Archive for November, 2012

It’s only fitting, on Thanksgiving Day, to write about gratitude.


On this day, I want to share with you the things I am thankful for:

Having found my passion. The opportunity to live out my passion. The opportunity to do good work and add value to others.

The many gifts and talents bestowed upon me. The “divine appointments” with people who come into my life…it’s always for a reason!

Health. Books. Education. Learning. Growth.

Nice place to live. Reliable car.

People who love me, support me, nurture me, believe in me — both family and friends.

The people who have asked me to accompany them on their journeys (coaching clients).

The people who have invited me to share some of the lessons I’ve learned on communication, leadership, teamwork, influence, relationships, and growth (speaking engagements and workshop clients).

The people who have allowed me to facilitate learning opportunities through Mastermind Groups.

The people who have shared their stories and lessons learned with me, giving me the opportunity to learn from their experiences.

The opportunity to spend this holiday at an indoor water park with my husband and son (who will turn 6 next week) and watching the joy on my son’s face as he played on the slides, in the pools, under the various showers, and float along the “lazy river” in a double tube (he ought to sleep good tonight!). The opportunity to glide through the various enclosed tubes and slides, fast and free, totally exhilarated!

A delicious breakfast this morning — served by people working what would normally be their day-off. A yummy turkey dinner this afternoon.

As I was thinking about what I would write, I Googled “gratitude.” In addition to the usual links (dictionaries, Wikipedia, etc…), I came upon the Go Gratitude Project. I am fascinated by the premise; it makes me think of an earlier awakening I had when I invited all of you to start a movement with me — by asking people what they would want if they could ask for a small miracle — then, of course, doing whatever you could to create the miracle for them.

I have signed up for the Go Gratitude Project’s 42 days of gratitude messages (am assuming the first one will appear in my inbox tomorrow…we’ll see!). There is a link for something called the Master Key Movie which I intend to watch very soon (Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving Special is on, so I admit to being a little distracted!).

In the meantime, I offer this abridged list of the things I am thankful for on this glorious day.

What are you thankful for? Have you shared your gratitude with those who count?

It’s a powerful act — expressing gratitude.

Finally, I am thankful for you … the people who read what I write, share your thoughts and comments, and pass along my thoughts to others. I may not know you, but I am truly thankful for you.

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I’ve recently finished reading two memoirs, one by Rob Lowe (Stories I Only Tell My Friends) and one by Andrew McCarthy (The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down), and actually enjoyed them both very much.

Both shared stories of their personal journeys, and while they phrase it differently, both were (are) striving to become a better version of themselves so they are able to “show up” and really be present for the people they love. As McCarthy put it, it wasn’t just about being able to be physically present with his family – that would be easy enough – but more importantly to be emotionally present, available, vulnerable, and truly connect with his loved ones.

As they both “grew up” in the insanity of Hollywood, it may be easy for us to think we know them as we’ve heard stories about them for years in the media – but I caution you from making that mistake; all is not necessarily what it appears to be on the surface. Yes, they made mistakes. Yes, they drank too much, partied too hard. And yes, thankfully, they recognized there was more to life than that and that their previous behaviors were not going to get them to the places and people they longed for.

Through it all, they proved that everyone has issues, challenges, fears, hopes, dreams, and makes mistakes; the hard stuff in life is not withheld from the wealthy, popular, and privileged. Life is life. People are people. Regardless of our circumstances, we all struggle with something.

…dreams coming true don’t change your feelings.

As Lowe said at one point, I tried to “outrun loneliness, outrun feeling ‘different,’ and outrun the shock that dreams coming true don’t change your feelings.” It reminded me of the saying: “Wherever you go, there YOU are.” Meaning, the grass may seem greener on the other side, but when you go there, you still have all your personal baggage…issues, fears, insecurities…it all goes with you. So the key is to change yourself, and maybe your environment, as well. But changing just your environment won’t bring you to the place you long to be.

Nothing in life is unfair. It’s just life. To the extent that I had any inner turmoil, I had only myself to blame.

At another point, Lowe says, “So, I came to the realization: Nothing in life is unfair. It’s just life. To the extent that I had any inner turmoil, I had only myself to blame.” I like this because it reminds me to take personal responsibility for my circumstances. Stuff happens in life; sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes neutral. What matters is how I choose to approach it and what decisions I make about how I move forward. 

Near the end, Lowe says, “I also thought of my two boys and what kind of example I hoped to be. I would always want them to take charge of their own futures and not be paralyzed by the comfort and certainty of the status quo or be cowed by the judgment of those on the outside looking in.” High hopes for this father of two; but isn’t this what we would all want for our children, our loved ones, ourselves?

I applaud McCarthy and Lowe not only for taking the journey and being open to its lessons, but also for having the courage to bare at least a sliver of their souls to us in telling the stories; through their growth, we can be inspired and perhaps approach our own journeys with some assurance that we are not alone.

As the saying goes, I am striving to never settle for the path of least resistance, as I know that is the road to complacency. Complacency means no growth, and that doesn’t work for me. It’s also about continuing to reach for those things I know in my heart to be true and right for me, which doesn’t always match up with what others think I should be doing. 

What do you need to do to be able to truly “show up” for your life?

What journey are you – or should you be – on?

How will you chronicle your adventures and lessons learned?

Will you share it with others, so they can learn from your experiences?

*Please don’t get the impression I didn’t enjoy McCarthy’s story as much as Lowe’s; I just didn’t take notes as I went through it – I will when I re-read it.



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When I was little, my mom used to bake me a chocolate-chocolate chip cake every year for my birthday. Oh, it was rich, moist, and yummy. I so looked forward to my birthday every year so I could have some (and yes, I confess to eating most of the cake myself, it was that good!). When I was in my teens, I asked her for the recipe, so I could bake the cake myself.

I was in my middle twenties, having a conversation with a friend about favorite desserts and sharing how rich and delicious this cake was, and how I couldn’t wait for it to be my birthday, so I could have some.

My friend asked, do you have the recipe? Yes.

Well, can you get what you need to make it at a grocery store? Yes.

Is there something about this recipe I don’t understand that would make it possible for you to bake this cake only at your birthday? No, it’s just…and I rattled off the ingredients.

Then she asked the key question: I guess I don’t understand, she said. Why couldn’t you just go to the store and buy the ingredients and bake the cake anytime?

This was twenty years ago, and I remember it so clearly. The proverbial light bulb went off above my head as I realized there was no reason why I couldn’t bake the cake any day of the year. I had constructed rules that said I could have that particular cake only on my birthday. The constraints were all created and enforced by me. And when asked the right question, I realized how ridiculous it was, and that I could change my beliefs and behavior about the cake at any time.

Now, this is truly a trivial and insignificant issue in the scheme of life, but it’s an excellent example of the power of the coaching process.

As a coach, my job is to ask my participants questions that will stimulate their thinking, allowing them to examine the rules, constraints, beliefs, and self-created barriers that are keeping them from achieving their goals and reaching their potential. These “aha!” moments don’t happen in every session, but they happen, and once they do, it’s amazing to watch people realize that the only thing holding them back is themselves.

That’s the moment when true, significant growth and change takes place.

Looking forward to experiencing more of these moments in upcoming coaching sessions with the amazing people I am blessed to coach.

What’s holding you back?

What’s your equivalent to my chocolate cake?

When you’re ready to experience the power of this process, call me. I’ll be waiting…

And yes, if you want the recipe, I’m happy to share. Over the past 20 years, I’ve enjoyed that cake on numerous occasions throughout the year — and on my birthday!

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