Change Crashes

change crash.jpgYou never know when a change crash will hit you and what the impact will be. Though seemingly things move on and get back to business as usual, something in you has changed. You didn’t invite it, seek it out and would not have asked for it and yet, here it is.

This morning, I left my house and drove a few blocks to run a couple of household errands before my next set of appointments. I parked my car and walked on the side walk you see in the picture. Except this hadn’t happened yet.

I had just gotten inside the store and was about to start searching for items. I stopped for a moment and took notice of the long line of customers checking out. Interested in this, I thought quickly about how busy the store was and how many people were gathered at the front of the store.

All of the sudden a huge explosion sounded–glass, dirt, shelves were flying and tumbling down around us.

I froze for a second and then my brain went to its usual place. I asked if folks around me were alright, and people were moving to help the cashier who was underneath the pile of rubble. My mind went to who? how? where? will it happen again?

So I walked through the door just outside to see who or what had caused this and, if needed, to alert folks inside more was coming.

Shocked, but uninjured, the owner of the car sat trying to figure out what had just happened.

Moments, choices, decisions, accidents, oversights–yours or someone else’s can create a change crash directed your way. You just happened to be in the space and place at the same time.

It’s not what happens to you in these moments but what you do next. How you respond, support yourself and others, manage the fall out for those around you.

At the moment, I’m feeling pretty grateful for my safety and for the safety of those around me. Grateful to those who respond to these kind of change crashes mindfully, kindly, and with best of intentions for all who just happened to be in this moment together.






Humming Along

The other day I found myself humming and then softly singing lyrics to a song. I haven’t thought about or sung this song for a year. Exactly one year –on the very same day, for the very same reason.

The melody begins in my mind without my knowing—simply and suddenly. The lyrics familiar (learned at a young age because the song was popular)—spill from my memory to mouth without effort and with great abandon.

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go.

Hearing myself sing, I stop to ponder for a moment what I am singing and then wonder why this song—seemingly out of the blue.

Shaking my head in acknowledgment, I realize that my unconscious self is nudging me. It’s time for change. This is far from out of the blue. In fact, it’s right on tempo.

All her bags are packed, she’s ready to go.

The rest of the day is a mix of keeping busy and stealing moments—in the garden, in the laundry room—anywhere there’s a space to take a deep breath and let go of a few seconds of emotion. I don’t want to make her departure any more difficult or dampen her spirit or influence her feelings—a mix of excited, anxious and a little sad to go—she says.  I feel like I, of all people, have got to keep it together and embrace this change.

I start changing the lyrics in my head to help me deal with the situation.

Now the time has come to let her leave. 

Hold her close one more time because I have to let her go.

The experience of change–even when I seek it—embrace it—when it is all positive—in the right direction—when the benefits far outweigh the risks—is wrought with emotion.

The sadness, fear, loss of letting go is part and parcel of transformation and growth. Just as excitement, exhilaration and anticipation is.  Doesn’t matter where I am or you are on the journey-a mixed bag of feelings and emotions are markers that lead the path of change.

So I let myself sing with abandon a few times,  let myself feel all of the feelings—the mix of sad, happy, and proud.

And then…

On Sunday, I kissed her, smiled for her and watched her leave to start her senior year of college.

And then on Monday, I kissed her, smiled for her, and watched her leave to start her sophomore year of high school—you guessed it— on a jet plane!

The Resignation You Want!

Helping individuals and organizations navigate change is critical to personal, professional and organizational success. Yet, my clients often struggle to make decisions that are in the best interest of the organization (which, I believe, is also in their own self interest). The conversation with my clients is always an interesting one and usually starts with my asking “do you have the right people in the right places?” The answer, more often than not, is no. And, more often than not, the person who is not the right fit or not living up to their role and responsibility, knows too. This is a critically important issue for all businesses (heck, all relationships) and one that gets avoided all too often.

Gene Takagi’s 12 Reasons Why You Should Gracefully Resign from a Nonprofit Board is an absolute must read and guide for individuals who serve and governance committees of nonprofit organizations. As I read and thought about sharing this with all of my nonprofit clients, I realized I needed to assess my own board participation and make some decisions.

I invite you to do the same.

Assess your nonprofit board participation using this list and, if you find yourself on the list, gracefully resign. It relieves the angst of having to confront you, the embarrassment of being confronted— more importantly, it allows the organization to invite change, and to create a culture of engagement among board members invested in the success of the organization. Staying on a board well beyond your time and interest level can have a significant impact on the board and its culture and, ultimately, harm to the organization. Lack of engagement spreads like wildfire and leaves the organization vulnerable on every level. Nonprofit leaders often struggle with their boards and invest significant resources (human, financial, capital) with very little return on investment. While return on investment is often a conversation being had in leadership circles among Executive Directors, it is rarely a conversation had among board members. What is the return on investment to the organization provided by members and the board as a collective?

Trust me, countless stories from my clients (board and staff) and experience leading and serving on boards provide enough data to write volumes on the impact of board member leadership and engagement, or lack thereof, on the sustainability and success of a nonprofit organization. The remedy is often easier than we want to believe.

Change needed to revitalize your board or organization can be made easier if we all accept responsibility for gracefully resigning when we no longer add value!



This mountaintop looks like the corner on almost every street from my house to Boston and beyond.  As we in the Northeast prepare for yet another winter storm to begin today we anticipate 6-12 inches give or take a foot or two!  Before this snowfall even arrives, forecasters warn of a mid-week storm to follow.  You might be releasing a heavy sigh just about now. You might be one of many who are complaining about the snow.  Yet snow is a literal and figurative reminder to take white space. In this crazy, hectic, always plugged in world of ours we often lose site of the white space gift that comes with snow days.  It is one of the few things that really slows us down and allows for introspection.  Snow days are an opportunity to listen to and read poetry…and then go write your own poem, paint your own picture, write your story, bake, read, cook, snow shoe, ski, play! A snow day is a day for imagination, creativity, and blessed white space –make the most of it, get creative, open up and explore your potential!

Potential: What Lies Beneath the Surface!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being the guest speaker at Ready, Set, Lead a program of Leading Women a catalyst for advancing women leaders in the corporate sector. One of the participants wrote this post for her company’s blog. So grateful to for the opportunity to speak AND for this awesome thank you note!

Beneath the Surface
There is nothing quite like being inspired; that I-can-do-and-be-anything-I’ve-ever-dreamed-of feeling is really rather invigorating. And quite frankly, I think we need more of it.
Luckily, that moment with all the hyphens happened for me at a leadership training program when Dr. Marcia Cone, CEO of Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, spoke to our group. Like a well-seasoned travel guide, she walked us through her experiences while on a sabbatical in Scandinavia, one of the most gender-egalitarian regions in the world. Throughout her presentation, she tied in a metaphorical reference to everything she shared. For instance, Scandinavia’s climate does not foster an environment adequate for substantial agricultural growth; however, Europe has exceptionally high levels of geo-thermal heat. By utilizing the heat and energy of this resource, indoor greenhouses were developed to supplement not only Scandinavia’s nutritional needs, but also to create a profitable export. Although this is an interesting fact alone, the philosophical component Dr. Cone provided made the lesson transferrable to any situation, making it truly inspiring. As she mentioned, “There are no problems, only solutions.” Even what seems impossible is only lacking innovation. How can you use your strengths to not only overcome your circumstances, but exceed them?
Intertwined in the story of her trip were words of paramount wisdom. First and foremost, do not just play the game – be a game-changer. If you do not believe in something from an ethical standpoint or if you believe something could be done bigger and better, do not just fall in line and follow those in front of you. Sometimes, in order to gain the greatest advancements, you have to blaze your own path. Also, if you are not hearing “no,” you are not asking enough – take risks even if they can lead to failure. Be diligent, be persistent, and ask for what you truly think is needed.
I have been through enough seminars and presentations about work/life balance to recite what has become just generic repetition. But through Dr. Cone’s speech, I gained a new perspective. She shared this: undervaluing yourself is selfish. Who are you to keep your talents, your skills, your strengths, and your ideas to yourself? The world cannot benefit from your assets if you do not share the very best of yourself. You NEED to value yourself – and part of valuing yourself is valuing your time and energy. You cannot give 100% if you are undernourished, overworked, and overwhelmed. Position yourself to delegate work that is draining your personal resources and, when needed, do not be afraid to say no. It is great to challenge yourself, but not when it conflicts with your own wellbeing.
I learned a lot from Dr. Marcia Cone’s speech, most importantly that “no” is never the end. I learned that impossible is possible with innovation, integrity, and diligence. And I learned that the world and life in general is a canvas for learning; it just takes insight and reflection to cull out the meaning of what lies beneath the surface.


I am completely fascinated by the inherent ability, the often uncharted and sometimes intentional capacity for growth and development of humans.  In a constant state of investing, (yes, yes often over-investing) in others , I should not have been surprised the day my LC said “How about you fall in love with your own potential for awhile!”.  I laughed—-and realized she wasn’t.

I’d started my conversation with her that day sharing an aha moment.  Interestingly, my best ideas and insights seem to spring forth while in the shower.    Streams of water that with force can move mountains, flood villages, and with gentleness can provide unfathomed beauty and give life—cascaded down on me and whispered softly  ”Marcia, you fall in love with potential.”

I stumbled out of the shower in a daze, looked in the mirror and said the words out loud to my image “You fall in love with potential”.

The message came to me as though an awakening.   As though this thread would shed great light on the darkness of the most recent, deeply painful breakup (though is it a breakthrough now?).  The epiphany that would allow me to alter what I could not before this moment.

It’s true.   My first love, first marriage and all the loves in between and after had one thing in common– they all had great potential.

My confession during that session, I thought, would lead my LC to explore this insight about “them”.  Instead, she challenged me to become interested in my potential.   And so I have become curious about the falls, geysers,  sheds, babbling brooks and still streams of my potential.   This space a place for my musings and mutterings through the lens of something I love– potential–yours, mine and ours.