Traditionally, Yvonne’s longest day of the year is long in the ‘not good’ sense. The longest day of the year has all too often turned into a sobbing and heartache marathon because of this break-up, that disappointment, or that rejection. While Christmas may be the ‘sad season’ for some, Yvonne has grown to dread the end of June.
However, in recent years, the bruising effect of Summer Solstice had been less, to the point that Yvonne had apparently forgotten its cruelty. Whether it was peri-menopause kicking in yet again, delayed-onset grief from the death of her father last year, or a host of any other reasons, Yvonne failed to remember the Universe’s sly sense of humour. She enrolled in a Mentoring Skills course for June 18th and 19th.
Mentoring and coaching is something Yvonne has taken a recent interest in. She ‘discovered’ mentoring and coaching last year when doing some reconnaissance to a conference in New Mexico. Lo and behold, coaching was a skillset she not only used, but was kinda good at. Go figure!
With that experience in mind, Yvonne began pursuing a deeper understanding of mentoring and coaching skills and how to employ them in daily life.
The aforementioned Mentoring Skills course was a two-day-er: workshop-style with the dreaded role playing. Ugh. If there was one thing Yvonne hated it was role playing. (Dungeons and Dragons, however, doesn’t count.) She had visions of ‘playing’ an undergraduate student who didn’t know how to pay her tuition.
The role playing in the course, however, was merely being a ‘mentor’ or ‘mentee’ — all the problems and skills you brought to the conversation were your own. Through laying ground rules and engendering a spirit of vulnerability and trust, the instructors gracefully created an environment in which a class of 18 people connected. Brene Brown would have been proud.
The participants shared their problems, their dreams, their goals, and their curiosity. They actively listened to each other. They asked the-questions-that-should-not-be-asked. In essence, they bared a part of their souls. And it was all okay.
It was two days which Yvonne will never forget.
Especially when, on the last day, the instructors demonstrated providing acknowledgement to another.
For the instructors, this was the last time they’d teach the course. They’d taught it for many years together and been friends and colleagues for even longer. Yvonne had tears in her eyes when one instructor faced the other and told her that she was a gift to have in her life.
After both instructors had given each other their acknowledgement, shed a few tears, and hugged, they asked the class to line up in the hallway. Yvonne was the last one out the door. The class was then instructed to give each other positive acknowledgement.
Starting with Yvonne.
Who was still crying.
Opposite Yvonne was her colleague of two years who’d witnessed some of her darker, peri-menopausal moments and moments of grief and executrix-angst. She turned to her colleague and managed, “We’ve shared so much these past two years…..” Crying renewed, “…..and I’m just going to hug you now because….I can’t….” Hugging ensued.
And an, “Awww,” erupted from the class.
But this wasn’t all.
It was a good thing that was the end of the day. Yvonne arrived home and continued sobbing. She drank a stiff gin and orange juice, ate some coconut milk ice cream, and cried some more.
What the hell was going on?? Where was this gut-wrenching sobbing coming from?
Yvonne was revelling in the feeling of being SEEN. Of being HEARD. Of being RECOGNIZED.
For two days, Yvonne had been completely herself and that was completely and utterly okay. Not since her days of high school drama class had Yvonne been so utterly Yvonne. Why? Whether consciously or unconsciously, she seldom felt comfortable to be her unabashed raw self. She was always censoring, shielding, softening. But during this Mentoring Skills course, trust had developed to the point that Yvonne felt safe to be herself. And completely so.
She had been rewarded with unconditional recognition and acceptance. And it was blowing her heart wide open.
That was a very long night. But for the first time in a long time, it was long in a good way.
Yvonne is now looking at coaching training. This is her act of paying it forward, in being of service. If she could be seen, heard, and recognized, she wanted everyone to also feel seen, heard, and recognized, if only for a short time.
Brene Brown’s Tedx Talk: The Power of Vulnerability
Stephen Joseph: Authentic: How to be yourself and why it matters
Shirzad Chamine: Positive Intelligence
Lana Del Rey: Summertime Sadness
Talking about yourself in the third person, a distancing effect, is really ironic in an article about self discovery. But congratulations on your forward progress, I know how difficult it is, and fearful and doing so is incredibly brave. As much as you hate it – Roleplaying (of the non-dnd variety) will help. Consider taking an improv class where you will get the techniques in the service of entertainment and with the mask of another person/character firmly in place. Never do something that hurts too much, but challenge yourself to go farther in the same way actors do – that is NOT me.
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Thank you for your kind words, John. Much appreciated!