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In my teens and early twenties I had a bit of a hard-edge identity. It was a great quality to rebuff drunks in bars who wouldn’t leave my girlfriends alone. I could always be relied on to send them scuttling away with some hard stares and cutting remarks. I really didn’t mind that I had this underlying wellspring of anger to tap into. On the surface, I was happy and positive and living my best life. My undercover rage was my secret weapon. “Do NOT mess with me. I will tear you up.”

It didn’t occur to me then that there was something to be examined there, some work to be done. Rage is a powerful emotion, and when acted upon, can be destructive to boot. Mine developed over time from pain and plenty of other things, and because I nurtured it, it made a fine coat of barely concealed armor. I wore mine with pride and I enjoyed watching people give me a wide berth when I flashed it. …

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One topic came up more than any other, and it made me realize I needed to look at it more closely myself.

As a professional coach, many of my clients came into 2020 thinking that they would be focusing on one or two particular areas of professional or personal growth, only to have their entire lives thrown for a loop by the pandemic. For some, suddenly the promotion was far less important than simply staying employed. For others, working on behavioral blind spots became secondary to keeping quarantine-induced household chaos at bay.

As the pandemic wore on, one theme began to come up in conversation again and again. Sometimes it was only mentioned in passing as a wistful memory or slight annoyance. More often, it was a shadow that cast its pall over everything. For everyone, it boiled down to two words: self-care. And more specifically, the lack thereof. …


Ruth Calabrese

Certified leadership coach, speaker and humorist. And I love mac 'n cheese.

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