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Archived Weekly Features
The Big Picture
Rebecca "Becky" Coates Nee, a veteran TV news anchor/reporter, is a professional life/career coach. Check out her website at to take the coachability test, subscribe to her free "Beyond the Box" newsletter and to find out if you're an adrenaline junkie.

Clearing Our Tense Past

It was just a simple carton of yogurt but the expiration date made me drop it
like a live salmonella culture: September 11. The anniversary the nation has
nervously awaited in our collective subconscious is here. Could it happen
again, we wonder. Are we safe to fly, drive or go to a baseball game?

How can we as a country, as journalists, as Americans make sense of a day
that left us with images more haunting than we’d ever see in a Cineplex?
I’ve spent a lot of time during the last year trying to process Sept. 11,
categorizing it and packaging it neatly as we reporters so often do. But I
can’t. I doubt any of us will ever understand what would lead people to hate
so much that they’d take thousands of innocent lives down with them.

So we have two choices as we remember this date we’d rather forget: 1.
Continue to live in fear. Or, 2. Move forward. Eat yogurt that expires that
day, take planes, take our chances and go about our jobs and lives.

Putting Sept. 11 behind us is a task as large as clearing the debris the
terrorists left behind. But here’s one way to start – resolve your own
past. Understand that all those little nagging unresolved relationships,
failures, traumas, heartaches and even embarrassments from our past sap us
personally almost as much as Sept. 11 drains the whole country. We should
learn from our past but not live according to it.

How do you know if something is unresolved in your life? It eats away at you
like a scanner in a newsroom. You may dream about it, replay it in your mind
with different endings or use it to blame current shortcomings in your life.
You may also use it as an excuse not to take chances with people, jobs or
other opportunities.

As a coach, I’ve been surprised to discover how many adults still blame
their parents or a less-than Brady Bunch childhood for their inability to
perform well now. They remain cocooned in their perceptions – a familiar but
not always accurate place.

Make a list of all the unresolved matters in your life – a lost job, a
relationship that ended poorly, a loved one who died, your parent’s divorce,
an error in your own judgment. Now decide what you can do to permanently rid
yourself of each piece of baggage. You may need to call someone, send a
letter or write one and tear it up.

If you were hurt by someone else, particularly your parents, you may need to
understand that they were probably doing the best they could with what they
knew at the time. If a loved one has died, what can you do that would best
honor that person’s memory? If you made a mistake, how can you repair it?
Send flowers, a card, a sincere note of apology.

Sept. 11 taught us what we take for granted in this country and how
unpredictable our lives really are. Too unpredictable to carry grudges,
resentments or baggage from the past. Take some steps this week to repair
your own history and maybe the country can begin to do the same.