What’s On the Other Side of That Door?

Are you ready?

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The door bell rings. You open it unto the darkness. The figure on the other side of the door is a question mark.

A spirit, a ghost, or a bum? Or is it benevolent? A queen, a wizard, a clown? It’s All Hallows Eve, Halloween.

Born out of an ancient Celtic holiday (Samhain), Halloween has continued a centuries old evolution, built upon layers of cultural meaning. The elements of darkness, mystery, traversing the roads in search of sweet treats and disguises designed to try on a different personae have been there from the beginning. A celebration of the abundance and plenty of autumn against the back drop of the empty gardens of winter, the slipping of the day into the night, Halloween appears as we enter the dark part of the year. Like Persephone being pulled into the Underworld, themes of darkness and light, mystery and transformation are tied together.

Traditions are only kept going if they serve an important function. Halloween has evolved and spread because it has a purpose. It gives us a way to play out our dreams, fears and fantasies. Our dual nature. Our modern version is playful and fun. Costume parties, pumpkin carving and kids who dress up and trick or treat. Wishing you an abundance of treats.

“Traditions are only kept going if they serve an important function.”

It is the same with behavior. The behavior that elevates your life is positive, but the behavior that you see as negative also serves a purpose. Are you ready to find out what purpose it serves, and what you can do to live an exceptional life? Then let’s have a conversation. You’ll leave feeling good, loving yourself and ready to take action!  Get access here

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-Where there is love, there is life-  --As you read these words, I’m wondering how they will make you feel. Curious? Mystified? Uncomfortable? Nauseated? I love a good juicy coaching question, and this one is sure to provoke some response.

“What would love do now?”

I’m sure you’ve noticed, there is a lot of strife in the world. Some of it in our own backyard. This friction is all caused by ‘other people’. These ‘other people’ could be family members, close friends, bosses, co – workers, neighbors, any member of your community that you have to interact with. Relationships can be fraught with tension, disappointment, sadness, angst. Someone in your circle has wounded you with a snide comment. Or your boss just unleashed a bucket of ugliness on you. Has your teenage child disappointed you? A neighbor who is an irritant? Relationships are a messy business and we all have been involved in some kind of strained relationship. What do you do when emotions run high?

Step outside the tense space for a few moments and hit the pause button. Draw an imaginary circle around yourself. Breathe. The inside of this circle contains you and your experience. Extend compassion toward yourself.

1. Ask the question, “What would love do now?” Love in this case is an action word, a verb, and the first course of action is to love yourself. Go ahead. Even if it feels weird.  Would loving yourself be finding a new job? Would love be telling you to get some help to cope with that teenager? Would love direct you to take a compassionate stand for yourself? Get a massage?

2. Then, secondly, the most radical part of this action “what would love do now” is directing that action toward the person contributing to this stress or tension. Release the need to engage with this tension. Love would ask you to see that person as separate from you. Outside the container of your own experience. They have their own personal perspective that directs their behavior. They are not ‘doing to you’, but acting out of their own experience of the world, separate from your experience. Love might ask you to have a sit down talk with your boss, empathic, non judgmental, asking for their point of view. Love might ask you to send a card to your sister simply stating your warm wishes to her. You get the picture.

3. Then, release these loving actions. Because people respond from their own experience, and you are not in control of that. They may accept what you say or do, or push it away. That is not your business or about you. But because you are separate, you don’t have a need to control their response. There is tremendous freedom in this.

So pause and ask yourself “What would love do now?” And begin with yourself.

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Welcome and Entertain Them All

(Back in the day), college hopeful high school students chose to take foreign language classes. I chose not to. I had heard they were hard. Don’t walk through that door. Upper class students, who I knew were smart, didn’t always get an A in such classes. Hard work that garnered a C grade didn’t seem to make sense to me. Now I know, from the perspective of maturity, that challenging myself to take harder classes where I would not be ‘perfect’ would have had its own rewards. It is the homework of the brave.

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As part of the coaching process, my clients answer year-end questions. I begin with, “What were your greatest challenges of the past year? The next question is “What were your greatest achievements of last year?” The answers sometimes surprise them. Most often, the responses are identical. In doing my own personal review of 2014, my greatest challenges were caring for my parents as they were dying (they passed away within two months of each other). What was my greatest achievement? The lessons I learned through loving and caring for them through that process. There were times I wanted to uncheck the box “responsible adult daughter”, I will admit that to you. If that act would have released me from the pain and discombobulated feelings. The moments when I was not my best self. When I revealed petty emotions, overwhelming grief, and critical words. If, by unchecking that box, I could have remained “perfect”, untouched. But to remain “perfect” would have limited the scope of the messy experience of loving people through to the very end and learning the lessons of dying and death. That’s an achievement worth hanging around for I think. Perfect didn’t have a place in the vocabulary of a richer life.

In telling me their stories of challenge and achievement, I see over and over again, the resilience of people. All the people I meet who have crushing work loads or difficult relationships or sadness and loss in the past, shape their experience to be transformative. In connecting with strength, and riding that wild boat through to the other side, I see them reap great rewards.

I would love to hear about your challenges of the past year. Your achievements. Please share so the rest of us can learn.

Rumi wrote a poem, The Guest House, that describes the lesson, creatively illustrated by artist Ellie Cross. Get it Here > The Guest House

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Safety + Risk = A Well Seasoned Life

“A ship is safe in harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.” William G. T. Shedd

In dry dock, a ship is refurbished, updated, and repaired. Rust is blasted away, or rotting wood cut out and replaced with fresh strong panels. Several coats of marine grade paint are applied, another step in helping the boat remain seaworthy. Supplies are replenished. Safety gear checked. All these things are vital to the purpose of the ship. But, they are not what the ship is about. Screenshot 2014-09-18 22.04.05

What is a ship’s purpose? To sail out into the world to fulfill it’s mission. There are times when you need to pull into dry dock, make some adjustments. Revisit the navigation charts after strong winds have pulled you off course. Fix the damage done by vicious storms, or anchor in the bay just because you want a new coat of paint and a rest. The theme is the same. These things are important, but they are not what you are about. You are about fulfilling your purpose.

“A ship is safe in harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.” William G. T. Shedd

Harbors are safe. Free of demands, free of risk. Once we leave the harbor, the waters are unpredictable. We might be tempted to stay safely anchored firmly to the dock. Do you really want to be chained to an anchor? Risk and change are a way of life. Just try standing still in the rapidly moving stream of life. It is ultimately much more dangerous than swimming toward a more promising future.

A few thoughts on pushing fear aside to move toward change (risk).

– Stock your tool kit. What do you need to begin? Number 1 is a good support structure. Thinking you can or have to do everything yourself will make the risk overwhelming.

– Develop a positive attitude about yourself. You have already survived many ups and downs in your life, right? You’re smart. You’re adaptable. You’re good at facing challenges. Engrave this on your mirror.

– Embrace the process. Remain open to the knowledge that it won’t all be smooth sailing. Flexibility in your expectations is your watch word.

Be willing to let difficult moments, failures and perceived failures be your teacher. Can you do that? Can you untie the ropes and venture out? What do you need to pack to make your boat seaworthy so you can take the plunge? Spice, variety and adventure make for a well seasoned life.

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A Poem for Your Pocket

Anything Can Happen
by Seamus Heaney


Anything can happen. You know how Jupiter

Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head

Before he hurls the lightening? Well, just now

He galloped his thunder cart and his horses

Across a clear blue sky. It shook the earth

And the clogged underearth, the River Styx,

The winding streams, the Atlantic shore itself.

Anything can happen, the tallest towers

Be overturned, those in high places daunted,

Those overlooked regarded. Stropped-beak Fortune

Swoops, making the air gasp, tearing the crest off one,

Setting it down bleeding on the next.

Ground gives. The heaven’s weight

Lifts up off Atlas like a kettle-lid.

Capstones shift, nothing resettles right.

Telluric ash and fire-spores boil away.

“Anything Can Happen” from District and Circle by Seamus Heaney. Copyright © 2006 by Seamus Heaney. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

On the way to making Chicken Tagine

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I had been searching the markets for a jar of Preserved Lemon, one of the ingredients in Moroccan Chicken Tagine. Unable to locate any, I remembered the Jerusalem Market, and ran in. I scanned the shelves quickly, couldn’t locate any, and was about to dash out. The proprietor, a gentleman in white with a big smile, asked what I was looking for. When I told him, he shook his head, and said it came from Egypt, and he hadn’t been able to get anything from Egypt in a couple of years because of the troubles there. “Are you using it for cooking?” He walked over to a shelf and took down a plastic container. “Dried, Preserved Lemons.” He popped off the top, and let me look and smell. Yes, they smelled like the juicy jar of preserved lemons that I used in this recipe. Their aroma was salty, sharp and tart. “I’ll try them.” Now I was interested in this shop. 

“My shelves are really bare because of the end of Ramadan, I am so sorry. But I do have something I want to share with you.” He walked over to a display of fruit. Long elegant strands with tiny gold oblong fruit attached along its length, I had never seen anything like this before. “Have you ever had fresh dates? I only get them 3 weeks out of the year. Try one?” I agreed. He snapped one off and handed it to me. The flavor with the first bite was not special, but within moments, the sweet date flavor shone through, and it was wonderful!

This was turning out to be a wonderful little grocery store, tucked away behind a busy street. “I’ll take the lemons, and I want to look around for a moment.” Two kinds of lentils, some cumin and cardamom tea went into my basket. And I had to buy some of those special dates. As I went to the counter, the owner chatted some more. A woman working there, threw some candy into my bag. “You come in hungry, you leave full”, she said.

As I walked to my car, I felt a buoyancy that their friendly generosity imparted. Did I get what I came in for? Not exactly. But I got so much more.


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I love listening to the radio while I am cooking, cleaning, eating, driving …… but today, listening to “Fresh Air” with Terri Gross, I had to stop, sit down and REALLY listen. Barbara Streisand, talking about her life and career. Captivating in its entirety, there was something she said early on in the interview that made it personal. Talking about her newest album, entitled, “Release Me” of previously unreleased material.  “I’ve had these things for a long, long time — a collection of these unreleased songs — These were songs that I did basically in very few takes, a lot of them one take, because we ran out of time by the end of a session. … (in the old days I did my albums in )  basically three days.  We didn’t have any way to fix things, and there were flaws in some of these things, but I thought, ‘Let’s put this out. —- it’s OK to expose whatever flaws I might have thought were there. I kind of enjoy things now that I don’t think are perfect.”


Of course, we don’t want to put sloppy work out there. But there is beauty in letting go enough to set our little boat free, to grace the waters of the world, to bring pleasure or value to others. Don’t hold back because you or your work isn’t “Perfect”. We’re not Barbra Streisand. Of course not. But you do have gifts to give. Go ahead, give them, flaws and all. The world will be listening.

Taking a Big Leap Into New Territory

One of my clients recently called to share some news about an upcoming opportunity. She was making a big leap into new territory. When I asked her how she felt about this, she said, “I’m scared AND excited.” How fabulous! That meant that she had moved out of her comfortable spot, safe, into places she wanted to be but had not ventured before. Scared and excited. The excitement will pull her ahead through the fear.

I love working with this client. She shows courage and commitment to the process of change. For it is a process. Stalling in fear limits progress and stops the process of change. Scared and excited — and the courage to hold both together in tandem and go forward.

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Fail Forward

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 1.47.17 PMI think we Michiganders have an advantage……

We dutifully set our clocks to “Spring Ahead”. We circled March 20 “First day of Spring” on our calendars months ago. Looking out the window, Spring, Day 2. Snow flurries in the morning, temperature gage reads 24 degrees. But tomorrow could be another story, completely different. For all the complaining we do about the weather, we know that we have to be prepared. For anything. Snow today, sandals and flip flops tomorrow.

A lot like life? If we don’t know about tomorrow, we DO know about today, RIGHT NOW. Right now, what are your dreams, goals, desires and plans. A Coach colleague asks her clients, “When can you give yourself permission to ‘Fail Forward’?” I like that. Can you give yourself permission to do something, take a first step, even if you might fail? You will at the very least be moving in the right direction — forward …………. What do you think?