I was fortunate enough to attend a writers’ workshop with Dr. Dan Gottlieb last week. Dr. Gottlieb is an amazing man with a physical presence that exudes compassion.

During the workshop, we were asked to write and explore our ideas of “the story of our lives.” We were invited to consider why we tell these stories, to whom we tell them, and how we choose the way we tell them. At one point Dr. Gottlieb softly stated, “In my experience people seem to have a deeper relationship with the person they think they should be, rather than the person they are.”


That really struck a cord with me.

It was easy to see that I have lifelong relationships to aspects of myself who think they need to be a particular kind of friend. Or mother. Or daughter. Or worker. Someplace in me is a room full of standards that all these parts of me feel obligated to meet. Pretty exhausting.

When I spent just a few minutes considering who I might really be, rather than who I ought to be, I felt a profound sense of relief.

What if instead of living into the idea of how I had to be as a mom, for example, that I just did my darndest to be present with my son in the way I know how to be present? What if it (I) didn’t have to look like and be like the standards in my head? Ahhhh.

In an NPR Fresh Air interview with Dr. Gottlieb, he speaks to Terry Gross about the accident he has in his 30s, which left him a paraplegic. I’m paraphrasing here, but he speaks about that accident as such a gift. Because when he became a paraplegic, he had to let go of all the ideas of who he should be in life. And with that letting go, came the unexpected gift of living the life that was his.

May you spend every day living the life that is exactly yours — not the one you think you should live.




P. S. I feel so grateful that I had the chance to attend this event. (Thank you to Laurie Wagner for her amazing 27 Powers Traveling Writers Workshops.)