So it has taken me three weeks to write this blog. I decided immediately what to make the topic, (“There are no wrong answers”) but every time I sat down to write, I second guessed myself. We walked on Miami Beach after checking on my deceased mother in law’s condo on January 29th with our sister-in-law Melissa (the other Mrs. Clements). It was a beautiful sunny morning and the ocean was so blue and majestic, I felt even more grateful knowing that most of the east coast was in a deep freeze and here I was walking barefoot on the beach.
We have now lived in Miami for 6 months and our relationship with Melissa and her children is beyond what I had hoped for. We made this move out of devastating sadness with the deaths of my husband’s brother and mother. But here we are 6 months later still with very heavy hearts but also an appreciation of something as simple as sunshine and time together to take a walk. I feel a closeness with Melissa to dive in and talk about the really hard things, spending time with her has become a treasured gift.
As we talked about all of the changes and the decisions we have made, we kept coming back to one clear thought – there are no wrong answers. It amazes me how comforting this thought is as I wrestle with all of the questions before us: Where should we live? What work should we do? Will it be enough to provide for our family? How can we be of service? Where should our children go to school? What activities are best for them? There are no wrong answers.
Whatever we decide to do it will all be okay, we will grow and learn and move on. There are no wrong answers. The biggest comfort in this phrase is that it is okay to make decisions, making decisions is what grown ups do. Adults make decisions. Letting the answers be what they are and knowing that regardless of what decision I make there will be space to learn and grow.
I think the reason it took me 3 weeks to write this blog is that it just seemed too simple of an idea. There are no wrong answers. This is a simple idea, but lately I have found that simple does not always mean easy. Reminding myself often that there are no wrong answers allows me the freedom to continue to make decisions, they are not always easy to make but this way I can actually make them and move on. It is a gift to be able to walk on the beach and to use that time to focus on making a decision. Walking on the beach and looking out at the ocean reminds me how big the world is. So go ahead and make some decisions today, and remember – there are no wrong answers.
So Noah asked that I put the title first so we can search them and no longer title my blogs as Beach Walk with the number. Has he met me? I count everything. So today was beach walk # 11 for those of you who know me and know I am keeping count, but for Noah the title is My Story.
Like all businesses, at some point a website is created and bios are written and today I wrote mine. It was really hard, honestly I have put off doing it for months. How do I want to tell my story? What is important to me about me? What do I think others would find useful to know? What experiences may speak to some? How much detail should I give?
I began to look at bios online, not because I’m creepy but for inspiration. As I noticed the bios I found interesting, meaning the bios where I read the whole bio were the ones that had the “why” included. I could care less where you went to school, but it is interesting to me why you chose that school which is a question I have asked many over the last 3 years while my children have been going through the college decision process. It is more interesting to me why people leave a particular job than how they got the job in the first place. Why they live where they live is more interesting than where they live to me.
So I went to Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA because I didn’t get into the University of Virginia (my dad had gone to the Darden school and I was awed). It ended up being a great fit for me so I stayed. I left Goldman Sachs because after 4 months of paid maternity leave and no perspective other than hiring a nanny and going back to 60 hour work weeks I realized I wanted to see my daughter’s smiles not pay someone else to. I live in Coral Gables, FL because our 16 year old daughter Elise suggested it. We can walk to see our niece and nephew and walk to work. After commuting on the DC beltway for the last 3 years I try to go in the car as little as possible, so this works well for me.
Happy 2019! Our big decision in 2018 to relocate to Miami was all about family. Grace (Noah’s sister) & her husband Jason gave us a great Christmas gift by flying cross country so we could all be together. This meant that we were able to invite them to join us on our weekly business meeting/beach walk!
We typically start the walk reaffirming our mission, talking about how we can be of service and what core values we want The Clements Firm to have. We usually plan a topic to talk about on our walks, and we originally had the topic of flexibility picked out. We have implemented time blocking as a way to work smart and for the first few months it really helped to balance the tasks of business, client engagement and client meetings.
As our business is evolving there are more client meetings which require setting specific times, the winter holiday events were all happening at set times, plus the family commitments increased as our college kids returned home – the combination of these three left us with the question of “when do we hold firm to the time blocking and when do we allow a more flexible schedule?” I wanted to make sure we were not being too rigid, that we were allowing for unplanned opportunities but at the same time having enough of a schedule that work was still happening.
Today as we walked on the beach reaffirming our goal of being available to help others, we began a discussion of “how do you know if you are being helpful”? At first we talked about all of the ways we like to be helpful and skills we have that make us feel useful. But as we thought about where we have been the most helpful, where people have affirmed that we have helped them, we realized it has been in the listening. Learning to listen to understand and not to respond takes practice. Noah and I have been practicing this for several years. At first we had to “check it out”, we used the repeat back technique of “So what I am hearing you say is…. “. I regularly had to ask for clarification on words and meanings, I have gotten better about not interrupting his explanations. Noah asks a lot of questions and has gotten better about leaving space for the answers. It is amazing how often where we are the most helpful is in the listening and in the validating of what is being said. Everyone likes to be heard, so we will continue to practice listening.
Today as we walked and talked reaffirming our goals and what our purpose and vision are (yes, we are taking the suggestion of stating our purpose and vision daily) I brought up a recent coaching podcast where the topic was focus. The coach’s message was: “you will not be successful if you have competing goals, you can not lose weight, train for a half marathon, start a business and grow relationships all at the same time”.
Needless to say I felt like I was being stalked, that the podcaster had inside information to my life as I am currently focused on those exact four things. Noah and I moved to Miami to show up for our family; it became clear to us that to have the type of relationship we wanted, we needed to be closer so that regular interaction would be possible. We have been here for 16 weeks and already the relationship with our niece and nephew has blossomed.
In addition, it is important to us to continue to show up for our teenagers and so when Elise asked me to train for a half marathon – I said yes. The long runs on Sunday morning are very special time for us. I am sure it helps that she gets to do all the talking as I really need to focus on the running part, but it is an amazing time for connection and for me to be present for her.
Noah pointed out that we do have one focus, to #showup, and we are seeing that by showing up and being open to what is in front of us, relationships are blossoming, our business is growing, I am logging miles and eating healthier. We show up; it is truly amazing how such a simple thing is providing so much depth.
Mondays are business development days for The Clements Firm pllc and as Noah mentioned in his last blog we are having these staff meetings as walks on the beach. One of the many pleasures of having moved to south Florida is the access to the beach , and walking on the beach offers us an unbelievable space to talk and share ideas. It is amazing how much more interested I am in listening to Noah’s thoughts; if you can believe it I even interrupt less, I let him share his whole idea without feeling the need to paraphrase for him before he has finished talking, amazing.
This week was walk and talk #7, and the topic of the meeting was “how to get our first 5 clients”. Our business coach and multiple marketing experts all had the same suggestion, connect with people. To do this you need to have contact with them on a regular consistent basis. How amazing is it that here Noah and I are with concrete experience that after only 7 walk and talks on the beach we are experiencing connection with one another in a whole new way – we are sharing ideas, expressing gratitude and nurturing a positive outlook for our work and our lives. #Connect
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