The Journey of a Million Steps

Musings on International Women’s Day: I was looking for something in my computer this morning, and came across this article that I  wrote (when I lived in New Brunswick) for the Telegraph Journal’s International Women’s Day Supplement.  It still seems relevant a decade or so later……….

We’ve come a long way….. and isn’t it wonderful to be a woman in the 21st Century – in North America at least (I wish I could say that for all parts of the world).  We ARE on a roll! Our journey was charted by others before us, and we are blessed to walk the path that the pioneers of women’s rights laid down for us almost a century ago.

Today we celebrate the achievements and contributions of scores of women who have fought for active participation and equality in society and passed that on to us. And for those of us with the good fortune to have achieved it? What now is our role?

Are we meant to be leaders on the world stage? In Politics? Law? Education? Social Policy? Medicine? The Arts? Some, yes. Are we meant to raise the next generation to solve the world’s ills? A noble calling. Are we supposed to carry on the heritage of sacrificing ourselves in service of others? Some would say, service yes; sacrifice no.

Or is our task to discover our purpose in life, learn how to give full expression to it, and make a difference for every person we meet?

The specific answer is different for each one of us.

What is the same, however, is this. Our role – that we have inherited from the pioneers and from our mothers and grandmothers – demands that we choose to become our best selves, that we choose to embrace life fully, and that we choose a path of meaning for ourselves and contribution to others.

With understanding, connection to our heart and gut, and commitment to our purpose, each of us can make the difference we want to make in our lives, our community and the world.

We owe it to those who walked before us, to everyone who comes after, and most of all, to ourselves.

Remembering the Wisdom of the Body

As part of promoting a tele-training that I am co-leading with Marlena Field, founder of Body-Centered Coaching. I wrote a blogpost for Marlena’s website, and I am sharing it here as well as I’m sure it’s food for thought and reflection for all ……

…. Since I first took Marlena’s tele-trainings years ago, and more recently her legacy program to become a Certified Body-Centered Coach, I have become increasingly grateful that I can coach my clients in this way.  It is heartwarming to witness the response from my clients on the impact body-centered coaching has for them.

My aha today is that coaching clients to access the wisdom in their bodies is inherently wise in itself!  When you think about it, why would we ever coach without including the body? Or as I like to say: the rest of the body (because the head is part of the body too).

Oh yes – our brains are wonderful sources of information.  But they are only one part of the wonder that is us.  Some suggest that we have several brains – our heart and our gut, in addition to our head, have knowledge for us.   However, the body centered coaching approach tells us that we also have valuable information in our muscles, our organs, our fibers –  in all of our being.   When we coach clients to solve their issues by accessing their wisdom wherever it is in their body, they experience new insights, relief, wonder, new possibilities, freedom, joy.

I recently coached a client who was struggling with which direction to take his career.  He was in the fortunate position of having several options at the same time and for each there were attractive pros and a few cons.   He was drawn by the ‘pros’ of them all and didn’t know which to pursue or which to let go of.
This client was in the midst of an MBA program, so my assumption and experience of him was that he lives primarily in his head, and wondered how he would respond to body-centered coaching.  But I realized I couldn’t help him in the traditional decision-making way of just examining pros and cons.

So with his permission to experiment, we visited each of those possibilities to see what information his whole body had for him (not necessarily to make a decision at this point).  During the coaching I thought the responses he articulated were somewhat head-based, and was concerned that he wasn’t getting it!  But when the coaching was over, he exclaimed:  “Wow! That was really insightful!  I now know which options are not right for me at all! Thank you!”

Yes, it is good to always remember that there is wisdom in body centered coaching, wherever it resides, and however it is expressed.

Spring at Last

For a girl who grew up in the cold cold winters of Winnipeg, Manitoba (35-40 below Celsius (or Fahrenheit – it’s all the same at that temperature) for 3-4 months or more, you’d think I would be the last one to complain about all the snow and cold we’ve experienced in eastern Canada this winter.

But no, I seem to have forgotten that ‘it’s just winter in Canada”, and have been longing for it to be over for many many weeks now. And lo and behold, on the last day of March, it’s well above zero, the snow is melting, the roads are dry, and we were able to go for a long walk without a biting wind whipping across our foreheads.

Such joy to smell the freshness in the air, and anticipate leaves on the trees, birds singing, children’s voices playing in the yards (the ones that aren’t glued to their electronics that is), and neighbours stopping to say hello.

Only last week a family of deer were foraging in our snow-covered backyard for something to eat – and chose some morsels from my flower garden. I didn’t have the heart to scare them away, though I did notice they were plenty plump. Must have scavenged a lot of gardens.

Soon the crocuses will peek out, the rest of the perennials will follow in due course, and spring will be in full bloom.

At this time of year, I always feel re-energized and newly inspired to do more of what I love to do in life.

What do you notice when Spring comes calling? What’s in the air for you?

A New Year’s Wish

Last week I read a great blogpost by a coach who recounted that instead of creating resolutions, she chooses three words that represent what she would like to bring into her life in the coming year.    That’s a good idea, I thought.  And up popped my three words from that intuitive place in me.  They were:  Health, Wealth and Joy.  That’s what I am intending for the coming year.   (‘wealth’ standing not so much for money but for a steady stream of awesome clients who light up my life).

What I liked about this idea was that it was so easy to call up the words, and that they are not laden with ‘must do’.  Not that there is anything wrong with ‘doing’… it’s just the ‘must’ that seems to burden me, being that I am a kind of go-with-the-flow person. Well, that’s another topic.    By the way, apologies for not giving proper credit to whomever it was that gave me this idea, as my recall has left me in the dust of last year.

A question for you:

What 3 words would you like to be the focus of your intentions for the next 12 months?

Until they pop up for you,  I wish you mine. May good health, wealth (however you define it), and much joy be yours in the year ahead.

Gratitude, Felt and Expressed

Yesterday afternoon I was close to the center of the city where I live – Kingston, Ontario –  on a very cold and crisp day– when I noticed a huge dark cloud in the sky.  I recall thinking, ‘that’s odd’, as it was lightly snowing, and then saw a huge flame in the center of the cloud.

Not normally a gawker, I found myself driving towards the fire to see where it was coming from, and then turned a corner to see what you all saw on tv or twitter. – a massive fire on our main street in town, a crane extending out of the fire and cloud of smoke, and a small, dark figure at the end of the crane. I heard a large bang, and decided it would be prudent to leave the area, went home and followed the dramatic story there.

This morning I am grateful for the firefighters, the military rescue team, the police, and all who managed this frightening incident with calm and skill.  I am grateful no one was killed or seriously injured. I am sad for those whose homes or businesses were affected.

I wish the crane operator a gentle recovery from what must have been a terrifying experience.

As I sit here in my comfortable family room with the fire on, I am reminded how grateful I am for every day of life.

So with this as a backdrop to the approaching holiday time – Christmas for those who celebrate it – a respite for those who don’t – let us all be grateful for the good in our lives and radiate that feeling to those around us and to the world.

I wish you all the best of the season, and a warm and wonderful introduction to the new year before us.

Perfectionism vs. Professionalism

I admit it.  I am a recovering perfectionist.  I thought I had conquered my worst tendencies to over-do whatever I’m working on.  But then I tackled the E-course I referred to in my last blogpost.

Writing it in the first place turned out to be the easy part.  Once I actually sat down and wrote it, that is.  Getting it in the shape I am comfortable with – both in what it offers, and the technology of getting it on my website and into an email marketing system – was easier said than done.

The thing is, besides being a perfectionist – a not always admirable quality – I also have a high value of professionalism.  Whatever I do in my work has to meet my own high standards of what is acceptable.  Another way I could say this, I guess, is that I care (that sounds nicer).

Anyway, thanks to the skill and extraordinary patience of two people – Dan Johnston, who edited and sharpened my copy, and Julien Feyen, who designed the banner for the e-course, and led me through most of the technical work required to publish it (translation – did it for me) – IT’S DONE!

So – for those of you who are already receiving my newsletter – Tips, Trends & Tidbits for Developing Leaders – and would like to receive my E-course – 9 Savvy Steps to Success in Career and Life, please let me know by email (marcia@oneononecoaching.com) and I will begin the process that signs you up (you will receive a confirmation email and once you have clicked on the confirmation link, the course will be forwarded to you).

Or if you prefer, just go to my home page – www.oneononecoaching.com – and subscribe through the form you see there.

It just occurred to me.  I should have entitled this: Perfectionism + Professionalism = Pride.  The good kind of pride.  The pride of accomplishment.

On that note, here are some questions for your reflection:

  • What values of yours most matter in the work you are doing?
  • What qualities get in the way of honouring those values?
  • How do you reconcile what you want to make happen with what gets in the way?

Happy to receive any comments on the above you might wish to share.

Connecting in 2013

This morning I came across an interesting statistic – namely a report of a survey saying that 60 percent of employees use a mobile device for work, with an anticipated increase in number of devices per employee.   The post on the website Smart Data Collective, suggests that the number of devices will rise from 2.3 per employee in 2012 to 2.8 in 2014.

Well, seems I’m ahead of the trend, having this week made an indulgent purchase – an Apple iPad Mini!   I have used a desktop iMac in my office for several years, have an iPhone to carry with me, and a Macbook Air to use in the family room in the mornings and evenings, and have resisted the tablet until now – but the mini was way too attractive to ignore for a travelling companion – especially with the Logitech keyboard doubling as a cover.  So now I have, count ‘em, FOUR devices, all beautifully integrated courtesy of iCloud!

So what does this have to do with Coaching HeartTalk?  (It’s not meant to be a plug for Apple, though I do love Apple products and service – can’t help myself).  It’s more about the fact that I coach from my heart, and anything that helps me do that, is worth the investment.  My ‘toys’ as I like to call them, help me connect with my work, my ‘people’, my life.

Do I use them to the exclusion of human contact?  I like to think not, because I am all about connection with others – though one (including me) does have to be vigilant about the attachment to the device when others are nearby.

So some questions:  How does technology entice you?  How does it help or hinder your ability to connect from your heart with what matters to you and the people you care about?

I would love to know your thoughts.

Questions and Answers

Sometimes inspiration comes where you least expect it. This morning, a new client of mine, who says she is eagerly anticipating exploring her path forward with me, (as I am with her) wrote that she saw an art poster while on vacation that inspired her, and that said in part:

“Perhaps the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing the unanswerable questions in good company.” (My google search to discover to whom to attribute this quote led to Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, pioneer in the mind/body holistic health movement, inspiring me to explore her messages further).

What I, as a professional coach, love about this particular quote is how it succinctly describes the connection, the challenge and the charm inherent in a great coaching relationship.

Aren’t we all looking for the secret of living well? Asking the questions; pursuing the unanswerable ones; desiring good company in our exploration?

And yet the few words in the quote suggest so much else. That questions are paramount in our exploration. That there may not be answers to everything, but value in the exploration nonetheless. That searching for the answers alone can be a lonely road. That living well is a desirable goal. And so much more.

What do you see/read into the words above?

In the spirit of this new year dawning with its hopes, desires, expectations, and promises, I invite you to ask the unanswerable questions, and choose good company with which to do so.

How Stories Connect Us

Last evening I attended the monthly meeting of a women’s networking group I belong to in Kingston, Ontario where I live. Instead of the usual dinner and speaker, the evening was entitled All About Us. Whoever felt so moved, got up during dinner and told a story from her life tthat illustrated something about her that likely few in that group knew.

One woman told a story about being adopted and searching for her birth parents, one about how she met her now husband on an island in the Caribbean, one introduced her sister who was her guest and spoke about how much they and their siblings meant to each other having survived, and perhaps in spite of, a difficult childhood. Even I told the story of my connection with my ‘special friend’, a young boy who was abandoned by his mother who I became a ‘big sister’ to when he was 3, and is who now a grown man and part of the family I have with my life partner.

The stories were heartfelt – some were very amusing, some hilariously funny, some touching, some quirky, some sad yet uplifting. What they had in common however was that they all opened a window to seeing someone in a new way, a pathway to perhaps a different kind of conversation with people many of whom had been just acquaintances before.

And it made me think about how often we cross paths with people, and say something not much deeper than ‘hi, how are you? nice to see you’ and about what we miss when we don’t take the time to chat longer and learn more.

What would be possible if we took the time to inquire a little deeper? How could a story enhance that connection?

Reminder to self: Next time, spend more time with acquaintances in a real conversation, share a story, look for the story, and be open to a new and rewarding connection!

Giving Thanks

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It’s Canadian Thanksgiving, and there is so much to give thanks for. Today I am grateful for my wonderful life – for my generous-hearted, loving husband Rick, for my growing families (my first family and my acquired family through Rick); for finding my passion as a coach and the very special clients I have been privileged, and are privileged to work with; for my health; for my amazing friends, for the opportunity to travel… and so much more.

I have just come back from a week in beautiful British Columbia, participating in the beginning of a year-long intensive program with Marlena Field and 7 other amazing women, as we immerse ourselves in body-centered coaching, developed and taught by Marlena.

I am grateful for being able to continue learning in this way and trust that what I gain from this immersion will benefit me personally and professionally, and by extension everyone I interact with.

Today the sun is shining in a beautiful clear blue sky, the air is crisp and cool, the trees vibrant with fall colour….. Life is good.

What are you grateful for today?

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all.