storytelling

Episode 81: Your "Ah Ha" Moments are Your Career and Life Pivot Points

When the Lightbulb Goes on, Your Story Takes Shape

Dr. Carla Cooke might be what you’d call a late bloomer. Her stories about her late teens and early 20s aren’t about a driven, ambitious young woman. She worked hard in whatever job she had, but that often wasn’t enough to break through barriers. It took a painful experience with racism for her to realize her first calling to counseling and psychology. She knew there was more to that behavior than what she could see, and her compassion for every being was on full display.

She started to see her gifts as an intuitive and active listener and observer as her calling. Once she figured out the nature of these skills, she was highly motivated to learn more and grow to help others.

After decades of helping people through her counseling practice, she started to feel too comfortable. Not bored, though what she was doing in her work no longer excited her as it used to. She still loved it, she still valued it, but the day-to-day work didn’t fit the same way it. During our conversation, we used the analogy of clothes she wore 20 years ago: They still fit, but differently. Things have shifted.

She was asked to present a session at a women’s event and jumped at the opportunity. My favorite part of our conversation was this story:

As Dr. Cooke was walking the hallways of the conference venue, a participant walked up to her to have a conversation. This participant hadn’t actually attended her session, but said she felt like she had benefitted from it. She had been in discussions with women who were there, and the session was so insightful and relevant that the discussions were carrying over into buzzing, energetic conversations with women who didn’t attend it.

The women said to Dr. Cooke: “You need to do this more. This topic is important and you make a difference!”

It took her a few days to process what happened, and to choose to make a substantial shift in her practice and her business, but it didn’t take long once she made that choice. And it didn’t take long for her to realize she was absolutely on the right path, the one where she could and did make the positive impact on people’s lives that she KNEW was her calling this time around.


Connect with Dr. Carla Cooke on LinkedIn, check out her website to learn more, and I highly recommend her workbook, On Being Well.

Episode 80: Some Stories Take Time to Make Sense

All of Our Stories Become Part of Our Truth

marx-iwo-jima-1.jpg

If you know him now, you'd describe him as a quintessential hippy artist; but Chip Clawsen was six when he connected deeply with the story his mother read to him, The Sands of Iwo Jima. It was at that tender young age that he decided he'd one day be a marine - a hero.

Photo from the Helena Independent Record, Thom Bridge

Throughout high school and college, he followed the path his parents expected of him, while telling them and his uncles that what he really wanted was to join the Marines.

His uncles, Army and Navy, told him he should pick a different branch - the Marines were the toughest, and Chip was small and wiry, no taller than 5'6". But Chip eventually enlisted with the Marines and tested into the flight program; he was going to be a pilot.

Chip's is a story of resilience, grit, and self-reflection that took him from a mindset of heroics in war to a mindset of heroics in peace. His pivot points, those moments in time that changed everything about who he thought he was, and how he saw his role in the world, pointed him in many different directions. The piece that always remained was his determination to follow his heart.


To learn more about Chip and his art, visit his artist index and check out an article about his recent sculpture creations.

Episode 79: Some of Your Stories are Totally False

"Just be happy! It's a beautiful day!"

Those words spoken by a family member were completely lost on a teenaged Courtney Ackerman facing depression and anxiety. Not only were they lost, they caused some damage to the relationship.

Depression wasn't just an illness for Courtney, it was also a source of curiosity.

Episode 78: When You're on the Inside Looking Out

Stories That Remind Us It's All About Perspective

Jordan Gross was one of those kids in school who always seemed to have it together. He was an athlete, an academic achiever, played an instrument, and was a boy people wanted to be around. He had plenty of friends, and though he knew he was fortunate in his upbringing and genetics, he always had a feeling there was something else that he was missing.

He stayed the course in terms of what was expected of him as he finished high school and moved through college. He even got a great corporate job right our of college and was doing exactly what his family and friends saw for his future. And then he woke up. At 24, he realized he wasn’t living his life - he was living someone’s expectations of his life.

Our conversation reminded me of an earlier episode with Christine Homolko, from the opposite perspective. Christine thought she never really fit in, was always an outsider, and Jordan always fit in, but felt like an outsider. There’s a reality here many of us seem to forget, and it’s not just that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. The reality is that none of us really “fit in”, we all have our internal stories limiting and motivating us, and we are all on our own journey. The only difference, really, is the company we keep along that journey.

Connect with Jordan on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter, visit his website, and take a look at his book, Getting Comfy.

Episode 76: It's Harder Than You Think. Be Kind.

I had performed the National Anthem at baseball games a few times that summer as a duet with my close friend, and as a trio with that friend and my sister. Each time we performed together we heard rave reviews. As we walked away from home plate toward the fence and the bleachers, our home team would come up out of the dugout to high five us.