Featured Stories

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78: Don’t Look Back

Don’t Look Back We all have a story. The difference is: do you use the story to empower yourself? Or do you use your story to keep yourself a victim? The question itself empowers you to change your life. ~Sunny Dawn Johnston I was in high school, and I was a slave. I was Cinderella. If I described the conditions that I worked under, I’m not sure many people would believe me. It was a modern-day nightmare that ended between 1:00 and 3:00 in the morning and started again when I came home from school the next day. It was an unending cycle with weekends being a special kind of hell. My dad and stepmother owned a restaurant in a busy resort town. Instead of hiring a dishwasher while I was at school, they let the dishes stack up for me when I got home. I would put down my bag of books and start in on trying to catch up the second I walked through the doors that were kitty-corner to my high school. Never mind that I was underage; after the dinner rush, I did double time as a waitress and served drinks to the rowdies from out of town who came to fish and visit the pristine lakes. Once they stopped coming in, the cook and I were the only ones still on staff, and we’d finish the dishes and set up things for the morning. I was running on fumes, but I’d always... (more)
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79: Enough with the Flowers Already

Enough with the Flowers Already Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels. ~Faith Whittlesey They sent me flowers. I saved them millions of dollars and they sent me flowers. I know they meant well, but really? I was a Wall Street analyst, and I was very good at what I did, figuring out which stocks were going to rise and which were going to fall. There was a company I knew very well, one whose stock I had recommended for years. Its price had gone up, but then I had decided that it was overvalued and it was going to go down. I told a few of my clients, big professional investors, and got the ones that owned that stock to take their profits and get out. And that’s why I got the flowers. Because that stock went down and one of my very nice clients wanted to thank me for getting him out before he lost all his profits. But I would rather have gotten more money in commissions than receive a big bunch of flowers. It was okay though. They were nice guys and they did pay me as well. But there’s no way a male analyst would have received flowers… for the same great work. And I was pretty sure a man would have been paid more. Paying analysts for their stock picks was basically done on the honor system, with the clients... (more)
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80: Spontaneous Spirit

Spontaneous Spirit I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. ~Nelson Mandela Anyone going to an amusement park might have seen the likes of me. I was the gray-haired lady with sensible shoes. I held purses, cellphones and sunglasses while my loved ones hurled themselves through space on roller coasters. Afterward, flushed with excitement, they’d pose for selfies to celebrate their latest flirtation with the Grim Reaper. I admired their bravery, but refused to challenge my own limitations. Sitting it out worked for me, and that’s exactly what I had planned to do on that pleasant spring morning twelve years ago. To celebrate my husband’s sixty-fifth birthday, we’d driven an hour south to Skydive Miami in Homestead, Florida. As a young man in the Army, Joe had logged hundreds of jumps with round parachutes, and he wanted a closer look at the newer wing style. Watching those young people swoosh in to a perfect, stand-up landing reignited memories of his youth. “Sure looks like fun,” he hinted. “Like the best birthday gift ever?” His eyes twinkled with mischief. “Exactly like that.” “So much for the new... (more)
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81: Single Mom Saved by Single Flower

Single Mom Saved by Single Flower No woman can control her destiny if she doesn’t give to herself as much as she gives of herself. ~Suze Orman “You’re better at jumping off cliffs in life than anyone I know,” a friend once told me. “Sometimes you land on a bush,” he added, “but you always land somewhere.” In the summer of 2007, I jumped off the ultimate cliff — adopting a baby boy from Guatemala. I was fifty-one and single, and my family lived 400 miles away. There was no bush big enough to catch me this time. When my son arrived, the avalanche that hit my life took two forms. I was swept away by a volcanic love that was like nothing I had ever experienced. And I was flattened by the completely confining nature of my circumstances. I called it the “Love Lock Down.” There were nights when, after putting my son to bed, I would simply sit in the darkness and listen to my breathing. It was that overwhelming. In the best circumstances, six people are working on behalf of a young child’s life: two parents and two sets of grandparents. I had to be all six, every night and every day. I was proud that I could hold my son in one arm when he weighed twenty pounds. Two years later, when he weighed thirty-nine pounds, I... (more)