Personal Growth and Development

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Today’s blog posting fills the gap since I last posted on January 20, 2017, the day President Trump was inaugurated. I’m going to focus in my next several blog postings on the topic of Growth and Development. In the coming weeks, I’ll tackle the subject from several perspectives. If you’ve followed my blog since I started it, I won’t be saying much that’s totally new, but it I hope it will provide a new perspective on what growth is and how it’s achieved.

I’m going to start today with a focus on the personal — what I do as an Integral Professional Coach. Relatively unique in the coaching world, Integral Coaching is focused on building the capabilities and capacities of the individual to ‘grow’ into a larger self – a self that is both more self-aware and more able to tackle the specific issues that bring an individual to see a coach. We refer to the specific issues and desires that bring an individual to coaching as the ‘coaching topic’. This coaching topic defines ‘what the client wants to be more able to do or achieve’ as the result of our work together. It is the linchpin of our work.

The bottom line is that Integral Coaching is all about the client’s personal growth and development. Put in a larger context, from the time we’re born we begin to grow, not just physically, but emotionally, cognitively, interpersonally, spiritually, somatically and morally to name a few of a dozen or more specific growth areas or developmental ‘lines’. Some of us continue to grow (develop) in these areas beyond our teens and twenties, but for most of us, like our physical growth, this other growth slows or virtually stalls at some point.

When one comes to Integral Coaching, therefore, it’s my job as an Integral Professional Coach to get the client growing again in those specific capabilities and capacities where growth is necessary for the client to achieve their coaching topic. You see, without that new growth, the client will be unable to achieve their coaching topic. It’s why they haven’t been able to achieve it on their own. They don’t have the capacity!

An apt analogy is to the Personal Trainer that helps an athlete to attain performance objectives through physical exercises. Without the building of ‘new muscle’ neither the athlete in training nor the client in coaching will be able to achieve their growth or performance objectives.

Consider giving me a call and letting me help you to achieve something in your life that’s really important to you but that you’ve found hard to attain on your own. The reason it’s hard to attain is that it requires growth that is very difficult to achieve on your own. Are you ready to start growing again?

In coming weeks I’ll take a more macro look at growth: I’ll discuss how humankind has grown and developed through distinct phases to get to where it is in the world today. I’ll also then take a quick look at the developmental levels we each go through in life to get where we are.

In addition to my Integral Coaching, I also work as a coach with those dealing with loss, life-threatening illness or grief. Please let me know if you think you could benefit from any of my coaching services. I’m always available for a complimentary coaching conversation. I can be reached at 302-754-1954 or kbliss@kevinjbliss.com.

Inauguration Day 2017

It’s been a number of weeks since I’ve posted. My last blog posting was in the days following the U.S. Presidential Election in November. It seems appropriate that I re-emerge in 2017 with a posting today, Inauguration Day in the U.S., to complete the circle.

Like so many Americans, I have struggled in the days since November 8, 2016, with coming to grips with the realities of Donald Trump’s election. Of particular dismay to me was that never before in my lifetime had I witnessed the election of a President who was so ill prepared, temperamentally and otherwise, for arguably the world’s toughest job. Also of great concern to me is the likelihood that a Trump Presidency will likely follow the model of his campaign where he threw all decorum out the window and said practically anything in his quest to get elected. I would also note his tendency toward demagoguery will be likely to continue as President.

No matter my concerns with a Trump presidency, it is beyond doubt that he won the election. It is thus my view that we must all as Americans accept this new reality and wish him every success. The following quote today from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation said it perfectly for me:

Today in the United States we inaugurate a new president. While I pray President Trump leads with wisdom, compassion, and justice, we cannot simply sit back and watch whatever unfolds. We the people have a tremendous responsibility to work together, to speak truth to power, to peacefully advocate for the rights of all beings and the earth. This requires maturity and contemplative consciousness, empathy for the “other,” and courage to stand with those who are suffering. It is not a popular or easy path. But as human beings, we are called to be active participants in our salvation and mutual survival.

Richard Rohr devotes the rest of this meditation to discussing the benefits of the ‘contemplative mind’ in navigating times like these.

One of the ways one can develop a contemplative mind is through the practice of meditation. A Christian version of this practice is Centering Prayer, which I personally practice daily. But any meditative practice is beneficial in helping one to create a space between our egoic and dualistic mind (seeing everything as ‘either/or’) and the contemplative mind (seeing more of the reality of ‘both/and’).

Otherwise, I continue my work coaching individuals, in person or by telephone, in both personal/professional growth and development, and with Loss, Life-Threatening Illness or Grief. Please let me know if you think you could benefit from coaching. I’m always glad to have a preliminary free conversation. I can be reached at 302-754-1954.

My best to everyone in the New Year.

A Rumination on Our Times Via Leonard Cohen

This posting is both a rumination on our times following the recent U.S. General Election and an acknowledgment of the magnificent life of Leonard Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016). Although his death wasn’t announced until after the election, he apparently died before knowing the results.

The lyrics to Cohen’s song, “Anthem” as well as a recording of it follow. I listened to it by chance the morning of November 10, the same day, but before, I had heard that he’d died. Although it’s apparent that he’d died the day before the election, I can be confident he’d feel this song appropriate. I find the song an ode to doing what we can in the world knowing that in our lifespans it will never be enough. Never enough, but an enough as we’ll ever be able to get it.

 “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen.

The birds they sang

At the break of day

Start again

I heard them say

Don’t dwell on what

Has passed away

Or what is yet to be

 

Yeah the wars they will

Be fought again

The holy dove

She will be caught again

Bought and sold

And bought again

The dove is never free

 

Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)

That’s how the light gets in

 

We asked for signs

The signs were sent

The birth betrayed

The marriage spent

Yeah the widowhood

Of every government

Signs for all to see

 

I can’t run no more

With that lawless crowd

While the killers in high places

Say their prayers out loud

But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up

A thundercloud

And they’re going to hear from me

 

(Ring, ring, ring, ring)

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)

That’s how the light gets in

 

You can add up the parts

You won’t have the sum

You can strike up the march

There is no drum

Every heart, every heart to love will come

But like a refugee

 

(Ring, ring, ring, ring)

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)

That’s how the light gets in

 

Ring the bells that still can ring (ring the bells that still can ring)

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)

 

That’s how the light gets in

That’s how the light gets in

That’s how the light gets in

 

 

If I can be of service to you as a Life Coach, please let me know. I also work with those who are grieving as well as those who are dealing with life-threatening illness. Please let me know if I can be of service to you.

For readers in the United States, I wish you a blessed Thanksgiving the week.

An Integral Perspective on the U.S. General Election 2016

Joining the cadre of people dissecting what transpired on Tuesday in the United States General Election, I am going to share a conceptualization that emerged for me on Wednesday morning out of a night of restless sleep. I went to bed not knowing for sure who was going to prevail although I realized that I needed to be prepared to accept the outcome of Donald Trump being elected President. It wasn’t an easy night’s sleep as my psyche wrestled with this probable and deeply troubling outcome.

I note as well that I had just finished seven days working for the Coordinated New Hampshire Democratic Campaign. I had gone north to New Hampshire from my home in Washington, DC in the hope that my work would help make a difference. It was an exhausting week and I was very tired.

As with so many others with whom I associate with in Washington, DC and Rehoboth, DE, I was highly invested in a Hillary Clinton win. I saw Donald Trump from the beginning of the campaign as a dangerous outlier who was unlikely to win. I was hopeful that with the election of Barak Obama our country had turned a corner on the long road to a more just and equitable society. My work with Integral Theory and its Levels of Consciousness had also left me thinking that there was no way a Donald Trump could ever garner anything approaching 50% of the vote.

The election proved me wrong. So, what follows is the conceptualization that came to me in my waking moments of Wednesday morning. It is my Integral take on what had happened.

Those who have followed this blog have read previous postings where I’ve discussed or referenced Levels of Consciousness. Here are links to three previous postings: Levels of Consciousness Explained, An Integral Look at the U.S. Election, and most recently my posting entitled Is the U.S. Political System Rigged? Courtesy of the Daily Evolver website I’m also attaching a helpful graphic explaining the Levels of Consciousness, otherwise also referred to as Levels of Development.

My realization on Wednesday morning was that what I needed to do was to look at the United States as an organism comprised of the four prevalent Levels of Consciousness that exist within it and everywhere else in the world. These are the Red, Amber, Orange and Green levels. I encourage everyone who’s not familiar with Levels of Consciousness to read the descriptions of each of these four levels. It is well to note as well that the borders of these categories are fuzzy, meaning that there is inevitable overlap at the margins. The chart could also be composed of three categories or a hundred. The chart as set forth makes the basic point. (The reference to years refers to how long the particular level of consciousness has been on the world stage.)

The chart itself is hierarchical, meaning that each level up the chart “transcends and includes” the levels beneath it. And, each of these four levels lives and breathes its own unique reality, as described.

So, given this, try to view the U.S. as an organism comprised of these four levels, with significant membership in each. Try to imagine which Presidential candidate would have appealed to each level given the description and which consciousness each of the two candidates possess.

Here is my take on this: I would suggest that the Green level (Sanders’ die-hards and Jill Stein voters excepted) supported and voted for Hillary Clinton. It was a ‘no-brainer’ for this group, of which I am included. “Of course we are going to vote for Hillary given the choice before us.” In fact this group would have been almost uniformly petrified by the prospect of a Trump presidency. Green consciousness abounds in urban America and in the northeast and west coasts. Those of us in it almost begin to think that everyone must see things as we do. But, of course, as this elections shows, everyone doesn’t.

At the Orange level, I would suspect most, but certainly not all, voted for Hillary. I could see an Orange level voter going either way depending upon where they live, their particular values and their historic party identification.

I had noted previously that the lines between the levels are blurry. A better way of conceptualizing this is that a significant number of people are a ‘work in progress,’ that is they may mostly reside in Orange, for example, but cognitively they’re beginning to ‘think Green’. Likewise, it may be for some that their center of gravity is now in Green, but it’s still wobbly, with a lot of Orange values holding sway. Depending upon where one is will influence decisions like voting.

The Amber level, given the fundamentalist approach to religion at that level, likewise could have gone either way. Preliminary data from the election seems to suggest that this group went in very high margins for Donald Trump.

And finally, the Red level, where the candidate Donald Trump likely resides, would have likely uniformly supported Trump’s candidacy. It was, like the Green voter, a ‘no-brainer’ for this group.

What I found viewing the country in this way was that it enabled me to see the dynamic nature of the mix and why this was such a messy and untidy election. My take is that the Green level has had control of the Presidency in the person of Barack Obama for 8 years. His administration has represented and largely pushed Green level values. Yet as we can see, a significant portion of the country, apparently close to half, did not share these values. These people probably felt, particularly at the Red and Amber levels, that they were not being heard at all. They were ‘losing’ the country they knew – and they were. The refrain I heard often was “it’s just not the same country as I grew up in any more.” At the Red, Amber and some Orange levels, this would translate into ‘our country is heading down the wrong (some might say Socialist) path’. At the Green level, this change was viewed as progress in that it harkened a more just and equitable world. For some of us it was even indicative of a higher and more justice-oriented spirituality.

What I think happened in this election was that those at the Red and Amber Levels had simply had enough of being on the outside. A significant number also felt ignored economically and they blamed the party in power and a values system that was very foreign to them. They wanted change, even if in a real sense it meant voting against their own interests. They didn’t see that Democrats in any way represented their interests. Particularly with Red level Trump leading the ticket, they felt they finally had someone who was wholly voicing their anger and sense of cultural alienation.

It is important to note that there were no doubt many who possess Amber or Red consciousness that did indeed vote their own interests and vote for Democrats. I am speaking particularly of Red and Amber level African-Americans, Hispanics and Muslims. (Note that I am not saying that African-Americans, Hispanics or Muslims are uniformly of Red and Amber consciousness. These groups are of course represented in all of the levels of consciousness as is every other ethnic grouping in America.)

There is one additional thing to mention that plays into all of this resentment. It is the subject of race and the response to eight years with an African American President. This was an election in which a subject that had largely been repressed in some people – kept in the darkness — found light in the voice in Donald Trump. He was telling these people that it was OK to be politically incorrect and, in fact, be racist again.

The hope, if there is any in all of this, is that this airing serves as an exorcism of sorts that allows issues of race to be more openly and honestly discussed by everyone.

The point of all this was to help me, and now perhaps others, to see America as the product of its parts – the consciousnesses that make up the American electorate. For perhaps the first time in American history, those in the Red and Amber level consciousness have a President who is speaking their language. It is my expectation that this experiment will fail to produce what Red and Amber level Americans have been promised and are expecting. We shall have to see.

 

So, assuming we survive a Donald Trump presidency with no lasting harm to the Republic – a big assumption given Trump’s pre-election rhetoric – this will likely be a singular diversion on the long march to a more equitable and just America. Absent a calamity (the Hitler scenario, a nuclear confrontation, or a climate meltdown) there is every reason to believe that the Green level of consciousness will continue to grow such that it and the levels that are emerging beyond it (Teal and Turquoise) will become more dominant politically. Changing demographics also harken a more Green world of the future.

A final point on the emergent Teal and Turquoise consciousnesses: These are referred to as ‘Second Tier’ and represent, theoretically, an immense step forward in consciousness. They are levels at which individuals at these levels will not only fully integrate their own Red, Amber, Orange and Green parts, they will be able to skillfully work with all levels to find and encourage ever greater understanding and dialogue among the levels.

Thus, in my view the long-term scenario, absent the calamities listed above, is bright. We just have to wait this one out and it could take a while.

Let me close by noting that by late Thursday afternoon, it became clear that my work, along with so many others in New Hampshire, seems to have paid dividends. By very narrow margins Hillary Clinton appears to have won the popular vote for President and Maggie Hassan the vote for U.S. Senator in New Hampshire. Without that Get-Out-The-Vote work, this would almost certainly not have happened. Small numbers of people can make a difference.

I welcome a dialogue with any and all on what I’ve set out here.

If you are looking for a life coach, or a coach for end-of-life or grief issues, please consider contacting me.

The Morning After

It is Wednesday morning at 6:30 am on the east coast. I am still in New Hampshire. I went to bed last night not knowing the final result. I was, however, mostly reconciled to the idea that Trump was going to be the likely winner. As I write this, I still don’t know the final result and hold a very slim hope that Hillary Clinton has prevailed. I can live in blissful ignorance for a while longer.

I decided last night to stay out of my head and stay in my body – to be with what was coming up from the depths of my being. I had some difficulty getting to sleep and my dreams indicated a lot of deep turmoil and that I was coming to terms psychically with the possibility/reality of a President Trump.

I’ve decided to write this, which I hope to expand upon tomorrow. I want to say simply that my psyche and my being has found peace overnight. It is girded to accept what I had heretofore believed was unthinkable, that Donald Trump will be our next President. And I have come to a hope, if not a confidence, that we will survive just fine individually and as a country if our institutions are as strong as I believe them to be.

Cognitively, it seems I’ve also I’ve also awoken to an integral framework for what has most likely transpired while I slept. It makes sense to me and offers me some hope.  I’ve also awakened to a realization that this may be just what the country has needed to truly move forward into what I believe will be a more just and equitable future, a future that will truly honor our mother sister earth  (and its creatures). It seems  clear to me now that things continuing under Hillary Clinton  just as they’d been with Obama at the helm  was simply not going to have worked. A shakeout or cleansing of some sort has clearly been needed.

And like it or not, it appears that that is just what we’re going to get with a Trump Presidency and possibly a Congressional majority.

So please stay tuned for more, hopefully tomorrow, on my thoughts on what has just presumably happened. I will be writing from New York City where I’ll be through Sunday.

 

Is the U.S. Political System Rigged?

Today’s posting is apropos to this final two weeks of the U.S. Presidential Election, especially with the allegations being made by Donald Trump that the election is rigged. Playing off of the concept of “rigging” – something raised previously in this long campaign for the U.S. Presidency by Bernie Sanders as well – Jeff Salzman in a recent podcast on his Daily Evolver web page tackles the topic of rigged elections from a historical perspective. The perspective is of where we are today compared to where we’ve been over the course human history. The podcast is entitled Is the System Rigged? Yes and it’s coming along nicely.

The gist of Jeff’s discussion is that “rigging,” otherwise known as political control of the system by elites (the wealthy and the powerful), has been the norm in human history. And where we are today in the U.S. and many other parts of the world, although still highly influenced by the wealthy and economically powerful, is a far cry from our past history where Clan Leaders, Warlords, Monarchs, Emperors, and Dictators were the norm. And it is well to remember they are still the norm in many countries today.

So in these final days of the campaign, it is good to place ourselves on the timeline of history in terms of where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re likely headed. The link to Jeff’s blog posting and in turn to the podcast can be found above. As well, here is a direct link to the podcast:

 

Of course, all of this presumes humankind doesn’t destroy the ability of our planet to sustain life as we know it. Should that happen, among those able to survive consciousness will likely rapidly descend the ladder from whence it’s climbed and humankind would once again be facing as the norm, and not the aberration, the prospect of Clan Leaders, Warlords, Monarchs, Emperors, and Dictators.

It is for this and other reasons I regard climate change and human attentiveness to the importance of biological diversity on this planet to be of the highest concern in the world today. Let’s hope human consciousness continues to evolve such that there are enough of us soon enough to create a tipping point in favor of radical environmental action.

I continue to build my coaching practice with more calls coming in about my coaching practice – both my Integral Coaching and my Coaching for Loss, Life-Threatening Illness and Grief.

Please let me know if I can be of assistance to you or someone you may know. I would welcome the chance to visit by telephone.

 

Catching Up – Rome, Cinque Terre and Assisi

My partner, Damien, and I recently returned from a two-week trip to Italy. There we spent 5 days in Rome, my first trip to Rome and a city I’ve long wanted to experience. We next traveled to the Cinque Terre, a place Damien was interested in visiting, where we did a significant amount of hiking. The trip ended in Assisi, a destination that’s been on my ‘list’ since as a 19-year old I was profoundly moved by the story of St. Francis as told through the movie “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”.

As the trip to Assisi was for me a capstone for my two-years in the Living School I thought I’d talk about some of the spiritual aspects of the trip. Let me begin with a couple of comments about Rome. While it is dominated by Roman ruins, it is also a remarkably beautiful city. It is also home to the Vatican City State. We took the opportunity on Sunday, September 18, 2016, to see Pope Francis deliver his Angelus Address in St. Peter’s Square. What is the Angelus Address you may ask?

In the Vatican City … the Pope delivers an address every Sunday at noon. Known informally as the Angelus Address (“Regina Cœli Address” during Eastertide)…. At the end of the Address, the Pope leads recitation of the Angelus or Regina Cœli, and concludes with a blessing upon the crowds in Saint Peter’s Square. (Information courtesy of  Wikepedia)

A few days later we also toured the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and the Basilica of Saint Peter. Later that afternoon on our return trip to the hotel, we detoured to visit the Basilica of Saint Paul as well. It was amazing to think of being so close to the burial places of such pillars of the Christian Church.

As for Assisi, it is a very special place. I think that it is unquestionably one of the ‘thin places’ on this planet. (Here’s a link to a New York Times article talking about thin places.) It is holy ground.

In advance, during and since the trip to Assisi I have been listening to Assisi Pilgrimage: Journey to the Heart of St. Francis and St. Clare. The teachers are Cynthia Bourgeault, one of my teachers in the Living School, Ward Bauman and Susanne Olin. Cynthia Bourgeault in her introductory remarks says of Assisi that it possesses “a powerfully lived energy … of one who went all the way”. She notes that this energy still exists in Assisi to those who are capable of reaching out to that energy and submitting to it. What it offers, she says, is an “immersion experience in Christian perfection,” but that you must work for it.

I was able to sense that it is indeed a remarkable place in which one can still feel the energy of one who went ‘all the way’ in terms of losing his life in surrender to God. Cynthia argues that in three 7-year phases over approximately 20-years, Francis took his journey of conversion.

His first conversion occurred as result of an experience he had before the San Damiano cross, then located in the Church of San Damiano. Before the cross, Francis perceived that Christ was looking at him and he heard the words “Francis, don’t you see my house is crumbling apart? Go, then, and restore it!” Francis initially took that charge to mean that he should literally repair that small church, and eventually other churches, but he later came to realize the message was broader.

I spent most of my mornings and a few evenings while in Assisi sitting before the San Damiano cross, now located in a small chapel inside of the Basilica of Saint Clare (Santa Chiara). As our hotel was just down the street, it was perfect.

 san_damiano-cross-pic

    San Damiano Cross

In addition to San Damiano and the Basilica of Saint Clare, there are a host of important sites in and around Assisi that are significant in Saint Francis’ life and ministry.

I perceived the most powerful to be the place of where Saint Francis died just outside the Porziuncola, then a small church, which is now encompassed by the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels, apparently the 7th largest church in the world. I spent time sitting there as well and found it a powerful experience. My sit was one week prior to the 790th anniversary of St. Francis’ death.

Let me close this posting by saying it is good to back in Washington, though not so good to watch my Washington Nationals get eliminated from the playoffs last night by the L.A. Dodgers. While I hated the loss, it was at least to my second favorite team in baseball.

I continue to get more and more calls from people inquiring about my coaching – both my Integral Coaching and my Coaching for Loss, End of Life and Grief.

Please let me know if I can be of help to you or someone you know. If anyone would like more information on Assisi, I’d be glad to have a conversation.

The Living School

It’s been two weeks since I’ve posted on the blog. In that time I’ve flown out to New Mexico for 8 days and returned to Washington, DC. It has been a very full two weeks. As I noted the last time I posted, I headed to Albuquerque to graduate, or as they call it “to be sent”, from The Living School for Action and Contemplation. I’ve mentioned the Living School more than a few times previously.

My fellow members of the 2014-2016 Living School Cohort and I have now been sent into the world charged with helping to bring light into a dark and hurting world. I ask for your prayers for all of us as we hear and act on our call into the world.

My participation in the Living School has been the greatest formative experience of my life. I am so grateful, and particularly for the opportunity to learn from our great teachers, Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault and James Finley, and from the Contemplatives and Seekers who, over the centuries, have shared their deep and intimate experiences of God.

If you have the time and inclination, I invite you view the Sending Ceremony. The video runs just about an hour and includes an address by Jack Jezreel, If you’re interested, I cross the stage at about the 49 minute point. The password for the video is Perspective.

I also invite you to consider participating in the Living School. Applications for the Cohort of 2017-2019 are being accepted through the end of September 2016. You can learn more and apply at cac.org/living-school. Please contact me if you’d like more information.

Finally, here is a picture of the 2014-2016 Living School Cohort. I am in the far right hand corner at the top.

2016 sending ceremony group photo

Blessings.

Albuquerque Bound

As most of you know who’ve been reading this blog for awhile, I’ve been a student for two years in the Living School for Action and Contemplation. It has been an incredible experience for me and one I would recommend to anyone in search of a deeper spiritual experience. The link just provided will you give you a quick glimpse of the school. I recommend watching the video as well.

I leave tomorrow afternoon for Albuquerque (Sunday, August 20, 2016) to attend my last symposium of my Living School experience. On Thursday, I will join my fellow members of the 2014-2016 Cohort of the Living School in being “sent” into the world to live out more fully all that we’ve learned in our two years in the program. I know it will be a very emotional experience for me, primarily because of my overflowing gratitude for having been afforded this transformational opportunity.

One of the highlights of the Living School for me was participating with a smaller group of my cohort (1/4 of the entire cohort) in a week of intimate learning from Richard Rohr. It was called an “Intensive” and it was a very powerful for me. It was as if Richard told me that week what at my deepest level I already knew, but I didn’t know I knew it until I heard it from him. I felt as if I had just been handed that which I had been craving all of my life.  I knew then and there why I had applied to the Living School: to be finally able to begin to put it all together and see all things more clearly. It was a deep confirmation that I was part of something far bigger than myself, and that it very, very good.

If you are at all tempted to participate in this amazing Living School experience, applications are are currently being accepted. This only happens once per year. The open period this year is from July 1 to September 16, 2016, for the 2017-2019 Living School cohort. Click here to access application.

I would love for any of you who are interested to join me in my sending on Thursday, August 25, at 5:00 PM MST by means of a livestream of the ceremony. It will also be available to watch for a limited time after the fact.  Please contact me and I will be happy to send the information.

Blessings to you on your journey.

The Trapeze Artist

Having posted a poem last week about Death and Grief, I thought this week I’d post a poem addressing the other part of my coaching practice, more focused on growth and development. Yet, it occurs to me the poem has relevance to both sides of my practice, dealing as it does with the subject of growth and transition. That’s really what all of life is about, in all of its phases.

I first encountered this poem in my coaching studies in Ottawa a few years back. I haven’t been able to determine the name of the author.

I hope you enjoy it.

 The Flying Trapeze 

Sometimes, I feel my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments, I’m hurtling across space between the trapeze bars.

Mostly, I spend my time hanging on for dear life, to the trapeze bar of the moment. It carries me along a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I am in control. I know most of the right questions, and even some of the right answers. But once in a while, as I’m merrily, or not so merrily, swinging along, I look ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see?

I see another trapeze bar looking at me. It’s empty; and I know that this new bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart-of-hearts I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present well-known bar, to move to the new one.

Each time it happens, I hope – no, I pray – that I won’t have to grab the new one. But deep down I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and for some moments in time I must hurtle across space before I can grab the new bar. Each time I am filled with terror. It doesn’t even matter that in all my previous hurtles I’ve always made it.

Each time, I am afraid I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless basin between the bars. But I do it anyway. I must.

Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call faith. No guarantees, no net, no insurance, but I do it anyway because somehow, to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer an option. And so for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of “the past is over, the future is not yet here”. It’s called a transition. I’ve come to believe that it is the only place that real change occurs.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are illusions we dream up to not notice the void. Yes, with all the fear of being out-of-control that can accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, growth-filled, passionate moments in our lives.

And so, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to “hang-out” in the transition zone between trapeze bars. Allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens.

It can be terrifying. But, it can also be enlightening.

Hurtling through the void, we just may learn to fly.