Celebrate Father’s Day Whether Giving Thanks or Mourning a Loss

This is a little personal.  Indulge me, would you?

This morning I woke up with tears streaming down my cheeks.  I went to the bathroom to grab my toothbrush and the tears were still flowing…right down the sink along with my Tom’s of Maine mint toothpaste.

Why? I had a pretty palpable dream last night and want to share it with you.

In  the dream, I was reunited with someone I love.  I was traveling–I’m not sure where–and the moment that I saw this person open his arms, I ran straight into them, gave him the biggest bear hug possible, didn’t let go, and started crying (sobbing really, if you want to be exact.)

It was such an intense, believable dream that when I awoke, I felt like it had happened moments ago.  (Have you ever had those dreams where you are drinking coffee and you wake up with your arm in the air “holding” a mug?  Or you’re eating some absolutely sinful chocolate cheesecake and when you awake, your hand is poised as if you’re holding the folk full of a tasty morsel?  Am I the only one who does this?)

This dream was palpable–both physically and emotionally.

Who was the “mystery man”?  It wasn’t some long lost love, an old friend I’d lost touch with, or my father.  It was my stepfather.

To fill in a bit of background for you; I haven’t seen my stepfather in over 20 years.  When he and my mother split up, things got ugly and we lost contact.  (May I please pause for a second and say something to ALL the stepfathers and stepmothers out there–If you DO end your current marriage, PLEASE try to keep in touch with your stepkids, whether or not they seem to want to stay in touch.  And parents, if you split with your second–or third, or whatever–spouse, don’t consider your kids “traitors” for wanting to stay in touch with their stepparent, alright?)

This dream is one of several I’ve had over the past few months.  It seems that after two decades, I’m finally mourning a loss, the “loss” of my stepfather, Charlie Brown. (Yes, that is REALLY his name–and I took his surname, “Brown,” at the age of eighteen to signify that he was the father I’d never had.)

Charlie taught me many things–One of his characteristic responses to situations was simply this: “Think.”  Usually it was when he thought someone was driving poorly or I wasn’t performing well.  He would just say “Think” and then I had to figure my way out of whatever situation I was in or figure out why he was saying this about someone else (i.e. what they were doing wrong.)  He didn’t SOLVE the problem–He was a catalyst to figuring out a solution.

When I look at my coaching work with people now, THINK is often the angle I take with clients.  I recognize that each of us can ALWAYS figure a way out of our pain and challenges when we are working with the most powerful part of ourselves, the part of ourselves that knows without a doubt that we are Divine Energy in Action.  (Hey, just substitute “Creative Spirit” if “Divine” doesn’t work for you…)

My dream about my stepfather reminds me that we are always connected with those we love–physically and/or spiritually–whether or not they are still on the planet.  WE CARRY THEIR LOVE AND SUPPORT WITH US EVERYWHERE WE GO!

We should be giving thanks for that.

This is why I begin one of my presentations, “The Top Traits of Highly Effective Leaders” with a simple exercise in which you close your eyes and think of someone who made a difference in your life, someone without whom you would not be who (or where!) you are today.  You think of the top two or three qualities you admire about that person. (And by the way, you wouldn’t focus on those qualities unless YOU HAVE THEM YOURSELF–You can’t identify something you don’t already know at some level… THINK about it.)

Many times, people choose a father or mother for this exercise–It makes sense doesn’t it?

My dream reminds me that we each have been fathered, whether by a  biological parent, a stepfather, a teacher of ours, a minister, a neighbor, or even a friend.  We have metaphorical fathers all around us, sometimes in the most unlikely of places (i.e. a mentor at work, a wise mailman, our trusted financial adviser, and so on).

This Father’s Day, I encourage you to contact one of those “fathers” of yours and let them know you care and are grateful for their influence in your life.  And if they’re not still on the planet, send up a prayer of thanks and love.  It will reach them, you can be sure.

Happy Fathers Day!


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