Happy Thanksgiving!

For those of you who are American, I want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving. For those who are from other countries, it’s a great time before Christmas comes to remember to give thanks for all of our blessings, both large and small. It’s so easy for many of us to get caught up in the endless wave of consumerism and to crave more, when in fact the greatest lesson is being happy with what we have.

Chelsea Dinsmore, who took over her husband’s organization called Live Your Legend after he died two years ago, posted recently about the importance of gratitude, particularly in times of grief. Her husband was killed from rock falling as they were nearing the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Chelsea had to spend days climbing back down the mountain while her husband’s body was carried down with the group, and yet she chose even in the darkest time to look for whatever gratitude she could find. She shared this poem, which I am in turn re-posting here. I love the idea that not having everything we desire allows us to have something to look forward to, and that going through hard times enables us to build character. It may not feel that way in the moment, but we can often see it later looking back.

In a world of presidential tweets, airbrushed models, sound bites, fake news, and false social media images, it’s a good reminder to know that there are no short-cuts. Instead, we need to remember the basics: Show up, work hard, do your best, be grateful, and be kind to others. In Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Richard Carlson once wrote, “Be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low.” I think of that often when things aren’t going as well. And these days with all the bad news, from horrific shootings to natural disasters to nuclear threats, it’s a test sometimes to be graceful. But gratitude makes that possible.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, take some time this holiday season to be grateful for all you have. As you seek your world stage, remember that there is nothing more attractive than a grateful person.

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
~ Author Unknown ~

 

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Let Us Give Thanks

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are once again upon us. It seems like just a few months ago that I was making New Year’s Resolutions and committing to brand new goals, when in fact here we are with six weeks left to our year. I must admit that I do love this time of year, with golden leaves, crisp air, mittens and pumpkins and dressing up, gathering with family, twinkling lights and shiny ornaments.

My kids aren’t little anymore– my younger child will be a teen in 3 months, so I’m no longer doing the snow suit dance in which you get both kids in all the layers and then someone has to use the bathroom. They listen to music that consists of lots of breathless men playing the ukulele and I long for some Elton John or Aretha or even Queen.  We’re not going on “hikes” in the neighborhood anymore to collect leaves in our buckets to make into pretty pictures. We still pick apples most years, but really fall has become the backdrop of a busy back-to-school season, with dances and sleep-overs, homework, soccer practices and games and lots of scheduling and logistics. We don’t have anyone dressed as superheroes with capes anymore, but my son did volunteer to go to a diversity conference today so that his classmates would know that white guys care about diversity too. My daughter no longer dresses as princess who can change bad to good with her wand, but she helped a woman this fall who had collapsed by the road. She didn’t have a wand, but she had her cell phone and called 911, waiting until the EMT arrived.

This holiday season I want things to be different for me.  I will not rush or overspend or eat until I’m stuffed. Instead, I will try to be present and more moderate, to spend time enjoying the season, to take my time. It’s not easy to do, but a great start is gratitude, remembering that most of us are not escaping war-torn countries, many of us have enough to eat and a place to sleep, and some of us have work that makes us happy.  Today I went to the mall with my family to do some evening shopping and realized how easy it is to pull away from gratitude when you are surrounded by excess– store after store with beautiful things to look at and buy and own. It takes really presence not to get sucked into believing that you will be happier if you own all the shiny objects that are for sale. I tried a few things on in a horrible dressing room with unflattering light and three- way mirrors. It’s a wonder that I bought anything and left feeling at all good about myself in that light and with those angles.

When my kids were little, we used to spend time in the car talking about what we were grateful for. My kids came up with the most wonderful ideas. Here is an excerpt from a Christmas letter that I came across recently, describing the year when my kids were 4 and 2: “Will talks so constantly that Isabel can’t get a word in edgewise. He also loves to shout, “thank you, God!” whenever we’re driving. When we ask what they are grateful for, Isabel tends to be practical, mentioning her house and her friends. Will is more specific—“I’m grateful for blackberries, rocks and gourds. And peaches and mouths.”

So this holiday season, remember that a big part of finding your world stage, is realizing the parts of it that you already have. Let us be grateful for our own version of “peaches and mouths” and shine a light on a world that so needs our joy and our peace.

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In Praise of Soldiers

Last fall my son was asked to sing the 6th grade solo in which he sings from the perspective of a boy soldier in World War I: “My name is Francis Toliver/ I come from Liverpool/ Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school. To Belgium and to Flanders/to Germany to here/I fought for King and country I love dear.” The song called “Christmas in the Trenches” relates the events that happened the first Christmas during the Great War, when both sides stopped fighting for a brief period, left their trenches and met their enemies unarmed, trading chocolates and cigarettes, and showing photographs of back home. They sang and played instruments and even exchanged a game of football. Once daylight returned, however, the men went back to war. I worked with my son as he prepared to inhabit this character to have him understand what it must have been like to be just a teenage boy not much older than he is, stuck in the trenches, cold and muddy and wishing for a real Christmas. That one night of rest from fighting must have been magical.

It’s easy to forget on Veteran’s Day that this is not just some random holiday that allows us a day off, but is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended the Great War that boys like Francis Toliver slogged through. It, of course, includes other soldiers from other wars, but the date is tied to the end of the Great War, which was called that because it never occurred to anyone that there would be another war. Once we had World War II, the term World War I replaced the term Great War.

Today’s boys have no idea what it was like for those who were the right age before these big wars. They didn’t have a choice in the matter. It was their duty to sacrifice their lives to defend our freedom. Today’s soldiers choose to go to war. They are not drafted, but decide to devote their lives to our country, because they want to make a difference and/or because it’s their chance to do something important and see the world. Whatever the reason, I am grateful for their sacrifice.

I think of my grandfather Horace, who left his young family to volunteer for World War II in his thirties because he felt that he had to fight for our freedom. He was among the early boats that landed at Normandy in June 1944, and described years later the terror of arriving on that beach, knowing that the Germans who were planted up the hill would just be shooting at them non-stop as they tried to make their way from the water on up. Many didn’t make it, but my grandfather somehow did. When I was twelve, I visited Normandy and I couldn’t believe how steep the hill was and how unprotected that beach was. It’s amazing that anyone made it out alive. And yet that landing was a key turning point in the war. With over 150,000 soldiers, the Allies’ successful attack created a victory that became the turning point in the war.
So today, I honor all the soldiers who have served our country throughout time.  I am grateful for your sacrifice and for the freedom you fought for, so that we could all be free. America is great because of all the soldiers who shivered in the cold, in trenches and huddled in boats, waiting for boredom to switch to terror. To all the Francis Tolivers out there, you are my heroes.
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Your Turn

Dear readers,

I am home sick with a nasty cold/virus and have actually lost my voice, which is ironic, given that I write about helping clients to find their voices. Of course, my work is figurative, and the only thing that will help my croaking voice go back to normal, is less work and more rest. So this week, I’m letting my readers write for me.

This is where you come in. I have all these wonderful subscribers, some of whom are family or friends and some of whom are current clients. But, most of you I don’t know yet. I really would love to hear from you to get to know you, so I can write more of what YOU want to read.

Send me an email and let me me know a few things about you. THE FIRST 5 PEOPLE TO RESPOND GET A FREE 50 MINUTE COACHING SESSION.  Just email me at: melinda@worldstagecoaching.com with your quick answers and I’ll contact the winners. The only rule is that you need to be a subscriber who is not someone I have been in contact with recently– so no family, close friends or clients.

  1. Why did you subscribe to my blog, Your World Stage?
  2. What topic do you enjoy reading about most and least?
  3. What is your biggest dream and where is your world stage?
  4. What is keeping you from finding your voice?
  5. What is your favorite place on earth?

Here are my quick answers: 1) I subscribed to the blog because I want to get a copy of my writing in my email box to save! 2) I enjoy reading about overcoming adversity and I don’t like reading about taxes. 3) My biggest dream is to sing on stage with Yo Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall with my parents, my husband and kids, and Oprah there. 4) My biggest challenge– constantly setting boundaries with my kids and others, so that when I say no, it means no. 5) Favorite place ever: Walking down Georgia Lane, in Portola Valley, CA and taking in the pungent smell of dried grasses.

Wishing you all a very healthy, non-voice-losing week. Take a second to contact me.  I’d love to hear from you.

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