February 2015

Greeting Card Metamessages

Fruh 300You can tell a lot about people from their holiday greetings. There’s the message, and the often unintended metamessage. 

My friend “Bee” sends out slideshows set to lovely music with pictures of angels, spiritual teachers and stunning nature scenes. I have never seen a picture of her new home or her boyfriend. In that way, her greetings are impersonal. I do see and delight in her spirit through these shows. I get the metamessage.

My friend “Dee” sends out pictures of her family – twenty people I’ve never met. I don’t know much about her spiritual nature. I enjoy seeing pictures of the people who mean so much to her. I get the metamessage.

My friend “Gina” sends out cards with pictures of her animals. They’re cute enough, and the animals “write” her message. The message shares a lot about who she is, and so does the way she delivers it. I get the metamessage.

My CPA David sent this picture last Christmas. I love it. It tells many stories through many symbols – the cows, the hats, the crutches and the Colorado sweatshirt. Did I miss any symbols? The symbols tell me he is a family man, he is playful, he got injured and is creative. Did I miss anything? 

You can also tell a lot about people from when their greetings arrive. Some clearly had the family photos taken early and got their Christmas greetings out in a timely fashion. Others send out more of New Year’s updates – right on time or late. Some don’t send greetings at all.

You also can tell a lot about people from when they post about holiday greetings to their blogs. I have been imagining this post since I got David’s card. Here it is, late February, and I’m just now posting. What does that tell you? What’s the metamessage?

It could say I’m not organized well. It could say I’m free from convention. How about you tell me?

Do you remember any greeting cards that told you a lot about the senders?

And how can that metamessage help you connect with those people in meaningful ways… all year long?

I go see my CPA tomorrow and I have a few ideas based on this photo. 

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“I Know the Words are in There Somewhere”

Confident 200“Do you have any thoughts about that slide?” I asked Reba.  Ann and I had done most of the talking as we scrolled through the PowerPoint. I wanted to get a sense of how Reba was relating to the material.

“I do,” Reba replied, “But I don’t have words for it.” Reba continued by talking about what she heard us saying and how it applied to her own life. Reba’s words were clear and insightful.

“You’ve didn’t have words, yet what you said was powerful,” I noted.

Reba responded, “I didn’t have words, but when I started talking, they came out. I can’t do that with everyone. But I know the words are in there somewhere and I find them by talking.”

She sure does. Reba can’t do that with everyone, and I say the people she can’t do that with probably don’t know what they’re missing. 

Do you have people you can talk with without knowing what you’re going to say? Do you ever know the words are in there somewhere and want to be able to find them out-loud in good company? 

It might be worth the risk to just start taking and find out. 

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The Gold in the Fog of Confusion

Luaan explain

I didn’t know why “Rae,” my former coaching client, wanted to speak. I didn’t ask. Sometimes it’s important to clarify an agenda, and sometimes it’s valuable to just let things unfold. We let them unfold.

About ten minutes into our discussion, Rae asked me a big question. I imagine she anticipated a clear, concrete and “teacherly”  response to her inquiry, but I didn’t have one. I started talking, not knowing what I might say. My response was abstract and vague. Rae’s comments to me were also abstract and vague as she tried to make sense of what I had told her.

I shifted the discussion to how we were both talking on the edge of our conscious awareness. We were discovering what we knew by grappling and grasping for words to express our deeper perceptions.

That observation was me coaching real-time…pointing out the immediate dynamic of our conversation.

We returned to Rae’s question. Gradually our points became more concrete. We concluded with some real gems.

We all know more than we can say. We can discover what we know by trying to communicate what we know. Rae and I both consciously know more and can express more now than we could before our conversation. We evolved because we were willing to go into our confusion and sift and sort our ideas together. We could not have done that if one of us was too concerned with impressing the other with our brilliance. 

That’s why collaboration is so valuable. We each have pieces of the whole. When we fumble to share what we know despite its incompleteness, we have discoveries like, “Oh – I didn’t k now I knew that!”

Like yesterday, when Angela and I were talking about her history, and she prefaced a point with “I never thought of this until now.” 

When we share what we know in its incompleteness, we can figure it out together. After I drafted this post, I opened the comics and discovered the above strip. That is what Rae and I and Angela and I were doing. Writer Greg Evans gets it. 


Too often we try to make things “certain” and concrete before we are willing to express ideas. Don’t settle for the fool’s gold of pat, pre-digested ideas. Go into the fog and fumble forward until you find the real thing. 

How willing are you to let things be foggy on the road to clarity? 

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I Fought the Cowlick and the Cowlick Won

Meryl SteinunnI got my hair cut too short.  It was harder than ever to get it to do anything that looks like anything. It grows in odd directions. And the right side – it just likes to stick out. I tried to tame it. I tried to leverage it so it looks like I want it to do what it does. No luck. It just does what it wants out of step with the rest of my hair. It’s a stubborn cowlick that won’t cooperate. 

Nothing new in that. When I look at old pictures of myself, I see the exact same quirk. That’s me on the right – the only “Icelander” who isn’t blonde. 

If you can’t change something and you can’t adapt to something, your option is to accept it. I’ve been shifting and fixing and repatterning and remodeling myself and my life and I am enjoying many benefits. But my cowlick keeps me humble. I suppose that’s a good thing. Part of learning to love myself is learning to love my quirks.

What quirks do you have that you’ve learned to accept? What “cowlicks” keep you humble?

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One Person’s Native Tongue is Another’s Babel

babel 300I couldn’t understand anything my father said. Was he speaking his native tongue, Icelandic? I asked him, and he said, “no,” but the fact that I understood everything he said after that makes me suspect he had been.

I don’t speak Icelandic. I did know my father had had Icelandic visitors the day before.

Dad didn’t notice he wasn’t speaking English. Icelandic is still natural for him. His speaking Icelandic to me sounded weird. What might happen if he speaks Icelandic to an aide at his assisted living community? Would they know to ask him to switch to a language they can understand?

We all have our own languages, and it’s not always as obvious as someone speaking Icelandic when you expect English. I tend to speak metaphorically. People who are more concrete in their thinking and speaking sometimes have little clue what I’m saying. It frustrates me to have to translate, but life gets easier the more I’ve learned to.

Sometimes my husband will ask, “Are you speaking metaphorically?”  When he does, I know to bring my focus and words down to earth. I know to get more concrete in my wording. Other times I read the baffled look on his face and shift.

What “languages” do you speak that others don’t understand? What words have meaning to you that are
“babel” to others? How can you know when to switch, and have you learned what languages you have in common?

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