I kind of suck at living in the moment. I am much more talented at rerunning the past in my brain and worrying about the future. I realize it would be much healthier to live with the “what is” instead of trying to change the past or control the future, but I just don’t seem to have the skills.

The toxicity of my general approach hit me square in the face during my mother’s illness. I spent so much energy thinking about the “what ifs” in the past and the future, I pretty much went down for the ten-count on a regular basis. Getting up off the mat became more and more difficult as time went on. Not only was I giving myself an emotional concussion, I wasn’t doing my mother any favors either. It is hard to be present and attentive and loving for someone who only has the now when your heart is so unpracticed at living in the moment. I realized pretty quickly that the quagmire I created in my mind out of “if onlys” and “what will I dos” was nearly as debilitating as the actuality of the situation.

I knew I was making things more difficult for myself by dragging my feet through the past as I rushed to the future. I tried very hard to rewire my neurological synapses. I worked at concentrating on the present that was in front of me. Sometimes I was able to redirect my brain and keep it from straying into the unhealthy paths, but I usually failed. It isn’t any big surprise that I fared so poorly. Over fifty years of conditioned brain activity doesn’t change easily, even when one makes a concerted effort to learn a different way. After all, one does not go directly from Drivers’ Ed classes to whooshing around the track in the Indy 500. I was learning the most elementary lessons in the art of living in the present. Yet, I was challenging myself to do so in the most difficult situation of my life. The circumstances pretty much doomed me to failure. I decided to find other contexts in which I might practice my ability to live in the now.

As a result, I decided to make a deliberate effort to live in the present as I explored the idea of joining the Episcopal Church. I thought, if there ever was a situation suited to releasing control and luxuriating in the moment, surely it must be a spiritual journey. I gave myself the gift of not justifying or creating a situation but simply living one. I didn’t force myself to commit or engage. I didn’t obsess about saying or doing something wrong. I took advantage of learning opportunities that occurred organically, without trying to tick off boxes to complete an established process. I observed and learned at my own pace…. My pace and God’s pace for me, I suppose. The whole process was about pace in many ways. It was restful… and beautiful…. not to have to make things happen.

When the time came for the bishop to visit our parish and perform the ceremony to accept me into the Episcopal Church, I was out of town. I was fine with waiting. I felt very peaceful about the whole thing. I was perfectly okay with being received a year or more later the next time the bishop visited the parish, but our parish priest arranged for me to go to a service at the diocesan office. At first, I was a little wistful that I wasn’t going to celebrate the service with the members of the parish community I had come to know, but I firmly and gently redirected my brain to the peace of the present. I know there would have been certain blessings to have had the service with the parish community, but I experienced different blessings by going to the diocese office. My first friends in the church were also away the day of the bishop’s visit to the parish. Because of my delay, I was able to have them as sponsors to present me to the bishop at the diocesan office. We spent the day together and, through this shared experience, became friend-family for one another. I met the staff at the diocese office. They showed me the heart of the greater Episcopal Church beyond the doors of my parish.

Clearly, my decision to let things be and live in the moment as I explored my spiritual path reaped manifold benefits that I might not have appreciated had I not allowed myself to stay in the now. A success in living in the present. It was a small, safe success. But it was still a success and a success is a better foundation for future growth than failure.

The present is a present. Yes, it can be the type of present that you want to regift or return to the store. On the other hand, if we take the time to really appreciate it, the present can be a beautiful surprise we never knew we wanted until we live it.

Have you ever experienced a time when you encountered a special “present” because you were living in the moment that you might not have noticed had you been focusing on the past or the future? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

May you be gifted with a beautiful present today!

Terri/Dorry 😊

The Big Reveal

I’ve watched too many makeover shows on television. Between home renovation, fashion faux paus interventions, and Dr. Phil prestidigitation, I expect there to be some major overhaul after 30 to 60 minutes of sweat equity and personal introspection. I’m hoping that you are also primed for the startling “after” picture, because today I am presenting you with the Terri LaBonte Big Reveal.

The Terri LaBonte Big Reveal is that…. I am not really Terri LaBonte. Well, I kinda am. Let me explain.

My parents named me Dorothea Therese Goodness. That name sounds more like a pseudonym than Terri LaBonte, doesn’t it? My mother initially planned to name me Penny. She probably should have. Dorothea Therese was kind of a mouthful for such an itsy-bitsy baby. I can’t imagine my parents ever referring to me as “Dorothea.” It just seems absurd. That may be why they started calling me Tinker Bell. At any rate, before any rendition of the name Dorothea had time to stick, my brother was born. His name was Ernest Anthony Goodness. My grandmother took one look at him and declared, “he looks like an Irishman; you should have named him Timothy Patrick.” The family immediately started calling him “Timmy.”

This kind of solved the whole name thing for me. “Timmy and Terri” sounded so cute, my extended family decided to ignore my first name altogether and focus on the Therese part. I was Terri for several years as a little girl.

This was fine until I started school. When the teacher called roll on the first day and got to the end of the list without little Terri responding, she was flummoxed. Apparently, Dorothea Goodness was absent, but this random child Terri had shown up. Given that I didn’t know my own name, the teacher questioned my kindergarten readiness. When she called my mother in to discuss my apparent backwardness, my mother realized I could not continue to live a double life. She promptly returned home, taught me to answer when someone called me Dorothea, and sent me back to school the next day. To the outside world, I was Dorothea from that day forward.

The name Dorothea was still way too long for me. I was always an impatient kid, hurrying from one activity to another with no time to form eight whole letters each time I had to write my name. I shortened it to Dorry when I was about ten. I made peace with my non-Terri existence and enjoyed being Dorry through adulthood. I married and acquired the Curran family name. When I divorced, it seemed like too much trouble to change it back to my maiden name. Besides, when you change your name to Goodness, everyone notices and I was too ashamed of getting divorced to want to call attention to the fact.

When I started writing the blog, I debated what to do about my name. I legitimately wanted to retain some anonymity and privacy on the internet. I was cracking open my life on cyberspace. It seemed wise to erect some sort of security wall between me and random strangers who might decide to get a little too up close and personal. Also, I have to admit to some desire to stave off too much vulnerability. I was going to write about some pretty personal stuff and I wasn’t quite ready to completely own it by acknowledging it with my real name. I decided I wasn’t brave enough to use my real name and would use a “creative name.”

I resurrected Terri from my childhood name. LaBonte is the French version of “Goodness.” Family folklore says that my first ancestor to come to the United States was a French-speaking Swiss national who entered Ellis Island as Monsieur LaBonte. He left Ellis Island with the more “American” name of Mr. Goodness, courtesy of the good civil servants in charge of Immigration Inspection who did not speak French. I am not sure if this is true or not, but it makes a good legend.

You may wonder why I am disclosing all this now. I’m excited to tell you that my book, Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement will be released within the next couple of months. I decided to publish my book under my real name, Dorry Curran. I want all my dear cyberfriends to be able to find it, which would be difficult if you think Terri LaBonte is the author.

There are other reasons why I thought it was time to come out of the Terri LaBonte closet. I have been writing the blog under the name Terri LaBonte for over two years now. Soon after starting this project, I felt like it would have been better to use my “real” name right from the beginning. It was sometimes confusing when I had to explain who Terri LaBonte was when talking to potential readers who knew me by my real name. Besides, using the name Terri LaBonte felt sort of like using the cyberspace equivalent of a fake ID to buy beer. It had its advantages, but there was also a downside. Yes, it is wise to be cautious about giving too much identifying information on the internet. On the other hand, it felt sort of deceptive and cowardly to hide myself behind a fictitious name. I try to write from a place of courage and honesty. It felt incongruous to deny the value of my truth by denying the name of the person who wrote it.

I’ve thought about sharing this story with you before now. The thing was…. by the time I realized it would have been better to use my real name, I had become kind of attached to Terri LaBonte and didn’t want to give her up.

You see, my legal name may be Dorry Curran, but Terri LaBonte is still very much a part of who I am. In fact, I may be more Terri LaBonte than Dorry Curran at this point in my life. Some time ago, a reader commented that, even though he had known me for many years as Dorry Curran, he found it interesting that he had absolutely no trouble at all thinking of me as Terri LaBonte. Terri LaBonte has always lived inside my soul. She just didn’t get much playing time in my younger days. Maybe people around me recognized her more than I did.

Terri LaBonte is confident enough to dance to her own music throughout her own life, whether anyone is looking or not. Terri LaBonte is visionary enough to make a reality from the blueprint of a dream. Terri LaBonte is brave enough to create something wonderful.

Terri LaBonte is also generous of spirit. When it came time to publish the book, she abdicated authorship to Dorry Curran. After all, it was Dorry’s dream first.

Quick, somebody say something! Now that I’ve revealed this big secret, I find myself feeling extremely wobbly and nervous. My stomach is somersaulting its way all over my innards, like some sort of demented pinball. Please, leave a comment to help me put on the brakes before my ricocheting guts do internal damage!!!

Seriously, I hope no one feels deceived or misled. I humbly ask your forgiveness for any offense or discomfort I caused because of the “fake” name.

Please share your perspective by leaving a comment (please, please, pretty please!!!). In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a wonderful day!

Terri/Dorry (seriously, I don’t even know how to sign my name now…. Maybe Derri?) 🙂