If You’re Happy And You Know It…

happy pope

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve heard the wisdom of finding a vocation that you love.

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.      — Marc Anthony

Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still. — Henry David Thoreau

I like the thought behind that premise, I really do, and I also recognize that it’s not always practical. Sometimes we end up in a career and we’re good at it, but not quite sure how that happened. It’s not what we intended at the beginning.

Then the thought of chucking away the years we’ve invested, the built-up salary, the four weeks of vacation….losing all that can be intimidating enough to keep us in place.

Maybe if you feel you’re stuck in a job or a career, you can do what I did for many years: Make your dream vocation a part-time job or your hobby.

Throughout my years in finance, I taught and spoke on my own time. I became engaged with organizations that offered opportunities to do so. It wasn’t every week or even every month, but it was enough to satisfy the longing for fulfillment of the purpose I felt was my true calling.

In Dr. Martin Seligman’s book Authentic Happiness he posits that to truly lead a happy and productive life, we should do work that encapsulates and makes strong use of our five greatest character strengths.

Dr. Seligman is associated with the University of Pennsylvania and the site noted at the end of this post offers various free psychological assessments. Figuring that I already knew my strengths, I decided to confirm them by taking the VIA Survey of Character Strengths questionnaire.

Because most of us DO feel we know ourselves, right? We’re typically not blind-sided by taking online personality quizzes.

But this is not a pop personality quiz. At 240 questions it takes about 20 minutes. The test results rank a total of 24 strengths from high to low. The higher number the strength, the more you need to incorporate it into your work to be happier.

Since I felt I knew myself, I assumed my top strength would be creativity (actually #8). Or maybe optimism (#11). Leadership? (#9).

My results left me looking like a dog who hears a sound he can’t identify. I stared at my results, head tilted, eyes squinting.

My #1 strength would leave me either relatively unemployable OR I would need to usurp the two men currently holding the only positions that would make my #1 strength a strict job requirement. Since my #1 strength is forgiveness and mercy, I figure I would need to replace either God or Pope Francis.

Because when I Google “What career requires forgiveness and mercy” (in quotation marks meaning that EXACT word search), there are no results found. Substituting vocation or job brings up the same zero findings.

Eliminating the quotation marks brings up job openings at Our Lady of Mercy or an application to become a nun at Sisters of Mercy. Since I’m not Catholic, I’m married, and I don’t like wearing black, the nun gig will not work out. Also, would they even allow my hound dog at the convent?

Enough kidding. (Humor was #12.) I DO want to understand how forgiveness and mercy can help me be a better speaking coach.

As any of us travels the road of forgiveness and mercy, we come to a place of transformation. Because forgiveness is transformative. It’s this tremendous letting go of a weight within your heart. Even if the person being forgiven isn’t aware that he/she had done something that needed to be forgiven…even if the person is aware but isn’t sorry…even if the person is no longer in your life. Yes, even if whatever scenario you can imagine.

So as I’m encouraging people to find their own voices to tell their individual stories, I will remind them to be kind and merciful to themselves as they learn. That when they’re watching the videos of their presentation, to be forgiving of whatever flaws show up, note what they want to change, and take the positive steps to be a transformed speaker.

And as always, I will encourage each student to be a good audience member…forgiving the flaws in other speakers and offering mercy by applauding first and the loudest.

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Authentic Happiness site

 

It’s Not Always About a Happy Ending

Happy ending

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

In wrapping up the preparation of a workshop for later this month, my presentation close is, appropriately enough, about endings.

Endings are a big deal: We end our babyhood by learning to walk. Our little kid stage ends on the first day of kindergarten. High school or college graduation may be seen as the end of our formal education. (Although I encourage you to be a lifelong learner.) Our first job with a paycheck and the accompanying first apartment end our years of being financially cared for by others. Retiring is the end of a connection to the actively working world.

All are big deals, indeed. Endings have a sense of significance if done right.

But I have seen and heard speakers reach the end of a speech or presentation and unceremoniously announce, “That’s all I have.”  OR “That wraps up what I wanted to tell you.”

I call that type of ending the Porky Pig close — “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!”

Effectively closing a presentation is one more relevant way to engage your audience so they will remember your message. That’s because we human beings have a tendency to recall endings which can help us connect to the main message.

Daniel Pink’s book WHEN, The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing details fascinating studies about endings and how an ending of significance helps us recall more of the event and makes it more satisfying.

Lest you think I forget what I’ve written about, yes, I have mentioned this book before in my post Time is Not the Enemy. And yes, his book is THAT good to deserve multiple mentions from me.

Here’s a fascinating idea: Our speeches and the stories we share don’t necessarily have to have a happy ending to be well-received and long-remembered. In fact, says Pink, a more satisfying ending contains an element of poignancy which he defines as a complex emotional mix of happiness and sadness.

Online dictionaries couch poignancy in these terms: “evoking a keen sense of sadness or regret…something that deeply affects the emotions…sharply emotional.”  Indeed, the root word origin is the Latin pungere, meaning to sting or pierce.

I like Pink’s understanding best…that bittersweet, roller coaster ride of emotions that wash over your heart where you’re laughing or smiling or gently nodding your head yes even as tears fill your eyes and the lump in your throat makes it almost impossible to swallow.

A perfect example of an ending filled with poignancy is the last five minutes of Toy Story 3. The boy Andy is all grown up and leaving for college. The remainder of his favorite little boy toys (unexpectedly including Woodie) are boxed up, and he delivers them to Bonnie, a little neighborhood girl.

“I’m going away now and I need someone really special to play with them,” Andy tells Bonnie, as he hands over ownership.

Go ahead and watch the ending on the YouTube link below and try not to feel anything. I double-dog dare you.

Daniel Pink says, “…the most powerful endings deliver poignancy because poignancy delivers significance. Adding a small component of sadness to an otherwise happy moment elevates that moment rather than diminishes it.”

We may think we want a happy ending; after all, we’re programmed for it as in, “And they lived happily ever after.”

But Pink goes on to say, “The best endings don’t leave us happy. Instead, they produce something richer—a rush of unexpected insight, a fleeting moment of transcendence, the possibility that by discarding what we wanted we’ve gotten what we need.”

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Porky Pig

Toy Story 3 ending

 

 

Make It A Banana

Banana

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

In 1998 I had the good fortune to attend a presentation given by psychoneuroimmunologist Joan Borysenko.

(Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of the interaction and connection between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body.)

The mind and body are connected in ways you may not even imagine. When you care for one, you are also caring for the other. For example, eating well, getting enough sleep, and getting some exercise (which we consider primarily as doing the right things for our body) are all caring for our mind as well.

And when you are hurting one, you are also hurting the other. For instance, letting anxiety consume your thoughts or refusing to forgive someone harms not only your mind but also your body.

I was, and still am, a huge fan of Dr. Borysenko’s book Minding the Body, Mending the Mind. It’s remarkable that this book that I read in the early 90s can be such a useful resource in my public speaking classes.

I finished teaching an eight-session class today and closed this final lesson with a story from her book.

Using a large, pumpkin-like gourd, hunters in Southeast Asia can easily trap monkeys. Leaving the gourd intact except for a small hole, the hunter hollows it out enough to slip in a banana. The monkey comes by, smells the banana, and sticks in his hand to grab the goodie.

At this point, the monkey is trapped. He wants that banana and doesn’t have the awareness to realize that if he would just let go, he could be free to find another banana. Dr. B writes, “The monkey quite literally is a prisoner of his own mind.”

We might smile at this story and think, “Silly monkey.” But how many times throughout our lives do we hold on to something that keeps us a prisoner?

Someone may be unkind to us and we hold on to the memory of that injustice for how long? We replay the story over and over in our heads becoming more unhappy or mad or upset with each replaying.

We may have had a negative experience in public speaking, and we hold on to that experience as though it defines us as a person who is totally inept at giving a talk.

In our quest to find the perfect someone with whom to share our lives, we may be unjustifiably hurt by betrayal or lies. We hold on to that indignity, letting it color future relationships in ugly shades because we don’t want to be hurt again.

There’s a common theme here…holding on. Just like the monkey and that doggone banana.

The next time you find yourself holding on to a negative thought, idea, or feeling, I want you to remember the image of that monkey, sitting forlornly, his hand inside the gourd, and remember that he has trapped himself by refusing to let go.

And then take this advice concerning your negative thought, idea or feeling: Make it a banana and drop it.

 

 

 

 

Transitioning from Point 1 to Point B

Transition

Photo courtesy of Mathew Schwart on Unsplash

Transition can be defined as an in-between state. It’s a journey, a passage, from one stage to another.

In architecture, a transition is a connecting space between two confined areas. For example, a foyer serves as a transition by connecting the entryway to a living area space.

In life, we may say people are in transition when they’re between life stages such as having just graduated from college but not yet working.

A company may be in transition as they move from one ownership and management style to another.

In the theater, we may be prompted to recognize a transitional state by a change of scenery or by the use of music or light.

So yes, it’s a passage from one state to another, moving from A to B.

The proper use of transitional words or phrases is vital for anyone who performs training or does any type of public speaking. Our audiences (whether in a classroom, boardroom, meeting room, or a large venue) need to be able to follow us if they are to learn from us.

Perhaps, as an audience member, you’ve found yourself out of sync with the speaker and asking yourself, “Is the speaker still on point 3 or has he moved on?” That means the speaker has not done a good job of transitioning.

An effective speaker will leave many breadcrumbs and road signs throughout a presentation or talk. Our audiences need to be able to follow us if they are going to understand, believe, and remember our messages. Here are some ways we can help our listeners follow us.

  1. If naming your main points, be consistent in how you name them. Unlike the title of this post which is purposely misleading, if you use numbers, stick with numbers. (Point one or First) If using letters, stick with letters. You may be saying, “Thank you, Captain Obvious,” but I often hear speakers mixing them up.
  2. It’s not necessary to actually name the points. You can use phrases such as another action item is, moving on to the next idea, a similarly interesting factor is, OR that takes us to the final point. What IS necessary is letting our audiences know we are moving on.
  3. When you provide supporting material for a main point, use transitional phrases such as these to let the audience know you’re not just giving your own opinion: as an illustration, to demonstrate this point, let me show you, to emphasize the importance, experts have noted that, as recent scientific studies show, and other similar phrases.
  4. Time sequences need to be noted; otherwise, our listeners may become confused. If a speaker is covering several time periods, it’s vital to clarify the timing. Say, “That summary was our company’s focus for the first five years. But in 2015, we moved our attention to…. Then last year, we targeted improving employee retention.” These timing transitions help the audience to move right along with the speaker.
  5. The final transition I’ll mention today is the close. Do you see how I set that up? By saying, “The final transition…” I let you know that this post is coming to an end. Endings are meaningful but are often overlooked. I’ve heard speakers cover their last point and then abruptly say, “That’s all I have.” OR “I’m done. Thanks.” Endings may be what your audience most remembers, even if they really liked the entire talk! So let them know you’re transitioning to a close by using phrases similar to these: before I close, in conclusion, in summary, finally, as we come to the end of today’s workshop.

May all of your transitions be both smooth and easy to follow.  

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Good idea words from John A. Dutton e-Education Institute

 

What Are You Listening To?

Listen

Photo courtesy of Couleur on Pixabay.com

As part of a warm-up routine before giving a presentation or talk, I suggest students use music. Once I asked a class if they were already in the habit of including music—either listening to or singing along—before speaking. A man we’ll call Theo raised his hand. He said, “Yes, I play Whenever You Come Around by Vince Gill a couple of times and sing along in the car on the way to an event where I have to speak.”

Now this gentleman had some major fear issues related to speaking before a group. You can hear it in how he worded his response of “where I HAVE to speak.” He was filled with speaking anxiety and could find no joy in sharing his message; it was just something he had to do as part of his job.

Our conversation went on something like this:

Me:             Theo, I think you need a better song choice.

Theo:          Why?

Me:             I do believe the chorus of that song goes something like: “I get weak in the knees; and I lose my breath. Oh I try to speak but the words won’t come I’m so scared to death.”

Theo:          Yes, that’s right.

Me:             The idea of using music before speaking is to influence ourselves in a positive way. With that song you’re setting up yourself to have shaky knees and no voice.

Theo:          But I really like to sing that song.

Me:             Great! Here’s what you do. AFTER your next presentation, find a place that has karaoke, sign up, and when your turn comes, belt it out. But find something else to sing as part of your warm-up routine.

As part of our presentation pre-game routine, we need to think like a motivated athlete. Let’s pump it up and not wallow around. Be in the YES attitude, not the WELL, MAYBE attitude.

You may be asking yourself right now, “What’s on your presentation pre-game playlist, Norma?” I’ll share a few at the bottom of this post, but I don’t want you to just use mine since this needs to be personal. What speaks to you? What motivates you?

There are so many musical genres and my list is wide-ranging. It includes French organ music (Widor’s Toccata), soul man James Brown’s I Feel Good, and several inspiring religious songs such as Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.

As my good friend Marybeth likes to say, “You are what you listen to.”

So please be sure to exclude all those sad country songs from your playlist. And yes, before you ask, that includes Willy Nelson singing Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.

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Widor’s Toccata

James Brown

Josh Groban’s version of Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring

Oh OK. Here’s Willy crying in the rain

 

 

 

 

 

Searching for Just the Right Word

Original word

Photo courtesy of Gavin Allanwood on Unsplash

Do you repeat yourself? No, I’m not inquiring whether or not you tell stories repetitiously. (“Say, have I ever told you about the time I….”)

Instead, I’m asking this: Are you word lazy? Many of us are. We get in a rut, using and overusing the same small vocabulary of words.

In a coaching session last month, I pointed out that a client used the word “thing” seventeen times in a fifteen-minute talk.

She uttered phrases such as, “The number one thing we need to watch for is…” and “The important thing to do first is…” and “Which thing has the most impact?”

I’m fond of speech coach Patricia Fripp’s take on the overuse of the word thing. Fripp has been quoted as saying, “Specificity builds credibility.” When we refer to issues, problems, and solutions as “things” we’re being overly non-specific and so we come across as lacking credibility.

Personally, I overuse the word great. I use it so much it has lost its meaning:  A great meal, a great visit, a great time, a great movie, a great friend, a great idea, a great TED talk…..”How are you, Norma?”  I’m great, thanks for asking.

Great is beginning to grate on my nerves.

Thanks to the online site Thesaurus.com, using the section of synonyms, I’m now building my own list of words to substitute for great. Although it’s not listed as a possible synonym for great, I like the word spectacular.

Listening to yourself is a rewarding experience as I wrote about on March 6.   I understand that can be a daunting exercise. Maybe as you work up your courage to try that, start by paying extra attention to yourself while you’re speaking. See if you can hear/find your own word laziness. Then use the synonym search tool to replace the word.

Note: If you’re hearing too much swearing (as some of my students admit to!), you should cut that out anyhow. You know who you are.

Stuck on a nonsense word or phrase like a parrot? Examples are “Gotcha” and “Right, right,” as your go-to response to let someone know you’re following what they’re saying.

How many words are there? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there are “full entries for 171,476 words in current use and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries.”

Figures are all over the place for the vocabulary of the average American. Links to some articles are below. Do we know 20,000 words?  40,000? 70,000  or more words? But how many words we KNOW and how many words we USE are two different categories.

Let’s step away from our word laziness and use a wider variety of words to tell our stories.

That will be a great thing.

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Article on how many words are there in the English language

Here is one test for how many words average American knows

Here is a test you can take

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones

Sticks and stones

Photo courtesy of Rok Zabukovec on Unsplash

The young woman on the stage was obviously terrified. She held a piece of paper that undulated as her hands visibly shook. Her voice quavered as she stumbled through an introduction.

“Our next speaker is Dr. Kathleen, I mean Kathryn uh uh Flame? Flume? She received her doctorate in psychiatry umm I mean psychology from….”

At this point the speaker stormed onto the stage and began shouting at the young woman. “I have given this presentation dozens of times and so have been introduced dozens of times. No one has managed to do the miserable job that you’re doing. Whoever hired you made a terrible mistake. YOU are a mistake.  This is just, just….”

The speaker then stormed off the stage leaving the young woman standing alone, head bowed, quite clearly shamed.

After what seemed like minutes but in reality was about five seconds, the speaker returned and stood at the very front edge of the stage, almost looming into the audience.

She looked at the people attending and in a clear voice said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. That statement is one of the first lies we learn as children. The truth is this: Words DO hurt.”

After a short pause she said, “Please join me in thanking Amanda for being brave and helping me demonstrate this truth.” The young woman was now all smiles and gave the speaker a big hug before she left the stage.

The speaker then began her presentation on the topic of verbal abuse as the audience remained on the proverbial edge of their seats.

Using drama to open a presentation is an effective way of hooking your audience…pulling them into your presentation and causing them to want to listen.

Just imagine if this speaker had been introduced normally, come onto the stage and said this: “Good morning. Today I’m going to talk about verbal abuse.”

Boring with a capital B, right? The audience would already be thinking about something else, checking Facebook or email on their phones, or writing a grocery list for the way home.

It’s important to start every presentation with a great hook and using drama is one way that isn’t used much. Shake up your audience at your next talk!

 

 

Do Not Repeat After Me, Repeat After Me, Repeat After Me

Words

Photo courtesy of SkitterPhotos.com on Pexels.com

Picture this: I’m looking online for a short talk by Simon Sinek that I “accidentally” saw yesterday and didn’t bookmark. Sinek is an author, motivational business coach, and professional speaker. He’s an inspiration to many people, including me. In my search for THAT video, I came across another Sinek interview that highlighted a point I had just taught the day before.

Surprisingly, I discovered that in this 15 minute one-on-one talk, Sinek repeats the word “right” over and over. I’ve seen other Simon Sinek talks and hadn’t picked up on that bad habit. It’s possible the reason for right popping out is due to this being more of an informal talk. Also, his audience of one isn’t giving any verbal attends. (Those are short feedback phrases such as: Oh. Yes. I see. Sure. Uh-huh. I understand. OK.) So when Simon adds, “Right?” he’s confirming that the audience appears to have received the message, and it’s time to move on to another thought.

How do I know this? Because I used to do the same thing with the word OK. It’s almost as if I was reassuring myself that all was well and I could go on to the next point.

What is the point of my encouraging you to watch this short video? (The link is at the end of this post.) Initially, it was to demonstrate that even a professional speaker can get into the habit of repeating a word while presenting.

But the more deeply I listened to the video, the repeated word no longer bothered me. I got so involved in Sinek’s talk that I tuned out the annoyance.

His message was so big it precluded any focus on this minor point.

I began thinking….hey, this is exactly how the process of becoming an amazing speaker works. The transformation into an engaging public speaker is not about learning and practicing ONE great tip from Norma. It’s about learning and practicing one idea and then another and then another.

It’s trying out the ideas you’ve learned and seeing how you can adjust them to fit your own voice and personality. Then each student or client puts together for himself or herself a custom-made toolbox of speaking practices.

Think of it like this: When you want to purchase a new shirt or blouse you may take half a dozen of the items into the fitting room with you. As you try on each one, you notice what works and what doesn’t. This one is a great color, but it’s a little tight across the shoulders. (So you can use this idea, just tweaking it to suit you.) This one looked super on the hanger but not so good on you. (While this concept sounded interesting, you decide it’s not for you.) But this one….Wow! The color matches your eyes and fits perfectly. (This idea becomes cornerstone content of your presentations. It’s your go-to tool whenever you’re speaking.)

So it’s not taking one class, or reading one book, or watching one video. The quick fix…the one and done method doesn’t work for many important aspects of our lives.

Whether it’s speaking or parenting or playing sports or doing our job…if we are to be successful in that role, it means lifelong learning and reading and watching and doing.

PS – Later in the Sinek video when the host actually does speak up, he also starts to add the questioning “right?” to his speech. Is this is his own bad habit or did he simply latch onto the word to mirror Simon? Hmmm…sounds like another blog post to me.

Link to Simon Sinek video

 

Find Your Own Voice

Voice

Photo courtesy of Brandan Keller on Unsplash

Why do we want what other people have?

My friend Sue has the greatest hair. It’s short and curly and a tad unruly, but it’s a perfect fit for her. When I asked how much time she spends on “the look,” she said, “Oh I slept on this and did nothing to my hair this morning.”

THAT is the look every woman I know longs for…to wake up and not have to do ANYTHING to your hair and have it look gorgeous.

So I tried Sue’s directions (which involved curl cream…something I’d never even heard of) and let’s just say, uhh…it looked like a mistake on me.

Sue’s hairdo is not for Norma.

That incident reminded me that once an audience member beseechingly asked me, “Please teach me to sound just like you.”  I replied, “I’m sorry, this is my voice and you can’t have it. But I can help you find your own voice.”

If you don’t like the sound of your voice, you’re not alone. Many people have told me they believe their voice detracts from the quality of their verbal interactions and presentations. Research bears that out; up to 38% of the verbal message that our listeners receive from us is based on various aspects of voice.

The good news is that you can take initial steps to improve some voice issues without spending a gazillion dollars on a voice coach.

The first exercise is to listen to yourself. That means you’ll need to record 30-40 minutes of YOU talking in everyday situations such as your side of a phone conversation, leading or actively participating in a meeting, teaching someone how to do something. Be creative and try to forget that you’re recording yourself.

No one listens to this taping but you. Set aside some private time to analyze your recording to determine what you want to change. Be brave! This is the point some people give up.

Trust yourself. You intuitively have the smarts to know what needs to be changed.

Don’t listen with a critical ear. Instead listen with an open and understanding ear, as though you’re listening to a good friend and you want to help him or her improve.

Do you hear a voice that’s talking so fast you don’t understand what’s being said? Or are the words coming so slowly that you feel yourself nodding off?

Is the voice high pitched to the point that it causes the speaker to sound unsure or even childlike? Or are the words in a dull monotone where every word carries the same weight? A monotone voice can cause disengagement because listeners aren’t quite sure what the main points are or what is being emphasized.

Maybe there’s a word or phrase that’s used repetitively without the speaker’s awareness of doing so. Some of the most overused words I hear are these:

Basically  /  Kinda  /  Literally  /  Sorta  /  So  /  And so  /  Just  /  Thing

Once aware of any issues that detract from the verbal message, we can begin working to repair them.

Your own true voice is inside you. Let it out because I want to hear it!

 

Just Where Do You Think You’re Going?

The Path

A path to Grace Church, Goochland, Virginia — Photo by Brian French. Used with permission.

Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous risks, and embracing challenges at every step along the way…You are on the path, exactly where you are meant to be right now… And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing, of courage, beauty, wisdom, power, dignity, and love.    Used with permission of author Caroline Joy Adams.

I’m part of a faith formation group at church. A dozen of us meet weekly, talking openly about our faith and discussing reactions to and thoughts about faith-focused books.

In a discussion on discernment (how to know when we’re listening to the voice and will of God or…wait, it that just my ego shouting?), I shared that one of the ways I hear God speak to me is when I receive the same focused message in various formats. (And no, it’s not Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.)

Here’s a current message I’ve received several times over the last three months: Follow the path.

On the stand next to my desk lies a book I bought in December: The Path…a Journey Through the Bible.

In January I was cleaning out a stash of paperwork from past projects. One page explains the spiritual aspects of a labyrinth. It had been a handout I gave middle school students before we walked a labyrinth. The above opening quote was the first paragraph of the labyrinth page. And the next line on the handout was this: We are all on the path.

Not a path, mind you. But THE path.

By this time I’m answering God. “OK, I’m getting the message of the Path. But what path?” Receiving no immediate reply, I let it slip from my conscious thought.

In February as I spoke with business people in town about opportunities to add my public speaking classes to leadership and management training programs, several responded with, “You should talk to The Path Foundation. They do training for non-profits and hire instructors from various fields.”

The Path Foundation. The Path.

Are you expecting a happy ending to be inserted here? Sorry.

I haven’t contacted them yet. Letting my insecurity of “Am I good enough to do this?” get in the way of action, I’ve hesitated.

Even though late February’s mail brought me The Path Foundation’s Year in Review brochure, I’ve still held back. I’m usually a highly confident person and so I’m struggling to explain why I haven’t acted upon this.

I’m calling them on Monday because I got one more message the other day.

On pet therapy duty, we entered a hospital room where a woman was sitting up in bed, some personal effects arranged on the bed table in front of her. And what item do you suppose was facing my direction? It was a small black nylon bag with the distinctive Path Foundation logo.

I inquired about it. The woman’s grandson had given it to her after volunteering at Path the prior year. As the woman petted the therapy dog, I kept staring at that nylon bag and the colorful logo. I mean, what were the odds?

In sharing this story with my friend Philip, I said, “It’s as if I’m so dense that God had to keep sending me the same clues over and over.”

He replied, “Here’s my take on it. God loves you so much that he hasn’t given up on your following where this leads.”

I like Philip’s version better than my own.

Maybe I’m intended to be an instructor at Path. Or maybe I’m intended to cross paths (no pun intended) with someone there that will lead in another direction. We’ll see how this unfolds.

Oh, and one more thought from the labyrinth handout: “With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not.”

I’m choosing to enter.

Note to my readers: I’m making a change in how I provide opportunities for you to learn more. So that you have the choice to mindfully read each post in full without clicking on links throughout my story, links will be provided at the end. And of course, soon I’ll be writing on what prompted me to make this change. Stay tuned!

Here are the links to learn more about what I’ve written today:

 Labyrinth        http://www.lessons4living.com/labyrinth.htm

 Author of opening quote    http://www.carolinejoyadams.com/

 The Path Foundation      http://www.pathforyou.org/