On Being

On Being

When I was trained as a coach 8.5 years ago, one of the things that stuck with me the most was the emphasis on helping a person see who they are “being” – that is to say, helping each individual look past the surface doings into how he/she is showing up and how that way of being is effecting their choices.

I read an article by coach and writer Danielle van de Kemenade this morning, and her words resonated with me a lot:

The biggest impact I’ve been able to make in my clients’ lives is on their states of being rather than changed acts of doing. The coaching paradigm itself is perhaps the best way of exemplifying the belief in doing as a primary method to achieving a better way of being. After each session, I’ll ask my clients to come up with five things they’ll do between our sessions to start to move towards greater personal well-being.

Fundamental to all of the above seems to be this thought: I’ll be a better, happier, more fulfilled person through more (focused) doing. I do (or have done), therefore I am. And yet, lately my views on this have started to shift, subtly.

Perhaps one of humanity’s challenges this century won’t necessarily be to do more better and faster, but to refine our ways of being and to let our actions flow from this.

On one hand you might think, “Wait, that doesn’t quite jive with what we are trying to do with small steps.  Isn’t the goal to help people make tiny changes that will eventually lead to lasting health improvements and better well being?” Continue reading “On Being”



Spring came early this year in Minnesota.  Last week the overnight lows bottomed out at -11 and the world was still bright white after a fresh snowfall at the end of February and the ground rock solid, but this week the highs are singing themselves into the 60s, the world is brown once more, and the earth gives again under our weight.  There are a few memories of white left deep in the forest and behind the biggest boulders in the ravine, but most traces of winter have melted away.  The seasonal ravine stream has run and dried up, within the same week. The lake is still a swath of ice, and will be for awhile yet, but the geese have returned and the trumpeter swans that wintered here at the place where the river doesn’t freeze are calling out a welcome.  Just like the fall that suddenly turned to winter with a foot of snow and plummeting temperatures, the season has now suddenly turned to spring under a powerful March sun and snow that was quick to acquiesce to its urgency.

I’ve been reading a lot about vulnerability, and the challenges we humans have when it comes to embracing such a state, in the last few weeks.  It seems like good timing, as the season changes.  The natural world doesn’t struggle with putting itself out there and being vulnerable.  It just does it because there is no other option.  A flower comes up in the spring and offers itself to the elements, whatever they turn out to be.  A tree buds when warm enough temperatures invite it to do so, even if there’s a hard freeze looming —  It doesn’t hesitate, or worry about what might happen, or hide behind a fear of what might come next.  Presenting new life unfolding is the only choice.  Even if it means getting frozen as a result.

Brene Brown writes,

There’s nothing more daring than showing up, putting ourselves out there and letting ourselves be seen.

Like the flower that buds just in time for a late spring snowfall, or the apple tree that gives up its autumn fruit for the chance to bud with the first warmth after winter, we can let our beauty be seen when we step out into the sun.  We might fall, we might get covered up by snow, we might freeze to the ground and have to ask for help. We will surely be uncomfortable, and we will probably be afraid of what might come next.  But we will be courageous and we will be living in the only place that allows us to be fully alive.

So spring may have come early to Minnesota, and we wonder what that will mean for the upcoming growing season and the world in general as the climate continues to shift.  But we can use the vulnerabilities of nature to hold onto the remembrance of what it means to dare to live without apologies and full of self worth and gratitude for the chance to be seen.