Tag Archives: The Haven

Sharing My Whirlwind Relational Journey!

I so want to get in some writing!  There is much processing, shifting and integrating through my being!  Life has been a bit of a whirl wind!

Living Alive Phase

Selfie with Carole from the Phase!

Last Friday around this time Carole Ames and I were having lunch, laughing and unwinding from our Living Alive Phase 1 experience.  The month is always a very special and transformational journey for me.  This past month was no exception.  Having said that, each is unique and offers me many different lessons.

This month I was amazed at the younger people in the circle.  I found myself reminded of my first Phase when I was in my early twenties, trying to find a reason and way to stay alive and on the planet!  The stories of these folks was different but underneath the differences there sure were threads of the same desire to connect, to find purpose and somehow know that in those dark and painful places there’s a way through.

It was inspiring to be a part of the range of ages, careers and life experiences!  So much richness and depth.

Yes, the 26 days is intense and this year due to some additional meetings I only had one day off.  So when I was heading home, I was aware of my fatigue.  But hey, I wasn’t about to let that stop me from jumping in to celebrate my Mom’s 90th birthday.

Mom’s Big 90 Celebration

Mom Waving to the crowd at Blake Island after a Happy Birthday sing-along!

Fortunately I was not the composer or coordinator of all the activities!  That was my sister, Penny and her family.  They were awesome.  Plus, Melissa, my other sister, and her husband Monte, made the Friday evening I missed quite the party at the Northgate Plaza!  I just got the joy of being on the cruise to Blake Island and having some great moments with family.

I know without The Haven and the many lessons I have learned about relating, loving and finding a way to hold multiple storylines, I would never have been there celebrating with my Mom.  I am very grateful!

Speaker Session

Coming home hasn’t really offered much time to unwind.  CrisMarie and I have been wanting step more fully into speaking and had been introduced to an amazing woman, Renee Rogen, who is a speaker and now focuses on mentoring others in the business of speaking.  Renee arrived for a two day intense strategy session just after I got back to Whitefish!

I was very grateful she came to our town and our home.  I also was humbled by all there is to know and learn about speaking!  The two days were great for us.  I believe we have a path and a clear way to engage and make more of our speaking going forward.  I am looking forward to that AND was also grateful that though Renee did encourage to get started, she also suggested not to try to do everything at once!

Taking The Next Speaker Step

Of course, a great opportunity presented itself less than 24 hours after Renee left for me to step up on the stage here in Whitefish as part of a local event S{peck}: The Business of Mountain Living  (this goes to the FB Live feed) I had agreed to be a speaker before I left for Phase and this was going to be one of the few times I was speaking alone.  CrisMarie was already booked for a NYC trip so I thought I’d give it a go.

I had done a little prep with the leadership team while at Haven.  However, I decided to be a bit more personal and vulnerable from the stage after our two day session with Renee.  I was nervous but I am super glad I did it!!!!

My topic:  Business is Personal: The Challenges of Living and Working Well Together in a Mountain Community.  I think I was really speaking to the challenges of living and working well together in any community.

In our world today there is so much suffering, disengagement and apathy from what I believe is compartmentalization and fear of fully bringing all of me to everything I do.  We are so busy trying to do it right, be good, stay positive or create some type of work/life balance – that we don’t show up.  We manage. We let our stories control us. Instead of checking things out and sitting down next to someone who’s different or challenging, we don’t!  We believe our stories.  We miss the chance to share ourselves and to relate!  That’s deadly.

I learned that long ago when I was in my twenties.  The Haven taught me a way to do things differently!  I have been walking that path ever since – not perfectly and not without some additional scars, heartbreaks and the odd two-by-four to get me back to the basics – breath, be real, risk being messy and stay curious about those around me!

So I was happy that last night  I decided to share a few moments from archives.

In so many ways, I believed I had the circle Phase folks with me, my family and my friends.  It was special.

Find Your Mojo in Montana – Up Next!

SkyDancer and Promise Saying Hello!

I have this crazy idea now that I will have a few days of rest and recovery – but really I imagine life is going to keep going at a rapid relational pace!  Find Your Mojo in Montana is kicking off next Thursday and I am getting excited and reconnected with Bobbi and the horses!

Life is good!

Completion!

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Susie’s Unfinished Stuff

When I was young I would spend my summers at camp, which had a wonderful arts and crafts program.  Almost every day I would spend time working on a summer craft project.  I loved the feeling of  working with wood.  I started spoons, forks, a lamp, a duck, a fish, board games – I had such high hopes.  Alas, I believe almost all of my projects ended up in a box of in-completes, like the misfit toys.  I’d start with gusto, but at some point the wood would crack, something would look more promising to start, or I’d simply tire of the struggle and give up.

My memory is that box in corner stayed throughout my many years at camp and was labeled – Susie’s Unfinished Projects!

It’s possible I have dramatized and over-personalized that box of unfinished projects, but I do know that I was one of the primary contributors.

Over the years the memory of that unfinished crafts box, and my success in filling it, has indeed haunted me.  See, I am just not that great at finishing.  I am all about the excitement and possibility of starting and the joy of learning, but I can be a bit weak on crossing the finish line.

So today I am celebrating a completion!  A solid start to finish effort on my part!

At the start of the year I was wrestling with my father’s dying process and all the unfinished business I had with some of the pieces and history of my life.

Over the years, I have done a lot of work in reclaiming my life and have shifted from focusing on the past drama, to now becoming a healthy, thriving person, charting my own destiny.

Still I knew things were resurfacing from the past, during the last few months of my father’s life and  I wanted to see if I was ready to integrate these pieces and feel complete.

I decided to embark on a coaching/counseling project with a highly recommended therapist in my area.

I’ve got to say, I had some fears of explicitly revisiting the past.  I did wonder if I was opening some crazy can of worms that I might wish I had left unfinished.  But I also wanted to discover if I had the resources to stir up the past and in the process resolve some of the reactivity I knew was a big part of my current charm. Okay. I call it charm, but I know some of you reading might have other words for my reactivity!

Well today I sat with my therapist after eight months of consistent work on a series of events from my life that have haunted me, and as we talked, I realized I was complete.  We talked about my intentions in starting the project and I realized I had done what I came to do.

I also had just come home from leading a Come Alive at The Haven in which I had stayed in touch with my joy, curiosity, and love of the work and the people in the room.  I hadn’t gotten impatient, reactive, nor found myself hooked in an old story.  Was everything perfect – of course not – but life isn’t about perfect.

In addition, in the process of my eight month reclaiming project,  I delivered our TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It!,  which was an on-stage opportunity to uncover my past and share it without crumbling.

Earlier today I also finished and published I written piece I am most proud of: How Surfacing Conflict Saved My Life.  For me it was a powerful experience of telling my story and not getting stuck or caught in how it would be received.

So today I walked out of my therapist’s office feeling complete.

As I drove home I remembered that incomplete crafts box and all those unfinished projects.  I thought about other in-completes in my life, like my book or relationships that no longer serve me. Things that I have started, but have not been clean, clear, or successful in crossing the finish line.

Today, I felt differently.

I am grateful for the journey and for my therapist’s reflection to me that my work with her is complete.

Wow!

So today I am celebrating!  It’s like taking a few of those incomplete projects out of the art box, finishing them, and placing placing them on the mantel, recognizing indeed they are done and are works of art – as is my life!

Living with the “Ouch”

Summer in Montana is awesome!!  Yes, it has finally stopped raining and the sun is a consistent part of the day!!  However, that wasn’t the intended storyline for this post.

No, what I wanted to write about was the challenge of standing forth.  In the past week, we have finally launched out new website, www. thriveinc.com, became finalist for a speaking event which now involves others voting and we stepped in for the running for another event and did not get picked.  I find myself feeling a bit like I did in elementary school at recess when teams were being picked.  “Pick me, Pick me!”  I imagine there are folks out there that really don’t doubt themselves.  If that’s you, I am sure this post isn’t going to hold your interest.

I pick you, I don't pick you
I pick you, I don’t pick you

Me – I doubt myself.  Though I can and have many times boldly stepped onto the stage and a number of times been knocked right back down.  In fifth grade I ran for president of student council.  I lost horribly even my teacher felt badly for me.  Still I had stepped up.  That’s sort of what I tell myself whenever I get knocked down.  I love the line, “It’s not how you fall, but how you rise that counts!”  However, the part I don’t often acknowledge is the part that feels the pain.  The sting that comes when I don’t get picked.

It’s true spending too much time there is not helpful.  However, not even taking a moment to say – “ouch” – well that has a cost as well.

I wonder how others deal with rejection.  Like I said, I tend to give myself a pep talk and move on.  I am getting better at providing some extra time for the part of me that needs to say’ “ouch” and cry.  (I hate crying – but most admit I do! – please don’t tell anyone).

I am a true believer in feedback – all kinds of feedback. Now having said that, I am also someone who reads the negative stuff more than once and can get stuck there.  I do my best to take the pieces that fit and integrate the information into the bigger picture.  Sometimes that works and sometimes all I see is the red lines in the edited story, the negative comments from the survey monkey or that someone thought I was too loud, angry or reactive.  (yes, I do have my favorites – those words I see or hear amplified – even though they are rarely any louder than any other comment)

I am learning that toughing it out and pretending none of that stuff bothers me is not so effective.  Usually, if I give that part of me that doubts and feels hurt or sad a bit of space to cry or pull in, I am quicker to come back, quicker to step back up for the next opportunity.

My mentor, Ben Wong, one of the founders of The Haven Institute, once told me, “Don’t wait for the fear or pain to pass, find one person who knows you are scared and understands the pain, then step out on the stage and lead.”  I know those words have taken me to many places and stages.  I do know I have that someone in my corner.  Still I was hoping as I got older some of that doubt, fear and pain would ease up.  HA!!!  However, as I step out further and continue to speak my truth and use my voice, I have yet to overcome that inner self-doubt.  No, it doesn’t stop me, but sometimes I do get griped by how strong those voices can scream.

Again, I would love to hear from others.  How do you deal with those moments when your confidence is shaken?  Let me know.  I am committed to standing forth and I also want resources for those moments when everything in me wants to run away and hide!

 

 

 

Focusing Through My Fears

We are about to launch our new thrive! website! (here’s the old one, stay tuned!) Yes, this is a project that has taken six months. (Well… may be seven).  I am also launching myself out in the world as a Martha Beck Certified Coach. Plus, there’s my summer of stepping out in the Ladies Golf League, doing and sharing my personal writing, and my latest commitment to drop my comfort foods of chips and beer (well at least for a few weeks!).

Something in me is scared!
I’m Scared!

With all the new activities and the revealing of more of myself, I find myself slightly thrilled and slightly terrified.  The website is a big deal. Because instead of simply marketing ourselves as business consultants, we are stepping out aligned with our own model of Whole Person + Whole Team = Great Results.  For us it has been a way of living but not a way of marketing.

For years now we have been business consultants who know that the best work gets done when people bring more of themselves fully to whatever it is they are doing.  We are personal and business gets done!  For years we have also been leading programs up at The Haven, for individuals and couples wishing to enrich their lives and their relationships, meaning bringing more of who they are to everything they do!  Now we are integrating our worlds in our marketing.

We know that is generally not the business model.  But we believe it is time that changes!

Of course, that can be a terrifying step to take.  What if our clients don’t agree?  What if we don’t succeed at creating a virtual presence as relational health experts?  What if people don’t like our new look and feel?  What if..? What if..?

My mind can run through lots of worse case scenarios and left to it’s own free play, I am very likely to stall and slip into despair before anyone even has a chance to say they don’t like me, us, the website or whatever.

Instead, I am trying to not let my mind run the show.  I have been practicing Focusing, a way of working with the various parts of myself.  Focusing is practice that CrisMarie uses regularly in her coaching and has been teaching me.  She hasn’t been marketing herself as a coach in Focusing because something in her is afraid. (So I am marketing her here! – Check her website out for her summer special!)

In Focusing the invitation is to realize that whatever feelings or thoughts I might be having are simply – something in me –  something in me feels scared, thrilled, afraid of failing etc…  Not all of me.  Focusing is also about allowing that something to have a voice, space, though the key lies in allowing the felt sense.  Felt sense drops me into my body not simply my mind.  Focusing is all about accepting whatever is going on, yet not getting overly identified with any one part.  So not separating or over-identifying.  It is a very powerful way of working with myself, and yet, quite simple.  The act of saying “something in me is terrified” is totally different than “I am terrified.” Try it for yourself, right now, and see how it feels inside.

In this period of lot’s of newness, I am greatly appreciating finding tools that support me in discovering new ways of working with myself, accepting myself, all of myself.  There is indeed something wonderful about stepping out of my old skin that no longer fits or feels right.  However, it isn’t easy waiting and allowing the new skin or new way to emerge.  Still, as I mentioned a part of me is thrilled to have so much happening! And a part of me is scared!  And there is even more of me that has yet to speak up and come forward — that is until now, as I simply allow and accept ALL of me!!

Home, Sweet Home

Home, sweet home.  I have been away since April 7.  Most of my time away was up at The Haven leading a Come Alive, followed by Couples Alive I & Couples Alive II.  It was a very full stretch.  Of course, I loved the work and the wonderful people I had the chance to meet and work with.  I am very fortunate that I get to do work I love.  We finished off the trip with a two day corporate client event down in Portland.

Couples Alive & On the Edge!
Here are just a few of the great couples having some fun!

There were many moments where I had some great ideas and/or experiences I wanted to share.  However, there wasn’t much free time so the imagined blog post were never completed. Now home, I have the time but not quite as inspired!

Currently, the biggest thing on my mind is my desire to create community and connections for myself here in Whitefish.  See, I found myself thinking about moving, and when I mentioned this to CrisMarie, she wisely pointed out that my solution might not really be solving my underlying dissatisfaction.  In the past six months I have been living on Gabriola Island BC more than I have been at home. Prior to that six month period there were some key changes in my connections here.  We finished our Masters program at Jwalan Muktika School for Illumination (JMSI) my term on the JMSI Board ended, my favorite hangout The Green Tea House closed, and we had a major break with some of our closest friends here in Whitefish.  Suddenly, Whitefish, though gorgeous and quite wonderful, seems more like a tourist stop than home.

After getting the first dose of wisdom from CrisMarie, she let that settle and delivered the second bit of input. Though she thought I thrived while engaged in a community, she didn’t think I was all that good at creating one.  Again, the feedback stung but had a lot of truth in it.  When I moved to Seattle, I did struggle to create the connections I wanted.  Mostly, I blamed that on traffic and too many choices.  Looking back more closely at my patterns, I noticed that I am great at jumping into groups and structures already in place, but may not be so great at building those connections myself.

So home again and this time without any long periods away for a while, I am hoping to break through and build the community I want here.  I know there are lots of possibilities. My first step is Whitefish Ladies Golf Night.  There are six of us who are game for being part of a team.  We play once a week on Tuesday evening.  I am not a great golfer, but the team agreed, this was for fun and connecting.  It’s okay if we lose or have big handicaps!

I would also like to start a monthly Body, Breath and Energy evening or Relational Health night in the Flathead Valley, bringing a bit of The Haven to Whitefish.  Of course, that will involve some marketing and may be more than I am up for.  Still, I would love to find some ways to do what I love right here at home.  Home, Sweet Home

I was happy to land back here in Montana.  Loved sleeping in my own bed and picking up Sooke, our most amazing dog.  Indeed, home is sweet. I just want to put a bit more effort into making it even better.  I’ll keep you posted along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Richness in Couples Alive!

We are preparing to lead the next Couples Alive I & II, April 15-19 and April 19-23.  These programs are part of the Couples Alive Series that is offered up at The Haven.  We love leading these programs!! One, because we get to work together and two, because we can deeply engage with people who share our passion for relating, loving and living with a partner, friend and lover on this human experience journey.

In preparation for the Couples Alive I:  Foundations – Communication & Boundaries, I received a call from someone who was considering the program.  They shared that as individuals and a couple, they were deeply skilled in psychology and relationship skills and were wondering if this Foundation program would be the best choice.  The easy answer was to simply say it was required.  (Which is true – but I am never fond of getting a ‘rule’ thrown back at me. So I wanted a better response.)

When we were designing this series as a three couple team, CrisMarie & I, were quick to volunteer to take all of the series as participants when each program, I, II and III was launched.  We wanted to fully emerge ourselves in the material both as a way to prepare for leading and also to test our theory that the models and material is powerful and useful for couples at all stages of relationship.

Indeed, when we took each of the programs, we had no problem using the tools and experiences offered to explore the landscape of our relationship.  Though I have close to 30 years of experience teaching the communication model, I always find rich new depth in applying it to my own world and relationship.  That one model alone is the best tool I know for peeling back the layers of my life and bridging the gap between my world view and that of another.  Besides there really isn’t ever an end or finish-line when it comes to intimacy.  I know I am always evolving, involving, shifting and sticking and there’s enough discovery there for a lifetime.  As a couple there’s infinite possibility.

I also reflected on the couples who had been with us in the Couples Alive I, Foundations that we have led.  Again, I was struck by the variety and diversity.  We have had newlyweds to couples married for over 40 plus years. We have had same-sex, heterosexual, monogamous and poly-amorous couples all in the same group.  We have had couples who were thinking of separating, who live a part and one couple, that was separated but wanted to try again.  Yes, there has been an amazing scope and range in the couples who have been in the Couples Alive I, Foundations program.

It works because we designed it so that the couple gets to work on their issues, whatever they may be. Concepts and models are introduced (or refreshed). Then the truly rich possibilities come through applying these ideas within the container of each unique couple. The models are simple, universal and deep. They can be utilized at any stage in the life-cycle of a couple: from romance to power-struggle through to co-creation, over and over again.

Add to that, the opportunity for couples to learn from and share with other couples and the possibilities are endless. One of the richest parts of the series is watching couples learn and grow through simply knowing they are not alone, the the couple journey is really not a formula. It’s alive, organic and riddled with highs, lows and status quos.  Sometimes, the best learning is simply that there isn’t really something wrong!

Yes, the Couples Alive I is called Foundations but it isn’t simply for those Couples just starting the journey. Foundations are worth exploring anytime.  Come and join us!!

 

 

 

Leap of Faith

My word for the year is a phrase, “Leap of Faith”.  I was going to simply stick with the plan, one word for the year.  At first I thought Leap – however, that did not quite fit.  Faith wasn’t quite right either.  Then I saw this picture that I bought earlier in 2012 while taking Sooke to the vet.  I love it.  There’s the elder duck leading the way out of the nest up in a tree and then the little ones, look out and then finally, leap.  Their wings seem so small and incapable of flight.  Yet, there they go!

It's time to fly!!
It’s time to fly!!

Sometimes I feel like those little ducks.  Yet, I am much closer, may be even older than the mother duck pushing the babes out of the nest.  If I reflect on my life as it is now, I do see both, and in many ways both are taking a Leap of Faith.  Sure, the more physical evidence of the leap is seen in the baby ducks.  However, that mom, likely has some inner angst about what is about to happen and must have tremendous faith to step out of the way.  I relate to both.

This year we plan to re-launch Thrive!.  This in many ways will be a Leap of Faith.  We intend to bring our whole selves to this new business.  This means we no longer want to have our lives compartmentalized.  In the past, we had our corporate presence and we had our various more personal pursuits.  The revitalized Thrive! will be designed to integrate both.  We plan to maintain our work with leaders, teams and organizations, and we also will include our strong belief that business is personal.  That the corporate world would greatly benefit from embracing a whole person/whole team approach.  In many ways this concept is really mother bird speaking.  We know this concept is a mature and vital path that works.  We have been embracing it ourselves for years and have built a powerful partnership that continues to ignite and sustain our health, wealth and relationship.

The baby duck part of the leap is simply being willing to step out fully as who we each are and who we are together.  Last year we started leading the Couples Alive Series couples programs up at The Haven.  The Haven Institute has always been like a safe nest where I can learn and develop.  So it was easy to step into leading together.  We didn’t question out value or wonder about being accepted.  We simply brought all we have learned through being together for over twelve years and assumed if we were open, real and curious we had lots to offer any couple – same sex or not.

Now we want to be more transparent in who we are out in the bigger world, to take the leap of faith and trust that we can fly. Sure, may be not everyone will like discovering we are not simply a business partnership.  However, I believe until now our biggest doubters have been ourselves.

Aside from the work transition and re-launching, I am also leaping into the world of writing.  I have been writing for years.  It has been my path for integrating and revealing to myself my inner world.  More recently I have stepped further out.  Through my blog and writing for 406 Magazine.  Yet I don’t think of myself as a writer.  I don’t fully commit to that path.  This year I am making the leap.  I have signed up for a kick-off workshop with writers I know will challenge and encourage me to go deeper and broader.

So my phrase, Leap of Faith, fits for me.  I am both mature and quite young at what I am jumping into.  I have a solid foundation that I can count on and I am ready for new ground and possibilities.

Though what intrigues me most is the space between the young ducks just launching themselves out of the tree and the older duck giving the push.  That space is where faith becomes something beyond leaping into the vast unknown or holding faith in that which is known for someone to step into.  The space is yet another aspect to leap of faith.  I believe it is that middle ground.  I must leap.  My wings are not young and new – my wings are scarred and older.  I have known the pain of crashing into the ground and failing to fly.  Yet I must still step from the tree and take the leap.  Knowing I have the heart and courage of being both young and old.

So I am thrilled to take the a leap of faith into 2013.

Susan Clarke is a long standing faculty member at The Haven Institute. She leads The Living Alive Phase I, with Carole Ames starting Feb 13 – Mar 10, 2013 and Come Alive April 7-12, 2013, and with CrisMarie Campbell: Come Alive Oct 13-18, 2013; and Couples Alive I – Foundation, Communication and Boundaries, April 15-19, 2013 and Couples Alive II – Edge, Igniting Passion & Aliveness April 19-23, 2013.

 

The Island of MisFit Toys & Finding Your Own Special Light!

Of course, almost everyone has heard of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. Rudolph became famous one snowy Christmas Eve night, when he fully discovered his own unique light! Was a night when normal was simply not good enough, and Rudolph’s nose shone ever so bright!

T’was Santa that called him from that land of misfit toys and made him a hero for all girls and boys.

Hero of MisFits!!

Love the story!

Many assume that the North Pole, Santa and flying reindeer are simply a fantasy designed to entertain children. However, I do believe in the Land of MisFit Toys  – of that I know for sure. There is at least one regional hub that sits in the north. The Haven they call it, down here, of course.

I know this place exist because I happen to be one of those misfit toys that found my way there. Growing up I was always a bit of a misfit. I was too loud, too intense, or always too something. I struggled in school, wasn’t able to spell or read or be cool! Use to get teased and called funny names. Indeed, found it hard to play all the games. Yes, I could relate to Rudolph. I managed. I found ways to fit it and just figured some day I would either find a way to be normal or just be ok being me. I found some interesting ways to explain my differences, and looking back think I was quite creative. Still, there was always this loneliness and sense of not fitting in.

Then one rainy northwest day, I found myself at The Haven. T’was Ben that came to say, “Susan with your odd and interesting way – won’t you come to The Haven and play?” Well, I never really “saved Christmas” or anything that awesome. But I did take my odd and interesting way up north to the island where misfit toys find their way. There I discovered that misfit was simply another word for unique and different. I also learned that it might just be easier to stop trying so hard to fit in or convince others I was okay. That a little acceptance and compassion on my part would go a very, very long way.

You see it’s not about changing me or the world. No, it’s really about seeing what’s already there.There’s really is no normal or best way to be. There simply is you and there simply is me. If we could just get that different is cool. It really doesn’t mean we get kicked out of school. I think if that was the message we shared, there be no real reason to bicker and scream. No, then we could simply enjoy being on the team.

So this holiday time I strongly suggest: Don’t fight to be normal or simply exist. Remember the true spirit of Rudolph and the land he came from – it’s not about presents and being just right. It’s more about finding your own special light and shining it bright!!

It’s All About Acting Natural!!

Tomorrow I’ll be working with a group of company presidents with the intention of helping them align and develop a more collaborative work process. This is basically the focus of all the work I do. Yet this trip feels quite different. For one, CrisMarie, my usual partner is staying home. She is opening in a show this week called, Looking, a topic for a later post. This trip, I am going solo. Actually that is not true. I will be working with another of Table Group Principal Consultant. I am not alone.

However, for me this is very different. For one reason, I often rely on CrisMarie to take the lead in speaking. She is dynamic, efficient and very good at both presenting and getting material up on flip charts. My job is usually to come in with some stories and examples that are relevant and helpful in making sure the concepts and model lands well on the audience. However, this trip I am the lead. I have to do what I think she is brilliant at doing.

So I have been prepping. However, it wasn’t until I dropped in at the last minute to an awesome program, Act Natural, that I really got what I need to be focusing on. I was prepping to ‘be like CrisMarie’ or like Pat (Lencioni) the author of the books we are working to help teams implement. Yes, I was trying to get up to speed on just how CrisMarie does the models. Of course I was failing! I am not CrisMarie.

So last week in a moment panic, I turned to The Haven Institute program list and saw that Act Natural was happening. I love Jane Geesman and Sara Lucht. They are two of the funniest, most dynamic and talented women I know and I figured why not have a few laughs and possibly get some help in how to act more like me, not CrisMarie.

Of course I wasn’t really confident or expecting that the weekend was going to make this trip or presentation all that much better. But I did think may be I could get some tips and if nothing else enjoy a weekend not focusing on succeeding or failing in the upcoming event.

Well, now sitting on my flight to the client site. I believe I do have some great techniques that will help me tomorrow. Even more important, I am clear about my objective. Before I did think it was about doing what CrisMarie usually does well. Seriously though, that would have never worked. No – it is about connecting to this group of leaders and sharing some material I believe can transform they way they do their business. I do honestly believe that. I do know my material and I believe in it. I also know that my style may not be quite like CrisMarie’s. That’s okay.

I did of course do I number of things I think CrisMare does that makes her more effective. I practiced. I asked some friends to listen to me and did the talk while writing on the flipcharts. (a few times!) I also made up some notes. I was going to listen to Pat’s version of presenting but neither the webinar or the DVD seems to be working on my computer. May be that is just perfect. I am not Pat either!

So Act Natural, was fun and on a deeper level I really got in touch with how important it is to be clear about my objective, to connect to the emotional need I am trying to meet or communicate. If I have that down and I am willing to stay present, relax, be self-aware, trust my knowing of the material and remember the others in the room – I will be okay.

This isn’t about me having an awesome performance. No this is about me connecting and communicating a message to a room of folks who want to work well together. That is what I need to remember. They know their business and I do know a lot about how to help people work through their differences and messiness. That combination is quite powerful and as long as I keep that as my focus I think I will be fine.

Plus, if I falter. Well I am going to remember what Jane Geesman shared about Jack Lemon. Apparently the only parts he ever took were the one’s he was most afraid of doing. The scripts and the roles that seemed far from his comfort zone. He would take them and do what it took to be fully prepared and then show up! So tomorrow I will be like Jack. I took the part I am most afraid of and I prepared. Tomorrow I will fully commit to the show and my part. That is all I can do!!

I Remember. Come Alive, Rocks!

I just finally watched the new Come Alive video on The Haven website. I thought it was awesome. I wanted to find a way to share it with everyone who has ever asked me, “What is it you do at The Haven?”

Yes, I have taken the Come Alive journey many times. Twice as a participant and countless times as a leader during the last twenty two years.

I still remember my first Come Alive. I came with my sister, Penny. I thought I was dying. I had been given three months to live. My doctors were not too happy when I announced I was going across the country to take a five day program called Come Alive. They thought that was a waste. Of course, for me, I had nothing to loss. So I went.

I believe those five days turned my life around. I was so inspired by the leaders – their caring – their open, honest way of being with people. They were not trying to fix me or others, but simply listening, supporting and modeling vulnerability, curiosity and faith. I wanted what I was witnessing. I wanted that more than I wanted to cure cancer. I wanted to learn to relate with that level of authenticity and alive-ness even if it only lasted three months.

I was encouraged to breathe every day. Jock was often dropping by to offer acupuncture. His visits were short, frequent and just the right amount for me to gradually open up to what was happening. I witnessed people sharing a depth of feeling and vulnerability I had never seen before. Of course, I had moments where I totally doubted the process, even got angry about the fact that I was just getting this now with only a short time to live. The beauty of the program was that I traveled to so many places through listening to different stories than my own and never once thought I had to change or be different. I was simply invited to be me and to be curious about how I had gotten to where I was – not as a victim but as a response-able person. It was exciting to have people not feel sorry for me but instead hold me as able. They believed in me and with that invitation I came alive!

I didn’t really remember the models. But I did remember Jock’s tears, as far as I knew, no one had ever cried with me. Here was this doctor with big salty tears running down his cheek. This gave me the permission I needed to cry as well. We did this together, and I will never forget what that felt like. I remember the honesty and warmth of the group as each person revealed some aspect of their life that was raw and new to them. We each held an open space for whatever someone needed or wanted to explore.

Yes, I remember. That first five day program turned my life around, and I have never gone back to the lonely place I knew before arriving on Gabriola at The Haven. So I will gladly share this video and hope it goes viral. There is place, and it is worth visiting. Pass this on!!

Here’s the link to the new Come Alive video!!

Susan Clarke