Love through questions

I have tasted of the breaking

That allows love to flourish.

Grace is the only thing left to do. 

How deep or far love goes is about being curious--

It is the ultimate joy to love, even when it hurts.

What if love were not contained?

But was about the adventure into the deep places--

To love through questions and doubts and fears,

Embrace the sacred walk

And dance again.

Failure is so lovely to have taught me--

To gift me with a new freedom, a sweet and gentle place

Where tears have held me. 

 

I Cannot Believe in Thriving Anymore. There is Too Much Pain and Suffering in the world.

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The autumn leaves swirl around us as we step in sync through doors into a time and space that know no boundaries of love.   As we enter the room, where a tiny casket lay before us, the air is thick and sweet with sacred beauty.  Inexplicable, vulnerable beauty.

My heart is broken, and I am strangely grateful for the brokenness . . . it is the reminder of how gloriously sanctified we really all are because of our experiences.  A reminder that we must be present.  That we are connected.  We do grieve together.  And we experience joy together.  Even if not in the same places at the same times, we can share in another’s experience with reverence.

This is glory.  Meeting the human soul in such a time as this is a gift to never be traded.

She stands.  She cries.  She pours her heart over her baby girl.  The light is soft around her, and I am standing quietly behind her.  As sisters, she and I have been together and apart through our lives.  We did not always see eye to eye.  We saw the ups and downs of life.  We both desire to find the “more” of life. 

Today, I really knew her.

Her baby is gone, but somehow we feel her spirit there.  She is a tiny, beautiful piece of heaven.  Her hands are gorgeous.  Her feet are perfect.

Can someone so tiny and unknown to our world become known? I believe she can and she will. We already see it.  We see the outpouring of love, understanding, tears, care, giving.  Viola Annmarie is still a world changer.  Just when you think your world can’t possibly change more, and you can’t possibly heal more in your own life, this world changer shows up and challenges that assumption. Can such a thing as this lead to thriving?  It is hard to see.

Though life must go on in times of pain, and tasks are there to be done, we move between task and our emotions, constantly working toward wholeness.  In these dark times, I struggle with the idea of my own study of positive psychology and the pursuit of this whole well being, and whether it is just an ideal that can never really be attained.  How can this world, so full of pain, hatred, sickness, and death, be changed?  What are we really doing that matters when people are still suffering?

In my own discouragement, I contemplate the definition of positive psychology. 

“Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.” (www.positivepsychology.org)

The study of strengths and virtues . . . enable to thrive . . . lead meaningful and fulfilling lives . . . cultivate what is best within . . .enhance their experiences of love . . .

 How can Viola’s death, or the world’s current events highlighting murder, protesting, prejudice, violence, Hollywood glamour, death, suffering, depression . . . lead to thriving?  How?  Where do we fit in?  As businesses, leaders, and individuals, where is our work?  Where are we called to go?  What are we pursuing?

Let’s go back to the definition.  Let’s decide how to change the world.

The study of strengths and virtues . . . enable to thrive . . . lead meaningful and fulfilling lives . . . cultivate what is best within . . . enhance their experiences of love . . .

 If we are to do something about the fears and failures of the world, this definition suggests there are ways to do it by shifting our mindset and possibly finding more of what is working.  Find where people are thriving.  Focus on where people feel whole—where something is just “different” about them.  Then, discover the methods and practices of how they get there.

One way this can be done is to look at positive deviance:

“Since its inception in nutrition research in the 1970s, the PD approach has been used extensively by researchers and evaluators in development. It is a strength-based approach based around five core principles: first, that communities possess the solutions and expertise to best address their own problems; second, that these communities are self-organizing entities with sufficient human resources and assets to derive solutions to communal problems, third, that communities possess a ‘collective intelligence’, equally distributed through the community, which the PD approach seeks to foster and draw out; fourth, that the foundation of any PD approach rests on sustainability and the act of enabling a community to discover solutions to their own problems through the study of local ‘positive deviants’, and five, that behavior change is best achieved through practice and the act of ‘doing’.”  (http://betterevaluation.org/plan/approach/positive_deviance)

 This suggests that we are all superheroes.  That it is possible to change and thrive despite our circumstances.  In our efforts to find the people who will save us, lead us, or change us, there is something more to be seen.   We have a responsibility.  The way to make it work is to collectively decide we want it to change.   We have to decide we are all in, discover what we are doing that leads us to thriving from the inside-out, then decide we are going to do something about it . . .”that behavior change is best achieved through practice and the act of ‘doing’.”

My struggle is not done as I experience this pain.  I relish in the depth of the questions.  And positive psychology takes on greater meaning, relevance, and importance through this pain.  This experience reminds me again of our connection to one another, and my responsibility as a leader, community member, parent, and individual, that connection and purpose leads to meaningful and fulfilling lives.  Loving someone and being present with him or her in a time of pain, fully accepting it at that time is wholeness.  Thriving is being whole in all of it.  I cannot be afraid of it.  I have known pain myself.  I have tasted its bitterness. 

While I can execute tasks with vigor and contribute to results at the bottom line, I am most proud of awakening my soul enough to love people within the productivity.

It is the experience of life that has taught me to truly love.  And it is the sadness and pain as equal as the joy that I hold dearly so that I don’t lose that gift.  So, I hope I am never afraid of you—your courage, your pain, your sadness and your celebrations.  I hope that we have the opportunity to collectively decide we want to thrive.

 

Leadership Lesson & Dream Builder:

When our faith is challenged to the core, we dig deep to find answers.  We cannot understand the sacred growth from our grief, so for now, it is simply a sacred space, suspended in Grace, where we recognize our journeys are inevitably intertwined.  Close together or far apart, our bond is strong and our Spirits unite.  So, for now, in the moment, we rest in knowing we have one another.  We cry with those who cry.  We laugh with those who laugh.  Anger, pain, joy, doubt, courage.  Love is all of it.

 

Dedicated to Viola Annmarie in honor of my sister : Thank you for allowing us the gracious gift to stand with you as you said goodbye to your beautiful baby girl.

Stories of Wonder Women: Mira and Susan

Dear Readers,

I am thrilled to share a story of a woman who has impacted the world in significant ways by living a life of adventure in "risking herself by leaving a little piece behind in all those she meets along the way."  She was an answer to prayer in my life before I even knew I needed her to be . . . She is a mentor, an inspiration, and her encouragement and challenging words stuck with me through many seasons of my own life.  I know I am not the only one who is blessed enough to receive of her generosity, although I like to believe that God sent her into my life at the right time, just for me!

Susan has shared a letter to her Wonder Women, and I have the privilege of sharing it with you.  This is one way we spread the word of women building one another up, helping others live their dreams through the ups and downs of life,  and seeing real stories of success when forces join together in a mission that serves people & business.

 

-Jennifer

 

Dear Wonder Women:

It is important that you have a history of our Unit and our Area.  National Sales Director Emeritus (deceased) Marilyn Welle-Villella was your Sr. National Sales Director; National Sales Director Emeritus Shirley Hutton was your National Sales Director (and our Sr. Director) until she retired in January 1996.  Marilyn recruited Shirley Hutton (who broke the Million Dollar in Unit retail sales record first and many more records.)  And, NSD Anita Mallory is currently our National Sales Director until she retires at the end of this year.  And she was the first who recruited all of these ladies on down the line.

I began building my business on June 24, 1980...the last day of a quarter!  My Recruiter/ Director was so happy that I came into Mary Kay as a Star Consultant.  I want to take you back to August, 1979 when I arrived in Columbia, SC from California with two children, and pregnant with the third.  I had worked up the ladder of success in corporate America in California and was looking forward to a peaceful life in SC as a wife and stay-at-home mother.  In October, David was born and a couple of weeks later, as I watched television, Mary Kay Inc. was featured on 60 Minutes.  As you know, 60 Minutes discovers and uncovers everything about everyone (good or bad) and they could find nothing wrong with Mary Kay Inc., the Company or Mary Kay, the person.  I was impressed, but not moved to action.

 In January, 1980 I received a call from my husband announcing he was never coming to join me in SC; he had met someone else and he was "in love".  He said I could have the kids and the house, and I should not count on him.  It happens every day to women everywhere.  I had a dilemma.  How was I going to support my family?  How was I going to feed my kids and keep our home?  After a lot of soul searching and prayer, Mary Kay kept cropping up.  The thought would not go away.  I had to travel to California to sell that house and go through the divorce.  While I was there, three days before I left permanently, I looked up Mary Kay, Inc. in the phone book.  I called every Director listed and Janet Barnhill called me back pretty quickly.  Before I realized it, I found myself getting in the car and driving to her home to have that famous Mary Kay facial.  I loved the product and was impressed with her and the marketing plan.  It was a great opportunity.  I knew I could learn how to do this.  So, with butterflies in my stomach, I purchased a beauty case and inventory on the same day and set off to conquer South Carolina. 

 My first skin care class consisted of 3 women and was $90 in sales.  I sold two basic skin care sets.  The hostess had me promise I would not try to sell anything.  I honored that, but her sister and her friend asked me how they could buy the product.  I was thrilled and surprised.  Debra, the hostess' sister is still in my customer file today.  Within 18 months I became a Director and six months later our Unit earned its first pink car, a Buick Regal.  Three months later we were in a CADILLAC!  In our first complete year as a Unit we reached the $367,000 level in retail sales, which was June 1983.  In June 1984 we reached $300,000.  In December 1985, I married David Weeks and took some time off.... one year to be exact.  I don't know of any corporation that would allow me one year off and still permit me to drive a company pink car! 

I went back to work and by Seminar 1988 we reached $300,000 again.  In June 1989 we jumped to the $550,000 Circle of Achievement for the first time and instead of the 4-karat diamond ring, I chose to take the business package.  In 1990 we earned our first trip to Rome, Italy by reaching the $600,000 Circle of Excellence.  In 1992 and 1993 we consistently remained at $500,000 and in 1993 we once again earned a trip by reaching $650,000…toBermuda.  1994 brought yet another trip; this time to Munich, Germany as we reached the $600,000 level.  1995 became our 7th year in a row to be one of the top units in Mary Kay, earning our 7th 4-karat diamond ring (or the equivalent of), reaching $500,000.  Most of you know I take cash; this year was no different, however, I bought a beautiful mink coat!  1996 earned us a fabulous trip to Paris, and the position of No. 1 Unit in South Carolina for the fourth year reaching $667,000, our highest production to date.   I, again, took cash and bought another coat…two was probably enough, but you never know.  

1997 brought tragedy--my step-dad passed away--and in the process of moving my mom to live in South Carolina, I once again took time off.  I continue to be amazed that nobody fired me.  Nobody reprimanded me for not working very hard.  Instead, the Company overwhelmed me with love.  We reached $400,000 for the next three years and enjoyed life with mom near by.  In July 1999, we were ready to soar again, especially since the children were pretty much grown up.   We reached the $650,000 Circle of Excellence one more time, our highest production ever, earning us yet another trip to Vancouver, Canada and Alaska, and another 4-karat diamond ring (I took the cash again).   And then in the 2000-01 Seminar year we broke a record not only for our Unit, but also in the State of South Carolina by achieving the level of the first Million Dollar Unit in South Carolina!  We jumped from 150 unit members to 300 in about two months with Mary Kay’s 50% showcase offer in August that year.  We recruited 75+ people in one month!  This, combined with huge momentum propelled us into the #22 position in the entire Company (out of 11,000+ Directors) for the year.  And, once again, another Director trip to Scotland and Ireland was earned, including the Million Dollar Mingle in Dallas, Texas.  In 2015 at our Leadership, Mary Kay announced that there are only 140 Million Dollar Directors in the entire history of the Company.  Our Unit is in the Mary Kay Hall of Fame!

 In 2001-02 the $650,000 unit club earned us a trip to Vienna.  2003-2010 we consistently reached the $500,000-$600,000 Circles while enjoying life traveling everywhere.

 As a Unit we have earned the use of pink cars since 1982--two Buick Regals, the rest Cadillacs, and one Jimmy.  As of January, 2015 we are on target for our next Cadillac.   My highest check in one month has been in excess of $19,000.  We have been honored to be #1 in South Carolina 12 times.  It’s hard to believe that a $100 beauty case would have ALL these benefits inside of it.  Indeed, these benefits are all there for you also as you steadily and consistently build your business.    We are proud to be WONDER WOMEN! 

 When I remarried (in 1985) we blended five children ranging in age from 6 to 14 and we had a very busy household over the years.  I have chosen God first, Family second and Career third.  Those children are all on their own now and it's a different time in my life.  I find that as a single woman I have many choices. I am thankful for the choice I made to build this business over these 34+ years, one step at a time.   I am blessed to have all of you in my life and to have the best career in the world with an opportunity to continue to grow into the next direction it may take me.  Mary Kay affords us choices every day and is here for all of you as you make YOUR own choices for success.

 YOU CAN DO IT!  Choose to realize all your hopes and dreams by doing something you enjoy as much as I have these many years.  How many can say they truly love what they do and get paid well to do it?   There is one secret to success that I would pass on to YOU as you build your business and that is: BOOK, SELL AND RECRUIT with GOD's help every week! And YOU will reach the top! 

 CONGRATULATIONS WONDER WOMEN ON BEING MARY KAY'S BEST!

 

 

Mira: Her story reminds us to believe in ourselves

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People are the core of a business. There are plans and finances, strategies, frameworks. None of those can be executed without amazing people. Today, I honor all of you for the work you do in your organizations, households, and communities while you manage life. You are the reason I chose my field of study. Thank you. Your stories are my life's work.

Mira shares from her heart as our next guest writer.  We met while we were both studying at Case Western Reserve University.  Her story offers us an inside view into immigration and the journey of a refugee.  Mira is a treasured friend and colleague, and I am grateful our paths crossed.  We can learn from her hope and belief, not only through her own eyes, but also from the eyes of a 92-year-old woman who further opened her heart to "what's around the corner."

-Jennifer

I thank all those who laughed at my dreams;

You have inspired my imagination.

I thank all who wanted to squeeze me into their scheme;

They have taught me the value of freedom

 

I thank all who have lied to me;

You have shown me the power of truth.

I thank all those who have not believed in me;

You have expected me to move mountains.

I thank all those who have written me off;

You have aroused my courage.

 

I thank all those who have left me;

They gave me room to create.

I thank all those who have betrayed me and abused;

You have let me be vigilant.

I thank all those who have hurt me;

They have taught me to grow in pain.

 

More importantly, I thank all

Who love me as I am;

They give me the strength to live.

 

~Paulo Coelho

 

I start this story with the P. Coelho poem because it deeply describes my life.  About 19 years ago, my family and I were refugees from Ukraine and we established a new life here in Cleveland. I felt blessed by God and destiny to begin a new life in this multi-cultural country were tolerance and liberty offer an opportunity for everyone to make their wishes and hopes come to life.  With a hungry passion, I started to learn English, look for a job, and attend all the courses and seminars possible for an easy and smooth transition.

My first job was at a Home Health agency as an aid. Icared for a 92-year-old woman, and I learned one of the biggest lessons: life is too short and every person’s life has difficulties; try to be strong and never give up.

This woman was born at the beginning of the last century in independent Romania and lived a wealthy life in a Jewish banker family until part of the country was annexed by the Soviet Union.  The formal language in the family was Romanian and Yiddish, but they had to begin learning the Russian language immediately.  Before Russian communism came into the country, she had a chef, nanny and cleaner in her home.  When communism came into effect, everyone had to be equal and all of her luxuries were lost.  The poor and rich were all the same.

However, a few years later at the start of World War II, at 38 weeks pregnant, she had to escape with a five-year-old child.  At that moment, her husband was at the front line in the war for four years and she had to evacuate by train to Uzbekistan.  Somewhere in the middle of a desert in Kazakhstan, she went into labor and a random Kazakh woman, who only spoke her native language, helped her with delivery and she was able to give birth to a healthy baby girl.  She learned how to survive without her spouse with two young children in a different environment.  Later on, after WWII, during the assimilation of the hungry war years in Uzbekistan, she was reunited with her husband.

In the beginning of the 90's, after the Soviet Union collapsed, her family had to immigrate to the United States by refugee status.  It was unsafe to stay there, so that resulted in a new beginning.

One day, when I walked into her room, she said:

"My whole life went by very quickly and I can compare it to opening a door, stepping out then closing the door. Be patient and get rid of anxiety. If destiny sends you through tough and tricky times, look for the positive side of this challenge and keep going. Be open-minded because you never know what waits for you around the corner."

I will remember her forever and every day I try to follow her lessons. 

My own career has continued on as a result of my pursuits and determination to learn.  At the Cleveland Clinic, I started as a phlebotomist, and then pursued research, becoming a senior research technologist at LRI, a molecular cardiology department.  I love what I am doing and enjoy our diverse community inside of the department.  Every day gives me new challenges and knowledge.  I am proud to learn from others and share my own experiences and skills.

My life, like everyone's of course, was not always delightful and easy.  I went through betrayal and pain; I fell down so many times that I don’t remember how many times it happened. However, I will always remember to rise out of the deep pit, stand and give all I have.

I leave you with these final thoughts:

  • Try to avoid negative and pessimistic outlooks; everything that can distract my encouraging viewpoint should be subsided immediately.
  • Look back only if it accomplished knowledge appreciation.
  • Be grateful, for every day’s prosperous, even if it’s not looking that bright, explore new experiences from the current situation and learn.
  • A smile is the best weapon ever; it always healed my heart and helped others feel comfortable and happy.

I’m grateful every single day for what I have: my family, my relatives and friends.  Living through immigration is hard for everyone, no matter what country you came from.  It’s difficult to learn the language and customs while embracing the new culture. I was always and still am hopeful that everything will be okay because this woman’s story reminds me to never give up. Even when horizons look like mirages, I still keep on moving to achieve my goals.  Everything in the beginning can look like an illusion, but self-belief can turn things around.

Five Unique Ways to Show Your Family & Friends Gratitude This Holiday

  • Preserve yourself so your actions matter.

    • With the holidays upon us, remember that doing too much sometimes takes more away from those we love when we are not focused on giving with intention.  Preserve yourself by offering quality time to your loved ones, maintaining personal balance through doing what is reasonable, and giving out of a genuine spirit.  Giving poorly from exhaustion and demand takes away from what matters to you and to those you love.
  • Accept and receive with Grace.

    • Genuine gratitude allows you to embrace when others give to you.  It is about accepting others when they give of themselves to you.  They are not martyrs . . . they are loving you.  There is no shame in receiving.  As a matter of fact, the giver feels valued that you have so graciously accepted what they have to offer.  Most people really do want to contribute, especially if they see someone they love in need.
  • Build trust with those around you.

    • Trust gives life to your family, your community, and your organizations.  Building trust can come through conversations that build others up, speak well of them, aim to appreciate the good things around you, being willing to listen, and still offer truth.  Sometimes trust comes in following through on small, simple actions.  Understand what others need in order to gain that trust.  And make it real to them in some way.
  • Break through a barrier that will enable you to embrace others different from you.

    • Be willing to get honest about what keeps you from accepting others as they are, then find out how you can break through that barrier.  Maybe it is something simple like inviting someone to dinner to learn more about them without any motive to change them.  Strike up a meaningful conversation based in curiosity so you can really open up to seeing them. Sometimes just looking someone in the eye and smiling at them is all it takes to open you up to seeing others the way they want to be seen.
  • Do something fun together without planning ahead.

    • This does not have to be living large.  Just be in the moment and adventure together.  Free yourself of plans for a short time, and embrace the spontaneous to see what transpires.  It doesn't have to be big--play Pictionary or Charades at dinner.  At work, surprise your colleagues by turning a meeting into a game.  Bring delight and surprise to those around you.  Get creative with this one. 

featured co-writer Kristi Brown Garcia

Just One More Thing. . . Featuring a Drummer and the Wendy's Drive Thru

For those of you that have been waiting for this blog post, let me introduce you to my husband.  He is the drummer who makes me laugh, and cool dad to our 5 kids. 

Just one more thing . . .

So, when my wife asked me to be a guest blogger, which is apparently different from a website, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, I was a bit intimidated.  I don’t like social media very much and I’m certainly not up to speed on the latest trends, socially accepted norms, and ways of communicating without having to actually be present. 

As a matter of fact, I felt a bit like I was in a Wendy’s drive thru being pressured to order promptly while my 5 kids shout their orders at me.  Jen usually tries to reassure me to breathe and remember it's not the end of the world.

I’m not completely sure why I felt this way about writing, but I think it’s partly due to me thinking Jen is such a great creative writer, and knowing although I do have something valuable to offer, I am worried I won't get my message across.  And then there’s the whole thing of it being public.  Anyways, that being said, I have taken the plunge and went ahead with my first “blog” on the worldwide web (a.k.a. the internet).

So, I’m coming to terms with the reality that remaining emotionally in control when the pressure is on is still a struggle. That’s right, I’m a man with many struggles –but don’t worry I’m not in Corporate America, so I can publicly admit it without legal implications.  

Whether it’s a big issue or small (a la Wendy’s drive thru), I’ve noticed some of the same behaviors.  Often times my perception of pressure differs from Jen’s, considering our unique relationship.  That's for another blog post.

What exactly happens to me in the drive-thru anyway?  Funny as that question may sound, some deeply embedded feelings are worth exploring in how they affect me, and the people who have the unfortunate privilege of being around me when I feel that “pressure.” 

I know I am not an imposition, but that’s one of the first feelings that hit me when I don’t have my family’s order together (food, schedule, life-order etc.).  I feel the need to apologize as though I’m wasting their time.  After all “they” (the establishment -substitute your own here if you want) could find out how dysfunctional we are for not planning ahead, kids screaming, and some guy not being able to form sentences in the English language.  

Now that I think about it, I’m probably the reason fast food chains came up with the numbers system when ordering.   At the very least, all I have to do is hold up the number four in my hand or scream out “a six, a two . . . no make that three twos and two ones…and go biggie on that one two in the middle.”    By that time, I give a glance over to Jen.  I am begging for some mercy from her to not make me order any more.  But the famous last words always come.  I say “you know, I’m sorry,

just one more thing . . .”

It feels like chaos to me, both internally and externally.  Shame is reminding me that I don’t quite have it altogether like I should for dad of my age, or maybe this is a reflection of my lack of great parenting.   In reality, I know these things aren’t true. Yet, in those hectic moments, I quickly want to start imposing that shame in the form of rules and policies like “We are never coming back here again!” “Stop making a mess!”

Or I just order the same thing for everyone.  I immediately want to control things because it feels so out of control.

That response is the opposite of what I really should be doing most of the time.  Achieving a balanced perspective in that moment is obviously elusive to me. 

Then, I suddenly have this funny thought What if I was the one in the window taking the orders and I saw this guy doing all this?  As the van rolls up to the window, I think I would say to the guy, “Bro, it’s cool.  You know, you are paying for this. Relax.”

What is the point here?  Grace is hard.  It is hard to offer to yourself and to others.  I think having grace is essential to achieving that balance of perspective, and to maintain emotional intelligence.  Religious or not, in moments of chaos, there has to be a way to cling to some kind of grace.  For you and for those around you.

leadership lesson:

Grace is hard.  Do it anyway.

dream builder:

Step outside of yourself for a moment to gain a new perspective of the situation.  You may be surprised at the grace you can actually have toward yourself.

Mountains, Time, and My Tears

The Pennsylvania mountains stretch before me.  I have a car full of kids filled with excitement and wonder.  I am next to the guy that decided to join me on this adventure (among many others).

My life looks very different than the last few times I approached these mountains.  As the soft curves of green trees fill up my view, memories flood my heart and hot tears stream down my face.  The last two times I traveled here were to escape. We were going through some difficult times, and heading out to get away from it all seemed like a good idea.

So for years I avoided this mountainous highway because of these very things.  Emotion.  Feeling.  Fear.  It is as if these mountains held secrets captive for me, and I could never face this place again.  For a time, it was OK to shut this place down.  I had a lot of other life I was living.

But now as I drive this highway, I can’t keep the tears back even if I try.  I reach over to my husband, hold his hand, look through the windows, and experience a whole wave of emotions.  Gratitude is primary.  This trip is healing, and the healing is sweet.

“Home” is the word that crosses my mind.  I had never lived here before, but this is where my life essentially began.  My grandparents met and married here.  My parents traveled these roads on the way to college.  I was born while they were in college.  I traveled here for Thanksgiving with all my family one year.  I came here right after my dad died.  The last time I was here, my husband and I escaped for a weekend away after going through a difficult time in our marriage and family. 

Gratitude isn’t really the number one emotion I felt would come to me when I approached this place again.  But, even as I write this, I smile.  This is how I desire to live life.  I want to know that the most unexpected beautiful thing can come from a whole lot of unexpected not so beautiful things, and that you can keep choosing life and choosing to face that which may hold you captive.  I traveled to these mountains because my heart was ready.  I want my children to know history, meet my dad’s family, and now be our own family in a place of solitude, freedom and serenity.

There is nothing else to describe this, except that I had one more chance to face myself.  To embrace the fact that all of these things had to take place to bring me right here to this moment—to do the things I have done, to hope for the things I have yet to do, and to be here now enjoying what I have been given.   

Yes, I believe in second chances (probably more like third, fourth, and then some).

Why does this matter?   It matters because we are human, and we are built on relationships and connection.  And we cannot be authentically connected with others unless we are authentically connected with ourselves.  Our souls do not leave when we show up at work.  They certainly don’t leave if we become parents.  Our soul doesn’t cease to exist when we take on our profession or we move to a new place to start over.   We all come from somewhere.  We are here today because we were born into something.  Even if it is not a perfect story, it is our story.  And we are becoming someone new every day.  Every life event that happens teaches us something, and we can carve out our path in response to it.  Along the way, we will still feel pain, sorrow, illness, betrayal, fear.  Yes, we will.  I certainly cannot understand some of these things and struggle at times to find answers.  I just want to shut them down and move on.

Today, though, I let this trip be a new experience.

Sometimes the mountains we climb lead us right back home.

There are also times we do need to start over.  Whatever it is, we can experience it fully.  Live it and breathe it in.  And in the process, while we are working and parenting and leading, I hope we give others the gift of knowing that they have a story, too.  And that it does not have to be the ending.  Right now, right here, we are part of that for each other.  What world will we create?  What memories will we make? What legacy will we leave?

Everything led us here.  Home tells a story.  Face it, feel it, find sweetness in it.  Then, when we are willing to hand it over, we can find some new ground, and we choose a glorious path every time we do it.  We now start a story that our grandchildren will tell and their grandchildren will tell.  Yes, we have to leave our story behind a few times to make way for new things, especially if there are painful things that keep us from being authentic.  There are some of us that need to simply let go of it and give ourselves permission to be new.   

For me, after all these years, I realize I want my great grandchildren to visit these mountains one day.  My hope is that they will see all of it, take the pieces that mean something to them, and carve their own path.

leadership lesson:

Authentic leadership is about knowing yourself and others well.

dream builder:

Keep the parts of your story that mean something.  Let go of the other stuff.  Create your own legacy.

Look Again

Look Again

It is Saturday.  I wake up at 3:30 in the morning and I can't sleep.  Sometimes this time in the morning brings the unusual quiet I need to think.  What do I do?  Well, naturally, I start up my computer and decide to listen to a message on being limitless.  Now that is a sure way to get me back to sleep!

The message challenges me in this quiet hour of the morning with two words: "Look again."  Being limitless means being able to go back and see something (even if it just feels like a little bit of nothing) from a different perspective, with an eye of appreciation, or a mind that inquires, "How can I make something more of this?"

It is like going back in the kitchen cupboards and seeing what kind of meal you can create out of a few ingredients.  It can be very limiting to have only a few things, but it may also inspire a new and creative recipe.

I was inspired all week to test this out.  Pictured above are places where I looked again at Cleveland. This city is a place that is being reborn, and every time I venture out, I find a surprise by giving myself permission to look again.

So, I embarked on some adventures inspired by those very words.  I enjoyed a day at the park right in my neighborhood, wading in a creek, walking through the trees, and eating PB & J on a big swing while the kids played on the playground. 

I took a lunch break to check out the amazing new chandelier in Playhouse Square.  The design is fascinating, and I am really curious to see how it bears these Cleveland winters!  I can already imagine the beautiful crystals glistening above the snowy streets.

Then, I had a fabulous time at the 5th Street Arcades on Thursday.  It is buzzing with coffee and tea shops, clothing stores, and plenty of food places that include sugary treats to vegan delights.  I even picked up a little bunch of paper roses at a fresh take on a flower shop called Love Anji.  My lunch walk reminded me to notice the stunning architecture of the arcades, with intricate details in the buildings and wonderful sky lights.

So, The Five Workshop sends a challenge your way this spring. 

Look again.  Before condemning something or writing it off as nothing, take a second look.  Take even a little bit of something and build on it.  From the message: "Look again.  Go look again in your community, in your church, in your city, in your home, in your family, in your marriage . . . Go look again!"

 Sometimes, we even write ourselves off as people who don't have anything really great to give.  We may have failed or took a detour on our life journey. 

We may even write others off as being useless or lacking potential or worse yet, total failures.  Well, what if we look again?  We all love the idea of buried treasure . . . so let's find one thing we can appreciate.  And then take it one more step:  see how we can turn it into something more.

LEADERSHIP LESSON:

Looking again is a great way to see potential that leads to transformation.

DREAM BUILDER:

Looking again may inspire a new adventure or spark a new idea on something where we felt all hope was lost.

If you want to know more about the 5th Street Arcades, take a peek at the website!  The story is sure to inspire.

http://www.5thstreetarcades.com/info/aboutUs

hello, how are you?

I haven't thought much about these four words so much in my life.  The last few days, though, I realized again the beautiful importance of these words.

Only if we listen.

When I ask how are you, it can easily end with  "Fine.  Everything is going great.  Yes, yes it is."

It seems so quick.  But, it is rather convenient.

It takes a bit more work to have to engage in talking to someone.  And, sometimes we run from it because it doesn't feel very productive.  I have things to get done!

But, in those moments, those precious moments when something else isn't tugging at you, these sparkling jewels of transformation appear! And when I meet someone in that way, where I get to hear their story, my whole self lights up!  It ends up feeling very selfish.

They give me a great gift of really knowing them.  I am changed each time I choose to embrace that moment.  I learn about how someone aches for their mother years after her death.  I learn about someone's travels to the United States from another country.  I hear about someone's spouse, child, sister, brother, friend, niece, or nephew.  Others share what may be happening at work, or at their church or community.  I hear how people have tried to run their own businesses, opened their hearts to a dream, just got back from a weekend trip.  Others have shared to the point of wonderful laughter, teary eyes, and anger (yes, anger).  It is a lovely gift.  It is our connection to one another and our humanity.

Now, I know every conversation cannot be transformational, but I have encountered the beauty of others so many times when I decide to enter in after the "Hello, how are you?"  This risk we take may lead us to having to see another person beyond what we need from them at that moment.  

This week, the 5 workshop invites you to take 5 minutes, and ask someone how they are with a bit more behind it . . . curiosity to know more. 

leadership lesson: 

Curiosity behind leadership is inviting.  People have ideas and stories to share.

dream builder:

Our curiosity opens us up to possibilities.  When you learn about others, it is possible to learn something about yourself, too.