Courage to the lion

Happy Thursday!
Settle in for a longer-than-usual newsletter. Part story, part analysis.
All from the heart.
I am feeling extremely vulnerable in this moment, sharing out this newsletter… All hugs are appreciated <3

Okay, deep breath.…

I have always been afraid. Ever since I can remember anyway.

For me, the fear started when I was sexually abused as a seven-year-old. That completely changed my worldview.

I had been, I am told, a pretty happy-go-lucky kid prior to that.

But my memory is of anxiety, worry, and a fear of being lost.
If we went outside of my ken while driving in the car, I would fearfully ask my mom “are we lost?”
She always told me “nope, we are on an adventure!”

But the anxiety was still there. I always wished I’d never have to leave home once we returned.

When I was about eight years old, I got separated from my mom and brothers at the grocery store.

I concluded that they had left me there… So I started walking home.

I crossed an extremely busy road, and a little later when my mom screeched to a stop next to me, having seen my little figure trudging home, and thrown my brothers in the car and hightailed it out of the parking lot, she shouted at me. “What do you think you’re doing?!?”

When I told her I thought she’d left me, she said “I will never leave you!! Now get in this car!!”

Curiously, the fact that she shouted all of this at the top of her voice helped me understand how very much she loved me, and how worried she had been about me.

My mom was sincere, and I believed her. But I still felt lost.

And so all of my life I’ve had the feeling that I lack courage. That I was not a courageous person.

But in talking with a coach recently, when she asked the question “What do you need in order to achieve your goals? I answered “Courage. I need some courage.”

She pushed back on me. She said “But do you really? You are playing full out! It was courageous of you just to come into this conversation… I think courage is a thing that you have, and don’t know that you have it.”

She then asked “What else do you need?”
And our conversation continued.

It was one of the most life-changing conversations I’ve ever had, and truly upheld the power of coaching for me.
It reminded me of why I am a coach: to change the world, one conversation at a time, with kindness, teamwork, and trust.

The wonderful coach Rich Litvin talks about how his job is “to help powerful people see how powerful they are.”
As we wrapped up this coaching conversation, so much was swirling in my mind, in a good way.

Did I have the courage to truly know and understand how powerful I am? It’s scary to put myself out there… But my coach had told me “You have courage. That’s not your problem.”

And I remembered something from the year I graduated high school. A friend of mine – we are still friends today, more than 30 years later – wrote in his class will “Courage to the lion (Karen).”

So here’s this friend, willing me courage, when we were both 18 years old.

I looked back on my life and realized that I truly have done some courageous things!

– I stood up in front of a live audience when I was 21 years old and shared about being sexually abused as a child…
I said “if something similar has happened to you, know that it is not your fault.”
The courageous thing about that?
Believing, for the first time since it happened, that it truly was not my fault

– I have figured out a way to live life to the fullest, despite limbs that don’t work especially well

– I recognized, and reached for, the love of my life… nearly 26 years ago now

– I gave birth to two children! (It was the second that took the most courage, because I knew what was ahead : )

– I have cut ties with toxic people in my life, which has meant having the courage to look at my own drawing of boundaries, and how I show up in the world

– I have actively pursued friendships and opportunities that feel exhilarating, and choose to spend time only with people who show up for me as I would want to show up for others

– I present first and foremost with kindness. I know this can be perceived as “weakness,” but I genuinely don’t see it that way anymore

– I role-model important activities and concepts such as rest, kindness, and vulnerability, with my kids, my husband, my loved ones, my coaching clients… and those of you reading this newsletter

– I have the courage to say “I work as an executive, leadership, and play coach at a super high level… It’s referral/invitation only”

Some might say that creating a podcast and keeping it going for six years and 364 episodes is courageous.

Some might say that getting up in front of audiences to speak, to compete in live storytelling competitions called story slams, is courageous.

For me, those things are exhilarating and fun!
What’s taken me more courage is to reach out and apologize when I have hurt someone’s feelings.

This winter I presented in a virtual summit with 7000 attendees! I thought I was going to be scared. But instead it felt wonderful.
Because I was speaking to the amazing Holly Peretz, creator of that particular summit (the Toddler Play Summit 🙂 I didn’t feel afraid at all. It was just a conversation between Holly and me.

The hard work had already been done… Having the courage to open up about the important ideas that make life worth living for me. Self-directed learning; self care; open-ended play.

To talk deeply about things others find frivolous – to me, that was the hard work and that’s what took the courage.

Once Holly and I were talking, once others were seeing our presentation, I wasn’t afraid anymore.

Courage to the lion.

Thinking once more on when, at 18, my friend willed me “Courage to the lion” – a reference of course to the Lion from the Wizard of Oz – reminded me: At the end, the Lion discovers that he had always had courage inside him. No medal, no award or accolade, gave it to him. He already possessed it.

And as I think back over my life, I see how that is true for me. I see the things that have been difficult, and I see that, even when I felt afraid, I still showed up for myself with courage.

How about you? Are you a fellow Lion? What makes you feel afraid, what brings out your courage?
I’d love to hear.

Cheers and thanks for reading –

PS What should my next workshop be on?

A little later in the year I will offer a workshop – and I’d love to know what you need from me!

I create workshops based on YOUR life.

I build them so they address your challenges…
I shape them so they help you lean into your strengths…
I offer them so you can shape your life to be exactly what you wish.

So, what’s on your mind? What should this workshop be about?

I would truly value your thoughts. Just click here and let me know : )

PLUS… The latest We Turned Out Okay episode is out!

Episode 364, “ADHD is kind of a superpower,” with 6-time returning champion Janine Halloran!

On the surface, it’s about ADHD.
But it’s about so much more.
It’s about expectations, and how they create the roles our children inhabit.
It’s about us, the roles we inhabit, and how we got here.
It’s about what we can do that would be detrimental, or helpful – again, not just with the concerns of ADHD. But with so much more.

Watch our conversation by going to
Or, listen in your favorite podcatcher: 
Apple Podcasts…
Stitcher Podcasts…