Writing Game Plan over the course of 2010 has been all at once invigorating, engaging, soulful and sometimes a great way to de-stress. Generating two columns a week keeps me on my toes and allows me the privilege of tapping into my treasured gifts of writing and life coaching.
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How beautiful is that?
So it felt meaningful to sift through the year’s 100-plus pieces and take the journey in brief all over again to pick out a few that stood out for me.
Blessedly, this forum gave me the opportunity to ‘life coach’ six well-known individuals in the news over the course of the year and bring some perspective to their much-publicized problems – Tiger Woods, Pope Benedict XVI, Mel Gibson, Roger Clemens, Rick Sanchez and Ginni Thomas. While each one was thoughtfully crafted and well-intended, the one that sticks with me as we end the year is “Life Coaching the Pope.”
“It’s not too late, but you must take control of those who have been advising you the last few weeks because they are clearly misdirected and not at all visionary in their thinking, at least on this matter,” I wrote in an April 7, 2010 Game Plan. “People want a sense of horror, outrage or shame about what’s happened ‘in the flock’ to be expressed from the Vatican. This is all about emotional intelligence.”
I ended the piece with this: “When you search your heart, soul, and mind, Your Holiness, surely you can see this is what needs to be done. I cannot imagine a greater legacy than standing tall and speaking this truth once and for all. Nothing else even comes close.”
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What really resonates for me now is that, in an interesting turn of events, a shift actually began to happen here. Let me qualify what I’m about to say before saying it: I do not believe the Pope read my column and decided to take my advice. I am not taking credit. Nonetheless, it is a fact that after dispensing advice to him in the spring that he develop empathy – and express it publicly – for victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests and stop blaming the media for reporting it, Pope Benedict XVI began to do just that.
Since then, here is how The New York Times chronicles events on this topic:
“Strongly condemning the sexual abuse crisis, Benedict on May 11 said that the ‘sins inside the church’ posed the greatest threat to the church, adding that ‘forgiveness does not substitute for justice.’ … In placing the blame for sex abuse directly on the church, Benedict appeared to distance himself from other church officials who have criticized the news media for reporting on the sex abuse crisis, which they called attacks on the church.
“In September, in the first state visit to Britain by a pope, Benedict offered his strongest criticism yet of the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of the sex abuse crisis, saying it had not been ‘sufficiently vigilant’ or ‘sufficiently swift and decisive’ in cracking down on abusers.”
Bravo and thank you. It’s a start.
Unquestionably, my favorite column to write was one regarding the controversial mosque being built in downtown Manhattan. It was a topic run amok in a nasty political climate. I ventured to the site one afternoon in August and sat in a nearby café when suddenly I “heard” voices – that of St. Peter and a recently deceased Christian man. The next thing I knew I had written St. Peter Weighs in on the Mosque, a dialogue that takes place at the Pearly Gates.
“Is your own religious faith that shaky that it would be threatened so easily?” St. Peter asks the earnest Christian man of his reasoning for being upset about the mosque.
I felt and feel so strongly about that. And there was a bonus -- what a rush when art channels through you.
It seems almost sacrilege to jump from a religious issue to Barbie, but her new journalism “career” gave me the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on the profession by creating a dialogue between her and ex-boyfriend Ken. Sadly, Ken tries to get Barbie to see that if she wants to be in media, she’s going to have to pick a political side at a time when objectivity is seen almost as a detriment.
All in all, I so appreciate the people, stories, movies, books, art and random events that inspired all of my Game Plan columns this year and the perspective it brought to look back. For example, I love that in January I wrote about the class Conan O’Brien displayed on his last show and now he is already back to work on another network. Or that I had the chance to share a personal story on health care when President Obama delivered on that campaign promise.
When former UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden died at age 99 earlier this year, I wrote a piece expressing gratitude that when people referred to him as a life coach it was the highest of compliments to the life coaching profession. Even though I never met the man, I’m going to go out on a limb and say he wouldn’t be fazed by the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team setting an NCAA college basketball consecutive-win record this month. It just doesn’t fit anywhere in his seven-point creed to begrudge an accomplishment. To reiterate:
-- Be true to yourself.
-- Make each day your masterpiece.
-- Help others.
-- Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
-- Make friendship a fine art.
-- Build a shelter against a rainy day.
-- Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.
Seems like the perfect end note.