“What is wrong with you?” a close girlfriend screamed, staring at me as if I’d broken the first cardinal rule of singledom.

“What’s the problem?” I answered, confused at this outburst.

Her arms firmly crossed over her chest; Kris defiantly hissed, “you’re all alone now. You have to start locking your doors!”

Lock my doors? I thought to myself. When was the last time I did that?

Ever since I lived alone in San Francisco in the mid-1970s, I’ve had issues with losing my keys. They’re in my purse when I leave but vanish upon my return. This had proven to be an un-ideal situation over and over, especially at 3:00 am. So, throughout my twenties, to make sure I had an alternate route inside my apartment, I left something ajar- typically an open window.

Years later, when my children arrived on the scene, it seemed I could never get to the front door fast enough to meet the demands of my four mighty midgets. Rather than let them disturb the neighbors as they wailed “let me in,” an unlocked hinge created peace and harmony for all concerned.

And with their teenage years, nothing changed. Constantly running to our entryway to allow access for the frequent comings and goings of my kids and their friends was exhausting. It was much easier to leave the front door open.

Unfortunately, today we live in an untrustworthy society and rightfully so. With the crime rate what it is, I know it’s foolish for me to be cavalier about security, but I’m the epitome of that old dog who not only can’t, but won’t learn new tricks.

Recently, as I left the YMCA, I had an “AH-HA” moment. Climbing into my black SUV, I sensed something was wrong. I spotted an unfamiliar note on the dashboard. It was a to-do list: go to the grocery store, pick up the dry cleaning, etc. I panicked.

“Who’s been in here?”

Feeling violated, my hand shook as I put the key into the ignition. It didn’t start. Taking a deep breath, I tried again, but to no avail. My first thought was I would need AAA to come to the rescue. It wasn’t the first time my battery died. Then it hit me.

OOPS! This isn’t my car!

It looked like mine. Same color, same style, and was left wide open just like I leave ours. Laughing, I exited and a few rows down located my vehicle. Turning on the ignition with ease, I thought about all the wonderful opportunities unlocked doors had provided me over the years.

The mistaken car started my day with a giggle and a new story to tell. In my youth, an open window meant a safe return home after a crazy night out disco dancing, and as for the front door to my house? Well, that allowed a childhood full of fun and security for my kids and their friends. Our open home meant all were welcome at any time of the day.

I’ve also come to realize locked doors can also be found in your heart and mind. When they’re open, you’re not afraid to try new experiences, meet different people, be interested in unexpected information, or even fall in love. Think back to the times where logic said, “NO,” but instead, you threw caution to the wind and ended up having the time of your life.

Forgiveness can also be a door we choose to unlock. When you let the pain go that was caused by another, you allow yourself to be receptive to wonderful new beginnings, unchained and emotionally empowered.

While we do need to take safety measures to protect ourselves from physical danger (and yes, I do lock my front door these days), I’ve decided to throw the key away when it inhibits my personal growth. That’s a padlock I plan to leave unchained, dangling freely.

Has there ever been a time when you’ve said, “Oh, to hell with it?” and left everything in your life wide open; mind, heart, and front door? Care to share?