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.
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.