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Posts tagged ‘coach’

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…)

It’s Opener There

Seuss Wide Open AirFor years I’ve been reading Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Places you’ll Go!” with great enthusiasm to groups of adults ‘kindergarten style’ celebrating the wonderful way Seuss invites us all to boldly claim our lives. “Except when you don’t, because sometimes you won’t” has become a philosophy of life, always reminding me to stay optimistic and believe in possibilities, while knowing there’s always a chance things won’t go as planned. Dashing boldly out into the wide open spaces where “it’s opener there in the wide open air” , however, has not always been my forte. Though some may disagree, in my book, I often play it safe.

A month or two ago, my mother was griping about our endless winter. Though she’s not what I’d call a complainer, around March each year the weather whining starts. This year, the ice finally left Lake Superior on June 4th which gifted us with extra time to moan and groan about the length of winter!  After listening to her mild complaints, I casually said one day, “We could move, y’know.”

Fast forward to today; We have a signed contract for the purchase small57Fernbankof a new house in Delmar, NY!  (I know I know… it’s not exactly WARM there in winter either!) My mother’s condo is on the market with potential buyers lined up to look. When my mom makes up her mind about something, it happens in short order. That’s how she rolls.

In the midst of it all, I find myself in a most curious state. On the one hand, I have saboteurs that are having a heyday with me about being in my 50s, single, and living with my mother, moving to a state I never imagined myself living, and squeezing myself back down into one bedroom after 30 some years of being an adult with my own home. Nothing about it feels permanent to me. It’s a bit like I’m going on an extended trip and part of it will involve time travel back to my childhood. Buckle up!

On the other hand, everything about this feels Right. Capital ‘R’ Right. Deep in my bones and heart Right. It’s (more…)

Love Changes Everything

Many years ago I got to see Michael Ball sing this on Broadway in Andrew Lloyd Weber‘s short-lived musical ‘Aspects of Love‘.  Though undeniably schmaltzy, the song stuck in my head, like any classic Broadway show tune does.  Though the musical was one of the biggest flops in Broadway history, every now and then some life or love thing happens that sends me digging in my CD pile so I can give it another listen.  Tonight, when this randomly got stuck in my head again, I turned to YouTube.  Each version seems sappier than the one before it, yet if you listen to the words, they capture an essential truth I’ve been experiencing.

A couple of days ago I got to share stories with a favorite client from years ago.  He shared his harrowing tales of a month in the ICU and I shared mine.  His story was so different in many ways, and I felt grateful that my journey was so short and simple in comparison to his.  He fought for his life with every fiber of his being.  He was young, just getting started in his career, and full of possibilities when a skiing accident left him literally shattered.  He shared that he used to dream while on the ventilator of what he could do with his life if he could just get the use of one finger and a thumb.  He fantasized about the paintings he’d paint, the feats he’d accomplish, the difference he could make… if only he’d get to be a quadriplegic.  And the thing he remembered most from all of it?  The Love.  The incredible Love that was (more…)

Slaying the Dragons

Anyone can slay a dragon… but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero. ~ Brian Andreas

Since those close to me and I first started talking about doing a fundraiser to help with my overwhelming medical costs, I’ve talked about ‘pulling the trigger on this fundraising thing’.  I hadn’t given much thought to the language I was using until a friend posted the above quote on facebook this morning.  What was I aiming at? What was I planning to shoot with my trigger finger?   It seems I have a dragon to slay and a beautiful, hand-engraved invitation to ‘wake up every morning loving the world all over again’.

Let me back up a bit.  For those of you have followed my journey, you may recall that when I was on the ventilator I had a clear opportunity to lay my burdens down and choose the ultimate peace that I could sense filled the space behind death’s door, or to choose to climb back up that long ladder into a life that was much less certain, and potentially full of much more pain and struggle than what beckoned there at the edge of being and non-being.  My memories of my journey in that unconscious state are filled with metaphorical dragon-slaying.  I was fighting my darkest demons.  Truth is, I’m not even sure yet what those demos were… I just know they scared me so much I was very tempted to give up just to make it stop.

When I did choose life, I came back into a world that showered me with love from the farthest edges of the globe all the way into the circle of friends and family closest to me.  My very most inner circle saw me in my darkest hours.  I think the darkness that still haunted me was working like a shadow cast on my nearest and dearest and it brought out some of their demons too.  Some of it was physiological as I was dealing with some PTSD type flashback stuff, a bit of depression, anxiety, and was in a very fragile physical state, yet some of it was my doubts about choosing this challenging world we live in over the ultimate peace I sensed I could have had.  How do you help someone in that state?  Do you make them tea?  Do their laundry?  Do you just leave them alone and hope it goes away?  What about when they’re awful to you?  Do you forgive them?  Do you use it as evidence for your worst thoughts about them?  That may seem harsh  – yet when dragons are around and the slayers exhausted and hungry, they aren’t always on their best behavior and don’t always act rationally, reasonably, or kindly.  I know I didn’t. (more…)

Prisoner of my hairdo

It turns out that when one becomes seriously ill for a spell (or has a baby) one of the after effects can be having your hair fall out.  (Bummer, I say!)  For a few weeks now, I’ve been shedding worse than our old Norwegian Elkhound used to shed in springtime.  When the weather warmed up, and she could no longer find a little patch of snow to lie upon, we would go out and pluck the dog.  My daughter has become a ‘mother plucker’ as she keeps my hair from landing in our dinners night after night.  Birds nests around my mother’s condo are being woven by the bread bags full of hair I bring to put near her feeders.  All this while I become closer and closer to being bald.  Turns out, I’ve been a prisoner of my hairdo all these years.

Back in the ’80s, I chopped off my long hair and got short mullet-ish thing with hair shaved close on the sides, spiky on top, and a bit shaggy in back.  Hideous, really.  After being sheared and styled, my glass blowing partner (whom I had worked with day after day in the studio) stopped me to ask if he could help me, as if I were a stranger.  When I told him who I was he had to look carefully to recognize me.  Apparently, Christine Lavin was right about us prisoners – if we cut our hair, no one will recognize us anywhere.

Today, being a prisoner of my hairdo is much less about fearing I won’t be recognized.  As my hair falls out strand-by-strand, my ego… my vanity… my Leo the lion’s mane… (more…)

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