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Who Are Your Closest Five?

In prosperity our friends know us. In adversity, we know our friends. Colin Powell, American politician and retired four-star general 

Friends are exceptionally important to me. As an early loss, motherless daughter and only child, I frequently seek out women to fill the mother/sister void in my life. I’ve learned that in adversity we know our friends, as General Powell says. In my lifetime, I have disappointed people, made them angry, and lost their trust. Some friends retaliated and abandoned me, others, the true friends, stood by me knowing I needed help to regain my balance. I’ve learned to carefully chose my friends. 

Jim Rohn, author and motivational speaker, says, “The most intimate of our associations, the closest five, have the greatest impact on our self worth, our habits, and our lifestyles.” Choose your five well—be one of the five for someone else. Friends matter!

Affirmation: I choose my friends carefully. 

Coaching questions: What do friends mean to you? If you don’t have close friends, how might you cultivate meaningful relationships? In what ways do you show up as a friend?

IMG_3763.jpgOne of my closest five

Celebrating Our Diversity

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin Luther King Jr

At a time when the history of slavery is relegated to a few paragraphs in some school textbooks, it behoves us to educate the public on the accomplishments of African Americans throughout the years since slavery. 

The Black History Month 2020 theme, “African Americans and the Vote,” is in honor of the centennial anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) granting women’s suffrage and the sesquicentennial of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) giving black men the right to vote.

President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

In my family, the theme is “Blended makes us beautiful!” Honoring our diversity keeps us alert to injustice.

Affirmation: I honor and respect the accomplishments of my black brothers and sisters.

Coaching questions: What does diversity, in all aspects of life, mean to you? This month, I’m celebrating Rosie, an American of Haitian descent, who I helped obtain a college scholarship. Who will you celebrate? 

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Mating Birds to Hearts and Candy

Much like love itself, St. Valentine and his reputation as the patron saint of love are not matters of verifiable history, but of faith. Lisa Bitel, Professor of History and Religion

Today, in the United States and England, people are celebrating Valentine’s Day, known as the day of love. However, Valentine’s Day began as a feast to celebrate the decapitation of a third-century Christian martyr, or perhaps two. St. Valentine wasn’t a patron of love. In fact, there were several Valentinus saints over the years, none of whom were particularly romantic.

According to historians, the romance part started with Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales who wrote about birds mating in February. Soon, nature-minded European nobility began sending love notes during bird-mating season. Industrialization took over by mass-producing cards and then Hersey and Cadbury stepped into the picture. And, as they say, the rest is history—or not.

Affirmation: I celebrate love.

Coaching question: How do you handle things that aren’t as they seem? 

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

There’s More to Grief Than Sadness

There are no happy endings. 

Endings are the saddest part. 

So just give me a happy middle, 

And a very happy start. 

Shel Silverstein, author

My experience of grieving showed me that grief is more than sorrow and sadness. Writing for medium.com, psychologist, Nick Wignall, concurs. “By limiting our grief exclusively to sadness, we end up invalidating the emotionally complex nature of grief. While sadness is often a large or even dominant part of our emotional reaction to loss, it’s almost never the only one.”

As I interviewed daughters who were grieving the loss of their mothers, I recognized emotions as wide-ranging as anger, disappointment, fear, anxiety, and, yes, even joy and thankfulness for what their mothers meant in their lives. 

Affirmation: I can grieve in many ways.

Coaching questions: What emotions show up for you when you’re in the process of grieving? How do you acknowledge and validate your wide range of emotions? 

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Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

It’s Possible to Be Joyful Again

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; all that we deeply love becomes a part of us. Helen Keller

Loss of a loved one is always difficult. It’s the price we pay for having a great love. However, we can be joyful again as we learn to accommodate to life after loss.

C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed likened accepting your life after loss to a man learning to walk after a leg has been amputated. Lewis writes, “The amputee may get along quite well, may even become facile and agile on crutches or on a carefully designed artificial limb. But the amputee must accommodate to permanent loss. He or she will never walk as before; repair does not mean a return to the way things were.”

Our life will never be as it was before our loss but knowing that those we love are always a part of us, we can be joyful again. 

Affirmation: I can be joyful again after loss.

Coaching questions: How are you different after loss? In what ways have you accommodated to your loss? What will help you be joyful again? 

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I’m Late, I’m Late….

I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say ‘hello, goodbye,’ I’m late, I’m late, I’m late! The Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland

Whether you’re the person impatiently waiting for a late friend or The Rabbit running behind— yet again—tardiness can be an important issue. The person left waiting who feels disrespected or taken for grated needs to express her feelings. Understanding the possible cause of chronic lateness may also be helpful. 

Unless a person uses lateness as a control mechanism, chances are it is about their internal processing system. People who are chronically late may have one or more of these traits:

—Multi-tasking – Losing track of time because of the temptation to do just one more thing before hitting the road.

—Chasing the shiny – Distracted by the mini-thrill from computer games, social media, etc.

—Miscalculating time – In contrast to the type A personality who is usually on time because of their accurate awareness of time, the more laid back Type B literally perceives time differently. They have difficultly accurately judging how long a task can task take.

Affirmation: I will be more understanding of lateness.

Coaching questions: Are you frequently waiting for your friend/relative or are you the one they are waiting for? Are your relationships impacted by your position? What will you do to improve the on time vs late dynamic? 

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Don’t Wait Too Long To Have THE Discussion

For someone who is seriously ill, celebrating life and relationships is almost a defiant act. Even death can’t take from us who we are and have been for one another. Dr. Ira Byock, author of Dying Well

Dr. Byock, a palliative care physician and expert in end of life decisions, believes that nobody should have to die in pain or alone. He is dedicating his life to making this dream come true. While dying is unwanted, sometimes tragic, and always sad, it’s not only those things. It can also be a time of celebrating a life well lived and the relationships one has made.

Accepting the reality of death enables families to say thank you or please forgive me. When death is talked about openly, it gives the patient the opportunity to express his/her concerns about spouses, children or grandchildren, finances, or other pressing issues. Honest conversation unlocks the door of guilt and secrecy frequently associated with serious illness.

Affirmation: I’m can talk about death and dying.

Coaching questions/request: What are your end of life wishes? Do you know the wishes of your parents or grandparents? What would it be like to openly discuss death and dying with those you love? Take a first step in initiating the discussion.

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Photo by Esther Ann on Unsplash