Abandon Absolutes

Several years ago, my friend Mary LoVerde (Oprah favorite and author of The Invitation) gave me a gift.


She took a week to work with me to feng shui my home, and in doing so, feng shui'd my life.

You may be familiar with Maria Kondo’s book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.

That’s what Mary did for me. It was indeed a life-changing experience.

Here is just one of the metaphorical insights of those eye-opening days.

For anyone who knows me, it’s no surprise to learn I used to live neck-up. I lived in my brain, not my body. Material things didn’t matter much to me.

My bedroom faced Lake Audubon. Because it looked out on trees (not people’s houses) I didn’t have drapes on the windows so nothing obstructed my gaze outside.

Mary said, “Want to try some sheers on those windows?”

I stated rather unequivocally, ”Why? We can’t improve on Mother Nature.”

Mary smiled and said in her inimitably gentle way, “Well, let’s experiment. We can always take them back.”

So, we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond, my first trip ever to this domestic emporium.

I don’t know what came over me. I made my way to the curtain department, spied some diaphanous sheers with a delicate design, walked over, put my arms around them and said, “These.” We added some gold tassels, made some other purchases and headed home.

As soon as Mary put up the sheers, their sublime combination with the windows settled in my soul. I realized how RIGHT they were together.

What an epiphany. We can improve on Mother Nature. Water, trees and exquisite beauty weren’t an either/or … they were the best of BOTH worlds.

It made me wonder, “Where ELSE in my world was I making absolutes I should revisit? Where else had I reached unequivocal, either/or, right/wrong conclusions that were … wrong?”

One of the absolutes I decided to revisit was the promise I made to myself years ago to never read books in my genre.

This originated because of something that happened early in my career. A man came up to me after a Tongue Fu! workshop and said, “You must have read a lot of Tony Robbins. Your work is a lot like his.”

Maybe he meant it as a compliment, but it came across as if he thought I’d copied Tony’s work. I knew Tony (a little). He had been gracious enough to endorse myTongue Fu! book, and I could understand there might be some similarities in our approaches; but I certainly hadn’t ripped off his techniques and it bothered me that someone might think I had.

I realized I couldn’t control what other people thought; but I could be sure I wasn’t cribbing peers’ work by not reading their books. So, for years, I watchedCBS Sunday Morning, read newspapers and magazines and referenced people outside our industry; but was careful not to read peers’ work.

These last few months on my Year by the Water, I decided it was time to revisit that absolute. I started listening to and reading Elon Musk, Gloria Steinem, Cheryl Strayed, Mindy Kaling and Paulo Coehlo.

And, after the owner of the Stinson Beach book store recommended Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book EAT PRAY LOVE... MADE ME DO ITI found myself inspired by the stories of individuals who had been moved to make changes because her book inspired them to realize, “Life doesn’t have to look like this.”

I know I’m getting ahead of myself, and realize this may sound rather grandiose  because the first book YEAR BY THE WATER hasn’t even come out yet.

However, I hope that someday there will be a follow-up book called YEAR BY THE WATER ... MADE ME DO IT.

The good news is, I’m already hearing inspiring stories of people who have been motivated to jump off their aircraft carrier career and explore other parts of the ocean.

I’m already hearing what’s happened as a result of someone putting a date on the calendar.

I’m already hearing how people are leaving room for whimsputting themselves in their own story, and seeing life as an open (not empty) nest.

So, here’s my request.

If any of these posts resonate with you and inspire you to do something different – whether it’s to appreciate your freedom of movement or to not wait for work you love – will you let me know?

With your permission, I’ll share your story with other people following this adventure.

Maybe your story will be the one that strikes a chord.

Maybe your tale of how you were motivated to abandon an absolute will be the one that shows them life doesn’t have to look like this and they choose to change things up (I love that phrase).

I look forward to hearing from you – as do others.