Monday, September 2, 2013


By Julie Rahm

     I was raised in Thousand Oaks, California. Back then, it was very rural. Often, movie companies from nearby Hollywood filmed westerns in Thousand Oaks. The town was near enough to make travel convenient and remote enough to achieve the desired country setting. I never imagined leaving California. It is a magnificent part of the country where you can surf and snow ski on the same day! My parents still reside there. They have lived in the same house for forty-five years and have long standing relationships with their neighbors; which leads to this week’s story.
     Most of the neighbors have keys to each other’s houses. Sharing keys is a common practice to remedy the inadvertent lock-out from one’s house. Well, this particular afternoon a neighbor inadvertently locked herself out of her house. No problem. My parents have a key. Unfortunately, it was the wrong key. Locks were changed and the new key was not issued to my parents. No problem. The neighbor’s daughter also has a key. She lives nearby and can open the house. Unfortunately, nobody can find her. She is out shopping and is not answering her cell phone. Fortunately, the neighbor’s son-in-law also has a key. Unfortunately, he is an attorney, was in an important meeting, and could not be interrupted. Fortunately, the neighbors across the street also have a key. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find it.
     Consequently, although my parents invited her to wait in their home, the locked-out neighbor resigned herself to enjoy the morning on her porch. About lunchtime, her son-in-law arrived on the scene with a key. After opening the door, he reminded his mother-in-law that she has a spare key taped under the small table on the porch. She had forgotten about that key. It was right under her nose the entire time.
     By now, you regular readers must know where this column is headed…first, a few words about actual keys, and then, the life metaphor. The first known lock and key were made out of wood about 4,000 years ago. Archeologists found the first lock in the Khorsabad palace ruins near Nineveh. Now we have keys to our homes, cars, boats, businesses, safe deposit boxes, lockers, diaries, and to so many other things. In some cases, combination-style locks and remote-access electronic locks have replaced keys.
     And then we have metaphorical keys, like success principles entitled “keys to success”. As with my parents’ neighbor, the keys to success are frequently right under our noses. In my case, that is a literal statement. A key to success for me has been to zip my lip. Zip it! For instance, when a sarcastic response rushes from your brain to your tongue, zip your lip. When you’re eager to spread the latest gossip, zip it. When you’re about to get in an argument with your spouse, zip it. A time for effective conversation will present itself. Breathe in. Breathe out. And zip it! Then, visit me where I rarely zip it, online at

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