Provision #849: Already a Winner

Laser Provision

It’s hard to define fully the concept of mindfulness, but one thing is clear: it involves the complete suspension of judgment as one pays full attention to what is happening in the present moment. When we can do that, when we can attend to what is happening in the here and now without evaluating as to whether or not it is right or wrong, then we are already winners in the game of life. Want to learn how to bring that spirit into your way of being? Read on!

LifeTrek Provision

As I wrote in Provision #841, What Mindfulness Means, there are different ways to understand the concept of mindfulness. It can mean paying attention to the mundane things in life just as well as the extraordinary. It can mean slowing down just as well as getting lost in the run. It can mean being careful in what we say and do just as well as being daring. It can mean suspending judgment just as well as standing up for justice, like Martin Luther King, Jr.. There are, indeed, many facets and dimensions to the concept of mindfulness.

One of the more interesting and uplifting aspects, if you ask me, is the way in which mindfulness has no objective other than mindfulness. It is neither a means to an end nor an end to a means. It doesn’t seek to get anything other than what it already has, namely, mindfulness. In that sense, then, mindfulness presents everyone with the opportunity claim our status as “winners”. We don’t have to accumulate or accomplish anything else to get to that point. We just have to notice and appreciate all that is around us.

I love the double meaning of the word “appreciate”. It is well expressed by one of my favorite Appreciative Inquiry expressions: what we appreciate appreciates. In other words, the things we value most – the things that make a positive contribution in life – increase in value each and every time we recognize and claim their value. In this sense, then, appreciation is a virtuous cycle (in contrast to vicious cycles). It is good for us as well as for all everyone around us. It ‘s good for the spirit, both individually and collectively.

On one level, everyone knows this. Who doesn’t enjoy being appreciated? On another level, appreciation is an elusive notion both to understand and to live out. It’s tough to come from a place of appreciation when we are in the midst of the hardships, difficulties, and shortcomings in life. That’s when most of us tend to come from a place of depreciation: we complain about what’s going on, we express negative feelings and opinions about what is going on, and, if the going is tough enough, we may even give up as though we were losers at the game of life.

That’s where the simple act of waking up in the morning, with at least some measure of orientation and purpose, makes each of us already a winner. We don’t have to conquer the world. We don’t have to succeed according to the standards of the world in terms, for example, of wealth, power, and fame. We just have to wake up with our mind staid on who we are and what we are about.

Although you may not resonate spiritually with the following example that illustrates this point, I will share one such experience for me. When I was the founding pastor of a low-income church in Chicago, from 1979 into the early 1990s, we used to sing a simple chorus and it meant a lot. People who had little to nothing at all in material terms would stand up in that church on Sunday morning and sing, with heartfelt emotion, how thankful they were that they “woke up this morning with their mind stayed on Jesus”.

That chorus, both for them and for me, took on multiple dimensions. For one, it is always a gift to wake up in the morning. That can never be taken for granted and it is something always worth appreciating, even when times are tough. Being alive is a gift, whether we are struggling or sitting on top of the world. I know. For years I thought of the world as my playground. My health was good, I was doing good work, I had good leisure pursuits, and I was blessed with a good family. What more could a person ask for?

But when all that changed, other than my good family, I had to find new ways to claim and appreciate the sense of being already a winner. And one of the ways I have done that is by recognizing simply that waking up at all represents a form of “winning”. It’s one thing to live a long life and then to pass away. That’s the natural course of things. But to die in the prime of life? That’s hard on everyone. My family and friends keep telling me that they are glad I am still around. That was in question early on in my trauma, so I am quite mindful of and thankful for winning the gift of life for at least a few more years.

I am even more thankful that I woke up in some semblance of my right my mind. Apart from that, were I to have woken up “mind-less”, in other words,  there would have been no possibility for “mind-fulness”. But I woke up with the gift of being still myself. Perhaps you have noticed that when you read these Provisions. The perspective and writing still comes from and sounds like me. My core values and way of putting them out in the world have not changed. If anything, those values and expressions have become more aligned with each other. My family and friends notice and confirm this. In some respects, they “like” me better now and find me “easier” to be around. Given what I’ve been through, the gift of waking up, especially waking up with an even sweeter spirit, makes me already a winner. I am thankful for that as well.

But one doesn’t have to survive a trauma to find ways in which we are already winners. if we look around and pay attention, and if we let go of the various definitions of winning according to the standards of the world, we can lean into that awareness. We can create and claim our own definition when we take the time as well as the vantage point to do so. I know what a difference that has made for me and I believe that can make quite a difference for you as well. Why not give it a try? You are, after all, already a winner.

Coaching Inquiries: What would it take for you to release any negative images you may hold about yourself and to claim yourself as already a winner? How could you make that shift and who could assist you to do so? What not find that friend, partner, or coach and do so today?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click Here.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.


What a special story about your UPS driver. Talk about someone who pays mindfully pays attention to and cares about every day life! That’s clearly your stance and practice. Thanks for sharing one small way in which you do that.


Thanks for all the work and effort you put into your weekly email newsletters. I look forward to receiving them and I read them every week. They really do live up to their name: they are valuable provisions on the trek of life.


Thank you, thank you, thank you. I receive so much from who you are and what you offer to the world. Keep up the good work! 


May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #848: Beep Beep

Laser Provision

Whenever our UPS driver drops off a package, he beeps his horn before he leaves his truck to bring the package to the door. Not after. Before. Two short beeps. Beep beep. He and I have a relationship. He knows that if I am home I will come to the door and we will have a brief conversation. The man cares. He knows what I’ve been through and he pays attention. In his own way, President Jimmy Carter did that as well with Vietnam War draft dodgers. Read on to find out how and why.

LifeTrek Provision

Many people do not know that the U.S. Constitution grants the President virtually unlimited power to grant pardons. Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 states: “The President…shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” By virtue of the Constitution, this power is one of the least limited of all the powers of the office of President. If the President wants to grant someone a pardon, the President can grant someone a pardon.

Just to be clear, a pardon is not the same thing as a reprieve. A reprieve is the commutation or lessening of a sentence already imposed that does not affect the legal guilt of a person. The person is still guilty as determined in a court of law. A pardon, however, completely wipes out the legal effects of a conviction. A pardon can be issued from the time an offense is committed, and can even be issued after the full sentence has been served. It cannot, however, be granted before an offense has been committed, which would give the President the power to waive the laws.

The power to pardon was granted, as it was being drafted and ratified, after Charles Pinckney of South Carolina, elected to the Continental Congress (1777-78), proposed that U.S. Presidents be granted the same power to pardon as British monarchs. There was debate, of course, but, in the end, it was approved. The point? As Alexander Hamilton, another “founding father” of the United States, wrote in  The Federalist No. 74, the point was to grant the chief executive the power to mitigate the harsh justice of the criminal code with “the benign power of pardoning”.

It may surprise you to learn that virtually every U.S. President has exercised this power and that there have been approximately 20,000 pardons or clemencies issued during the 20th century alone. A petition is made and Presidents have to mindfully decide what to do. It is their power to wipe the slate clean, in a least one sense of the word, and they have to do so for their own good reasons. That means they have to pay attention to the details and weigh the merits of every case. They have to pay attention.

One of the most controversial of all presidential pardon was the one issued by President Jimmy Carter on January 21, 1977 to Vietnam War draft dodgers who escaped to Canada. And he issued it the day after his inauguration. In reflecting on his Presidency, he described that act as one of the most controversial things he ever did as President. But he knew where he stood. He was paying attention. And he acted accordingly.

He felt so strongly about the issue that he issued the pardon before he ever began to walk down toward the Oval Office. “I knew I was going to do it,” he noted in his memoirs. “A lot of people were families of those men who went to Canada and they wanted (their sons) to come back home. So I just issued a blanket pardon for them. I got some criticism, obviously, because a lot of folks thought the draft dodgers should be executed for treason and so forth.” But that was not the way of his mind.

His pardon was no small deal. An estimated 210,000 men were accused of draft violations during the Vietnam War, and about 25,000 of them were indicted. Many never registered for the draft at all. Tens of thousands of Americans left the country during the Vietnam War, most of them to Canada, although no one knows the exact number — Canadian officials didn’t ask immigrants about their draft status or keep records. Others fled to Mexico, or Sweden, or went underground in the United States. Some left after their draft numbers came up, some preempted the draft and left, and still others were students exempt from the draft but who left as a symbol of opposition to the war.

The pardon meant that the United States could not prosecute those who hadn’t registered or those who had unlawfully resisted the draft. However, the government did not pardon those who had deserted or been dishonorably discharged, or protesters who had engaged in any violence. Carter’s pardon was criticized from both directions. Many people, including veterans’ groups, were dismayed that draft dodgers wouldn’t be fully punished. Civil liberties groups wanted to see deserters given full reprieve.

Despite the pardon, thousands of draft dodgers remained in Canada. They went on to become architects, lawyers, musicians, professors, reporters, and even officials in the Canadian government. In the 1970s, a senior aide to Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau hired a draft dodger for a top cabinet position, and felt no need to mention that information to the Prime Minister. The aide said: “He was cleared by security, he had Canadian citizenship by then, and he had not committed any Canadian crime.”

One famous draft dodger was jazz musician Bill King. During the Vietnam War, he was living in New York and working as the music director for Janis Joplin’s band. Four days after getting married, his draft number was called. He reported for duty on a day of national anti-war protests, so when he showed up at Fort Dix in New Jersey, everyone was on high alert. Twice the military police pulled King over and hassled him for having too much facial hair. Those were different times as to what attributes would disqualify a person for military service.

Bill King was scheduled to leave on a 5 a.m. flight for Saigon, but the barracks on the base were full so that the police decided to let his wife spend the night with him in a separate building. King decided that night to leave for Canada. He and his wife were smuggled out of the base under blankets by a sympathetic young man, and from there they hitchhiked to Canada. King went on to work with many of the leading rock and jazz musicians of his day, publish the international magazine “The Jazz Report”, and serve as artistic director for the Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival.

All this hullabaloo during the Vietnam War had another constitutional ramification. When the Constitution was written, the government was granted the right to draft American men into the army at the age of 18, but they couldn’t vote until they were 21. For decades, this imbalance had been a rallying cry for those who supported lowering the voting age, but nothing much happened until the Vietnam era, when anti-war marches were filled with the slogan: “Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote!” In 1971, as a result of these marches and protests and with a clear recognition of this imbalance, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution lowered the voting age to 18.

Mindfulness requires that we pay attention to such things, both big and little. Whether it’s the honking of a caring and compassionate UPS driver or the actions of a U.S. President, mindfulness requires that we pay attention both to what is going on in our environment and to our own values. From there, it is up to us to act accordingly.

Coaching Inquiries: What is going on in your environment? What things do you notice that support your values? What things contradict your values? How could you pay more attention to those things so as to feel the support and to stand your ground? In what ways would such mindfulness make you proud to be alive?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click Here.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.


Every now and then I read some of your work. I think about all you have been through since your event in life, and the things it is teaching you, and all of us. I wish I had a lot of time to tell you all that has occurred since you were coaching me some 10+ years ago. But here it is in a nutshell:

My wife works in the Air Force and, as far as war goes, even though I am a similar mindset as you, and even though what our country has engaged in is not just at all in my mind, and even though I now understand more more about the ways and reasons wars have come about – ways that simply make me sick – I stand with my wife and go where she goes.

I have matured, put things in perspective and simply do what I can to share the good, and push aside the bad. It is a daily discipline. I hope others do the same. Thanks, again, for your writing and work.  


May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #847: Time to Stand Still

Laser Provision

I have always enjoyed getting lost in projects. The more complicated and challenging the better. Give me something to do or figure out, whether it’s pacing a marathon, writing a Provision, or solving an electrical problem, and I’m on it. I can get so focused, in fact, that I can lose sight of everyone and everything else around me. But ask me to stand still? Now that’s another matter entirely. I’m just not that kind of guy. Yet standing still is an essential part of mindfulness. That point was driven home to me in the past week, in completely unexpected ways, places, and times. Read on to enjoy the stories.

LifeTrek Provision

As I wrote about last month in Provision #842, Not Knowing Soul, it’s amazing what you can see and hear by just standing still. Since I have been slowing down and standing still a bit more these days, intentionally and by design, I have a few more thoughts on the matter. It’s amazing the things you can notice.

Take the birds. They chirp, sing, and call to each other all day long but most of the time we never notice them. We stay busy and do what we have to do in order to take care of our affairs but we seldom stand still, look up, perk our ears, and listen to the birds. I never used to notice them before. They were part of my invisible landscape. But now I do.

Or take some of the other sounds in our environment. Yesterday morning, for example, I was out for an early run around the lake that adjoins our home when suddenly, as if out of nowhere, I heard the sound of a bugle playing reveille. Now our area is filled with military bases so, in one sense, this should have been no surprise. But in another sense it caught me completely off guard. I’ve been running around this lake for about 15 years and, in all that time, I have never noticed that bugler.

Let alone the national anthem, which followed immediately thereafter. Even though I never served in the military and have long-standing, ethical objections to settling conflicts through the violence of war, I just had to stop running, stand still, and sing along with the music – “the rocket’s red glare and the bombs bursting in air” – as well as all the other words in the song. It was a time to pause, to remember, and to be thankful.

In one final example, take my experience of interacting with an older woman who was out walking her dog. “Good morning,” I said, as I went by running. She replied with a simple, “What?” Figuring she didn’t hear me well, I kept moving but repeated myself. “Good morning,” I said again. “What?” she replied again, “I can’t understand you.” Finally I stopped, stood still, looked her in the eye and said, “Good morning!” “Oh”, she replied, “now I understand you and what a great morning it is, indeed.”

That interchange is a Provision all in itself. We were unable to communicate and to share that moment of joy until I stopped running and stood still. That lesson goes far beyond being able to hear and communicate with another human being. It has to do with being able to hear and communicate with our own brain and with the Spirit of life itself.

I spend lots of time trying to hear and communicate with my brain. I know that the information is in there and that my brain wants to get that information across to me. But if I am too busy and distracted, if I am too discouraged and distressed, or if I am too jittery and anxious, then I am not able to access that information. To be able to do that, I have to stand still.

Although my case has proven to be a rather profound example, it is true for us all. If we go through our days with those kind of energies – if we go through our days busy and distracted, discouraged and distressed, or jittery and anxious – then there’s no way to hear and understand what’s going both inside and around us. We may think we know. But we don’t really know. We may notice the energies, if we notice them at all, but we don’t absorb, appreciate, practice, and learn from them.

And that is the power of mindfulness. It not only calms the Soul, it also informs, guides, and inspires the Soul. Now I don’t know what you make of the word Soul, but for me “Soul” is the “Spirit of life” that infuses not only the ache, pains, aspirations, and activities of every human being but of all living things. When I listen to and watch those birds, I listen to and watch the Spirit. When I pause, listen to, and appreciate the music of those who are being called to attention, I listen to and pause to appreciate the Spirit. When I listen to and interact with a woman who is out walking her dog, I am listening to and interacting with the Spirit.

I encourage you, then again, to adopt that same stance as often as you can. Stand still. There is something going on beyond what the eye can see, the ear can hear, the nose can smell, and the skin can feel. There is always something going on the deep level of Spirit. We just have to believe it is there, pause, look around, and stand still in order to take it all in.

Coaching Questions: When was the last time you stood still? How still did you stand? What did you notice with your five senses as to the magic life has to offer? How did standing still affect you? What’s keeping you from standing still, as a spiritual practice, on a regular basis? Who could assist you to start that practice and get into the routine today?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click Here.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.


Your last Provision, Glad to Be Alive, was a beautiful way to greet the day. I, too, am glad to be alive! And I’m very glad that you are alive as well! What a joy it is to have concurrent alive time with you. Enjoy yours today!


Your last Provision, Glad to Be Alive, was a good post regarding Plushenko and taking risks in life. It reminded me that life is a gift and that we all need to take risks in order to celebrate it fully. Thanks for the reminder.  


May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #846: Glad to Be Alive

Laser Provision

Simply put: I’m glad to be alive. Life is not guaranteed to any of us and it comes to an end, at some point, for all of us. Life almost came to an end for me about 17 months ago. That experience, from which I am still recovering slowly, has made life all the more interesting and precious. What about you? How do you view and experience life? If you think of life as anything less than a precious gift, to be lived with all the energy and curiosity you can muster, then I encourage you to read on. This Provision just might turn things around.

LifeTrek Provision

I see some similarities between my own story and that of Evgeni Plushhenko, the Russian skating legend who was selected, one last time and at the relatively old age in his sport of 31, as Russia’s sole men’s singles skater who was entered into the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“I am so happy with my qualifying performances,” Plushenkio told English-speaking reporters before the games started. “This will be the fourth Olympic Games in my life. And after 12 surgeries, I can still compete. I can still skate. And it doesn’t matter what kind of result will be in the end, I am already a winner. For myself.”

But he did more than just show up on the ice and skate, even though he had scarcely competed in his sport since undergoing back surgery in February 2013. Indeed, it was questionable whether or not he would make the team at all. In Russia’s Olympic trials he was out-performed by a teen phenomenon, Trankov, and Russian officials were ready to cut him from the team.

After being granted a private, 11th-hour performance with those officials, however, Plushenko convinced them to award him to the country’s lone men’s spot in the 2014 Games, giving him the chance to win three more Olympic medals before retiring — two in team events and one in an individual event – on his beloved home soil, no less.

As the games commenced, Plushenko seemed to defy the odds as he dazzled the crowds in the team events, earning a silver medal as part of the Men’s Team Short Figure Skating Program and then a gold medal as part of the Men’s Team Free Program. What could be better? With age-defying jumps that sent the crowd into a flag-waving, chanting frenzy, he was part of the effort that helped Russia to seize the lead in the sport.

But then things fell apart. He had to drop out of the Men’s Individual Short Program due to severe spinal pain during the warm up. It “felt like a knife in my back,” Plushenko said afterward of his warm-ups injury. He just could not go on, and that turn of events left people debating on both sides as to whether or not he and the Russian coaches had made the right choice to let him compete at all.

I, for one, stand with Plushenko. There are times when one has to take risks in order to see what one can do. And those risks, as long as they are not life threatening, are worth taking. They restore one’s soul and make one happy to be alive. As Plushenko said when he was asked about his workload: “I am feeling good. I am in front of you. Still alive. Not dead. So why not take the risk?”

Taking such risks represent a form of mindfulness because they serve the larger purpose of becoming fully alive and present not only to oneself, in the moment, but also to the realm of possibility and wonder. Those are the risks that I am taking and the mindfulness that I am seeking even now, on the continuing journey toward health and wholeness and those are the risks that I would encourage you to take as well.

Coaching Inquiries: What makes you glad to be alive? What risks, if you were to take them, would make you even happier to be alive? Who could assist you to get there today?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click Here.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.


Your continued work on and publishing of Provisions never ceases to amaze and inspire me. Thanks.


May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #845: Barrington Bunny

Laser Provision

This story, by Martin Bell, has been in my life for a very long time. Written 50 years ago by a man who’s biography is as captivating as his story – he worked as an Episcopal priest, a disc jockey, a detective, and a professional entertainer – it has long been a favorite reading for those who celebrate the Christmas holidays. But the message transcends both Christmas and Christianity: by paying attention to the needs of others, and using one’s gifts to meet them, we not only do good, we are transformed. Read. Appreciate. And live accordingly.

LifeTrek Provision

Even with my bad memory, I can remember the first time I heard the story of Barrington Bunny. Dick Cash read the story as part of the Appalachia Service Project staff orientation in the summer of 1973 or 1974. I cried then and I just cried again, when I re-read the story to share it with you as this week’s Provision. The story applies to all people, of every race, creed, color, and age. It is, one might say, transcendental.

And the message of the story has a lot to do with mindfulness. At the outset, Barrington Bunny is unhappy with who he is and with his relationship to the world. He has no family and he thinks he is no good to anyone. By the end of the story, Barrington has gone through quite a transformation – and it comes from paying attention to the needs of others and to his own ability to meet those needs, in the present moment. I hope you read this story through to the end; if you do, however, be prepared to weep. It gets me every time.

Once upon a time in a large forest there lived a very furry bunny. He had one lop ear, a tiny black nose, and unusually shiny eyes. His name was Barrington.

Barrington was not really a very handsome bunny. He was brown and speckled and his ears didn’t stand up right. But he could hop, and he was, as I have said, very furry.

In a way, winter is fun for bunnies. After all, it gives them an opportunity to hop in the snow and then turn around to see where they have hopped. So, in a way, winter was fun for Barrington.

But in another way winter made Barrington sad. For, you see, winter marked the time where all of the animal families got together in their cozy homes to celebrate Christmas. He could hop, and he was very furry. But as far as Barrington knew, he was the only bunny in the forest.

When Christmas Eve finally came, Barrington did not feel like going home all by himself. So he decided he would hop for awhile in the clearing at the center of the forest.

Hop. Hop. Hippity-hop. Barrington made tracks in the fresh snow. Hop. Hop. Hippity-hop. Then he cocked his head and looked back at the wonderful designs he had made. “Bunnies,” he thought to himself, “can hop. And they are very warm, too, because of how furry they are.” (But Barrington didn’t really know whether or not this was true of all bunnies, since he had never met another bunny.) When it got too dark to see the tracks he was making, Barrington made up his mind to go home.

On his way, however, he passed a large oak tree. High in the branches there was a great deal of excited chattering going on. Barrington looked up. It was a squirrel family! What a marvelous time they seemed to be having.

“Hello, up there,” called Barrington.
“Hello, down there,” came the reply.
“Having a Christmas party?” asked Barrington.
“Oh, yes!” answered the squirrels. “It’s Christmas Eve. Everybody is having a Christmas party!”
“May I come to your party?” said Barrington softly.
“Are you a squirrel?”
“No.”
“What are you, then?”
“A bunny.”
“A bunny?”
“Yes.”
“Well, how can you come to the party if you’re a bunny? Bunnies can’t climb trees.”
“That’s true,” said Barrington thoughtfully. “But I can hop and I’m very furry and warm.”
“We’re sorry,” called the squirrels. “We don’t know anything about hopping and being furry, but we do know that in order to come to our house you have to be able to climb trees.”
“Oh, well,” said Barrington. “Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas,” chattered the squirrels.

And the unfortunate bunny hopped off toward his tiny house.

It was beginning to snow when Barrington reached the river. Near the river bank was a wonderfully constructed house of sticks and mud. Inside there was singing.

“It’s the beavers,” thought Barrington. “Maybe they will let me come to their party.” And so he knocked on the door. “Who’s out there?” called a voice. “Barrington Bunny,” he replied.
There was a long pause and then a shiny beaver head broke the water.

“Hello, Barrington,” said the beaver. “May I come to your Christmas party?” asked Barrington. The beaver thought for awhile and then he said, “I suppose so. Do you know how to swim?” “No,” said Barrington, “but I can hop and I am very furry and warm.” “Sorry,” said the beaver. “I don’t know anything about hopping and being furry, but I do know that in order to come to our house you have to be able to swim.”

“Oh, well,” Barrington muttered, his eyes filling with tears. “I suppose that’s true, Merry Christmas.” “Merry Christmas,” called the beaver. And he disappeared beneath the surface of the water.

Even as furry as he was, Barrington was starting to get cold. And the snow was falling so hard that his tiny, bunny eyes could scarcely see what was ahead of him.

He was almost home, however, when he heard the excited squeaking of field mice beneath the ground. “It’s a party,” thought Barrington. And suddenly he blurted out through his tears, “Hello, field mice. This is Barrington Bunny. May I come to your party?” But the wind was howling so loudly and Barrington was sobbing so much that no one heard him. And when there was no response at all, Barrington just sat down in the snow and began to cry with all his might.

“Bunnies,” he thought, aren’t any good to anyone. What good is it to be furry and to be able to hop if you don’t have any family on Christmas Eve?” Barrington cried and cried. When he stopped crying he began to bite on his bunny’s foot, but he did not move from where he was sitting in the snow.

Suddenly, Barrington was aware he was not alone. He looked up and strained his shiny eyes to see who was there. To his surprise he saw a great silver wolf. The wolf was large and strong and his eyes flashed fire. He was the most beautiful animal Barrington had ever seen.

For a long time the silver wolf didn’t say anything at all. He just stood there and looked at Barrington with those terrible eyes.

Then slowly and deliberately the wolf spoke. “Barrington,” he asked in a gentle voice, “why are you sitting in the snow?”

“Because it’s Christmas Eve,” said Barrington, “and I don’t have any family, and bunnies aren’t any good to anyone.” “Bunnies are, too, good,” said the wolf. “Bunnies can hop and they are very warm.” “What good is that?” Barrington sniffed.

“It is very good indeed,” the wolf went on, “because it is a gift that bunnies are given, a free gift with no strings attached. And every gift that is given to anyone is given for a reason. Someday you will see why it is good to hop and to be warm and furry.”

“But it’s Christmas,” moaned Barrington, “and I’m all alone. I don’t have any family at all.” “Of course you do,” replied the great silver wolf. “All of the animals in the forest are your family.” And then the wolf disappeared. He simply wasn’t there. Barrington had only blinked his eyes, and when he looked-the wolf was gone.

“All of the animals in the forest are my family,” thought Barrington. “It’s good to be a bunny. Bunnies can hop. That’s a gift.” And then he said it again. “A gift. A free gift.” So on into the night Barrington worked.

First he found the best stick he could. (And that was difficult because of the snow.) Then hop. Hop. Hippity-hop. To beaver’s house. He left the stick just outside the door. With a note on it that read: “Here is a good stick for your house. It is a gift. A free gift. No strings attached. Signed, a member of your family.”

“It is a good thing that I can hop, he thought, “because the snow is very deep.”

Then Barrington dug and dug. Soon he had gathered together enough dead leaves and grass to make the squirrels’ nest warmer. Hop. Hop. Hippity-hop. He laid the grass and leaves just under the large oak tree and attached this message: “A gift. A free gift. From a member of your family.”

It was late when Barrington finally started home. And what made things worse was that he knew a blizzard was beginning. Hop. Hop. Hippity-hop. Soon poor Barrington was lost. The wind howled furiously, and it was very, very cold. “It certainly is cold,” he said out loud. “It’s a good thing I’m so furry. But if I don’t find my way home pretty soon even I might freeze!”

Squeak. Squeak. . . .And then he saw it – a baby field mouse lost in the snow. And the little mouse was crying.

“Hello, little mouse,” Barrington called. “Don’t cry. I’ll be right there.” Hippity-hop, and Barrington was beside the tiny mouse. “I’m lost,” sobbed the little fellow. “I’ll never find my way home, and I know I’m going to freeze. “You won’t freeze,” said Barrington. “I’m a bunny and bunnies are very furry and warm. You stay right where you are and I’ll cover you up.”

Barrington lay on top of the little mouse and hugged him tight. The tiny fellow felt himself surrounded by warm fur. He cried for awhile but soon, snug and warm, he fell asleep. Barrington had only two thoughts that long, cold night. First he thought, “It’s good to be a bunny. Bunnies are very furry and warm.” And then, when he felt the heart of the tiny mouse beating regularly, he thought, “All the animals in the forest are my family.”

Next morning, the field mice found their little boy, asleep in the snow, warm and snug beneath the furry carcass of a dead bunny. Their relief and excitement was so great that they didn’t even think to question where the bunny had come from. And as for the beavers and the squirrels, they still wonder which member of their family left the little gift for them that Christmas Eve.

After the field mice had left, Barrington’s frozen body simply lay in the snow. There was no sound except that of the howling wind. And no one anywhere in the forest noticed the great silver wolf who came to stand beside that brown, lop-eared carcass.

But the wolf did come.
And he stood there.
Without moving or saying a word.
All Christmas Day.
Until it was night.

And then he disappeared into the forest.

Coaching Inquiries: What are your special gifts? How could you be more attentive, in the present moment, so as to use those gifts in the service of others? What might assist you to use them more softly, tenderly, and fully? Who could assist you to not only develop such an inclination but to also find a way to make it so? Why not give them a call right now and invite them on the journey today?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click Here.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.


What a wonderful presentation you and Megan gave today at our Kiwanis Club! It takes special people to go through what you went through and come up smiling. Best wishes for continued healing.


Perhaps you have gone through this because your SOUL destiny is sacrificing YOURSELF for the higher good – sharing all that you have with us. I think that is surely one of the “GIFTS” of this passage of yours. You ARE blessing each and everyone of us. You are playing the hand you’ve been dealt very well. Thanks.


I think I have approached this winter with an, “It is what it is” attitude. At first I think I was fighting against it and feeling whipped. But now I have sort of accepted that this harsh winter is here to stay. I am not sure I am happy or sad but I have accepted that it is what it is. That means I can surrender in this and move as I am allowed/able. Thanks for your sharing.


It was great to hear your voice again at church this morning. During the service, like a flash, your sermon on Memorial Day came back to me. The present is somewhere always past and ever to come. Your thoughts on the passage of your mother touched me deeply. And I became one of those who raised a hand in the audience. And I raised one for my partner as well. Thanks.


How good it was, to hear your voice again. We are well here. Grandparents as you are. And how blessed we are that we are married. How we bless you for crossing the ribbons of our lives and tying that knot. That is so hard at first, eh? As I tell our grandson, “Just ask a friend to help when you need it.” Thank you, friend. Be well. God is blessing!


I loved your last Provision, It Is What It Is, so much that I shared it with a wide circle of friends. Who does not grapple with disappointment and fear? Thank you for finding the pearls in the irritation, quite a string you’ve collected.


Thanks Bob for your writing and sharing of your very human experience. A few years ago my friend who was 47 and the mother of an 11-year-old child died of breast cancer. Over the last few months of her life I was facilitating a summit on Palliative Care in the hospital where she was being given care. It was such a gift to spend time talking to her about the care she was receiving and it took us into a deeper conversation than I believe we would have had prior to my embarking on this project. Our mutual friend taught me about joyful sorrow and I thought you might enjoy the attached short story that I wrote about our friendship. Take care and give my best to Megan.


In so many ways, I will always stay connected with you. It’s all good and I constantly look coaching and OD opportunities here in my areas. We will work together again!


May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #844: It Is What It Is

Laser Provision

Whenever I start to complain about my condition, my son and daughter often reply, “It is what it is.” That may seem obvious. Things are what they are. But people like myself are often filled with regret or anger or hope that things might be different. Such emotions, although understandable, are not the way to peace. In this Provision, this saying and an excerpt from the writings of a Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, point in the direction of that way. I invite you to look and to go there.

LifeTrek Provision

It is very hard to accept my condition and its frequent manifestations. To have seizures, of varying intensity, on an almost daily basis is quite discouraging and hard on the brain. Every seizure shakes things up and my brain has to sort them all out in order to proceed with memory and purpose. Epilepsy changes a person in profound ways, even when the seizures go away. It introduces deep and unusual misgivings.

Given that seizures are no fun and at times rather difficult, it is understandable that one might wish things to be different. The same is true for every terrible thing in life. We wish they had never happened and we wish they would go away. When those terrible things happen as a result of cruelty, conflict, or injustice they are made all the more terrible since they could have been avoided if people had just taken the time to look around, to see their common ground, and to move past self-interest.

But when terrible things “just happen”, as in the case of my illness, there’s no one to get mad at other than, perhaps, oneself and/or the Great Spirit of life. But neither lashing in nor lashing out brings peace or healing. In fact, it keeps things all riled up as the mind fights against its very own condition and way of being. That’s when my son, Evan, and my daughter, Bryn, are quick to point out that there’s no reason to get all upset because, they note, “It is what it is.”

In his own way, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, brings that same countenance, spirit, and orientation  to the world through his writings and work. Born in 1926, Nhat Hanh lived through and objected to not only the Vietnam war, which was part of my young adulthood, Nhat Hanh objected to all violent expressions of human arrogance and disagreement. He is a strong practitioner, advocate, and spokesperson for the cause of nonviolence. During the war he worked with others in Vietnam to establish schools, build healthcare clinics, and help re-build villages.

The man is really quite amazing. He speaks and writes in six different languages. He has published more than 100 books, including 40 in English, and has become a spokesperson not only for nonviolence but also for mindful living. One noteworthy accomplishment is that he was a strong influence on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s decision to declare his opposition to the war in Vietnam, even though others argued that doing so would diminish King’s standing and distract him from the civil-rights moment in the USA. For Nhat Hanh and Dr. King, however, injustice anywhere was injustice everywhere. And the Vietnam war was especially unjust.

By titling this Provision “It Is What It Is” I do not mean to advocate for adopting an “anything goes”, nonchalant, or uncaring way of life. On the contrary, I mean to see more opportunities for caring and compassion because it enables us to see more deeply into the sorrows and struggles of others. It also leads to less whining and complaining, as though the gift of life – regardless of its trials and tribulations – should be something different than it is. The question is not, “How did we get here?” The question, to quote the title of one of Dr. King’s famous books, is “Where do we go from here?” And there’s no way to know where we are going, let alone how to get there,  unless we know where we are.

Nhat Hanh makes that same point in this short essay, “Looking Deeply”, which I am reprinting from his short book, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.

“We have to look deeply in order to see. When a swimmer enjoys the clear water of the river, he or she should also be able to be the river. One day, during one of my first visits to the United States, I was having lunch at Boston University with some friends, and I looked down at the Charles River. I had been away from home for quite a long time, and seeing the river, I found it very beautiful.

So I left my friends and went to wash my face and dip my feet in the water, as we used to do in our country. When I returned, a professor said, “That’s very dangerous thing to do. Did you rinse your mouth in the river?” When I told him yes, he said, “You should see a doctor and get a shot.”

I was shocked. I hadn’t known that the rivers here were so polluted. Some of them are called “dead rivers”. In our country the rivers get very dirty sometimes, but not that kind of dirty. Someone told me that the Rhine River in Germany contains so many chemical that it is possible to develop photographs in it.

If we want to continue to enjoy our rivers—to swim in them, walk beside them, even drink their water—we have to adopt the non-dual perspective. We have to meditate on being the river so that we can experience within ourselves the fears and hopes of the river. If we cannot feel the rivers, the mountains, the air, the animals, and other people from within their own perspective, the rivers will die and we will lose our chance for peace.

If you are a mountain climber or someone who enjoys the countryside, or the green forest, you know that the forests are our lungs outside of our bodies, just as the sun is our heart outside of our bodies. Yet we have been acting in a way that has allowed two million square miles of forest land to be destroyed by acid rain, and we have destroyed parts of the ozone layer that regulate how much direct sunlight we receive.

We are imprisoned in our small selves, thinking only of the comfortable conditions for this small self, while we destroy our large self. We should be able to be our true self. That means we should be able to be the river, we should be able to be the forest, the sun, and the ozone layer. We must do this to understand and to have hope for the future.”

Thich Nhat Hanh has a dynamic sense of what it means to be alive. I like the notion of “Looking Deeply” in order to see into, embrace, and express the fullness of lfie. If we stay on the surface, we will only see what is apparent to the five senses. But if we look deeply we will see the gifts that are being offered, the care that is being called for, and the wisdom that is being invited into our lives. That is what I want to see, now more than ever before, and that is what I hope you want to see as well.

“It Is What It Is” represents that offering, care, and wisdom. It is neither an expression of resignation nor a consignment to defeat. It is, rather, a challenge to accept what comes as an opportunity to be the best we can possibly be under the circumstances. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did that. Thich Nhat Hanh did that. And we should all aspire to do that with our lives. After all, “It Is What It Is”!

Coaching Inquiries: How would you describe your outlook on and approach to life? Are you filled with resignation and resentment or are you filled with fortitude and appreciation? Regardless of where you are, what and who could help you to shift into even more positive ways of being? Why not incorporate those things and reach out to those people today?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click Here.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.


Provision #844, Time to Look Around, was wonderful, Bob! Thanks so much for mentioning my book! The story of Alexis D’Luna, the boy born with CHARGE syndrome, is truly inspirational. Thanks for sharing it with your readers.


Very often I feel my English is a little bit bad or, for instance, too slow to understand at all … but this time, for your last Provision, I tried a little bit longer with reading and particularly to understand what you want to let us know … It reminds me to a very short saying: “If you want to get to know someone do not look at what goals he reached in his business (or how much money he “made” with it) but what his dreams are like …” From here in Germany, best wishes to you and Megan and your family and to the “rest of your 30.000 best friends” ;-))


I loved your recent provision, Time to Stand Still. I’d share that standing still takes courage and discipline: courage because most other people who witness such a moment will not understand or empathize, and discipline because standing still is addictive! It’s important, but there’s a niggling sense that it’s a slippery slope as it needs to be balanced with action. I’m glad to hear your recovery is going well and to learn more about what that has been like.


Your last Provision, Time to Stand Still, was really lovely. Thanks.


Standing still sounds like one of the most challenging practices for you Tschannen-Moran’s. I’ve always known both you and Megan to be go-go-go kind of people. Balance is tricky. Then again, everyone in the family seems to come to our house for some respite and calm. So maybe we offer the balance of standing still that you write about and maybe it’s time you come for a visit. Toddler snuggles are an added bonus!


May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #843: Time to Look Around

Laser Provision

In last week’s Provision #843, Time to Stand Still, I wrote about slowing down so that we could more fully appreciate what’s going on in the moment. But what is going on in the moment? To answer that question we have to not only slow down and stand still, we also have to open our eyes, look around, and give thanks. That can be a hard thing to do at times. I know. But others have had it even tougher. This Provision shares an amazing story of life and love that deepens the trek of life.

LifeTrek Provision

Human beings, like all other animals, are meant to move. We’re not like trees, shrubs, and flowers that stay anchored in one place, even when the wind is blowing (although there is at least one unusual plant, in the rainforest, that actually “walks” by throwing out new roots in one direction, while releasing roots in the other direction, so as to stay up with and to catch the light). One the contrary, animals like to move and that movement is usually to some purpose. In the case of human beings, that purpose goes beyond mere survival. We like to connect with others, to be productive, and to make a contribution. That’s why last week’s Provision, Time to Stand Still, may have been a challenge for you.

Especially since animals not only like to move, we have to move. We have to move to find and eat our food, for example, as well as to strengthen our bodies, to stay healthy, and to play. Movement is so important that we even move in our sleep. It’s what we do as animals. Some activities, like cattle ranching and hunting, involve a lot of physical effort and movement. Other activities, like writing these Provisions every week, involve more thinking than physical exertion and movement. But even writing involves fingers tapping on the keyboard and, in my case, feet tapping to the music. However vigorous may be our activities, it takes energy to get things done after which it’s time to rest and sleep, in order to renew our bodies, minds, and spirits before starting another day.

As I wrote about in last week’s Provision, even “standing still” is an “activity” since it takes energy, discipline, and effort in order to do so. If you don’t believe me just try standing on one foot for a while. That’s part of the yoga routine that my wife, Megan, practices faithfully on a week-by-week basis. Or try “standing still” on two feet when you would rather be doing something else. For me, at least, that may take the most challenging energy of all: to get off the “what I should be doing” treadmill and to balance myself in the “what’s happening now” pose. Like balancing on one foot, standing still and looking around is tricky. We have to choose to do so and it’s not that easy. But it give us the opportunity to look around.

That opportunity is, of course, just as present when we are on the go. But it’s harder to look around when we are headed somewhere. That’s when we are more likely to put our head down, to grit our teeth, and to to stay focused on what we are doing until we get where we are headed. But if we give ourselves permission to do so, and if we take the time to look around, there’s no telling what we might grab our attention and fill us with a sense of awe and wonder.

And it doesn’t take the seven wonders of the world to inspire our hearts. Even the smallest of things can move us to tears or laughter, to anguish or delight, if we look around and notice them so as to take them into our souls. That’s what happened to me this past week when I “looked around” and “noticed”, i.e., “listened to”, the story of Alexis D’Luna on National Public Radio. Here is how the NPR website starts out the story:

“Alexis D’Luna was born with CHARGE syndrome, a life-threatening genetic condition. She was intellectually disabled, legally blind, had hearing problems and stood just under 5 feet tall because of deformities in her legs and back.

She also had boundless energy, her family recalls during a visit to StoryCorps. “She would wake up and ask what was on the agenda for the day,” says her older sister, Adrienne D’Luna Directo. “And once you got out of saying the things you had planned, she would say, ‘And then?’ ”

Alexis loved cheerleading. She joined her high school squad in 2004. At football games, she would be “doing kicks, even though it was only 6 inches above the ground,” says Alexis’ father, Lionel D’Luna. “You just marveled at that energy.”

“She was charismatic,” says her mother, Debra. “She attracted people wherever she went.”

Most children with CHARGE syndrome don’t live past age 5, but Alexis lived until she was 25.

“Every morning when I wake up, I give thanks for the day, and then I say, ‘May I use it the way Alexis did,’ ” says Lionel.

“If you could talk to Alexis right now, what would you want to say?” Adrienne asks her father.

“We are so proud of you and all that you have taught us,” Lionel says. “We are what we are because of you.”

If that doesn’t move you to tears, I don’t know what will – unless, of course, it is this YouTube video of Alexis cheering with that cheerleading quad, well before she died on December 15, 2012. I love the following two sentences from her obituary: “Alexis was the embodiment of total innocence, showering all those who came in contact with her with unconditional love. Her upbeat personality, keen sense of humor, and zest for life charmed all who knew her.”

May we all live such lives. May we all look around to find the goodness in things, even when times are tough or people are being mean. May we all be filled with the desire and given the ability to do so.

Coaching Inquiries: What grabs your attention and warms your heart? How could you position yourself so as to invite that opportunity more often? Who helps you to that? Why not have conversation them this week, making to pact to that with and for each other? Let me know if you do.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click Here.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.


I am inspired through my Wellcoaches Study, you and your Provisions, and also the small amount I know regarding your outreach specifically as it relates to education. It is my goal to be a certified Wellcoaches Health Coach by March. I then look forward to impacting the world with the gift of Health Coaching. You inspire me. So does the story Logan Laplante, a 13 year-old boy who was taken out of the education system to be home schooled instead.

Not only was he home schooled, but Logan had the ability to tailor his education to his interests and also his style of learning, something traditional education does not offer. As Logan has mentioned, when he grows up he wants to be happy and healthy. Your readers might be interested in watching this TEDx talk that he gave in 2013, where he discussed how hacking his education is helping him achieve that goal.


Thanks for the thoughtful Provision, Time to Stand Still. I thought of a poem that Leslie and I included in our wedding over 30 years ago, The Master Speed by Robert Frost. I attach a picture of our framed remembrance of this message to often stand still, together “wing to wing and oar to oar.” This was a relevant metaphor for Leslie and me as we were very active canoeing the whitewater Potomac River below and above Great Falls, VA! Your great Provision message rings true for us every day!
Please pass along our warm regards to Megan! All the best!


My friend and colleague, Kerul Kassel, has written a wonderful new book titled The Thinking Executive’s Guide to Sustainability. What could be more important? Here is a brief description:

“We live in an increasingly global economy in which the effects of shrunken economies, broadened communication, and widespread meteorological incidents associated with climate change are leaving virtually no one untouched. As a result, a working knowledge of concepts such as the triple bottom line and sustainability, have become mandatory,

The Thinking Executive’s Guide to Sustainability offers a practical, relevant, and easily grasped overview of sustainability issues and the systems logic that informs them, supported by empirical research and applied to corporate rationales, decision-making, and business processes. Intended for business professionals seeking concise, reliable, and current knowledge and trends, it will support them in leading their organizations’ corporate sustainability, social responsibility, and citizenship efforts so they can remain competitive and successful.”


May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #842: Not Knowing Soul

Laser Provision

There are many ways to think of mindfulness, starting with the simple notion of “paying attention”. But “paying attention” to what? This Provision, including several poems, expresses how mindfulness is a matter of paying attention to the heart and soul of life, in the moment, as time goes by. Then and only then can we come to a full appreciation of life’s beauty. Intrigued? Read on to learn more as to how this might work for you.

LifeTrek Provision

My health challenges over the past 16 months have made me more mindful not only of what is going on in the outer world but also of what is going on in the inner world. I now watch people, places, and things in an entirely new way. Even though they may be very common and familiar, it is as though I never saw them before. They inspire, guide, and challenge me on the trek of life in entirely new, delightful, and, at times, terrorizing ways.

The opportunity for such recognitions is always available, but before the advent of my seizures I did not always seize the moment. Nice play on words but it’s true. I was too busy, too rushed, too demanding, too distracted, or too impatient to notice what was going on. As a result of not knowing what was going on in the outer world I also had trouble knowing what was going on in the inner world. I thought I knew but I didn’t really know. I was not knowing soul. As a result, in the words of David Wagoner’s poem, I was not found. I was Lost:

LOST

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Where you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

I have been forced to stand still and, as a result, I have come a little closer to soul through my health challenges. I hope to stand even more still and to grow even closer yet as time goes by. Soul is, after all, our reason for being. It is who we are at our core. It is our true identity. It is our real self, beyond all the busy-busy trappings of life, that whispers to us quietly in the night. I have heard that whisper many times in the past 16+ months, and it speaks to me still. Life goes on, I have stood still – at time I have stood very still – and that is good.

Kathryn Hunt has written and assembled a bold and beautiful collection of new poems in a book titled, Long Way Through Ruin. Two of these poems spoke to me in the context of knowing and of not knowing soul:

DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE IN NORTH AMERICA

Even in spring she is there among the horses,
the pale crocus. Even in rain. She is there
and she is quiet. I saw her standing in the garden,
I saw her standing by the road
down to the store.

Without speaking she reveals herself to me.
Without speaking of roses, or verbena, or the sea.
The earth would drain of color
if she were denied.

There is a sacredness that means to listen.
The thrumming songs of frogs
that sing and fall silent and sing again
at the rim of the pond. Those things unseen
by which we are bound. Faithful,
as the tulip in winter.

And for the girl hauling
her armload of sorrows like sticks for a fire,
this hushed place, this leafy amplitude,
this opening at the edge of the woods
favored by honey bees in summer.

ELEMENTAL

After the news from the doctor
I lay down on the bed and slept.
It seemed the one place to go,
into the world of dreams,
and all through my dreams the wind,
the huge surging breath of the wind
untamed through the trees,
lifting and stirring the leaves until each
scorched leaf, dying a little
at the turning of summer,
tasted the wind as if it were fire,
as if the wind would destroy it.

Even in the silence of the dream
I heard the wind tearing the leaves
from the huge sugar maples,
and this made me serene,
for no reason. And when I awoke
a squall had blown in from the coast,
a salt-drenched rain
fell slant through the trees.
And I lay there remembering
each face I’d ever loved,
untroubled by longing or regret,
the fire burning its way through.

Kathryn Hunt’s words speak to me as much as David Whyte’s. “There is a sacredness that means to listen.” “This hushed place, this leafy amplitude, this opening at the edge of the woods.” “After the news from the doctor I lay down on the bed and slept. It seemed the one place to go, into the world of dreams….” “And when I awoke…I lay there remembering every face I’d ever loved, untroubled by longing or regret, the fire burning its way through.”

Wow. That’s what comes from not knowing soul. We fail to listen. We fail to notice. We fail to remember. We fail to dream. All we see, and all we know, is the fire burning its ways through. It’s easy to live like that. We get too busy, distracted, or pressured to pay attention to the wonder that is all around us until we go into the one place that is left to go: the invaluable world of dreams.

I have been to that place and I keep going back. It is not the same as our everyday lives. It is different. It is wonderful. It is bewildering. It is enlightening. It is close to the soul.

Coaching Inquiries: What brings you close to soul? What keeps you from not knowing soul? How could you pay closer attention to the rhythms of life? What untold mysteries lie waiting for you in the world of dreams? Who has loved you so unconditionally as to be the fire that keeps you yet alive?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click Here.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.


Your comments on Mindfulness really spoke to me. Though I’ve endorsed the concepts of Mindfulness for many years and practiced Mindfulness “as needed”, I’ve only recently been faced with family developments that really gave me no choice but to more actively practice Mindfulness on a daily basis. I’m finding Mindfulness practices to be very helpful – particularly focusing on breathing to “be in the moment.” I look forward to your Mindfulness series!


I love you mucho and I am super happy you’re still able to write and process everything via the written word. You can definitely publish that as a reader reply!


Thank you, Bob, for your Provision on Mindfulness and thank you for being here now.


I’m a little behind in reading my weekly Provisions from you but since I was listening to music this morning I decided that today was a good day to read Provision #839: Music Mends the Mind. Thank you so much for sharing this.

My aim in 2014 is to listen to more music, and I spent some of this morning looking at the Tamburitzans’ website to see when their next performances are so that I can plan to attend. My parents took my family to see several of their performances as children, and it was one of the great thrills of my childhood. I just really connected to the Slavic music, instruments, and dancing. There was a time I wanted to go to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh to be in the Tamburitzan troupe. It all popped into my head this morning as I was listening to the full version of Handel’s Messiah – another of my all-time favorite musical experiences. I was turned on to this treasure one Christmas season in Omaha. Thank you for that gift and for the connection I feel with you.


Your last Provision, Released for Life, made me feel very sad. When you talk about the religion that I think of as Christianity you give many ideas that I think are so horribly incorrect. You talk about there being a life as part of the in-group with goodies or a life as part of the out-group without goodies or glory. Such thoughts are never presented in the Bible nor they part of the belief system of the Christian faith. (Author’s Note: There’s at least a chance we agree completely. There are no out-groups! The Divine Spirit of Life, the same Spirit that filled the person of Jesus, loves us all. Let’s hold onto that truth with faith, hope, and love.) 


May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #841: What Mindfulness Means

Laser Provision

Given my memory challenges, it’s easy for me to live in the present moment with no real sense of time or space. I know that I am sitting here, now – at this table, in the morning – writing this Provision. It’s easy for me to forget what happened yesterday and to not know what we have planned for tomorrow. One friend suggested that this quality of being means I have achieved enlightenment or pure mindfulness – I am here and now with no distractions or concerns. But is that really what mindfulness means? Read on as I rassle with that question and launch us into a new series of Provisions.

LifeTrek Provision

In many Eastern religious traditions “mindfulness” means what “salvation” means in many Western religious traditions: it is both the goal and the way to the goal for those who follow the tradition. I grew up in a Western religious tradition, where “salvation language” is both common and comforting. People who are “saved” in this life, before we die, are rewarded with “salvation” in the next life, i.e., a place in heaven, after we die. Although it’s rather childlike and without any scientific basis, and although different traditions argue over the path to salvation, there is still something tender, heart-warming, and attractive about identifying a simple formula for getting into heaven.

Unfortunately, such simple, “if-then” formulas are also exclusionary formulas. They create “in-group” and “out-group” thinking. Those who are “saved”, by whatever formula, are living in glory land and on the way to heaven while those who are not “saved”, by the same formula, stand outside the gates and fail to enjoy all the goodies of those who are on the inside. In the worst of those religious traditions, those who stand outside the gates not only fail to enjoy all the goodies, they are damned to suffer in hell both in this life and the next.

Although such “if-then” formulas may be a pretty good way to build up membership (get inside to get the goodies), I don’t believe the Universe works that way and, fortunately, there are many religious traditions – both Western and Eastern – that hold and support a more universalist point of view. And universalism is just as challenging, if not more challenging, than those traditions that advocate for “in-group” and “out-group” thinking. If everyone is saved no matter what we say and do, then what’s the point of being good or of worrying about anything? At least one conclusion that follows logically from such universalism is summed up by the famous phrase, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die!” Wow. Is it really worth living like that?

Fortunately, there are other, more edifying conclusions, that follow just as logically. If everyone is saved already, for example, with no contingencies, then why not live from the truth, values, and awareness that flow from such a wonderful gift? I, for one, find that approach and question to be much more appealing, intriguing, and edifying. What does such a truth mean? How would a person live accordingly? And what practices might enhance our awareness of that truth, especially in the face of violence, suffering, and death? It seems as though this edifying conclusion and the realities of life are neither easily understandable nor coherent.

And that’s where those Eastern religious traditions, as well as the whole notion of mindfulness, come into the picture. They ask different questions and advocate different practices so as to make sense of life, or at least to appreciate the realities of life with the hope of not only untangling the knots but also of pulling the line taut with mindful awareness. This may not always make for a “happy-happy” life, but this does make for a measure of contentment as one comes to embrace that things are what they are.

Doing this with my own struggles in life over the past 17 months has been very helpful and I would encourage you to join me on the journey. But I warn you up front: the journey isn’t easy. I’ve found it to be a hard, long, and winding road. It’s far easier to live in blissful ignorance, in mournful despair, or in hateful anger, than to embark on the practice of appreciating the realities of life, of untangling the knots, and of pulling the line taut. I know. I’ve been there. The practice is extremely challenging but it is ever-so worth the effort.

That’s why entire religious traditions and spiritual practices have grown up around the notion of mindfulness. Mindfulness – the full, nonjudgmental awareness of what is happening in the present moment – is, in and of itself, both the path and the destination of life. It is how we get to where we want to go and it is at least one way of understanding where we want to go. We want the “peace that passes understanding”, and that comes only when we abandon all ideas of “how things should be” and adopt an appreciation of “how things are”.

Notice that I used the word “appreciation”, rather than “acceptance”, of “how things are”. Mindfulness is not an amoral practice. Practitioners of mindfulness still care about how things are and want as well as work to make things better. But mindfulness practitioners go about all that in a different way than those who follow more prescriptive traditions, whether religious or ethical. Mindfulness wants people to become more fully aware of what is happening in the present moment and then to act accordingly.

Both kinds of awareness – of what is happening in the present moment and of how to act accordingly – take a great deal of practice and effort. We have to work at paying careful attention and we have to work at making decisions that enhance both our own ability, as well as the ability of others, to act accordingly. And what does it mean to “act accordingly”? There’s no way to say in advance. By paying attention, however, we come to know as we go.

That’s why mindfulness represents both the path and the destination. By paying attention we become more attentive souls, and that’s a wonderful thing. It’s very different than being on high alert, whether to do good or evil. There is no intention in mindfulness other than to pay attention to life. To notice things. To step back, to take a breath, and to behold the sights, sounds, and other inputs that are all around us. When we do this, without judgment or shame, we become more fully able to open ourselves for caring, kindness, and concern.

My hope for this new series of Provisions is that they will come to generate just such a result in me and in you. I hope they will increase our understanding of and ability to be mindful. Thereby, I also hope they will increase our understanding of and ability for compassion, caring, and celebration. And wouldn’t that be a wonder-full thing?

Coaching Inquiries: What helps you to pay attention in the present moment without judgment or concern? How often do you make that an intentional part of your life? In what ways, shapes, and forms have you been able to make it so?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.


Bob, your weekly Provisions are an inspiration to all who take time to read them. You have helped many people with your words of wisdom. Congratulations on continuing to live into a new way being. May you that continue to be the norm for you and become the norm for us all.


Thanks for this fine poem, Released for Life, but I hope you don’t jump out of any more moving cars


Your last Provision, Released for Life, was beautiful – just like you.


I really enjoyed the Flash Waltz in your Provision. You might enjoy this Flash, too, of a Flash Mob at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.


Thanks so much for making time for us to bless one another during your Chicago visit. I so appreciate your positive spirit in the midst of such “discouragement.” Have a very Merry Christmas and please express my appreciation to Bryn for all that she has done with you and for us all.


Your presence in Provisions is warm, wise, accepting, inviting, humorous, and hopeful. What a worldwide community of readers you have built! Let us all rejoice!


You are amazing. You have always been an inspiration, but now an inspiration over and over again. The affliction makes you better; gives you truck loads of credibility. Thought you might be interested in this article on Jenny LaBaw, the 6th fittest person in the world, as she opens up for the first time about her life with Epilepsy…What it is, how she lives with it, and why it may be the very reason for her successes in life: Things About Epilepsy Nobody Tells You.


Music is, indeed, the ultimate healing. Thanks for sharing your journey.


We have been thinking about and praying for you and your family a lot throughout this trial. I think you captured it perfectly, that the most important thing of embracing and making the most of your gift of life, even when it isn’t exactly how we planned it or wanted it to be. That doesn’t mean we don’t work to improve the situation, but there is a lot to gain as we persevere.


May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services