I wish I could tell you that the soul (purposeful typo) reason my three children (ages 10, 15, and 16) are environmentally conscious is because of me.

But, that would be a lie.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m being modest. Far from it. If you knew me, you’d know that I’d readily, happily take credit for many of my kids’ other qualities — both good and bad, both emotional and physical — that come with their packaging. But their water conservationism? Can’t do it. You see, it’s not my bodega.

My bo-what-a?

Sure, if you’re from the east coast, you more than likely know that bodegas are small stores that sell everything. But, even so, what do I mean here in this digression? Early on in my marriage I lived in Harlem, where there was a bodega on every block. So, as I was figuring out my own marriage (for my husband, me, and you), the word “bodega” became a stand-in for each person’s accountability in the relationship. A relationship isn’t so different from running a mom and pop shop. Not to mention, bodega is a pretty darn fun word to say, which certainly doesn’t hurt when what I am about to teach a client and now you — woo hoo, oh goodie, bring it on — is about divvying up the workload in a relationship.

The problem I’ve found in many relationships, new and old, is that although a relationship has different departments — from finances to fun to romance to sex to adventure to kids to holidays — hardly anyone is designing it or dividing it up that way. And how successful could a company ever be if no one steps up as CEO, sets a mission, divides, and conquers the actual work?

Curious about how the division gets split up?

Are you a good news or bad news first type of person? Bad news: the division is rarely split fairly. The person who is better at the department gets it. And, if you both suck at it, then the person who complains about it the most gets it.

Good news?

You’ll certainly reconsider complaining.

In my marriage, my husband David got a good portion of the bodegas: the children (school, activities, clothes), the house, the food, and the finances. After all, poor thing was “cursed” with being great at almost anything he decided to do. I, on the other hand, genuinely complained about little. I worked my (wagging) tail off, created a method, built a company, coached, commuted, and came home all genuinely googly-eyed and ready to lovingly champion him. I kept David true to his heart, head, and dreams. I was in charge of love, vacations, community, making money, and saving the planet.

Specifically…saving the inhabitants of the planet more so than the planet itself.

Don’t get me wrong. I care. I was even an environmental studies major back in college! I just brilliantly cared enough to marry someone that actively cared more! And subsequently, someone that instills his own ethics and environmental principles into the (many!) departments he runs in our marriage.

What’s that look like? (You mean, besides being closet-less?!) We live in a 1790 farmhouse. We have a wood burning stove. We have chickens. We have foxes, raccoons, and hawks that eat said chickens. David hunts deer. He builds, landscapes, and ploughs. He’s taught the kids how to butcher meat, pet bees, and shower sacredly.

Shower how?

One of the most beautiful things David has done to help foster our children’s environmental responsibility is to make them conscious of every drop of water they use.

And I mean every. From the get go. Teens included.

How, pray tell?

Ever since our kids learned how to take a shower, David taught them to turn off the water in between soaping themselves. To this day, they don’t even really think it’s done differently or, perhaps better yet, they really don’t care how others do it. In their world (a green one) this is how it’s done. Funny thing is, we even have a well. So, truth is, we have so much water it’s silly.

Regardless, the value of water has been instilled.

As an aside (yes, another one), guess how I get away with not freezing while turning the shower on and off mid-stream AND still stay a team player?

I don’t shower much.

Oh, come on, don’t cringe. Yes, I’m a bit of a hillbilly, but if you knew from where I came (read: Long Island),  you just might cringe less and clap more for the evolution of it.



P.S. What’s your life like? Sucky? Sexy? Somewhere in between? Take the Current Reality Quiz! It’s a quick, easy, and fun (we swear) way to self-assess and get a better idea (or at least an honest one) on what areas of your life you need to work on.

Lauren Handel Zander is the Co-Founder and Chairwoman of Handel Group®, an international corporate consulting and life coaching company. Her coaching methodology, The Handel Method®, is taught in over 35 universities and institutes of learning around the world, including MIT, Stanford Graduate School of Business, NYU, and the New York City Public School System. Lauren is also the author of Maybe It’s You: Cut the Crap, Face Your Fears, Love Your Life (Published by Hachette Book Group, April 2017), a no-nonsense, practical manual that helps readers figure out not just what they want out of life, but how to actually get there. She has spent over 20 years coaching thousands of private and corporate clients, including executives at Vogue, BASF, and AOL. Lauren has been a featured expert in The New York Times, BBC, Forbes, Women’s Health, Dr. Oz, and Marie Claire and she is a regular contributor to Businessweek and the Huffington Post. Click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation with Handel Group.

Image courtesy of Johan Bos.