Perspective

communication, Connection, Life Lessons, Perspective

Walk With Me (3min read)

Lewis: “Betsy, I’d like to spend some time with you before you depart tomorrowbut my schedule is very tight. Would you care to join me for my morning walk so we can have a chat?”

“I’d love to. What time should I meet you?”

Lewis: “How about 5am?”

“Sounds great!” I said, trying to mask the realization that 5am in Houston would feel like 3am in California.

Lewis: “Brilliant. See you then.”

And that’s how I found myself taking a walk at 3am PST in someone else’s shoes.

Literally.

(I’d only packed sandals for the two day trip and had to borrow Nike’s that were 1.5 sizes too big from a fellow I’d met the day before.)

As I left my room it occurred to my sleep-addled brain that walking the dark streets of downtown Houston with a lovely 67 year-old man may not be the safest decision I’ve ever made. I quickly grabbed my phone in case of emergency, and headed to the lobby.

Upon meeting Lewis I was introduced to a safety measure far greater than my phone. Caleb was a 6’4, 270lb former offensive lineman with the presence of a tattooed giant and the warmth of southern hospitality. My hand disappeared in his as he shook it, and with that our mismatched cadre took to the streets.

I’d come to Houston to meet Lewis M. Senior, the co-CEO of Equilibria, and learn more about what they did as the “personality diversity experts”. Having heard Lewis speak a few times I was conscious of the fact that this walk could very well be a “Tuesdays With Morrie” type experience. Although “Walkies with Louie” made for a questionable book title, I imagined the pearls of wisdom might be similar.

2 hours, 8 miles, and 1 Starbucks later, I was certain of it.

Much like the path we took along the bayou, our conversation twisted and turned through the topics of personality, innovation, diversity, inclusion, vulnerability, communication, confrontation, connection, possibility and human potential.

I was impressed by what was included in our conversation, and even more impressed by what was not; there were differences of opinion, but there was no judgment. There was an eagerness to share, but there were no interruptions. There was a genuine desire to understand which left no one feeling misunderstood.

Not to go all Nicholas Sparks on you, but it was absolutely A Walk to Remember.

It will take a while to digest all that happened on that walk, but the moral of my story is this...

The greatest gift we can offer another person, is our time.

When someone offers to gift you their time, show up for them - even if you feel unprepared. (Josh, thank you for the shoes!)

And finally, if you’re fortunate enough to know people who make you feel safe - whether to share your thoughts or venture into the unknown - take every opportunity to invite them to walk beside you.

 

[Photo credit: GETTY IMAGES/BOONCHAI WEDMAKAWAND]

Gratitude, Perspective

Gratitude + Presence = ?

While driving my grandmother to her Silver Sneakers class at the YMCA she turned to me and said, “It’s a strange thing, this being 90.”

“How do you mean?” I asked.

“Your memory. You do things and then later you don’t remember them. It’s just, ‘poof’” as she made a tiny explosion with her hand.

For years I’ve watched as Grandma’s fading memory frustrated and angered her as she refused to accept the fact that she was aging. While I empathize with the fear she feels at being unable to remember, the silver lining in her evolution is that she’s been brought fully into the now. My Grandmother knows that she will soon forget what just happened, so she’s learning to live moment to moment.

Lately I’ve been researching gratitude and I’m finding more and more that a by-product of being grateful is being present. In order to appreciate something (gratitude) we have to be consciously aware of its existence in this moment (presence).

As we wind through the hills she whispers “Oh my…” and “That’s beautiful” and “Look at that!” with a smile that would convince you that she’d always seen the world this way.

Grandma lost her memory but found gratitude and presence, which have combined to gift her the experience of “joy”.

Before we lose anything, let’s take a moment to be grateful, get present, and experience some of the joy that exists in our life right now. Enjoy your day!

Perspective, Adventure

The Power of a Little Yes

“And then he said, ‘I think you and I are going to date’ which was ridiculous because we’d just met. But it made me smile…and, well, now we are.”

My friend’s eyes sparkled in the darkened ambiance of a San Francisco bar as she told me about her new boyfriend. Long story shorter, she said “yes” to road tripping from Connecticut to Boston with two high school friends and that night met a guy who is turning into the love of her life. 

Unless you’re a hopeful romantic like me you’re probably thinking, “Yeah but it’s new and they’re excited. It’ll pass.”

Maybe. Or, maybe they live happily ever after?

No matter the outcome of their relationship, what intrigued me most about her story is that she almost didn’t get in the car. Lately I’ve been thinking about what happens in our lives when we say yes. When we choose something unknown or adventure into the unplanned and the things that show up when we show up.

These thoughts were on my mind as I started the 3.5 hour drive back to San Luis Obispo and saw the sign for Highway 92 over to Half Moon Bay. In that moment I made the choice to do something different and headed for the coast.

The next 8 hours were magic!

I got snacks from 2 roadside fruit stands. I helped 3 Russian exchange students get to the beach and accepted their gift of a beer in gratitude for the lift. I played ping-pong with Arthur and Jay; two very bearded, very gay men whose toy poodles “Sugar” and “Baby” watched us from the shade. Along the way I was treated to breathtaking coastal views and delighted in pulling over to explore or to sit it total awe.

Sometimes we think big changes are required to shake things up when the truth is it’s the little choices that stir the pot or routine and serve up something new. Wherever you are, do what you can to make a different choice today. Use a new coffee mug, take an alternate route home, get lunch from a spot you’ve never tired before. 

Challenge yourself to show up differently and see what shows up for you.

Perspective

Stop Doing That Thing We All Do

“Stop that.” I interrupted.

“Stop what?” she said.

“That thing you’re doing.” I teased.

“What thing?” she asked.

“That thing where you’re trying not to let a giant smile devour your face right now.”

I was sitting on my friend’s couch sipping some wine as she told me about someone she’d recently started seeing.

“Ahhh, I knowwww…” she beamed, ‘it’s just that I don’t wanna get too excited. I really like this one.”

“Then why not smile about it?! Celebrate it!! Shoot, even if it all ended tomorrow you’ve made a connection with someone and that’s totally something to get excited about!”

“I know, I know.” she said. “And i am! I really am… I just wanna be safe.”

[sigh] Safe.

Lately I’ve noticed the alarming frequency with which we hold back full expression in the interest of staying safe. We downplay our excitement, contain our enthusiasm, and make less of that which we are crazy about. For the sake of what?

Take football for example - its late September so between college and the NFL you can now watch football Thursday through Monday. On the initial drive of each game they go through the offensive and defensive starting lines. At the bottom of the screen the player’s head pops up as they say their name and what college they hair from . While the schools are impressive, what stands out the most is the rare player who smiles while saying his name and alma mater. 

But Betsy, these are NFL players - they’re supposed to be tough. Tough guys don’t smile. 

Oh, really? Seems to me like being paid millions of dollars to play a sport that you love is something to smile about. If I’ve worked hard to hone my skills so that I’m the league leader in sacks, when I take a stance before the snap you better believe I’m smiling under my helmet because I know I’m about to eff up the QB’s day.

Maybe football isn’t the best example, but I’d venture to guess you won’t have to look long or hard to find a situation in which someone isn’t completely celebrating the moment. Or maybe you don’t have to search at all because you;re the one holding back. 

We hold ourselves back because we want to stay safe. We fear that if we let it all out we’ll open ourselves up to being hurt when things don’t work out the way we’d hoped. 

But what if we’ve got it all backwards?

If we really want to play it safe, we should celebrate the now - immerse ourselves in each moment - for these are all we have of life. The fear then becomes not that we will be hurt, but that in failing to fully own the depths of whatever we feel we will have missed an opportunity to know what it means to be truly alive.

So, stop it!

Stop doing that thing where you make less of your greatness.

Own every bit of it, for as long as you have it, and stay safe by living now.