Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I Don't Know, I Have To Ask My Life Coach...

I have a two word response to that.

Oh. Please.

Life Coach. Didn't that used to be called Mom? And when her advice didn't work, we did the best we could with the information and skill set we had. I made mistakes. A lot of them. And I own them. Don't get me wrong, solicited advice is great - but it's kind of like a butt; everyone has one and they can kinda stink...


These days it is easier to ask someone who didn't bother to take the time to go to school and get a degree in or even somewhat master psychology, finance or any other of the subjects they would need to dispense advice as they do - than to take personal responsibility for results in our life based on our actions and decisions. I have always believed it is what you do or don't do that defines you as a person.

I say teach a person to fish and they will eat for life. Hand them a fish and they'll be back asking you how to clean them, how to cook them, how to bone them, and where they should dispose of the waste...

I can't tell you how many people I know either have a wretched streak of bad luck or fail miserably at a couple of things in life - and rather than stand up and take a sheepish bow - and say to themselves, "I'll get them next time. I'm going to learn from this!", they instead exclaim; "It wasn't my fault! It was the system at large, the man, the economy, my ex! And now, based on my vast experience of getting screwed AND screwing up, I can show you how to never make that same mistake again. You know as long as it is the EXACT same mistake - because I am obviously not seeing the big picture of how sometimes life is nothing personal and I should just pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again!"


I know two people in particular that dispense advise on a regular basis. Both of them would be hard-pressed to take their own advice. I think they should just settle down and be a little...oh say...QUIET...

One does it for money. Professionally.

He began as a professional speaker, though he really had no skill at speaking, nothing really to offer as a life lesson, and so this compelled him into giving life advice one-on-one. This guy has done so many things wrong it's almost silly to think of him as offering advice to anyone - and anyone paying for it! He cheated in his marriage, had a bankruptcy, owes thousands to the IRS and does not support his children. I think Michael Vick had a life coach when he was involved in the affair that sent him to federal prison. Did his life coach go with him?

Good question - What can he really show you how to do? Best question - why would you listen to him for any reason?

The other person I know is a someone who fascinates me. She is a little more tricky to dis. She is a married, young mother who lives close to the edge of poverty and while she has no education and has never been employed she has a lot to say about everybody else's life with a fairly foul mouth. In her family, she is the voice of reason. And they all listen to her...

Yeah, I want to be like you. Except for the part where you dispose of soiled diapers in the trash can in the kitchen. Sign me up. So really, you think I should not make my child go to college because you didn't go and look how your life turned out? Huh. (PS- she despises her life BUT can show you how to get it!)

I know. Not enough vodka on the planet I dare say.

She has a lot of opinions. Pretty much all of it based on soap operas - which seems to work for her value set. She has a million excuses, I mean very good reasons for her situation, and how life unfairly played out, all the while laying claim to the rewards of others' accomplishments. I had to listen to her rant about Sonia Sotomayor being appointed to the Supreme Court because they are both Puerto Rican. I wanted to say that Sonia went to college, studied hard, worked three jobs - as did her mother - and values self-sustaining over the promulgation of poverty. I ended up saying nothing because the fantasy of "me and Sonia are exactly alike except for the fact that life screwed me..." was so strong I just couldn't point out that Sonia is where she because of the choices she made all along the way.

I also had to listen to this woman quote her deceased mother-in-law with absolute authority - as if she had taken the reins of the family. As if poor Rosalie is not turning over in her grave to see her young son bent like his father was, providing for small children and a wife intent on remaining a "traditional stay-at-home mom."

"Candi, let me give you some advice on how to keep a man..."

That's ok. You keep him.

If only I could make this stuff up.

I know that the cycle of poverty will never be broken in that branch of the family as long as the "life coach" is preaching and her congregants listen. I fled.

But these are just two instances I have experienced in my own life. There are also the Suzie Ormans, Dr. Ozs and the Dr.Phils out there - the Oprah anointed - people who once had a few good ideas and then tried to make little empires out of fear and stretching out your need to hear from them.

I guess I'm different. I am humbled by my mistakes. I am embarrassed when they could have been prevented. And I would no more tell someone how to go through a divorce or reinvent their life, then I would tell them what stocks to pick. In case I'm wrong. I know what I know. And one of the most heart-bright people I know once said, "I know what I don't know." I prefer to hug someone through it and say - you can do it. I'll be waiting for you on the other side with cocktails!

I don't know that I could ever trust someone who says to me - don't do as I did - do as I say. I would always be wondering, what ELSE don't you know that I would know if I could get past the feelings of fear and worry about the future.

I started in on this because I am reinventing myself. I figure, it's the perfect time for it. Economy in the toilet. Work dry. Skin, too. So, I put it out there. There are so many wonderful things I think I can be doing with my life - and being an empty-nester on the cusp of living the rest of my life for me - I want to choose wisely. I shared this with a friend who fancies herself a new-age life coach.

My ears were pinned by the barrage of what I should be doing, how I should go about it, and if I ever needed to talk about how to do it, why to do it or when to do it I could make an appointment on her website. You have a website? What happened to coffee and the sharing of ideas? I only shared this with you because your life sucks as hard as mine! When did you become an expert at life? I'm still learning.

So I left her sitting with our cappuccinos and went next door to the liquor store and bought two tiny little bottles of rum. I poured one in her cup and one in mine. We laughed and relaxed. And as the warm glow seeped into our bodies we both remembered we don't know crap about crap. We don't know what tomorrow will bring. We can only do the best we can. We should love each other into health and hope and joy. We will all be gone one day - almost all of us sooner than we'd like. We don't need advice - we need shoulders. We hope that one person will agree with us and come with us while we fill out the paperwork, wait for the results, or pick up the pieces.

We are human after all. And the greatest life coach in the world is experience - and surviving it.

We are our own best life coaches. And though your advice may reign supreme behind your closed doors I wear the tiara in my family, baby.

You know you love me - Candi