Woman of the Week: Laura

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1:  If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?

Chelsea Handler said something that really resonated with me, "Laugh loudly, laugh often and most importantly, laugh at yourself".  I'd like a giant billboard that reminded us how important it is to make laughter a part of every day life.  I love to laugh!  People in general need to laugh more often.    I believe that laughing is good for your health, great for your soul and maintaining healthy relationships.  My ex-husband once complained that I was "too easily entertained".  I told him I considered that a gift!  (Sidebar, he did not have much of a sense of humor and rarely laughed)

2:  In the last five years what have you become better at saying no to?

For most of my adult life, I have been the Volunteer Queen.  Having three children brings plenty of opportunities to volunteer:  Brownie Leader, Girl Scout Leader, Soccer Coach, Assistant Baseball Coach, Carpool,Team Parent, Classroom Parent, PTA Secretary, Reading Volunteer, etc.  But there is also work related committees, and community volunteering.  The word No was simply not a part of my vocabulary.  Quite often I allowed myself to both volunteer and be volunteered to the point of physical and emotional exhaustion.  I still volunteer, but have learned to say NO as often as I need to to keep my life balanced. 

3:  What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the "real world"?

My advice would be to soak it all in. Every experience, every opportunity whether positive or negative outcome.  Each is an opportunity to learn, to grow.  Do not quit, give in or give up just because things get tough.  Don't be afraid to make mistakes.  Sometimes the best thing that can happen to you is to make a mistake. It is a great big world, and it is yours to conquer.  Remember to see the humor and laugh often. Have fun storming the castle!

4:  What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you've ever made?  (it doesn't need be financial in nature)

Hands down, the best investment I have ever made is time with my children.  First as a parent, cheerleader, counselor, teacher and support.  Then as they grew to be the fabulous adults that they are now, their friend.  There is not a better investment in your lifetime!  I treasure every single moment.  Second only to that is my investment in life long friendships.

5:  In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

 At age 37, while totally fit and healthy and playing on three soccer teams, my pancreas suddenly decided to stop producing insulin.  I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. No family history and I did not have gestational diabetes with any of my pregnancies.  Busy volunteering and working Mom that I was, I taught myself to band-aid the situation and soldier on. Add to that a divorce nine years ago and stuck in a high stress job that about killed me, and it is the perfect recipe for depression, weight gain and poor health.  I could not find success with anything I tried diet related and experienced one failure after another.  I had pretty much given up!  In September, without any notice, my daughter sent me a book.  The Whole 30. I read it, started following the recipes. It absolutely changed my life!  I have lost 25 pounds, am half way to goal weight and feel fantastic.  The Whole 30 has become my new normal.

6:  How has a failure, or apparent failure set you up for later success?  Do you have a favorite failure of yours?

On March 30, 2016 I left my job at the company I had worked for for 14 years.  I started there supporting a Physician in a CMA role.  After a few years, I worked my way up to Patient Care Coordinator.  Five years after that, I was promoted to Patient Care Supervisor.  I had a Practice Manager at that time who was impossible to please. Despite my successes on a corporate level, nothing that I said or did was right with her.  I allowed myself to be publicly ridiculed, emotionally abused and developed some post traumatic stress.  I was working an average of 60 hours per week, and still felt like a failure.  I had zero work/life balance. When it began to negatively effect my health, I decided to get out.  Huge, scary decision for big life changes. I now work as a CMA again.  When I leave work each day, my work stays at the office.  My biggest failure became my favorite failure and I am thankful every day.

7:  What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months or in recent memory?

Patent Dansko shoes for work.  Multicolored with bright pink hibiscus all over them.  I wear plain colored scrubs and wanted to do something fun with my day to day work clothes.  They are a great conversation starter and patients love them!

8:  When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

Music is the always the answer!  Feeling a little blue, turn on some happy tunes.  Need motivation for housecleaning?  Crank it up!  Get in the spirit of the holidays?  Give me some Winter Wonderland.  I sing and dance.

9:  What is the book (or books) you've given most as a gift and why?  Or what are one to three books that have greatly influence your life?

Back to The Whole 30, which I have now given to several people as gifts.  I love to cook and entertain, am quite passionate about it actually, and often give books about that to family and friends.  I recently read Year of Yes, by Shonda Rimes, which has had a very positive influence on my life.  I realize how comical it seems since I just mentioned I have had to learn to say NO to volunteering, but I have also needed to learn to say yes to social opportunities.  :) 

10:  What is one piece of advice you would give to a woman that you wish you knew earlier in life?

Embrace your inner beauty, your strengths, your independence.  Love freely but do not ever lose yourself in that love. The older you get, the more important your girlfriends become.  Cherish and nurture those relationships throughout your life.

11:   What do you think about the theory of "the love of your life", what does that phrase me to you?

I am truly a romantic in every sense of the word.  I do believe for some, there is just one love. I know many couples who married young and are happily married still. I met the one great love of my life when I was sixteen.  We broke up when I was 18.  We reconnected and married when we were both 30.  We divorced when we were 48.  Our lives went in two entirely different directions, and the path he choose had restrictions that did not include me or my beliefs.  I have not given up on love and hope I find it again.  My Mom once told me that our lives happen in thirds.  The thirds may not be equal in size or experience.  I have started my last third by changing my career and location, and am hopeful there will be some lovely man to partner with.....

12:  What is something that you would find most helpful in your life right now?  (what would be the best problem solved for you)

 I know this sounds cliche, but life is good and I am very thankful.  However, I had a string of unfortunate events during the year after I left my killer job that have left me financially strapped.  If the Finance Fairies decided I was worthy and dropped a wad of cash at my front door that paid off said debt, I would be free and most grateful. (and if the Fed-Ex guy delivering my mail was handsome with a good sense of humor, that would be most appreciated!)  

Thank you so much Laura for your honesty and truth.  It is incredibly powerful to read about your journey and thoughts.  I have known you since we were both 16 years old and while we haven't always stayed in touch over the years, I am so thankful that Facebook brought us back in touch.  So much wisdom and life lived that these 12 little questions just touch the tip of the story, but I am forever grateful for the women in this tribe who share these parts of themselves with me and now with others here on the blog.

Check back next week for another WOW!!