The Accident that Woke Me Up

June 2, 2014


And so it begins …The Summer of Well-Being Program launches today, and runs through the end of August. Each Tuesday you will receive my personal blog, and each Thursday you’ll receive our Guest Expert’s blog — both focused on helping you think about what well-being means to you, and what small shifts can help you increase it.

Thank you for joining us on this journey! I’m excited. I hope you are too!

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If you watched my intro video to our Summer of Well-Being, you’ll know that part of the time I’ll be blogging about Arianna Huffington’s new book, Thrive. In the book, we learn that Arianna’s journey into wellness started at a very young age, with her mother imparting wisdom, practices and values that would help her make those necessary changes at those most crucial moments. One of those moments for her was when she was burning the candle at both ends; trying to do it all and do it best. She was running on fumes, which was the norm for her, but on this day she couldn’t power through; on this day she landed on the floor with a broken cheek-bone and gash over her eye. This was her wake-up call. That inner wisdom kicked in, the small changes began and what has emerged is a new Arianna who has continued to “thrive,” but not just with the usual two success metrics of money and power, but with the addition of a third metric she has created, one of well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.

In the book we learn that 60-90 percent of doctor visits are to treat stress-related conditions. Women in stressful jobs have a nearly 40 percent increased risk of heart disease, and a 60 percent greater risk of diabetes. And, as women have made substantial strides in the workplace, self-reported levels of stress have gone up by 18 percent. Arianna shares:

“The Western workplace culture — exported to many other parts of the world — is particularly fueled by stress, sleep deprivation and burnout. I had to come face-to-face, or face-to-floor, with the problem when I collapsed.”

But, of course, it’s not just a problem for women. In the book, former president of Google China, Lee Kai-Fu, shares about being diagnosed with cancer in 2013:

“I naively used to compete with others to see who could sleep less. I made ‘fighting to the death’ a personal motto … It’s only now, when I’m suddenly faced with possibly losing 30 years of my life, that I’ve been able to calm down and reconsider. That sort of persistence may have been a mistake.” He shares that his new plan includes, “Sleep enough, adjust my diet and start exercising again.”


My Accident.

In 2007 I had a similar experience that really began a transformation for me — one that challenged my idea of what was truly important, and mostly, how I wanted to feel about myself and the world I lived in every day. It challenged all of my decisions, as well as my knowing of what impact I wanted to make; legacy I wanted to leave. That’s why this book resonates so strongly with me.

I remember that day vividly. I was devastated and embarrassed. I asked myself, “Did I really do this?” My schedule was so hectic during that time, by choice. I was striving for a level of success (and a definition of success) that just wasn’t achievable, sustainable or purposeful. I would come home from a full day of working, kiss my family, change clothes, and leave again to tackle a side job 40 minutes away. Intuitively, I knew I had made some terrible decisions, but I did not want to fail. I was in rush-hour traffic, and I was exhausted, as I always was those days. Well, I didn’t make it to where I was going that evening, because I fell asleep while driving and struck the car in front of me. I woke up when I hit her, and I woke up in many other ways as well.

Just from that one incident I was able to clearly see that I was off purpose and vision, operating in a way that would continue to damage my health, career and my family life. I also learned that my lack of sleep and diet was contributing to my exhaustion. I made immediate changes that made a huge difference. That was 7 years ago, and I’m still learning daily and finding the right techniques and tools that work best to help me accomplish my life goals.


Success Redefined.

You don’t have to fall on your face, get diagnosed with a disease, or fall asleep at the wheel to make changes. My hope for all of us is quite the opposite. My hope is that we all will be proactive in making small, better choices that will help us redefine success — from the inside out — and think about “Third Metric” living! As Arianna states:

“This book is designed to help us move from knowing what to do to actually doing it … practical daily practices, tools and techniques that are easy to incorporate in our lives … to reconnect with ourselves, our loved ones and our community — in one word, to thrive.”


Simple Steps.

In part one of Thrive, Arianna provides a lot of research and data that suggests that there are three simple things we can begin to do to have dramatic effects on our well-being:

  1. Get just 30 more minutes of sleep to immediately improve your health, creativity, productivity and sense of well-being. Either go to bed earlier, get up later, or take 2 short naps a day. In the book, Bill Clinton admitted, “Every important mistake I’ve made in my life, I’ve made because I was too tired.”
  2. Move your body, in any way, anytime! Walk, run, stretch, do yoga, dance, etc.
  3. Introduce five minutes of meditation into your day. Build up from there.



During the Summer of Well-being you will learn great ways to do what Arianna is suggesting from our experts. You are invited to try what calls to you. In the book I was drawn to a concept by Thoreau called “Shake off the village,” referring to freeing ourselves from the distractions that are constantly begging for our attention, and fully experience the world around us. Thoreau says:

“I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit … What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?”

The idea of shaking things off mentally, physically, emotionally, etc., feels so freeing to me. It is the one thing I do every day without fail. I happen to be on a beautiful campus surrounded by awe-inspiring trees, lakes, birds, etc., that it has become a daily mindful retreat for me. I feel the moment when it’s necessary and take to the outdoors for my mindful walk. I shake it all off! And then I am back, refreshed, recharged and ready to keep things moving.

So, I hope you will join me and the multitudes of others who have joined in on our Summer of Well-Being, to take small meaningful action toward a life well led.

Please share with me along the way what steps you’re taking. I can’t wait to hear what tips resonate for you, and how you are feeling.

On Thursday, we welcome Mary P. Trontz, a Certified Fitness Trainer and an Independent Team Beachbody Diamond Coach. She spends her time as a bootcamp instructor, personal trainer, fitness coach and nutrition consultant. She’s going to teach us how to live well, starting with our core!

Mary P

If you still haven’t joined our Summer of Well-being, do so today! Just subscribe on this page (upper right-hand corner) to make sure you receive our weekly tips!



“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage by considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them; every day begin the task anew.” — Francis de Sales


One Response to “The Accident that Woke Me Up”

  1. […] meaning to our lives. For many reasons, including the personal story I shared with you last week in The Accident that Woke me Up, I continue to redefine what success truly means for me, and create more and more moments to […]

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