Monday, August 15, 2011

What Is Meant By "Empowering Authenticity?"

One reader of the last (and first) blog post asked me what I wanted to accomplish with this blog. That was a great and thought-provoking question. Even before this blogspot was started, I have been giving a lot of thought on what it means to be authentic, to be genuine. “Of course it means being really who we are meant to be!” you say? Do you know who that is for you?

As I have done my counseling and life coaching in the last several years, I realize that even older adults who are well grounded, intelligent and quite competent sometimes struggle to answer the question of “What are your personal values?” Often, the first responses are “family”, which is often (in my social circles) followed by “faith”. They may name other important values. All which are excellent and worthy to follow. So, then I ask, “ When you are stressed out or feeling off center, are these the values that help you to refocus on the life that is important to you and the ones that help you to be grounded again?”

My understanding of authenticity is about not only being genuine, it is also about being the person that God has created you and I to be. Looking for the person within that finds energy in what I am doing, living out of my core values, and utilizing them to help me steer through life experiences. For most life coaching clients, I will ask this question to them about their core values. If they stammer, say “I don’t know”, or what do you mean?, then I realize that they need to know what their own foundation is before they can build on it. If you don’t know what is most important in your life and what personal core values guide you, how can you make your best decisions?

This is what I mean, in part, by “empowering authenticity”. This is about myself in that I am seeking my own authenticity. This is imperative in order for me to step back and free others to find their way on their own journey. “Empowering Authenticity” is also about what I believe I am called to do for others…making a safe and professional space for others to find healing, explore their own needs and wants, and grow into their more beautiful and genuine selves. Corny, perhaps. But, imagine if everyone really took this seriously….seriously! I believe this is what God has called me to, that is to grow closer to Him and live out of that with integrity and compassion and with authenticity, and to accompany others according to their need in finding the path for their authentic and whole selves.

Are you living the life you are intended to live? Do you feel grounded, energized, hopeful in going forward? Are you living out of our own personal core values? Live authentically, and you can empower others to do the same!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Moving Through Transition

I am going through, yet, another transition in my life now. This one I did not choose. It was a downsizing from a healthcare system where I had worked for more than 9 years.  This is the third time this has happened in my life. The last one 11 years ago taught me a lot about how to approach this one. No, it still isn’t easy, and yes, I still have the waves of anger and sadness at times. One thing I have learned in my life is that change, or transitions, are a part of life. Sometimes we choose them, sometimes they happen to us.

Among those many transitions are the many moves I have made in my life. Like many folks, I have moved more times than I care to count anymore. Part of this has been due to the fact that I am what my family calls a “professional student”. I love to learn and grow, especially when it provides meaningful opportunity for me to serve better in my profession, well, professions, actually. Professional Counselor, Life Coach, Minister, Spiritual Director. Yes, they are very different professions, if you know them well. I hold sacred the responsibility of knowing the differences and honoring each.

I am a seeker, a seeker of what is authentic in God’s sight. Obviously there is more mystery than what is known. On the other hand, each transition has called me to seek even more, to learn and explore what I don’t understand and want to know. God has done His greatest work in me when I felt my own powerlessness. It seems that I have grown most and risked most and found more satisfaction in the experience when the times have been least dependable in my own hands. I would like to have a peek into the direction life is taking me right now, but I am reminded that these are the times God calls us to hold the questions. The questions are often more important than the answers. Holding the questions means that we are open to listen and open to grow into something new. Right now it feels very uncomfortable and even scary at times, but I am reminded that comfort is not a part of the deal with God. Presence, grace and an unconditional love is promised; not comfort and an easy way.

Thankfully, I do have my previous experiences where I have been provided for far beyond anything I would have dreamed for myself. The truth is that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the challenges I have had in the past, as well as the blessings. I guess this is where transition has turned into transformation. When I learn to listen, to utilize the resources I have, and am willing to go through the grief, anger, the many unknowns and hold the questions, I begin to heal and be more than I was before. This is where authenticity is truly unleashed. I have come to believe this is not only about who I am, but who God is in me and how God uses me as His instrument for service. Sometimes, it takes these unexpected times of transition and the unknown for that transformation and authentic God to be manifested. I look forward to having a clearer understanding of what that will look like in my present situation, and I still don’t like the discomfort and scariness of not knowing. Yet, I hold on with trust because God has always provided before. This and the life and grace given through His Son is what gives me strength, especially now.