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Susan R. Hatten Headshot

Forty Days and Sleepless Nights

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I grew up Catholic. An interesting statement to begin -- however, given this unique time of year and ubiquitous understanding of Lent, you'll better appreciate my opening remarks.
For those who practice Catholicism or follow the religion, you are aware that we have recently begun our journey into the Lenten season. Lent is captured in forty days, and ends with a celebration on Easter Sunday. Regardless of your religious beliefs or non-beliefs, my comments are equal-opportunity.

Many in our younger generations may recall the 2007 film featuring Josh Hartnett: 40 Days and 40 Nights. This film offers a humorous aspect toward the act of abstaining from something -- and in Josh's case, his choice was sex. Abstaining from something -- no matter what, requires determination, commitment and oftentimes, means you are left with a void in your life that was once filled.

I recently had the opportunity and great privilege of listening to Ms. Arianna Huffington herself, as she visited our Midwest city on a tour to share her beliefs on "Becoming Fearless... In Love, Work and Life." As you might imagine, Arianna's voice still reverberates in my mind and I can still hear her sharing thoughts on failure. Her insight offered that each failure we endure is not a loss, but rather, an opportunity for growth and self-exploration.

Given that within the past several weeks I have also seen a broken relationship, career hiccup and financial turnpike, pass my peripheral vision, I took heed on Arianna's words.

As women, we are oftentimes praised for abstaining from certain things. We go on diets, and boast in talk of pounds lost or sleeves of celery consumed. We give up shopping, after a red-tag binge and poor polyester choices. We vow to cut back on red wine, the occasional cigarette or Starbucks' double-shot mochas. We abstain from sharing our feelings, when we know that we may hurt others or fear hurting ourselves.

Knowing that the Lenten season was approaching, I started to ponder what I would give up -- or start doing -- for forty days. Wine? Absolutely not. Too many social functions ahead where an alcohol buffer is needed. Golf lessons? I have been taking golf lessons for two months, and seemed to have fallen off of the wagon. This would be a cinch. Self-deprecation? Arianna spoke of something that most women encounter on a daily basis; the "annoying roommate in your head" -- also known as your subconscious. I am a victim of this horrendous roommate, her rising rent, and her awful and messy stay inside my brain.

I mentioned a fizzled relationship, workplace tussle and financial recapitulation above. Each of these items led to various self-deprecating thoughts -- none of which were productive, or led me to any sort of positive conclusion.

As a wise friend consoled me through one of these matters, I read her words of praise, comfort and adoration, and thought: Why is it so incredibly hard for me to see this inside myself, if others see this in me? Got it. The annoying roommate.

For the next forty days, I have evicted my annoying roommate. I am abolishing thoughts that lead me to question my knowledge, strength, wisdom or love that I give to others. She is officially out of IOU's and renter's insurance, and may not even be allowed back on premises after Lent.

Just think. Without thoughts of doubt, self-pity, worry and disdain, you are left to fill this void with thoughts of positivity, fortitude and joy. Our sleep will become more restful, our wrinkles less visible and our outlook on life will become more vibrant than ever before.

When it comes to Love, Work and Life, I choose fearlessness -- and all be damned if an annoying roommate is going to hold me back.