No Two Clients Are Alike

If You Don’t Understand Your Client, You Won’t Be Able To Stand Your Client

As a mom and a business owner I learn a lot from parenting that helps me in my business. I have two very different little boys and I have had to adjust my thinking about how to raise children. No two children are alike. My oldest, Ryder, who is eight, is gentle, nurturing and has an innate ability to see the bigger picture. Dax, my 5-year-old, is an artist through and through. Emotional, sensitive yet very intense. I’ve had to really step back and see my boys from a place of full presence and not fit them into a structure I found in books, approaches or guidelines. In other words, I still have to be and do my parenting.

As any parent knows, understanding is one of the most important pieces to parenting. If you don’t understand your children, you won’t be able to “stand” your child.

In business, no two clients are alike. Any cookie cutter approach or system out there can tell you to do “these steps and it’s a no fail”. I say, that’s a fast way to poor results. If you do not understand your client you won’t be able to stand them. Conversely, they won’t be able to stand you and you are going to have a lot of unhappy clients or none at all.

You must understand your client and their unique needs, what drives them, what specific fears, beliefs or lack of skills might be stopping them. If you communicate in a way that’s like a robot or a script not your own – no matter how much you’ve rehearsed or practiced, you aren’t fully present – not with yourself, not for your client. I can guarantee full understanding will be missing.

Last week I was working with a client who had a challenge around clearly communicating during enrollment conversations. I knew she was following the script of a competent and successful business coach but she hadn’t “made it her own”. As an actress I am very much an advocate of living truthfully even in imaginary circumstances and I teach this to my clients. We don’t need anymore talking heads. We need hearts opening and communicating their truth.

What I felt was intriguing and what she experienced was a breakthrough that led to her landing her first major client with a huge success story from the client just from the enrollment conversation alone.

Here’s what I coached her on: I knew the best way I could help her was to “ACT” as a real client so I could actually “FEEL” how it went rather than think and analyze the process. When she was following the script I felt a break/cut in our connection and as a result the understanding diminished. I felt less interested in what she had to offer and actually confused by the words she was saying and in her ability to help me and my desire to hire her, when moments before had genuinely been there.

I felt myself really wanting her services when she was fully connected with me, listening to me, coaching me, directing me from her grounded and authentic place as her unique genius, her blessed gift and talent as a coach. It happened each time she went back to the “script”. I could feel the disconnection. I could feel the break in understanding. Even though she was word for word of a “masterly” written script. I could feel myself getting distracted. As I expressed this to my client we were able to tweak and work through this in order to refine her enrollment conversations. By the end of the session, she was laughing and excited about doing what she does best, connecting!

Every time I work with a client I gain so much more understanding. It is so important to fully understand our own truth, know our own unique voice and from a confident present place, listen, observe and respond. Only then will you truly understand the person in front of you, whether it is your child, your client or yourself! That’s what I like to call stepping on to Your Center Stage.

Are We Missing Nourishment At The Deeper Level?

5 Ways To Nourish Your Soul

Over the past two weeks I have become acutely aware of infants and their mothers throughout my daily outings. I don’t believe in coincidences so I have wondered if this peaked awareness has to do with my youngest turning 9 and an internal mourning of those precious early years coming to an end.

Either way it has me thinking on this topic of a fundamental human function that I believe has been thwarted by the electronic age.

The first experience happened at Costco where an infant was crying/screaming as she was tucked away in a bucket seat in the grocery cart while the mother was checking out. The bagger and cashier seemed concerned and even tried to coo to the infant while the mother casually, as if she was completely disconnected from the experience, texted on her phone, swiped her card, gathered her things. The bagger said to the baby, “Here’s your mama, she’s right here…it’s ok.” All the while the mother seems disconnected as if it’s not any of her business. When she gets to the cart, she said “You’re fine” and then pushed the cart away as she checked her phone.

Struggling to stay in an observer space and holding back my urge to judge I was strongly effected by the disconnect especially with a baby at such a young age. I never believed in the cry it out, in fact I was an “Attached Parent”, still am, in fact. Whatever you call it, it’s the only way I know in my body and heart and soul to parent.

The second incident happened in the library. Regularly a visitor to our local library, my boys and I ran in for our weekly trade ins. I stopped in my tracks as I heard the high pitched screaming of an infant in distress. My mommy heart and ears on high alert I looked around – no one – NOT one single person was looking toward the distress call, instead hunkering down further into their computers or business as if to stave off the siren sound.

I was overcome with a mission in that moment and I went straight to the sound. A beautiful mama who was clearly stressed but about something she had to find on the computer. So while her baby girl screamed strapped in a car seat in the stroller and her toddler son strapped in the front of the stroller eating a cup full of Oreo cookies cried, she was trying to enter data into the computer.

I asked “Is there anything I can do to help you?” She looked at me stunned. I asked again, letting her know I cared and was there to support her. She held back tears as I squatted to be eye level with her and connect with understanding. She began to explain her situation and I connected with the baby to let her know she was safe get her pacifer. Acknowledging she was upset I asked “May I hold your baby.” In that moment it was one mama to another with compassion and understanding as her story unfolded.

Her story was one of many and not so unfamiliar to my own. “It’s ok, you’re doing the best you can.” I held the infant against my heart and faced her to her mama and sang a low hum. Assisting where I could for Mama to get the things she needed to find a safe home, food and the wherewithal to survive.

When I walked through the library after helping the family, I was still amazed at how disconnected everyone was. Even the librarian seemed put upon and said they had called security. When I said she needs help, not the security guard harassing her, she seemed confused. Where have we gone so far off as a culture, as a society?

The third experience this past week was at a farm tour where I observed a new mom with her mother and a toddler and the infant held as if it was a toy. She was passing the infant back and forth while trying to gather her things including her phone. I couldn’t help but ask how old the baby was – it was clear it was newborn. She said proudly, “a week today”. I was taken aback.

We as a culture have stripped away one of the deepest and most profound of sacred bonding experiences and the damage has been done.

I want to stay as objective as possible but I am tormented by what our future holds as the sheer lack of what is important becomes more and more misunderstood in lieu of the utter insanity of being bonded to a phone. So much so that many have to take it in the bathroom with them.

This attitude and this disconnection reminded me of a story by Louise Erdrich. From The Blue Jay’s Dance

The Ojibwa word for mirror, wabimujichagwan, means “looking at your soul”, a concept that captures some of the mystery of image and substance. If it is true that we are mirrors to our infants and that looking forms the boundaries of a self, then perhaps we are also helping to form a spiritual soul self during those concentrated love gazes during which time stops, the air dims, the earth cools, and a sense of deep rightness takes hold of our being.

Have we forgotten how to actually look someone in the eye and connect with them? What does it mean that we cannot bare to know ourselves through our own eyes but instead look at our own worth through that of a selfie.

The true nourishment we are needing as a society has been supplanted by a superficial idea of this digital connection and we see the consequences every where we turn. But as a sustenance like no other, we must restore this connection now more than ever.

Are we a society missing that nourishment at the depth of our souls? It saddens me to think so.

Either way, here are 5 simple and beautiful practices to help nourish at the deeper level.

1. Take one full minute to do this. Sans phone and without any distractions, go to your nearest mirror and gaze into your own eyes. Intentionally set aside any thought around any physical attributes. Free yourself of any judgment, instead be full of compassion as if you were looking in to the eyes of one most precious to you. Place your hand over your heart and breathe deeply into your lower belly, bringing your breath all the way into your toes. Any thoughts that come up meet with a sense of gratitude for the gift of your life.

2. Make a dinner date with your beloved. Inform them you are going to have a collaboration beginning with the shopping, prep and cooking a favorite meal. From the beginning of the process, intentionally hold hands, gaze into each other’s eyes, entrain your breath with each other. Leave any discussions or other “situations” out of this time. As you share the meal, gaze into each other’s eyes and just BE. Once you are complete with dinner and clean up together Place your hands on each other’s heart and as you gaze in to each other’s eyes say “I see you” I feel you” I love you” breathing that nourishment in to your very soul.

3. Now do the same thing with your whole family. Again with the whole process of cooking together, delighting in each other’s company and then when it’s finished have everyone clean up together, hand washing the dishes, drying and putting away and bring out a beautiful puzzle and build it together while enjoying a delicious cup of tea and each other’s beingness.

4. Bake fresh bread with your children. What a luxury to do the essential work of bread baking. Be present in the motion of kneading the dough, helping little hands mold and form and push and stretch. Allow for the bread to rise in the warm kitchen and tell or read a treasured story from your childhood as you look lovingly at your children. Share the enjoyment and the wonder with the children as the bread continues to rise. When the bread has baked, delight in the rich smells of the fresh baked bread, encourage the sounds of satiation and delight as you savor the warmth of fresh baked bread and meaningful connection.

5. Take a fast from your phone. Unless you absolutely need it do not keep it near you or on you for a day. Go back to the days where the phone was at a fixed location and leave the phone there. Create a new ritual for making eye connection with at least 1 new person each day. Connect with at least one old friend in person inviting them to leave their phones at home and going out or coming over for a cup of tea and conversation.

Let’s bring a resurgence back where we connect with ourselves as well as others to find the nearly extinct nourishment so fundamental to human function.

Send me a note and let me know how you connect with yourself and others. Are you finding it a struggle and how is it impacting your life and the lives around you?

The Magic of Waldorf Summer Conference 2017

Learning How To Teach the Waldorf Way

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the Magic of Waldorf summer conference in Portland, OR hosted by Mrs. Marsha Johnson. While the adults were in the conference Waldorf grades teacher, Ms. Laura Johnson led a wonderful art camp for the children.

As a homeschooling mom choosing to use the Waldorf approach has proven to be healing to both myself as well as my children. The conference is a total immersion for teachers, homeschoolers and care givers with an interest in Waldorf education.

Below there are videos that Ms. Laura generously allowed me to record for some of the songs one can do in the various grades. The songs are stories. Storytelling is a cornerstone of Waldorf, along with singing, music and art, make up much of how we bring life to learning in a Waldorf education.

If you have any interest in attending the conference or camp you can find more at www.shiningstarschool.com

Why You Should Take A Family Vacation To A National Park This Summer

Teaching Children Through the Beauty of National Parks

When my boys were 3 and 6 we moved from Austin to Portland, OR. We took 2 months to get here. Part of the time was spent in Arizona visiting family and the rest was spent exploring our National Parks from Arizona, Nevada, California and Oregon.

This year we took 1 month and drove over 8000 miles seeing National Parks, Preserves, Historic Sites through more than 10 states on this trip.

The experience at each individual park or historic site stands alone. Some brought awe and reverence, some brought disgust and sadness. The living experience is what it is all about.

It’s not enough to read about it or see photos on the internet. To actually feel the sand of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve or to hear the eagles call as it soars overhead while you watch your children watch the buffalo roam freely through Yellowstone National Park; to touch the snow and feel the coolness of the breeze just before Old Faithful explodes with it’s nearly boiling geyser. These experiences are embedded deep in the soul and they are more valuable than any Nintendo DS.

The active participation in the Junior Ranger Program with the children is not only wonderful for them, it allows the children to recommit to a higher value each time they complete a program through the National Park. As a parent, to participate with the children, allowed me to see the parks through their eyes as well as the lens of my camera, as a result I am more knowledgeable and aware. I am also more committed to my beliefs of sustainable living so that we have a planet along with these parks for generations to come.

While President Obama was in office he instated the Every Kid In a Park Program. That means 4th Graders get a pass to all the parks as well as access to several other branches like the Army Corps of Engineers. You can find out more here: https://www.nps.gov/kids/features/2015/everyKid.cfm

Our memories, these experiences will last forever.

Exploration of the deep Mammoth Cave gives us the reality that there is more than what we see on the surface. Visiting the Badlands and seeing Jupiter with the other star gazers reminded us we are more than what we think we are. When we stand at Mount Rushmore and see the process of the artist John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum, we appreciate more. When we observe the buffalo freely roam throughout land free of threat, we can hope for more. When we stand on the battle field of Little Big Horn, we are compassionate of more.

There is nothing like traveling to the National Parks, camping, exploring and leaving no trace. Instead taking the memories, the moments, unique, life changing, life affirming. These are what will last forever. This beauty is what will live in our children as they climb into adulthood.

Make it a priority, whether for your children or just for yourself, get out to a National Park and become a supporter.

May you never be the same again.