authenticity 101

parenting

When The Vision Becomes Reality Part 1


Family in London

I call myself a Vision Coach, which is not always easy to explain. Basically, I support people to explore and connect to their values in order to create a vision for their life. Although I have actual coaching credentials, my true qualifications lie in the fact that I practice what I preach and am passionate about visioning.

I struggle with the idea of blogging, wanting to protect my personal life and the life of my family from public scrutiny. However, in order to practice authenticity, I want to share how having a vision in my own life has led to incredible moments of vulnerability, self-awareness and complete happiness. The photo you see here is one such moment of happiness. Chris and I had been separated for over 2 years when this photo was taken. I was dating a lovely English fellow and he and I took my girls to visit his family in England. Chris flew to London to meet us there after a week, spent the weekend with us and then returned to Toronto with the girls so I could spend an extra week travelling with my new partner. This photo was taken one evening in a pub and I remember how thrilled I was to have Chris there with us so that we could enjoy the experience as a family.

So how did we get to a place where my ex would fly to England to spend a weekend with me and our girls? By having a vision for a healthy relationship and putting our kids first, then taking the steps to make it a reality.

When Chris left in 2006, I was devastated. I truly believe he was too. I knew he had been unhappy for a while, but was completely unaware of the depth of his despair over the state of our relationship. He had not voiced it in a way that reached me, and it wasn’t until he said he needed to leave that I realized there was something seriously wrong. In hindsight, I had disconnected from my own feelings and was living on auto-pilot. Neither one of us had found a way to say to each other what we were really feeling and our intimacy and authenticity had become non-existent. In having the courage to leave (I say this knowing how incredibly difficult it was for him to come to the decision) he forced me to look at what wasn’t working anymore and why. I had to self-reflect and take a long look at my own behaviour in the breakdown of our marriage. In that moment of feeling hurt, angry and rejected it would have been easy to be a victim by blaming, punishing and speaking ill of the man who left me. But I didn’t, despite being in a tremendously painful period in our relationship, because it went against all of my values of trust, honesty, love and commitment. Thankfully, he had those same values which we could re-build on. We found a way to love and honour, respect and commit to our family and our children even if we weren’t husband and wife through therapy, long conversations and loads of patience ... with each other!

Our vision for the future was to create a new relationship that included healthy, happy parents raising beautiful daughters together. This would be a very long blog if I described how many times we took one step forward and two steps back to create the relationship we have today. But in the end, being honest with each other, saying the difficult things with love and having healthy boundaries all contribute to an amazing relationship that we are grateful for every day. I no longer have a husband in Chris, but I have a loving and dedicated partner who shares in the challenges and blessings of raising our girls together. We truly have attained the vision we had for our family, despite its non-traditional appearance. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Just Be Curious


The Girls

As a parent of teenage girls, one of the biggest challenges has been finding the balance between creating the boundaries for their safety and allowing for the necessary learning from mistakes. Of course there has to be structure and consequences, but there needs to be room for the pushing back and discovering their own set of values and who they are. It is incredibly hard to watch my children make choices that I don’t agree with, or repeat mistakes that they have already made and “should” have learned from. The temptation to launch into sermons and manage their lives for them is very powerful! Even with all that I know about each of us interpreting the world in our own way, the fear that their current choices will have an irrevocable impact on who they will grow up to be creates anxiety and an inability to connect with them in the moment. Living in a future based on conjecture is not a particularly efficient way to connect in a loving way with my children in the present.

As the month of January arrives, it is inevitable that we hear and read about resolutions. I’ve enjoyed reading some interesting blogs, namely Christine Kane’s (www.christinekane.com) and Brené Brown’s (www.brenebrown.com) who both suggest the choosing of a word as an intention for the year rather than having resolutions. I thought about this and decided that my word for the year would be “curious”. When I am curious, there is no room for judgement. If I am truly being curious, I am open-minded, available to hear the answer and not simply wanting confirmation of something I already know. There’s room for dialogue, for new information and a new perspective.

As a parent, I want to give my girls a voice of their own and the opportunity to make their own choices. This means there will be some level of conflict and drama. I need to continually balance my responsibility as a parent to put in place age-appropriate boundaries and consequences while respecting and encouraging their growth and learning through trial and error. And I need to stay curious and flexible when the need for control shows up.

As I strive to be more curious this year, what will you strive for? What word would you pick to create a new perspective for yourself?