WordFood - how we feed or starve our realtionships

- Julia Hubbel

Julia’s ability to get this group of type-A executives to engage in true networking was incredible. She is truly skilled at motivating the group to engage and interact with each other, and her openness and honesty really come through.

— Shelley Stewart, Jr.,
Senior Vice President of Operational Excellence and Chief Procurement Officer, Tyco

December 25, 2012

WordFood for Christmas Dinner

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 6:24 pm

It’s here, it’s Christmas, and in a few hours I’m going to be joining my adopted family for the seventh time for dinner on this most wonderful of holidays. My friend Jill has a large extended family and a number of years ago, they opened up their hearts to invite me to join them for the three Christmas events they enjoy each year. Since then, this 10-day excursion has become one of the most beloved of my annual events. My parents passed many years ago, and my brother died this past year, so the Smith family has become where my heart is for the holidays.

The Smiths open presents on Christmas Eve, so last night we all gathered around the fireplace while the youngest boys struggled to help pile the gifts at the appropriate feet. We start with the youngest first and end with Jill’s mother. This takes several hours, as we all love to ooooh and aaaaaah over what the children get, and take our time exclaiming over our goodies.

When it was my turn, I had a card from Jill’s 93-year-old mother, Deen, which I opened first. Deen can never figure out what to give me, but this time she nailed it. It wasn’t the package of list pads. It was what she wrote in her card. In her spidery hand, she expressed her pleasure at having me join the family every Christmas, and how she saw me as her second “daughter.” Those words were WordFood of the first order, more nutritious that the luscious dinner Jill always serves, more important to me than what we will eat tonight. They cemented my place in this beloved group of people. Nothing could have touched me more deeply. And no gift could have meant more.

As we all sit down to Christmas dinner, it will be food for our bodies and also for our souls, that we share stories and laughter with those we love. And we send prayers for those who have left us this year. For those who are with us, it’s time we give them the gift of words that transform, as Deen gave me. No physical gift can uplift as much as kind words, that enfold and include, and remind us that we are loved.  That is what the spirit of Christmas is truly all about.

December 18, 2012

WordFood of Truth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Julia Hubbel @ 10:27 am

Last week at a lunch with a long term dear friend and mentor, something truly significant happened between us that was long overdue. We’ve known each other for more than thirty years, and she is in her nineties now. This is a woman I hold in the highest regard, someone I try to emulate in many ways. She is a lifetime athlete, and her no nonsense approach to healthcare and her brain have ensured that she is active and engaged at a time when most people are sitting in a wheelchair and given up on life. In fact, this past year she got involved in a brand new nanotech company- quite a statement for someone in her ninth decade.

As we sat together, she made an offhanded comment that was quite cruel in its impact. In fact it hurt me so much that I broke into tears. The implication of her words made it clear that she had no idea of how much I invested in our relationship, how important she was to me, and the regard I had for her.

In many cases, we run for the bathroom, take care of business, get things under control and finish lunch. Don’t talk about it because it’s just too hard. In this case the remark hurt so much that I found myself crying hard – but I stayed at the table. My friend didn’t quite know what to make of it. What happened, once I was able, was that I told her. And there ensued the kind of honest, heartfelt exchange that simply doesn’t happen often enough between people.

This woman and I don’t see each other often, and while I’ve tried hard to communicate my feelings and respect, it apparently landed on deaf ears. Until her unkind remark, she simply didn’t understand her importance in my life. The impact her words and advice had on me. While it clearly made her uncomfortable to hear what I had to say, it opened a door between us when I explained that I recognized that the time we had was short and that was the reason I was scheduling a monthly lunch to make sure we had exchanges. I took nothing for granted any more. She sees things very differently now, and it means a great deal to her.

Sometimes it takes a moment of real emotional discomfort to create the kind deep connection that we truly want. It’s never too late. Had I left the table, “gotten myself under control” and not said what I truly felt, this woman and I would not have moved to where we are now.

True emotions are frightening, terrifying, hair raising. But like any rollercoaster, ultimately they take us somewhere, often to a greater understanding. When we feed each other WordFood of truth, how we truly feel, without accusation or anger, we reach another shoreline. It may be a new land, but it is often the land we’ve always wanted to live in with this person. Certainly for me with this wonderful woman it was worth the deep discomfort of sitting with my tears and speaking the truth to her. Having her understand my deep and abiding love for her was an extraordinary Christmas gift for us both.

December 11, 2012

Choosing our Gifts this Year

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 3:33 pm

Every year some of us go home to our families for the holidays. For some, this is the best time of year, and for some it’s the toughest. Holidays are, if one is to believe the hype and the cards and all the tradition, the time we all get together and celebrate each other, our closeness, and why families are important.

For some folks, that just isn’t the case. I have a friend for whom family is heartbreak, and he is hardly alone. Trips home for him are an agony. They inevitably involve big arguments, too much alcohol, old angers and bitterness that get brought out and aired, and the same old hurts that surface. Old buttons get pushed. Parents and kin know where those buttons are because they installed them. It happens every year. For people like this friend, holidays are not holidays. They are an exercise in hurt feelings, in anger, in bad memories.

If this perhaps is your family, maybe it’s time to bring home something different. It’s important to remember that we bring our experiences to ourselves, and that they are there to teach us something about ourselves. Life doesn’t happen to us, it is us. Our family is a mirror, a microcosm of what is going on inside us. It may be very hard to realize that the characteristics that made Dad so annoying exist in us, too. That make our sister Ann such a loser with men also exist in us. We are our family, our family is us. To be able to embrace all these characteristics is to see our own humanity in their humanity, and to forgive them is to forgive ourselves. This takes us to a wholly different level. The notion “what we resist, persists” is a great truth when it comes to families.

The ability not just to tolerate our families’ idiosyncrasies but to embrace and love them is one of the great gifts of the holidays. They mirror our best and worst selves. We cannot run away from who we are. Our families are us. Their DNA is our DNA. They annoy us because they reflect us. This is tough stuff. In fact, it is the toughest. But to be able to come home and see not only your worst but also your best in your family is what the holidays are all about.

No matter where you spend the holidays, your family is with you. Love them or hate them, this is a statement of how much we love or hate ourselves. A powerful gift this holiday season is to love our families because they show us who we are, whether or not we are at ease with the message. It is a statement of courage to accept our families, healthy or not, damaged or not, and wish them well. They have made us who we are today. Wherever you spend the holidays, see if you can accept this gift.

Powered by WordPress