Living My Dash

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Life is good.

Life is affirming.

Lately I’m on a high…on a role…enthusiastic and energized!

images-8I have been slowing life down (metaphorically) the last several months. Retrospection and introspection can be very healthy things every now and then and are also parts of my cocooning.  As Farris Bueller said in his movie Farris Bueller’s Day Off: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” 

In my teen years I started to realize that I had a gift for listening to and connecting with people. I would hear things like: “I feel like you truly care. Thank you for really listening to me! Wow, how did you see that in me? No one has ever acknowledged that before!”

At the time there wasn’t a term that described this gift, but there is today; it’s called coaching.

Throughout my career, I have taken many assessments on personalities, natural strengths, communication style, interaction with others; etc….These assessments have consistently nudged me to follow this gift yet I didn’t listen. I regularly rejected my inner voice’s whispers telling me to follow my heart, my talent, let go, trust.

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As I reflect on why I didn’t listen to these whispers, I quickly see it was driven by fear. My inner critic would rear up and tackle me to the ground as I thought about following my gifts. To make such a shift would require me to take a huge leap of faith; something very foreign to a person who always had a plan of action and yes, played it safe.

As I look back on my first half of life, I can see that this was a gift I was born with. A skill that for many years I didn’t always utilize yet in the last year I have embraced and fostered. I have fed my gift with knowledge, resources, and insights. It is being honed and enhanced and I’m becoming stronger and more skilled – the bonus is I’m also feeling more confident.

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In October, I entered an eight-month coaching certification program through the Hudson Institute of Coaching. Last week I was in Santa Barbara at a four-day intensive training session. The session was fantastic and affirming! The reading and coaching work between session one in October and session two last week was transformative and confirmed that I’ve made the right decision to follow my passion and to grow my natural gifts. I am ecstatic with what the future will bring now in my second half of life.  I’m still a little fearful, but faith in my abilities is beginning to overshadow that feeling, at least a little. 😉

You may be wondering why I titled this post Living My Dash. On Monday February 9, Frederic M. Hudson (who started the Hudson Institute in the mid-1980’s) succumbed to the devastating disease of Alzheimer’s. In my last blog post I reviewed some of the wisdom within his book titled Adult Years. He was highly intelligent, articulate, and lived life with joy and vigor – he will remain a cherished role model to all who came in contact with him.

When I loose people I care about and/or have been influenced by, I take some time to hit the pause button to reflect upon on my own life. How am I feeling about my life? Where am I going? What shift can I make to ensure my life is as fulfilling as it can be? I am also reminded of Linda Ellis’ poem, The Dash.

imagesLinda’s poem reminds us of the symbolism of the “dash” on our tombstone; year of birth, dash, year of death. The dash is our entire life’s contribution. It represents our relationships, the mark, and the impact we’ve made on the world. If you have not yet been exposed to her simple yet compelling poem I encourage you to do so. It has touched many people and provided them the courage to make changes in their lives.

When we experience loss of life, we should reflect on our dash. Heck we’re still alive and we can make immediate changes. When we hit the pause button and see there are things that are not working, we aren’t experiencing happiness on a regular basis, relationships are not fulfilling, or our life’s work and contribution isn’t meaningful, we have the chance to change it now before the date on the right side of the dash is upon us.

images-1I am thankful for Dr. Hudson’s work, research, and understanding of the adult years. He provided his readers and students with a road map and compass to navigate their unique and special journey through life. In his book he shared an eight-word chant he used when he entered a life transition.

The chant goes like this: “hold on, let go, take on, move on.” I liked this phrase/chant so much that I have the passage highlighted and the page dog-eared in his book.

In honor of Dr. Frederic M. Hudson:

I will hold on to his wisdom, understanding, and keen sense of the adult journey.
I will let go of my former self and metamorphous into each of life’s chapters.
I will take on his teachings and explore/live life’s many options.
I will move on by committing to use his life’s work and teachings to become a better human being.

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