Open Road Coaching and Consulting is on temporary hiatus.

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wile e coyote and the stupid dust

I had dinner with a newish friend tonight, with the intention to also give her a tarot reading as she navigates some really big changes (end of major relationship, beginning of master’s program and a new job). I showed up in my comfortable, well-worn role as the “helper,” but my friend in her wisdom wasn’t going to let me off the hook that easily. She has attorney training and she’s a very skilled coach, a delightfully lethal combination, it turns out.

She said a couple of things to me during dinner that left me feeling like I’d been sprinkled with stupid dust. You know the feeling? Like Wile E. Coyote just over the lip of the canyon holding completely still before the fall.

Not a common feeling for an extroverted know-it-all, but one I’ve come to recognize as pay dirt for major leaps in my personal and professional life:

1. If you want something you’ve never had, you have to be willing to do things you’ve never done

After the stupid dust settled, it struck me as obvious. Well of course! You actually have to learn how to do it by trying to do it. If I wanted to be a professional bowler, would I read all the bowling books, join bowling groups, read bowling blogs, talk about bowling all the time, but not ever actually roll the ball down the aisle? Risk that I might actually suck at bowling? Why would I want to do that?!? I LOVE bowling!

Loving the idea of something is not the same as actually doing it. I realized this about 20 years ago when I heard a successful novelist say that being a writer meant spending 8-12 hours a day in a room by yourself focused on one thing. Yeah, I’m never going to do that. I like the idea of it, but it stops there.

What do I have to be willing to do to have what I really want? What about you?

2. “How much longer do you have?”

I’ve been having essentially the same conversation with my friends, colleagues and coach for the last 3 years. With more or less swearing, some iteration of “I want to completely focus my business on coaching people to discover and fulfill their calling but I’m scared to put myself out there.”

My friend asked me how much longer I was willing to play small. 3 years? A year? Six months? How did I feel when I thought about doing exactly what I’m doing now for another 3 years?

What’s that? You say it makes you feel sick?

Well, yes. Sick. The way many of my clients feel when they finally decide to call for help. Heavy, overwhelmed, exhausted.

So at my friend’s urging I gave myself the rest of this year to really focus on my own calling, to be curious about it, embrace it, embody it in the spirit it was given to me. Be willing to do things for it that I’ve never done before. Being married is good practice for this.

Stay tuned. Maybe Wile e Coyote might fly this time. And let me know what cliffs you’re hovering off the edge of.

Where are you keeping your chestnuts?

That may sound like a personal question, intrusive even, and perhaps slightly dirty. 🙂

One cool morning last week as I walked out my front door to pick Japanese anemones for my altar, a very loud squirrel (unintentionally) offered a life lesson. Alarming and alarmed-sounding squeaks from the transformer across the street kinda’ killed my flower-buzz, but I didn’t think much of it; there’s a chestnut tree on the corner that they assault with military determination every fall.

However, as I walked back up my front steps, I saw the reason for the little guy’s freakout: he had “hidden” some of these treasured chestnuts right on top of my mailbox, which is right at the top of my front steps, which is right next to my front door. 

I laughed for a minute and felt bad for him and impressed at the same time – his brain is smaller than even one of these nuts, but his determination is much bigger. He had carried two golf-ball sized, attached prizes all the way down the tree and across the street, braving traffic and dog, scrambled up my glider, and carefully deposited his harvest…in a very un-strategic location.

Note to self, I thought: you shouldn’t tell just anyone about your chestnuts – especially the really big ones. If you you dream of a totally different career, plan to take up sky-diving or spend a year in Tanzania, play it close to the vest for a while. Humans have an unfortunate tendency to project all of our fears and worries onto the brave souls who stick their necks out.

The fastest way to kill your new idea is to have your Aunt Hazel remind you of what a dreamer you’ve always been.

What are your biggest chestnuts right now? And have you squirreled them away somewhere safe until you’re ready to eat ’em?

Talking plum

It was a perfect day in Seattle yesterday, which doesn’t happen that often. 80 degrees, bright sun, mountains clear, soft breeze. Despite my gratitude, I still found myself speeding frantically from place to place, wishing I could stop and enjoy.

My mind sounded something like: “OK time to drive downtown for acupuncture, oops gotta take the dogs because must be at vet on time for Francine’s owie, which means Kona has to sit in the car, and what about walking them? blah blah blah…”

When I finally did get to take the creatures for a walk in the gorgeous sun along Lake Washington, I found my mind was still racing, jumping from worry to worry like a little stress frog. “What about dinner? What about that meeting I have to get ready for tomorrow? I should eat something healthy.  I want ice cream!”

Coming up the hill, huffing and sweating, dogs pulling and sniffing and mind racing, out of the corner of my eye I notice something red sitting on top of a fence post. I glance up briefly and note the house seems deserted – under construction – and no car in the driveway. “Red thing is probably just more garbage.”

Then I notice there is a tree with the same red shapes hiding in the branches. I look down at the fence post again, and realize it’s a plum. Dusky red with a galaxy of pale green spots across the belly, perfectly round with a heart-shaped top, stem still attached. “Probably rotten on the bottom” says mind.

Quiet voice says “pick me up,” so I do. The plum says “look at me, smell me” so I do. And the world fades, there’s just this absolutely perfect plum in my hand, a perfect fit, and warm, and soft, and smelling like heaven.

I remember: we live in a world where things like this happen all the time. The world makes plums for us, they’re everywhere, really, all we have to do is let our eyes be caught by them, and listen to them when they ask “look at me,  smell me, taste me.”

Today, see who or what talks to you, and listen. Let yourself be transported.