Sunday, September 19, 2004

Back to IBM Part-time! Gulp and Comfort at the same time?


Hmmm... today was an emotional day for me, and I don't think it was entirely hormonal. I am in a weird place, feeling like I'm moving back into a comfort zone with my great IBM coaching and competencies team. At the sametime, I am feeling something else, and I can't quite name it yet. Maybe this writing will help me.

I feel torn? Is that the word? Trying it out - I feel torn between moving full-speed ahead into the next climb (for me, starting my own business), and going back to IBM part-time. I am also feeling nervous about what it will take out of me, and my family, to try to do both. And to do both well. I want to make this a win win, two steps forward on the same path, somehow. I don't like this image of being torn!!!

Well, I'm off tomorrow for a few days on the road with some wonderful IBMers, so we'll see where my head is after that.

In the meantime, suggestions anyone!??

Friday, September 17, 2004

A visit to Heaven & Earth Works - Birth Angels

Good Shopping, and Good Reading, if you're into angels and figuring out your life purpose!

On our way to Boston to visit our great friends and allies at Dana Farber and Brigham and Women's, we stopped in to finally meet Terah Cox, author of the book on angels (which I kept talking about on our Caringbridge website Well, we did not call ahead, so we just browsed the shop instead. I let Terah know (by phone) that we would love to be able to place on-line orders, because her work is so inspiring! Check out her website for a peak, but know that her framed poetry, greeting cards, etc... look even better in her shop. Very high quality.

Terry's book, Birth Angels, really helped me to shift my thinking further toward how life calls us forth. Regardless of our personal religious beliefs, this book asserts that we all have birth angels or energies corresponding to our specific birthdate and time. The angels "reigning" at our birth have special gifts for us. We can call on them for support, and we can embody their strengths in our lives, as we reach out to others. So this fit nicely into my "angels in the outfield (and infield)" message... we all get to "be angels" for each other. This is what we experienced during our 20 month (so far!) walk thru cancer and transplant. We felt very taken care of.

I want to take it another direction, for discussion purposes, I guess! If we "listen to" or acknowledge the yearnings in our heart, we can learn a great deal about the person we were meant to be, and the person we are becoming. It is about listening closely, looking within, and then, about making choices.

One on my good friends recently told me about a book called The Alchemist. She said it had made a big impact on her life, particularly as she struggled through life transitions. Well, I don't think that it is a coincidence that the first book I saw when I walked into Terah Cox's shop was The Alchemist! I believe this was an omen that I should read this book, so I bought it. I already love it. I have only barely gotten through the author's introduction. It reads "What is a personal calling? It is God's blessing, it is the path that God chose for you here on Earth. Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend. However, we don't all have the courage to confront our dream." I hope author Paulo Coelho doesn't mind me quoting him, and promoting his book. I recommend the 10th anniversary edition, which has this updated introduction.

And while you're book shopping, pick up Birth Angels too! I have a list of many of my favorite books on my profile page. I will be adding The Alchemist.

Your turn! Please share your 2 cents about favorite books, websites, resources that have helped you on your path... Anyone else read the Alchemist? What did you think?

Living "on purpose" - Melissa musing...

Hmm....You know, the interesting thing is that if you are always growing, and learning, then I think you are probably on "track". Or even "on purpose". Even if it doesn't feel like it. For years, I have felt that my profession didn't perfectly suit me. I enjoyed the hard work, I felt that I was growing, mostly, but I had this hunger for something different. I couldn't put my finger on it, but it kept me exploring. So I went from undecided engineering in college, to Andersen Consulting, to IBM (IT Consulting, project mgmt, to sales, to sales management). I should have had a clue when my favorite freshman class was "Great Ideas of Western Culture", which all the other engineers in training referred to as "GFI" (Great Ideas - you fill in the blanks).

How many of us go through our entire lives feeling that there must be something else, a better fit? Or perhaps burying the hunger so deep that we don't even notice it anymore?

Anyway, without getting really long-winded, as a sales manager at IBM, I got introduced to professional coaching, and my whole body and soul just went ...aaahhhh.... You know the feeling, when you fall into your favorite chair (or bed) at the end of the day? I knew that this would become part of my future. It wasn't love at first sight, but almost. The first exposure was about 2 hours of coaching training (very simplistic) in a 2 day mandatory manager's class. It wasn't enough, but I was intrigued, and I scratched the itch. I brought the instructor, who ended up becoming my first coach, into my sales team's kickoff meeting the following quarter. The big ...ahhhh... and aha came during my first 2.5 day coaching class, almost 9 months later. It was an IBM-sponsored workshop, and it was like a retreat. (Note: the content of this 2.5 days comes from CTI - Coaches Training Institute. Check it out at

So, all these years, was I off course, or "on purpose"? Well, it's a matter of perspective, I suppose. It became clearer to me as Dan and I faced this latest cancer "O'Marathon". We both had to rely on all of "whom we had become on our journey", separately and together, in order to climb that next cancer mountain. It was in the way, and there was no going around it. By the way, it had lots of "false peaks". Just when we thought we had reached a summit, and could surely start the descent, another peak loomed around the corner.

We used everything we had learned about the web, about business travel, about frequent flier miles. We leveraged our personal and professional networks, and created new ones. We leveraged our knowledge of nutrition, and supplements. We leveraged our ability to communicate with others about "difficult" topics. We leveraged our medical and hospital experiences with my broken leg, and with the illnesses of other family members. The kids and I drew strength from our local church, where we had only become actively involved in the previous year! And I drew on all the personal growth and professional development resources that I had used as a sales manager and a coach. And I used them in parenting, in all my relationships, and in ways I am sure I don't even comprehend.

So, was I living "on purpose"? I couldn't have articulated exactly what my life purpose is. But I was learning, growing, and making good decsions that kept me moving in the right direction. I feel sure in retrospect that I have had "angels" or "divine energy" or the Hand of God (pick your language) guiding me, supporting me, nudging me. Would I have said the same thing a few years ago? Probably not...

What about you? Are you growing, learning, and listening to your intuition? Are you on purpose? I postulate that you are. Are you "where you want to be"? Maybe not! Maybe so! It's just really important to notice! Pause, reflect, and notice. You know the answers, it's all inside of you. The search within can be very interesting, and can last a lifetime.

My two bits... now how about yours? Please post your thoughts, and let me know if I'm too preachy!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Melissa at home, December 2003 Posted by Hello

Welcome - Bigger Game, Life Calling

Well, since we all had so much fun blogging on our Caringbridge site this last year (, I decided to give this a try in "bloggerland"! In a busy world, it is sometimes hard to "sync up" in person, or even on the phone. One cool thing about blogging is that I get to do it when I have a free minute, and you get to view it and respond (if you so choose) at your leisure! So we don't have to make an appointment, but we can really spend some quality time "together" if we choose.

Dan and I continue on the O'Marathon, which is all about getting Dan back to full health and happiness! We will continue to post semi-frequent updates on the Caringbridge site. As you all know, the O'Marathon was pretty much a full-time job for quite awhile. It's becoming a part-time job now, and I will be heading back to IBM in a couple weeks (part-time). And I will be pursuing some other really cool stuff, which I want to share with anyone interested in that part of the journey!

This is the spot for sharing my new "Bigger Game", and for getting your input, and for having you "walk with me", if you so desire! And I HOPE that you do, and that we'll all learn a lot along the way.

About this "Bigger Game"... I don't think that many go through the kind of changes that Dan and I have been through (and you with us) without being changed in some way. In fact, for us, this was our intention. We wanted to grow and create as much that was positive as we could. We wanted to share our journey, so our friends, family, and fellow travelers could grow with us. And of course, we wanted to put incredible effort into creating the best possible outcome for Dan. In essence, that was our O'Marathon "Bigger Game".

So, we've changed. I've changed. And I'm ready for a new Bigger Game. And I'm starting to play it. Stay tuned to learn more about what I'm up to! And of course, I want to hear about what you are up to.

One more thing, if you want to "play along"... I will challenge you each to think about what's next for you. I believe that we are all exactly where we are meant to be, at any given time. I also believe it's up to us to determine where we go next!! And it's all about learning, growing, loving and sharing.

To close this first blog entry, I am sharing this poem. It says a lot about what I value, and who I am. And it is another way of inviting you to join me for the next leg of the journey.

Life Calling

My life is a journey, destination unknown.
My path is revealed only as far as I can see,
Yet more often than not, I choose its direction.

I navigate my path thoughtfully,
with deliberate choices grounded in values and guided by intuition.
Even when faced with unexpected circumstances,
I choose my path, by choosing my reaction.

I choose to live in love, optimism, faith, beauty, warmth.
I choose spontaneity, nature, deep conversations, dreams.
I choose passion, risk, change, color.
I choose light, music, texture, spice.
I laugh, I cry, I experience, I give.
I nurture myself to be strong.

Sometimes my path is clear and my journey is effortless.
I savor these times, gathering strength,
languishing in bounty.

On rare occasions, my path seems blocked,
weather clouds my vision and dampens my spirit.
I trudge on in faith,
overcoming obstacles, trusting the sky to clear.
Sometimes I seek temporary shelter
and wait out the storm.

I believe God nurtures me in ways I cannot fully understand.
His grace is at work within me, and He walks with me.

I am a beam of light and many choose to walk with me,
warmed by my love, nurtured by my strength,
trusting my integrity, enrolled by my spirit,
stretched by my pace, comforted by my touch.
I am blessed by their presence.
I am supported, I am loved.
I am thankful.

On certain segments of my journey, I have chosen to follow others,
nurtured by their spirit and love,
Guided by their wisdom.
I am thankful.

I walk with increasing purpose,
as I reflect on whom I have become,
and how my journey has enriched me.
My need to help others choose their paths
becomes ever stronger,
like a calling.

I see possibilities ahead that are exciting.
Mountains to climb that are more challenging
than any behind me.

I will choose the climb that calls me,
perhaps joining with others
so we can forge a new path,
that becomes a lighted way for others
drawn to higher ground.

Melissa O'Mara
February 18, 2003, Dallas, Texas
Copyright 2003
Life Coach
Specializing in helping others choose their path forward