Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What I'm reading.....

"Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the handcuffs of hate." William Ward

A few weeks ago on CBS's news program, "60 Minutes," I saw a moving segment on the story of Ronald Cotton and Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, two people whose lives became forever linked through a case of mistaken identity. In addition to telling their story, the segment took the viewer through the experience of identifying someone from a photograph or a line-up and demonstrated how difficult it can be to remember with accuracy the head and facial features of another person.

This subject is of particular interest to my husband, Rich, and me because Rich has long known that he has a disorder known as "Prosopagnosia," also known as facial blindness. It's the inability to recognize a face to some extent. People with this disorder have a hard time distinguishing facial features which give them the capacity to know one person from another. Rich realized many years ago that some people are easily recognizable to him if they have distinct features or a voice which has a unique characteristic. Other people, if he doesn't see and converse with them regularly, seem to fade into a vague category where they look similar to any number of people he may see in a given day. There is nothing extraordinary about them which tips him off as to their identity especially if he hasn't seen them in years. This "60 Minutes" segment displayed how easy it is for anyone, whether they have Prosopagnosia or not, to pick the wrong person.

My current read is the recently published book, "Picking Cotton," based on Ronald and Jennifer's story. I was fascinated by this segment because miraculously, Ronald and Jennifer are very good friends now even though Jennifer mistakenly picked Ronald from a line-up of possible suspects in an attempt to arrest and convict the man who raped her at the age of 22. Ronald, also 22 at the time of the crime, went to jail for eleven years based on Jennifer's mistake.

The subtitle of their book is "Our memoir of injustice and redemption." Now in their late 40's, Jennifer and Ronald, devote their time to efforts which they hope will prevent this tragic type of mistake from happening to others.

I'm only about a third of the way through the book. And I must tell you it's not the kind of light reading you may typically enjoy before bedtime. Both of these individuals experienced brutality that none of us want near us. I am reading this book because I want to read about the kind of forgiveness that allows two people to somehow not just politely reconcile, but actually become dear friends.

Forgiveness like this is rare. It requires two individuals to embrace humility. They must forego vindictiveness which seems very justified. It requires the faith to believe that somehow God has the power to redeem the most tragic of circumstances and make something good from the ashes of brokenness.

Jennifer and Ronald are two people who were handcuffed by hate and have now been set free.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Power of Vision

"There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less."
Kurt Hahn, founder of "Outward Bound"

Rich and I just spent a couple days with our daughter and son in law. They just purchased their first home. It's a very unique home, to be sure. Built sometime near 1920, the home is made of stone and mortar. At some point in time it was occupied by immigrants from Holland who ran a dairy farm on the acreage surrounding the home. Now it's encompassed by middle class suburbia. But it has somehow managed to survive and shines like a gem with its individuality. But yes, it does need some work. The house has great bones but is the object of some puzzling alternations. Its history of residents brought some unskilled creativity to the structure along with some unusual modifications. So our offspring have taken on the task of restoring and modernizing it in keeping with the original character of the house.

Vision is required before they can take action with a hammer in hand. Actually, vision was necessary for them to develop the commitment to purchase this house. When they looked inside the home, vision began to flourish. They know what they want the home to look like. So the current state of the house is quite different from what they envision down the road.

They are both creative people with design skills. But they are also attempting some new challenges. They are both learning to use various tools, trim large trees, re-key locks, etc....thing's they've never attempted before. They've learned some lessons already and continue undaunted toward their goal. It might be easy for them to give up. But keeping the vision of their dream house at the forefront of their mind, gives them inspiration and encouragement as they do the numerous mundane and often annoying tasks required to bring their dream to completion.

The yard, untouched, for many months, will eventually have an intentional look to it with the evidence of their labor and newly-acquired skills. But first they have to cut down the weeds. They will figure out what to do with a 1920-sized closet in the master bedroom. These kinds of things have the potential to overwhelm us and freeze us in a state of discouragement. I have to admit that Rich and I have sometimes questioned their vision. Often those closest to you are the ones who express doubt about your dream and whether it's possible for you to achieve it. Now that we've been watching their progress we find we are inspired by their dedication to their vision.

Are you frozen in a situation where you feel overwhelmed? What dream do you have that has been buried in a mire of challenges? Have you looked at the obstacles and decided your dream probably won't happen?

Working with a coach can move you beyond the frozen state and into the reality of actively working toward your goal. Coaches provide perspective, feedback and creative planning. It's easy to get side-tracked when you work alone. The strength of the coaching partnership provides forward-thinking and will give you the tools to move ahead with your vision.

Is it time for you to begin working with a coach?

Photo: Galyna Andrushko/shutterstock.com