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An Unexpected Gift

I had the great privilege of spending my last birthday in the bush of the Okavango Delta in Botswana with old friends and new. We spent each day rising before the sun, grabbing a quick bite, and heading out on safari to catch the movements that take place in first light. It was a gift to be guided through one of the great, wild places on this earth. The landscapes were breathtaking, the wildlife unbelievable, and the guides and trackers some of the most incredible people that I have encountered. They love what they do and they embody a sense of stewardship for the land, animals, birds and people that have been entrusted to their care. We looked to them for safety, insight, and information – for they knew the lay of the land!

And then came the day of my birthday. It was so special because that very day, I learned that the nation of Botswana was born in the same month and year as me! So we share our birthdays. I had been on safari long enough to know that anything can happen, yet, as we got out of our vehicles in the late afternoon for a little break, l was still surprised when my friend picked up a large round of elephant dung, handed it to me and led the group in singing “Happy Birthday.” I think he was just as surprised that I reached out my hands to receive it, gave a big smile, and blew out the proverbial candles! It was an unexpected gift received in silly love that only made sense because I had opened myself to seeing things from a new perspective.

Back in the US it’s cold outside, but the sun is shining on my back and I have the privilege of writing to all of you, my friends, my family, my clients and my future clients. I have experienced the power of coaching through my training at Duke Integrative Medicine and I have seen how lives are changed through mindfulness, listening, and partnership. We were never meant to do this all alone! Throughout my nursing career and in my training at Duke Integrative Medicine, I have had the opportunity to be coach, client, and observer of the coaching process. I am so grateful that I have sat in each of those chairs because it has given me greater perspective on the experience of my clients. It is nothing less than a miracle that happens when a client comes with readiness, feels heard and affirmed, connects to the greater meaning of health in her life, and finally, gets down to business to make a plan for healthful change with a trusted guide. It is an unexpected gift both in the giving and the receiving – let us reach out our hands and take it.

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