The process of recovering from autoimmune limbic encephalitis has, at least for now, made me a lot less strict on my dietary principles. Given how much I used to run, and how careful I used to be as to my diet, it’s remarkable that I still fit in my clothes! I saw that play out in early August while we were working and playing with as well as caring for family and friends in Ohio. And it all played out in an ice cream shop of all places! That’s where the point was driven home: there’s no one, right answer to the questions we ask; so go with the flow and enjoy the time we are given. We only live once.
I was born and raised in the Cleveland, Ohio area of the United States of America and I still have a lot of family and friends in that part of the world. It’s fun to go “home”, to connect with those folks, and to share good times together. That is, after all, what family and friends are for. If we aren’t having fun together then there’s something wrong with that picture. Until and unless, of course, we’re going through a medical emergency or health trauma such as the one I have been experiencing for the past year. That’s when it’s time for family and friends to rally together and support each other through the hard times.
We have been blessed with family and friends who know how and are willing to do both. We have shared the good as well as the hard times together, and we have done so with consistent equanimity. Simply put, this is a great gang of folk with whom to hang out. Or, to express my feelings as my daughter-in-law Michelle likes to say, “I love this family.” We stand with and take good care of each other.
At the end of last month and the beginning of this month, we had a chance to return the caring that my now 91-year-old father extended to me, to Megan, and to the rest of the family when I came down with my health crisis a year ago. He ended up with a bout of cellulitis in his legs, a painful bacterial infection of the skin and tissues beneath the skin. Just as he jumped in the car to help out with me back then, we jumped in the car to help out with him now. Fortunately, he seems to be recovering nicely.
Being content that he was recovering and that we could leave him safely in the hands of my sister and other family members, we headed back to Virginia after first stopping in Columbus, Ohio – where Megan’s sister, Maura Rawn, the Chief Operating Officer of our coaching and coach-training companies, as well as Erika Jackson, who we long-ago claimed as an adopted daughter and dear partner on the journey of life and work. It was very special to be visiting with so many precious and dear loved ones.
At one point, once again throwing my dietary principles to the wind, I went over to a Cold Stone Creamy stand at local music festival along with Maura’s husband, Dave. After waiting in line, our turn arrived to try a few samples and to place our orders. That’s when I really went crazy. In my wife’s case, it’s essential to be gluten free because she suffers from celiac disease. She really pays a price if she eats the grains that contain gluten, such wheat, barley, and rye. In my case, it’s more a matter of conviction and science: gluten-free is a healthy way to eat and live. If you have been reading Provisions for any length of time at all, then you have no-doubt read a Provision or Wellness Tip on that topic.
This time around, however, at the music festival, I totally threw my principles to the wind. As we sampled different ice creams for an evening treat, I happened to notice Cookie Dough Ice Cream. The attendant asked if I would like to try a sample. “Oh, no,” I said, “I’m gluten free.” That’s when I looked at Dave, shrugged my shoulders, and said, “Oh well, let’s try it.” The attendant responded with a smile and said, “That’s the right answer.” Well it was certainly yummy and it won me over with one bite. “I’ll have that,” I said, and the attendant replied, with a wink and a smile, “That’s the right answer.”
So it went with every topping and treat he could imagine to throw onto the ice cream. “Hot fudge?” “Oh, I guess so,” I replied. “That’s the right answer,” he said. Wink. Smile. “Caramel?” “Oh, sure, why not?” “That’s the right answer.” Wink. Smile. “Whipped cream?” “Let’s go for it.” Wink. Smile Afterwards, Dave looked at me, with a wink and a smile of his own, observing, “He tells everyone, ‘That’s the right answer.'”
Now that may be good for business but it was also good for my soul. And it played out again, soon thereafter, with nothing but goodness and love, when I saw a young man, who I did not know, sitting on a tree stump, down the hill from my house towards the lake, playing a guitar. I went down to say hello and discovered that his name was Michael and that he was the son of my next-door neighbor. I mentioned that I had a guitar of my own, a 12-string, but that I had not played it in a long time. “Why don’t you go get it,” he said, “we could play together.” So I did.
After getting things tuned up, and the guitar turned out to be in amazingly good tune considering how long it’s been since had I tuned it up, we started playing together. Or, perhaps I should say, that I started playing what few tunes I could remember and he started following along. I would play a chord set, making one mistake after another, and he would pick up the pieces. To my delight, no matter how little I remembered or how bad I played he would make it sound good. He would watch my fingers, follow along, and turn it into something enjoyable.
Just like the man in the ice cream shop, this young man had a way of making me feel good with a wink and a smile. I would apologize for my poor playing and he would say, “No, man, you’re doing fine. Just keep playing. We’ll make it right.” And so we did. Once again, we found the right answer – this time, without any calories at all.
Both experiences, in the ice cream shop and on the tree stump, made me feel good. And it made me realize that the right answer is often a matter of perspective. There are certainly contexts, such as technical ones, where the right answer is defined by external requirements. But it is more often the case that the right answer is a matter of perspective. And whether or not we give someone credit for coming up with the right answer is a matter of choice.
I, for one, am trying to choose to give people that credit and I would urge you to do the same. Instead of judging people for not coming up with the “right” answer – which is often the answer that we have in mind – find ways to see and explore the “rightness” in whatever answer they discover and then embrace it fully. When that happens, all manner of goodness is possible. And that truly is the right answer.
Coaching Inquiries: What is your perspective on right and wrong? Do you hold a fixed or a flexible view? What perspective would bring your life more zest and joy? How could you live from that place more frequently or consistently? Who could help you to make it so?
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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.
Hope you are better and better / everyday in every way!! I’m wondering if you could share how you get to tape a person like you mentioned with your grandson, using Animoto, and that you’d have loved to have your mom on video in this way. Any suggestions on how I do this without being a tech person?? Thanks!!!
Here is how my daughter-in-law, the Animoto guru, describes the process: “If you know how to utilize any digital camera or cell phone with camera and video capabilities, then you too can create a digital video montage of really anything! Take lots of pictures and videos (10 seconds or less) of what you want to make a video. Create an account at www.animoto.com (there’s a yearly fee). Choose which video type you want to create and then follow all of the directions on Animoto.
The basic idea is that you upload the pictures and videos you want, put them in order, add music (Animoto has a huge selection, but you can also upload your own mp3 files), add captions of you want, and then click “create video!” From there it’s all about enjoyment. I would recommend poking around the Animoto site for more detailed instructions and to see if that’s the program that best fits your needs. Have fun!”
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
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