“Yikes,” I screamed, sprinting down the street. “They’ll be there any minute!”

On that dreary April morning, I feared that my reputation as a respected Alain Pinel real estate agent would never be taken seriously again. How could I’ve been so stupid?

A few weeks prior, I’d miraculously obtained a listing on Dartmouth Lane, my own street. This golden opportunity gave a whole new meaning to walking to work, and the “neighborhood specialist.”

I flew over the cold asphalt with lightening speed, finally reaching my destination to let the painter into the house. As I struggled with the keys, I felt his gaze run over my entire body. Quickly turning to meet his stare, I hissed indignantly, “What?”

He swiftly shot his eyes upwards and said, Sorry Jackie, but…um, do you always dress like that when you go to work?”

Like many a girlie-girl, I love clothes and strive to look appropriate for every occasion, especially when it comes to my profession.  Confused, I scanned down the length of my 5’5″ frame. Utterly horrified, I mumbled, “Oh my God!” and throwing my arms across my half naked body, I ran pell-mell back to the sanctuary of my home. In an attempt to get to work on time, I’d forgotten to change out of my flimsy, pink nightgown.

Later that day, my wonderful client, Jim Gibson, had a field day when he heard from the neighbors about my early morning wardrobe antics.

“When I hired you, I knew I’d get full service, but I never realized to what extent that would mean.”

Desperately trying to make light of my faux pas, I joked, “When you employ me to do a job, you get all of me.”

I often think of this funny moment to admire how far I’ve come in allowing myself to live exposed. In days gone by, I was a sheltered young woman who held my secrets in a little box, tied with a velvet pink ribbon, and tucked away in the sacred cavern I called my soul. I spent decades, fearful of rejection, terrified of ridicule.

My mother had always been my confidant, but when she passed away, I realized it was time I ventured out of the cave I’d been dwelling, which had actually become a place of loneliness and isolation.

I slowly began to trust others and, one-by-one, allowed them in. I gained a whole new perspective on life and a richness I never knew would be possible for someone as private as I. Having enough faith and belief in others to bare bits of my soul left me raw with vulnerability. But I soon found that as each recipient took the tiny pieces of my life’s mosaic gently into their care, I felt protected and treasured. My joy became immeasurable. The dormant volcano brewing inside exploded and I became free to spew all that was pent-up within.

Now, I don’t advocate running around your neighborhood in your PJ’s, but I do recommend opening your heart and placing your trust in the warm and affectionate hands of those you love. We only have a short time on earth. Why not live it exposed?