Beth Fitzgerald.

Nassau Street-based life coach Beth Fitzgerald’s book, “The Wake Up Call: Daily Eye Opening Motivation for You to Live Your Best Life” was published on February 17. The book is full of motivational anecdotes from Fitzgerald’s life, one each day for an entire year.

What kind of a person has an anecdote for every day of the year, anyway? Fitzgerald grew up in Stratford in south Jersey and graduated from Rutgers with degrees in economics and English before beginning a career on Wall Street. She worked for a small hedge fund, then Prudential Portfolio Management, before joining Oppenheimer Funds, where she managed a large sales force. She stayed at home to raise her four children and currently lives in Skillman.

In one of her chapters, Fitzgerald lays out how she learned the value of compromise early in her marriage:

The basis of my marriage rests on … pigs in a blanket! I guess that warrants an explanation. Twenty-six years ago, I was blissfully engaged to Doug. We were running about making every kind of marriage decision known to mankind. You might remember those decisions: china pattern, crystal pattern, linens, venue, band, etc. The decisions were endless, but all along the way, Doug simply deferred to whatever I wanted. At the time, I thought his compliance was fabulous.

As the big day approached and the stress began to ramp up, we arrived at the venue to finalize the menu for the reception. We were analyzing the hors d’oeuvre options when Doug declared his desire to have pigs in a blanket. It only took me a millisecond to shoot down that absurd idea. My reasoning was simple, “Cocktail weenies” are not sophisticated enough for a wedding.”

I was completely unprepared for Doug’s reaction. He dug his heels in deeply and refused to budge. His argument was simple, “Everyone loves pigs in a blanket!” I, then, dug in deeper with, “They are not what you serve at a wedding!” My memory gets hazy as to when and where this argument was settled, but I am certain it was settled within 24 hours. I was wrong, and not just wrong about cocktail weenies! This is when I realized marriage is all about concessions, meeting half-way, and never needing to prove you are right. I wanted to impress others and, in doing so, I did not want to hear Doug’s thoughts or ideas. Not a good basis for a marriage.

You will all be happy to hear, not only did we have pigs in a blanket at our wedding, but we have served them at almost every function since. Doug taught me a huge lesson that day. I love to be right and to win any argument, but at what cost? If cocktail weenies are the concession I make for a happy marriage, then so be it. It is a small cost. And truthfully, can anyone be right about cocktail weenies? Action Step: Do you have a “pigs in a blanket” story? If you do, let it go. Winning that argument is not winning at all. I smile every time I serve or see this life changing hors d’oeuvre

Fitzgerald also offers ways to dig out of a de-motivated “hole:”

Dig yourself out of a hole: All of us are in some form of a hole. Some holes are deeper than others, some people have been in their hole longer, but we all have a hole. Our hole is our story. Today I want all of us to stop digging. There is a beautiful quote I live my life by which was shared with me years ago by my friend, Terry, “Life is happening for you not to you.” No matter what is happening in my life, I repeat this quote to myself. If everything is happening for me, then everything, good or bad, is in some way a gift. Sometimes it is difficult to see the gift, but if we look deeply enough, it is there.

Yesterday would have been my mom’s 88th birthday. My mom had dementia. Watching her decline was perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever had to witness. My mom’s dementia taught me how to be intensely present and to love unconditionally, and it taught me how to give from the deepest place in my soul. She may not have known what I was doing for her, but I knew. It was the very least I could do for my incredible mom.

I, ultimately, saw her dementia as a gift. Of course I would have preferred no dementia, but the dementia gave me the gift of profoundly and unconditionally loving her. So today, stop digging. You know your story and it is not an easy one. None of our stories are easy, but life is happening for us. Find the gift. Look for the silver lining. When we stop digging and focus on the gift, we may find the hole just got a little bit smaller and not so deep. A hole or a gift? We get to choose.

Action Step: What hole are you in? Please journal for five minutes about the quote, “Life is happening for you not to you,” and how you can apply it to the current hole you are in. Find the gift; it’s there, I promise. And keep this quote handy, it will remain very useful while you are here on this earth.

Fitzgerald Life Coaching, 259 Nassau Street, Suite 2, 1264, Princeton 08540. Beth Fitzgerald.

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