Being Baffled

Being Baffled

Yesterday, a friend was searching for a poem to share with people who are training to be coaches—life coaches not football coaches. (Although come to think of it poetry for football coaches might be a good thing.) 

As I thought about it, I realized that when I need coaching, myself, (which is fairly often) it is usually because I am feeling stuck, confused, mired in.

And what came to mind for me were these words by the farmer poet Wendell Berry:

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Kaleidoscope: See What You See

Kaleidoscope: See What You See

Often, I find myself stuck in an old way of seeing things. Or fearful of the way things are unfolding around me. Seeking a path forward. Not seeing one. The poem below (prompted by the kaleidoscope which I keep on my bookshelf) emerged in a gathering in my living room as friends and colleagues explored their own role in leadership development. It reminds me of the need for breathing space, a chance to “turn” the kaleidoscope of images, to seek and practice new ways of seeing, of being wholly ourselves.

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Things That Flowered

Things that flowered
Yesterday, last week,
Have passed
And new things bloom. 
This morning
It’s the daisies, lean and
Scrawny, with their
Cheerful petaled faces. 
In only ten days time,
The heavy purple lilacs
And scented fields
Of lily of the valley
Have given way to
Honeysuckle and
The early roses—
Soon lemon lilies. 
How to celebrate
Each one,
Each moment,
Every season,
Feeling still
The momentary sadness
Comes with knowing
That the beauty
That was yesterday’s
Is gone. 
    Judy Brown
    June 16, 2018
     Leland, Michigan  

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Remaining Open to Possibility

Remaining Open to Possibility

My friend Mennie Scapens in New Zealand wrote the message that follows—about Spring and possibilities. I found her words and her questions for us very thought provoking. I asked if I might share them with you—making Mennie my first “guest blogger”. Thanks Mennie!

Speaking of opening our minds to possibilities—note that Mennie wrote this in October which is springtime in New Zealand. 

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The Lion Tamer

The Lion Tamer

Time magazine recently ran a piece on all the factors that contributed to the closing of Ringling Brothers Circus.  Not the least of which has been the rise of a different kind of circus:Cirque de Soleil. While I've been fascinated with the ascent of Cirque, I am
haunted by a photo that accompanied the Time magazine story--a photo of the empty Ringling Bros circus circle with the lion tamer and lion together in what could only be described as an embrace. A last embrace.

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The Work of Many Hands

The Work of Many Hands

I subscribe to a daily poetry post created by Joe Riley.  It’s called Panhala.  Because the poems he selects, so often speak to me personally, I find it a good way to start my day.  And yesterday to my amazement, the poem to start my day was one of my own about my brother David who builds and rebuilds wooden boats:

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The Handoff

The Handoff

This poem was shared on the One Spirit Learning Alliance website yesterday. So, while it appears in The Art and Spirit of Leadership, it also appeared in my inbox. I realize that almost all of my work these days is a relay race, marked by baton passing. And in this handing off of the baton--something greater than the original has the opportunity to blossom. Others can often see the power/value/use in something we've created--a value we ourselves might overlook.

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Lunch with Alice

Lunch with Alice

Years back I wrote a poem prompted by something the Dean of our Public Policy school said to me in passing.

Poems have a habit of showing up that way, popping up out of a conversation in the hallway.


But this one was unusual--it had a specific name in the title--"Lunch with Alice."  And I thought of it as a love story, and also a story of wisdom about how we choose to spend our moments.

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Leadership Development: “results are not immediate.”

Leadership Development: “results are not immediate.”

Last week a group of non-profit leaders from elder-serving organizations met here, and one thread that ran through our conversations, was begun by my colleague Audrey, who said that she was increasingly aware in leadership development work that “results are not immediate.”  Results come in their own time. 

 Her words have stayed with me, particularly after watching the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics.  How long people trained to compete at that level!  The amount of practice to develop that level of mastery.  The quality of coaching.  The support of family, friends.  “The results are not immediate.”

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Find and Know Your Why

Find and Know Your Why

Gifts have been on my mind--both literal giving and receiving but, also natural gifts that we share with the world in a sometimes less obvious way. I am reminded of Michael Jr's Know Your Why and share that video below. I also, share a video of my thoughts on what this means for me and a story of a gift that was given to me.

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