The Working Title Is…A Most Improbable Life Coach

In 2011, the Harvard Business Review reported that Life Coaching was a $1 billion-a-year industry.  In two years time, that figure had doubled.

Not bad for a term that wasn’t even added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary until 2012.

Just last month, it was reported that pop star Ariana Grande’s Life Coach, who was responsible for keeping the 21 year old singer “centered and healthy,” was so incensed by Grande’s pompous personality that he quit.

(#onelessproblem)

Over my lifetime, I have been blessed with many relationships that have kept me centered and healthy: loving family, skilled professional mentors and the very best of friends.

I have also gained incredible strength and perspective through the relationship I share with my Life Coach. Our bond dates back to 1981. Our weekly encounters happen most often on Sunday, but with crazy schedules, sometimes I have to postpone gaining this insight until Monday.

No, it’s not exclusively religious in nature, although I have been fortunate to receive weekend inspiration and spiritual guidance from compassionate Catholic pastors and an exceptional Orthodox Jewish Rabbi.

My Life Coach brings perspective to every relationship in my life and has helped me build my bucket list, count my blessings and face my fears…all in less than 20 minutes each week.

Not surprising when you consider that my Life Coach is….

 

 

 

 

 

The Sunday New York Times Obituary column.

Believe me when I tell you there is much to learn within these poignant lines of text.

I’ve invested a few moments every week honoring the legacies of people I will never know by carefully reading the final summation of the lives they lived. As a result, I now believe that every single person who crosses my path has a fascinating story to tell.

We may not all be natural storytellers, and maybe we don’t even appreciate the beauty of the tale we have to tell, but if the right questions are asked, I find the story comes together in a dramatic and unforgettable way.  And so, I ask.

It’s how I came to know my Orkin man was actively involved in prison ministry following his daughter’s incarceration for a white-collar crime. He kills bugs by day, saves souls by night and every other weekend. He should write a book.

In the last few Sundays alone, I read about a woman who, at the age of 12, was responsible for shepherding her mother and five siblings from China to Hawaii to avoid the threat of kidnapping of families of high-ranking government officials.

I read about a woman who was involved in the final modification of combat aircraft for US Naval forces in the Pacific Theatre.

And, I read about a Fulbright Scholar turned physician-scientist who made major contributions regarding human skin conditions such as cutaneous porphyria.

I looked it up, and I suggest you don’t.

Very often my Life Coach expands my horizons through trips to the dictionary. One fella was graphically described as an oenophile, which looks like it would be something super naughty, but actually is something that I aspire to be someday.

A couple weeks ago, two different people were acknowledged for their unique and elaborate gift giving, noting in particular their distinctive gift-wrapping abilities. I assume that means they weren’t as excited as I was when Hallmark debuted the convenient gift bag/tissue paper/curly ribbon combo package. Food for thought.

Each Sunday, I define the things I pray will be considered for my obit and the things I pray will be excluded.

For example, I would be happy with “Friends and family will miss (her) intelligence, sharp wit and internal clock which always knew when it was 5pm,”  but would be fine avoiding “a courageous battle with ocular melanoma.”

I’d be good with “remained active, involved and engaged until (her) death,” but would like to steer clear of “complications related to Alzheimer’s.”

I really hope my life never dissolves into “she had a strong affection for cats and especially appreciated their company in the later years of her life,”  but I’ll jump at the opportunity if it means forever avoiding “predeceased by her daughter.”

Each week, my Life Coach impresses upon me a very important point…tomorrow is promised to no one.

As a result, each morning when my eyes open up to a new day, I recognize it as an incredible gift.

And now, if you will excuse me, it is suddenly important for me to find a kick-ass way to wrap this gift I have once again been given.

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The Working Title Is… Embracing Each MILEstone

This week, I will experience something for the very first time in my life.

The exact hour and location are yet to be determined, but, at some point, the odometer of my car will roll over to read 100,000 miles.

Ok, they don’t technically “roll over” anymore, but “digitally advance” doesn’t seem to capture the drama I’m feeling.

During a road trip last week, I reflected on the impending six-digit milestone of our 2010 Ford Expedition. I considered all the roads I’ve traveled and hours I’ve logged behind the wheel.

As the brilliant fall colors lit up both sides of the highway, I wondered how many times I’ve looked out these windows trying to convince myself that the deer laying on the side of the road was just really sleepy and picked a precarious spot to nap.

This wonderful car carries even more memories than miles, and currently counts zero accidents, one bizarre encounter with a bird, two speeding tickets and three really ill-timed breakdowns.

Both of my girls first learned how to drive in this car. The passenger armrest has embedded impressions of my fingernails as proof.

This car has carried Christmas trees and couches, groceries and golf clubs. It has been filled with items draped in nervous excitement en route to my daughter’s freshman dorm room, and items cradled in melancholy resolve after closing up the house my parents bought more than a half century earlier.

I would be embarrassed to admit the actual number of drive thru windows this car has seen, the number of mini-road rage swear words this car has heard or the number of parallel parking bumper taps this car has felt.

But, for me, what is most special about this car is the fact that my husband bought it for us. He sat in the driver seat. His hands held this steering wheel. He drove and played games and sang on what was to be our last family vacation to Florida for Easter 2010.

The few months that followed registered trips to places we never saw coming: doctor’s offices, hospitals, a funeral home and a cemetery.

So many miles saw me engaged in a form of distracted driving that didn’t involve technology, but rather all-consuming thoughts. The “what if” and “what now” internal conversations happened while the car was experiencing some form of sacred cruise control because I always arrived safely at my destination but not always aware of how I got there.

When that odometer finally hits 100K, I am certain I’ll try to connect some deep dramatic meaning to my exact location, where I’m headed or what song is playing on the radio.

I know I will glance in the rearview mirror surprised over the distance we’ve traveled since those trips we had hoped to never take.

And I will grasp that steering wheel for strength as we move forward, determined and hopeful that the miles ahead will be happy ones.

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