Pulling It Together: Closet Lessons for Life

I love reading the comments sent in by readers, and I not only appreciate your willingness to share, but also I am inspired by your stories. I’m inspired by people who take life and run with it … who plow ahead without looking back. People like Dr. Christie Laming.


When I received this note from Christie, I was so moved by her story, and I can relate to so much of what this survivor talks about! (and by the way she should be writing a blog instead of me ). I thought others should also know about her brave, bold and beautiful outlook on life.


Thank you beyond words, Christie, for trusting us in the PLANK community enough to share your story.  I am proud of you! Keep reaching for all that life has to offer!


Pulling It Together: Closet Lessons for Life
by Christie Laming, MD

Recently I received a package with a new black shirt I’d ordered. It was thinner than I expected, and I immediately wondered what I could wear it with, since I didn’t have anything to wear underneath. Suddenly, I remembered I’d also recently purchased a black bra and camisole, which would work perfectly under the shirt. This may seem like a simple, relatively insignificant moment to most women, but for me, it was a milestone. In that moment, I realized I was finally “one of those people,” and I had an overwhelming sense of accomplishment that was about so much more than a new outfit.

Working as a nanny in London.
Working as a nanny in London.

I know you’re probably thinking, “huh?” And I get it. Matching a shirt with corresponding undergarments is probably a weekly, if not daily, occurrence for most women.  But stick with me … I’ll explain.

See, I was a pretty poor kid growing up … the youngest of three girls, raised by a single Mom who had to work three jobs just to support us all. Growing up, I remember never having matching socks and being horrified at the prospect of having the scoliosis check in school (because all the other girls would see me in my bra and undies).

Our struggles didn’t end with clothes. There were times during my childhood when we either ate spaghetti with ketchup or corn flakes with powdered milk (to this day I won’t touch a corn flake). And, I remember having to pick up and move out of our house during the night because we couldn’t pay the rent.

I know that my story isn’t that unique, and that many families in our country continue to struggle. For me, the path from that rough childhood has been more like a rollercoaster, and I sometimes struggle to take a breath. But in being able to go to my own closet and find the matching undergarments, I realized that I’d overcome something I’ve struggled with my whole life.

The first baby I delivered in medical school.
The first baby I delivered in medical school.

I was the first in my family to go to college – a private women’s college, in fact (I mean, go big or go home, right?). I got a scholarship that, when combined with a work-study, covered 75 percent of my tuition/room/board. So, this poor kid from nowhere received $100,000 education for only about $25,000 in student loans. Still, I was a poor kid struggling.

Since then, I’ve done a lot with my life. I’ve traveled to London, where I worked as a nanny. I’ve graduated from college and then medical school. I’ve married and adopted three kids from foster care (now 4, 5 and 13 yrs). And I’ve opened my own family medicine practice. Still, I’ve always been a poor kid struggling.

Even now, my thrifty mind keeps me going to yard sales or charity/ secondhand shops. Slowly, I’m loosening up and I try to splurge a little on myself, but I usually just come home with new outfits or shoes for the kids. While I’ve made some progress, I’ve never been one of those “put together” women.

My family … (l) cuddling before bed, (c) a family portrait and (r) our first photograph after Anna’s adoption

But standing in my closet, I had a realization – a moment of clarity and a sense of calm – that showed me I’m exactly where I’m meant to be (and where I’ve worked so hard to get). I’ve had a small handful of moments like this in my life … like a cloud parting and a fleeting ray of sun splashing across my face to show me that I’ve reached a fork in the road and something will now change.

So why share all of this? I’m not sure, but I felt compelled. Again I realize it’s a small moment that even now sounds like nothing; but it was a moment of enlightenment, that showed me what I have achieved. I was so busy DOING it all, that prior to that moment, I had missed seeing what I’ve actually done.

Opening my family medicine practice.

Now on the other side of the brief moment, I realized that I’m finally where I wanted to be. And, I also know this can’t be where I stop. Instead, I’ll focus more on giving back … to my family, my patients and my community. Because, as they say, with great success comes great responsibility.


  1. Mary Beth, thank you for sharing Christie’s story! It’s so good to see and hear good news,people becoming successful etc.
    Christi, I loved your story, may you continue to use your gift to bless others!

  2. Cindy Martinez

    Honestly Christie….you are all that and a bag of chips. Being a Social Worker I try so hard to preach that college is attainable. Even if you’re like many of my kids eating dry Top Roman, naming the roaches or bouncing from Shelter Care to Foster Homes. Passing on your story and encouraging them to just keep swimming swimming swimming

  3. Stacey AKA BraveWidowMama

    I loved your story. Strong, resilient women inspire me! After my loss, I surrounded myself with my women who weren’t afraid to hear me, to push me and to put a boot in my ass when necessary. They kept me moving forward when I wanted to give up.

    Whether you start from nothing or lose everything, hope always remains.

  4. Christie, I’m so inspired. What a beautiful life you’ve created for yourself and your family. And the families you treat! It’s so easy to forget that there are people struggling when you are wrapped up in your own life. Thank you for sharing this personal story with us, because it’s important to get out of our own mishegos and see – really see – others. Thank you, MB, for providing Christie this Plank to do it!

  5. A lovely inspiring story. My mom has always been my true inspiration. She came to Canada with a small boy not speaking the language. She met my father and was widowed again at a young age. She never complained and always worked hard to support her family. No she didn’t have a glamorous career, she worked as a cook and was proud of it. We too were definitely not rich but I never felt poor. She passed nearly 20 years ago and there is no one I am more proud of!

  6. Mary Beth, Thank you for sharing Christie’s inspiring story!

    Christie, Thank you so much for sharing your incredible journey thus far! You are truly an inspiration! You chose not to let where you began your journey, affect where you are now on this path of life. You had the courage to continue and make life different for yourself and your family.
    I, too, can relate to some of your story. My mom was a single mom and we didn’t have a lot growing up either. I was telling my husband just yesterday that I was always told to go to the sales rack in a store, and to this day I always start there in any store. I very rarely buy anything that isn’t on sale and if I do, I feel so guilty. It’s interesting how some things stick with you no matter how much you have changed in life.
    Congratulations Christie on your wonderful accomplishments in life. I wish you all the best as you continue along your journey!

  7. Karen Weiss

    Thank you to Christie for sharing her inspiring story. Blogs are a unique facet in this world that allow us to connect with one another and share our stories. Sometimes, remarkable things happen when we share a bit of who we are and what our life experiences are. Giving back is certainly one way to
    open ourselves up to possibilities. XO

  8. Thank you, Christie, for sharing your journey. Your early struggles have molded you into a strong woman with a giving, servant’s heart. You are making and will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of everyone you encounter.

    Thank you, Mary Beth, for sharing Christie’s inspiring story with us. Your blog posts always give me a greater appreciation of the blessings in my life.

  9. Mary Beth thank you for sharing Christie’s story, Christie great blog and looks like you have already been giving back. My parents too struggled to put food on the table with 5 kids we also had corn flakes with powdered milk and it was watered down powdered milk at that – no corn flakes in my cupboards!! This blog reminds us all to appreciate and recognize all the things we have accomplished.

  10. Angela Clausell

    What a beautiful story Christie. Your humble beginnings to what you have accomplished is remarkable. Life is all about giving back and you are doing an excellent job. Very inspiring story. Thanks for sharing Marybeth.

  11. Christie, Thank you so much for sharing your incredible story. To say you’re an inspiration is an understatement. It goes way beyond that. Your story brought me to tears.
    Your mom raised a beautiful family and you are a brave & courageous woman!!
    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Mary Beth, a very heartfelt & touching blog today

    Thank you

  12. Susan Nolen (Suzzy1969)

    Mary Beth, I loved this weeks blog!…thank you for sharing Christie’s story with us!

    Christie, what an inspiring story!….your words touched my heart deeply!….thank you for sharing with us fans and us S&K Twitter friends!….You’re truly amazing woman!

  13. Christie, thanks so much for sharing your story! Keep on moving!

  14. Thank you Christie for sharing. I really identify strongly with your ‘small moments of clarity’. I often see strong people who have a destiny and I often feel I am only stumbling along. Yet when I look at my life I think and know that I have achieved a lot. Yet to someone standing next to me those ladders to climb seem so easy or far away-all depending on the circumstances. What can be oh so hard for me is easy to others and vice versa. The point being that every individual has to follow the road that they can as best as they can.
    I am happy to speak in front of hundreds but putting an outfit together still scares me. Others are the complete opposite. Those small moments of clarity are there to remind us who we are and where we have come from. The road we have traveled. Don’t judge me for my insecurities but allow me to grow and succeed on my road.

  15. Thanks for sharing this MaryBeth and thanks for writing it Christine. I understand exactly where you’re coming from. My mom wasn’t single but she did work hard because my dad struggled to find steady work much of my life. But ends were definitely hard to meet and like you I hated those scoliosis checks for the same reason. And like you, I tend not to spend money on myself, but my children have everything they need, plus some. You’ve done an amazing job and worked hard it seems to get where you are. Kudos to you for all that you’ve achieved and remember, it’s okay and even necessary to celebrate the small moments in life that seem inconsequential to others. These days I celebrate when I go to bed before midnight and actually sleep through the night without nightmares and get 6 hours of sleep. We all have our brief moments we have to celebrate and hurdles we have to jump.

  16. Traci Whiting

    Mary Beth thank you for sharing Christie’s story! I was recently very touched by her because she gave my two daughters, Grace and Emeri, $100 to go to Houston for the junior Olympics. She is an amazing woman with a giving heart!! Thank you again Christie, and I’ll keep you posted on how my girls do! And btw my oldest daughter is adopted as well! 😉

  17. Mary Beth,
    Thank you for giving Christie the opportunity to share her story with us!

    Christie, thank you for sharing! You have an incredible story that is both moving and inspiring! I love that you have accomplished so much, and now your goal is to give back! So awesome!

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