noun: benchmark; plural noun: benchmarks
a standard or point of reference against which things may be compared.

“I have found myself measuring each day – one at a time. Somewhere I lost the chaotic thinking of what is happening tomorrow, next month, or next year. I have stopped looking back wondering what went wrong, or even what went right – it just does not matter to me now. TODAY is my benchmark for joy, tenderness, adventure, and LOVE. Some days are better than others, but I know when I put my head on my pillow, I will have another chance to recreate another day and there is a huge possibility it will be even better than the day before. Living my dream…”  Journal Entry

This overwhelming wave of truth could be a side effect of the pandemic for 12 months or making our move to Portugal from Houston Texas: maybe both or neither. I just know that today I am here in the sweet space of being alive. I am basking in this moment.

And I hope that we can all agree, life is complicated, messy and on good days easy, we ultimately choose what we call it. Each day offers a new perspective and a new benchmark.

What are we here to learn? What is ours to pay forward? What is ours to forgive? What is ours to do?

Sitting here by the ocean, I have found a space of introspection.  The views are humbling, feeling small against the massive body of the Atlantic Ocean. My brain has slowed down, the mind chatter is quiet, and my thought patterns are going deeper with layers of my life unfolding with a new view.

In the silence, sometimes I wonder how I got here, and I also know there is no reasonable answer. What I do know is that we all have our stories and our sacred journeys that got us from there to here.

The story that lives inside of me as the trajectory of my higher self:

Growing up with minimal ‘things’ and a perceived sense of lack – I am humbled

Growing up with a Single Mother who loved me unconditionally – I found my compass

In the wake of some of my really bad choices – I am smarter

In the lack of my higher education – I remain hungry and eager to learn more

Inside my professional choices, hard work and dedication – I am proud

In the darkest moments when I thought I could not go on any longer – I am stronger

When I lost my Mom at 26 – I knew I would never be the same

In the years I struggled in learning how to be a Mom – I found my greatest joy

On those sleepless nights inside the internal questions of what happened or why me – I learned to pray

In the moments I took to disconnect – reconnect read, meditate, and practice self-care – I found my center

In finding, creating, and losing relationships – I learned more about myself

During my travels to unknown places – I became grateful beyond measure

In the wake of my days when I finally became honest with my thoughts and words – I became truly alive.

Our life experiences do not define us, but they do build our character. I have also learned to Celebrate every chapter and every season. There is a beginning and ending to every ‘stage’ of our life and each one should be acknowledged and celebrated. Some chapters are clearly easier than others, but they all carry meaning into the book we are writing. We can look back and feel the pain or feel the joy, we can let the chapters define our ending or accept them as they are and keep moving forward to our higher selves. And what I know now… good or bad, “This too shall pass.”


Carolyn Lebanowski
Carolyn Lebanowski
Carolyn began her professional career in retail and grew to become an experienced and respected senior-level executive with expertise in strategic development, organizational communication, and executive coaching. After nearly three decades of career growth in corporate organizational development, Carolyn was ready for a career change—and a life change. This led to a new role and the most challenging, enriching, and rewarding work of her life, as a Strategic Business Leader for nonprofit spiritual institutions. As Executive Director and Chief Opportunity Officer for 2 large organizations, it gave her the opportunity to fuse the professional and the personal, aligning her business acumen with her spiritual identity and passion for the development of human potential—in her colleagues, in her community, and in herself. Carolyn is a writer who seeks above all to share from the heart. Her impulse to write began 20 years ago with letters to her children and grew into journaling that was unedited and life-affirming. Today she writes with a focus on raw, authentic, and lived experience, to explore, express, and make sense of the pain and joy, and struggles and triumphs, of life. In all her endeavors, she champions connection, integrity, and radical positivity. Today, Carolyn is a published author and a Columnist/Featured Contributor at BIZCATALYST 360° and is living in Cascais, Portugal.

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  1. Carolyn, I feel your words flowing like music from the depths of your soul; carrying on them (and through them) the wisdom and compassion so gently nurtured from every life experience. Yes, as we slow down and breathe in the moments of life, it becomes clear we are not our experiences, we HAVE experience, but we are not those experiences … we are soooo much more. 💗 Thank you for sharing.

    • Amy,
      Thank you for this… I love that you can ‘feel’ my words. This means you can feel my heart… and that means everything!

    • Thank you Jackie!
      We recently moved to Cascais Portugal on the Ocean… My writing is starting to reflect a new sense of ‘calm’. Appreciate your kind words!