Even Life Requires a Coach

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Sarabeth and I had a few rough years together, and 2019 was especially turbulent – nearly disastrous. But one year later we are in a much better place, miraculously still together, and actually happy.

Aside from some deep introspection, it took the love and support of friends and family, some tough marriage counseling, and the confidentiality of strangers, particularly in the form of a life coach. I spent a few months last summer speaking with one such “stranger” once a week on the phone, and the conversations I had with him went a long way in helping me get my life, and my marriage, back in order.

This is in no way an ad. It’s an honest recommendation, because hey, we all need a little help, especially during these trying and uncertain times.

Meet Chris Lyman.

Chris’ desire to become a life coach grew organically through frequent discussions with some people who were going through the same issues he was. “Life coaching has made me feel like I have a purpose in life,” Chris says. “I have found that I enjoy helping others finding ways to help themselves and grow. The way it makes me feel, and because of my own life experiences. If I hadn’t gone through those life experiences I don’t think I would have gotten into life coaching.”

One thing I personally appreciated about talking with Chris was that I knew I was safe to express myself, and I never had to filter my thoughts, because he really understood the internal and external crap I was going through. Talking with Chris was always a judgement-free experience.

He’d survived the chaos of divorce after 28 years of marriage, he loathed his career which he slaved away at for most of his adult life, and he only knew how to be a father and a husband outside of the office. When that had all been stripped away, he had to – at the age of 50 – discover who he was. And that was terrifying. But part of his healing was knowing that he needed a radical change. “One thing I did know was that I had great empathy for the people in my daily life.  I also had an unrealized passion for mental health.

“Who am I and how can I be my most authentic self?” He’d emerged himself in YouTube videos, and guru webpages, looking desperately for answers, to no avail. After fighting depression and pestering thoughts of suicide, he finally went to a therapist. And then another. And another.

Chris attended individual and group therapy, but they were lacking the connection he needed to his personal issues. “The disconnect kept me from making any progress with my mental health,” says Chris. “For me the best option was a life coach.  My coach partnered with me to deal with issues inside that I had never looked at.  Most of the ones  before that approached my situation from a more clinical point of view.  Mental health is an ongoing process that I do battle with every day and yes, I still have my personal life coach.”

If you’re asking yourself what the difference is between a life coach and a psychiatrist, Chris lays it out simply. “A psychiatrist is a doctor that specializes in more of the medicines of mental health.” He always recommends that his clients still consult with a psychiatrist because of their understanding of brain chemistry. However, Chris asserts that a life coach will listen more deeply to what clients are saying, and aren’t just listening for common statements or patterns of behavior that fit nicely into a formulaic resolution.

“Life coaching isn’t like traditional therapy,” says Chris. “Life coaching is a designed alliance between coach and client where the coaching relationship continually gives all the power back to you the client.  I don’t specialize in answers.  You have all the answers you need.  I just coach you to find those answers for yourself.  You, the client, are the only expert in your life.”

If you’re interested in finding a life coach, do so. I’ve come to learn that everyone, at some point or another, needs professional help. Not one person is above it. I thought I was, but giving in was probably the smartest thing I’ve done. I guess that’s why they call it humble pie, because pie never sounds good until you actually take a bite. Or is that just me?

Obviously, I would recommend Chris Lyman because he helped me so much last year. And the wonderful thing is, you don’t have to be anywhere near Colorado to meet with him, thanks to the wonderful world of technology. He meets his potential clients in a free discovery season. During that session, the client tells him three areas that they would like to work in and after some questions, he also gives them an idea of what areas he thinks are right for that person.

“During regular sessions we are usually walking a path looking for that ‘ah ha!’ moment,” Chris says. (And during my sessions with him, I certainly discovered several of those moments.)  It’s all about looking at things a little differently. He compares this idea to a picture of a child exploring the woods looking for that pretty flower or sacred stone. “In addition to that, we are looking for and moving through exercises that help reduce problematic behaviors and self limiting beliefs. The biggest battles are those our own mind creates and just seeing them for what they are can make a huge difference.

Chris tends to gravitate toward issues relating to depression and suicide, though most issues consistently return to self-limiting beliefs. “Those are the thoughts we think without realizing it that keep us stuck. Stuck is a word that I hear time and time again.

Check out Chris’ webpage. If you’re not in a place that requires coaching or help right now, send this to someone you know who is in that place. Doing that is easy as pie.

 

Waking Up from Heart Surgery

Well, it had to happen eventually, because of my sucky failing heart, the doctors had to shove a camera up there like the paparazzi and snap pictures of my chambers and stuff.

The agenda was to set a baseline for when I really start falling apart in ten years, so the doctors will know how to proceed with fixing my blood pumper. But we don’t talk about much of that science-y stuff in this video. What you really want to know is what I look and sound like waking up from anesthesia. Luckily, I had just enough wits to record a minute or so of my hyper-delirium. Enjoy.

Unpublished Piece: Birds of All Kinds of Feathers

Having been let go from my job thanks to COVID-19, I’ve been actively pursuing my dream of having a career in journalism. One thing I’m learning is that not every piece I write will be published, and that’s okay. The main thing is to keep the fingers pecking away. That may be a pun for this first unpublished piece I’d like to share with you from the heart of Louisville, KY. 

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Birds of All Kinds of Feathers Flock Together

By Andrew Toy

As you’re strolling along the Ohio River, you expect to see ducks, and maybe even a seagull or two. But chickens? Hens? Not necessarily, because you’re not in deep Kentucky. You’re just yards away from the bustling downtown Louisville.

And yet, kitty-corner from the Louisville Slugger Field, you’re going to find a group of barnyard birds grouped together on an area of red pebbles. They’re steel models, spray-painted in a wild variety of colors and styles. The tallest stands around 9-feet tall, resembling a mash-up of a rooster and a giraffe, with it’s long yellow neck, speckled with black spots. One stumpy rooster stands about three feet tall with its red comb standing on top of his head, which is also three feet tall. And don’t be alarmed by the two-headed goose – it’s the six-headed goose that you might want to steer clear of.

Whether they compliment your art taste or not, the children surely love running through and around the poultry sculptures. And who’s idea was this? It was Louisville’s Mayor David Armstrong (1999-2003) who said, “Public art is more than an amenity in the streetscapes and open spaces in our city. It evokes pride and awe in our city from passers-by, and it is a gift to every citizen.”

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And so, it was the legendary folk artist Marvin Finn’s wooden birds that were selected as the artwork to be displayed. Having learned woodworking from the hip of his father, Finn’s stardom was birthed in 1972 after he showed his artwork in an exhibit at the Kentuckiana Hobby and Gift Show. Over the next decade, he would become a Louisville staple, and from there, a legend.

If art is a reflection of us, then what is this garden of funny sculptures saying? Do they just exist for the same reason as Saturday morning cartoons – to entertain small minds, and help to blindly pass time?

Or is there something else here we can learn from this Flock of Finns? They’re certainly funny looking, but they’re also diverse. From roosters, to hens, to chicks, and geese, and some that look like other animals, like the giraffe.

Nestled between the happy screams of children playing on the large lawn by the waterfront, and the screams and cheers from the ball field across the street, and – most recently – the chaos and rioting that has taken place just a few short blocks down the road, these chickens – diverse in every way – have stood together through it all. Quietly, peacefully, but always standing, never resting, no matter the circumstance or the weather. Always together. Like birds of a feather.

No matter what color the feather.

Confessions of a Closet Racist

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“The only reason racism still exists is because no one will shut up about it.” This is something I’ve said – and believed. See no evil, speak no evil.

But that doesn’t do anything about the evil. If anything, it perpetuates the evil.

“Just as many white people are getting killed and bullied by the police as black people. The media just do not show it.”  Yes, I’ve ridden this train of thought in the safety of my second-floor white community loft.

And then Ahmaud Arbery was shot because he was black.

And then Breonna Taylor was shot in her bed just a few miles away from where my family and I slept undisturbed and without fear.

The slow and agonizing and pointless murder of George Floyd went too far. That video ought be enough to knock the wind out of all of us.

My wife Sarabeth and I had an in-depth discussion about it all, where I (a by-product of a safe and white upbringing) felt like a student seeking the point of view of wise sage who’d spent a lot of time in South Florida. And at times during this discussion, I was put in my place.

She told me that the African American community has a point and a reason for all this outrage. (We did the same thing two-hundred and forty-three years ago, she said. Do the words Boston Tea Party ring a bell? The Boston Massacre?) She asked me how many black people I knew who get pulled over just for being black (all of them, it turns out). She noted that black people who have found success primarily have done so because they acted a little whiter, and usually dressed so that they would blend in with our white society.

The more we talked, the more I realized that I was a closet racist. I didn’t even know it myself. But sill I pressed on with my white agenda.

“But what about the rioting and looting? They’re not making it any better,” I tried.

Maybe not, Sarabeth said. But how else are they going to get our attention? And then she pulled A Time to Kill on me. She said, “What would you do if cops were killing 5 and 6 year old white kids? Kids that Katherine and Felix played with?”

I instantly felt my blood-pressure rise. If I had a brick, I’d smash it into the window of the district court myself. I’d march and scream and probably set fires to policeman’s homes, not until justice was served, but until the brutality absolutely stopped.

And then it hit me. Never mind the looters dashing out of Target with their new flat screen TVs, but what about those people shouting and holding up signs and spray painting the names of victims on buildings? I realized that they weren’t only angry, but many protestors are scared. Scared for themselves, their children, their parents, their friends.

And what is a country of freedom if you’re spending your life in fear?

How dare I point a judgmental finger at the rioters when they’re forced to pretend they live in a free country? Wouldn’t we rather there be 10,000 protestors break 100 windows than see one more unarmed person be killed by an angry cop?

We all do this thing that my daughter does now when watching a movie. She defines characters as being either “good” or “bad.” People are not simply this or that. Not all black people are protesting. Not all protestors are rioting.

Not all cops are racist, but not all racist people know they’re racist.

Racism comes in many forms, does it not? A month ago, I would have laughed at the notion that black people are not safe in America.

But one was taking a jog. BAM! A couple of idiot red-necks.

One was sleeping off long hours from the E.R. in her own bed. BAM! BAM! A misinformed and cowardly cop.

And one begged for his life without lifting a finger in defense, as his face pressed hard against the sharp pebbly street as many gathered and watched and took pictures and videos.

“I can’t breathe…”

Ahmaud, Breonna, George – I’m so sorry it took your lives for me to start seeing clearly. I’m sorry I judged anyone for throwing a brick in the name of a needlessly lost life. I’m so sorry for thinking that it was good enough not to hate black people or not say the “N” word.

And I’m sorry for thinking that our melting pot was ever mixed enough.

What can I do to help?

 

10 Things That Still Hold Up in 2020

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We all know that many things don’t age well, particularly when it comes to media and pop-culture. We’ve all been locked up with all of our old movies and books that many of us have revisited, so I thought this would be an interesting thing to post. Being twenty years into the 21st century, I think it’s a good time to look back at some of the things that actually do still hold up well today, and are most definitely worth returning to.

Home Improvement – It’s been an absolute pleasure introducing my kids to this show. Watching Tim Allen’s brilliant family-friendly sitcom is like stepping into an actual time capsule that’s chock-full of pieces of my own childhood memories. Rewatching it now almost thirty years after the pilot originally aired on ABC, I can say two things for certain. 1) It’s extremely interesting watching it from Tim’s perspective as an adult now, and 2) I think I laugh even harder now than I did as a kid, and I’m talking some pretty big laughs that often a 90-minute comedy can’t get out of me.

Back to the Future – Speaking of a time capsule, I’ve also been showing this time-traveling trilogy to my kids. Being five and six, the whole time-traveling concept is still a little confusing to them, but the fights are fun, the chases are rollicking, and the jokes are still really funny. If you don’t own the box set on DVD or blu ray,  you’re in luck because all three movies are on Netflix.

Creedence Clearwater Revival – I know this goes way back, but if you’re looking for the best road trip music ever, you need look no further than this San Fransisco Bay-born band. When I’ve got my mix list playing, I’m always delighted when CCR comes up with their swamp, rock, and Southern blues tunes, a part of me just comes to life a little.

Lord of the Rings – Sarabeth and I have been making our way the extended editions (yes, with the behind-the-scenes documentaries), and after almost twenty years, almost every scene still looks as realistic as it did back then on the big screen. Peter Jackson proved to be more of a visionary  than the older George Lucas, as his Tolkien-inspired trilogy looks a billion times better than the Star Wars prequels ever did. And that’s just praise for the visuals. The script and music and acting and editing is still unmatched in Hollywood today, even by Marvel standards.

Jigsaw Puzzles – We discovered something new as a family during our time in quarantine. Not that Jigsaw puzzles are a new thing, per say. But as a family we discovered that they’re really addicting! Especially the smaller the pieces, the more there are, and the harder the picture is. I think it’s safe to say that Jigsaw puzzles made a hell of a comeback more than 250 years later.

The Office – I’m cheating on this one a little bit because this ran well into the ’00’s and ’10’s, but the early seasons are still pretty dated with flip phones and polaroid cameras. The point is, the show is still just as funny as it was back in 2005. It’s just as easy to get invested and the whole Pam and Jim backstory is still just as emotionally gripping.

NASA – Sure, they scrubbed the latest mission for now. But Dragon will still take off the day after tomorrow, and I think it’s safe to say that after almost ten years, people are excited to see how much further NASA can keep pushing us into the future.

Armageddon – Speaking of space adventures, this movies still F-ing rocks. All you Michael Bay haters, you can just shove it. Because Bruce Willis as an astronaut is kick-ass.

Legos – These little bricks have been around for nearly 90 years, and still our kids connect ’em, build ’em, and fight over ’em. And they still hurt like hell when stepped on barefoot.

The Grateful Dead – I’m a Deadhead. You’re a Deadhead. We’re all Deadheads. Go back and revisit this gem of a band. It’s hard to find a song that just doesn’t make your foot tap the floor, or your head bob, or your joint lit up.

Homeschooling – Our daughter just graduated from kindergarten today, and just as much praise goes to Sarabeth for teacher her these past eight months. Sarabeth puts a lot of work into it, but she also gets a lot of joy out of homeschooling our kids. It’s her full-time gig, and it’s really fun to see her seeds bare fruit. This is yet another thing that’s come back with a vengeance thanks to the pandemic.

Thanks for reading! Do you agree with our list? What are some things we missed? List your opinions below!

 

 

Does The Hunger Games Go Too Far?

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So Suzanne Collins’ newest book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakeswas released ealier last week. Sarabeth’s only got a few pages left as of this writing, and I’ll be reading it soon, so look forward to a full review from us soon. I did some digging around on some of my older posts and found a little piece I wrote about the Hunger Games. I’m reposting it here, with some updates added, to get the thoughts of my newer readers:

It’s hard to ignore all the buzz surrounding the movies that were made, based off of the mega top-selling books by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games trilogy tells the story of Katniss  Everdeen, who dares to stand against a dystopian government who thrives on televising children killing each other as a form of entertainment, and a way to keep the classes separated. 

The newest book apparently delves into President Snow’s upbringing, and the rise of this form of torture porn. 

So my question to you is this: Should this type of movie (or book) be marketed to our teenagers? I have read the first three books several times and they are violent. But I’m a fan of violence, and Sarabeth and I do plan on having our kids read these books when they’re 11.

Because, in our opinion, the story is very much against violence.

How can you preach against sin if you don’t expose it in the sunlight, right?

If you don’t think this should be marketed to teenagers, would it be better for adults? At what point would you draw the line in dealing with violence in the entertainment medium geared toward teens? If you don’t think it’s a problem to market this kind of movie toward teenagers, what, then, would you consider inappropriate?

Share your thoughts!