Monday, December 17, 2012


On December 13, 2012 I was taking part in a monthly leadership group.  No one knew at this time what horrors would unfold 24 hours later in Newtown , CT.  Our topic for our morning lecture was based on the idea of contradiction and creativity.  We explored how they have a yin/yang relationship, and how upon further inspection, contradiction holds within it tremendous value.  This seemed obvious to me immediately, but before this lecture the idea had been totally outside of my awareness.

What I was realizing was that I had always couched contradiction in terms of disrespect.  I had automatically aligned my thinking here.  The result of this little assumed thought was that whenever someone contradicted me, I struggled because I was coming from a place of insecurity.  An outside idea that contradicted my thinking somehow threatened me because of all the personal meaning I had attached to it.

It occurred to me suddenly during that lecture that contradiction is nothing more than two separate realities at play.  There is nothing to take personally about that.  There is nothing to be insecure about.  From this viewpoint the big picture was more clear.  Contradiction from this non-personal viewpoint actually creates an opportunity to listen to each other and create something new.  In essence, if contradictions can be seen less personally they are invitations for creativity and new perspective.  Contradictions only feel bad when we are attached to our personal thinking!

Our instructor pointed out two quotes on this day...two quotes that now stand out in a different way.  They are as follows:
"Sometimes you get what you want, but it's not what you need." ~ Stevie Nicks 
"The pursuit of truth is a destructive process." ~ Author Unknown
These quotes could not be more relevant than they are now as our leaders and policy makers are called on to address mass shootings, mental health care & gun control issues in our nation.  At such a difficult time...such a time of national and international heart break, I am using my energies to be hopeful and vocal about the kind of insights our leaders need to be functioning from at this time.

What if our leaders could function from an understanding of contradiction and creativity?  What if they could see that our disagreements on gun control, mental health, media violence, etc could be seen as an opportunity to create something new...something that serves as a proper tribute and legacy to the families in Newtown?  What if we were collectively so moved by this devastation that we let go of the personal tight-hold we have on these issues?  What if we, as average citizens, decided to lead by example and did not settle for less from our leaders?  Could this impersonal kind of thinking, where we all reach for something deeper rather than focusing on being right or getting our way, be contagious?

The answer to this last question is yes & there is so much potential here at this time.  We have listeners right now...listeners who are the leaders of our nation.  I urge each of you to be moved by the wisest part of you!  This is not a time to be quiet and afraid.  This is a time to listen to the insights that come to you, and then respond passionately & with purpose.  We can do so much better & we need to for each family in Newtown.  Little things add a leader at this time.  Be the kind of leader you want to see in our leaders.

The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, 
but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.
~ John Buchan 


Monday, August 20, 2012

What To Teach?

There are moments in life when transition is in the air.  I've been feeling the changes...witnessing the changes.  I've been having a feeling that there is something I've learned.  Something that's hard to put my finger on and even more difficult to explain...but I'll try!

So often in life, we are attached to the outcome.  Said outcome will prove that the steps I took were right and vice-verse.  We look for certain things in our world to justify our perspective...very natural and a tremendous waste of time. 

Lately, instead, I have noticed a change in my way of doing things.  Instead of being aware of the plan and the goal, I have just been aware of what I know and what makes sense.  As a little gift, I have also been aware of some beautiful tweaks in what I teach.

When I say "teach" I immediately think of my kids.  Then I think of the kids I work with.  They are included in my definition of "teach" (for sure!), but I mean it more broadly.  I'm pointing to the fact that we all move through life and in our little choices we are teaching those around us.  We are connecting in certain ways because of what we are teaching those who experience us.  We are not trying to do this, but it is the most natural thing!  The way we make sense of things (via our thinking) determines what we share...or teach.
A couple of examples...

Without trying to, in the last few weeks I visited both a cemetery & a memorial site with my kids.  Sounds awful.  You may even question my parenting skills.  If you can put that personal thinking aside, you may here something else.
While in my home town a few weeks ago I took my kids to the baseball field.  This was done with intention, because 15 years earlier I had made a plaque and mounted it on one of the benches in memory of my dear high school friend.  He had committed suicide not many years after graduation...he was also a baseball player & later a coach. 
My daughter, who is older, was concerned at first that I would be sad, but that was not at all the turn of events.  As I sat on the bench...rubbing the plaque gently...I felt peaceful.  My children were playing...laughing.  I spoke to him without words as I sat there smiling and just feeling like you would feel when in the company of an old friend.  I didn't let my personal thinking interfere once.

As we went back to the car, we were all hugging and skipping down the lane.  Later that night my son asked if we could go back to the baseball field.  My daughter said that she loved watching me sit on the bench, because I looked so happy.  What did I choose to teach my kids in that moment?  What direction did my choices point them in?
Consider that while I share the second scenario involving a cemetery.  I lost a friend/client last year suddenly.  She was only 17 and had a seizure.  It was an awful shock as you can imagine.  I had been putting off a visit to her grave, but one morning the time felt right. 

My son was in camp, and my daughter wanted to come with me.  At first I didn't think that was appropriate, but then I paused and realized that it sounded very sweet.  My young friend had loved children & had asked a lot about my daughter.  I again dropped my personal thinking and felt my way through. 

When we got to the cemetery we realized there was no tombstone for her yet, because it was such a new burial.  I didn't know how we would find it, but the coolest thing happened.  My daughter felt strongly about which direction it was in.  "Near that little tree" she said.  Of course, she was right.  When we got closer we saw that someone had made a heart out of stones on her plot.  Such a tear jerking scene, and you can bet that I cried.
The surprise is the kind of cry I had.  No sound, just a stream of tears.  It felt like there was so much sadness in this spot.  Yet from inside of myself I felt an out-poor of love.  The tears were not stopping.  I just felt connected to her so strongly...I suddenly knew so much more.  It was powerful...stirring.  All the while, my daughter gathered flowers from the grass, sprinkling them carefully around her plot.  We listened to the birds and hugged a lot.  As we left, another man was leaving as well.  We shared a smile that can't be explained by any other word than mystical.  It was all not what I would have imagined, but was perfect in every way.
As we drove home, I checked in with my daughter.  Did my crying worry or upset you?  Was that weird?  Are you okay?  She smiled and sighed saying, "I want to come next time too, and let's bring some nail polish to paint one of those stones."  There was nothing in our experience or her response that mimicked all of the things we typically associate with death and cemetery visits.  We had, thankfully, done it our way, and we were rewarded instantly by the feeling of the whole day.

When I reflected I was trying to figure out just exactly what I had learned...I realized that it was not what I had learned, it was what I had taught.  The thing my kids are witnessing and learning about death and loss have very much to do with a connection that is not broken when our physicality becomes threatened.  My perspective of deaths has changed so much that without noticing, I have provided them with a different view.
My son, who is seven, has asked me some questions about death recently.  Age appropriate, and on the heals of our cat dying last winter.  It's a scary thing to answer honestly when a child wants to know if you'll die before him.  I don't know...we don't that's scary!  The thing is that I actually had some answers that feel genuine.

How can I put this simply?...If I know that we are all a part of something bigger than us, then I also know that when our body gives out that is all that happens.  This life energy that we all have access to is the stuff that our personal connections are made of.  It's the thing that we feel on the inside about a person whether or not our five senses are experiencing them at that moment. 

Now granted, death and loss are sad.  Saying goodbye to experiencing someone the way you are used to is painful and regretful.  What I'm saying is that when I tell my son that "Even when one of us dies, we will always be connected", I am telling the truth.  We are all so blessed to have these gifts of thinking, awareness & wisdom.  All we must do to connect with someone is to come into a space where personal thinking is stilled and we can hear/feel what's in our heart.  This is where you find everyone whom you've cherished, and this place is untouchable...not even grief, loss or death can take it away. 

Being able to teach this to my kids, because I know it as truth, has been more than I've wished to impart.  It is so important in life to take a moment as transitions and changes occur and notice what you're putting out there.  There's a lot to be proud of, and there is a lot of proof to what you've been teaching. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Perspective Changes Everything

"If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it."
– Mary Engelbreit

Anyone can read this quote and recognize the simple brilliance it points to, but the power isn't in the recognition.  The power is in the experiencing...the power comes when you find yourself a changed person.  Recently, I was fortunate enough to experience a change in perspective and all that unfolded from it.  It reminded me how easily and quickly change occurs.  It always seems to happen unbeknownst to me, and by the time I notice it my reality has already shifted.  This is quite to the contrary of mainstream's view of change, which usually involves a long, painful process wherein one must "re-train" themselves.

Let me begin with a story.  It's my story (or part of it at least) simplified for everyone's benefit.  I did not grow up with my biological father, but I did grow up with a dad.  He meant a lot to me, naturally.  As time went on and I entered my teenage years, trouble hit my parent's marriage & my dad began to check out.  One of the things that he began to do with his time was to become a mentor to various young kids in our small town.  He began to spend a lot of time with other kids and he began to financially support them, as well.  
I was jealous and hurt.  I carried this with me far into the future.  I hit certain levels of forgiveness and acceptance with my dad over the years, but I kept my boundaries firmly in place.  I would, occasionally, hear about someone new in his life and how he was helping them.  It always was upsetting.  It was always personal even when I knew this was foolish.

There was one girl in particular that I had avoided.  I avoided her, because my dad really loves her.  She calls him dad...he walked her down the isle on her wedding day.  He bought her a car, bought her a restaurant.  People around town have asked my sisters why they never met our fourth sister sooner, yet I had never met her.  It was all so overwhelming that I just decided to never meet her and to avoid thoughts of her in general.  

Recently, though, in the last few weeks I have been experiencing my time with my dad differently.  My perspective just seemed to soften.  He looks older to me...he seems different.  I don't think, in actuality, that he changed in the last few weeks, but the way I see him changed a lot.  My thoughts of him changed & so the lens I see him through is also different.  

There have been a handful of positive results due to this change in perspective.  All of them can be summed up by the fact that when I think of my dad now, I smile.  I smile, not roll my eyes...this feels  Beyond this, however, my new thinking created a specific experience that I know would not have happened within the confines of my old reality.  

While visiting my hometown for the weekend, I made lunch plans with my dad.  I know he always eats at the restaurant that he co-owns, but this time I did not suggest somewhere else...I did not squirm in my shoes while my stomach turned inside out.  I just smiled, felt peaceful, and said to myself and to him, "why not?".  As it turns out, my dad, my daughter & I had a delicious lunch full of laughter and love.  We met this girl who I had previously despised, and I found her to be kind and sincere.  I left feeling glad that my dad had helped her.  No threat in site...completely secure.  I felt such love for my dad.  I felt so glad to have my daughter experience it with me.  There was no room for my old perspective, because this new place fit just right.
So, what's the lesson here?  I'm not sure.  If it just took knowing that perspective changes everything, we'd all be "fixed".  It takes having faith that your perspective will self-correct.  This way, there is no forcing willing it to be.  There is only the experience of chasing a good feeling...knowing that this will take you to where you belong.  Then with all the ease and grace of saint you, like I did, will find yourself changed and seeing with new eyes.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Go Ahead & Get Uncomfortable

There's been a word that keeps popping up in the quiet moments when insights come.  "Comfortable."  The meaning used to be very clear.  Something to do with ease and it was a desirable place to be.  No one ever wants to be uncomfortable, and for most of my life I've taken feelings of discomfort as a sign that I must be off track.  Comfortable is even defined as "being free from stress and tension."  Being comfortable, then, is the desired outcome. 

I am convinced, however, that being uncomfortable is not only good, it is necessary.  A lot of the wonderful things that I find joy in have come from/with some great discomfort.  For example, when I think about my new involvement in a recreational roller derby team, the word comfort does not come to mind.  In fact, I would say that it is most definitely uncomfortable.  My empty bottle of tiger balm confirms this fact, but the thing is that roller derby has brought me so much joy.  I am proud of myself & I'm getting stronger.  I'm following a wild insight I had, even though I've been uncomfortable all along the way...even though other people are uncomfortable with my choice. 

Many times along the way I have tried, via my scaredy-cat personal thinking, to talk myself out of my new hobby.  Even while on the track, I've had to override my wimpy thoughts and clear my head.  What's left is just me and the clarity that I am happy to be doing what I'm doing.  Comfort can't hold a candle to happiness. 

For me, it seems that insights, whether it be regarding a business plan, a romantic choice, or even a hobby, at some point require a leap of faith.  It's one thing to get an insight from your Mind, but it's quite another thing to act on it.  Maybe this fear is where this notion that being uncomfortable is bad got it's roots.  Maybe it lies in the fact that historically & collectively we've spent a lot of time shying away from our insights.  Then we've needed to convince ourselves that the safer more comfortable choice was the right one.  And here we've sat with no real understanding of discomfort and all its glory. 

This theory about comfort has many holes in it, after all.  First of all, when you deny the truth that you know, it does not go away...even as you sit comfortably.  Conversely, when you take a leap of faith...and follow what you feel to be right for you, you are always rewarded.  You always find what you were hoping for & much more.  This requires some discomfort though, because doing something that was not planned by your personal thinking also sometimes means it does not make logical sense.  Others may question you from their comfortable chairs.  You'll have nothing to say, except that even with some discomfort it still feels right.

I'll leave you with one question before you decide how optimal comfort is for you.  Think for a moment about all the moments...or THE your life for which you are truly proud.  It can be anything, and you'll know it because of the strong feelings the memory evokes as you recall it.  Now, think about this memory.  Was it full of comfort, or were there times when you had to go down the bumpy road of discomfort? 

So, what's to stop you from flinging yourself at discomfort when it shows up along the path you've chosen for yourself?  I, myself, am putting out a welcome mat for all discomfort that comes as I pursue my insights and dreams.  For this is where all of my learning comes from...this is where I build the next memory for which I will recall later with pride.  I wish nothing less for you!