June 16, 2022
By Allison Iantosca
Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone leaving us deeply set in the beginnings of summer revel. A different kind of time altogether. We play. More. We eat. Later. We walk around in bare feet with bare arms and bare kneecaps. A vulnerability so oddly juxtaposed to the tucked in and hidden nature of January or February, at least here in the northeast.
Last week I sat with a coaching client and was reminded of the fascinating juxtapositions that the season holds.
And, for some, perhaps, more “family” — however one may define family: picnic tables of friends. Backyard BBQs with aunts and uncles and cousins. A rare and lingering late dinner with Mom and Dad. These broad and varying parts of ourselves found in the souls and spirits of the humans we choose to surround ourselves with in the more freeing, al fresco experiences.
Isn’t it funny the contentment one can find in the political debate over one dinner table equal to the pop culture hilarity of the next? The philosophical plying of one friend over sangria equally joyful as the statistical infrastructure of baseball over beer with another?
These pieces of our own souls and sense of our beings. The way we holistically want to be able to define our perception of self even for the obvious disparity between our wildly varied parts. The friends we cherish for the light they bring to some specific slice of our character.
As I sat with my coaching client, I joined her as if at a dinner table with two of her favorite parts. Her two distinct, dramatic, warring, even, parts. Parts so inherent to her successful function as a corporate executive, to select which is more important would be, for her, like choosing her favorite child; so different and yet so blessedly loved. And to sit with one over the other was like an enduring agony of two invitations to the summer party of a lifetime on the exact same night. Every. Single. Day.
And so we honored these two parts. Fully. We sallied back and forth to acknowledge their joy and their talent. We named the abundant benefits of one only to have her suggest she should probably be more like the other.
Does this happen to you? You hold output and results in equal part to cultivating a culture of work/life balance? You believe in revenue generation with the same emphasis as corporate social responsibility? You espouse transparency with equal and critical regard for confidentiality? Indeed, you hang your leadership chops on all of these all at the same time? And that tears you apart.
It was tearing my client apart. We were on Zoom. She held her hands up to either side of her face; one level with her right shoulder, one level with her left. She’d turn her head from side to side or gesticulate with one hand to emphasize the good of this part over to the good of the other. Back and forth. I watched her energy move, her face change, her hands motion.
And then all at once I saw her. Fully in the middle. Her face. Her head. Her center. Right there in-between and it occurred to me there might also be a third part we missed! So I asked her, what was the part in-between? And she said, “me. I am here. In between.”
“Tell me more about that part!” I prompted.
And we discovered that there is a wisdom part of her as well that might know when to ask for what it needs inside the variety of situations she finds herself facing each day. That BOTH of her other inherent parts have deep and equal value. That she didn’t need to let go of one for the other. That she had choice and agency to determine when which was needed; if not, even, a little of both sometimes.
Her entire demeanor shifted. She released into her wholeness. Her laugh surfed out on her next exhale. She sat in extended silence without any discomfort. It was a lovely pause and reset.
Afterall, isn’t that what summer is all about?
Allison Iantosca is a Gestalt International Study Center (GISC) trained coach with extensive leadership and management experience. She is an ICF-certified Executive Coach and is the Owner and President of Boston-based FH Perry Builder.
*Photo Scott Webb