-these-pants-pinching-me-around-the-waist Day. (Been there, done that.)
*My-lips-are-too-thin Day. (Can’t say that I own that one.)
*Since-when-have-my-pores-been-so-cavernous Day. (Oh, yes … definitely been there.)

Although I don't have all the same thoughts or moments, I do understand what she's saying. And I bet that most women reading her book, or this blog, do too.

My recent beyond-bad-hair-day moments go something like this...

*Oh-no-this-is-a-face-swollen-eyes-puffy-morning Day
*My-shorts-fit-tighter-today-than-yesterday Day
*Where-did-those-new-wrinkles-come-from Day
*Oh-my-I-now-have-gray-hair-growing-on-my-arms Day (That happened yesterday.)

Probably the one that did make me laugh was Caroline’s mention of the: Oh-no-I-missed-a-patch-of-hair-on-my-knee Day. Okay, so I seem to have more of those days than I care to mention. Yikes!

And then it slaps me right in the face ... and Caroline has the perfect ending to it all. "God, it's hard to be a girl!" Amen, Caroline. Amen.

It is hard to be a girl. I'm ready to play another game now. So here's to trying especially hard to put this beyond-bad-hair thinking to rest. Really, I'm not listening anymore. Of course, as I process this and think about it all, I realize that all these thoughts go back to the lesson I’m still obviously working on—ditching my attachment to the opinion of others. Reading about Caroline’s addictions, I realize that in some shape or form my inability to not care what others think is also debilitating. It’s an emotional addiction and one I am determined to break.

Yep, it’s hard to be a girl, but today it just got a whole lot easier. And I’ll be the first to admit I’m SO not there yet, but baby, I’m getting closer with each passing day. Now, that’s something to celebrate.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Goodbye Old Tapes

Queen Me shares …

Okay, so I’ve pretty much given up worrying about the opinions of others. Right? Hmmmmm. Yes, last week I had a few tests and passed with flying colors. But then, I had a visitor. The visitor came to my house. The visitor was kind, loving, and warm. The visitor, I perceived, accepted me without judgment.

But still those old tapes played. And still, I attempted to interpret how she ‘thought’ of me. Oh my, that little voice spoke to me throughout the visit, continually reminding me that she might be judging me and it was my job to make sure she liked me. And darn it, I played along too. I didn’t realize what I had done until she left. Yikes! Ouch! And then it really hit me. Dang it. I’m not ‘over’ this. Who cares if she thought I took care of my dogs correctly? Or loved them enough? Who cares if she didn’t like that I drank diet coke? Who cares if she didn’t like that my daughter watched TV while we talked? Who cares? Who cares? At the moment, I did. Wah. And here’s what I must ask myself. Why?

Of course, I had to consider something else too. Who am I to presume that I could read her mind? Really? Who am I to believe that I could actually ‘perceive’ what she needed, wanted, or expected from me unless she expressed it? I bet if I asked this woman what she really thought, she’d give a completely different perspective. Hey, maybe she focused on the color of my walls. Hated them. Liked them. Or, maybe she thought my dogs were very lucky. Heck, maybe I even guessed right the first time. Maybe I really am psychic about these things? Or, maybe I’m lucky?

It doesn’t matter. It simply doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are all okay, as we are at the moment. Here’s my new announcement. Take me or leave me. This pleasant woman and I might continue to communicate and we might not. Who cares? If it serves us both, we will.

Now, I ‘see’ something. So I feel compelled to attempt another transformation. I will work to tune out the voice that harps in my ear about what someone likes or doesn’t like. I will make a concerted effort to create new tapes. I hereby pledge to trust that I am okay even if I’m second-guessing myself. I pledge to accept and believe that I am magnificent just as I am. Hmmmmm. I’m feeling the need to celebrate.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

What People Have Known Since Time Began

Queen Me shares ...

I’m not sure how many of you know this, but I’m researching another topic. Yep, there’s a second book in the making here. This book will be written for the parents of adolescent girls. So now I’m delving into all the books that will help me ‘come to grips’ with guiding a healthy adolescent to the best years of her life.

As I walked up and down the aisles at Hastings recently, a book grabbed my attention. The book, Letters to a Young Therapist, was written by Mary Pipher, author of the bestselling book Reviving Ophelia. Reviving Ophelia informed us about ‘American’s girl-poisoning culture’ and made a significant impact in the field.

Going along with my belief that our culture does more harm than good, I immediately found Mary’s words resonating:

“I have always viewed mental health problems as related to the broader environment. Depression, anxiety, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse, not to mention hyperactive children and eating disorders, arise from our deeply dysfunctional culture.”

She continues along by adding, “How can we expect people to be happy when they don’t know their neighbors, see their extended families, or have time for naps on Sunday afternoons … Our culture makes us sick, physically and emotionally.”

She reasons that therapists and those in the helping fields have basically ignored how our culture impacts us negatively. Pipher mentions “meaningless jobs, long commutes, sterile suburbs and fears of poverty, war, violence and environmental catastrophes.” And she says we continue to overlook “what people have known since time began: Life makes most of us unhappy.”


So how do we fix it? Do we have answers? Too many of us struggle with one or more of the symptoms mentioned by Mary.

But as we seek and search, we begin to find answers to the mystery. We begin to unplug from our culture and create our own space to grow and prosper. There’s no magic pill or formula and it usually takes work—lessons to learn, life to live.

Maybe the most important thing to realize is that you are not alone in your struggles. If ‘life makes most of us unhappy,’ then you are in good company. Seek those who seem to be happy despite life and you’ll start finding your answers.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Trying to Let Go!

Queen Me shares ...

Just so you'll know what I'm about to talk about, I'm repeating something I wrote in the July 20th issue of the Queen-zine. If you read this essay last week, then skip down to the heading in purple.

Queen-zine, July 20th, 2005
I have a question for you: What does it feel like to not worry or fret about the opinion of others? In Grab the Queen Power, I encourage you to stop this practice. Personally, I've been working on it for years. Do you want to know if I have completely mastered it? Nope. Nada. NO! As hard as I try, I still find myself giving others the power to influence how I feel.

Recently, I had yet another opportunity to try to get to the bottom of this—meaning, someone had an opinion and, well, let's just say, they felt compelled to share not-so-nice things.

Okay, so here's what I did. I fretted and worried. Oh dear, that's not how I had planned to handle the situation. Then it hit me. I didn't know what that felt like—you know, not caring what other people think. Yep, intellectually I got it. Sure. But to practice it. To live it. I really didn't know.

So then, I thought about the times I really didn't care. Typically, the opinions of a complete stranger or those who love me the most don't hurt me as much. I throw in the "one's that love me the most" because we're on safe ground. They might not like something or express a negative, but basically I’m not worried about damaging the relationship. I'm most impacted when it involves a personal attack from friends, other family members, or someone who knows someone. Typically it's something that involves pride and/or the opinion I hold of myself. You know, your reputation. Lordy, that bag holding my reputation is really heavy to pull around sometimes. Well, slap me silly now. It also has to do with wanting so badly to play the "good girl" part. Oh, am I really still wrestling with this?

While having this conversation with myself, it dawned on me that I do know what it feels like to not care about the opinions of others. It feels light, airy. It feels good. As I continue to shed the part of me that cares, I am beginning to understand more fully that your reputation is what Wayne Dyer said in his book The Power of Intention: “Your reputation is not located in you. It resides in the minds of others.” He goes on to tell us that we have no control over the mind of someone else. What they think is what they think. Dr. Dyer explains further, “Leave your reputation for others to debate; it has nothing to do with you.” Sounds like I can drop that heavy old wornout bag now.

I'm ready to believe this. I am ready to feel this. I am ready to live this. While driving from Mississippi back to Oklahoma, my daughter and I chatted about many things. I decided to ask her thoughts on the issue and said, "Addy how do you not worry about the opinion of others?" Although I haven't been able to fully participate in this concept, something has worked for Addy. She doesn't have this problem. Whew! So here's what my wise eight-year-old daughter told me, "Mom, that's easy. Find something bigger and better to think about." And to think, my attempts seemed so complicated!

Okay, Addy. Your way is now my way. Promise.

You’ll find no shortage of opinions directed at you. If you allow them to undermine your self-respect, you’re seeking the respect of others over your own, then you’re abdicating (handing over) yourself. —Wayne Dyer

I know Wayne. I hear you too. I'm ready. Universe, bring it on!

Now, for what's left to say.

Once you put stuff out there like this, you know proclaim that you are completely cured of what ails you ... don't you expect to be tested? Sure you do. And I did. But I purposely ignored my tendency to fret about it and as the days grew into a week, I realized that maybe I really am residing in a new place. What I thought would bother me (my tempest in a teapot) did not. Everytime I thought about that irksome situation, I could quickly divert my attention. I, without much effort, could let it go. What was happening outside myself really wasn't impacting me.

The old Allyn would have been very bothered by this. VERY bothered! Oh no, what will the neighbors think? (I'm using 'the neighbors' figuratively here and actually mean all those people I care about.) But the new, improved me (okay, so I've improved this aspect ... so many more improvements to go:) is okay about it. Really. Breathing deeply, I can say to myself: "Yep, it's okay. It's how things were supposed to happen. If it's not your lesson anymore, maybe it's someone else's lesson." Whew! What a relief. Someone or even a group of people have an opinion and that opinion does not impact me.

In Barbara Bellismo's book, Become Your Own Great and Powerful (, she shares a dream told by D. Kay Malone. Kay describes herself a 'recovering lawyer' who now uses her many talents to transform ordinary nonprofits into viable operations. Kay (the recovering lawyer) shared a dream to make a point about a major transition in her life. In the dream, Kay is an alien searching for villians who destroyed a mining outpost. At a key point in the dream, Kay (the alien) turns to her traveling companion and says, "I'll just be a few minutes, there's something I have to do." She disappears and after struggling and making some pretty weird noises, she suddenly reappears. Her companion sees her toss aside a bundle of something and asks her what it was.

Kay replies: "My old skin."

Wait, hold on a minute before I make my closing point, there's something I must go do.

Okay, I'm back. Well, alrighty! I feel so much better, and yes, free. This new skin feels comfortable. And as Kay (the recovering lawyer) shared with us in the book: "It felt good to shed my skin. I made a promise to myself to do it regularly for the rest of my life."

Me too, Kay. Me too.

Now back to my daughter's advice ... Yep, I'm off to think about bigger and better things.