Q. What book (or books) have you gifted the most, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
I have always loved poetry. The different structures that poets put around their words seems to be a magical portal into both the shadows of existence and those things that are in bright daylight. Simple lines denote complex ideas and emotions – both on equal footing. Poets both accessible and hard to grasp give me an invitation to experience myself and the world from a different perspective and with feelings that are often not otherwise accessed as readily. Some of my favorite poets are Octavio Paz, Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda, Ellen Bass, and Juan Felipe Herrera. I think that for a book to resonate, it needs to find its reader at the right time in that person’s life. When I was in undergraduate school, those books were Letters to a Young Poetby Rainer Maria Rilke and Man’s Search for Meaningby Viktor Frankl. These books still line my bookshelf and I still pull them out on occasion to ground myself in the lives both men lived and the meaning they made of those lives.
Q. If you could have one massive billboard with anything on it, what would it say and why?
Katherine Hathaway created a life for herself when those closest to her denied her the right. She was bold and fearless. I found this quote many decades ago and because it inspired me in different ways over the course of my lifetime, I eventually found where she had written it, in her book, The Little Locksmith. After reading the book, the quote is even more amazing. I would put this on a billboard: “People are afraid of having any experience that seems to them uncharacteristic of themselves as they imagine themselves to be. Yet this is the only kind of experience that is really alive and can take them anywhere worth going. New, strange, uncharacteristic and uncharted experience, coming at the needed moment, is sometimes as necessary in a person’s life as a plow in the field.”
Q. In the last five to ten years, what have you become better at saying “no” to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realization and/or approaches helped?
It took me a lot of living before finally getting to a place where it is okay to say no to someone. Some people rarely struggle with this and yet growing up a lot of kids are conditioned to believe that saying no is not okay. As I watch my sons move through public schooling, a lot of school is about doing what you are told to do when you are told to do it. Eventually I learned what it’s like to experience staying in the presence of a person’s disappointment in me for whatever reason, to stay in relationship with that person, and to not take on the anxiety of not meeting someone else’s request. For me there is a constant drumbeat of external forces wanting something, exerting pressure, needing and expecting something. Some of those things I might want to do and yet I know I don’t have the capacity to do them or do them well. I know through experience that I only have so much bandwidth to use while still maintaining a healthy balance professionally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and with the relationships that are important to me. Keeping that balance my top priority allows me to be realistic (usually!) with what I can and cannot deliver for others. I’m not sure the dynamic of tension, however, ever ends.
Q. In the next 5 to 10 years, what area(s) of your life do you most desire to grow and improve in? By growing in this area, how would this positively affect your life and those around you?
In my life cycle I have less years ahead of me than in the rearview mirror. Because the timeline in front of me continues to lessen in length, time itself is speeding up! I make a concerted effort to be conscious and to take each day as a gift. I want to continue to practice being the best executive coach I can be because those skills help me have meaningful relationships with others and with myself. I want to continue to put myself in uncomfortable learning situations where I am using my senses and my brain in new and different ways that keep me on my feet and laughing. And lastly, I want to always push my body to be the healthiest and most athletic it can be, because when it wears out, I think I do, too….despite what Deepak Chopra and others say!