Harriette Cole: How my teenager emerged from her dark place

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter, who was 16 at the time, fell into a deeply self-destructive place after her dad died from cancer at the beginning of her junior year in high school.

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She barely graduated and had no idea what would come next for her. She went through a dark five years.

Like one person who recently wrote to you, “Time for Change,” she watched her friends become successful college students with great ideas for what would follow.

Instead of giving up at 21, she started community college and loved it! Her grades were such that she was able to finish at a four-year private college with no debt.

During her senior year, one of her professors encouraged her to apply to pharmacy school, where she is now. She wants to be a hospital pharmacist working on medications for oncology patients. She would love to participate in oncology research.

Tell “Time for Change” to embrace the change she is ready for — she, too, can do it!

— Affirmation

DEAR AFFIRMATION: Thank you for writing in to share your daughter’s story. We all have our own journeys. When we compare ourselves to others, it can be devastating.

I trust that learning about your daughter will be inspiring to anyone who is feeling stuck or left back or otherwise lost in life.

As long as you are alive, you have the opportunity to make new decisions to positively impact your future. With time, effort and unyielding focus, you can manifest your dreams. Nobody said it would be easy, but then again nothing is easy — even for the people you are observing from afar and may envy.

So rather than getting distracted or emotionally dismantled by somebody else’s story, go out there and make your own!

DEAR HARRIETTE: Being a single woman working in a corporate environment, I often find myself on extended work trips.

While these trips are crucial for my career, I struggle to maintain a sense of balance between my work life and my personal life.

How can I ensure that I take time for self-care, relaxation and personal activities while away on these demanding work trips? Additionally, what strategies or routines can I implement to stay connected with loved ones back home and prevent burnout from the constant travel demands?

— The Corporate Life

DEAR THE CORPORATE LIFE: Take advantage of this moment in time. As a single woman, you have the freedom to explore the world as you go on these extended work trips.

Add a day or two in other cities or countries so that you can explore and learn about new places. You can even carve out time on your first evening — or whenever you have time off — to do something locally.

Do your research in advance so that in those precious hours when you are off, you waste no time in heading to a fun adventure. Use the hotel’s gym facilities to work out when you are on the road, and occasionally treat yourself to the spa when the hotel has one.

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As far as your loved ones at home, schedule time to check in with them, including when you are on the road. Take someone along on an adventure by video chatting with them from the local winery or from your hotel room during a quiet moment.

By including your community in your life, you can feel more connected and fulfilled as you build your corporate career.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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