October 3, 2016
Happy October. Busy, Busy, right? Always heading somewhere. Moving. Shaking. It is hard to be anywhere. Really there. That was why when my friend, Hilary Zunin, sent me a thank you email for having lunch with her and ‘resting in the now,’ I was so touched.
I think Oscar Wilde was right with his assertion that “to live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” We need to live more and to live we need to be present in our moments with each other. It’s all we’ve got.
A few ways I ‘rest in the now’ and try to not just exist, but ‘live’:
- Internally saying a little prayer of celebration and honor when I am starting work with a set of workshop attendees and they are doing their initial writing or group discussions. It grounds me in the now.
- Welcoming people into my row on an airplane. I am almost always on the aisle, so once everyone has been seated I ‘welcome them to Row 21.’ Folks are surprised, but we are all present and accounted for and we might just have eye contact for a few seconds and not just when someone needs to go to the loo.
- Shaking the hand of the person who drove me to or from the airport.
- If I can, being at the sign in table when folks come in. Getting a sense of their energy, how the vibe is going. Then, depending on the ‘feel’ of each person I try to ‘share a little love’ by coming over to their table sooner or giving them space.
- “Claiming” the group as my own. Sitting down at tables, being on their side, imagining the challenges they face and trying to be tenaciously of support.
- Giving full-body hugs. If someone comes up to me and shares a vulnerable story or a thank you, I full body hug. If a handshake feels better, I do that but I am ‘in it.’
Some might say these strategies aren’t ‘voice lessons,’ but I think ‘inside talk’, how one talks to one’s self, and outside action are both very much how you share your voice with others. May you find ways that work for you to not just exist, but to live. And come say hi and a full-body hug is yours if you would like!
The Women in Leadership Institute is almost here and we would love to see you in New Orleans November 16-18. Fun, candid conversation about being a female leader in education. Great workshops, networking and laughs. We invite you to join us. Here is a blog to explain why you should attend and why we need this conference for female leaders from my colleague, Jane Kise.
And in honor of my dear friend, Hilary Zunin, co-author with her late husband, Leonard Zunin, of The Art of Condolence: What to Write, What to Say, What to Do at a Time of Loss a shout out for a gift that book is. If you haven’t seen it, you must. It is also available on line as an e-read. Hilary has just shared with me a beautiful piece on how to write to someone who is terminally ill. It is a voice lesson that you might need at time you need to be most humane and compassionate.
I am a big fan of the podcast, On Being, and the contributors, Parker Palmer, author of Healing the Heart of Democracy The Courage to Create a Politic Worthy of the Human Spirit and Courtney Martin, author of The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream. They are both featured in a cross-generational discussion on The Inner Life of Rebellion. You could watch this season’s Survivor: Gen X vs. Millennials or listen to this. Enjoy!
About Jennifer Abrams
Jennifer Abrams considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague and supervising an employee. Jennifer holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Jennifer's publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course by the same name.
Work with Jennifer
Praise for Jennifer
“Our school’s work with Jennifer Abrams has sown the seeds of stronger communication skills among the adults in the building. This has only served to strengthen the integrity of communication between staff and students as well. We’ve added her language to our expectations: honest, humane, and growth-producing conversations occur regularly.”