A gathering of the ordinary extraordinary


Tomorrow I am speaking at the Volunteer Conference hosted by the Institute for Human Services in Horseheads, NY.  Yes, that is really the name of the town :-).  Since the first time I heard “Horseheads” I have been trying to imagine how it came about and I must admit, I am a bit afraid to ask.  But that is another story.  I am so, very excited.  As of an hour ago almost 100 people from non-profit organizations all over the southern tier of NY State have registered to attend the conference and, it keeps going up.  Hmm…  120 anyone?).

If you are curious, as I was, check out a few of the mission statements from the various organizations being represented:   mission-statements   After you check it out, imagine a world where each of their missions is realized….  Wow.  I can’t think of a better way to spend the day than by being surrounded by people who make a living or volunteer a major part of their lives working to make the world a better place.

I have attached the conference brochure, too.  Pass it along if you know someone who might be interested. volunteer con brochure-final

I gotta pinch myself.

When you screw things up…


I am sitting here with my daughter and one of her friends and volleyball team-mate in our motel room in Herkimer NY.  Herkimer is a little town near Utica in Central New York.  I guess it is most famous for the Herkimer diamond minds, a place where you can go and chip on rocks and come home with some pretty crystals.  Many of us who live in Central New York and have children have some of these famous “diamonds” somewhere in our house.  My son brought some home to me when he came here with a friend one Summer day.  He had a great time and that was when I learned of Herkimer NY.  I have no idea where those crystals are today.  I never thought back then that I would be here today nor that I would be coaching a girls volleyball team who is playing in their second tournament tomorrow.

Our first tournament was two weeks ago.  It was not only our first tournament but it was my first time as head coach and my first time participating in any tournament, ever.   My assistant coach wasn’t able to be there.  I really had no idea what I was in for.  Within a few minutes everything that was happening seemed as though it was coming at me at a hundred miles an hour.  Girls asking if they could go do their hair, referees asking me who the captain of the team was, scorekeepers asking for the line up and at the same time I needed to get the team on the court and warm them up for the game…. warm up?  What should I do.  Right then without looking up, in my mind’s eye I took in the rest of the coaches and their teams and they all seemed so cool and collected.  Doing warm ups, handing in their line ups, they all seemed to be handling everything with ease and familiarity and some of them were looking at me… That was when the panic began to hit.

Panic is a funny thing.  For me it seems to follow a thought.  There I was balancing, it all like a juggler at the circus, (except they skillfully make mistakes) and then wham, this thought runs across my mind that everyone else has it under control and I don’t and they are watching me! . . . . PANIC button!

Well, I made it through the day, I must say thanks to my generous husband who I recruited to help me after our second game. The number of mistakes I made is beyond being able to count but I also learned more about coaching in one day than I had learned in the several months prior.

I learned that I without the girls clearly knowing what I expect of them, they don’t have a place to measure themselves in how they are doing.  I also don’t have something to hold them to.

I learned that I am coaching the girls, not their parents.  I respect their parents yet they may or may not understand what it is that I am doing as a coach.  Having clear expectations of the parents and a clear statement of who I am and how I coach and what they can count on is important.

I learned how to substitute players, correctly 🙂

I learned all the particles that I have to manage in a day-long tournament.  Score keeping, line and down reffing, line up for each game, substitutions, breaks …and so much more.

When we met before this first tournament I talked to the girls about going beyond where they know that they can go.  I challenged them saying that them going beyond what they think is possible is what I wanted for them for that weekend.  I hadn’t thought that in challenging them that I was also challenging myself.  I had forgotten that when you set a bar for those that you are teaching or coaching or training that you also set a bar for yourself.  Set the bar I did.

Well, here I am heading into tournament #2 with these same girls and I am a different coach.  I have the line up for every game set, I have the working schedule set, I have the expectations written and ready to hand out and I have given parents the responsibility of making sure that their players eat and drink water on our breaks.  I have recruited Rich, my husband, to be my assistant coach and we have gone over all the play plans and other items so that we are on the same page.  We are ready!  I am ready.

Learn from your mistakes.  That is a sentence that I have repeated over and over to the girls at the last tournament and in our practices.  What really excites me about tomorrow’s games is that I have learned from mine and I can now guide them further into learning from theirs.

Game on.

A Blog About Life and The Ingenuity of the Human Spirit


This blog is about life. It is about celebrating our humanity.  Looking at where we are today, how we got here and what it takes to alter the direction of tomorrow.  Creating new avenues that were not available or visible before.  This blog is an inquiry about what it takes to bring about new cultures.  It is about riding the waves of our current culture and way life without losing sight of what matters most and what is possible and then taking actions that bring what is possible into reality.  This blog is about human spirit and ingenuity.

Transitions are integral to our life.  From the moment we are born until the moment we die life is a series of transitions from one moment to the next.  From infant to child, to adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood and old age, we transition with the years as they pass, our bodies as they age and the circumstance around us.  These daily transitions, happening moment by moment, are the stuff from which new pathways can be created. There in each moment, in every transition of our life we can do the same thing we have always done, repeat our habits which may very well be a part of our cultural history, or we can do something else.  We have the choice to forge new pathways, create new ways of dealing with situations or circumstances, we can create new cultures.  Our access are the transitions of our life.

Our greatest teachers are our children.  I am reminded of the words to the song “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.”  The adults of the world, through our words, actions and habits, teach the youth who observe them.  Parents, politicians, teachers, neighbors, writers, business owners, all of us play part in the culture that our children are inheriting.  As they move through life, the guidance we provide our youth can be to follow the flow of our culture and the way it has “always” been or we can teach them to observe, think about and chose new actions for themselves which forges new pathways for their life.  They can be part of creating a new culture.  We can teach them to think, act and speak so that they can lead the way and go beyond anything that we can imagine.