Lessons from my Yearbook~

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Summertime always seems to make me a little nostalgic. I am a beach girl; I was raised in Santa Cruz County where hanging at the beach and outdoor fun was always a huge part of my summer experience.

So recently, while digging out some old photo albums of my boys my eyes caught a glimpse of my old High School yearbooks. It’s been well over 30 years since I cracked open those books full memories. Being a “people person” I took a little time to Google and Facebook some of the names of past friends; I love to see what others have been doing and always hoping that they have had a good, meaningful life.

Looking at the young faces of friends I was reminded of so many memories, conversations and frankly, shenanigans! I found many friends were living their best lives while others had faced some significant challenges. Life can have some unexpected twists and turns for sure!

I decided to go back through the yearbooks with another filter, looking for those that I could remember as students who weren’t in the IN CROWD. I could distinctly remember those who were loners, even those who got bullied. I was able to pick out those girls who were criticized and misunderstood; my heart was sad. No one wants to feel unexpected or misunderstood. Junior High and High School can be such a brutal time.

Coming from a family of 6 girls I was fortunate to have a regular solid posse around me but I would still get dressed for High School full of anxiety for the uncertainty of the day. I always tried to have a smile on my face but there were many days I was dying with insecurity inside.

My third year of college I got to experience what many of the students I had identified as disenfranchised at my High School experienced every day. I transferred from a college in Northern California to a college in Costa Mesa, Ca. The leadership used the first 3 days of school to take the entire student body to a mountain retreat. I was new, knowing no one so I was not excited about this experience. When I checked into my room no one acknowledged me, at mealtimes no one at the table spoke to me, during the free time activities no one invited me in. The experience of being desperately lonely while being surround by people who are connected to one another is really the worst kind of lonely. I sat alone and wept.  I understand that feeling now.

Certainly I am older and wiser now but if I could I would  go back to those in my High School Yearbook who experienced this on a daily basis. I wish I could go back and lighten their load; help them to feel excepted. I wish…….

Truth is, everyday we have people around us who are in need of encouragement, acceptance, and connection. I noticed it in High School but I was so focused on myself that I overlooked their hurtful experience. In this season of life I now better, you know better. Let’s pay attention, reach out, include and care. Lonely is an awful place to be.

No Harm on Our Watch~

 

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Last week Greg and I had the responsibility and joy of keeping our two grandchildren in our home for 8 days (ages 5 and 2) while their mother and father took a well-deserved vacation on the island of Maui.

Prior to having the children come I spent countless hours preparing for our week together; fun crafts, food that children like, and ways to help them sleep through the night. (the sleep through the night part was mostly for Greg and I !! )

Once the children had been dropped off and their folks were on their way I felt the weight of making sure these precious gems were not hurt on our watch. Whether climbing the structures at the park, driving them to fun activities, or walking along the sidewalk; I felt the deep responsibility to be mindful of where they were at all times, to be certain they weren’t in harms way.

Midway through the week we had only had a couple of bumped heads and lips but nothing that required any doctor’s care; Greg and I were so relieved. Nevertheless we were also a little tired because we were mindful at all times that it was our responsibility to be sure they were safe; we were their protectors.

It was during this time when the Lord spoke to my heart and helped me to see at real truth. He let me see that the love and concern that we were pouring into these two little ones was very similar to the way He watches over me, over us. Psalm 121:5-8 says it this way:

The Lord watches over you.
    The Lord is like a shade tree at your right hand.
The sun won’t harm you during the day.
    The moon won’t harm you during the night.

The Lord will keep you from every kind of harm.
    He will watch over your life.
The Lord will watch over your life no matter where you go,
  Both now and forever.

Well, we made it through all 8 days without a crisis and had an incredibly fun week with our grandchildren yet I was also grateful for being reminded that our own Heavenly Father is mindful and watchful over us each and every day; I take great comfort in that!                                                       You should too.

The Treacherous Road to Hana~

 

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I returned home from Maui just a few days ago; Greg and I had such a good time. Getting away and being in vacation mode can give couples a chance to play, to reignite friendships, and to remember how good it is to just be together.

Our friends on the island encouraged us to take a back road to Hana where we would come to a State Park and would find an incredible hike leading to a magnificent waterfall. “How are the roads?” we asked. They smiled and said “not that bad.”

Greg and I embarked on our journey to the high country passing through a couple cute towns, trees blossoming all around us, and we even found a little coffee shop for some incredible coffee cake! Then we continued to drive…….and drive…..and drive.

Halfway into our journey the houses disappeared, the roads became one lane only, and we found ourselves on high drop off cliffs; if another vehicle had come in the other direction there would not be anywhere to go.

As we continued along the one lane road became a dirt road and tighter than even before; this was a risky adventure. Greg and I laughed ( and prayed) as we wound up and down this ever changing terrain. Had I known how insane this road was I probably would have said ‘No” to going! However, after we experienced the amazing hike and wound our way all the way back to Kehei we both felt like we had such a scary, fun, crazy day!!

I’ve had the joy of spending time in this season of my life leading couples through a robust pre marriage assessment. One of the main points that comes through in the assessment is that in order to stay close, intimate, and connected couples need to regularly experience shoulder to shoulder adventures and activities; it makes a world of difference. Without these connections the relationship can feel stale and more like a partnership than a friendship!

Are you a married couple? Do you look for adventure opportunities together or has the relationship lost it’s zip? Though I’m not sure I’d recommend you the back road to Hana, find away to experience life together. Go have some crazy fun!!

Coaching’s Saddest Moments~

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I have been so privileged to be a Life and Business Coach for so many years now; watching leaders grow in their personal life and skill set is truly thrilling for me! Watching courageous men and women chart fresh action steps into their calendars to achieve new and meaningful goals is pure joy and any good Coach will tell you the same!

Those who coach do so because we believe that everyone can reach their goals and build a legacy if they are willing to tweak some of their choices, engage in new behavior choices, and allow themselves to be accountable to someone who wants nothing more than to see them win in every area of their life!

Every win goes into the “why I coach file”.

Nevertheless, as a Coach I have experienced some sad moments. There are times when an amazing individual with mountains of potential just simply doesn’t allow themselves to make needed changes. There are times when these same individuals sabotage the little progress they have managed to make. These individuals express how badly they want change but they just don’t commit to the good choices it would take to reach those desired goals! This is when I, as a Coach feel really sad; I hate to see people miss out on the great life they could have while they settle for “good enough”.

As humans, all of us can settle for the good, while never reaching for what is great. We can lose the will to dream and simply focus on our day-to-day requirements. And sabotage?  Anyone whose dieted know how easy it is to undo weeks of mindful eating, right?

Can I encourage you today to dream again? Can I impress upon you to see your great value as a human and a leader? Is it possible to hand you a permission slip that gives you the right to make needed changes for great growth?

 

We have one life and there is only one YOU! Reach for the Moon!

The Long Winter~

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Snow. 

For some this word creates a sense of anticipation and excitement. For me dread sets in. I am a lover of all things sunshine. I enjoy spring, I am nuts about summer, I hesitate to embrace fall because I know it ushers in the dreaded winter season.

Melodramatic? Nope, completely true. Winter, for me, is long, cold, and oft-times depressing. If I were a skier then winter would have a different meaning (and my husband would be so happy), but I am not. Having been raised in a beach community I learned that water and sunshine filled my emotional cup. Winter and snow just don’t.

Socially, the summer season is full of outdoor connections with friends and family, picnics on the grass, walks on the river trails, camping near a beautiful lake, and mountain hikes. Winter feels more like a Netflix binge and early nights.

Having lived in Central Oregon for over 20 years I have learned one thing: the sun does come out again, the seasons do change and I receive the change wholeheartedly!!

Life is kind of like that isn’t it. We all experience seasons of joy, celebration, challenge, and opportunity. Some seasons fly by so very fast, some seasons seem to last a very long time. Seasons of challenge can feel dark and overwhelming, even isolating. We ask ourselves, “will this ever end? Where is the light at the end of this tunnel?’

Just like the weather seasons, our life seasons will ebb and flow but it will not always be “winter”, the sun will come out again.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says,

 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Oftentimes, we lose heart or during seasons of challenge, because it doesn’t appear anything is happening.  We lose heart. Learning to trust that God will usher in a new season change can be difficult.

However, The Lord created different seasons in our lives to shape us and create us into who He intended us to be. He uses seasons to show us that He is good and can “make everything beautiful for its own time” Seasons (good and bad) are ways for God to capture our hearts and our faith.

If you feel you are in a long winter season take heart today; spring is just around the corner!

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The Power of a Simple Bobby Pin~

 

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A bobby pin is a simple item created to hold beautiful locks of hair in place or to adorn your flowing locks. Bobbie pins come in all sizes; some created with all sorts of lovely bejeweling. Many of us can find them at the bottom of our handbag or in our bathroom drawer where we keep our brushes and combs. A bobby pin is simply an everyday item; something we easily take for granted.

Sitting in the waiting room anxiously she is filled with uncertainty. As the surgeon enters she can tell by the concerned look of his face that the news isn’t good. The diagnosis? Cancer.

A woman experiences an avalanche of emotions when she faces a cancer diagnoses. How will this affect my family?  How will I tell my children? What is the best treatment? Will this financially topple her? How will she navigate the avalanche of emotions?  So man questions yet one question always runs through her mind.

Will I lose my hair?

As she sits in front of the mirror seeing gaps where portions of her hair have been she knows it is now time to shave her remaining hair; she experiences an abrupt new look; she sheds tears and bravely moves forward.

Looking at her options she wonders, “ should I purchase a wig? Should I embrace the idea of wearing a turban or a scarf in an effort to navigate this already difficult season?” Often times a woman will choose these options not for her own comfort but to make those around her more comfortable with her “baldness.”

There are days when she wistfully relooks at pictures of the woman she saw herself to be before the cancer diagnosis; she longs to see  that girl in the mirror as she fearlessly fights the disease inside. She misses her hair.

Over the weekend I had the immense pleasure of being a part of a special conference put on by a richly impacting non-profit called Compassion That Compels. This conference is a gathering of priceless, beautiful women who are or have fought a cancer battle. These women are incredibly courageous; I was inspired the moment I entered the room.

At the tail end of the conference the passionate founder of the non-profit, Kristianne Stewart, asked some key women to come to the front of the room. Standing in front of me were women who were just coming out of their cancer treatment. As Kristianne began to move from woman to woman I saw her reach out and gently place a bejeweled bobby pin in the tiny flocks of hair beginning to grow out on the heads of these beautiful over-comers. The room was full of tears; tissues were being passed around the room because everyone there knew the power of this moment, it was way more than a simple bobby pin.

This priceless bobby pin is a signal for the hope of a new season, a time to reclaim fresh glimpses of the girl she saw in the mirror seasons ago. The bobby pin is an emotional representation of the battle she has courageously fought.

Beautiful Amanda grabbed my heart as I watched this tiny bobby pin being placed on the side of her pretty head. Tears fell from her eyes and I, having never faced a cancer treatment, got an emotional glimpse of the depth that this cancer battle had cost her. My heart was so moved as I understood for the first time the impacting power of the bobby pin. This was a moment I will never forget; what a precious and meaningful show of love.

Should you or someone you love face a cancer diagnosis don’t face the journey alone. Let me suggest you reach out to a team of Beautiful Over-comers to join you in your journey.

You can find them at http://www.compassionthatcompels.org

A Question I Couldn’t Ignore~

 

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I spend a great deal of time in my career as a Leadership Coach asking powerful questions to help leaders gain greater perspective, vet out limited thinking, and to help them to see their leadership in a fresh way.

Recently, I was faced with a challenging question from an unexpected source! I have the  privilege of having my granddaughter come to my house every Thursday for an hour for her “lessons”. For the first 30 minutes we learn to draw and to paint, for the second 30 seconds I try to give her piano lessons on my keyboard. It’s a sweet time as you can imagine.

This past week, as she silently painted, Scout put her hand on my hand and asked me a profound question: “Mimi, you will be at my wedding when I grow up won’t you?”( she is 4 1/2)

I just turned 60 about a week ago so that was a poignant question. I could tell her I hope so, I could tell her I want to, or I could tell her I will do everything I can to make sure that I can be there!

I told her the latter. With that promise from her Mimi comes a real responsibility to do just that ~ to do EVERYTHING I can, in my power and decisions, to be here for her.

Certainly, there are things that catch us by surprise in our health and circumstances; some things are beyond our control. Yet, when this little darlin’ asked me that sweet question I realized I needed to shore up some areas in my life to fulfill my commitment to her. She is depending on me to be there.

I am committed to be sure to get the check ups I need , watch what I eat better, get needed exercise , work on getting a good nights sleep, using my time well, and taking richer time to pray and ponder. Those are things I can control.

What about you? Are you precious to someone who wants to you be in their life over all the seasons? If you were asked a poignant question just as I was would you be challenged to make some changes to do all you can do to “be there”?

Let’s do all WE can for those who are counting on us!

 

The Value of the Box~

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On the eve of a quick trip to go to Disneyland in California, my son and daughter in law along with my grand babies stopped by to share a birthday dessert with me.

As they laughed and jested about my upcoming 60th birthday they presented me with “the” box.   A box covered in positive words closed with a latch was placed in front of me. Tears welled up in my eyes even before I lifted the lid; I knew it was something meaningful because my kids always choose a gift for me that is more about heart than finances!

Slowly I lifted the lid and looked down at well over 45 envelopes, some typed and some handwritten, but all instantly precious to me. All I could think about was that so many people had taken time out of their incredibly busy schedule to remember me. So precious.

I spent an entire evening slowly reading through every word, every card, every encouragement. Sitting on a chair on the other side of the living room my sweet husband kept asking, “are you ok?” With tears in my eyes I kept saying “my heart is full to overflowing.”

There is something so precious about the written word. In previous blogs I have discussed the incredible richness of a written card or letter.  In the age of email, instagram, and texting there is a lost art of sharing our hearts via the written word.

I will forever keep these cards, I will forever cherish the words shared with me and I will be forever grateful for the encouraging words written by precious people who stopped to take the time to encourage me. I am, again, humbled by each and every word. This is the value of the box. Friends, thank you for taking the sting out of turning 60! Great years ahead!

I bought a record player~

 

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I got a record player.  

Yes, I know I can download every song on the planet to my phone, get my Bluetooth and listen to any or all of those songs whenever I please.   But, I got a record player nonetheless.

In a couple weeks I will turn 60 years old, ugh! Can’t believe I am saying that out loud!  When I turned 50 if felt like a hurdle to climb over, now 50 looks pretty inviting.

When I pull out my record player and grab my vinyl’s (Seals and Crofts, Peter Frampton, Elton John, the Eagles, the Who, Fleetwood Mac, and even Chicago…don’t judge) I hear the crackle of the needle as the music starts to play and I am transported back to the 1970’s; I can still feel my teenage heart within me. Turning 60 can’t steal that from me.

Turning 60 is an opportunity for me to look over the landscape of my life and marvel at so many incredible memories, relationships, travels, impacting occupations, and leadership opportunities I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing! I have enjoyed a richly blessed life and I am so grateful for them all.

Yet, in looking over the landscape of life I also recall many moments of sadness, sickness, loss, challenging changes, financial lack, and broken relationships. These experiences were difficult to walk through yet they also impacted the person I am today. In hindsight these experiences humbled me, taught me, challenged my character, and forced me to forgive. I believe I must also look at those hard times with gratefulness.

So, as I turn 60 I’ll enjoy my new record player, perhaps at 65  I’ll get a tattoo, at 70 I might even skydive!! Who knows? What I do know is that life is a gift and as difficult as it feels to turn 60 I am incredibly thankful for every blessed year I have been given and will continue to use the years ahead of me to make a difference wherever I can.

“Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind”

Thank you Seals and Crofts!

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Looking Back, Looking Within, Looking Forward!

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As a Coach I know that the best way to move into a new year or a new season is to reflect on the season you have been in.  A few days ago my sister shared a tool with me that asks some significantly poignant questions that I wanted to pass on to you.

Questions are key when contemplating good change; some of these questions may give you the opportunity to look deeper into the season you’ve been in and help you to set a more meaningful course for your season ahead.

Let me share a few with you:

  1.  What was the most important event that took place this past year; how did it impact you?
  2. What area has consumed your thinking, attention, and focus this past year? Have you addressed it or do I need to address it in this new year?
  3. What are the names of the people who have been the most life-giving to you this past year?  Who has sucked you dry?  What changes might you need to make?
  4. Who is your community?  Is it robust enough?
  5. How do you feel about your church experience this past year?  What about your prayer life?
  6. How many hours have you managed to sleep on an average this past year? do you need to make any changes to get the rest you need this year?
  7. What made you the happiest this past year? did you adequately celebrate the moment? how can you reproduce that experience this year?
  8. In the past year have you lived to work or worked to live?
  9. What might be your Big Hairy Audacious Goal this year? (BHAG) Something that stretches you and your faith!
  10. How can you make a difference in your community this year?

These are just a few questions to consider as you assess where you’ve been and where you’d like to go in 2019!

Happy, Happy New Year to you!