About webnerbob

A Cleveland and Ohio State sports fan who lives in Columbus, Ohio

Life Coaching

Every workday I walk past a storefront that offers yoga and exercise classes and “life coaching.”  That option makes me chuckle a bit and sticks with me as I walk, and I think of a guy wearing a plain gray t-shirt, seat pants, a ball cap, and a whistle, yelling at me to follow the “life playbook” and get my affairs in order.

What is a life coach, exactly?

IMG_6321After doing some internet research, the precise role of a “life coach” is still not entirely clear to me.  It looks like people with that title can offer advice on everything from financial affairs to marital problems to exercise and diet regimens to general decision-making and goal-setting.  Lifecoaching.com says:  “Life Coaching is a profession that is profoundly different from consulting, mentoring, advice, therapy, or counseling. The coaching process addresses specific personal projects, business successes, general conditions and transitions in the client’s personal life, relationships or profession by examining what is going on right now, discovering what your obstacles or challenges might be, and choosing a course of action to make your life be what you want it to be.

It also appears that the “life coach” field is a largely unregulated one, without any legal requirements as to training, licensing, or capabilities, although there are certain industry certifications that “life coaches” can obtain if they choose to.  If you run a Google search on life coach training, you’re likely to get results that tell you about the variety of training programs, on-line courses, or books you can read to become a “life coach” and then lots of results advertising the “life coaches” in your area.

So, as best I can figure it, a “life coach” is someone who a person can talk to in a structured way about what they’ve been doing and where they want to go, and get advice about how to get there.  Although lifecoaching.com apparently disagrees, it sounds a lot like what a trusted and knowledgeable mentor, friend, or family member might do.  And that seems to beg another question:  why would a person pay an unlicensed “life coach” to listen to their problems and offer advice rather than talking to an older, experienced, successful family member or colleague who knows them, cares about them, and won’t charge them a dime?  Is it because they want someone who they consider to be objective, even if they might not know a lot about the person, or because they don’t want to share their problems or personal goals with a friend or family member due to embarrassment?

I suppose there could be lots of rationales for why you would seek “life coaching” at a storefront location in your town, but it also seems like another way in which what used to be a significant, potentially enriching and strengthening part of family relationships and/or personal or workplace friendships is being replaced by paid services provided by strangers.  Maybe that’s a good thing — or maybe not.

 

The Leaping Range Of The Wolf Spider

Hen Island in Lake Erie is a spidery place.  You regularly see little spiders scurrying about in the corners of the old buildings, and if you walk around the island you need to be prepared to scrape some stray cobwebs from your arms or your face.

Coming face to face with a huge, hairy-legged monstrosity on a screened-in porch is quite another matter, however.

IMG_6282This beauty showed up on the porch on Saturday morning.  It was not quite as big as a tarantula — but close . . . appallingly, disgustingly close.  It was down by a baseboard, near a table leg, looking bigger than it actually was because it was a female spider toting an egg sac.  As our group of six or seven sat on our rockers, reading and chatting on a pretty morning, one member of the group noticed the spider.  Then, the conversation went something like this:

“Hey, look at the size of that spider.  Holy shit!”

“That’s a wolf spider.  It’s harmless.”

“You may be right, but my conscious mind refuses to believe that anything that looks like that is harmless.”

“Well, they can bite.”

“Yeah, but the bite is not poisonous.”

“It will still leave a pretty good welt.”

“I’ve heard that wolf spiders can leap ten feet.”

Wait . . . ten feet?  At that point everybody on the porch did a mental calculation of their range from the spider, which now looked suspiciously like it was crouching and ready to spring, and whether they were beyond the ten-foot zone of death.  I’m guessing that many of the rockers had the same thought I did — a mental image of a shaggy horror suddenly flying through the air, landing on their face, close enough so you can get a good look at the inhuman eyes and the slavering mandibles, and delivering a sharp, painful bite.  And if that bulging egg sac happened to burst at just that moment, releasing a horde of ravenous, biting baby spiders with Olympic-caliber leaping abilities into an enclosed area . . . .

At that point, getting a cup of coffee from the kitchen in the next building seemed like a really good idea.

One of the staffers eventually came and put the spider, which had remained blessedly huddled near the table, in a jar.  We all took a good look, then released it outside, feeling good and environmentally sensitive about letting the spider back into its habitat but nevertheless unsettled by our brush with the wild world.

Sunsets On Hen

IMG_6280Richard, UJ and I were up at Hen Island in Lake Erie this weekend for the annual father-son get-together at the Quinnebog Fishing Club.  We ate lots of food, drank lots of beer, and played lots of cribbage.  We also enjoyed some spectacular sunsets.

When you are a city dweller, you don’t see many dramatic sunsets, because the horizon is blocked by buildings.  When you’re out on an island, however, you can really appreciate how wonderful sunsets can be.  That’s Friday’s sunset above, and Saturday’s sunset below.  Friday’s sunset was more bold and colorful, but Saturday’s was more interesting, with the backlit clouds looking like the outline of continents on a map, limned in fire.

IMG_6297

What If They Gave A Hotel And Nobody Came?

IMG_6246I was in Washington, D.C. recently and saw this sign in front of the Old Post Office, advertising it as a new “TRUMP” property — in this case, the Trump International Hotel.

The Old Post Office is a beautiful building, and I have no doubt that it will make a magnificent hotel, but . . . the Trump International Hotel?  Doesn’t that seem just a tad inconsistent with The Donald’s recent political speechifying?

How many international visitors are really going to feel welcome at a Trump hotel and are going to be eager to stay there?

Travel Magazines

When you’ve been on the road and your poor planning means that you don’t have any recreational reading to peruse during that dinner for one, you’re probably going to end up looking at what might be called, generically, “travel magazines.”  That loose category includes the in-flight magazines on airplanes, the city magazines found in hotel rooms, and all other magazines that regularly feature multiple articles on traveling.

If you read such magazines, be prepared to be charged with enthusiasm about, well, just about everything and everywhere.  Because no one, anywhere, is more enthusiastic about anything than travel writers are about their subject.  Next to these guys, Mary Kay consultants, recent converts to the Church of Scientology, and the paid actors raving about the latest piece of exercise and weight-loss equipment on a TV commercial seem glum and disinterested.

IMG_6238You can’t have too many exclamation points in these travel magazine articles. Every city, no matter how backward, dirty, or decrepit, receives the most glamorous photo montage that can be prepared without engaged in outright Potemkin Village falsehood.  Every restaurant is one of the finest in the region.  Every city is growing and experiencing an explosion of diversity and development.  And pay no attention to the stories that you might have read about political and liberty issues in, say, mainland China.  Hey, these guys are wearing sunglasses and western clothing.  How cool is that!

Another thing about these magazines, too:  they’re incredibly bossy, presumptuous, and somewhat unnerving.  You see articles with headlines like “Twelve Things You Must Do in Akron!” or “The Ultimate Guide to Mung Bean Tourism!” or “Three Absolutely Perfect Days in The Bronx!” telling you that you have to do this or you’d be insane not to do that.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever had one “absolutely perfect” day, much less three in a row.

If you read enough travel magazines, you might come to the conclusion that that you may as well plan to travel everywhere and anywhere, because it’s all great.  Or, if you’re like me, you think of the old saying “believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.”

Poorly Conceived Hotel Lobby Art

IMG_6244Tuesday night I had a bad commuting experience and got in to my hotel in D.C. late at night.  Exhausted and bedraggled, I slunk into the hotel lobby, checked in at the reception desk, and headed toward the elevator to get to my room and drop off my bags.

And there I saw . . . this.  A perfectly good sculpture, I suppose, in a normal setting.  In a museum, people might pause to examine it and remark upon its craftsmanship.  But the last thing a tired traveler needs to see on the way to a strange room in strange hotel in a strange city is a depiction of a distraught man folded in on himself, his head cupped in his hands — the very picture of despair and dejection.

Here’s a tip for hotel interior decorators — when you’re selecting art for the lobby, anything that conveys deep depression and loneliness probably isn’t a really good idea.

Prettying Up Parsons

IMG_5970In Columbus, Parsons Avenue is a kind of dividing line.  To the south of downtown are German Village and Merion Village, where you will find carefully restored old houses, young professionals, and empty nesters, and the gentrification wave has spread east through Schumacher Place — which is bordered on one side by Parsons Avenue.

As our friend The Activist said, Parsons Avenue is sort of like the demilitarized zone.  After walking through shaded streets filled with well-kept brick homes and pretty landscaping, you come to a busy street with a decidedly grittier urban vibe.  Some of the storefronts are vacant, and those that are occupied are home to revival churches, nail salons, fast food outlets, second-hand shops, and convenience stores.  It’s not uncommon to see shirtless guys standing around or police cars stopped, with their lights flashing.

IMG_5969The Parsons area seems to be in transition, however.  Nationwide Children’s Hospital is a big impetus for change.  Located at the corner of Parsons and East Livingston Avenue, the hospital complex has been growing rapidly in all directions along both of those streets, adding new care facilities, medical buildings, and ancillary service businesses.  The ongoing expansion has brought construction cranes to the skyline, created a range of new jobs, and attracted doctors and the other people staffing the new buildings to the area — and many of them seem to have decided to live in Schumacher Place, Merion Village, and German Village.

The advance guard of gentrification, in the form of banners hung from lampposts and decorative planters, have found Parsons Avenue, at least in the blocks between the hospital and East Whittier Street.  The planters include painted information about the area — such as when George Parsons lived — and the banners grandly proclaim that Parsons Avenue is “The Gateway to the South.”  If you agree with the teaching of Broken Windows Theory, these kind of beautification touches will aid the gentrification effort because they will help to make people feel more comfortable on Parsons Avenue — but fewer stopped police cars and fewer shirtless guys loitering near gas stations would help, too.