Archive for November, 2010
Feeling grateful for the opportunity that awaited like a wrapped Christmas present under the ornament-laden tree, I walked from my car to the client’s new learning center located on the Dairy Ashford Campus. In less than an hour, I was to present at a day-long leadership conference. I drank in my surroundings: the awakening morning light, the vastness of the campus, the lush green manicured lawn that butted the sidewalk and meandered toward a state-of-the-art building. Nascent oak trees had been strategically planted to provide future shade. They were circled by clusters of marigolds and peonies to create a warm, welcoming facade. I thought that the new and hospitable structure bode well for the day in front of me, but that was just the beginning.
Halfway to the front door, my gaze fell upon the rising sun. Like a four year old child stunned by the bounty of Christmas presents under the tree, I stood in wonder at the sight of the brilliant orange ball bursting over the horizon. The rest of the campus faded into nothingness. I put down my briefcase and stood transfixed in amazement—the immensity and brilliance of the morning sun reached up into the sky and was transforming the early morning gray-blue skies into the promise of a bright sunlit day.
As I stood in my two-inch heels tilting toward the horizon, a question emerged from the shadow of my consciousness. How am I like Read the rest of this entry »
It was the ideal ending to a perfect picture week. The weatherman predicted a glorious Houston day with the temperatures settling in the mid-eighties and low humidity. Bruce and I arrived at Brazos State Park early Sunday morning while the sun was gently making its way toward the mid-day sky and before the heat of the day would have me scurrying for shade. With a picnic lunch, Sunday paper, writing journal and coffee lattes in hand, we headed for an opening on the sloping bank of Hale Lake and settled in for the duration. The lake is off the beaten path situated in the south corner of the park’s 5000 acres range of natural beauty teaming with wildlife.
Bruce and I are regulars at the park; our oasis of tranquility only forty miles outside of Houston. We come here to saunter along the worn, wooded paths away from the jangle of cell phones; a mini retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But today the experience is different. Today, instead of showing up as a needy relative, I have brought two new friends, peace and tranquility; like two white spotted doe’s lapping cold, crisp water from a gently flowing mountain stream.
As I prepared at the beginning of the week, I noticed that life, as I experienced it, was changing. As I gazed at my calendar the old feeling of being overwhelmed, along with its partner anxiety, were conspicuously but happily absent. The week was filled with coaching engagements, as well as a day-long facilitation and two one-hour workshops – and yet I was looking forward to each and every one of my commitments. As a strong introvert, I can limp away exhausted and drained from large group endeavors where it’s all too easy for me to be the main meal for extroverts around me. They walk away feeling satiated after feasting on my energy, while the constant chatter of conversations and subliminal interactions deplete me. I come into the group a feisty, energetic colt ready to run and depart a haggard war horse ready to be led out to pasture.
At the end of that same work week, I prepared to work at my desk and to regroup, but instead of feeling run down, I was still energized and happy. What a stark difference from the exhaustion I have historically felt after either one of those occurrences, never mind a week of them.
Two years ago I felt I had abdicated my personal power when I asked Bruce to lead the same strategic planning process that I successfully facilitated earlier that same week. Prior to asking Bruce to lead, I was eaten by self-doubt and fear that I was not up to the assignment, that I was not capable enough a facilitator. The consequences of denying my own personal abilities were immeasurable. I lost a substantial client’s business because I lost their trust. (How could they believe in me if I didn’t believe in myself?)
The immensity of this lesson was life changing. It was the reason that I began the self-defense practice of Tae Kwon Do. My opponent was not an unknown assailant; it was the fear filled part of me that could not accept that I had within me the ability to be powerful. Fear and uncertainty were also reasons that I panicked when I had the opportunity to speak publicly, and it played out in my over-preparation. When presenting “Leadership for the 21st Century: the Feminine Advantage,” the one hour workshop took me forty to fifty hours of preparation. Was the presentation good? Yes. Was it worth the investment of my time? No. By comparison, a recent one-our workshops titled “The Three Stepping Stones for Personal Effectiveness” was a resounding success and it took me less than five hours to prepare for it because through the practice of Tae Kwon Do I’m leaning from how to get out of my own way and to trust myself. To use a quote by Goethe from my workshop, “Things do not change, people change.”
Like the yearly shifts of external seasons, my internal season is changing. I see it reflected back to me in the naturalness of the park’s surroundings. As I settle into my green canvas traveling chair and breathe in the cool morning dew, my eyes feast on the beauty that surrounds me and I’m overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for the peace and power that I experience, both inside and around me. As I move into the quiet fall season, appropriate to consideration of life’s patterns, I see leaves of doubt and fear dropping from the live oak trees surrounding me. I feel the trees’ roots anchoring me solidly to the earth I walk on. I see myself in the mischievousness of the squirrels playing their own version of hide and seek; I am the hawk effortlessly soaring high in the sky above me carried by the currents of life; I am a Roseate Spoon bird joyously chirping to her mate. And I embody the two strong, wide, deep brown eyes of the American alligator looking back at me as she emerges from the marsh lands to bask in the warmth of the mid-day sun. Instead of fear, I understand that this old dame holds within her the flexibility and fortitude to move forward through life boldly.
As I sit and take in the beauty and resilience of the habitats of Brazos Bend Park, I realize that all of the work that I’ve been doing and continue doing to understand and integrate my own God-given giftedness has quietly been working itself into the recesses of my body and is rooted in the knowledge that ‘all is well in my world.’ Whatever the Universe brings to me, whatever nature provides, I will be fine; better than fine, I will grow and prosper from it. This thought silently floats up out of the water of my unconscious buoyed up by the power of its potency and is playing out in me right now. From the acorn of that thought and prayer, the season of the powerful live oak tree called “Judith” is at hand.