Coaching Moments

“Coaching Moments” takes a thoughtful look at how coaching can be interwoven into our daily lives. 

Up, down, amazing and grateful  
by Janice Hunter, IAC-CC

The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your state of mind. ~ Wayne Dyer

My daughter’s 14th birthday was a day full of assumptions, both hers and mine. She didn’t know her best friends were throwing a surprise birthday party later in the week, and her sadness at not receiving presents or cards from them, on the morning of her birthday, seeped through her gratitude for everything else. I stayed quietly positive and cheerful throughout the day, assuming she would rather have the eventual surprise than the truth.

We went to the cinema in the afternoon, and as she couldn’t make up her mind which film she’d like to see, my husband bought tickets for the new Disney Pixar film, Up, which had received great reviews. One look at the poster–a house flying through the air suspended by balloons–had her assuming the film would be “babyish.”

We settled into our seats, the lights dimmed, the adverts blared across the screen in the darkness, and soon we were surrounded by the sounds and smells of popcorn, hotdogs and nachos.

I loved the first five minutes of the film. The music was poignant and moving, and through a sequence of short scenes and vignettes, we saw the quiet, quirky child grow old and grumpy as, one by one, he shelved the dreams of his youth.

Thud. My seat jarred forward as it was kicked from behind. I turned to see a boy of seven or eight sitting next to a stony-faced man, a weary washed-out looking mum and a gum-chewing sister.

I decided not to say anything. The simple act of turning around is usually enough.

The film surprised me; in turns bizarre and surreal, touching and funny, it was strangely mesmerizing. The two main characters, a lonely, overweight boy full of childhood exuberance, and an irascible, heartbroken widower, became unlikely companions on a road trip. The difference in their ages gave the film great breadth of scope and depth, while the themes of disappointment and frustration, stubbornness and letting go, redemption and hope were woven throughout with compassion and wit.

Disney films enchant me. The colours are glorious and they evoke memories of watching them with my saucer-eyed kids. A quick glance to the side showed my husband laughing with my son and my daughter giggling, devouring every detail.

Thud…thud. I fought the urge to turn round, scared that a negative reaction from the boy or his parents might embarrass my daughter and spoil her birthday film.

I took a deep breath, knowing the wriggling kicks were a distraction I had to overcome. My kids have always been very settled and courteous in cinemas, but as I’ve got older, it seems like fewer children can sit still for the length of a film without eating, wriggling or talking.

The sounds of laughter, music and talking dogs filled the warm darkness of the cinema. Glorious multicoloured balloons, bright plumage and jungle scenes filled the screen, and I tried my best to simply let go and fill my heart with compassion.

The credits rolled and we were the only two families who stayed to watch till the end.

As the lights went up, from behind me came a “Wow! That was amazing!” The mum and dad said nothing. “Dad, that was the best thing I’ve ever seen!” “Don’t be stupid,” said the dad. “It was the best film I’ve ever seen, Dad. It was amazing!”

His joy was contagious and I turned to smile at his mum, expecting to see her happy at the pleasure they’d so obviously brought him. She looked sad and distant as the man put on his coat in silence, and the older girl pulled her mobile phone from her pocket.

I left the cinema curious about who they were and what was going on in their lives. I wondered how long the boy’s delight in films would last and I was glad I hadn’t said or done anything to ruin, what for him, was the most amazing film ever.

A few days later, my daughter came home to a room full of bright banners, balloons and birthday party food, all bought and prepared by her best friends. The cries of “Surprise!!” brought her hands to her face in shocked delight, then sudden awareness as she looked at me with tears and comprehension in her eyes. The long, tear-filled hug she gave me was full of gratitude and appreciation for my part in the surprise, which I’d known about for weeks. Laughing and giggling with her friends, she blew out the candles on her cake and made a wish for the second time that week; I could see that all of her sadness from the previous days had disappeared.

Surrounded by friends, good food and the determination to celebrate, it’s so much easier to feel grateful. As we all prepare for the coming season of gratitude and goodwill, blessings and bounty, I’d like to take this chance to thank you. I wish I could convey in words how much pleasure it gives me to belong to this community, to know you’ve taken the time to read my words.

I can’t offer you food, or tokens of peace and friendship, but I wanted to let you know that I’ll be thinking of you on Thanksgiving Day and giving thanks for the Internet, for the coaching we share and for the wonderful universe whose plan brought us together. I’m not American, but I shamelessly adopt rituals and celebrations from all over the world, special days that make smiles brighter and hearts warmer, days that bring people together in shared gratitude for life, love and blessings, wherever we live, whoever we are. Thank you. My life is better because of you.

Janice Hunter is an IAC certified homelife coach who lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She created and co-wrote Sharing the Certification Journey: Six IAC Coaches Talk About Their Journeys, and her blogsite,, provides soul food and support for coaches, writers, parents and home-based workers.

Janice has compiled all of her Coaching Moments pieces from the last two years into a free 46-page ebook, ‘Coaching Moments: A Collection of Articles about Coaching in Everyday Life’ which can be downloaded here or from her site.

6 thoughts on “Coaching Moments”

  1. Thank you so much, Connie. I’m sorry I couldn’t reply to this straight away. I’ve been away from home and offline.
    I’m so grateful that coaching brought us together all those years ago. What a rollercoaster it’s been! I’ve always appreciated that you take the time to tell me if a piece has moved or inspired you. I never take any responses for granted and every one’s a blessing that helps to fill the well.
    Being lucky enough to write for coaches helps me find inspiration in the details of my life and connect them all to the bigger picture. Everything’s fuel for coaches and writers.
    I know you’re not in the States, but I hope you have another happy Thanksgiving!

  2. I have moist eyes from reading about the caring challenge you met so your daughter’s delight could follow. And also from feeling your expressive appreciation for coach-readers far and wide. Many more than say so appreciate you back!
    With thanksgiving for the R A N G E of vivid life experiences you dare to share, Janice!

  3. Thank you, Judy! The coaching community is lucky to have you and you’re one of the reasons I feel so blessed to have this column. I’ve never forgotten that we ‘cyber met’ because of VOICE. It’s been a few years now, and our lives have had ups and downs, but what we learned as coaches has strengthened our foundations and VOICE has been a constant.

  4. Thank you once again for sharing your gift, your talent for putting into words what our hearts and souls feel. I always enjoy the authenticity of your writing. I am grateful to have you as my friend. Love and Gratitude, Judy

  5. Hi, Barbara. I think you’re right; his delight at the end of the film made me think he wasn’t one of those kids who kick on purpose. I’m glad I decided to try to let go and avoid judgements; that wee family definitely had a story to tell.

  6. That was very generous of you to not fuss at the boy in the theater. It didn’t seem like he was annoying you on purpose. Reminds me of a quote I read decades ago and will never forget: ‘Life is so hard. How could I be anything but kind?” We never know how tough or even tragic a person’s day or life is, so best to follow your lead and be kind whenever we can manage it.

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