Monday, September 21st, will be the first anniversary of my wife Sandy's passing. The first six months went by so slowly and the last six months so fast.The first three months were really hard. I am so glad I had our dog as a companion. His unconditional love, enthusiasm and goofiness kept me going. I am doing all right thanks to loving care of Sandy's mother, three sisters and four of Sandy's dear friends, Willow Sibert, Priscilla Misner, John and Laurel Elders. They check in with me often and I call them my "angels."
OUR FOREVER HOME
I am living at the same address on Salt Cedar Dr, Oro Valley, AZ. The house is a little big, 1900 sq feet, for one person but I insisted with our children to continue to live here. After 8 years of renting, being at the mercy of a landlord, we decided to buy a house. It was going to be our "forever" home. We started looking for a home in April 2019 when Sandy first started having back and stomach pains and was seeing her doctor. We closed escrow and moved in June 1st. On July 1st her oncologist told us Sandy's cancer was treatable, not curable. July 31st, Sandy was admitted to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing. Sandy was in the hospital 3 weeks, then in rehab for 3 weeks trying to get strong enough to come home. She passed on September 21st. She never made it back to her" forever" home after living there for only 2 months.
I wanted to live in the" forever home" to fulfill our wish. I am very happy because I am living in a home that Sandy decorated in her style with her things and art work, some of which bring pleasant memories. In the great room, I have Sandy's urn, with a vase of fresh flowers, surrounded by pictures of her family. I talk to her in my thoughts and every night before I go to bed, I pat the top of her urn and say "goodnight sweetheart, I'll see you in my dreams." Since Sandy's passing I dream of her much more often than when she was alive... at least three or four nights a week. I think of it as her way of telling me she is with me.
SANDY AND PETER - A LOVE STORY
After Sandy passed, I went through boxes of family pictures looking for pictures of Sandy for a photo scrapbook that her sister, Janet Luzzi was making for showing at Sandy's Celebration of Life
Because of the corona virus, we never got that celebration.
I was reminded just how beautiful a woman she was and I was smitten the first moment I saw her. In her later years she did not look like a woman her age. In the scrapbook there is a picture of Sandy in a clown suit. That was taken on Halloween day 1976, the day I met her. I was a Sergeant with the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department and I came to the junior high school to give a talk to the students. The principal put me in Sandy's English class. He introduced her as Miss Luzzi. I definitely caught the Miss. What an attractive teacher!! I talked to three classes and between classes I am trying to get to know more about her. She is having none of it. It was the down to business side of Sandy that some of you have seen.
In the afternoon, I was going to talk to a class at the high school across the road. The principal put me in the teacher's lounge for lunch. It was crowded with teachers most of them in Halloween costumes. During that time I am sitting by myself. I hear someone say Miss Luzzi and they were talking to this person dressed as a clown. I thought to myself how can she go from a gorgeous woman to Bozo the clown. Because I was so embarrassed that I acted like an ass that morning, I made sure she wouldn't see me by crawling under the seat cushions.
I knew I was coming back to the high school the next week to talk to 2 classes. During that time, I got the bright idea to send her a bouquet of flowers to apologize for my behavior. I was able to get her home address. The next week at the high school, I had just started my talk when this stunningly beautiful woman comes in the classroom, walks up real close to me and almost in a whisper thanks me for the flowers and invites me to share her lunch in her classroom.. That's It! I am hooked.
It was a long time later that I realized I was set up. Why would a teacher come to school in a dress, with high heels, wearing earrings and a necklace? Why would said teacher pack TWO tuna fish sandwiches that particular day? I was hooked, yes I was smitten from that day until September 21, 2019. Sandy is the love of my life!!
Sandy passed before all the turmoil and crisis in our country with the corona virus, unemployment, kids out of school, racism and climate change has made a country she would not recognize. Fortunately her dream ticket of Biden/Harris became a reality. I miss Sandy for what she brought to all of you and me and her community.
Sandy was the most positive person in a real way, that I ever met. She was non judgmental, kind, generous, caring and always giving of herself and time for others. Most of all she was a good listener. With people being scared, fearful, and the continuing crisis by the president and his followers that certainly will get worse, Sandy is not here when we most need her.
The day after Sandy passed, her family and my brother's family had dinner together prior to their leaving back to California. At that time, I announced to the family that I was going to establish a Sandy Hogan Memorial Scholarship fund at the Institute for Integrative Coach Training. It had been noodling in my head since I knew Sandy was terminal. This school started out several years ago as a Coaching program through Prescott College by Sandy and Laurel Elders. When Prescott College cancelled the program, Sandy and Laurel continued it on their own with Laurel being the backbone devoting her full time and Sandy being the advisor and one of the instructors Laurel is an early protege and student of Sandy's. It evolved into the Institute for Integrative Coach Training.
The Institute and the Enneagram were Sandy's two great passions. It is my dream that the scholarship will assist future coaches to learn and apply Sandy's coaching philosophy and to make it a perpetual scholarship after I have passed. I have started making a quarterly contribution.
If you want to continue to honor the legacy of Sandy's coaching work, please consider donating to this scholarship fund named in Sandy's honor. Visit:
www.integrativecoachtraining.com/sandylegacyscholarships.html and https://www.integrativecoachtraining.com/sandy.html.
In the Sandy thanks you address, there is a booklet you can download Called "Follow Your Calling". It is interviews Laurel had with Sandy in the last three weeks of her life.
Thank you all for being in Sandy's life. We are forever grateful that she was in ours.
In coaching, we believe that we all have our own answers within and we are the experts of our own life. Coaching rests on the premise that each person is whole, complete and does not need fixing or advice to reach their full potential.
If we are whole and complete, and if we have our own answers, then this naturally begs the question, “If I have all of my own answers, then why do I feel lost? If I am whole and complete, then why do I feel so fragmented today?”
Coaching provides powerful answers to these questions. These are the five teachings found in coaching:
The Course in Miracles teaches that our true-self carries wisdom's that are born from our wholeness. Yet, the fears of the ego block that wisdom and so we look to others for solutions. Furthermore it teaches that the ego is loud, judgmental and quick to cause panic. The true self will never panic, or yell. It's answers lead only to peace and empowerment.
A skilled coach helps us step into the true-self and shed the false. Being coached is a powerful and transformative process, rooting us deeper into our potential through our own wisdom.
Coaching unlocks new possibilities showing us that we do indeed have our own answers, we did all along, even when it didn't seem like it. We are indeed whole and complete, we have been our entire lives, even when it didn't feel like it.
This is why coaching feels magical, yet is also so practical. Coaching illuminates new possibilities, yet is grounding. Coaching captures the essence of potential.
When I was around 4 years old I had a phobia. I was really panicked about swimming and water.
My extreme fear of water landed me in swimming lessons. This was an attempt to lessen my fright and eventually learn how to swim.
I remember the day of my first lesson very clearly.
The swim instructor was very outgoing and friendly. There were a lot of kids splashing around, which felt intimidating. I refused to get off that first step. Anxiety pumped through my veins. I was perfectly intent on staying securely on the pool’s edge.
My instructor came over and asked me to come with her. I eventually agreed and grabbed onto her for dear life as she peeled me off of the pool’s edge.
She walked with me on her hip, bouncing us gently, into deeper and deeper waters. She reassured me every step of the way, “You are safe. You are ok. It’s ok, you can trust me. See, you are ok.”
I clung to her petrified. Then slowly gave in and began to trust that everything was actually ok and I was safe.
The game changed.
She grabbed me tight. She pulled me under the water without any warning.
Seconds felt like an eternity.. I wanted out, I couldn't breath, the rug had been pulled, anxiety turned into panic. I was horrified, stuck and helpless. I held my breath in the sheer terror, I squirmed trying to free myself to breath again.
Finally, she let me up.
I think I screamed. Probably for my mother’s arms. The nightmare was over. Or was it?
I look back and realize this woman had the fully fledged intention of showing me I could survive going under water. However, what was accomplished was the opposite. My fear and panic were now anchored in for life.
Without knowing it, my perception of the world shifted that day too.
“Adults are not trustworthy.”
“Just when I feel safe, the rug gets pulled.”
“Life is chaotic and unpredictable.”
“I’m not safe especially when someone tells me I am.”
These perceptions become the filters we see the world through. These perceptions often live beneath our awareness, until we unearth them.
“Adults are not trustworthy.” Not only does not serve me, it is not true. This unconscious belief wrecked havoc throughout my teenage years until I became aware of it and could heal it.
We take these with us, consciously or not, to keep us safe. The limit of them is that they eventually keep us small, keep us from blooming fully and keep us looping in predictable patterns.
Thinking back to a fearful experience you remember (one that is not overwhelming to recall), what beliefs did you take away from that moment?
Are these beliefs true today? Do you they serve you? What is the truth?
This is not only a process of pulling out the weeds in our unconscious beliefs. It is about planting new seeds. The truth does set us free.
Human potential is a journey…
On the first stretch of this journey, we can be shown the way. This guidance can be found in books, mentoring, advising, counseling, or anytime we need to look to others for the answers that will guide us to a new understanding.
Yet, there is a time in our life when the answers provided to us may become the very box of our limitation. In this moment, we realize we are at a crossroads; to continue the way we've been shown or to pave the remainder of our life through our own wisdom.
To truly reach our human potential, one must journey beyond the walls of external provision and begin to journey among the answers embedded within.
The second stretch of this journey is accessed from going within to explore the depths of the wisdom embedded within the heart of knowing.
To support our client’s second journey and masterfully coach we must show up as a completely neutral vessel to hold a potentiated space for our client’s unfolding.
As a coach, we are the lantern to the client's true Essence, to the seeds of potential embedded within aching to be born. We are the Sherpa's journeying with our clients to their unique personal apex.
What is their truth? What is their wisdom? What jewels are buried within their heart? What gifts are hidden within?
In masterful coaching we must sit in the unknowing
to be of service to the client’s knowing.
Laurel Elders, PCC, CEC is the founder and CEO of the ICF Accredited, Institute for Integrative Coach Training (IICT), headquartered in Tucson, AZ. Laurel began her career as a coach in 2005 after noticing that we are living in pivotal times and that coaching is powerfully tapping into the next phase of human potential in ways never before experienced.
IICT is invested in bringing the highest levels of coaching, training and mentoring into a world that needs people's gifts, talents, purpose and heart, now more than ever. IICT coaches are successful torch holders for positive impact, locally and globally, in service to the generations ahead.
Learn more about becoming a Certified Professional Integrative Coach (CPIC) Program www.integrativecoachtraining.com/training.htm
I invite you to consider a buoy. It floats atop the water, despite storms it remains in its spot. It is a boundary of safety to communities of ships, surfers and swimmers.
Buoys are tethered, anchored and grounded. If they weren't they would float away being tossed aside and turned around wherever the current was going that day.
It is one thing to float above, but without a tether to ground the buoy, it loses all purpose.
To ponder: Are you feeling ungrounded and is life throwing you about? Are you tethered, but to false beliefs? To what are you tethered?
As human beings when we tether to the ego out of fear, we become limited in our capacity and life feels overwhelming.
However, when we tether to a greater purpose, through our own inner wisdom we can rise above and thrive. When life feels enriched by meaning we can go to bed with a happy heart even if times are stressful.
The next question is: What is your medicine in this lifetime?
I learned that some Native American traditions believe that everyone and everything has a medicine to it. This medicine benefits those around it, or needing it.
Becoming a coach, I learned that each human being has gifts within. This is our medicine for the world. When we live in our gifts we help others. Each gift is unique. Each gift can serve a greater purpose.
Sadly, many people do not realize their gifts, life calling, or their medicine because the ego harbors fearful messages like, “Stay safe!” “Don’t follow your heart.” “It is dangerous out there." "You have to fend for yourself after you fail.” "You are all alone." These will absolutely keep anyone small.
Fortunately, your heart has the answers to dispel all of the fears your ego can conjure up.
~ Are you listening to the heart or the ego?
~ Do you know what your medicine is in this lifetime?
~ Are you following your calling?
I double-dog dare you to follow your calling, give your gifts to the people who need them, and amplify what life has in store for you!
There is an ancient Cherokee legend teaching about two wolves within each person that fight to rule our life. One is full of fear, rage, greed, superiority and evil doings. The other is goodness, compassion, love, grace, wisdom and positive doings. The essence of the legend teaches the wolf that wins the fight is the one you feed.
I’m sure you have noticed humanity is living more divided than ever. Media allows people to play out emotional hit and runs. It is easy to throw a jab online and then run and hide behind a screen without any real and meaningful conversations to get to the bottom of real issues.
The forefathers said it best, “United we stand; Divided we fall.”
First, I just want to say that I get the stress of this. It is not easy to live in a world where technological advancements are growing at a faster rate than our collective emotional intelligence is.
If you look at the emotional development of society as a whole, we are seeing a trend of black and white thinking and low maturity levels. I’m sure you have noticed: Arguing versus integrating, lashing out versus helping things go right, shock humor winning the ratings, people aching for connection and community and fearing it at the same time, being quick to judge versus understand or some people just feel like a victim to it all so they do nothing.
It is no wonder we feel overwhelmed and then COVID just became the straw that broke the camel’s back for many.
It is completely normal to feel anxious and upset when things are out of balance in many areas. Deep down we know there is a better way. Deep down we want to contribute to things going right. Deep down, we are ready for positive change.
As we reviewed last week, it is hard to access that part of ourselves, the part that is wise, calm and knowing when we are under stress. To help maintain access we must rise above the BS going on. When we rise above we see clearly and solutions become evident.
The quickest way to get pulled down is seeing life through the eyes of judgement, both ours and others. Judgments cloud reality and keep us tethered to illusions. Judgments are based on assumptions, many of which are tricks of the ego and are not solution based.
This week I invite you to go on a judgment fast.
It is time for solutions…
Not more illusions.
A Course in Miracles teaches how destructive judgments their illusions are. Illusions are easily overlooked because they appear and feel very real. The good news is that they disappear once their roots are exposed.
Judgment fast guidelines:
Get rid of assumptions
to feel refreshed.
Get rid of the judgments
to see life unmeshed.
Step out of illusions,
they lead to more stress and delusions.
Look at life through the eyes of love
and you shall rise above.
“Arg! Things are crazy. I used to feel like life really was wonderful and now I feel anxious and challenged almost daily.” This was me speaking to Tabitha, my dear friend and an amazing coach. Not only had covid hit, but my husband was deployed and we were in a custody battle to protect his son.
It was so interesting to me. Being coached integratively, potentiated every area of my life, not just one or two. I reached a point in my life where I finally, after decades, was living at the cause of my life. It felt like a kick in the pants to all of a sudden feel like I was down to living at the effect of so many things.
I had learned that one of the greatest things I cherish about being in the coaching profession is that you are surrounded by the most positive, big-hearted, uplifting, non-judgmental people. I had also learned that doing the work to self-actualize doesn’t mean all life is magically “challenge free”. It does mean that you have the capacity and the self-companionship to rise above it.
So, there I was, admitting to Tabitha I was feeling out of whack. One of the dynamics of stress is that we forget our resources. Under stress, the brain closes down its creative functions to handle the stress. Tabitha was about to remind me of this phenomenon.
She said, “I know what you are going through feels overwhelming, but let’s double-check that. Let’s look at the Levels of Development.” Bare with me, we are about to take a detour.
In Integrative Coaching, we use a tool called the Levels of Development to help discern 1) the nine milestones in self-mastery, 2) track progress as a new milestone is reached, and 3) see if we are hanging out in the healthy, unhealthy or average ranges.
Self-development is like riding a bike. Once you know how to ride it, you can’t go back to not knowing. However, we can be self-forgetting at times, like I was. Under stress, it is good to have compassion that we are located underneath the stress. So let’s look at rising above it.
Let’s say you start your journey towards increasing your levels of mastery. These range from unhealthy to healthy. Un-resourced on the inside to fully resourced on the inside. Disintegrated to fully integrated.
You take the Levels assessment and you are starting off at level 4.
It would look like this:
Your level of development is where you hang out on an average day. Since covid, or challenging life circumstances, are not your normal average days we can slip down a level. Under stress, we tend to slip down one or two notches. For example, if your current level is four, you may have moments where you slip down to level five or six under stress.
It makes sense that people are more reactive and divisive right now. We are collectively under stress.
The good news is that as you move up the levels and increase your capacity in life, when life gets stressful you only slip down one or two levels instead of falling all the way to the bottom of the unhealthy ranges. So, let’s pick the story back up.
Tabitha and I read the levels of development. Over a span of 10 years, I had developed from level 4 to level 9 and hung out at 9 during normal life circumstances (yes, skeptics are slow learners). What Tabitha and I discovered that under the stress of covid, a deployment and an urgent family matter, I slipped down to level 7.
Once we expand our inner-resources, they act like flotation devices and float us. What I learned is that I felt stressed, but my actual buoyancy was still pretty high.
I thought about this and realized that if I was going through this amount of stress at any other time in my life I would have just been a puddle of stress on the floor.
Instead of worrying about what level you are at. Focus on staying buoyant at the level you are at. Step one of being emotionally buoyant during a turbulent time is to Level Up. To level up, I invite you to follow this path:
Keep in mind, the pandemic does carry some opportunities. We can either stay stuck in the stress or rise above it. We can complain, or we can take the time to reflect and review our values and gifts. We can wake up upset, or we can choose to examine what really matters to us at the end of each day and align with that each morning.
This is an opportunity to level up.
Last week my husband and I took the kids for ice-cream. The cashier informed us that the woman before us had paid our bill and was paying it forward. We said, “Wow, thanks can we pay the bill of the folks behind us?” She said “Yes and congrats! You are the 15th awesome people to pay it forward tonight!” Apparently the last 15 people chose to pay it forward after receiving too.
There is a part in each of us that lights up when our life is lived in contribution, doing right by others and helping. This is the part a masterful coach invites forward. This is the part that leaves us with a smile on our heart at the end of a hard day, where we chose to do the right thing even though it was hard. This is the part where love is generated.
“When you feel a peaceful joy,
that’s when you are near the truth.”
Love is like a generator. The more we give it, the more we have it. The Course in Miracles teaches that love is the principle not subject to the laws of the ego. According to the ego what is shared is divided into two parts. Love doubles when shared. Love is an extension of care, support, extension, grace, compassion, inspiration, and so much more. If God had a currency, it would be Love.
Those of us that come to know this truth about ourselves get rest not from sleeping, but awakening. Awakening to what we are truly capable of. Awakening to our truth. Awakening into possibility.
The human heart is an ancient metaphor that has been passed down century after century through many cultures. It represents the Highest aspects of ourselves where love is our guide, our true north.
Consider some of our more common sayings:
Unlike the ego, the Higher-Self quietly waits to gift us. It bares gifts of wisdom, guidance and compassion. The ego is quick to drown out any inner peace, doubt any wisdom and divide us from what is possible.
The ego is quick to judge and second guess
while the heart will guide you out of any mess.
The ego is quick to jump into the pool of fear,
while the heart invites you to steer clear.
Our wisdom, inner knowing and intuition all reside in the part of ourselves we call the heart.
“Love is the bridge between you and everything.”
Many people can experience anxiety or ruminating fear because they are still using their heads to try to solve problems. Switch into your heart for an inspiring new start.
Masterful coaches do not keep you in your head. They help you make the journey into trusting your Highest-self. The self that knows, that grows and stows your potential. This is the heart of who you are.
There is a part of your journey into your highest potential that can only be successfully navigated through the guidance of your highest wisdom, your heart.
There is part of you that knows.
This is the part of you that grows.
I invite you to trust it with all of your heart.
I promise it will give you a miraculous new start.
Fear gave birth to the ego and is a state of illusion.
By Laurel Elders, PCC
IICT Founder / Senior Faculty