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.

 

Off The Griddle

IMG_6174The griddle is a pretty amazing invention, when you think about it.  Virtually everything worth eating can be cooked on a griddle — from eggs to burgers to hash browns to grilled cheese sandwiches.  When you’re done with one effort, you just scrape the griddle clean, towel it off as the steam rises, and then move on to the next dish.  And, in any true diner, customers get to sit at the counter and watch the griddlemaster working his magic.

Kish and I had heard that you can find that true diner experience at the German Village Coffee Shop, so yesterday we walked down to Thurman Avenue to check it out.  I’m pleased to report that the word-of-mouth is right on the money.  From the paper placemats touting tourist stops in New York City (of all places), to the piping hot mugs of coffee, to the savory sounds of all kinds of food cooking on the griddle, the GVCS has it all.  We grabbed seats at the counter to take it all in.

IMG_6169It was about 12:30 p.m. and we hadn’t eaten yet, so . . . what to get?  I’ve long had a passion for burgers cooked on a griddle, ever since Grandma and Grandpa Neal took UJ and me bowling at Riviera Lanes in Akron on Saturdays, and we would end our visit with cheeseburgers and crinkle-cut fries from Riviera’s in-house diner.  Griddle-cooked burgers have a wonderful taste and finish that you just can’t get with a grilled version.

But yesterday I resisted the burger temptation when I saw that the Coffee Shop had a corned beef hash special, because corned beef hash also is better cooked on a griddle.  Hash and pancakes sounded good.  Boy, was it ever!  The corned beef hash was delicious, and the pancakes were larger than a man’s head, with that perfect golden griddle crust.  I polished off the hash, slathered the pancakes in butter and syrup, relished every bite, and did my best — but standard stack of three was more than I could finish.

As we left, I thought that Grandma Neal would have said that my eyes were bigger than my stomach.  But my stomach was happy, anyway.

Detroit, On The (Cutting) Edge

Russell decided to stay in Detroit, in part, because he felt a certain energy there, and in part because it is so affordable.  After living for a few years in Brooklyn, he knew how ridiculously expensive living the New York City artists’ life had become.

IMG_5170As always, Russell has a pretty good set of antenna for a developing trend.  A few days ago the New York Times carried an article about how NYC artists are moving to Detroit for the same reasons Russell has long articulated.  Why not?  Detroit is a cosmopolitan city.  There is still a lot of art-buying wealth there, as well as space galore and buildings available at prices that New York City artists couldn’t even conceive.

There’s a certain vibe to Detroit, too.  The article linked above refers to “ruin porn” — an apt phrase that captures the kind of slack-jawed wonder at the decaying cityscapes that we have noticed in our visits there and reported from time to time on this blog.  The dereliction not only makes you ponder how a great city fell so far, but also what can be done to raise it back up again.  Part of the allure of Detroit for young artists and other risk-takers is the chance to be part of what could be a great story of urban renaissance.  For an artist, that sense of frontier-like opportunity not only is bound to stoke the creative fires, but it also gives the city’s art scene a certain cachet that may well attract attention — and art sales.

I’m rooting for Detroit.

The Lap Dog Experiment

Kasey came to us a little rough around the edges.  What the heck — she was a rescue dog obtained at the Humane Society, coming from an unknown, possibly troubled past.  It was no surprise that she growled at me from time to time, charged at other dogs on the street, and otherwise displayed some clearly aggressive tendencies.

IMG_2865But — as was the case in the plot of My Fair Lady — could this dirty-faced, territorial pooch become a fully domesticated, docile, mannerly lap dog?  If so, how?  It’s the kind of scientific experiment in heredity versus behavioralism that would have intrigued Pavlov.

I’m pleased to report that our little experiment in cultured canine behavior has now concluded, and Kish has once again brought another dog fully to heel.  She’s like the dog whisperer, except it’s really hugs and kisses that seem to do the trick.  Whatever her secret, Kasey now is perfectly happy to sit on Kish’s lap on the sofar, and she follows Kish around just like Penny did, and Dusty did before Penny.  Kish has just got the knack.

Do you have a poorly behaved, barky, jerky dog?  My lovely wife may be able to help.

A Touch Of Europe

When we were outfitting our new backyard, we spent a lot of time on finding just the right umbrella.  We were looking for a brightly colored one that would remind us of a European cafe in a nice shaded courtyard.  We scoured the Internet for a Campari umbrella, and also checked out other Euro beer- and liquor-themed options, then Kish found this Cinzano umbrella that fits our concept perfectly.
C’est bon!

July 4 Kegling

IMG_6111What could be more patriotic than a little bowling on Independence Day?

Grandpa Neal would be proud.  It turns out that Russell is really starting to enjoy bowling with his friends up in the Motor City, so when he came for a visit this weekend he wanted to roll a few frames with Kish and me.  Yesterday afternoon we went down South High Street to Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.  It was largely deserted, but we had fun and there was red, white, and blue to be found in the riotous colors that were everywhere we looked.  It was a useful reminder that you never want to have your home decorated by the same person who also has devised the color scheme at a bowling alley.

It was the first time I’ve been bowling in a year and a half, and in my first game I had my worst game in decades — a 104.  I’m happy to report, though, that I righted the ship and followed it up with a 155 and then a snappy 209.

IMG_6108

Neither A Borrower Nor A Lender Be

Recently two members of my extended family have learned a valuable, if somewhat painful, lesson:  loaning money to purported friends can end up being an enormous, friendship-wrecking hassle.  Fortunately, the memory of the difficult experience no doubt will discourage future forays into the personal banking business.

William Shakespeare aptly captured the concept in Hamlet, when wise old Polonius says:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

As Polonius recognized, the reality is that, when you loan money to an acquaintance, the relationship inevitably changes.  You go from mutual friends to a debtor and a creditor.  And frequently the resulting interpersonal behavior mirrors the change.  Although the borrower has been helped by the lender’s generosity, the borrower often comes to resent the lender.  It’s as if the borrower rationalizes that the lender must have plenty of money or he wouldn’t have made the loan in the first place.  From there, it’s a short, easy step to concluding that the lender really doesn’t need the loan to be repaid — at least not right away — and therefore the lender is being a jerk in asking about when the money will be repaid.

In many instances, too, the borrower concludes that other things take priority over discharging the debt.  I’ve heard friends bemoan the fact that their personal borrower has taken high-end vacations, eaten at fancy restaurants, and even purchased expensive cars while the loan is still outstanding.  And, as often as not, the lender’s innocent inquiry about when repayment might be forthcoming draws an angry response — and an even more extended period of stalling and dodging any personal interaction that will inevitably involve the repayment question being asked.

And, ultimately, if the borrower doesn’t repay the loan, what do you do?  Sue them?  How often do the parties to these loan arrangements memorialize the loan in any kind of writing?  I’ve had friends seek my legal advice about what to do in these circumstances — and I’m sure that when they made the loan in the first place they never suspected that they might need to talk to a lawyer, even informally, about it.

No, Shakespeare had it right:  neither a borrower nor a lender be.  Save yourself from future headaches, and don’t worry about being deemed a cheapskate by the pal who is in tough financial straits.  If your friendship is contingent upon cash, it’s probably not much of a friendship in the first place.