In my lifetime, I can list many great achievements. If you want to know what they are, you can read my resume and my bio or talk to friends and family. But I will tell anyone who will listen that the absolute greatest thing I have ever accomplished was to quit smoking cigarettes. That’s right, I was a one pack a day smoker, a habit that caused me pain, shame, and fear. Even when I worked as a drug treatment counselor I was in the clutches of the most addictive drug there is, nicotine. At first, when I worked with adults, it was not too much of a problem for me. Most of my clients smoked. When I got a job working in a middle school with adolescents it became a big problem for me. I did not want to be an excuse for any of my clients to smoke. The bottom line was I was a role model for those kids. I wanted to quit but didn’t really think that I could so I did the next best thing. I would not smoke while I was working. So for 8 hours a day I did not have a cigarette. After a while I did not even crave cigarettes during that 8 hours. I continued this habit when I started working in a university setting, much for the same reason. Eventually, I was able to make the commitment to do whatever was necessary to become a nonsmoker. I will never forget that day. I decided to go for a long walk and have a talk with God. On that walk I proclaimed that I would do whatever he led me to do and begged him to help me give up this terrible and dangerous addiction. On July 22, 2002 I experienced my first day as a nonsmoker. I have not had a cigarette since that day. It was a process that took a while and it was very tough but I did it. If you are interested in the details, email or message me, I would be happy to share. I image that some of you are thinking, “Dr. Lori, sure it is great to quit smoking but out of every thing you have done why would you consider it your GREATEST accomplishment?” It is (and probably always will be) the utmost triumph to me because it had such a positive domino effect in my life. When I quit smoking I realized that I could do anything and that paved the way for every victory I have enjoyed since then.
When I saw the poem below featured in Dr. Natalie Francisco’s book I’m Just Saying. I knew I had to use it. The poem’s author, Edger A. Guest used the word he in the original version. I could not resist changing it to she. This poem reminds me so much of my own experiences that I need to share it with others who may be having the same experience.
Somebody Said It Couldn’t Be Done
By Edger A. Guest
Somebody said it couldn’t be done,
But she with a chuckle replied
That maybe it couldn’t but she would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till she tried.
She waded right in with a trace of a grin
On her face, if she worried, she did it.
She started to sing as she tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done—and she did it.
Somebody said, “Oh, you’ll never do that,
At least no one ever has done it.”
But she took off her coat and she took off her hat:
And the first thing we know she’d begun it.
With a lift of the chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quit it,
She started to sing as she tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done—and she did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure.
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a lift of the chin,
Take off your coat and do it.
Starting to sing as you tackle the thing
That cannot be done—and you’ll do it.
The tagline of Nova Southeastern University’s Fischler School of Education is “Cause An Effect.” I love the graphic. It is a drop of water entering a still pond and the ripples appear to go on indefinitely. Words cannot describe my pride in being an alumna of the doctoral program in organizational leadership. I will never forget the first time the words cause an effect became real for me; the first time I genuinely felt the ripple. It was at graduation and a list of the countries represented in the graduating class was being read. When I looked around in that huge auditorium at the hundreds of people receiving masters and doctoral degrees, the picture of the drop in the still pond came to my mind. When I remembered that graphic, I had two thoughts. The first was “I am here among this amazing and exclusive group of scholars and educators who will touch millions of lives.” The second was “all of those small-minded, envious people I have encountered who tried to place obstacles in my path were not able to stop me. It was an experience that was so emotionally empowering that I had goose pimples. I will never forget it. While I was in school I just moved from one thing to the next, not thinking too far ahead but now I was finished. I had already started causing my effect, two months prior to graduation I had begun teaching in South University, Virginia Beach’s Masters level clinical mental health counseling program. I had trained graduate interns for years, now I was taking my knowledge, wisdom and experience into the classroom. This was my passion and my legacy. When I look into the faces of my amazing graduate students, I realize that I am touching their lives, the lives of their families, as well as the lives of their clients and their families. Can you see the ripple? Each of us has the power to cause an effect. It is up to you to decide if the ripple you create is positive and productive or negative and destructive. I have chosen to create a positive ripple in every life I encounter. What is your choice?
I am a firm believer in taking care of your inner child. It may be my background as a mental health clinician. Making sure the child in you feels loved and safe is something I stress to both my clients and the graduate-level counseling students I teach. The child that we once were is still with all of us, and, yes that means YOU! If you don’t think you have an inner child you are seriously out of touch and you really need to read this post. Your inner child is the person you were from birth through adolescence. She/he is part of the reason you still love, video games, Disneyworld, action figures, stuffed animals or milky ways (even if you don’t eat them). She/he may also be the part of you that carries old hurts and fears; those experiences that still affect you as an adult. Getting over childhood ordeals does not involve getting rid of the child within you. It involves reassuring that child that you (the adult) will love and protect him/her no matter what happened before. That little one in you should not be hidden and denied. In fact, every so often she or he should be indulged. It could be something as small as having some cotton candy or as big as going to Disneyworld for a week without kids. One of the ways I indulge my little one is to fly my kite. I’m a city girl. I grew up in Brooklyn NY where many of the trees grew out of concrete. Flying a kite was kind of difficult with the streetlights, street signs, cars buildings, people etc. As a result I had never flown a kite and, until a few years ago, was something I had always wanted to do. About four years ago I walked into a store that specialized in kites, told the owner I had never flown a kite so I needed an easy one and that I loved butterflies. After choosing one of the 4 available butterflies and a brief lesson I was off. It was exhilarating and calming at the same time. Getting the kite up was a rush and focusing on it in the air was relaxing. The little girl in me had a ball! Now every spring no matter how busy I am, my little one and I go to the beach and take our butterfly for a flight. By the way the photograph in this post is my kite.
Anyone who has ever traveled understands the value of packing lightly. I learned early that whatever I pack I must carry at some point. Dr. Tim Elmore, author of Habitudes: Images that form leadership habits & attitudes, refers to four images we have of ourselves. Dr. Elmore considers three of those images excess baggage. The four images are:
- The image others have of us
- The image we project to others
- The image we have of ourselves
- The true image of us; who we really are.