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Posts tagged ‘cancer’

Losing Mom ~ The Co-Active Way

 

I am Helen.

Losing a parent isn’t supposed to be easy.  If they’ve loved you well, or if you’ve done your IMG_0167work about how they didn’t, the loss can feel unbearable.  When we’re in pain we often default to our most toxic behaviors.  When our mom died recently that was definitely an option.  As I grieve my mother’s death, I also sit in awe of my siblings, sisters-in-love, and that rising generation of my children, niece, nephews, and their loves.  We could have put all of our tools in the closet and forgotten what we know.  We could have set aside what we teach and preach and become lesser versions of ourselves.  It’s always an option.  We are creatures of habit ~ and choice ~ after all.

We could have.  And we didn’t.

Instead, we experienced the beauty and power of what we teach profoundly.

I could outline every bit of each of CTI‘s models – The Co-Active Coaching Model, The Co-Active Leadership Model, and the Co-Active Leadership Map – and give you point by point examples of how we lived from them in the weeks leading up to and following Mom’s death.  Since that would be overkill (!) I’ll point to those that keep whispering to me in these days since everyone’s left the cocoon and entered back into ordinary time.

Dance in This Moment:  We thought she had longer.  Every time we came up with a plan, the circumstances changed.  Staying fluid, flexible, and willing to both have a plan and throw it out the window at any given moment proved to be vitally important.   People die at their own pace.  We can’t slow it down or speed it up.  It just is what it is.  We must be willing and able to dance in each moment and choose again and again what to do and how to be.

Ask for what you need:  Because things change, and there are things that are vitally important in our lives that we mustn’t miss, it’s so crucial to not fall victim to our life’s demands.  We asked for help, we urged each other to act, we got replacements, we let go of short-term needs, we waited a little longer or came a little sooner.  We moved things, cancelled things, and let our Naturally, Creative, Resourceful and Whole world be okay while we moved through this vital time in our lives.  Because we also fail at this, we are forgiving ourselves and each other for where we didn’t do this enough or where the impact was not a good one!

Design a Stake ~ Align Around It:  In Leadership we say every experience or event you lead needs a stake.  Imagine a wooden stake pounded into the ground holding the Big Top securely to handle anything the crowds or winds throw at it.  A Stake is a core concept or Unknownidea – a belief or imperative – that the leaders are tethered to.  It’s that idea that, no matter how wrong things sometimes feel like they’re going, remembering it helps you find your way back to center.  Our family designed a stake for how we’d be together in the days after Mom’s passing as we planned the Memorial Service and sorted her estate.  Together, we came up with “When we let go and let God, Magic and Integrity happen.”  This was co-created and co-held.  Again and again we found our way back to our center and to each other by remembering our stake.  I believe most of us are still holding it even as we’re finding our way back to life in a post-Mom world.

Listen from the Heart:  This was key throughout the process.  We turned up the volume on it each morning after she died by passing a talking stick in her living room.  imagesA Talking Stick Ceremony is used in many indigenous traditions as a way of having every voice be heard, grounding our words in community, and putting our hearts in a place of receiving and being received.  Each morning we gathered and passed the stick sunwise (clockwise).  One by one,  we each stated our name, spoke from our hearts whatever was present in that moment, and the rest of us listened fully from our hearts. When the words of each person were complete, they said “I have spoken” or “These are my words”.  It’s common for the group to respond with “Ho”, which means essentially “My heart has heard your heart”.  Sometimes, in honor of Mom, we threw in a “Thankka God!” for good measure!  These daily ceremonies grounded us, made way for heartbreak and humor, were a place to share the wild dreams we were having, and  could be thought-filled, teary, blah, frustrated, or whatever.  There was room for all of it with no judgement or care-taking.  This was my children’s first go at a talking stick ceremony, and I must say they added considerably to the experience.  These were some of my most sacred memories from our time together.

Create from Self, Other, Nothing, and Everything:  Yes.  All of it.  Do this.

Honor your Truth ~ Be true to who you are:  In Leadership, we have a powerful typing system called “I AM” Typing.  The purpose is to find that most authentic, impactful, engaging, innate leader within each of us.  Though not quite EVERY member of my family has done CTI’s Leadership Program (though 5 of us actually LEAD it!), I experienced every member of my family being fully who they are and being honored and appreciated for that.    I think every type was represented.  Family roles were respected and honored, but not defaulted to.  Needs didn’t trump wants nor the other way around.  Egos were in check.  Honesty and Love both had room.

Co AND Active – Be AND Do:  There’s so much to feel when a great one dies.  There’s also so much to do!  It’s easy to get lost in one or the other.  Really easy.  It’s rare to be in such an intense experience and have so much room for BOTH to be fully honored, respected, and have space made for them.  The daily talking stick got the CO side of things, or Being side of things, firmly established up front.  By taking time for this, when it was complete each day we could all feel the urgency and desire to get ACTIVE or get Doing.  There was MUCH to DO… and without the Being having full permission, the doing never would have been so manageable.

STAY… and Stay some more:  The Co-Active Leadership Map has “Stay” on it twice because it’s so important!  It says “Stay”… then “Level 3″… then “Stay” again.  There were so many times when I wanted to GO… to run… to not feel… to eat or drink or disappear into numbness.  It continues as the days and weeks go by.  And yet, STAY we must!  I must stay with this process, stay with my stake, stay with myself, my family, and with the empty hole left behind by my mother… I must listen into the “level 3” aka the environment, the energy, the calling of Mother Life… and I must stay some more.  The next URGE is on the horizon.  What I need and what the world needs will be calling soon… if I don’t STAY, I’ll never hear it.  So stay we did, stay we must, and stay I will.

There are many stories of family discord, disaster, and resentment driven separation in the wake of loss.  My hope is that if even one part of this process was meaningful to you, that you’ll carry it into your next time of intensity.  Lead from whichever part of the experience you’re called to lead from, and make it different from what Life’s default settings would ask it to become.  Let’s plant the seeds of change in whatever system we’re called to lead in ~ family or otherwise ~ shall we?

These are my words.

MVHSeedsofChange

Margo House bedecked in seed packets of forget-me-nots, daisies (Marguerites), and bursting with the blooms of the seeds of change she planted throughout her impactful life.

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Deathwatch and Mediporn

cosmic-eyeI’m dying. Every day I’m a day closer to being dead. Cells die off constantly throughout my body. And if I’m lucky and intentional enough about it, old habits, rules, ideas, and useless behaviors die along with those cells.

I’m being born. Every day, new cells in me are created. Every day new life emerges in this very body bringing me more alive all the time. New ideas emerge, new thoughts, relationships, and neural pathways are born bringing me ever closer to the Light we all strive for.

I’m living. Each day that my heart is beating, my lungs are doing their job, and the neurons keep firing; I am living. Each moment that I seek new learning, share with others, or engage in anything that lights my fire – I am very, very ALIVE.

Which part of me are you going to interact with? The dying part? The being created anew part? Or the living part? They all matter. They all have relevance… a particular role to play in this cycle of Life.

When I asked my client today, “What are the conversations you’re avoiding?” he replied with, “I don’t talk to people who are on deathwatch any more.” When I asked him to elaborate he described those people who don’t know how to deal with the fact his illness is terminal, they don’t know how to relate to him as a living being, but rather because they’re so distressed by the idea they’ll lose him one day and that they won’t know how to handle that themselves; they seem to be just waiting for him to die. They’re on deathwatch.

When time is in short supply, and the energy one has to share with any given person in a day is limited, the last thing someone who is dancing with an illness needs is to be the caretaker in a conversation – the one making it okay for everyone else that they happen to be dying a little faster than the rest of us probably are.

I asked if he was tired of people resorting to asking for report outs about his current physical state. After chatting about how we all tend to let our curiosity be about ailments, effects of medication, and have an incessant need to know why this or that happened, he blurted out “Mediporn!” (more…)

Grace Period

On a journey of transformation, there are many stages along the way.  Yesterday I entered a stage I’m thinking of as my ‘Grace Period‘.  In the 2 days before yesterday, so many things came to an end, had been completed enough for now, or just let go of.  The build up to that time was so very stressful — not knowing how to do things, deadlines looming, hair falling out, and feeling held in the balance of so many unknowns.

It seemed like it happened all at once.  I figured out how to do things ‘enough’ that I could meet some critical deadlines.  I cut my hair off and had it both confirmed that it was indeed falling out at a rapid pace, AND that there was a half-inch of new growth coming in.  (Yay!) I sent my blood off to a lab for analysis to see if anything besides the trauma of March’s illness was causing the hair loss.  With all these ends tied enough, I hopped on my bike and felt completely liberated!  As I rode along Lake Superior I thought ‘this is my grace period’.  This is that time in between yesterday and tomorrow where everything feels exactly right and perfect as it is. (more…)

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