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BLURRED LINES – DID THE RULES CHANGE?

The recent VMA performance of Blurred Lines with Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus has stirred a lot of emotion in people all over North America and beyond.  This song has stirred emotion in my house long before the VMA performance.  I have an Imageempowered wife and three daughters.  I also have 2 sons.  Each one is affected by the idea of the video, the song, and the performance whether they know it or not.

I read the lyrics over and over again and I am trying to make sense of what is really going on.  There seems to be a message in them of showing respect to women (briefly) then quickly negated by language such as many bitch references and the title itself – Blurred Lines.  The real issue for me is the video.  Fully dressed males and partially dressed women.  Further enforcing the fact that if a female is dressed “provocatively” then she wants it.  It is then her fault if something happens.  Yes!..No!  does not matter any more  – It’s a blurred line.  Hey…men can’t help themselves.  That’s how we are.  Or are we?

 Freedom of Expression?

People will argue that artists have freedom of expression.  Robin Thicke came out to say that this song is about empowering women…or something close to that.  He is in the hot seat now as this song is current.  He is far from the only one crossing the boundaries and testing the waters as an artist.  Blurred Lines has a great beat (in my opinion), it is played over and over on the radio.  It brings in listenership.  It is a powerhouse song.  It makes MONEY.

 Question???

If I was an artist and I was able to paint, and I graphically painted the line from the song Blurred Lines “So hit me up when you passing through, I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two” would it be published in the news, shown on TV, hung in high school hallways and kids rooms? Would people look at it and say I had artistic freedom?  Or…would it cause outrage and get censored.  Could I post it on a billboard around town?  Hey…it’s my artistic freedom.  No..it is not on the airwaves…but it would be in the eyewaves.

Where is this going?

Here is where I am going with this.  Songs like this do not clear up things for people that don’t understand.  It is not Robin Thicke’s job to teach people right from wrong.  It is his chosen career that makes him money and supports his family.  Everyone has a choice and they make it.  Miley made a choice on the VMA’s.  Each choice we make has consequences – sometimes good and sometimes bad.  Being raped is NOT a choice.  Raping someone – that is a choice.

 Real life

Are you a parent?  Do you have kids?  What message are you giving your kids around this song and songs like it?  Take out a female character of the song and replace it with your daughter.  How is the song now?  Now replace a male character with your Imageson.  Now what?  My daughter may want it…but says NO.  Then what?  Because she wants it there is now a blurred line?

In the news recently there have been many many cases of girls being raped at high school parties by groups of guys.  The rape is recorded on a phone camera and posted on social media sites.  Then the attention is directed to the girl.  “She was drunk”, She was wearing a short skirt”, She was flirting with the guys”, “she liked one of the guys”…on and on.  What the reports never said was she said YES.  The guys took it upon themselves to show her what she wants.  Wow…what big strong powerful boys these are.  Basic hand slaps as punishment.  The girl – her life is ruined.  She has to move, years of therapy, and in a lot of cases she will commit suicide as the pain is way too much to handle.  Do not pass judgment and assume that you would not commit suicide unless you are a female that has been raped.  You cannot speak to this.

I know females that have been raped.  I see the pain in their eyes when they talk about it.  It never goes away.  Hey strong boy…how does that feel to cause someone a life of trauma, pain, suffering and zero self worth all because she did not say YES or she said NO and you did not listen.

Schools and communities have spent many years teaching kids to just say NO, or NO means NO.  Now…NO means maybe.  A drunk girl means she is asking for it – it’s a blurred line.  An undecided girl is fair game.  What is going on here?

This is a call to action… 

This is a call to all MALES, regardless of age, to man up.  Older males teach the Imageyounger ones.  Younger ones listen to the older ones.  Teach your sons, grandsons, cousins, brothers, friends, any male you know. Females are not weak so stop treating them that way.  Stop treating them less than you.  Stop treating them like they are not a living breathing human being – like an object.  You do not have the right, EVER, to force yourself on a woman, or a man, at any time EVER.

THERE ARE NO BLURRED LINES.  THEY ARE VERY DEFINED.  YES OR NO.

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This is my step daughter….

My stepdaughter Alexa has challenged me to write a blog about….her.  No…this is not a self absorbed smoke blowing post to her about how wonderful she is.  This is about how un-wonderful she feels she is. 

This is my step daughter.

She is fatImage

She is ugly

No one likes her

She has no friends

She has a HUGE nose

Her skin is ugly

She is NOT pretty

She is not smart

Pick any other “she is not” statement and fill in the blank because she has said it.

These are all things that Alexa feels about herself.  She looks in the mirror and this is what she sees.  Everyone around her does not understand this.  How could she see this?  They tell her she is beautiful, thin, pretty, smart….many other uplifting things.  She does not hear.  She still sees what she sees in the mirror.  Hard to believe?  Hard to watch happen?  YES.

So what happened?  Where did this come from?

Well that is a very loaded question.  The simplest answer is that Alexa was bullied for years.  This bullying came from a friend that she had.   This friend was pretty.  To Alexa she could do no wrong.  She would tell Alexa that she was ugly, fat, not as pretty, not as smart, not as liked and on and on.  This went on for years and years.  No one really knew because Alexa was very quiet about this.  She came across as a good friend.  Everyone has a friend like this.  Some of us can handle this type of friend…some of us cannot.  Turns out…Alexa cannot.

Downward…

Alexa’s downward spiral of self esteem came at a price.  Alexa attempted suicide.  Not in a calling out for help way.  This was in a way to end her life and not be found. This was only last year.  She survived her attempt but spent two weeks in the psych ward at the hospital.  She was 17.  The culmination of years of bullying, depression, anxiety and trying to figure out who she was took a toll on her mind, body and spirit.

Today, a year later, with counseling, communication, parental intuition at it’s peak, medication and the surrounding of family Alexa is coping better.  She still has many moments of the same “she is not” statements.  We do not answer them back now.  We encourage and support and bring forward the inside, as we have always done.

So, why do I share this story with you because it is Alexa’s story?

It is because it is a very common story. 

The real story…

Here is the real story.  Alexa is battling her demons.  She is battling with everything she has.  She cannot do it on her own.  No one can do it on their own.  She needs support and we (her family) support her.  This past year has been a year of transformation for her.  She is figuring out who she is and what she is about.  She is slowly, and I mean slowly, realizing that she is way more than a face.  Way more than makeup.  Way more than a body.  She has a soul.  She has an inside that hides behind the outside.  Bringing her inside to the world is wayyyy outside her comfort zone.  Anxiety still has a lot of the controlling power.  What does Alexa have now?  She has empowerment.  She has self worth.  She has support (in addition to her  family).  She has direction.  She has friends that care, and I mean really care…selflessly.  Most of all Alexa has hope.

Courage…

This is a very brave and courageous step for Alexa to allow me to write about her and then tell the world.  I am proud of her for the work she has done on her inner spirit.  I am proud of her fighting with everything she has to want more for her life.  In this story Alexa is lucky.  She is a survivor.  Some don’t receive the help they need in time.  It is to those kids, adolescents, teens that this post is dedicated to.

When you ask yourself how can you help? What can you do?  How do I know? The answer is…get curious, stay curious.  Ask questions.  Don’t accuse.  Learn.  Use your intuition.  Be involved.  Don’t ever give up.  In the end our children have their own minds.  We, as parents,  can only do so much.

It may sound simplistic but the best quote I can come up with is from the movie Finding Nemo.  It is from Dory.

“Just keep swimming, swimming swimming”justkeepswimming

What else are you going to do?  We just have to keep moving forward.

This is my step-daughter

This is my stepdaughter Alexa,

Alexa no makeup

The real Alexa – no makeup. A very courageous step. No hiding.

She has a huge heart

She has courage

She is strong

She has hope

She has a lot to offer the world

She is authentic

She is a fighter

She will prevail!


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PRICELESS???? Are you worth it?

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Starbucks Coffee Each Day….$5.00 ($100 each month)

New Clothes (that you don’t really need)…………………….$250

A night out with the Friends who will tell you everything you want to hear…..$200

Will move you forward in ways that are unimaginable at the moment…NOPE..not even close. 

What do you do when you…

Are stuck?

At a fork in the road?

Want to make changes – big or small?

Have a great idea but don’t know how to move it forward?

Want something different for your life, career, relationship, family, yourself?

Working with a coach will be the most valuable time, money and effort you have ever spent.  The best part is it has long lasting effects and people around you will notice the new, authentic you.  Working with a coach will stretch you and empower you to be everything you want to be..and be someone you never knew you could. 

 

This is about personal development.  It doesn’t matter if your goal is personal or professional.  The root of everything you do is….YOU

 

You are PRICELESS and you are worth the time, money and effort.  Contact Simmons Coaching to set up a free sample session.  You have everything to gain.

 

Free Sample Session times are flexible.  Please contact Simmons Coaching and let me know what day and time will work for you. 

 

“The best things in life are free” – see for yourself.   Contact me for a free coaching session and see what is possible.

 

mark@simmonscoaching.com

604-563-COACH (2622)

http://www.simmonscoaching.com


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DARE TO DREAM

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I was talking to someone recently and they told me that they do not dream as there is nothing to dream about.  I was saddened to hear this but it was not the first time.  Through my life I have not really paid much attention to this…for myself or other people.  What has brought this to my attention is the few times I have heard this from other people recently.  How sad is it?  The fear of dreaming. The fear of hope.  The fear of possibilities.  The fear of not achieving the dream. Maybe the real fear is failure or disappointment. 

The Questions – to name a few…

What keeps you going then?  What harm is there in dreaming?  What if the worst thing that can happen if the dream does not come true?  Then what?  What is the barrier to success? Not enough money?  Poor health?  Judgment and perception?  Stuck?  Poor planning?  A lack of a plan?

What?  A Plan? 

There are dreams and then there are plans.  The warm fuzzy dreams where we see ourselves in dream jobs with dream lives on dream beaches drinking beverages with umbrellas.  We all really do dream at some point or another. After the dream leaves our thoughts we then talk about it again from time to time.  We may reflect back on the dream every now and then.  Then we forget about it because it is not attainable.  What you need…is a PLAN.

AImage

P lan to

L ive in

A bsolute

N irvana

Yes..a plan.  What nirvana looks like is different for each individual.  Everyone can achieve their own idea of nirvana, their dream…with a plan.

What may get in the way…

Life is going to get in the way.  There is no doubt about it.  Commitments, family, friends, kids, partners, work, eating, breathing, your own saboteur mind…it will all get in the way and cloud judgment and thought.  It is all powerful enough to stop you cold…except if you have a plan and are committed to it.

Accountability…

Setting up a plan for your dream is very simple.  Write down on a piece of paper what your goal or dream is, what you need to get there (ie. resources, time, shift , etc.), and when you want this.  You have to be realistic.  Is flying to the moon realistic?  Maybe for some but not for most.  Is the trip of a lifetime attainable?- absolutely.  Is a new house, or even a first house, attainable?  Why not?  What is your dream?  What is the plan that goes along with your dream?  How accountable are you to your plan?  Accountability is around the date and time you have set for each step of the plan.  The most important part is that you are moving towards your plan and not stalling.  Dates and times can be changed as long as you are taking steps towards the goal.  If you say you are going to have a task done for your plan by a certain date and time then make it happen or at least take steps to making it happen.

Sounds easy enough…

It all sounds pretty straightforward but requires work on your part – a lot of work.  It may even involve…yes…here it is…CHANGE.  This word makes the heart skip a beat for some.  The challenge is if you keep going the way you are going, and not making any changes, you will still be where you are. 

So what changes are you willing to make to achieve your goals.  You cannot change your family, at least not easily.  You can’t change your kids.  You can definitely work on your health.  You can change your job, how you spend your money, what you commit to.  You can make changes to a lot of aspects of your life.  It all starts with one thing.  YOU.  You have to be willing to make changes, sacrifices and maybe some hard decisions.  This is what dreamers do to make their dreams come true.  You are no different. 

So Ask Yourself…Image

 What is my dream?  What is my plan?  Where is a pen and paper to write this stuff down?  It is that simple.  Go forth and be fierce..and most of all..DREAM!


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DONT ROCK THE BOAT…

Off of Saona Island in the DR.

Off of Saona Island in the DR.

The idea for this post came to me due to my present state.  I just came back from an eight day cruise in the Caribbean.  I know…I hear the tiny violins now.  The problem is I can’t stop rocking.  As I sit here writing I feel like I am surfing and crashing on the white caps of the swells.  It won’t stop.  I can sit here now and complain or I can do something about it.  I choose to do something about it.  I am going to apply it to life.

The Fear of Rocking…

When we are dealing with a difficult issue – whether it is dealing with a child, friend, family member, co-worker – whoever the person is we never want to “rock the boat”.  It is a fear of asking the questions or a fear of hearing the answers.  We don’t want to insult, hurt, disappoint, feel disappointed, offend, judge (although some can’t help themselves), be judged.  There are many things we do not want.  We do want smooth waters though.  So what is wrong with that you may ask?  Well… nothing is wrong with smooth sailing.  The issue is there will always be swells that we have to deal with.

The Personal Challenge…

The challenge is to rock or not.  The first thing to do is ask yourself, quietly in your head, what is my motivation?  Do I want to prove a point? Make my opinion known? Impart my wealth of knowledge on the other person? Show how smart I think I am? OR do I really want a positive result for the other person?  Do I care enough about the other person(s) or the situation to really want to be a part of the solution?  These are questions that only each of us can answer for ourselves.  So what do you do when you figure out your motive?

Smooth Waters Ahead…

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Near the beach in Aruba

Get Curious.  Ask Questions. Ask powerful questions.  Don’t ask why.  Ask How, Where, What.  Empower rather than preach, LISTEN rather than speak.  You don’t need to solve or fix.  Rocking the boat involves being fierce, asking questions, listening to the answers, being able to have your own boat rocked, not judging.  It involves being present, real and caring.  For most people it just involves being yourself.  Your true authentic self.  The thing about the rocking I am feeling right now is it is temporary.  It will go away soon.  It is a small blip or wave.  Don’t just rock someone’s boat – ROCK THEIR WORLD.  This is a perfect opportunity to ride the wave and make a small difference for someone.  When it comes from the heart and you are able to self manage your own personal feeling and judgments you will be giving the other person the cruise of their life…with no rocking feeling for days after.


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This is where I shine…

On August 9, 2001 my brother went missing.  On July 9th of 2001 he went up to our cousins lakefront campground and marina to work for the summer.  My brother, Kevin, was a lost soul looking for his purpose.  He looked in a lot of places but never seemed to be in the right place.  Growing up he was always the “better looking” one.  I had all the reason in the world to be jealous of him.  Kevin, however, lived in my shadow to some degree.  As I was going to school and opening a deli Kevin wanted something of his own…but could not find it.  It was not for a lack of trying.  The truth is Kevin never really knew who he was or was not comfortable in letting those around him know.  Living with him was tough but, as far as our relationship went, as long as I knew he was doing something or I heard something about him I was fine.

The idea came about for him to go up to the lake, Moberly Lake North of Chetwynd BC.  Kevin, or as he was known to a lot of people Akiva, jumped at the chance to get away.  The name Akiva is actually his given Hebrew name.  He, when we were younger, also wanted to go by the name Ashley.  This was part of his search of who he was.

I received a call at work the morning of August 9th.  I was told that my brother is missing and presumed drowned in the lake but nobody knew for sure.  All they knew was that the boat he was in was half way submerged under water with the drain plug pulled out and the fuel line ripped out of the outboard motor.  This was the beginning of 10 days of searching, both physically and of the soul.  My dad and I went to the lake on the first flight up on the 10th.  60 people including RCMP divers, Chetwynd and Hudson Hope Search and Rescue, locals, and members of the two neighboring aboriginal bands – the West Moberly and the Saulteau Bands came and volunteered to search the lake.  Most of the searching was dragging the lake with metal bars with giant hooks attached – hoping to snag my brother.  Half way through the search I was fortunate to find a nurse in Victoria who was training two cadaver bloodhounds.  She offered to come up with her dogs as long as we covered the cost of her transportation.  All that combined with use of side sonar was everything we could have used for this search.  One of the volunteers even used his seaplane to do sweeps of the lake.

This was a very surreal time.  More than anything it was the not knowing.  The searches came up with nothing.  The dogs who were supposed to dive in the water when they smelled a body slept on the deck of the boat…motionless.  My calls home each day to people wanting answers were frustrating, as I had no answers.  My son was 5 at the time but knew everything that was going on.  My brother’s son was 6.  During the 10 days we heard many stories about Akiva as they knew him.  Most of the volunteers that came out knew him.  They all had these amazing stories and things to say about my brother.  As bad as it sounds I had a hard time believing what people were saying as I saw a whole different side of him.  It was not all bad with him and he really did have a big heart and was a smart kid.  He just didn’t know what to do with it all.

On the night of the 8th day of searching, a Friday night, we were out on one of the deck boats with two of the dogs.  The sun was starting its setting phase down the west side of the lake.  We heard stories of how windy the whole area always is but when we arrived, and every day after, there was complete calm.  We were told how strange this was.  As we were on the lake there was a lot of activity on the dock.  What was happening is that members of the two aboriginal bands were coming together.  They went out on another deck boat to the middle of the lake and held a sunset drum ceremony.  The sound of the drums and the chants echoed and bounced off the surrounding trees and hills.  As sad as this all is it was magical.  We were moved that, people that we don’t know came out to help in whatever way they knew how.  After the drum ceremony we all went back to the dock and met Richard.  He was introduced to us as the medicine man for the Saulteau Band.  We talked to him and voiced that we were not even sure that my brother was in the lake.  Richard ensured and reinforced that my brother was absolutely in the lake.  You see, the Grandfathers spoke to him and told him so.  The rocks on the beach, the North, East, West  and South, the Air, the land, the Sea….everything spoke to Richard and told him so.  As he was speaking, like it was planned by a special FX team, orange lightening started to flash over the Saulteau reservations….but there were no clouds.  Richard immediately said that the lightening was the Grandfathers speaking.  They were not happy that my brother was in their lake.  Richard told us that the Grandfathers would not release my brother from the lake until the family went home.  As we were still two days away from our planned departure we stuck to the plan we had – keep searching.

Richard said that he would come out with us on the Sunday morning to give us comfort as we did one last search.  On the Saturday night all the volunteers and family and searchers gathered at the lake.  We held a memorial service on the lake.  Everyone made floating lanterns that we set sail at sunset.  It was spiritual, moving, surreal but most of all it was comforting.

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The lanterns float on Moberly Lake. Each one made personally by a volunteer, friend,family…by people who cared.

Sunday morning we went out as planned with Richard by our side.  We searched for a few hours then it was all called off.  We went home without my brother.  We had no answers, no clue what happened.  The next morning I was back at work. I received a call at 10:30 am.  My brother’s body had floated up.  It was spotted by two fishermen on the lake.  Richard was right. The Grandfathers knew, Richard knew, the members of the two Bands  knew what we did not.  They knew he was there and they knew when he would be found.  The wind started again.

A few days later we held Kevin’s funeral.  I wrote an 8 page eulogy.  As I walked up to read what I had wrote I looked over the crowd of people and took it all in.  There were around 250 people at his funeral.  I started off with something I had not pre written – “ As I look around at all of you I think that Kevin never knew how many peoples lives he affected – nor did most people let him know that he affected them”.

This story is many things but one thing it is not is sad.  Here is why.  Kevin was lost trying to find himself.  As we collected his belonging from the lake before flying home we found a journal he kept every day he was there.  His final entry in the journal that he wrote the day before he went missing simply said “ this is where I belong…this is where I shine”.

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This is Akiva rock. It is on the dock facing the area where Kevin was found. It was made in his memory by one of the volunteer searchers and friends.

Most of us go our whole lives trying to find our place.  Kevin found his.  Find yours and don’t stop searching until you do.

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This is my memorial tattoo that I have on my back. The top part is the letter Aleph – the first letter of Kevin’s hebrew name Akiva. The bottom part is the Orca. The tattoo is my tribute to my brother, the members of the Seauteau and West Moberly Bands and to finding where each of us shines.


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What happened to creativity?

I am not sure if the topic came to mind because I am reflecting on my past jobs – both good and bad – or if it is because I just finished reading Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly.  I do feel inspired to write about creativity or the killing of it. 

I have been thinking back to when I felt the most inspired at work and when I felt the most disengaged.  When I talk about creativity I am not just talking about creating art or building something concrete.  I am referring more to being able to openly and boldly share ideas or thoughts.  This brings me to this question – What stopped me?  Everyone has been in this place.  We share, we stand at the front of the room, at the boardroom table, in front of our parents, our friends, we “boldly go” where we have not gone before, or, where we have not allowed ourselves to go before.  We put ourselves out there and then something happens.  We end up crawling back in our safe space.  Curl up in our own fetal position and we rock back and forth for safety. When reading Daring Greatly the “what stopped me” question was answered with one word – SHAME.  Shame happened.  Not that I was feeling shame for what I said although that is what ended up happening.  It was more that I was being shamed for my ideas, thoughts, creative process.  By who??? By those in power – the leaders, or the perceived leaders.  When you sit around a boardroom table and those above you, or those equal to you, end up ridiculing your idea in front of you they shame you.  My idea may not be right for the particular project but it may be right for another one.  It is not, however, recognized as being anything but stupid, crazy and thoughtless.  How do I know? Because these are the words used from those around me.  The other shame tactic is SILENCE.  Throw out an idea out you can hear a pin drop..then it is ignored,  

So..the question becomes when you have a culture of killing creativity where are the ideas going to come from?  Is the expectation that those that have been silenced will continue to speak and contribute at other meetings?  Have you just created an environment of disengagement?  Instead of asking what is wrong with your employees?  Why are they not contributing?  Ask yourself how you are leading.  Then ask yourself what shift needs to happen?