Coaching Moments

"Coaching Moments" takes a
thoughtful, and sometimes lighthearted, look at how coaching
can be interwoven into our daily lives. 

Coming to my senses
by Janice Hunter

Not the senses I have but what I do
with them is my kingdom. ~ Helen Keller

How often have you appreciated your sense
of smell recently? I mean really
delighted in its power to evoke pleasure
and memories? Have you ever thought about
how often it alerts you to danger and keeps
you safe?

This afternoon, for two glorious minutes,
I was able to smell the rose scented candle
beside my bed and I wept with joy. That
one, simple fragrance meant that my sense
of smell – absent for weeks because of a
vicious virus travelling around my Eustachian
tubes, bronchial passages and lungs – hadn‘t
disappeared forever.

In the first weeks after the virus struck,
I lost coaching clients when I lost my hearing
and my voice. Email coaching wasn’t
an option either, due to dizziness and sinus
headaches. A few weeks ago, just as I was
finally taking in what the universe was
painting in a huge sign above my head –
– my daughter came home from school sobbing,
announcing the end of her first, tender,
special friendship with a lovely lad she’d
liked for three years. For ten months, they’d
been going to the cinema, going to cafés
with friends and sharing family times, in
our home and his. On the same day he ended
their relationship, he ‘asked out’
a girl my daughter has always been convinced
is prettier and more popular than she is.

As she sat racked with sobs at our kitchen
table, all of our recent hormone-fuelled
spats were swept aside, forgotten. I listened,
hugged and coached. I produced drinks, tissues
and an appropriate ‘triumph over adversity’
DVD. I secretly phoned and asked my husband
to buy a tub of ice cream and some chocolate
on his way home from work. I could already
see her revisiting the past and letting
anger and bitterness deliberately erase
parts of what she’d previously called
the happiest months of her young life. The
next few days were awful as waves of new
pain washed over her daily and my virus
got worse. All that kept me going was the
thought we’d be on mid-term holiday
in Spain soon, helping each other heal in
different ways.

Lying on a lounger on the beach, the waves
lapping a few feet away, I longed to smell
the salty sea air. I could barely hear the
keening cry of a lone seagull wheeling against
the blue sky. The breeze flicked a strand
of hair across my face but not even the
healing warmth of the sun could breach the
distance I was starting to feel between
my heart and the world around me, a world
whose scents, sounds and details I would
usually devour and relish. Even Pollyanna
had packed up and gone home.

I watched my daughter listlessly playing
with some shells on the beach, all of her

brother’s attempts to engage her rejected.
I let her sit with the pain, watched her
explore a range of new sensations on her
journey towards adulthood, knowing that
as a talented young writer, she would be
able to edit and recreate this part of her
life some day.

Reaching into my beach bag for the digital
camera I’d been given for my birthday
but hadn’t mastered yet, I decided
to practise and play around with it. I’d
had to pay for every photo taken with my
old SLR camera, so it took me a while to
get used to the idea that I could take,
view and delete as many frames as I liked.
I snapped away.

I got excited. I got better at it. Without
the distraction of sounds or smells, the
writer’s eternal need to take it all
in, I started capturing my daughter from
every angle, rediscovering the joy I used
to get from painting and photography. When
I convinced her that I was deleting as many
shots as I was taking, she forgot about
me and went back to her own thoughts. I
focused on what I could see – nothing else
– and rediscovered the joy of framing. I
learned how to work the zoom. Blue sky and
palm trees, gone. The froth of lacy white
waves on the beach, gone. I learned how
to trim and clip, getting rid of everything
that wasn’t important. I wanted to
help her see how beautiful she was. Nothing
else mattered. I captured the breeze in
a strand of wild, golden hair, the sea in
her aquamarine eyes. I didn’t need
to see her smile to capture her beauty.
All the beauty I needed was right there,
the depth of her soul, her strength and
her ability to feel, to hold that awareness
in her heart and to explore it – captured
in the curve of her eyelashes, the tilt
of her chin.

I lost all sense of time. Suddenly, like
a sea breeze billowing through a window
in my heart, I knew I had a gallery of beautiful
portraits, inspired by love. I showed them
to her that evening. She looked at them,
looked at me, looked at them again with
disbelief, surprise, pleasure…

I’ve learned not to underestimate
the power of refocusing, of reframing with
love and gratitude whatever life gifts us

Hunter is a writer, teacher and IAC certified coach who
currently specialises in homelife coaching – helping people
create authentic, spirit filled lives and homes they love –
and in supporting coaches on their certification journeys.
She lives in Scotland with her husband and two children.


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