Between the Serena showdown at the US Open, the latest hurricane devastation, and the President denying the death toll from the last one, this was a week of storms. So I was particularly grateful for a small moment that felt like a break in the clouds. Yesterday, out of the blue, my 9-year-old daughter asked me, "Mom, do you ever think about how far you've come?"
Her question immediately took me back to the end of 2012, when I was devastated in the midst of closing a non-profit that I ran. One day I was alone in the office packing up when I received a visit from a woman that turned out to be an angel. Patti Dobrowolski had scheduled a meeting with me months earlier, but in the swirl of layoffs and stakeholder calls I had completely forgotten to cancel it. As soon as she saw the office filled with boxes and scattered balls of Kleenex from my crying she ditched her agenda and led me through a visualization exercise in which I described my current state and envisioned a future one while she sketched on a white board.
At the time my current state was bleak. I was consumed by grief and guilt, and paralyzed by the feeling that I had let everyone down. I indulged Patti in trying to imagine a positive future but deep down I knew it would never materialize. My dream future included having a career that was aligned with my passion for advancing women, feeling like I was a good parent and partner, and being joyful. It included being comfortable with my brand, being authentic and accessible and feeling abundant.
When Ekua asked me, "Do you ever think about how far you've come?" I immediately thought of Patti and the fact that the vision I had for my future in 2012 is now my current reality. I dug up the picture of the white board that I had captured with my phone that day and shared it with Ekua (see it below). "Wow, mom," she said, "You should be really proud."
You try it. Reflect back upon a time when you were lost, devastated, or suffering. Think about where you are today. If that doesn't provoke gratitude, visualize a positive future-desired reality. And if you need a creative genius to capture it in picture on a white board, just call Patti. Even in the eye of the storm there is comfort in knowing that the waters will recede and that eventually the sun will break through.