Sleeping With A Mosquito

I am reminded of the quote attributed to The Dalai Lama, which says,

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

For my purpose I would like to just focus on the size of something that can make a big impact. Such as trying to sleep with a mosquito buzzing around you.

We have all had one of these nights, where we actually end up boxing our own ears in an attempt to finally have some peace. The mosquito is a very small and insignificant insect on its own. It is only when it comes into contact with you that it has any impact to you at all.

Impact Matters

There are so many things in our lives that get overlooked because of their size or effort but ultimately are of great importance when they make contact.

Take for instance a smile of acknowledgment. The number one sadness I hear from people who are living on the streets is the lack of acknowledgement that they are human.

I have worked with people in various states of poverty for many years and have come across them in a multitude of countries and level of need. A smile, which by itself is simply not much can mean the world to a person who doesn’t feel seen, it is acknowledgement of existence. A smile means little until it is received by someone and then, there is no telling how big of a difference it could make for someone regardless of their situation.

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The Best Way To Upset Your Life Coach

Now I’m going to take this a bit further and more personal.

I work with people who on many occasions have shared with me that they are having trouble in their relationships. (Note – I am NOT a relationship counselor, please don’t ask!) I hear the phrase, “I love him/her, I’m just not in lovewith him/her anymore.” I hear this often enough to address it here because, I’m going to be honest with you, the comment pisses me off!

I feel like we’ve been sold a lot of goods from Hollywood and Disney to give some glamorous picture of love being pure bliss and sexual attraction at every moment. I call BS on that.

Love Is Not A Hole

Love takes work, it takes time and it takes attention. It is not something to be fallen into, a hole is what you fall into, love is actually cultivated.

I recently watched a conversation between Simon Sinek and Tom Bilyeu where Simon asks Tom, “Do you love your wife?”

Of course Tom replies, “yes”

Simon goes on to ask when did he know he loved his wife? What was the moment or day, it wasn’t when you met, which number date?

The Blueprint

You see, one doesn’t fall, one builds love through acts of kindness, compassion and attention. It is the small things of courtship that create love and it is those very small acts that get tossed aside for various reasons at some point along the relationships that suffer the most.

Of course there are the kids, the job, the Grand Pubah club, football on Sundays and girls nights on Fridays. Whatever the schedule is filled with between the familiarity that comes with time and exhaustion that comes with our busy and distracted lives, those small loving gestures disappear. But they’re small, so no big deal right?

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I’m Calling BS!

So when I hear that someone claims to have “fallen out of love” I call BS. You climbed out of love! You stopped giving attention when your partner was talking to you, you stopped making the other person feel they were prime importance in your life, you have stopped committing to cultivating love. Maybe you expect the work is done once the “fall “ has happened – but I’m here to tell you the Hollywood script is getting a rewrite.

I’m no expert in love but I have been in enough relationships to know when the magic is gone it is usually because the attention is gone. Those small details like realizing even though you think you understand what your partner is saying, they are still upset so maybe you should ask more questions. Or maybe your partner is seeming mad because you want to go out without them again which makes them feel they are not important. Contrary to popular belief, no one really likes to nag!

There are a million scenarios I could go through, but hopefully I’ve got you thinking of your own right now.

Love Is A Verb

Whether you are dating, married, in a committed relationship or looking to be, I ask you to not wait for some baby with an arrow to make things happen, commit to being love. Love is an act and it is often found in the small gestures that might be seemingly unimportant but can make a huge impact when received.

What can you do as an act of love to your partner, a friend or even a stranger today to be love?

If we all think a little more about how much that mosquito impacts us, we might realize the size of a gesture has little to do with the impact.

So go, be love today.

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Go Big By Going Home

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We’re at the beginning of a brand new year.

Everything is shiny and new and full of promise.

As we go big into our dreams and goals for the coming year I remind you (and myself) to also be present to home.

Home Is

Home is you, in all your glory. Home is where you are authentically you – no make up, hair messy and in your yoga or sweat pants – in all your glorious self without anything to prove or anyone to please.

Have you spent much time with that you?  Do you understand clearly all your cool features and talents? Are you leaving that you buttoned up in case it doesn’t fit into the world outside home?  Are you afraid that not everyone will find your uniqueness as cool as you do?

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So many goals and resolutions for the new year are focused on “reinventing” oneself or becoming a “new and improved” version of ourselves.

What if we recognized that we are pretty damn good just the way we are already?

What if we did not need to remake ourselves and instead decided to be courageous enough to share our authentic selves?

Authentic You, Authentic Goals

Our goals change focus when we do this. By discovering more of ourselves and being willing to share our unique qualities, we reach for more authentic goals. Instead of goals or standards set by society or some commercial that told us what we need to be “happy” or “better”, how about this year we follow what our unique DNA craves?

I am suggesting we make this year, not about reinventing ourselves, not changing ourselves because there is nothing wrong with us nor do we require a new version of ourselves. This year is about embracing ourselves in our truth, revealing instead of reinventing.

Knowing your heart and following it is not the easiest thing in the world (boy do I know this) however after years of trying not to listen to my heart, I can tell you it is the biggest gift I have given to myself and therefor to others.

Let Your Light Shine

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We are each pretty awesome and to know and feel that brings a whole different energy forward to everything we do. I’m not saying to be arrogant, however to live in a way that is aligned with what our values and hearts desire lights people up in a way that is noticeable, and that is pretty awesome in my book!

By going home to know ourselves fully we can then show up in the world BIG and share the gifts we have because we understand what they are and where they fit in to the world we live in. Let this year be the one we spend time fully understanding our thoughts, beliefs and who we truly are at home and be brave enough to share ourselves.

As we stand before a bright new year, remember, we are enough (actually, we’re pretty awesome) exactly as we are leaving 2018. We may have goals and achievements we desire for the year, but only by staying true to ourselves will those goals be worthy of our time and effort and become valuable gifts to those around us.

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Valuable Time

We arrive in December each year and remark how fast time slips away.IMG_5922.JPG

I hear often, “it felt like only yesterday we were celebrating New Years Eve!”

So as you reflect over the year that has passed and plan for the year ahead, I’d like you to add something to this exercise. I encourage you to take this opportunity to consider what I call value-based living.

This is a missing component to many people’s reflections I’ve found. I believe it is an essential step to making the most of your time.

What is Value-Based Living?

Value-based living is exactly as it states, living your life by your values. Many of us believe we do this, however upon deeper reflection there is often room for improvement.

I remember growing up hearing the saying that dust bunnies were ok if you had happy children.

The point is that so many of us spend a huge amount of time at work or chasing something that when all is said and done, is not part of our value system.  If you spend all day chasing your kids out of the house so you can clean it and keep it clean and your family is where your values lie….

Can Values-Based Living & Reality Co-Exist?

But E, you say, money is not where my values lie, but I’ve got to make money to live!

I do know this, and yes, you can have a values-based life and make money. The key is to know your values both individually and as a family if you are part of one. In this situation it is more about how much money you “need” to live your values.

The reason this is key is that it gives you a touchstone.

A Fishing Story

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There is a story I love that talks about this perfectly. A fisherman with a small boat went out every day to fish. He would come in from a few hours on the ocean and sell his fish at the local market and go home with some money.

A businessman met him one day and asked him why he didn’t have more fish? The fisherman replied, I have a small boat and this is what I can bring in.

Well, the businessman said, feeling very smug, “Why not get a bigger boat then you can catch more fish and make more money?”

The fisherman thought for a moment and replied, but then I would have to stay out longer and I wouldn’t get to bring my children to school and spend the day with my wife.

The businessman went on to explain the merits of a business plan to catch more fish, make more money, and in the future expand his business and then hire others to do the work and make lots of money.

The fisherman contemplated the plan and said, so when I expand my business and hire other people then I can be home to walk my children to school and spend the day with my wife?

Smiling, he walked away to go home to be with his family with the money he had earned in his pocket.

THIS is values-based living.

I find so many people get caught up chasing things that are not important to them at the expense of things that really are.

It’s no one’s fault, each day we are bombarded, pinged and flashed with things we’re being told are important to us. After a while it is hard to remember that we know in our heart what deserves our time and attention.

I have been through this myself, which is why I can talk about it and how I actually developed this philosophy of values-based living.

I found that the closer I live to my values, the happier I become. I have incorporated this into my work with others and regularly ask them to really think deeply about their values when they are considering a change in their life.

Making Your Time Count

imagesI haven’t found the cure to slowing down time. What I have discovered is that when you consciously match how you spend your hours, days and months to what is truly important to you, your time feels expanded.

I encourage you today to sit down and really think about what you value. Once you have your list as long or as short as it is, I ask you to consider the year that just passed. Did you spend your days in concert or conflict with your values?

Where you find your gaps is where change will bring the most fulfillment and happiness.

 

Falling Leaves

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When I was a child I remember being told about a story where a man was tying leaves back onto a tree in the autumn. As a child I thought that no one would ever do that, but as I grow, I watch people attempt the same every day.

Change Is Scary

We happen to know that leaves must fall off a tree, there is no benefit to the tree or anyone by tying these back on the branches. In fact by doing so, especially in the regions that get snow, you could likely cause more harm then good.

Looking at the leaves as a metaphor though, how often do we argue with nature? How often do we feel that what is naturally happening should not happen and attempt to altar it?

From what I observe, it’s often.

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Attachment

I find that when I am attached to something my attachment does not leave room for change.

If this is a person, does that not allow them to grow?

If that is a location, does that mean progress is always bad?

If that is a goal, can it not evolve?

I’ve learned that attachment often harms more often then it actually preserves what I am attached to. I’ve learned that the more I hold loosely and observe what I love about something or someone, the more room I give it to breathe and become what it is designed to be or become.

Living In The Moment.

The less I am attached to something in its current form, the more I can simply appreciate it. I can always love those initial things that drew me to it and at the same time allow appreciation of how it transforms or evolves.

Does this mean I don’t enjoy permanence? Absolutely not! I l have favorite things that travel with me all over the world and I have many long-lasting relationships. I find that I enjoy more of these relationships by allowing them to be what they are in any given moment. If that is a day-to-day experience, or if it becomes a once-in-a-while experience, I don’t spend the time bemoaning the time I don’t have so I find more enjoyment in the time I do have.

Your Turn

I encourage you to take this time to reflect on the leaves you might be trying to tie back onto the tree. What might be in your life that you might be so attached to in its present condition that you might miss what it could become. Is there a change that has clearly taken place that you are not acknowledging because it will mean you’ll need to break out the rake?

Take some time to think about the trees in your forest and make sure you are allowing ample space for nature to breathe and follow its course versus trying to control it.

Seasons of change

A Digital Nomad Defines Home

I had an interesting revelation during my last trip.  I discovered the term home has lost its traditional definition for me.

Please don’t misunderstand me – Yes I grew up outside of Boston and that will always be where I come from and since it is where I grew up and the bulk of my family still lives, I absolutely still consider it home (don’t take this the wrong way Dad).

Boston Garden

What I have discovered is that the more I travel the more I consider the globe to be my home.  It is not the house I was raised in, it is not the town I grew up in; home is no longer a place but a feeling.

Home is Familiar

No matter where I am, there are always a few familiar things like chain stores and restaurants across the globe.  Because I often repeat travel locations, I find there are familiar faces to each location and now, because I am connected with the digital nomad community, I am likely to find a familiar face in an unfamiliar location. This provides a sense of belonging and in a way a feeling of home.

Although primary languages may be different depending on where I am, it seems that in a global society multiple languages and dialects are more common in any location than to hear only one language.  I can be in Boston, San Francisco or Rome and I hear multiple languages, so hearing different languages just feels normal to me now; the unfamiliar has become familiar.

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3 Carry-On’s And A Dog

It’s no secret my life needs currently fit into three carry-on suitcases. I’m not trying to promote simplicity or minimalism, it is a lifestyle of convenience for me at this time.  I simply don’t want to lug a whole bunch of stuff around the world with me and there are few tangible items that have great importance to me.  It is the memories and experiences that I treasure and these take up much less space in my luggage!

Home As A Reflection

Most people have a more permanent home than I and in the course of their lives they create one that reflects their values and things they hold precious.  Designing and decorating to create a space that provides comfort, respite and safety for all that is important in their lives.  They collect items to remind them of travels and happy occasions, mementos of events and their history.

I guess I’m different in this way (surprise!). Although I love when my screen saver on my computer scrolls through my photo collection and fond memories pass by, the pictures on my wall are mostly the art of any given landlord I have.  I don’t keep my memories on my wall, I have them in my mind and they are as portable as I am.

So as much as I no longer have a home in the traditional sense, I have a home that is as vast as the globe. I am able to move about the world in a way that is both exciting, like seeing people and places you remember and miss, and comforting, like being in an old familiar space.

Almost all of us have had several locations which we have called home over the course of time, be it a family home that moves, a college dorm or your first apartment.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to think about what made these home for you. I wonder if I am not alone in feeling like home has less to do with the place than the feeling created within?

Once you have your definition, I encourage you to think about how you might carry that with you throughout your journey.

Living in the First Kiss Moment

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Your heart races a bit, your palms get sweaty and the promise of what might be is before you and you lean in.

This is what I call living in the first kiss moment.

These are the moments that hold a feelings of exhilaration and possibility together with the reasonable expectation that what is to happen is going to be great.

These moments of possibility are what gives life that spark. It is the feeling of stepping out of your comfort zone (or what I call the familiar zone) into a new space that you are not entirely certain of but are excited to be because it feels right.

This is the feeling that comes by living an inspired life. When you feel driven by purpose and inspired by the possibilities in front of you even if their outcome is uncertain.

So how do we create more of these moments in our lives?

First, take some time to think deeply about what stirs you. Is there something you do that you just can’t imagine not doing on a regular basis? Something that may come as second nature to you, but is a gift to someone else that doesn’t possess the same talent or skill?

Or think about what you are doing when time doesn’t exist or it flies by. Think about what just brings a smile to your face or heart when you think about it or are doing it. That is one of your “things” and there may be many, that’s ok!

Secondly, I encourage you to take a deep look at your values. In today’s society values can be subject to becoming hijacked without even noticing. One day you may find that you are doing things out of habit or societal norms.

If you take a step back and think about how you’re spending your time and energy you might realize it doesn’t match with your values at all! When you drift away from your values, what is important fails to receive the attention you feel it deserves and the result is usually not good. So take stock of your time and energy and how it is being spent and make some decisions about what makes you feel good.

Once you have these pieces together you know what you need to add into your life in bigger proportions. You need not sell all your belongings and move to the beach, or maybe you can, but this doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing way of living. Just take the time to find your bliss and find ways to put more of these opportunities and occurrences into your days.

In other words, lean in and take a step in the direction of where your passion and your values collide and enjoy!

If you are looking for more direction or in-person assistance with this process, I hope you will join me in one of the workshops I’ll be offering as I travel around the globe in 2018.

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In March, fellow coach Amy White and I are kicking off the first US date in Northern California with our seminar called Living Your Inspired Life. I hope you will join us for a full day workshop which will highlight the tools and resources already within you to discover and begin to live your life with many more first kiss moments. For more information and to purchase your ticket – see here.

Independence Day Rewrite

Independence Day

I was seven years old when my parents divorced and my mother went from being a housewife to the main provider in the home while battling her first stage III diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Disease, a lymphoma.

I got a clear message from my mother at that time, not sure if it was said, or simply implied, or both, but she was determined that her three girls would not be dependent on anyone, they would be independent women! Even after she remarried, her theme was clear and consistent, you will learn all the skills and capabilities you need to not be reliant on anyone.

True to form, when I got my license, like any teenager, I was anxious to take the car out and feel my newfound freedom. My mother had no problem with that, but of course, I first had to demonstrate that I could remove and replace a flat tire if need be.

This is one of the many examples of the teachings that I received. Being raised to be independent has some great freedoms with it; I know I can do anything I need to do to get where I want to be. Unfortunately, I can no longer change a tire, because of those darn air guns that put the lug nuts on so tightly I don’t have even enough weight to jump on a crossbar to get them off! That said, I am rarely left stranded in a situation because I was raised to rely on myself to figure it out and get it done.

The other message that I never quite picked up on clearly enough at the time was that in life you’ll get further by building a team and asking for help, or even just comfort when needed. While battling her illnesses over the years, my mother had regular trips into the city for radiation, chemotherapy and numerous appointments. She was often too weak or tired to cook or maintain the home and of course there was the time spent in the hospital, complicated by single parenthood and what to do with the kids!

Everyone that knew my mother recognized her as a force! She was well known in our community as a “get it done” and independent woman. She was smart, driven and capable, however these traits did not stop her from accepting kind gestures of meals being prepared, driving trips into the city or even carpooling so us kids could get to where we needed. It took years for me to recognize this skill is not only important in life, but makes the journey better.

Let’s face it, the human race was not meant to exist alone. We are community-based creatures with need for connection and interaction. So many people are trying to “do it on their own” this relates to everything from work to entrepreneurship to life’s trials and celebrations.

It took me such a long time to figure out how to reach out for help, accept or invite assistance with anything I was trying to do – even when it was just trying to survive! All this has taken even longer to put it into practice, and let’s face it, I am still working on it, but I am convinced inter-dependence is the one of the keys to happiness.

As wonderful as independence is, our lives are more fully lived when we have connection and inter-dependence. The feeling one gets when they help someone is a gift we give to each other. The distance we can go when we work together is much further than what we can cover alone.

I’m not saying not to develop your own talents and skills, nor am I saying rely on others for everything. What I am saying is that you don’t have to know it all, do it all and manage it all alone.

I encourage you this month to look at what you want to accomplish over the upcoming month, and see where you might reach out for assistance or develop a team. One of the beautiful benefits I see each day as a coach is what can be accomplished together.

I know there are amazing dreams, big goals and everyday tasks that are on your plate, I wonder how much easier, faster and enjoyable they will be when you stop trying to do it all yourself and ask for someone to join your efforts.

 

7 Ideas To Keep The Sparkle In Your Holidays

Holiday Sparkle

When did the holidays become something to survive? When did holidays get to be things filled with to-do’s, rushing around and fulfilling obligations?

Sometime between childhood and today I have learned that not everyone likes the holidays. Lately, I’ve heard quite often how some people even “hate” the holidays.

I don’t happen to be one of those people (I know, you’re probably not surprised) but I am curious where the sparkle went out of the season for some. I’m sad to hear some answers, there are too many errands and not enough time, I have to go to parties with people I don’t like because it’s expected, I don’t like my family, or I miss my family. I can’t erase the pain of missing family, but for the rest I can share the way I preserve some of the joy of the season.

I’m not saying that I don’t have some sadness during the holidays because I miss people who are no longer here. I don’t claim to have all my decorations done just so and presents bought and wrapped before I prepare my Thanksgiving dinner (which by the way this year was steak). What I have done is altered my focus for the season from being movie perfect to perfect for me.

For me, the holidays are all about slowing down and spending time with those you treasure and love. This is not about buying the perfect present for the distant uncle or making sure the tree has more gifts than last year. This is about the gift that cannot be bought, the most precious gift; time.

I have a small family, I’m fortunate in that way, however each of us have extremely busy schedules and our distance makes time spent together even more precious. I suspect over the next year it’s going to become even more difficult with my speaking schedule, my son’s photography business taking off and my daughter’s travel schedule.

Some of the things I have done to maintain the joy of the season:

1. I have, for the most part, omitted gift giving for friends. I schedule time to get together instead and work this in over December and January so as not to add to people’s already stretched schedules.

2. I ask my children for a single big item they would like but can’t afford or that they have been saving for. Granted, my children are grown now and this works for us because of their age. My son has a particular lens for his camera in mind this year. Last year for my daughter it was a headboard for her bed that she had wanted for a long time. I could have gotten her another red sweater and other small things but it turns out, she doesn’t even like red sweaters!

3. I am flexible with traditional holiday meals. This year Thanksgiving dinner was just for my son and me, my daughter stayed back East. A turkey for the two of us might have been a bit ridiculous mostly because neither of us is overly fond of turkey; it’s just what you do. I asked him what he wanted and he said steak. I can tell you so many people were jealous of us…it’s not a hard switch to make!

4. I pull out all the stops to get the family in one place for a couple of days no matter what. This is a foregone conclusion that wherever you are, Mom will be flying you home for Christmas – wherever home happens to be that year.

5. I say no to invitations that seem obligatory but are not part of the list above. I refuse to be busy doing things I don’t want to do in my “free” time. That is what we call a job and can suck the joy right out of the season in a heartbeat!! Remember, to say no does not require an excuse (real or made up) it simply requires you to do it unapologetically but politely.

6. I send out handwritten cards. Yup, it’s totally old-fashioned in this digital age, but since I’m not at the malls buying gifts, I have time to thoughtfully write out cards to those I am grateful to have in my life. I do this for both my business and my friends and family. This is both a gift to myself to celebrate these people and how they have touched my life over the year, and a gift of gratitude to them.

7. I have pared down my holiday decorations a lot! Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have one of those houses on HGTV, but not enough to take time away from the other things I love – the non-things! Besides a ton of decorating means a ton of undecorating, packing and storing after the holidays. I have a few meaningful items that I always put out and forgo the rest. It doesn’t change the festivities, those are created by the people inside the home sharing memories.

These ideas may or may not work for you. For some the idea of serving steak on Thanksgiving is blasphemy! These are simply ideas to ponder if you are one of those people who seems to have lost the spirit and are looking to put some more joy back into the holidays. Some simple changes to consider to help you align your most precious gift with the most precious people in your life.

Sparkle on!
-E

Sharing Joy

The Message

Here's your sign!
I have said before when I get a repeat message in my life, in any capacity, it makes me think the Universe is trying to tell me something. Right now, it feels like the Universe is screaming! I am being bombarded these days with news of deaths and illness in my direct circle.

The Picture

Let me go over some of what my current landscape looks like today:

Close friend looses 37 year old family member/Spartan racer and very strong healthy man, to condition he’s had for life. Leaves behind a legacy of greatness and living, together with a wife and 3 young children.

Family member has stroke and is facing uncertainty, and a whole bunch of change in his life.

Close friend’s mother has just entered hospice care. This woman’s mother blossomed following the tremendous grief she moved through after her husband died. She went from being this quiet, devoted wife to the party organizer at the assisted living facility for her new-found friends. She became someone always doing something fun and most often things she didn’t do when married.

A new, but dear friend, announces he’s about to take up his battle with Cancer, one that he’s certain to overcome, but a battle nonetheless.

A mentor of mine, for whom I run his local group, has died in a tragic accident at 33, leaving behind a huge legacy, a young wife and a large, amazing community called Live Your Legend.

A sister of a family member has been placed into hospice after living with MS, Cancer and metastatic Cancer. Preparing to leave a full life of all that was dear to her.

What does it mean?

I have to wonder – Is the Universe trying to tell me something? OK, I get it! No more messages at this time please!! Live life while I am here!

As you know, I walked away from corporate life a few months ago to move my business from a “side job” to my full-time focus. I can honestly say, although the road is tough and a bit scary for its uncertainty, I absolutely love each day. I mention this at this time because it is really, really important!

We have one certainty the minute we are born, that we will die. We have no idea what the road has in store for us, but we can bet on an unforeseen circumstance coming along at some point. What that unforeseen thing is, and how it will show up in our life is unknown. Will we be able to provide our family and loved ones the comfort of a full and beautiful life well lived?

A Time for Reflection

I am spending some time in reflection. Am I living the life I believe in? Am I chasing money at the expense of what is truly valuable in my life? What is truly important to me when faced with the end of my days, or a life change that will dramatically altar my sense of “normal”? Do I believe I am using my days to their fullest and living my values? Would I be living any differently if I were faced with the knowledge of my days ending?

If I had not taken the leap to leave corporate by now, I think I would be doing just that at this point. However, since I have taken the leap, I now look to two people who have just died and am so moved that each of them have been living such amazing full and inspiring lives. They were strong, purposeful people leaving behind more than some of us will after many more years than their short time here. They died while fully engaged in this thing called life, they weren’t just earning money and paying bills, they were living fully.

My Desired Legacy

I work each day to continue to reach out to people and help them consider new possibilities in their lives. I hope to be able to encourage others to reach for their dreams despite any odds they feel there might be. I hope in my life to make a positive impact in as many lives as possible to say, you matter, you can do it and I believe in your dreams. I also hope to be one of the people in your life that lets you see you can have the life you desire and it is worth reaching for. Finally, I hope to die while living fully and doing the work that I love and connecting with those seeking to do the same.

Please let your light shine while you are here – we owe it to the world!

10 Life Lessons Learned on the Rink

True happiness

I’m a hockey mom. I loved watching my son play the game because of the sheer joy I saw on his face even through the cage on his mask and the mouth guard in his smile. I also loved the lessons he, and I, learned throughout his 14 years on the ice.

1. With practice and desire one can become really good!
My son started playing hockey at age 4. I remember him struggling to cross the ice without falling down pushing a milk crate to keep him steady. He worked on just standing up without falling over for a really long time and was he was determined! Later, in his teens, I went ice skating with him on Boston’s Frog Pond and he was holding me up while skating backwards to help me across the ice. He is pretty amazing on skates and I was looking everywhere for a milk crate!

2. Don’t let physical limitations fool you into thinking you can’t do something.
My son had pretty severe asthma as a child and spent many days in the hospital trying to overcome attacks on his little body. Most people would have let this type of condition prevent activity, but with medical consent and guidance he went on to play ice hockey. I wasn’t going to let his limitation prevent him from living the life he wanted, we adjusted accordingly and kept on top and in front of his condition. We can let our limitations restrict us or make us more resourceful.

3. When you get checked (even from behind) get up and get moving, the game is still going on!
Some people from these hockey days might remember hearing this woman in the stands yelling, “Get up! This is not ice dancing!” Yah, that was me, he was a defenseman. It’s nearly impossible to defend the net from your butt! This lesson was really important to me when my mother died. I couldn’t help the team (my family) if I was on my butt, I had to get up, life was still going. I had an important job to do so I geared up and got back in the game.

This isn't ice dancing
This isn’t ice dancing

4. Sometimes there will be an unfair play.
OK, life is not fair – move on. I could have tried to teach my son this lesson by telling him that things in life may happen that are not “fair” but I didn’t have to, hockey did it for me. When a bad play is made during a game people get upset, but the game moves on. You can’t sit around complaining (unless it’s soccer ☺) you’ll get a delay of game penalty! Sticks down – the ice is melting!

5. Prepare for the game you are in.
There are times you will have formidable opponents and times you will have easy ones either way the game is the same. If you prepare for the opponent and not the game there is a chance you have miscalculated. If you always prepare for the game you should be ready no matter which opponent shows up to play.

6. Wear good protection!
Yes, hockey can be a dangerous sport, but have you seen the pads that go on before a game? Whatever the game you’re in, prepare. You may get bumped and bruised but with good padding you’re a bit protected. In life he has taken off the pads, but certainly has a thick skin because after all, this isn’t ice dancing!

7. Authority figures sometimes make a bad call.
Yes there are bad calls made, by coaches or by referees. Sometimes that makes or breaks the game (sorry Seahawks) but you can only be responsible for how you play. No matter what the referee sees, calls or doesn’t call, you are responsible for playing the game with integrity and heart. Stay focused on what you control and how you play.

8. One person does not lose the game.
One game my son got off the ice and he was mad at the coaches for keeping a bad goalie in the net. I quickly reminded him this was a team sport and that if everyone had done their job properly no one would have been able to get past five players to get a shot off. Most losses in life are also the responsibility of multiple parties, it is often not the result or effort of only one party.

9. Sometimes you will lose and you will survive and be better for it.
I remember a particularly hard loss my son had. It was a playoff game and he played his little heart out! I know that day he left EVERYTHING on the ice and I was so proud of his efforts. It was a great game but they lost. My son came out of the locker room in a bit of a hurry and when we got to the car he just sobbed. That was my son’s first heartbreak and he learned that sometimes you can put all your efforts out there and things just won’t go your way. By the afternoon he was able to talk about the game and remember a few good plays and a few really awful plays. He became a better player and probably person from that loss.

10. When you have felt the disappointment of losing, you become a better winner.
I have such a problem with society trying to protect our children from losing! When my son was very young his team was getting just slaughtered on the ice. By the close of the first period the score was something like 8-0. So as they came out on the ice for the second period and the goals continued to pile up, the score never changed. When talking to my son after about such a tough loss he said the coaches told the players the scoreboard got stuck. I let him know that it had not gotten stuck they stopped it and that his team got schmucked 22-0 (or something like that). I reminded him that the other team just played better this time and they deserved every goal. I also pointed out how the other team handled their win – they did not gloat at such a huge score and that was what good sportsmanship was about. He never forgot that game and remains a bit humble when he wins in anything knowing what it feels like on the other end. In life clearly there are wins and losses but it’s how you handle each that determines your character.

I required both of my children to play sports growing up for the experiences they would gain and the lessons they would learn. I believe there is so much about life to be learned in a sports setting that is grasped best when it plays out on the field, court, rink, etc.

I think for all that my children learned in their sports, I also gained valuable insight. The life lessons are there for all of us, the players and the parent.

Play on!
-E

Play On!
Play On!