Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's a new era..what defines yours?

Yes, it just happens to be Inauguration Day here in the United States. And it is a new era. We just watched the first black American take the presidential oath of office. This image is astounding to me, especially when we watch the inhumane film footage of the civil rights struggle in the 60's. Finally, the long era of "whites only" discrimination is quickly diminishing. But like the Holocaust, for our own good, it should never be forgotten.

The term "era" is used to describe a period of time with a particular distinction or feature usually with historical significance. We learn major lessons when looking at eras of the past.

We're all waiting to see what the Obama era will be like. He has plans and aspirations, but looking at his predecessor teaches him that there is only so much he can predict or control. We won't know about the Obama era until down the road. Former President Bush had ideas of what his era would hold, but 9/11/2001 changed much of it.

Entering a new era gives me opportunity to ask questions of myself. This era of moving to a new community is rather unknown and unfamiliar and the distinctions haven't been documented yet. But I have some choices before me as to how I can use my time, talent and treasures. Those choices will help form my new era. I'm thinking about what ideals and convictions I can choose to act on that will help to shape my era. Some of it will be a surprise, things beyond my current visibility, but some of it will be my deliberate choosing.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose...most times you choose between the two"*

In the backyard of the home I just moved from, I had a birdhouse mounted on a tall post. My husband, Rich, made it for me for a special occasion one year. I had flowers planted in pots hanging on the post along with the sign, "To everything there is a season." This phrase comes from a verse in in the Bible in the book of Ecclesiastes. Having these words posted in a garden was appropriate, don't you think? But that phrase refers to so much more than flowering plants going in and out of season. Our lives are made up of numerous seasons because we live in an ever-changing world.

This morning I read the phrase:
"Whatever the season of life, attitude makes all the difference."

I was thinking about one of my coaching clients who called yesterday to tell me he had to re-schedule our appointment because his 90 year old grandmother had been hospitalized and he needed to help his mom with some issues related to his grandmother's condition. "Grandma" refuses to leave her home even though she struggles to adequately and safely care for herself there anymore. My client is in one of those seasons we all encounter which challenges our comfort and contentment level.

I'm in one of those seasons myself. I don't do well with chaos and moving tends to be chaotic most of the time. It's easy to let frustration, disappointment and maybe even anger pull us off-track. We can get so irritated we lose perspective.

I don't want to let the frustration of a season hinder my ability to see and experience other things which can bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart. What things could you be missing today due to a difficult season? How can you look past the discomfort and take full advantage of your day? I don't want to miss a thing!

"The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances."
Martha Washington

(If you want to check out the nifty hidden pot hangers I used in my backyard, look at www.hangapot.com)

*lyrics by Carole King, "Sweet Seasons" from the album "Music" originally released 1971 Ode Records.

Photo: Yuriy Brykaylo@www.123rf.com (image #3697348)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saying goodbye to a happy house.

Yesterday I said goodbye to our house of 33 years. Unbelievable! Yes, 33 years in one place. That doesn't happen too often in our transient world.

Saying farewell to this house was a departure of choice for us. With our two children both married, my husband and I decided we wanted to opt for living in a smaller, simpler place. The realization that time passes so quickly brought us to the crossroads of deciding how we want to spend our time. Tending a quarter acre lot was never-ending. Although doing so brought great satisfaction at times, it left us feeling drained and longing for time to pursue other things. So many families are facing departures right now and they have no other choice. Honestly, I don't know what it feels like to face foreclosure. I'm thankful for this house...a treasured shelter for so many years.

Like any family, we had our times of light-hearted play, joy and celebration in this house and also our moments of conflict, chaos and struggle to hold it all together. We remember both the good times and the hard times as it is part of who we are. The tapestry of our relationships is woven with both the pleasure and pain we all experience.

Time to leave...I got into my car and slowly backed out of the driveway. I paused there in the street waiting to drive away. I found it very difficult to put my foot on the accelerator and proceed up the street. It was like I was frozen and unable to move forward. But the inevitability of doing so eventually gave me the courage to face the realization that it was time to move on. It felt very unreal.

As I left the neighborhood I thought about the fact that in moving, I leave the structure...the shelter that was our physical haven. With me I take the tapestry...the experiences, the memories, and the relationship our family has created in dwelling together. My children are now weaving their own tapestries in new places. Rich and I will continue to create more relationship in a new physical location.

A friend recently commented to me that in seeking new adventure, we find it is always accompanied by some type of loss. I found that true yesterday. Leaving brings unfamiliarity, discomfort, and uncertainty. The flip side is I get to take the relationships and the recollections with me. Home is not just the physical dwelling place, but the true sense of being connected with our families and experiencing life together.

When we listed our house for sale, our real estate agent said that we had a happy house and prospective buyers can sense the emotion of a house when house-shopping. Apparently some homes are sad and lack a warmth that attracts people. I'm glad to know the people who now inhabit our house are anticipating a positive experience living there.

Life coaching is often about transitioning from a "known" to an "unknown." This journey of leaving will take me to a place of greater understanding and empathy as I coach others on their path of change.