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

April 29, 2013

WordFood in Feedback

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 8:38 am

Whether you’re a boss or a parent, a friend or a lover, a client or a customer, at some time you’re going to have an opportunity to provide feedback. How you do it is a reflection on who you are, and the way you hold yourself in the world. It’s also a reflection of how you treat yourself. This was brought home the other day when I had the chance to provide feedback to a caregiver.

After decades of bodybuilding and a certain amount of abuse, I’d finally starting taking care of myself by going to the Denver Integrative Massage folks on Galapagos. They offer 90 minute massages for the paltry sum of $35 dollars, and you have students of varying skill levels work on you. Last week, instead of my regular therapist, I got a first timer- and I was his first massage ever.

Although I spent some time explaining where I needed  him to work- the injury areas and problems where there was a back sprain or pain, he started on one leg and spent nearly forty minutes ministering to just that leg. Then as though he suddenly realized what he’d done, the other leg got a little attention and he hurried to catch up. By the time he got to the problem areas he’d run out of time. He was hesitant, and overly sensitive to any indication that I was experiencing pain. His rhythm was way off which was disconcerting, he often stopped completely which left me wondering where he’d gone. In all, it was an awkward experience, and I didn’t end up feeling either relaxed or relieved.

We are given sheets of feedback and I wrote “let’s talk” on mine, and sat down with him on our mat. He was a little anxious. My challenge was to find a way to put myself in his position, and not operate from where I was feeling about the massage. What transpired was a wonderful conversation about the experience. I shared with him what was going on inside me, what I sensed about his emotions, and what I might suggest. By beginning with telling him that I tried to imagine what it might be like to be doing my very first massage with a client, how hard I’d be trying to do everything right, how hypersensitive I might be to every cue, we connected.

The exchange allowed us to explore the session and have a learning experience together without his feeling defensive. What he reminded me was the importance of placing myself in his shoes, and how vulnerable he would be feeling to potential criticism. How important positive feedback would be for his first time around. It was humbling to remember how a few words can lacerate, or leave someone uplifted and encouraged.

In exchanges such as these, I’m the one doing the learning. The burden is on me to wield words in such a way that whatever my petty ego wants is set aside, and others’ needs are taken into account first.

Whether you’re a parent or a partner, feedback is an opportunity to uplift everyone involved. If you can enter the exchange humbly and with a willingness to be taught, it becomes something almost holy.

April 21, 2013

WordFood at RedRocks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 3:37 pm

Red Rocks represents a variety of experiences for Coloradans and tourists. For some it’s a venue for concerts. For others, a hiking paradise. For others, like me, it’s a boot camp. While I don’t partake of the seriously challenging boot camps that are run by ex drill sergeants on weekends (but highly recommend them), I take to the stairs regularly to keep legs and lungs in fighting shape.

Sunday was a case in point. By 11 am, most of the boot camps were done and the crowds of seriously athletic folk had dissipated to their brunch spots or the next challenge. The rest of us had hit the stairs and bleachers to do our thing, albeit a bit more slowly. Many are long time regulars.

What I so love about Red Rocks is that it is a community. I joined it last September, a couple of months after knee surgery. Like many others, I got a little winded a few times on the way  up those 190 stairs. After several more visits and many more laps, I was hooked. By late September I was doing 2200 steps a day, five to six days a week, rain or shine. And I was part of the community.

People offer WordFood of encouragement to those who are having a tough time. We love on each others’ dogs. There are regulars whose dogs know that I offer the Dreaded Butt Scratch and they drag their owners down the steps to collect their affection. We get a quick break and I get precious puppy love.  For months one man gave me the high five every time we passed on the stairs. I don’t know who he is, but the times my knee wanted me to quit, those high fives kept me going. And my knee rehabbed quickly.

Red Rocks regulars range from elite athletes to the obese, struggling to master one flight at a time. We stop and talk to each other, and share stories that encourage people to keep going.  Women, in particular, stop and compliment each other on their progress, on the shape they’re in, on coming out consistently. I hear it all the time. It’s music to the soul. That’s my Red Rocks concert.

For most of us who aren’t boot camp aficionados, making it to the top a few times is effort enough. For many others, it’s taking this on day after day, building our strength and stamina in a place of unworldly beauty. Where else but in Colorado do we get to exercise in such stunning beauty?

If you’ve never considered taking on Red Rocks as a place to exercise, come on out. There’s plenty of parking, and plenty of room. People are welcoming and it’s a dog heaven. Very early in the morning, firemen in their bunkers are pushing themselves to the limits. It’s an environment of encouragement, and you get back what you give.

Come on out and create your own concert of WordFood. Bring friends. Make it a party, make it playful. Have fun. That’s what exercise is supposed to be.

April 14, 2013

Descriptive WordFood About Ourselves

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 5:33 pm

Match.com is one of the funniest sources of behavior on earth. People post pictures from babyhood to their pets, sunsets to mountains, and carefully crop their photos to keep the viewer from seeing anything of their actual physical forms. Then they describe themselves as “Athletic and toned”, which must be the most widely interpreted two words on the singles dating scene. Age, height and hair are also loosely interpreted, and since this is a culture that puts great emphasis on physical beauty, lying is the norm. “What the heck,” it seems that folks say to themselves, “I’ll  figure it out in person.”

I’m been on Match since last Thanksgiving and it has been a source of hilarity to say the least, but also sadness. Imagine driving to an exciting first date based on those stunning photos only to be greeted by forty pounds of “Athletic and Toned” draped over someone’s stomach, bald where there was hair, and twenty more years than what was advertised. Robert Burns once wrote about “what a gift it would be to see ourselves as other see us.” In some cases, people really haven’t looked in a mirror and seen the change.

Saturday I had a date with a blind man like that, but blind in a different sense. A handsome, tall, athletic guy. Champion bodybuilder, model, chiseled. Successful businessman. We arranged a picnic. I was interested in talking about fitness and his time as a jet jockey in the Air Force, being a fellow vet. What I got was two hours of stories about his sexual exploits, complaining about his ex-girlfriend, and women who would take advantage of his -er- “gifts”- and leave him dissatisfied. At one point I mentioned that we’d been sitting there for two hours and he hadn’t ventured a single question about me. He didn’t get the hint. This is how he says women treat him.

It is a wise person who can see that what we say about others is a very good hint to our own behavior if we would but own it. A wise friend once said that we want to pontificate to others how to be in life, as though our life were the model for happiness and success. But if everyone were just like us, it would drive us batty, because we dislike the very things in others that we find in ourselves.

Before we stood up to leave, he mentioned, almost in passing, that he had been molested as a recruit. So had I. Suddenly I felt a wave of compassion. For military members, especially men, molestation goes unreported, unpunished, unmentioned, and uncounseled.  These men and women are left to deal with the shame and guilt the rest of their lives. Their ability to participate in normal relationships is stunted. Suddenly it all made sense.

It’s so easy to jump to conclusions, and so easy to judge. I actually had a lot in common with this man. And he had been kind enough to put up a mirror to that part of myself that tends to talk too much and not be aware of others’ conversational needs.

In everyday life there are countless opportunities to watch what we do and say, and watch where we deny a trait or behavior. That’s when to take note. Chances are that’s something we do and are blind to it. What we resist, persists. Match has given me plenty of opportunities to see things I wasn’t happy to acknowledge, but was grateful for the reminder. Match is my mirror, just like my Saturday date. He reminded me that there are times I talk too much and don’t take others’ needs into account. And more importantly, he reminded me that behavior has a root cause of pain, and the chances are we can relate to it.

Even someone we think is blind can help us see.

April 8, 2013

The WordFood of Authenticity

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 2:16 pm

Damien and LaTeicia had known each other for more than twenty years. To LaTeicia, Damien was arrogant, he threw his weight around, he pushed his successes in others’ faces. He’d enjoyed considerable acclaim as a speaker and author, even a recording artist. She considered him a friend, but not close. Her impressions were locked in stone. LaTeicia was also a speaker but her career had seen many ups and downs. Damien intimidated her, and she avoided asking for advice for fear of ridicule. They had affable, but superficial conversations.

Damien’s career was derailed by a serious illness. His income stream trickled to droplets. To start over and rebuild be began offering his services as a coach. When LaTeicia heard, she called to sign up.

As a new coach, Damien was learning his skills. LaTeicia found herself providing him feedback on what worked and what didn’t, and they began to find success together. Her skills improved as his coaching became more focused and effective. Along the way, Damien began to reveal more of his background, and LaTeicia experienced his softer side.

At one point LaTeicia told Damien about how she had feared his disapproval. Been uncomfortable with his arrogance and way of being. Damien took her comments in thoughtfully.  He’d had no idea. He told her how much respect he’d always had for LaTeicia. How proud he was of her skills and her progress. Her courageous WordFood opened the door to an authentic conversation that transformed their professional and personal relationships.

By speaking honestly to Damien, LaTeicia took a chance on a deeper connection. By listening to LaTeicia, Damien was able to understand his impact others. They have collaborated for three years, produced several books, and LaTeicia’s skills continue to improve. She was willing to remove Damien from the prison her previous assumptions had kept him in for twenty years. And Damien was willing to receive feedback about how his behavior was affecting others.

If you are keeping someone in prison because of impressions, try authentic WordFood. Chances are good that your world may change for the better.

April 6, 2013

Daily WordFood Diet

“I hate my life!”

Those are the words a dear friend expressed in an email a few weeks ago. She was frustrated with her job, she couldn’t see her grandkids because of a tiff with her son, her house wouldn’t sell, her weight loss plan wasn’t working. She was lonely.

My friend Alicia is lovely, looks half her age, is talented and smart, is certainly not obese. She has many things to be thankful for but she can’t see them.

Her choice of words is instructive. While there are times that you may have felt this way about your life, sometimes it makes sense to consider this: the words you say and the thoughts you think are like prayers. Everything you think goes out into the Universe as a request. So when Alicia, who wants very much for the conditions of her life to change, speaks negatively about her life, she is effectively asking for more of the same.

Your thoughts- all of them- minute to minute, day to day, carry your intentions into a highly responsive Universe. If you are sending out negativity, bile, anger and bitterness, it is no wonder that things may not be going well. If you send out gratitude, graciousness, wonder and joy, then these are what get returned.  This is perhaps why it’s so confusing at times. You go to church on Sunday, or say prayers periodically and ask fervently for better conditions. Then you find fault, complain, are angry all the time because your situation doesn’t change to your liking. Ever heard of the Law of Attraction?

No matter what shape you are in, your body allows you to see the sunsets, listen to a child’s laugh, enjoy a good football game, eat a great meal, look at your family’s faces, pet your beloved animal, smell popcorn. Without your body, these things aren’t available to you. For someone facing imminent death, they would trade anything to be in your body, no matter how thunderous your thighs or the size of your Visa bill. Life is a privilege.

Your words carry great power. Listen to your thoughts, your words. Listen carefully to your internal conversation, your demands. You are being heard.

Joel Osteen once said on a radio interview that his advice for everyone, everywhere was to find something to be grateful for every day. This is one habit that will serve you enormously. Find reasons for joy, laughter, saying thanks. And watch the conditions around you shift.

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