Version 5

Well, the time has come to add one more number to my version historyversion 5.

Here it goes:

  • V5.0I develop an interest in coaching
    • V5.1 - I take a three-month-long online course in coaching fundamentals, to see if I like it. I love it.
    • V5.2 - I sign up for a master’s degree in coaching with emotional intelligence and neuro-linguistic programming.

Those of you who know me in person are probably aware that I´ve been interested in the topic of personal growth and development for years… Interestingly, I hadn´t bumped into coaching until last May. When I finally did, it resonated a lot with me, and this weekend I have started my master’s degree :-)

wooden coach lettering

But what is this coaching thing? It’s true that “coach” is a word that is used nowadays for a bunch of different things, which creates confusion, and there are also several definitions of “coaching”, each focusing on a different aspect of it. To simplify, we can say that coaching is a process of accompaniment, in which, through active listening, questions, and other resources, the coach makes it easier for the coachee (or client) to define their own goals, as well as to identify and manage the changes that are needed in order to achieve them.

Going forward, I´ll be sharing in this blog a few things related to the world of coaching, and also about the many tools and resources that it draws from. Regarding definitions, for the moment I´ll leave you with this one, food for thought:

A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, who has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.

Tom Landry

Conscious songs: Imagine

This morning I heard on the radio that today would be John Lennon´s birthday, he would be 81 years old today. Let´s remember him with this song, which I find both beautiful and profound: Imagine.

And please, even if we have listened to it a thousand times, even if we think we know it by heart, today let´s give ourselves the luxury of really paying attention to the lyrics, immersing ourselves in their meaning, and closing our eyes to imagine how it would feel to live in such a world...

And then, if you feel like going a step further, I propose that you consider which sentence is the one that impacts you most, that confronts you most, and reflect on it a little, because in order to achieve that world that we imagine, everything starts within each one of us :-)

And I leave you with this quote, attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, that´s also very relevant to this topic:

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Room to grow

Today I´m sharing with you this poem by Khalil Gibran, which I remember hearing years ago at my friend Araceli´s wedding, and which has kept resonating more and more with me since then:

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of your be alone,
Even as the strings of the lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

How beautiful, especially that last line... Let´s give ourselves some room to keep growing with life, flourishing from that seed within us, without casting shadows over each other.

Back home

This week I'm writing to you from Cáceres, my home town. I'm back "home" for a few days, enjoying family, friends and the last few days of summer. And after the year and a half that we've had, I'm truly enjoying it, fully, without taking anything for granted :-)

I'm feeling a bit odd, like I'm at home but also away from home at the same time, as if things had changed while somehow staying the same... I'm a bit like this every time I come, but now even more so, with everything that's been happening during this time.

Searching for quotes related to this topic, I bumped into this one, I hope you like it:

Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking; you have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits.

Cindy Ross

Optional

A conversation that plays out quite often in our house, and one that you can probably relate to, is negotiating in a given moment what´s mandatory and what´s optional.

My daughter Alicia is the expert in all this, though her sisters are not far behind. When I ask her to do something she´s not convinced about, Alicia asks: “do I have to?”. And my answer, most of the time, is “yes”.

But not always. So she´s right to ask :-)

In fact, this is something that most of us should ask (ourselves) more often: this thing I have in front of me, this thing “I have to do”, do I really have to do it? ¿According to whom? What happens if I don´t do it, or if I do it differently?

Clearly, the answer can be a yes, it needs to be done, and it may still be yes most times, but it may also surprise us and end up being a no more often than we thought. Or we could come up with another alternative, an intermediate solution that´s even better than the previous one… By asking the question we allow ourselves to see the options, and we have more ability to choose.

Of course, whatever we decide, we have to be responsible and fully accept the consequences. But the key point is that we have options, even if we don´t always see them, even if we don´t always like them. But we do have options. And once we realize this, we can choose whatever we see fit, and “I have to…” becomes “I choose…”, and the burden becomes a little lighter.

Here are a couple of quotes that I love on this topic, as they go a step further, inviting us to choose how to relate to what is happening in our life:

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Buddha

This one I heard for the first time in a yoga class (thanks Carsun!), and felt it especially close when giving birth to my girls, before realizing that it can really be applied to everything in life, not only physical pain.

And this other one I only heard recently; it seems to me that it´s very fitting to the times we´re now living:

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

John C. Maxwell

Now you choose!

Desiderata

Today I´m sharing another text that I kept for many years on my bedroom wall, this time in my parents´ house. Thanks Lucía for reminding me how beautiful and inspiring it is, almost a century after being published:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, 
and remember what peace there may be in silence. 
As far as possible, without surrender, 
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; 
and listen to others, 
even to the dull and the ignorant; 
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; 
they are vexatious to the spirit. 
If you compare yourself with others, 
you may become vain or bitter, 
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 
Keep interested in your own career, 
however humble; 
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, 
for the world is full of trickery. 
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; 
many persons strive for high ideals, 
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love; 
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, 
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, 
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. 
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. 
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, 
be gentle with yourself. 
You are a child of the universe, 
no less than the trees and the stars; 
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
sino doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 
Therefore be at peace with God, 
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, 
in the noisy confusion of life, 
keep peace in your soul. 
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, 
it is still a beautiful world. 
Be cheerful. 
Strive to be happy.

Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann © 1927

Inspiring possibilities

clear light bulb placed on chalkboard

The other day I bumped into this quote, and I liked it so much that I wrote it down on my kitchen whiteboard, that giant whiteboard that I am so fond of and find so useful:

When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t. 

This has been the topic of conversation for a few days at home. It strikes me as a wonderful invitation to open our minds, and appreciate that, for any given situation, there may be other options and perspectives that haven´t even crossed our minds.

At the time I didn´t see who the author of the quote was, I´ve had to look it up now to find out it was Thomas Edison. And next to that quote I´ve found this other one, which for some reason I used to attribute to Albert Einstein:

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Or as Pablo Picasso used to say: inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. Another genius, like Einstein and Edison.

And there are many, many more quotes by Edison, but I´m going to stop after this third one, which I also loved:

We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.

This last one, depending on how we take it, can make us feel very small in comparison with the immensity of the universe. But we can also turn it around so that it makes us feel excited, for all the room we still have to grow, learn, and discover :-)

And you, what inspires you to think about this world of possibilities?

Peace and good

Yesterday, as I was searching around the house looking for something else, I found this:

Wooden pendant in the shape of a Tau (franciscan symbol)

My Tau, so many good memories...

Tau is a Greek letter, equivalent to T in Latin, and it's also a Franciscan symbol. According to an explanation I heard once and really liked, being one of the last letters of the alphabet, Tau symbolizes the spirit of simplicity and service to others that St. Francis of Assisi had.

My friend Bárbara was telling me the other day that deep down, all religions and spiritual teachings end up taking us to the same truths, which we can arrive at through many different paths… In my particular case, I grew up in a Catholic environment; that's my family tradition and a big portion of my social background, so it was through Catholicism that I took my first steps in the journey of spirituality.

Between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, I attended a school run by Franciscan friars, and I have very special memories of the religious celebrations, prayer groups, retreats and pilgrimages I participated in with them, also later on during my college years. Above all, I loved the feeling of joy and peace that the friars conveyed, their spirit of prayer and service, and their willingness to roll up their sleeves and lend a helping hand for whatever it was that needed to be done.

Then as years went by, I started leaning more towards secular spirituality, which is where I am nowadays, but I'm totally convinced that the background is really the same, the Spirit is really the same, only with a different name. And I can't help thinking that for example the mantras and meditations that are practiced in yoga very closely resemble the meditative chants at those Easter celebrations in the convent of El Palancar.

Today I want to share with you a couple of pearls of wisdom from St Francis. First, a prayer that to me is as simple as it is beautiful:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to Eternal Life.

And second, a phrase I discovered recently that is also attributed to him:

Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

St. Francis of Assisi

Being expert enough

Continuing with our art tour of the posters around my house, today I want to share with you this other manifesto. It used to inspire me some time ago, and it´s now resonating strongly with me again. I feel that, after spending over a year in a state of hibernation, the time is finally here to go out into the world again, to practice everything I´ve learned.

And what have I learnt? Among other things, that it´s not a question of having all the answers (or all the knowledge, or all the experience), but of having a genuine interest and willingness to learn, and above all, of being confident that you can do it, and that you´re going to do it well enough.

The EXPERT ENOUGH manifesto. We are all capable of so much more than we think. Most people never scratch the surface of what they´re capable of. Expertise is relative. Expertise doesn´t come from a piece of paper. Life is richest when we become good at a lot of different things. "Know'it'all", "Jack of all trades" and "Renaissance man" are compliments. LIFE IS AN EXPERIMENT. You don't have to wait for permission, and you don't need anyone else to grant you status. It's not about being the world's greatest expert. It's about being expert enough to accomplish your goals. The more you use creativity, the more you get. Brilliance lies within each of us. Go now. Live. Play. Explore. FOLLOW YOUR PASSION. Learn more. Do more. Be more.

Unfortunately there´s no Spanish version for this one, and the original website seems to have disappeared, but I can translate it here:

The EXPERT ENOUGH manifesto.
We are all capable of so much more than we think. 
Most people never scratch the surface of what they´re capable of. 
Expertise is relative. Expertise doesn´t come from a piece of paper. 
Life is richest when we become good at a lot of different things. 
"Know'it'all", "Jack of all trades" and "Renaissance man" are compliments.
LIFE IS AN EXPERIMENT. 
You don't have to wait for permission, and you don't need anyone else to grant you status. 
It's not about being the world's greatest expert. 
It's about being expert enough to accomplish your goals. 
The more you use creativity, the more you get. 
Brilliance lies within each of us. 
Go now. Live. Play. Explore. 
FOLLOW YOUR PASSION. 
Learn more. Do more. Be more.

A sentence up on the wall

Every now and then I´m going to leave around here one of the quotes and sayings that most resonate with me. This one I saw for the first time as a child, in a magazine, and even though I didn´t fully understand it at the time, it caught my attention:

A man only possesses what he cannot lose in a shipwreck

Hindu proverb
Hook Head lighthouse, in county Wexford (Ireland), where the rocks and the mighty winds have surely caused more than one shipwreck.