February 26, 2014

A Meaningful Hit to the Head

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Screen Shot 2014 02 26 at 12.19.58 PMBack in 2002 when I trained to be a professional coach, one of the things stressed in the program was the importance of being coached ourselves on a regular basis. If the idea is that we in this profession are often taking smart, hardworking people to another level, why wouldn’t we want that for ourselves?

In that spirit I hired a coach recently. I am a doer. I’ve had a fire in my belly since adolescence. I’ve accomplished a lot in my life. I’m happily self-employed. But you know what? I wanted to escalate things because lately I’ve been feeling like I’m scratching the surface of what my purpose here is supposed to be.

One day about a month ago one of my clients wrote this to me: “I feel like with accountability to you I can accomplish anything.”

The coach in me was overjoyed. This client is a thinker, has depth, is turning a personal and professional corner and, in my estimation, is supposed to be a leader in the national conversation in a progressive way. But her comment also made me envious. It was like the word ‘accountability’ was flashing in neon lights. Darn it, I thought, I want some of that.

I didn’t let that feeling sit for long. I did what I would have told any client to do – I seized the day and reached out immediately to a coach. We sealed the deal within days.

In a coaching session with her recently I confessed that while I had done a bunch of rewrites in the memoir manuscript I’ve been working on, I was hesitant to make some necessary changes to the last 100 or so pages. A dear friend had read it and made some incredibly astute, frank observations about where I was not forthcoming. I had already implemented plenty of other changes, but these involved going back into my memory regarding a person I loved who died two years ago.

To add to the intensity, Valentine’s Day was coming and that would mark two years since my last conversation with him. While I wasn’t experiencing pointed sadness or dread around it, I was acutely aware of the meaning of it all. Did I want to tap back into all those memories and stir them up? Well, isn’t that what memoir is about?

My coach listened and then made a suggestion. Since I was snowed in for Valentine’s Day, why not use it to my advantage? Why not set aside sacred time to delve into the manuscript and allow myself to be in that place? I lit up instantly at the idea. Yes.

At noon that day I shut down all email and social media. I lit a candle and made some tea. And I wrote about that precious time in my life, even the hurtful parts. About two hours into the process I got up from my desk to pluck a book off my shelf – Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. There was a passage in there that I wanted to quote directly. The six-foot-high shelf – that I’d neglected to affix to the wall – fell forward and books and framed photos came tumbling down around me. On the top shelf was a ceramic vase, which landed on my head and shattered into pieces. It was frightening. I was still holding up the shelf with one hand and didn’t want to move for fear more would come down around me.

I steadied myself and then went to the task of cleaning it all up. Somewhere in there I went to a mirror to make sure my head wasn’t bleeding. It was fine. I must have some hard head (insert obvious joke here). It all felt like a great excuse to stop my work on the manuscript for the day. I seriously mulled that.

With a deep breath I went to the refrigerator and opened a bottle of Prosecco. I poured myself a glass and sat back down at the desk. An hour later, there I was with Tolle’s book, typing in the desired passage.

“This energy field of old but still very-much-alive emotion that lives in almost every human being is the pain-body,” Tolle writes.

This spoke to me. I’d been literally hit on the head with it, after all.

I live riveted to emotional challenges and revel in support from loving people along the way.

My goodness, I am so riveted to that.

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