Little Red Ribbon of Freedom

Part of being married to a coach is I am able to get free coaching – and boy do I need it.
Being married to me is not easy – “you are not easy to live with”, is an oft-used statement, especially as married life moves closer to the 20-year mark.
I never disagree with this position, my wife is correct.
“Not easy to live with” – my body could say the same thing as my wife! And whilst my physical health has improved since we decamped from London to Sydney 12 years ago, (note to self – well done on giving up beer 3 years ago and still enjoying an afternoon in the pub, always the hardest part of giving up), I always keep a watching brief on my mental health. At 54, with two children to raise, a business to run and a family at the other end of the world (NZ and the UK) it all adds up to being busy; but does it make it especially difficult to live with me? I conform to the typical grumpy, uncool, old dad, much like every dad that has ever been; in this regard, I think I am pretty normal. So I am in good health physically, but mentally, a little wobbly. Sounds about right.
How do I compare to my dad? Yep – my mother used to say, “Geoffrey, you are not easy to live with!”  At 54, he had raised three children, he had a business to run and a family at the other end of the…OK, so they were only 2 hours drive away, but still, horses for courses. He was, still is, physically fit, smoked too long, but does not smoke anymore, walks, looks after his sugar and salt intake keeping his middle-class diabetes at bay. So basically we are the same my dad and I, but why do I feel at times like I really can’t cope anymore – why did my dad shrug off the mental challenges of the day, smoke and drink too much, and let his kids run riot and still feel content in his own skin – “job well done”, he would say to himself, see you in the morning as he Del Boy’d (google Del Boy) down to the local pub for another great Friday night of Dunhill and Tetley’s – even his hangovers were without gripe.
This does not seem fair – time for a coaching session!
The process of coaching, as my wife often tells me, is the unlocking of previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership. We all have goals we want to reach, so my wife tells me. Life challenges we are striving to overcome especially at those pivotal times in our life when we feel stuck in a rut. Partnering with a coach (or being married to one) can literally change your life, lighting a path to more personal freedoms – so my wife tells me.
The coaching room is an office at the end of the garden. Built as my office 5 years ago, it now doubles as a coaching den for Larisa fit with books and a leather couch, comfortable enough not to feel like a psychiatrist’s office – more of an office that screams, “let me take a quick nap”. If you like, a Mad Men office without the mad men.
Lying down I was asked what I wanted to achieve in the coaching session about to begin, I was reminded that this is not therapy, instead, it is an empowering session of discovery – “what did I want to work on”, my wife asked. And so it was then that I made the decision to tie a little red ribbon around the problem I believe was unsettling me.
Much of what I said during the 45 minutes coaching session remains between the coach and myself, suffice it to say I believe the root of my wobbly mental state resides in the usage, both personal and professional of my mobile device. Much like the beer I drank for over 35 years, I never truly managed it, letting the few turn into the many all too often. The same can be said of the device. I am not at ease scrolling a few reels, instead, I chase a never heard of joke, that recipe of simplicity or the Excel equation so steeped in heavenly poise persuading me, this time, this algorithm will definitely change your life. Sending lesson after Kobe Bryant lesson to my kids saying, “be like him” all the time realising that I will never have flowing grey man-locks and a Bugatti at the same time – especially in what looks like Portofino. Time to call time on the scroll – time to call time on the device – like beer, I need to tell ‘you’ that I am in charge of ‘you’.
Tying a yellow ribbon around an old oak tree, a great song from my past symbolising to me a simpler time. It was a song sung in the car when it came on the radio – on the turntable at Christmas, or simply hummed to myself as the sun set and my mind wandered and in these thoughts, I was inspired to create a symbolic gesture to rest the device at times of my choosing. Unlike beer, I do need a device to function so putting a nail through it was not an option, instead, I needed a symbol for me to say to the device, “it is me that has turned you off”. I also needed a symbol for my, all too connected children, and wife (maybe cat also) that if they see Mr Samsung donning his ribbon; time, my time has been relocated to the 1980s; or to put it another way – me, dad, husband food getter (for the cat) is resting from the matrix.
The central theme of the popular song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”, Written by Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown and recorded by many was a story of a released prisoner requesting forgiveness in the form of a sign that he would be welcomed back home. The red ribbon is much the same for me – I am saying to my family – I am here and I will be back, but when the red ribbon is on the door I am not on.
After the coaching session, I could reflect it’s not so much that I am difficult to live with any more than my dad, it’s just his juggling did not have to contend with the connected world we live in today. In connecting we have created great pathways of knowledge and wisdom, but we have also created the belly-dancing man – once watched, forever in your brain – I did warn you!…(
We can not always control what or who is on this path, and neither should we – but we can control when and how we walk this path. In this simple ribbon, I have found a pathway to my sanctuary – my time out, not only for me but for those around me.
Try it – just for a day – I guarantee you will look at your device differently – so much so I am thinking of tying one around my two kids – if only…:))
Thank you for listening coach – until next time…x