Choosing Sacred Space in Manhattan

Posted by on Mar 25, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Moving from a 1400 square foot condo to a 400 square foot co-op in Manhattan requires an exercise in letting go! Although experienced in the art of letting go from living aboard our boat, Sofia, several years ago, we discovered it was harder this time.

We lived in a pleasant condo on the water in Annapolis, Maryland, and had our daughter’s tiny, NY co-op rented for the past 7 years. Then, decision time, either move in or sell.  How often does one have the opportunity to live in Manhattan’s Upper West Side?   Things fell into place….our boat sold, Don’s company gave him an office in Brooklyn, I can run my coaching and consulting business from anywhere….so here we are….Day One at 118 W. 81st Street!   The move to Manhattan required choosing what matters most…. about everything!     What do we bring to make a precious and sacred space?  What pictures do we cherish?  What music gives us energy?    In deciding what to bring, we discovered more about who we are?  And more questions surfaced….What are our values?   What legacy do we want to leave?  What kind of life do we want to live?    How do we make this home?  What joy can we find?  What community service can we do?  What love and support can we offer our children and grandchildren?  What ways can we make this space inviting and special for our beloved family and friends?  What community can we build?  What gives us peace?  

A walk in Central Park is magical…it doesn’t get better than this.  The vitality, diversity, and culture of the city are magnets for people from all over the world.  (Hence, the Capital of the World title).   Of course, there are challenges of big city life; namely, the expense, the traffic, the intensity…the impossibility of finding a cab in the rain…taking the wrong subway…navigating parking….etc.   

And for all the existential life questions, we are working on them, as we all are. But moving to Manhattan became a cleansing ritual that made us revisit these value-affirming questions. It forced us to let go of  ‘stuff’ and choose consciously everything that is precious to us, and in that process reaffirmed what matters most.  Will we find peace here?  Will it become home?   Stay tuned…..

 

 

The Power of Validation

Posted by on Feb 5, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I am reading a book about validation as an essential component of raising emotionally healthy, self-assured, self-reliant children.  Remember Mr. Rogers, beloved by children everywhere (my sons included),,, he was the quintessential ‘validator’.   Mr. Rogers validated children beautifully by listening, honoring, and celebrating each child’s unique self. I can still hear his calm, gentle voice and witness his routines as a symbol of security and safety.  He possessed a high degree of credibility, (kids and adults trusted him) and was a stellar practitioner of emotional intelligence. 

As a life coach, the needs I see and hear from adults disguised in the language/stories of their lives are the same as children’s needs.  We never outgrow our need for validation.  Yes, as adults, we ought to possess enough self-knowledge and awareness to self-validate. However, in this fast-paced, complex, and uncertain world, the capability to self-validate is fragile at best in many people.  If we never received validation as a child, then as adults we are on a path to find it.

Why do people need life coaches?   In the words of U2, “because I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.’   

Peace, 

Janis

Advocacy in Action

Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I had the opportunity to attend the Inauguration and listen to President Obama’s inspiring, powerful speech that launched his second term. Yes, hope and change are hear. Now, we need to ‘organize for action.’ Become advocates for ourselves and others. Hope and change are not magic, they require action and advocacy!   Just like ‘Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall…..we must ‘organize for action.’ 

GlamMoms: Feminist, Activist, Revolutionary Grandmothers

Posted by on Dec 30, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Adrienne Rich once described motherhood as the most exquisite suffering.’ Well, that applies to Grandmotherhood too. It is a joy and a pain like no other. GlamMoms are magical, powerful witches that are fiercely protective of their grandchildren. Having the wisdom of hard-earned experience and a deep capacity for love, sharing a passion for feminism and activism, we are indeed a formidable group!

The joy is abundant….the sparkle, the connection, the giggles, the conversations, the play, the running and laughing, the gushing hugs! Being with a grandchild is being in the present moment where nothing else exists in the universe but that child. It is precious beyond description.

The pain….is the limit set on seeing our grandchildren, the directives that we must obey and honor, the navigation of respecting parental authority through silencing our voices when we do not share the same value.

Waiting with patience and presence is difficult, but a necessary path for GlamMoms.  Offering unconditional love through being that ‘unshakeable presence’ that never waivers, always there for any challenge in the child’s life.  And, at the same time, giving voice to the policies that create a better world where everyone matters.   Marching on Washington to support gun control on January 26, 2013, advocating for the care of our one and only spaceship earth, supporting Obamacare, and eliminating poverty and despair.  This path is the legacy we leave for our beloved children and grandchildren.  

The Epidemic of Breast Cancer

Posted by on Oct 18, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I have three friends battling breast cancer right now! One a young woman who upon getting her first mammogram at age 40, discovered she had cancer.  After a year of chemo, surgery, and radiation, she is beginning her life anew, aware of every precious moment.  Another friend was going to skip her mammogram, but upon our urging, she made herself a priority, and caught an early cancer.  My closest friend has triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive and rare form that does not respond to hormonal treatments that prevent recurrence.  Chemo is the most powerful weapon for this type of cancer which affects 16% of all breast cancers.  She fights with courage and grace!

Today, 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in her lifetime.  It is time to stop this epidemic from taking our beloved mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends.  I still miss my friends, Cher and John, both 53, who died on the same day three years ago….Cher succumbed to Stage 4 breast cancer, and John died of grief.  

Let’s work together to stop this epidemic before more of our precious women are taken from us!

 

Winds of Change…..Visiting Our Farmhouse

Posted by on Aug 21, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I was listening to the roar of crickets last evening and enjoying the concert. I remember when we lived in our farmhouse in Chester County and how the crickets announced Fall and back to school activities. I recently drove by our old house and took some pictures. Not much has changed, a few nice improvements, but it is basically the sound, beautiful, proud structure (a hospital in the Civil War) with the same immense, regal pine trees in the front.

A flood of memories came back, our wedding in the field surrounded by a circle of our friends and my sons (ages 2 and 4) handing out daisies, the birth of our daughter, the sledding in winter, and the campaign to rid ourselves of bats in the attic (of course without killing anything), the family vote to keep the dogs and cats we found, the wild pony and all the adventures to tame him. The change to leave this life was difficult, but necessary. There is a time to honor the loss of what is familiar, to move on with our cherished memories, and to embrace and trust the future.

As I work with groups to embrace change in their organizations and in themselves, the challenges are the same. We are comfortable and secure with what is. Now, in these challenging economic times, it is necessary to be flexible, to embrace uncertainty, to trust in ourselves and each other. Not easy, but the benefits are worth the work.

Since our beloved ‘farmhouse’ life, our children have grown into fine, wonderful, amazing young adults.  My husband and I have celebrated many years together, and now are excited to begin a new adventure together.  And yes, we still hold the memories close of that special time of a family growing up together.

Flesh and Metal don’t mix…..

Posted by on Jan 22, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In 1995, I was hit by a car as a pedestrian in New Orleans.  Details I learned from this accident (I have retrograde amnesia, a blessing from my brain) was that I flew 10 feet up in the air and landed in front of a taxi.  The fatality unit was called as I was presumed dead and apparently unrecognizable due to a huge brain hematoma.  The first thing I remember is waking up in a Tulane Universeity hospital room with disfiguring injuries, but miraculously alive.  Recovery was a long journey, but that is another story.

Since that time, I have wondered what my destiny is since few people live to tell a story of being hit by a car.  What is my path?  Am I living my potential? What choices am I making on this ‘borrowed time’ I have gratefully been given?   What legacy do I want to leave?

Questions we all need to ask on a daily basis.  What am I doing with this precious gift of time?

 

Mindfulness

Posted by on Jan 31, 2011 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Yesterday, I listened to Jon Kabit Zinn on Public Radio. His message of ‘mindfulness’, of living in the present moment, is the ‘calling’ of our times.   His teachings on mindfulness as a vital method to heal our stressful lives are now a part of hospitals (NIH) and medical education, businesses (Google), as well as nonprofits, and government agencies.

One powerful statement that I want to share and intend to be a ‘mantra’ in my own life it that we are ‘running to our deaths, rather than opening to our lives.’

Now, the challenge is how to find the pathway to ‘open to our lives.’  Listen and learn from the present moment.  It holds the clue!!!

The Transformational ‘No’

Posted by on Oct 26, 2010 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

As a ‘GlamMom’, I encourage my granddaughters’ voices.  I support their vital voices as they play, scream, laugh, shout, with freedom and personal expression. Ok, sometimes it gets me in trouble with my daughters-in-law, but I take the chance.  With me, they are truly free to BE!

A gender prescription for girls to conform, to be ‘lady-like’ , to look pretty still permeates our culture. As a GlamMom, a feminist, activist, revolutionary Grandmom, I encourage and celebrate their voices, their powerful ‘selves’ they are growing up to be.

The following is an excerpt from ‘A Blue Jay’s Dance‘ by Louise Erdrich.  Words to raise our ‘daughters and granddaughters’ by…….

“The precious no….”to keep my mouth shut. To turn away my face. To walk back down the aisle. To slap the bishop back when he slapped me during Confirmation. To hold the word no in my mouth like a gold coin, something valued, something possible. To teach the no to our daughters. To value their no more than their compliant yes. To celebrate no. To grasp the word no in your fist and refuse to give it up. To support the boy who says no to violence, the girl who will not be violated, the woman who says no, no, no, I will not. To love the no, to cherish the no, which is so often our first word. No—the means to transformation.”

YOU GO GIRL!!!