Remembering Ben

Okay I kept waiting for the right words, the best words.  Now months and months later I am heading to Ben Wong’s memorial service and finally I know the words aren’t ever going to be perfect.  That wasn’t our relationship.  But the words can be real and human.  So here’s the piece that I would like to share.  Just a little piece, remembering Ben.

Becoming Human After All

You told me you were going to live forever.
I get it.
Nobody does.
I felt the earth shift a bit the day you passed away
That bedrock I always knew was there
Suddenly gone

You told me you admired how I had picked being human over being special
It wasn’t easy
Special – has perks

Ben, I had this whole piece written while I was running.  This cool use of the lyrics of a song that was playing, it seemed like the perfect way to write a piece for you.

In my mind the story was one of realness, loving and loss.  Now it is jumble of words and pieces that don’t hold together.

Why am I such a better writer while running?

I keep waiting to write something meaningful and powerful about you, Ben
You changed my life
At least I did get to come and say good bye
Just you and me
Well mostly me – I think a lot of you had left already

I do though remember the last two times I saw you
At the birthday party
No words – just looking into your eyes
Had a moment when I wondered if that was enough
Others seemed to stay longer and talk
You & I just smiled and looked into each eyes for a moment or so
Still it was like swimming in the ocean
The depths
The joy
The sparkle
Much life
Though we all knew you were going

Then earlier in the year
Sure you were a bit wobbly
I knew Jock wasn’t to sure dancing was a good idea
Still I saw a child in your eyes
A child wanting to just play, dance and be
I was very grateful for that last dance

Over the years there have been many miles between us
Your life was becoming one much smaller and quieter than mine
I hardly heard form you
Except through others who were over for tea
Or dinner, or something

Not sure why I never made it over often for tea
I did try a couple times
Usually you weren’t doing that well
Company wasn’t invited

Still I never questioned my connection
You had once doubted if I would ever really get that you loved me
At some point I did
That ground never needed to be covered again
Don’t know if you knew I loved you
You didn’t seem to know how many people did
Sure they loved BEN – but not Ben
The human Ben – the man behind the magic
Well I did

I liked that you were a bit of a mother hen, when the place was shutdown and it was just a very small group of us – or Jock off doing Jock things (not often but at times)
You actually seemed so vulnerable and real in those moments
Or when you’d get excited about something – like the big Winnie The Pooh stuffed animal you guys found as a Christmas gift
Or when you convinced me to take a Virginia Satir program
Or the Good Morning Vietnam T-shirt you bought back as a gift from your travel there
Many would have wondered why that t-shirt was so special
But I knew

May be I didn’t do so well at staying in touch
I assumed you’d know how much I loved you by how I lived my life
Taking the messages you offered and transforming the messy, crazy shit
Into something
Something human
Not heroic
Not grand or extraordinary
But simply human
Being human after all
That’s how much I loved you
I had/have the courage to be human after all

The pain
The sadness
The crazy
The cracked
The helpless
The victim
The joy
Ah yes – you helped me see the possibilities that come with being human

But I think I still wanted you to live forever
I wanted to know that bedrock never cracked, never crumbled
Yet you are gone
I am afloat

That which was solid is no more
But some how that which is in my heart remains
Not bedrock – pulsing, moving – loving
Holding on & Letting go
The best of being human after all








BE BRAVE: Reflections from An Emotional Body

CrisMarie with Martha Beck and Adam!
CrisMarie with Martha Beck and Adam!

 I am in my short window of wonder.  Having just returned from an amazing weekend in San Diego, at The Martha Beck Coaching Summit, feeling full from the connections, and wanting to hold on to the warmth and caring that was so visceral in each of the sessions: the dancing, the music, and the MBI team responsible for making it all happen.  I am full of gratitude. Yes, I want to hold on to it, and stay in that memory.

That is so like me as an Emotional Body.  Let’s just say it isn’t easy for me to really let all that loving in, and once I let it in, I can try to hold on a bit too tightly!  See, I am a touch skeptical, and often stay guarded, but not this past weekend.  I came wanting to be open, intending to step into each experience with an open heart and mind, especially as one of the breakout presenters who was invited to share something important in my world to such a willing and curious crowd.

Now, it wasn’t really my idea to present on the Six Body Types.  (That was CrisMarie’s brilliant idea with Jessica Steward nudging!)  It’s a fairly “Woo-Woo” subject.  However, the Six Body Types has been transformational for me.Not only have I understood myself much better, I have been able to use the tools, and the information, to bridge relationships that I know would have been lost without this material — both on a personal level and in my work with clients.

What was most interesting though was how easily people caught on to the information, and were able to recognize themselves and play with our material.In other situations, this information has often created agitation in people new to the language (and dare I say it, the frequency).  Not so at the Martha Beck Summit!

I was profoundly touched by the reception. 

Maybe it has been my own skepticism that has created the veil and made it hard to take this information out.Maybe it was the playful, fun way CrisMarie and I worked at translating the material into movie clips and stories. Maybe it was the great dance playlist we put together to move and shake our nervous energy (click here to hear my favorite: BRAVE!)  Maybe it was the room full of souls looking for, and excited about, finding ways of connecting and expanding to a space beyond the separation of our body minds and physicality.

I know from the other sessions I attended that it wasn’t unique to our own.  No, the weekend was playful, fun and full of a vast river of emotions.  There was magic and science, dance and stillness, joy and sorrow. 

What I liked best was that I didn’t shut down.  I found myself thriving and though revealed, vulnerable, and at times anxious, nervous and scared – I didn’t block my heart.  My heart stayed open, and I discovered many opened heart people around me!!

Maybe it is like that for you or others all the time, but that’s not been my path.  So I was thrilled!  I’d like to stay in this space a while – without attachment – another challenge for Emotional Bodies. 

I’m not sure if the window will stay open – next up, I’m celebrating the love of my life’s birthday and going to a celebration-of-life for one of my mentors, Bennett Wong, a founder of the Haven, who passed away this year.  These events will be filled with lots of emotions and lots of opportunities to toggle between thriving and just surviving – the blessing and curse for an Emotional Body like me!

To keep my heart open, I plan to check Facebook and follow the wonderful posting and sharing that is happening on the MBI Summit page.  However, my real wish is to take all that loving and embody it in all that comes next. 

I know it means having to let go of holding on to what was awesome.  My inner Lilo (Lilo click to see Emotional Body Movie clip) knows though that I won’t forget – no I remember everyone that leaves – however, these days even when the physical bodies are far, far away – the oneness touched is always available!

P.S.  For those reading this that know nothing about the Six Body Types feel free to visit our website and check our online assessment or give us a call. 







Bucket List – Check!

We Made It!
We Made It!

Seven years ago at a workshop in Santa Fe, I met a woman who had learned to ski when she was fifty. I loved hearing her story because she hadn’t ever skied and decided to learn for her fiftieth birthday. She took two weeks off to go and ski every day at a resort. I loved her story, was inspired and intrigued.

Fast forward to 2008, us moving to Whitefish, MT and living with a wondrous ski resort right up the street. I remembered her story and right away wanted to take up skiing. But no. It didn’t happen like that. As the winters went by, there were all sorts of reasons I did not learn. I had knee injury and knee surgery. I was working too much and no time. It was too expensive. On and on. Underlying all the reasons and excuses, I really wasn’t very confident that I would or could learn. Then someone told me about skinning up the mountain and skiing down. It sounded so awesome. As an avid biker, my love is climbing, so this skinning idea was just what I needed. Great exercise and something that didn’t involve lift tickets, fancy ski gear and played to what were my strengths – going uphill!

Now I really wanted to skin up the mountain. But that did mean I had to be able to ski well enough to ski back down. So there were some more stalls in my plan. Until CrisMarie simply stepped in with her Christmas present: a private ski lesson, pre-scheduled for December 26. Suddenly, there was no excuse.

I went, and I was hooked. It wasn’t pretty, but I started to get the basics. I went back and practiced on the beginner slopes, worked my way up to immediate runs and finally the runs from the summit. I was ready to skin up. I called a friend, Traci Stolte, who is a pro at skinning and has one of the most positive attitudes I know and asked if she would take me out for my first skinning experience. She agreed!

The first date set was icy and horrible and we didn’t go. I thought for sure I was going to miss my window as the temperatures warmed up and we were getting busy with work. But I scheduled another opportunity, rented the skins and skis and got my butt to the meeting point.

Now, I will say skinning up that mountain was hard. Like I mentioned, I like biking up mountains, and I imagined it might be similar. But honestly, it was much harder. I got a blisters from the rental boots and was a touch humbled by the speed and quickness of my follow skinners. Traci had invited another newbie skier, Laurie, like me, to join our expedition. I had not problems with that. In truth, I think we helped each other along the way when Traci was easily going up, up, up – we’d take a break and complain about our blisters or share some tidbit about our lives that allowed one of us to catch our breath (usually me, but she graciously said she needed the break as well) and off we’d go, back up the mountain. Yes, I thought about dropping off and just skiing back down. But no, I did not stop. Instead, I humbly acknowledged that this skinning was hard and put one foot (well ski) in front of the other and kept going. I learned and I found my rhythm (which involved various stops along the way). I made it to the summit!

I was thrilled!

That thrill was awesome and lasted minutes. I soon discovered that skiing back down with my longer, heavier skis and tired legs was – well- let’s just say, not the picture of grace I had imagined. Traci and Laurie were great. They would ski down a ways and wait for me when I took a fall or two (okay three) and struggled to get back up. It was so like my life. Not pretty, but determined. Again humbling, but I was also proud of myself. I did it! Up and down!

I felt like a rock star when I took those skis off.

I will hope for a more graceful experience when I do it again. But right now I want to acknowledge my victory and enjoy checking learning to skin and ski off my bucket list.  Thanks Traci, Laurie, Linda (my ski instructor) and pf course CrisMarie who got me that lesson!!


Stepping Out With My “Woo!”

Our Woo Material for The SummitThere are so many things on my To Do List for today.  Writing a post was not one of them, but it just seems like the right thing to do.

Next week we’ll be at the Martha Beck Coaches Summit in San Diego with about 500 other coaches!  I went two years ago and it was an amazing experience.  I don’t even like large crowds of people and especially if I have any inkling that there’s some sort of ‘follow-the guru’ thing happening.  I admit last time I was suspicious.

However, though Martha has been the magnet for many of the folks attending, the magic is that it isn’t really about ‘following’ Martha.  Yes, each coach is grounded in the fundamentals that she teaches.  But, frankly, her style is to lovingly push you out of the nest so that you can find your own set of wings.

So, yes, Martha is present and offers her unique brand of science, wisdom and humor each day.  However, most of the day involves workshops and talks presented by Coaches around how they are living this work.  What sold me last time was both the grounded, solid and quirky nature of Martha and the unique mastery of those presenting who clearly have found their own voice and bodies of work.  It was inspiring!

So inspiring, that we decided to totally shift our own way of working.  We started thrive! inc. in 2002, with our own unique voice and way of working with leaders and teams.  Along the way we took a express highway that did help us develop and grow in the corporate world but may have dampened our own brand and voice.  It was fun riding in the express lane; however, the Summit and our own individual journeys becoming MB coaches (CrisMarie is a Master Coach as well) brought back a yearning to return to our own voice and message.

We have each done the work of many masters.  We have also each integrated and weaved our own unique spin on all we have learned.  Finding our voice over this past year hasn’t always been easy or particularly successful by our express lane measures.  However, it has been so worth it.

This time at the Summit we are presenting.  We decided to offer a workshop in our most “Woo-Woo” material.  I have to admit I wanted to do something that I was more comfortable and confident delivering.  Maybe that is why I am the Certified Coach and CrisMarie is the Master.  She insisted on putting in the Six Body Types as our offering. She was right. Let’s go for the “Woo!”

Building and creating this presentation and material for delivery as been rich.  I realize I often step away from exposing my own “Woo-Woo” nature.  Since I was very young I have had experiences that just didn’t seem to translate well in the mainstream.  I learned to keep that stuff to myself.  What has been the most profound learning from Martha Beck and the tribe is that “Woo” and science can and do mix.  In fact, being the odd duck is actually not just okay – but cool!

I admit, I’m nervous about the Summit.  Well, excited and nervous.  I am looking forward to being with like-minded friends and colleagues.  I am looking forward to learning and participating in the many wonderous offerings.  I am scared silly about stepping out and revealing to a larger audience my own voice and my way of finding resilience in this crazy, cracked world that really isn’t what it appears to be on the surface at all!





Human After All – Sad & Mad

I find myself wanting to be in a circle of my friends.  Instead I am sitting alone, listening to music and watching the snow fall. Tears roll freely as read the many words of loving for Ernie, now gone from this physical world.  I know I wrote over a week ago that I was ready to let him go.  Yet today, learning that he indeed he has moved on – I am very sad.  My heart a bit cracked.   Heart Cracked

And – I am a bit angry.  Angry at crazy, cracked cancer.  That is a big difference between me and Ernie.  As far as I know he was never angry about his cancer.  I was.  Of course I know all the things I should think – it’s an opportunity, it’s an opening and what a wonderful experience of loving for all that were with him who shared and provided so much love.  Indeed all that is there.  But right now I am having a rush of pissed, angry and furious feelings.  Because Ernie was a damn good guy – as his brother put it so beautifully in a note out to folks – “Ernie was the most loved person I know”.  It’s true, since I last wrote about what seemed like his final day, a week unfolded with loved ones by his side (and Cathy’s) and people coming and creating circles of loving, music, tears, laughter and silence, much like the work he loved and so wanted to continue.  So that part is wonderful.

But – why did someone like Ernie have to go so fast.  I am not even going to pretend to answer that.  There is no answer that works or seems anything less than shallow.  I can not stand the, “It must have been his time” or “God has a reason’”  Well, I call BS.  There just is not a right answer to a question like that.  My better higher self does believe in both the physical and non-physical and that as a spirit having a physical experience, we do go back.  Truth is most of this past week I strongly felt and experienced the wondrous, hugh nature of Ernie’s spirit, free from that tight ties of his physical body.  Colorful, expansive and mystical sounds accompanied me throughout my day and I believe many, many others he knew.  I imagine this was his way of giving as many as he could a kiss good-bye.

Yes, some part of me believes all that.  Another part of me is in deeply sad and mad that another dear friend has moved on. Sad that I must say again, good-bye my friend!  .

Looks like the snow has stopped – maybe I’ll head to the mountain.  May be I’ll get a last taste of the flight of Ernie – now high above the gravity and weight of this world.  Love you, Ernie!