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Lessons from an Unfinished Life

Updated: Apr 27, 2022



An excerpt from my mothers journal ~2013


“Sometimes I feel so close to remembering what will make me happy. I started having these feelings 3 or 4 years ago. I would get this real light happy feeling. I was sensing I could almost get what it was. Some small image or a color or something I had done in the past. But just as I thought it would be revealed it just would vanish. It happens at least 3 or 4 times a day. I keep thinking I’m going to get it but it just slips away. It’s never the same. Sometimes it is a place I’ve been or a person in the past. It goes from being young or being older.”

-Linda, 1954-2014


I keep this passage folded up tightly, hidden in a box under my bed, along with my mother’s unused garden gloves, an unfinished crossword, a perfectly sharpened pencil and tarnished jewelry.


I dig it out about once a year. I sit on the floor and I read it while tears flood down my face and create tepid pools of pity in my collar bone.


To me, these 115 words capture a life unfinished.


While ripping my heart out, they represent my worst fear. Each word shines a light on my fear of never finding my own purpose. My sadness for her is painfully mired with my own impending mortality.


No, I’m not terminally ill. But we are all terminally living. It’s the human condition.


I read this journal passage when I am feeling smothered by dissatisfaction. When I have the sense that I’m not living up to my potential. When I feel like I am living only for the pleasure of others. When I’m analyzing a financial statement for a business that I know I don’t give two shits about yet I give it all my capacity. When I’m staring at dirty dishes in the sink and my son is crying and I just want to walk out the door.


I think this is called circling the drain.

Recently, I resigned from my cushy six-figure corporate executive position. This act is the culmination of a 10 year journey of self discovery.


For 10 years I have slowly and often painfully learned who I am deep inside.


But I still had not discovered, like my mother, what it is that will make me happy. Like her visions, happiness only ever partially revealed itself to me and narrowly escaped my grasp.


When I summoned the courage to leave my job it was more than a burnout fueled resignation. It was my moment of understanding that happiness is mine to create. My mother wanted to know what would make her happy. I too desperately wanted to know what would make me happy.


Today I know 2 things.


  1. Happiness is mine to create. Nothing can make me happy.

  2. But first I must just choose to be happy.


Well that’s a catch 22 isn’t it??


Our happiness is always with us. It’s not a thing we really find.


This is not a new discovery. Literally thousands of books can teach us this. But I was not able to learn it until now. Why? I don’t know. Something shifted and created space for something new and better. I am 40 years old this year and maybe there is something to be said for mid-life wisdom. whatever the impetus, I am grateful that I have opened myself enough to receive this gift of knowing the source of happiness.


With this gift, I am now ready to open myself to others in a way that aligns with my values and desires. For nearly 20 years I have been leading and coaching businesses to success. While I enjoyed some elements of the work at times, I have always felt disconnected from my inner values and ‘true self’. I have always been fighting the urge to focus intensely, perhaps too personally, on people whose pain resembled my own.


This type of personal coaching and deep inquiry is not often appropriate in the corporate setting. But man did I try, leaning into ‘businesses are just people who make money together.’


I am now going to follow my heart and coach individuals personally, intentionally, and very deeply.


This summer I am launching my life coaching business. BauerHouse Coaching will undergo a makeover from business coaching to personal coaching. Over the years I have obtained certifications to make this possible. My head just had not caught up to my heart until now.


I already feel a lightness. Something that resembles happiness.


In honor of my mother, I will sign off as she often did in hallmark cards that travelled their way across the country to me.


“You can do it. You can do anything.”


With love,


-E



''I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.''


~Bronnie Ware, Regrets of the Dying





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