Friday, March 30, 2012

Living Out Loud

This time of year, folks in our part of the world are mesmerized by college basketball.  To admit that one does not share this passion is something akin to heresy.  In all honesty, though, that is the case for me.   I realize that I am risking my credibility to acknowledge this fact (particularly as a UNC grad), but even though I don’t really follow the game, I do understand the appeal.

There is something else that I have been following closely, though.  There is another drama that is unfolding this month in North Carolina, and I have been enthusiastically watching and cheering from the sidelines as I hope for a big “win” for a cause that is dear to me. 

This month my friend, David Lamotte, launched a campaign through to raise funds to publish “White Flour”, a children’s book that he has written.  This isn’t just any children’s book.  “White Flour” tells the true story, in a poetic style, of an amazing event that took place in Knoxville, Tennessee nearly five years ago.  There, on a beautiful spring day, a group of clowns successfully derailed a white supremacist rally.  Through humor and nonviolence, they completely changed the dynamic and the course of what unfolded in their city that day.

The story captivated David, who, in addition to being a talented singer/songwriter is also a tireless advocate for peace and justice.  He knew that the story needed to be heard.  In a society still troubled by racism and bullying, this story provided a hopeful model of a healthy way to address conflict.  David turned the story into a poem, and now is fulfilling his vision to have it turned into a book.

When David first launched his initial campaign on Kickstarter, it only took twelve days for project supporters to blow past the initial goal.  The response was so enthusiastic that he decided to expand his vision.  At considerable personal risk, David decided to order ten thousand additional books and continue the campaign until the original end date of April 1st.  All along the way, he has shared his excitement and occasionally his concerns with us.  By “living out loud”, he has allowed others to take this journey with him.  His faith, commitment, and courage have allowed everyone supporting this project to play a much bigger game.

What is it about people like David (and maybe even basketball players) that capture our attention and imagination?  For me, it boils down to this: we are touched and inspired by people who use their talents in support of something larger than themselves.   Such people seem especially vital and “real” to us because they are being their most authentic selves.  When we see people using their gifts in a way that is consistent with their vision and values, we are inspired because we get a glimpse of something that is possible for each of us, too.   I call it flourishing.

As a coach, the possibility of a life that flourishes is something that I wish for everyone.  I believe that each of us has unique gifts, and that when we are being our most vital selves, we are able to fully offer our gifts to the world.  In other words, when our lives flourish, everyone benefits. 

Years ago, I attended one of David’s concerts and I bought a T-shirt there.  The T-shirt is so baggy and shapeless on me that one might wonder why I keep it.  What attracts me isn’t the T-shirt itself, but rather the message written across its front:  “Sing Loud.  It’s a big world.”   That phrase reminds me that only I can know my “song”, and only I can sing it.

What is your song?  What vision and gifts do you have to share with the world?  What is possible when you flourish?

If you are caught up in the midst of “March Madness”, I invite you to take a break from basketball and tune in to the game that I’m watching.  Below is a video of David reading his poem, “White Flour”.  If you love it as much as I do, I hope you’ll consider supporting the book launch and will share your excitement with others.  I’m grateful to David for allowing others to participate in his vision.  May we all be inspired to “Sing Loud!”

Thursday, March 1, 2012


"So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. 
And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act." ~ Dr. Seuss

At Christmas last year, I received a wonderful gift that had been on my “wish-list” for some time. It was a balance board. If you haven’t ever seen or tried one out, it is a simple device, but not as easy to master as one might think. It is a short, rectangular board with a non-slip surface on top.  On the bottom are strips of wood that create a groove which fits onto a round cylinder that is placed below it.  Imagine a plank laid on top of a barrel.

The challenge of a balance board, of course, is to position yourself with your feet at each end of the board, and then achieve balance.  A first attempt often looks like this: You step on one end, and the minute you try to get into position, the board flips like a wild seesaw. You, or the cylinder, are likely to go flying. If you read the directions, you hopefully took precautions!

With practice, it becomes easier to balance, and there is a certain satisfaction that comes. You can never be complacent, though. As you “balance”, you are actively managing lots of different variables simultaneously. The balance board, in addition to building balance and coordination, works lots of core muscles too. The minute you stop paying attention, you are in for a quick dismount!

As I’ve enjoyed this new activity, I’ve had time to reflect on what “balance” really is.  It is interesting, I think, that many of us think of “balance” as a static process.  Physics teaches us that bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, and bodies at rest, tend to stay at rest.  From the time that we are children and are learning how to position our building blocks to build a tower, we tend to expect things to “stay” where we put them. 

The balance board gives a more realistic picture of what balance really requires.  Balance is a dynamic process that requires intention and attention.  It doesn’t “stay” unless we work at it.

Our lives are much the same way.  For example, many of us aspire to balance our professional and personal lives in ways that honor all of our values.   At the same time, conditions in our home and work lives are constantly changing and requiring us to re-evaluate how to maintain this balance.  This, too, requires intention and attention.

The concept of balance is important in my work as an Integrative Health Coach. In that work, I use a model developed by Duke Integrative Medicine that is called “The Wheel of Health”.  This model identifies seven different areas of self-care that make up the “spokes” of the wheel.   As you can imagine, when one or more areas in a client’s life is out of balance, it can affect the whole “wheel”.   By helping clients identify and address the areas that aren’t in line with their values, they are able to restore a sense of wholeness and balance in their health and well-being.

Where are you looking for balance in your life?  Wherever that is, I wish you well!