Despite having been born and raised in Barbados, surrounded by water, and having a father and grandfather who built and sailed boats, I really was a landlubber. Once he had kids, my Daddy no longer sailed, so I grew up going to the beach and swimming, but not venturing out on the water. So ‘finding my sea legs’, a metaphor given to me by my friend, the remarkable artist Cara Brown, wasn’t something I did until much later in life.
My Papa’s boat under sail in quiet Caribbean waters
However, I didn’t need to go to sea to be impacted by what another friend and colleague Lyn Allen so powerfully named the ‘rogue waves’ of life. Those events that (like rogue waves on the ocean) are the enormous challenges that seem to come out of nowhere, rolling through and over our lives – often with significant impact.
The first big one hit when I was 7. In a way, my childhood ended abruptly when Lotta, my Nanny who had lived with us since I was born, left to go care for her mother who had been injured. The loss of the power of her loving presence was like a huge rogue wave that rocked my life, leaving me untethered and bereft. In my child mind, I figured I must’ve got things all wrong. If I was as wonderful as I thought I was, she’d not have left. Though I didn’t know why or how, I decided I must have been too much trouble. I not only lost her, but I lost confidence in my capacity to know things. It was here that a lifetime of being hypervigilantly attuned to the needs and wants of others, and the disappearing of connection with, and attention to, my own needs and desires began. While this meant I developed all kinds of valuable skills, what I was really trying to do was control everything in a futile attempt to never be too much trouble and risk another painful loss.
In fact I became very skilled in many areas. From the outside, my life looked pretty together, but the personal cost in terms of my relationship with myself was high. Though I couldn’t acknowledge it, by my mid-30s, the tension and exhaustion from trying to hold everything together, and make sure everyone around me was taken care of, began to be noticed by a good friend. But it took being hit by the second enormous rogue wave – my becoming pregnant after having had a tubal ligation – to shake me into consciousness. I could no longer deny that even my best efforts as controlling things couldn’t be counted on, and I truly began to recognize and acknowledge the pain and terror I’d been trying to stave off all along.
At that point even I realized something had to change. Rather than continuing to try to hold myself rigidly still in an attempt to avoid the natural rocking we all experience when sailing along in life, I was ready to begin to allow myself to practice rolling with the waves. Out of desperation, this landlubber was finally open to risking saying ‘yes’ to finding her sea legs.
It’s pretty scary when one of those rogue waves hits. If you’ve experienced this, you know! In the chaos and disorientation, it’s sometimes hard to know which way is up, farless catch your breath! Learning to live with the impact of that second huge rogue wave became the catalyst for my discovering and developing the principles, processes and practices that expanded my capacity to connect with my inner gyroscope, help me tap more deeply into internal and external resources, and create evironments that supported me. These were critical as I oriented myself and discerned next steps.
This was 29 years ago, and the experience catapulted me into a journey of conscious personal growth. This dovetailed with a shift in my professional journey that was taking place about that same time. I had been moving from Nursing to Facilitation, and 19 years ago I took another step when I completed my first workshop with the Coaches Training Institute and added Coaching into the mix.
Over the last 4 years, in developing this program Finding Your Sea Legs as an introduction to Realizing RICH Relationships – the body of work I’ve synthesized out of the gestalt of all this – I’ve been living this path even more intentionally. And in teaching the pilot last November I recognized even more nuanced richness. I discovered I could navigate situations that just months before had felt much more challenging. So the journey continues!
Above is a sneak peek at the 2 minute video introduction I made that’s part of the web page where you’ll find more information and a registration link for Finding Your Sea Legs – navigating stormy seas and rogue waves in life with courage and resilience.
Over the next few weeks until the program starts February 9, I’ll be creating a few additional emails – kind of like UberEATS – tastes or appetizers from the program delivered to your door. Whether or not you feel an inner ‘yes’ about joining the program, I know they’ll be yummy, and I hope you’ll enjoy and find them helpful. After the program starts, we’ll revert to our regular eNews schedule.