Blog

Sticks and Stones – Three Things I’ve Learned About the Power of Words 

I was in a meeting recently and a friend was complimenting her colleague. She was being so kind and caring with her words and her genuine nature created a very safe space for deeper conversation. It struck me that she was being so generous with not only her words, but her assumptions of the good in this person. The exchange was brief. The impact was incredible. The other person was grateful, and I believe, felt truly seen and heard.

Remember telling that kid in the playground who was bullying you with “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”. I call bullsh*t. I’ve seen way too often how deeply powerful and painful words can be. Have you ever said something, out loud (or email, text, on-line) that you wished you could have taken back instantly? I have had a few of these mortifying moments where, there they were, the words out there landing as they may on the people around me. My face flushed deep red, I felt sick to my stomach and I so wished I could take back the words. Such a gross feeling – the knowledge that the words I used might have hurt someone. Ugh.

So, after this meeting, I drove home inspired and curious as to how I could be more generous in my assumptions, my words, my approach – even if it’s a tiny wee-bit. It brought to mind a quote I’ve seen circulating social media over the past year:

Before you speak, let your words pass through these gates:

“Is it true?”

“Is it necessary?”

“Is it kind?”

Kind words are much easier when things are good. What I mean by that is, it is difficult to be caring with my words when I’m angry, righteous, in conflict, afraid, hurt or offended. And I am pretty certain, that’s actually when it counts the most.

How challenging is it can to not fling open the gates and barge in and to be aware of the tremendous impact words can have on others? Let’s take a look at what I discovered with the three gates and the power of words:

Is it true? Have you read Loving What Is by Bryon Katie? This is the profound question she asks. Is it true? When I’m on my high horse or heels are dug in, the answer is usually “hells ya”! And you know, sometimes the facts are the facts and yes, it is true. And then she asks, “Is it REALLY true”? It’s this second asking of this question that actually invites a pause, a breath and a deeper look if this thing is absolutely, completely true. I apply this a lot to things I see on social media, idle gossip by anyone (including myself), and am trying harder to apply in my assumptions or judgments I have of others. It is an invitation to ask yourself, at the first gate, before speaking, “Is it really (really, really) true”? I’m a bit humbled that the answer is often “No” or “I’m not actually sure”.

Is it necessary? Oh, yes, it is completely necessary! This second gate is my Achilles heel when I’m feeling self-righteous. I have a voice and I am using it. I really like to insert my thoughts and opinions (just ask my husband and the soap box I carry around!) and I feel the world will be better off with me sharing my words. Hmm. Except that, and this is unsettling, this is actually not true. In some recent coaching training I’ve received, the facilitator, Dr. David Drake shared a thought-provoking quote and a great piece of advice: “Do not speak unless you can improve on the silence” – Ram Dass. Is it necessary begs the question “Do I really need to say this”? Often times, um more often than not, the answer is “No, it really is not necessary”.

Is it kind? Even if I’ve charged my way through the true and necessary gates, this third one should stop me in my tracks. When a word (more importantly an unkind word, or a kind word with an ill-intent i.e.: passive aggressive), is out, it is like a million pieces of confetti being thrown into the sky, it is impossible to pick up and take back every little piece. Yes, one can apologize for a hurtful or spiteful word but once through this gate, there will likely always be confetti pieces that never get cleaned up. I’m reminded of the simple little book I’ve been carrying with me for over a decade now called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. He states in the 1st Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word. I’d quote the entire chapter if I could, it’s mystical and magical, profound and important, simple in theory and challenging in practice. Using words with a positive intention (yes, even in a tougher conversation). Asking is it kind? If it is not, why say it?

Thinking about that meeting, and how my friend naturally, likely unintentionally, yet caringly walked through these gates. She spoke a beautiful true statement about the colleague – a compliment of their character. It was so necessary because the impact was palpable. And kind – yes, beyond belief.

Speak when you are angry – and you will make the best speech you will ever regret. ~ Laurence J. Peter

Let It Go – Three Unexpected Things I Learned When Burning My Diaries    

I’ve spent the last month going through my diaries from when I was a teenager. Admittedly, this has been a very difficult thing to do. I am bearing witness to a young person who was, for the most part, jealous, way-too-boy-crazy, mean, spiteful and downright angry. To read some of the words I wrote is painful and quite honestly if someone else read them, embarrassing.

Time has luckily softened my angst. Growing up and becoming an adult contributed to this, no doubt. And a lot of “self” work over the past few decades has helped tremendously. That anger was poison. It was poison to other people around me. And it was the most poisonous to my own well-being.

Reading these words has also been an amazing gift. It has given me the chance to take a step back, to look back and see how far I’ve come in this life (thank goodness). And most of all, to get curious about how I am so different now than I was then. In reflecting back, I’ve discovered a common theme: Letting It Go. In burning the diaries, I had some unexpected learnings:

  • Letting go is a form of forgiving: I’ve carried some resentment, some anger, some hurt, well into my adulthood. While I’ve worked on this in a variety of forms, learning to let these toxic emotions go has been a form of forgiveness. These emotions are only really hurting me – if I sit at home ruminating that “this person should pay for that thing they did” or “that person is just a big jerk” or “the world is terribly unfair”, I’m only creating harmful emotions for me. Allowing these to go feels like a level of forgiving those that I feel may have unintentionally hurt me – yes, unintentional as I believe in my heart no one set out to intentional hurt me. In letting go, I allow for more joy, calmness, love and compassion to enter. Tearing out each of those diary pages is letting go of the past and moving on towards my future.

 

  • Letting go let me avoid conflict, in a good way: I’ve been told most of my adult life that avoiding conflict is bad. I feel like I’ve avoided conflict all my life, except what strikes me is that, while my memory is somewhat fuzzy on the specifics, I actually created conflict in my teen years. When did the pendulum swing from being an instigator of strife to the exact opposite as a complete conflict avoider? Was this a mechanism for trying to change my bad behavior? If you are also an avoider of conflict then you too know avoiding conflict does not always serve us, however, like anything, it does have its upside. Because I tend to steer away from conflict, it does allow me to let go of potential conflicts a lot more quickly and easily. I ask myself” “Is this worth it?” Nine times out of ten the answer is “no”, it is not worth it. Conflict avoiding gives me more access to actually let sh*t go, in a good way.

 

  • Letting go helped me lose weight: I do not have a scale that can measure the weight of each page I tore out. I am going to assume that each diary likely weighed somewhere between ¼ to ½ a pound. I got rid of around 10 diaries and journals (so far). So, adding all that up I shed around 5 pounds. This was like a cloak was lifted off my shoulders, allowing me to stand up a little straighter, open up my heart a little more, expand my mind a bit wider. It was getting rid of junk that I have been carrying around for 40 years, buried in the bottom of a big box labeled “heavy”. Yep, it was heavy all right. And I will continue to practice letting it go – especially the stuff that does not serve me, that does not fill up my cup, that does not feed my own soul. Deep breath. I’m tearing out and burning the pages of those old diaries. I’m letting the old anger, unmet expectations, sadness, resentment and jealousy go, page by page.

 

“Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting, it just means we stop carrying the energy of the past into the present”. Yung Pueblo

A Look Back – Three Things I Learned in 2019

I had a big milestone birthday this year, the big 5 – 0, as they say. This is big actually, if you think about it, 50 years alive (and hopefully thriving) on this planet. That is pretty amazing.

And one would think that at 50, the learning slows down, there’s not much new information to acquire unless of course I’m back in some type of formal education setting. Well we know that is not true at all! Approaching this life with a sense of wonder, a keen desire to continue to learn, an open mind to discovery, is a key ingredient in maintaining a youthful life.

So, with a sense of humbleness and gratefulness, I share the top three things I learned this past year:

  • Trees are really important: Duh, right? I may be late to the party on this one, but I’ve learned a lot about how important trees are to our planet, our environment, our ecosystems, our well-being. I’ve known for years trees are important but this year, I was finally paying attention. One book I read was called: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. It was eye-opening and sometimes heartbreaking on how we’ve treated our life-giving forests as a commodity at our own disposable and not as a diverse, integrated, important, alive community (the irony of holding a book, made with paper, from trees, is not lost on me). I’m so lucky as I get to spend lots of time in the forests – and now I have a new wonder and deep appreciation of each and every part of this complex ecosystem.
  • People are really important: I look at my circle which includes family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and I’ve discovered these people are my forest. These people are my trees. They are part of a system that supports each other. They are sturdy, resilient, providing shade when needed, providing strong foundation when needed and allowing me to walk my own path, standing vigilantly by but never getting in the way. They nourish and feed, they are life giving, they are integral to my well-being. Recently I was talking with a friend that I had not spoken with for a while and I started to say I was sorry for not being better at staying in touch and she said “Nope, let’s not do that. We’re connecting now and that’s perfect”. Sometimes our people are on the other side of the forest, but they are still there – solid.
  • Letting that sh*t go is important: Back in May I wrote about Wu Wei and the art of loosening our grip, a letting go so to speak. This year has been one of letting go. Letting go of things that no longer serve me like the teenage-angst-anger-is-my-middle-name diaries I found in a box I’ve been hauling around for over 30 years. It is a weight lifted, letting those hard-to-read diaries go, letting that anger and spite and ferociousness that I am no longer carrying go out into the abyss. Also, loosening my grip on my frustrations around more injuries that derailed my exercise and recreation program and learning to accept what’s working in the moment and that each day I work towards healing and getting stronger. Letting go of the constant nagging at myself about my weaknesses, my kryptonite. Letting that go allows me to focus more positive energy on my superpowers, my soul-igniters, the stuff in my wheelhouse, this sh*t that matters.

So here I am, at 50, with a lot of great life lessons already learned (thank goodness). And honestly, 10-fold more on the horizon. No matter what age you are at right now, I invite you to spend time as the days grow shorter and nights longer, to consider what you might have learned in this past year and approach next year with a sense of wonder of what you might discover next.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better. I do better.” –  Maya Angelou

The Foundation – Three Things I’ve Learned about Trust

According to the Oxford Dictionary trust is defined as a “firm belief in the reliability, truth or strength etc. of a person or thing”. When teams struggle, very often there is a breakdown in trust. A breakdown in the reliability of each other, the confidence in each other.

When I was in high school, I had a social studies teacher that started off the year proclaiming to the entire class that everyone, at this very moment, has a “A” in this class. For someone who never really achieved high marks, I was pretty stoked to say the least. Until the teacher then went on to say that it was now my job to maintain that “A”.  He had given us the benefit of the doubt, he started off with trust and it was up to us to keep it.

What do you think? Is trust only earned and built over time, thereby we start off with little to no trust? Or can trust be given generously and then it is up to the involved parties to hold it vigilantly? It’s the chicken and egg debate. I believe there is no right or wrong answer here. Both work, both are right and in fact, most people likely find the middle point.

No matter if you are in an organization, a friendship, a relationship, or a community – trust is the foundation. Like a house, it has to be solid for anything to be built on it. When I work with teams, if I see there is little trust, that is my starting point for helping them.

While there are so many important elements to trust, here are three basic things I’ve learned about trust in all aspects of my life. I’m betting none of these are new to you, but hopefully a good reminder:

  • Be impeccable with your word – this is one of the Four Agreements written by Don Miguel Ruiz (read this book, it is so powerful and timeless). Speak with a positive intention. Don’t gossip. Hold people’s information with care – do not share people’s private information. One of the quickest ways to erode trust is to gossip, share information that is not yours and to speak unkindly of others. Additionally, it is okay to admit to mistakes – we are human after all and will all inevitably make mistakes along the way. I have a lot of admiration for people who stand up and say, “Yikes, I made that mistake and I am taking responsibility for it”.
  • Do what you said you would do – this one is simple, but quite often I’ve had my own experience of over-committing and then finding myself scrambling to finish what I promised. The trick here is to find the balance – the balance of committing to what you know you can follow through with and the balance of knowing when you might need to ask for help. A big part of this is consistency. Being consistent in your commitments and follow through is a key part of building trust.
  • Meet in the middle – while trust may be blindly given at the beginning, it takes work and effort to build on and maintain it – to maintain that proverbial “A”. It takes both or all parties to support trust. It cannot be one-sided and be truly trusting. I see this as a meeting in the middle – we are all committed to coming to the trust centre together. I can count on you. You can count on me.

Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. ~ Stephen Covey

Thirst for Change – Three Things I’ve Learned about Change

I named my business Thirst for Change Coaching. I tossed around a lot of other names but kept coming back to Thirst for Change. I have a broad offering of services from HR projects to training to coaching and all of these have a common denominator of change.

According to the dictionary definition, change is to make or become different; alter or modify and/or to have a new experience and coaching supports this for people. Individuals want coaching because they are keen to shift something – to take steps forward, to get un-stuck, to make a move towards their goals or dreams, to make some type of change.

Similarly, facilitating and training is all about providing people with information, tools, tips and methods to do something different, to modify their behavior or action. And at the heart of any HR project I tackle is the desire to make a positive change in the organization I’m working with.

It makes sense. Thirst for Change. It’s a call to action. It’s a challenge, perhaps. It is an expectation that something will change.

And change is a business in and of itself. There are fantastic models, books and certified change guru’s helping companies lead big organization-wide changes. I’m grateful for these step-by-step approaches as large-scale, company-wide changes can be immensely difficult and challenging.

I can’t verify who said this, but it makes sense: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. Yes! The three big things I’ve learned about change aren’t about process or steps, they are about mindset and attitude:

Early Adopter – change is hard, I get it. I’ve lagged far behind with change many times and it is a bunch of hard work to catch up. While there will be times you initiate change, let’s face it, change is going to happen to you, like it or not. If you can muscle up the gumption, I recommend getting on board early. Yes, you will be worried, yes frustrated, likely a bit afraid, and perhaps lacking all the information. My experience is that is all quite normal and do your best to ask yourself questions to help shift your mindset:

  • What are the opportunities, the possibilities with this change?
  • What is one thing (even something small) I can do right now to get involved, to understand, to support?
  • What do I have control over?

Say Goodbye – one of the best books I’ve read on transition during change is “Managing Transitions” by William Bridges. He says it is important to honour “the old” as part of being open to embrace the new. I’ve heard great stories of teams having ceremonies to send off the old system/equipment/process/building etc. Not only is this a great way to bring a team together, it is important to have closure, to say good-bye.

Resistance is Futile – it is normal to go through a cycle when transitioning through change. Pay attention to where you might be at during a change and use the questions in the first learning point under Early Adopter to help move through each phase. Here is what I’ve seen play out most often:

  • Starting with denial: nope, this is not happening!
  • Followed by resistance: oh, this is happening, I’m not sure I’m cool with this change. I’m afraid. I like the old way better.
  • Then exploratory: I’m curious, I want to learn more, but I’m still a bit guarded.
  • And finally, commitment: onboard captain, let’s sail this ship!

And, I’m human. Recently I was in line at my favorite restaurant, with a good friend, having a look a newly redesigned menu. I started complaining that some of my favorite items were no longer on the menu. I became somewhat flustered, actually a bit angry and did not know what to order – my go-to’s were no longer there. I made several comments on how crazy the new menu was. My friend leaned over and whispered to me “Isn’t your company called Thirst for Change”? We both burst out laughing – yes, of course it was and yes, I was struggling with the changes. It dawned on me how normal our initial resistance is with change – even if it is good – like the new menu item I finally ordered and enjoyed – it is now my new favorite!

“It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place in between that we fear… It’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.” – Marilyn Ferguson

The Wise Owl – Three Things I Learned from My Grandpa

In this second part of a two-part series, I share the life lessons my Grandpa taught me. In reflecting and writing about both my Mom and Grandpa, I am filled with sadness as I miss them each and every day. And I am filled with such deep gratitude for having known them and even more so for their wisdom and lessons.

In describing my Mom as a Mama Bear, I thought a lot about how to describe my Grandpa. Born in the late 1920’s, my Grandpa was a determined (some in my family would say stubborn), stoic, hard-working man. I’d even say a self-made man – he had a grade 9 education and still worked his way up into management roles with Parks Canada – something I’m not sure would be available to a high school drop-out nowadays.

Reflecting on my Grandpa, while some would likely use a bull or an ox to describe his hard-working, tenacious manner, I feel the owl best illustrates his impact on my own life. It’s been said that an owl symbolizes wisdom and even prophecy. The wisdom coming from life’s experiences, mis-steps and adventures. Again, like my Mom, the lessons weren’t through him telling me what to do or not to do, rather through his actions and how he showed up in this world.

Over the past few years, with the stark realization that time was running out, I was able to really stop and listen to my Grandpa – to hear his stories, his regrets, his achievements, his adventures. My husband and I would prop him up in our backyard, with a Bud Light, sitting in the shadow of our mountain range and listen. The stories he shared were like meandering walks on a deserted beach, slow strolls through a vast farm field or a rain forest boardwalk wander (fittingly of which he had a hand in building in Pacific Rim National Park). So here I am, today, sharing three things I learned from my Grandpa, a wise old owl.

Keep It Simple – I can see my Grandpa rubbing his head in frustration when drama ignited. He was not one for making a scene or for engaging in life’s dramas. It was like he knew the secret of a happy life was to “keep it simple”. Not like your head in the sand, rather a focus on what was important. He probably did not even do this consciously, but he would shut out the noise, the distractions and stay focused on the simple things. He and I would ride our bikes on the Galloping Goose trail and he’d often stop to look at a small flock of quail, newly born baby sheep, a viewpoint overlooking the ocean or on one special occasion, two beautiful owls watching us ride by. He cared about these seemingly little things. These simple pleasures of life. In his later years, a pint and bowl of clam chowder at his favorite pub made him happy. Sitting in our backyard, staring at the majestic mountains filled him up with joy. But it wasn’t just the simple things, it was his fundamental approach to life. Keeping life simple. When I’d ask for advice from him, his response was about not over-complicating things, sticking to the root of what I wanted, what was truly important (so aligned to the coaching work I do now). And Grandpa was never excessive – even with his bike of which he put thousands of kilometers on and rightfully deserved a shiny new part – he’d find a simple way to jerry-rig said part instead of buying new.

Grand Adventures – While my Grandpa did not travel all over the world, he loved adventures. He was adventurous, even a bit of a dumb-dumb daredevil. His one and only overseas adventure was a working sailing trip from Gibraltar to South America. The stories he told of swimming in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean were awe-inspiring, if not terrifying. In his 70’s he did numerous biking trips all over BC including a memorable 7-day jaunt we did together on the Kettle Valley Railway. When Grandpa was 88, my partner and I were married. Grandpa decided to make an adventure out of it and fly on a float plane to our wedding. He did this on two more occasions after the wedding – loving the experience of taking a float plane and traveling on his own. On his last trip to our home, he had bladder cancer, limited mobility and was thrilled when we took him to Joffre Lakes. Imagine this 90-year-old, with a walker, storming down an uneven, undulating trail to the first lake. He sat on the bench at the lake and was like “Wow”. It still brings me to tears thinking about this day, this moment – that we were able to take my Grandpa on a little adventure, despite all the obstacles. While I am quite a bit more cautious, I try hard to tap into my Grandpa’s sense of adventure and get out of my tight little comfort zone (some days easier said than done).

Give It Your All – I can use Grandpa’s work life to describe this as he was so deeply committed and such a hard worker, but quite frankly that is not what stood out to me in terms of his dedication and commitment. It was how he took care of my Grandma. When my Grandma was in her 60’s she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I cannot remember all the timelines, but my memory is that she moved into advanced stages quite quickly. My Grandpa took care of her until he physically could not – around 10+ years. But not only did he take care of her (already heroic in my eyes), he made it amazing for her. He’d modify her wheelchair so they would go off road, over bumpy terrain, on grand adventures. He set up the van to ensure he could get her to the local pub – and work with the pub staff to ensure he could get her wheelchair in without issue. He’d figure out how to get her into a canoe and yep, take her canoeing. He committed to making this difficult and often terrible time a more bearable and perhaps even a happy time. He was completely dedicated to her care. When Grandma finally went to 24-7 care, Grandpa would ride his bike 30km’s one way, to see her – pretty much almost every single day. His dedication and commitment to my Grandma’s care has stuck with me so profoundly. While there is no way I could live up this same standard, I aspire to live my life with dedication and commitment to the people around me, to what I believe in, to the work I do.

My Grandpa was a few months shy of 91 when he passed away. One of the most amazing gifts he gave me in the end was the peace of mind in knowing he was ready. He had lived life full, fully, to its fullest. He was bruised, battered, used up, happy, content and at peace with the life he had lived. Wow. He had quite a ride!

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather a skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a ride!”  ~ Hunter S. Thompson

Mama Bear – Three Things I Learned From My Mom

This blog is the first of a two-part series in which I explore the lessons from two very important people in my life: My Mom and My Grandpa. Both of these amazing people passed away in the last few years. Naturally, as I move through the grief process, a lot of my time has been contemplating their lives and what I learned from their time on this planet.

My Mom and my Grandpa were the biggest influences in my life. Without being explicit about it, they had many life lessons to pass on – not necessarily through telling but absolutely through their actions, how they carried themselves in this world. All I had to do was pay attention, I mean really pay attention. But to pay attention is one thing – it’s what I choose to do with the lessons given me.

My Mom died two years ago. I’ve often referred to our collective “Mama’s” as Mama Bears and on the eve of Mom passing, in a town that does not typically see a lot of bears on the streets, my sister and I watched a beautiful, big black bear saunter down the road past our house. Flash forward to this very moment, I kid-you-not, as I am writing this blog, I look outside and see a Mama Bear with three new cubs walking near my backyard. I think I’m meant to write this story.

The Mama Bear of the actual bear family is a teacher, a protector, a provider. Her job is critical in those early days. The little cubs, like little humans are the most vulnerable in the early days of life. But then the Mama Bear teaches life skills, encourages a wider range for her cubs and eventually nudges the adolescents out on their own. But unlike a bear family once out on their own may never see their siblings or mama again, whereas us humans tend to stay connected with our families and if willing, continue to learn and seek counsel from our wise family members.

My Mom did not have an easy life. She battled (and I mean went to war with) mental health issues almost her entire life. It was often a bumpy road for all of us. And yet, she had amazing, and joyful times in her life. She raised a family, she furthered her education, she built a community of supportive people around her. And I don’t think I told her, really shared with her, the lessons she taught me along the way. So here, right now, with my hand over my heart, I share three things I learned from my Mom about life:

Dust Off and Keep Going: As I mentioned, her life was incredibly difficult a great deal of the time. Mental health issues as a teenager, diagnosed with seriously intense bipolar in adulthood, two divorces, raising four kids, a few years living in poverty, and returning to school in her late 30’s, and if that was not enough, a few other serious illnesses along the way – one of which eventually took her from us. There were definitely times when Mom got knocked to the ground – to the point we were not sure she’d come out the other side. And then she’d have to do fist-a-cuff battle to get back on her feet. Time and time again, she’d be down, and she’d claw back up, dust herself off and keep on going. The immense strength and determination to do this is, well, quite frankly, superhuman. She did this one minute at a time, one day at a time, one step at a time. This was probably the biggest lesson she taught me – to just keep going, to keep trying. Get up when you get knocked down. Dust yourself off. And get on with it. She was a fighter and definitely fighting above her weight category.

It Takes A Community: At one low point in her life, my Mom did not have a lot of friends or community around her. We talked a lot about how lonely and alone she felt and how important community and friendships were to our health and well-being. So of course, being the fighter she is, she decided to do something about this, one beautiful connection at a time. She took up golf and met two gals that became incredible friends. She started attending church and I can’t even begin to list the number of people that surrounded Mom with love here. She reconnected with a dear friend with whom she had a falling out with (an unfortunate misunderstanding) 20 years previous – this friend being someone Mom spoke every single night after they reconciled. She slowly, but surely built the loving and caring friendships around her – a community of people that made my Mom feel loved, like she belonged, that she mattered. I believe her community breathed life into her, without even knowing it, held her up. This has reinforced in me how critically important the people around me are to my own well-being. Each and every person I connect with, each person I help and that helps me, each person I get to laugh and play with are part of my community. Wow.

Advice-sometimes, Listen-always: Despite my Mom having challenging times, she always wanted to know how I was doing, what I was up to. It would have been easy to protect my Mom from my silly, small problems when she was struggling, but then I would have been robbing her of her earned right to be my Mom. So, every week and sometimes several times a week we’d chat about life stuff. She had a gift to just sit and listen to me. Occasionally she’d offer advice but more often she’d just listen and say to me “Honey, you’ll find the right solution, you’ll figure this out”. I tend to be an advice giver (heaven knows I gave her a ton of advice through the years), so this lesson has been an on-going gift to me in helping my coaching, in my relationships, in my work and life in general. I try to slow down, shut out my own noisy brain and do my best to listen first. It is an incredible gift when someone gives us their undivided time and attention. I want to keep this feeling front of mind when I am listening and connecting with others. I want to channel my Mom and her gift she gave to everyone – to be right there with them, holding space, listening deeply.

Before I close this off, I wanted to say thank-you for taking the time to read a bit longer blog and also one that is a bit more personal in nature. I do not profess to be perfect at the lessons my Mom taught me – not even close – but I try each day to channel her strength and gifts she gave me. It’s a journey. One day at a time. One step at a time.

“You wake up every morning to fight the same demons that left you so tired the night before and that, my love, is bravery.” ~ Unknown