Tween Angst at Forty Seven

Perhaps I’m having sympathy angst?

This morning I am wanting to work but my mind is preoccupied with my 6th grade daughter and all that is going on in her busy young life.

It’s MSP testing week at her school for one thing. Friendships are shifting at school as the third quarter begins and I’m hearing the stories after school and having “flashbacks” of my tumultuous 6th grade year. And this weekend the Bellevue Youth Theater play she’s been practicing for since February starts its two weekend run at the Ivanhoe Theater in Bellevue. Opening night is Friday night and a small tribe of us are going to enjoy Beauty and the Beast. I’ll have my heart in throat at least six times as I watch her say her lines as the young maiden friend of Belle. (Think I may skip wearing mascara, again…so when I start to cry my tears of joy, they won’t run my make up.)

Middle School. As well as I believe my daughter is handling all the pressures, I also sense overwhelm creeping in and in the air. And I can’t help her through it if she doesn’t want the help I offer. Isn’t that how it goes even for us adults? I’m feeling a little helpless this morning, knowing full well that she ultimately will in her own time handle this.

(Even when working with writing clients, I understand COMPLETELY that it will be their process not mine, as they get in touch with their writing style and rhythm and voice.)

So why, then, can’t I accept that “We all get to live with B’s choice to do nothing about her small crisis for the moment?”

THE REALITY IS:

We can’t help people, really, if they don’t want our help. We can’t be helped by others if we won’t allow ourselves to be helped. It’s an unpleasant cycle.

Mediation. It’s been suggested to repair a known rift but one of the parties won’t have it. What to do then? Surrender to what is and imagine a space and field for some positive shift and healing to occur. Practice being less attached to the outcome and let come what may and deal with what comes up when it comes up. Cease with pushing things to happen that would be premature.

Business activities feel like this at times too. Things happen on timelines we wish we could “control” but  can’t. Things going South that looked like they were well on their way to be a sure thing. What then can we do? Something else that prepares the field for good things, even the smallest of activities, feels better than doing nothing.

That feels like me mediating with myself, which in this case is about as good as it gets.

My wish for the tween in all of us: When we have angst and prefer to avoid conflict may we find the will power to address the “gremlin” taunting us. May we take back our personal power to speak what is on our minds and hearts and get things done that need getting done. May we remember we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

Achievements.
Acknowledgment.
Acceptance.

At the end of the day, we must first be at peace within if we are to be at peace in the world.

 

 

A Call for Entries

What is your favorite post on this community blog and why? Is it yours or another blogger’s writing?

What brought you to the Weekly Circle in the first place and what keeps you coming back as you can?

What sparks your urge to contribute to this creative canvas?

We’ve discussed pulling together a collection of our best shorts and the time has come!

In the name of inspiring others to launch community blogs that are rich with content and a sense of community worth spending a morning coffee hour with, let’s gather our favorite pennies and daffodils.

Suggest the posts that have made you laugh and think the most.

Let’s collaboratively create a blueprint that inspires and supports others in search of a writing community.

First deadline for nominations is May 15th.

Your Fearless Prolific Founder,

Deborah Drake – Authentic Writing Provokes

The Lucky Pennies

Do you pick up pennies?

I do. I have since I was little. And I wonder how many pennies I have picked up in my lifetime thus far? Collectively, they represent times when I had a moment to be fully present to that penny on the ground.

One time, a penny on the sidewalk caught my eye, as the street light flickered on and just as I was about to step into the crosswalk and thanks to that penny, I didn’t get run over by the bus rapidly turning the corner that didn’t see me in the gloaming hour. So, I have a particular fondness for pennies.

Pennies represent the abundance of abundance.

There is simple joy in spying a penny on the ground and casting a wish as I pick it up. I never pass up the chance to celebrate the finding of penny. And I notice the nickels and dimes and quarters and the five dollar bills too! The point is pennies or any denomination of loose change are a metaphor for opportunities cast before us.

Small and easily overlooked and undervalued. Why do we walk past these copper opportunities to add value that over time would tip the scale?

Pennies from heaven are the smallest of opportunities that make all the difference. May you recognize them in every form they enter your awareness.

 

 

A funny thing happened on the way to the funeral. (Really)

Life is Precious. Life is Precarious. Life is Playful.

It’s never easy saying goodbye to someone.  Funerals are rarely funny.

This story and post is based on a true experience shared with me today during coffee social post my weekly spiritual experience at Unity of Bellevue. I dedicate this post to Trudy Wilson (who is not the one who had died…just to be clear. She is my source and a lovely soul!)

I find myself sitting at a table where I had sat down to collect an email address from someone I promised to send some information. That was what put me where I was with a small plate of deviled eggs and berries and a cup of coffee. I didn’t anticipate sitting there long, but the Universe had other plans for me.

I knew no one else at the table, but after a Rev.Nancy Worth “lesson” we are all friendly while we nibble on bite sized pieces of donuts and sweet loaf breads and mixed nuts. (That is what we are, aren’t we, mixed nuts going to “church” or “temple” or “yoga” or “the gym.” Pick your variety of spirituality, it’s all good!)

How Trudy and I got from saying hello to her sharing her recent funeral experience is not as important as the fact, our dialogue took us there.

The sad part of the story. The beautiful soul no longer with us in body, was the child and son of a woman, who had died of cancer not two months before her son chose to end his own physical existence. Yes, “suicide” happens whether we like it or not. What takes courage? Living or checking out? (Different and equally challenging blog post to “pen.”) He had apparently even told his mother that life was so much to manage. He was a sensitive soul that Trudy had known since childhood.  Since he’d moved to a province farther afield in Canada than British Columbia, Trudy no longer saw him at holidays.She knew his mother and sister and that kept her current on “D’s” life.

Trudy was in Canada attending D’s funeral this time, and determined to support the  family again.

Someone was responsible for bringing the items of personal significance to the church for the alter. Flowers and family photos of mom and children at various ages were in the bag that Trudy saw in the back seat of the driver’s new Jeep. The service was taking place at a church on Vancouver Island before the ceremony at the cemetery to honor D.  That driver was shall we say, a speed demon.

The Jeep was barreling along a road when it hit a speed bump. If you have ever been in a Jeep you know how rough a ride they can be; comparable to Hummers actually. The Jeep and it’s occupants arrived at the church to find something missing. The bag in the back seat. That Speed Bump! One of the back jeep doors had apparently flown open and the bag had escaped! The driver determined what must have been the moment it happened! They circled back to the spot and found the flowers by the side of the road but alas no bag with pictures. Okay, weird, but what can you say. What happened, happened.

D’s sister pulled the presenting minister aside and whispered in his ear, “We have a small problem.” This was shared at the end of the church service and prior to people heading to the final resting place.

Apparently, D’s ashes had been in a wooden box in that bag of pictures and flowers. Like I said, weird, but okay, as reported to this “Witness and Listener.”

At the grave site, people tossed roses into the hole that had been dug for the box of ashes. It was about the ritual of saying a proper and honorable goodbye at that point. But, D had a sense of humor in my opinion. Or someone did and in the end the message left might read like this: “I am not as gone as you think me. And can you find the humor in this moment.”

Trudy said D would be laughing if he was there to share the story himself. She prefers to remember that he was bright and sensitive and appreciated odd humor.

A couple of messages were received  by me as I listened to this story, earlier today.

1. Life is Precious. Never miss an opportunity to say to someone you care for that you do.

2. Life is Precarious. Sometimes we lose things in surprising ways and how we respond to that loss is what matters the most.

3. Life is Playful. Humor, even when it is black, is present and available if we remain open to finding the humor in any situation.

And what if, just what if, it is the Universe’s not so gentle way of saying, “Hey, you, dopey, sleepyhead, buried your head in the sand, looking for a scapegoat, choosing to be unaware and missing the precious opportunity before you, YEAH YOU, please, stop, regroup, see all that could be, if you would say yes to courage and love and adventure and risk and opening up and asking for even more support than you already do.

I’d give you as much as you asked for. And there may be times I attempt to wake you from your self-delusional pattern. Why? Because, I want you to be happy.

I Do.

Love.

Deborah Drake – Authentic Writing Provokes

P.S. Just in case it isn’t clear to you: Life is Precious. Life is Precarious. Life is Playful. Ask for help when you need it and be glad for the people who bug you because they care.

 

 

Our weekly TwD Writers’ Conference

Yesterday’s session opened with the ritual passing of Deborah’s Chinese porcelain mirror into which we looked and said, “Mirror mirror in my hand, who was the leader of The Band?”

No wait. That wasn’t the question. That was my timid humorist identity making an appearance alongside the usually-out-front sincere-ist identity. Our actual ritual was to look ourselves in the eye and say, “My name is Liz and I am a writer.” (Sometimes I write new words, such as “sincere-ist;” I’ll bet other readers of this blog also have fun inventing words.)

I once posted that claiming my identity as writer has helped to unblock and animate some of my other identities that need to work together toward the common good of various projects and responsibilities.

Deborah, as a writer, writing coach, teacher, leader, guide, and generous-hearted person offers at our Tuesdays with Deborah sessions a seemingly limitless supply of techniques, such as the suggestion that we free-write. Every weekly session results in practical, useful, do-able writing inspiration. As Deborah says, “Authentic writing provokes.” It certainly does.

The weekly sessions remind me of writers’ workshops I have attended.

I have attended the four annual “Search for Meaning” Book Festivals at Seattle University. This year, I attended sessions by two poets, by a writer in the field of ethical leadership, and by a writer of many genres including humor. The festival takes place each March.

Recalling the surprising benefit obtained by this non-poet in a workshop led by poet Frances McCue, I wondered if she has scheduled any local workshops in the near future that I might recommend to TwD peeps.  I came upon a two-day writers’ conference offered by Whatcom Community College.

Weaving many threads together in this post, I am grateful for the weekly writers’ conference that TwD is for me (and I think for others). I value the experience, the relationships, and the writing encouragement. I note that my next opportunity to attend a McCue workshop would be at a $259 two-day workshop.  Wow!  That is a little “less” accessible in the commitments of time, driving, and money than the weekly TwD sessions that happen just up the street from my home, every week, accompanied by a reluctant but practical invitation to help cover the cost of the space by contributing something less than the cost of a movie ticket.

I am eager now to read everything that has transpired in this community space during the month of April.

Do the Locomotion!

I was a substitute teacher in a first grade classroom last week for a few days. I have been in this classroom several times this year. As with most groups of six and seven year olds, this group is full- twenty individual whirling balls of energy quick to speak out, complain, state their case and move at their own pace, be it fast or slow.

It is always a struggle at the end of the day to get kids to clean up the classroom, pack up their things and be ready to leave on time (especially for those darn buses). Here is my trick. I put fun music on and challenge them. How many songs will it take to be done and ready to leave? I suggest that they can do it in one song, but one and a half is the usual. Then we have time before they rush out the door for a game or a story.

On this particular day, I put on the song “Locomotion” and they headed off to get things done. There was a happy buzz in the room. One has to accept noise when kids are dancing around getting things done quickly. One little guy, usually pokey and rather glum, joined me at the front of the room before Locomotion was over. “I love this song!” he gushed as his little body swayed and moved around me. Being the skeptical teacher, I glanced over at his table. His place was spotless, organized and his backpack was neatly placed under the table as requested. When the song was over, most of the kids had joined us. “Do it again!” they begged excitedly. So I put Locomotion on again and the dancing resumed. Four of the girls made a train, then a few of the boys joined on. I took the hands of the girl at the front and started moving them around the room. Before I knew it, every child in the room was part of the train, dancing individually yet moving together as one long co-operative train. It was very noisy, but I recognized that it was a busy involved noise and resisted the adult urge to tone it down. Towards the end of the song, I led them into one big circle at the front of the room. When the song was over, they all sat quietly with beautiful little smiles where they had stopped at the end of the song looking up at me expectantly. It was almost silent in the room. They were ready to play my “Silent Ball” game…and they were ready to be out the door on time!

The experience blew me away; I had forgotten how much there is to learn from children and how good it feels to allow ourselves some freedom. We cannot constantly be in a quiet subdued serious space. There are times when the need to move and sing and rock and roll just must to take over. Allow it…then the quiet times are much more appreciated and effective. Experiences like this are so needed in our classrooms today…and

Hills of Daffodils: A call for entries

There is a daffodil in bloom outside my front door.And it reminds me of a true story I have heard in various versions.

There was once a woman who had a mother who spent her time planting daffodils on a hillside near her home. She became known for this activity so much so that she was called the Daffodil Lady. Year after year she returned to the same hillside and planted bulbs.This went on for years until the woman’s health began to wane and ultimately, one year she didn’t return to the hill.

Her daughter missed her mother very much and sought out a sense of being with her the Spring after her passing on the hill she knew her mother had paid loving attention to. The story goes that the daughter had not participated in her mother’s ritual, and that is understandable, is it not?

She had her own full life that no doubt kept her busy. Work, children, her own little family and choices for how she spent her time. She had left her mother’s house to start her own life as we all do and now she was flooded with a longing for her first mentor and caregiver, the one she graduated from but never stopped loving.

What did she find on that hillside, knowing her mother had been visiting it for years? Far more than she could have imagined. She expected to see daffodils, yes, but what she found was a hillside of gold. For as it goes, the daffodils that were planted also multiplied on their own schedule. Years of bulbs birthing new bulbs birthing new bulbs.

The daughter decided there and then to honor the memory of her mother by continuing the work her mother had begun, though she knew that her mother did it out of love for beauty. And in doing so as she did for all the years, she created a lot of beauty she hadn’t directly planted.

We can do that too. Our littlest acts of kindness, generosity and assistance are like seeds planted in fertile soils. Not only could they help the person directly before us, it could be the catalyst for a whole field of good works.

Figuratively speaking, I would like to spend my days helping to cause clusters of daffodils to bloom on hillsides everywhere year after year.

Imagine the hillside as a metaphor for your business, your writing goals, your blog’s content, your creative aspirations with the written and spoken word.

Let it be the metaphor for how I see you as the writer you are seeking to liberate.

Let the daffodil be the symbol for the body of work you are creating each time you write.

Corny? Sure, but it works for me.

What way would you create beauty in your world?

You know what I say all the time. Authentic Writing Provokes! Well it does. And with a sense of purpose and direction your writing will always create pathways between you and the people who need to be served and assisted by you, indirectly and directly.

It begins with practicing the art of writing in the first place. Know that I have so much gratitude for this community and the body of work we are creating.

Who is ready to suggest the pieces they would have self-published in a book of our own community. Our hill of daffodils?

It’s time.

Bite Size Strategy: Marketing With Heart – Cause Marketing Partnerships Should Provide Benefits For Both Parties

I co-delivered a pilot workshop today on cause marketing and ’Benefits To Both Partners’ was a central theme.

We gathered a small group of for profit business people and not for profit directors to experience a portion of our workshop content and provide feedback to help us shape future workshops .  When we presented the topic of benefits in general, and provided a short list of benefits to businesses and began to talk about Revenue and Brand exposure, an interesting shift happened.   The not for profits chimed in and said that historically these were not subjects or even words that they brought up when talking to businesses.  In fact, it went a bit deeper into a conversation about how, over the years, not for profits tend to show up already undervaluing themselves and as a result possibly get about one third of the dollars they could have received.

Having been on the business side of the table for years, I so appreciated and valued the openness of this conversation today. I will tell you that I have been in many awkward conference room conversations related to cause marketing.  Typically, it is during or at the end of an intense business planning or budgeting meeting and the HR director or Director of Marketing or fellow executive brings up a recent lunch or cause they would like the company to support.  In those rooms, there is a similar shift, except it is not always so altruistic.  After rounds of negotiation on hard costs, revenue projections and tough decisions to produce profit – the subject of supporting a favorite cause often is perceived and presented as a ‘we should do this because it will feel good’ rather than a strategic imperative to extend brand and produce revenue. Many times, these campaigns and relationships are treated with kid gloves, are supported by only a small group within the company, are not selected based on their merits and are not measured well for value. All of this magnifies the gaps.

The not for profit people shared that they did not want to offend donors or maybe their board members and went to great lengths to avoid looking or sounding like a business.  Fascinating to me, because most board members are active or former business leaders as are many donors and not for profits fight for a bottom line and budgets – just like their business counterparts, every day.  The for profit business wants to work with a not for profit that will help them increase brand exposure, increase customer loyalty and ultimately to produce revenue and reach new markets. All of these are business issues.

From the business attendees, the light went off as well when we talked about adding cause related marketing to your overall marketing mix to recognize cost savings as well as brand extension. Even if the business partner stands to take more financial risk, studies show that consumers are more likely to purchase a product that is tied to a cause, in some cases up to 41%. “I’ll take those odds”, as my dad used to say. The businesses also avoided using business terms AND also avoided using not for profit terms, in order to not offend or look less knowledgable to their not for profit counterparts. The thought kept echoing in my head from my Toastmasters group – if you want to connect to, motivate or persuade your audience – speak their language.

That is why I love the area of cause related marketing because it is based on a business deal tied to doing good, and is not philanthropy.  It also lays a great framework to support a shift in the conversation, the presentations and eventually the negotiations towards making a sound business decision for both parties.  It empowers a not for profit to identify, articulate and be recognized for the valuable assets they bring to the table.  It also forces businesses to approach cause related marketing conversations as opportunities to build partnerships based on  revenue generating, sustainable relationships and away from half-hearted, soft, we really should do this attitudes of the past. If we continue to seek common ground, common language in these conversations just think of the powerful partnerships that can be created.

And this is not easy stuff.  Lots of history, lots of need, lots to work on all compounded by constant changes to navigate in the marketing world today. Not to mention, the economy. No matter how you look at it, not easy. But, worth the time? Yes. But how?

One of the best tools I have found for principled negotiation of win-win partnerships is “Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In ” by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury.

Their method of principled negotiation is based on four propositions:

Separate the people from the problem. Focus on interests, not positions. Invent options for mutual gain. Insist on using objective criteria. Another element of the method talks about knowing when to walk away.  It is referred to as knowing your best alternative to a negotiated agreement or BATNA. This is a confidence builder and a powerful tool for both sides. If you have done the prep work to understand and present your value AND know when to walk away – you can be more selective and confident in the end result.

Next Post:  Foundation #2: Identify not for profits that align with your business and personal goals and connect with your consumers.

My not for profit co-pilot for these conversations and workshops is Jane Kuechele from Kuechle Consulting. More to come…

Joni Kovarik | BizDev Consulting | Blog

A Writer ???

“A writer”, somehow in a strange way it seemed to fit.  It was kind of like putting on that special occasion outfit.  A little awkward at first, a bit stiff, a couple of pulls and tugs here and there, but as I began to let the everyday normal me go, it…well…seemed to fit.

I was attending a fairly large social function, somewhat formal, enough so that I felt a little under dressed.  As I slithered about the close quarter’s crowd, trying not to draw attention to the fact that I had not worn a tie, a stylish woman took notice of me.  Fearing that my lacking tie had been spotted, I averted my eyes, only to have her come closer. Upon her approach she said the most amazing thing.

“You’re the writer.”

I took a quick look over my shoulder, then said “You talking to me?”  “Why yes. A couple of other people have pointed you out.”  Now confused on several levels, the first of which, that I hadn’t done a very good job of ‘not drawing attention to myself’, pulled  together and uttered the best response I could come up with, “Oh.”

She then motioned me over to another women who was holding a small glass of wine with her little pinky finger posed just so.  ”Beth, this is Mark, he’s a writer too”.  By now my mind was on warp speed, “a writer too?”  What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Well, I and Miss Pinky Finger had just a ‘lovely little literary chat’ about her latest efforts in the series of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” articles.   She talked about her chickens and talked about my ducks, who knew that I could pull the whole writer thing off?

So it was, that I had been handed the writer persona by someone who had not recognize the everyday normal me and well the special occasion outfit felt pretty good.  Maybe I should wear it more often?

 

Why I “really, really, really” love ~ admire ~ respect Paulo Coelho

As the Writer I am, I also am a Reader. I can be quite discerning when it comes to who I enjoy completely. And it’s good to be picky about what we read. I sample  more than I finish by way of previews and standing in bookstores and flipping through books whose titles, covers, subjects or authors called me to do so.

I take the best and I leave the rest. And I know it influences my own writing over time.

There are three big reasons I “really, really, really” love this man Paulo Coelho, (who has 8.1 Mil FB fans for good reasons–and what about all the fans who don’t do FB).

Please take a moment to scan his bio…it is quite inspiring to me. Every time I read it.

One could say these things about him ( I do!):

1. He was a late bloomer who had some early rough patches in determining WHO he was and wanted to be.

2. He gives back, so much.

3. He does what he loves and it shows.

Are you?

I invite you to consider making whatever change it takes to be “being” your best self!

What is required to make it happen for you?

Do you have the right support to see it through the patches of resistance?

I believe as Deepak Chopra does (by definition in his book Creating Affluence (a longtime favorite of mine) that D is for Dharma and Dharma never feels like work.

(To be doing what I do for a livelihood is quite simply a dream realized that I have imagined since 9 years old.)

It’s never too late to start “being” what you always wanted to be. I may never be as well-known as Coelho, BUT I will be able to say I was a working ~ loving ~ living writer and mentored others into loving their own written and spoken voice. And that reality warms my heart to write, to say, to be and to share.

One late bloomer to another, may you in divine time, fulfill your Dharma in this lifetime.