While I am working with a new coach recently and she says, "I'm guessing you have a pretty good idea what your values are--since you've been a coach for so long."
"I have them right on my desk on a post-it note," I say. "Shall I tell you what they are?"
I read them to her and to tell her what they mean to me. They feel like old friends, like a part of me that is the both the best of me, and who I really want to be on my best day all at the same time. They feel peaceful and safe and keep me tethered to the earth. I feel my energy build as I describe each one to her. To let her know who I really am feels luxurious and nurturing. I have someone actually sitting with me who wants to know what makes me tick. Who I am.
Now some of them are still perfect: Family, Edgy, Grace, Art, and something I call The Ripple--making an impact in the world. But I am surprised that I want to change some--I always thought values are so core that they rarely change. I have one called "Intimacy" that I change to "Relationship." Since I first did my values, I have completed a coaching certification in Organization and Relationship Systems--Relationships of all kinds are really important to me. I get rid of one called "My People" which is about community that seems to be covered by "Relationship." These feel more right, more current, more ready to face the future.
I have one value I call "Slow Food." It is about selecting the best ingredients, sourcing the highest quality (usually organic or natural) and creating memorable food. It used to be about things cooking a long time to enhance flavors and to create complex and interesting dishes. It could be paired with "Slow Wine." The pairing of food and wine are a great joy to me. Last fall, I became intrigued by the idea of Raw Food. It is eating mostly fruits and vegetables and I find it a healthy way to live. Hard core raw foodists are typically vegan and there are various factions among the raw community who eat in a variety of healthy but restrictive ways. So far, I have been moderate in my raw explorations. I tried being mostly raw and didn't like how I felt (my boys wouldn't drink another smoothie and my 18-year-old daughter started eating dinner at friends' each night). I have tried being vegan but didn't like how I felt. At the moment, I eat raw food as much of the time as possible and then we eat some natural meat, some grains, etc. It seems to work at the moment. My kids eat tons of fruits and vegetables, everyone is healthy and we are eating the healthiest we have ever eaten. But it isn't traditional slow food.
Because of all this, my value of slow food doesn't seem to fit quite right anymore. The value is the same but raw food isn't particularly slow to make. In fact, eating a bunch of bananas for a meal is very quick and delicious. But I like the idea of "Slow Food." I guess when I think of all that goes into the food we eat, it is still pretty slow. The organic farmers have to grow it, and I know organic farming is a slow process--sometimes removing pests by hand. I guess as we buy natural meat it is aged and natural chickens aren't pumped full of hormones to make them bigger quicker.
So, maybe I'll leave the "Slow Food" value alone and realize that it also means taking the time to get it right, to make a trip to the right store and to create relationships with farmers and producers that are in fact very slow. As I am writing, I am realizing that I actually value "Slow" all by itself. Knitting a sweater, repairing something old, slow lovemaking, slow conversations, a day with nothing to do.... Maybe there are two values: "Amazing Food" and "Slow." I think I'll consider that for a while.
I have another value called "Frog Pond" that is about sitting out by the pond in my yard with friends, taking time and being together over long dinners sharing and laughing. I still like it but it has a bittersweetness to it for me now. I integrated this into my business values for my company that closed last year. When I read it, I am reminded of this circumstance and the residual feeling of failure and regret. I had even considered "Frog Pond " as a business name at one point. It was truly integrated into what I wanted us to be as a business. I toy with the idea of changing this personal value. This feels a lot like me at the moment--having given all of myself to the business and now trying to figure out what next. But I think the "Frog Pond value is truly right for me. I think there is a big lesson for me in figuring out how to incorporate life's disappointments back into my life. What do I do with all the stuff from the business? What do I do with art projects that don't quite work out? What do I do with the wedding presents from my first marriage? Mel jokingly asks me, "Did we get that for our first wedding?" It makes light of how we must combine our failures into our current lives--the things that didn't go so well have to fit into our stories, our lives and our futures. When he asks this, I feel loved and accepted for all that life has brought me. Am I willing to do the same for the "Frog Pond" value? Can I accept that I gave it all that I had and it didn't work? I don't know. But I don't think I want to give up the value of being with loving friends with a bottle of wine and good food sharing our lives. It is what I do to feed my soul.
So for now the list is: