Monica J. Griffith

Guiding Light Coaching

Here is the neat thing about life – we get a lot of ‘second chances’! We have so many opportunities to ‘Do-Over’ and make the pictures look just exactly as we want to remember.

Now, that is not to say it is easy to refocus; nevertheless, it is possible! I love the way I can just hit the ‘delete’ button if the picture I take is blurry or didn’t capture exactly what I hoped. I don’t know if you remember the good-ole-days when you had to shoot an entire roll of film and then take it to the camera shop, wait a week for it to be developed and then look at what you thought you captured! I remember! And I was so excited when Polaroid came out with the instant developing camera. I thought we had just the best way to take photos. Silly me! Now, I have a ‘smart phone’ that I can instantly see and keep, share or delete.

And, life is a lot like that! When I am paying attention (focused) to what is right before me, I can see if I am doing what is important. More so, I know if I am being who I said I would be! That is really essential to me. When I am living as I intend, that means I am making a difference to those around me. Isn’t it just the best when you know that just by being present to what is meaningful and central in your life, you are making a difference! My intentions are: To be a Masterful Coach, To be a Loving Family Member, To be a Contribution to my Community, To be Spiritually Developing. Who is it that YOU intend to be?

What does it mean to really look (capture) at where I am and see who I am being? For me, it is taking time to pause and breathe and see from the 10,000 ft level. That is, to see not only the trees in the forest, but also the forest itself. What are the feeders that extend elsewhere from me? Where else – or who else – might be impacted as I live my life? Are the words I am using or actions I am taking having the impression and leaving the picture I desire? Will the image I leave behind reflect the high-quality evidence of someone who lived a life of wonder and joy? Check my Life’s Intentions – – is this evidence that I am the best I can be at this moment in time?

In life, we cannot just delete that fuzzy and out of focus picture. Don’t you wish sometimes we could just wave a magic wand and the bad or not so perfect things would just vanish? I know I do! What we can do is really look at those moments – those negatives – and learn from them. That is to shift and develop new or better ways to be. Yes, this takes a bit of thought, energy and self-reflection! And it is time very well invested in who you are willing to be. You know, if you never made a mistake, you would never learn and grow! Remember that each time you fall and then get up is the same as when you fail and then succeed. What if you embrace the negatives as an opening to a new and brighter affirmative? What would that be like!

The best part of life…every moment is a chance to take another shot – to do over! And you never know what is going to be in front of you in that next moment. All we need to do is to be willing to get out of our own way, because most often I have found that I am my own worst critic of the picture I took. I frequently want another chance to do better, to become more clear, to improve on the impression. And, lucky for me (and for you), life presents this opening for us each moment of each day. How great is that!

So, take your best shot – – and know that not only is tomorrow another day, but with every breath you take, you get another chance to ‘do-over’ and instantly see and keep, share or delete.

Are you a ‘list maker’?

I have always been very consistent in making lists of things I need to do. And often, I carry many things over to the next day and so on, until they are no longer things I ‘need’ to do or it’s too late!

One thing I noticed as I was reviewing several of my old To-Do Lists is just what this quote is saying: What really matters in life is rarely on my daily “to-do” list.

I listed things such as: pick up cleaning; get cat food; weed the front yard; call the heating and air guy; pay bills; write an article for the web; schedule pedicure…

How about you? Are you listing tasks that need to be done so life remains in order? Is that really what is important and is completing those activities really going to take to you live the level of life you will love?

I am ready to make a change in my ‘to-do’ list. As of today (no time like now to start a new habit!) for every task I note on my list, I am adding a source of pleasure! For example after my task of ‘get cat food’, I’m adding ‘5-minute dream vacation’; after schedule pedicure my list includes ‘listen to favorite song on Pandora’. I don’t know – what do you think? I am actually pretty excited about the possibilities of what a great day I can experience when my ‘to-do’ list includes things that are just silly and fun and very out of the ordinary!

I am curious about how I will feel at the end of the day when I have checked off so many enjoyable tasks and realize that today – I completed activities that REALLY matter in my life. You know what I mean? Things like taking a moment to delight in the space around me, relaxing and recharging doing something that refreshes me, playing as a child – if even for a moment! I am actually feeling a bit giddy right now, just thinking about adding (and doing) these ‘important’ details!

I know we each have just 24 hours in each day and I also know that some days it seems we are robbed of several hours and apparently accomplish little of what we intend. What will it be like when, at the end of our days on this good earth, when all we have checked off our list is pick up cat food, call the heating and air guy, pay bills…

I don’t want that to be what really mattered to me…… you?

How many times have I asked myself this question? By now, one would think I would know better, because as soon as the thought has formulated in my brain or the words have escaped my mouth – the answer comes. And usually, it is ‘Yes!’ things can and do get worse.

I am certain this happens to others and when I step back and take a look, I see that the ‘worse’ that happened gave me pause to realize I didn’t have it so bad when I was in the midst of complaining or participating in my very own pity-party.

Looking at this in view of recent happenings in one’s personal world as well as the world at large is the intention of the quote on this page: Disasters are diving intervention in disguise. Allow me to share a few thoughts on this phrase.

A personal illustration two of teenage cousins decided they had ‘had enough’ of the restrictions the parents dole out. They planned a get-away to teach their parents a lesson: parents are not in charge! These boys were expected to do household and yard chores, they both had phones, bikes (not old enough to drive yet), all the latest in electronic toys and were fairly unrestricted in terms of where they could go or when they needed to be home. So, after initiating an argument with each of their parents, they implemented their ‘great escape’. Yup, they ran away from home. The disaster here is at least two-fold: the boys felt their world was unfair, too many expectations, not enough freedom; the parents felt the boys were ungrateful for the privileges given, disrespectful in their words and action, unappreciative for their lifestyle. Two families in flux!

It’s interesting that the disaster here is seen as the boys running away (and to alleviate concerns of anyone reading – they are safe and no longer run-away). In reality, the disaster is the precursor to the action. What I mean is this – the emotions of unfair, lack of freedom, expectations, ungratefulness, disrespect and unappreciative – these are the disaster! So much attention and energy is expended on the things we don’t have, that we are blind to that which is right in front of us and the capacity to demonstrate gratitude and appreciation.

You may ask: what is the divine intervention? Some may call it divine intervention, for others it is known as a wake-up call, and it also may be known as that voice inside your head that finally gets your attention! Regardless of what you call it, it is something that causes you to pause and become aware.

Let me take you back to the run-away instance. This voice/feeling, it is the thought-process and actions taken immediately as well as in the aftermath of the action of running away. There is concern and worry for both the boys and their parents. All are concerned about safety, well-being, how long to be gone, what would happen, will the boys be found, will the parents dole out punishment if the boys return home, what are the consequences, what will (or not) change going forward. The list seems endless.

Divine intervention is the boys and parents taking pause, thinking about the reality of the situation and what may have caused things to get to the point of the running away action. Divine intervention is that tap-on-the-shoulder that asks: Hey, what is really going on here? Let’s take a good look at what is really important and how you are acting and/or reacting. It is that slow-motion reality that provides you with the chance to experience a moment of clarity. It is the breathing space that is calm and open. It may be momentary – but what in life isn’t? The important thing is that you look at it and see it for what is true. That you act upon that pause and shift to expose and resolve the underlying concern(s).

What is it that you (in this illustration the boys and parents) are willing to do differently? How will you respond to the divine intervention? What choices and actions will you commit to in order to steer clear of such a disaster in the future? What would it be like to become aware of the tap-on-the-shoulder and respond in advance of the threat rather than know it only after the disaster hits and then react? Are you willing to pause and hear and experience your wisdom before disasters?

Can it get worse? Only if you allow it.

What is divine interaction? It is your Voice of Wisdom aching to be heard.

It may be hard to believe that summer is nearly over. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that soon we will be preparing for fall. The warm summer days, picnics, baseball games and lawn mowing season is quickly fading. I know this to be true, because of what I see at the store. The shelves are filled with pens, crayons, paper, notebooks, rulers and all the required needs for those back to school shoppers. Lunch boxes and thermos bottles (can you believe they still have thermos bottles!) and backpacks scream from every end-cap. I’ve never seen so many boxes of Little Debbie snacks and huge boxes of snack size chips. Yes, it is true – it’s time for that first day of school!

This is really a tough time for kids (of all ages).

There are kids who are just starting kindergarten or who have been promoted to one of the ‘big’ schools or perhaps they have moved and are starting in a new school. For this group, there is almost a giddy anticipation coupled with a nervous excitement of a new and thrilling and scary adventure. It’s as though they want to keep one foot on the familiar and can barely hold back the joy of diving into something new.

And there is the group who are starting a new level, likely at the same school. They look forward to seeing classmates again and wonder how the homework will be and will there be any new kids in class. The routine is familiar and perhaps there is nothing much to look forward to. Unless, of course, now they are at the highest level and get to be the ‘bosses’!

For some kids, they will be repeating last year’s work again. They are likely hopeful no one will recognize them. They may wonder if the teachers will remember if they caused trouble last year! They may be wondering if this time, they will be able to pass, or if they will get the help they need – because they really are smart! Perhaps the good will carry forward and the not-so-good will be wiped clean!

Finally, there are the parents. Some are relieved to hear the school bell sound. Finally, summer break is over and now we can get back into a routine! Some parents will be as nervous as their children – at least for that first full day – full of worry and wonder how their little (or nearly grown one) is doing on his/her first day. What do you think goes through a parent’s mind: Will they fit-in; will they have friends; I wonder if there will be homework; I wonder if I will be able to help my child; do I remember long division; will they eat lunch; did they get enough sleep last night; do they know which bus to get on…The questions seem endless!

What can parents or the adults in a child’s life do to help make this back-to-school ritual a great jumping off point for our children? Oh, there is much to do, and somehow most of it gets done.

What I see that is more important than doing is how we can BE with and for them; that is how we are being in relationship with our kids. Take a moment to reflect on your relationship with your children. What does it ‘look like’ when you are caring, encouraging and kind? How would your child describe when you show-up as honest, hopeful and creative? When do you demonstrate being a parent who is loving, passionate and alive?

What would it be like for you to make a list of how you are being these attributes – then, ask your children to do the same about you? Of course, after you do this for you – do it for them and have them repeat the task for themselves. I promise, this will make very interesting conversation and a thought-provoking foundation as you send them off on the mountains they will climb.

I am the proud mom of two sons. I am also a lover of the game of baseball. When my boys were old enough to join a T-Ball Team, they were on it! I think baseball is a right-of-passage for a young boy. They are ready to put away the toys of babies and step into the shoes (and uniform) of the ‘heroes’ they see on television.

So came the day! My oldest is finally celebrated the birthday that would welcome him to the world of baseball and team. There is absolutely no question in my mind that I was much more excited about him joining the park district T-Ball team than he was! I am blessed that my boys then (and now) try to do everything they can to please their mama!

So, there we were – me and my boys – ready for that day when we showed up to the field, ready to find out who would be the lucky dad to coach my oldest in his first T-Ball team. I was absolutely giddy!

Uniforms consisted of a team tee-shirt, white ball pants, a cap and tennis shoes. Except, of course, my son had cleats! The caps and shirts were distributed as the Team Coaches called names for the boys on their teams. The older boys, no longer playing T-Ball, seemed fairly organized. Tee-Ball could be described in one word: chaos! Team Moms volunteered to bring snacks as the schedule was distributed. The Coaches were busy trying to talk to each boy and the boys were busy kicking dirt, picking weeds/flowers and wanting to know how long they had to be in the hot sun. It was awesome (for me!)!

The boys and I were faithful in attending all the practices and games and cheering the team on! T-Ball was a great way for the boys to learn the game of baseball and teamwork and sticking with a commitment. Another foundational learning for the game of life!
It seems that all too soon, they were ready for the ‘big leagues’ as they called it! On team assignment day, we were now the ‘organized’ group of Moms, Dads and kids. The same excitement filled the air and now I had one in T-Ball and one in the Junior League. I was in absolute heaven! Two boys playing ball. Little did I know, they would be playing on the same day but sometimes at different times on different fields or different parks. Welcome to the world of parental juggling!

All seemed to be going well, we were making all practices and I attended most games – alternating teams when needed. Then one day, my oldest decided he no longer wanted to play. This was in the middle of the short season and I couldn’t understand why he would no longer want to be part of a great team in my favorite sport! After much coaxing, the reason for his sudden desire to quit came out.

“Mom”, he said, “I can’t run fast enough. I hit the ball and they always get me out. I don’t like to run and I’m not fast. It’s not fun when I always get out.”

What a conundrum! He liked the team and loved his coaches, but the game is not fun when you don’t feel you are contributing. What’s a mom to do? I think this may have been my first real experience at being a coach – asking questions to help him discover how to play the game to win. Let me share with you our conversation:

Mom: Son, you are right – it’s not fun when you always get out. I’m not a fast runner either, so I get it. Sometimes, it makes me sad when I can’t get to where I’m going. So, you do hit the ball, right?
Son: Oh, I can hit it. I always hit, I just can’t run. They always get me out.
Mom: Hmmm…so if you can only run so fast – is there anything else you could do to get on base?
Son: Well…I guess I could hit harder! Then, if the ball goes way out in the field, I wouldn’t have to worry about running so fast and I could get to base. Do you think that would work?
Mom: That sounds like a pretty good plan! You are a pretty strong guy, do you think you can hit the ball harder?
Son: Yeah, I’m pretty sure I can. Maybe if I can hit it really hard, I can get to 2nd base! And then, if the next kids hit hard, I can make it home. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Mom: Yes – that would be wonderful. And you know what? I think you’re awesome and that you are figuring it out!
Son: Walks away with a smile and nodding his head. I can see the wheels spinning in his head as he is figuring out how to make this happen.

Now it’s game time. Of course I am on pins and needles. Is he ready? Will the stars align and allow him to get on base? How do I encourage him from the stands without putting more pressure on him? Apparently, he had talked to his coach about his plan because as he approached the batter’s box I heard his (incredible) coach yell: Swing for the fences, kiddo, swing for the fences! What is he talking about? Oh my! I looked way out past the outfielders and saw it – the fences. Is he kidding? Way out there?

CRACK! What was that? Oh my, it was the crack of the bat hitting the ball with such force the sound momentarily silenced the crowd. And then I saw it…the ball soaring out – out- out past the fences! We are all on our feet, cheering, yelling, clapping and (me)tearing up! He did it! Look at him, grinning from ear to ear! Jogging around the bases all alone – home run! And the team, a bench clearing to welcome him home.

He figured it out, he shared his plan with his coach who fully supported him and encouraged him to play the game his way. That is how he played the rest of the season – swinging for the fences!

We are not playing baseball anymore. Now, we are all playing ‘The Game of Life’. How are you playing your game? If you are not enjoying your game, are there adjustments you are willing to make to score your home run? What are you willing to shift? Where will you take aim? Take a look – do you see the fences?