Posts by Jennifer Johnston Crow

365 Grateful: Sprinter’s Just Fine For a While

365 - 03-29-2015So here I am, leaning against the door jamb with a cup of cold caffeine that’s helping my eyes stay open on this chilly “Sprinter” morning.*  That’s the unofficial season between winter and spring, when the two season siblings have their only chance to catch up, to share moments together, to bring each other up to date on their lives before Winter goes on holiday and Spring gets to work.

Out of the corner of my eye, the bird of spring itself — a cheery red-breasted Robin — lands on the fence rail. A second follows, then a third. Each bird alights, one by one, in neighboring sections. It’s almost as though they’re queuing up like thoroughbreds at the gate, waiting for an official signal, for Winter to diminish and Spring to bust forth.

Like everyone, I’m ready for warmth to seep into my bones, for sun and light to flood my world, and for chlorophyll factories to gear up for work. but I’ve appreciated the beauty and rest of Winter, too. At the moment, this day is more wintry than springlike, except for three Robin Red-Breasts sitting on the fence out back.

I’m grateful for the warmth of those cheery birds who assure me that, yes, spring is here, but be patient. She’s companionable, and  Winter’s precious to her … just as precious as she is to Winter. So I’m good with that, with allowing time for the siblings to enjoy one another’s company for a bit. After all, the Robins are here. That’s good enough for me.

* Thanks, Jon Six, for introducing that word to me. It’s so very appropriate.


365 Grateful: The Storytelling Tree

365 - 03-26-2015So, spring’s here, officially at least, and the sun’s been out without rain for a few days, which means the grassy road up the hillside beside our house is walkable. I haven’t been there yet, so I decide to hoof it to the top, where I spy the perfect image of a Storytelling Tree. You know the kind: wonderfully gnarled and ancient with a hollowed out trunk that just might house a storytelling dwarf or elf or leprechaun.

In a heartbeat I hear ghost stories, tales of mystery and harvest told beneath spreading autumn branches. Stories of rest, reflection, transition and, yes, even death, echoing underneath stark, barren limbs. Whispers of birth and rebirth, life and passion, origins, history, and truths unfolding along with bright, neon-green spring finery. And then come tales of adventure, purpose and the passage of everyday life lilting out amidst a summer cloak of green.

Yeah. It’s that kind of tree. Breathtaking and filled with meanings.

While I stand here reveling in the sight catching my breath from the climb on this brilliantly blue-skyed spring day, my mind taps politely behind my eyes as if to say, “Hey! I brought you up here to see this tree because it reminds you of something you know about yourself. You’re a storyteller at heart, and in all your scheming and planning and worrying about the future you keep forgetting this. Don’t forget. Nurture that purpose. Do it. Call the circle. Step into that community.”

Hmmm. I guess when a quantum flirt like that grabs you by the shoelaces and forces you to walk up a steep hill to see a vivid reminder of what you say fills you with purpose … well, you’d best listen. Grateful.

365 Grateful: With Spring so Close, Can Summer be Far?

365 - 03-19-2015These past few squinty-eyed days of sunshine warm upon my face and bright upon my corneas have awakened the slumbering child within. I know this because as I passed by the bookshelf (long overdue for organizing and straightening of the few books I have saved from my wintertime purging), my eye fell upon the one book that is a ritual of summer for me — Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine.

Such a marvelous book chock full of great wisdom and insight. Here is a masterpiece that captures childhood using mere ink and paper. What a feat!

I read it, faithfully, every year at the cusp of summer. June 21. Never before … because it is a summer’s tale, filled with the awesome, blossoming awareness of life.

Already my fingers itch to open the pages — well worn, yellowed, and in places tattered — and begin to read. But wait I will, because summer is scarcely a glimmer on the horizon and this book, well, it simply can’t be read until summer takes over her duties.

Nevertheless, I’m grateful for this early spring reminder of what’s coming. That, and a vision — for just a brief moment — of fresh grass and the busy hum of bees, the twittering of birds and the sharp laughter of children. May each of them discover for themselves this year the wonder of realizing “I am alive.”

So, go buy the book already. Place it on your bedside table. Let it call to you and tempt you and tease you with the pages of summer it holds safely between its covers. And on June 21, pick it up and read it. I’ll join you.

365 Grateful: and the worm turns

365 - 03-06-2015I wake up to this view of the 2015 Crow Moon completing its transit across the sky, across my sky. And I am grateful for this reminder that all things cycle, soften, evolve. The worm turns the soil, the crow heralds spring, life moves inexorably forward. Past? Future? Not really. Just the present. We stretch fully into each day, breathe in each moment, and pass steadily, easily through time. To me, there’s no other option than to be fully present in the moment, not so lost in past regrets or memories and not so caught up in future worries or goals. Just the present. Just the moment.

365 Grateful: to get somewhere, you have to leap

365 - 03-05-2015Yeah, here’s how it goes. I want to be over there. I’m over here. Over there might be a state of mind or a physical place or an activity. It doesn’t matter. When I’m over here, over there seems like it’s a chasm away. So I grumble around about not being there or having that or getting anywhere or being stuck, stymied, and held back.

Exactly. I don’t always get it at first. I chalk that up to human nature, but it’s pretty much a matter of my perspective and my attitude. Because, really? If I want to cross that chasm, generally what’s required is a leap … of faith. And that might mean faith in my ability, in my choice, in my desire, in my confidence, in the chance of success … all that stuff wrapped up into one big ol’ leap.

So when we traveled to Death Valley (amazing place, that!) back in 2009 with our friends, Lem and Patty, that concept of taking the leap, well, leaped out at me. Figuratively speaking, of course. Because that land is so amazingly inhospitable yet so beautiful and challenging, I couldn’t imagine those prospectors and early frontiersmen not looking down at the salt flats and thinking, “I’m stuck here, but there is where I want to be. Look at all of these obstacles; I don’t know if I’m up for that trek, but I need — I WANT — to be there. So, I’m just gonna go for it.”

It was a leap of faith of the tallest order. And, man, am I ever grateful to have experienced that place, and stretched my mind as well as my body there. Because I started to learn to love the “leap.”

In our lives, where Death Valleys are what stand between where we are today and where we want to be, those leaps of faith propel us forward.

  • “I want to start my own business, but I’ve never understood the business world.”
  • “I want a better relationship with my family, but fighting is what we do best.”
  • “I’m not happy in my marriage, but the alternative is wicked scary.”
  • “I want to save the planet, but how can I possibly make a difference?”

Oh, those are leaps of faith. Learn to love them!


365 Grateful: love that elephant in the room

365 - 03-01-2015Right smack in the middle of the table In the Coach Room at work sits a stuffed gray elephant. His eyes have fallen off, so they’re held on with a paperclip attached to his left ear, which was the only implement of connectivity we could find.

He’s the Elephant in the Room, and I’m awfully fond of him. He’s there for a reason. He reminds us — whether we’re in a meeting of coaches (think “Coaches of the Round Table”) or sitting solo with a client — of this wisdom:


Hard topics. Things like difficult situations, behavior, conflicts, sorrows, truth, regrets, sickness, death. Even joys and celebrations can be hard topics. These are things we’d like to pretend don’t exist, that are invisible. 

Our elephant, even with his tenuously connected sight, gives us the shake we need to be courageous, to show up for one another, to hold each other accountable, and to help our clients move forward with purpose. Not a new person comes into the room who doesn’t pick him up and smile, and ask exactly why he commands the center spot.

I’m grateful for this elephant in the room whose sole purpose, it seems, is to remind us to be real and to be brave and willing to bring to the table what sits there, in plain sight, just waiting to be acknowledged, understood, and dealt with.

Then there’s the cow in the Zen garden. But that’s a whole other story…