Tag: poetry

11/25/12 “A Gift”

Good day, team.

I hope all my subscribers enjoyed a long holiday weekend. We work hard, and it is rare that we allow ourselves the luxury of true rest and relaxation. The holidays give us time to reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of the past year and to ponder the coming new year and the opportunities it may bring.

Your challenge this week is to carve out some time for yourself in the next four weeks for reflection and gratitude. Think about the gifts that life has bestowed upon you in this past year and be thankful for the abundance that surrounds you. Consider the challenges that you’ve encountered and how you’ve learned from them, how you’ve grown in dealing with them and consider how you’ve changed. Revel in the love that others have bestowed upon you. And give yourself a gift for having lived another year that expanded your mind and opened your heart.

My gift to myself this holiday is a poem from the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet, Mary Oliver. I encourage you to find a gift that speaks to your heart, as Oliver’s poem does to mine.

Of Love

I have been in love more times than one,
thank the Lord. Sometimes it was lasting
whether active or not. Sometimes
it was all but ephemeral, maybe only
an afternoon, but not less real for that.
They stay in my mind, these beautiful people,
or anyway people beautiful to me, of which
there are so many. You, and you, and you,
whom I had the fortune to meet, or maybe
missed. Love, love, love, it was the
core of my life, from which, of course, comes
the word for the heart. And, oh, have I mentioned
that some of them were men and some were women
and some — now carry my revelation with you —
were trees. Or places. Or music flying above
the names of the makers. Or clouds, or the sun
which was the first, and the best, the most
loyal for certain, who looked so faithfully into
my eyes, every morning. So I imagine
such love of the world — its fervency, its shining, its
innocence and hunger to give of itself — I imagine
this is how it began.

~ Mary Oliver

Have a good week!


© Copyright 2012 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

5/28/12 “In Memoriam”

Good day, team.

Today is Memorial Day. For this week’s challenge, I am offering a few poems about war that touch me deeply. It is but one way to honor those who serve in the armed forces. Your challenge this week is to find your own way to honor those who served their countrymen. Let us not forget those who have perished, those who’s lives have been marred by war, and those who continue to serve us.

As Toilsome I Wander’d Virginia’s Woods

As toilsome I wander’d Virginia’s woods,
To the music of rustling leaves kick’d by my feet, (for ’twas autumn,)
I mark’d at the foot of a tree the grave of a soldier;
Mortally wounded he and buried on the retreat, (easily all could understand,)
The halt of a mid-day hour, when up! No time to lose-yet this sign left,
On a tablet scrawl’d and nail’d on the tree by the grave,
Bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade.

Long, long I muse, then on my way go wandering,
Many a changeful season to follow, and many a scene of life,

Yet at times through changeful season and scene, abrupt, alone, or in the crowded street,
Comes before me the unknown soldier’s grave, come the inscription rude in Virginia’s woods,
Bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade.

~ Walt Whitman

Ten Minutes

It was ten minutes before the war
The quietest thing you ever saw
Ten minutes before the war
And everything was looking good

It was ten minutes during the war
The sickest thing you ever saw
Ten minutes during the war
And everything was dying fast


It was ten minutes after the war
The emptiest thing you ever saw
Ten minutes after the war
And there was nothing left

No more war
Is that what it takes for
No more war

No more war
Is that what it takes for
No more war

It was ten minutes.

~ Colin Coplin

Upon the Arid Lakes
A field of flowers
Rousing under remnants of the dawn:
Out there! from death, I rose
Above the silent many –
A distant will-o’-the-wisp
Reflecting under airs of minor ninths –
How rich the ambience they threw!

What theme of prosody
Had rendered me? –
Tho’ silent were its words:
A broken soul in pulsing pain –
Thou mustn’t guess what goes behind
The sick and ghostly screen of war!

In sallow-grey and other ashen hues,
Disrobed of warming flesh
That reassures the bones,
A twisted pose
Portrayed my physicality –
Not unlike the carcass of a prey;

But as a cloud of thought, I mused,
Exacerbating woes
Collected in a life dispatched
In freely flowing blood,
Conferring crimson shades
Upon the arid lakes aflood
With glorious tides of nascent buds
Begetting innocence.
And as we glowed in ruddy shades,
I asked: ‘What future lies ahead?
What terror trades? ’

~ Mark R. Slaughter

Have a good week!


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249 office

8/1/11 “Phone Therapy”

Good day, team.

Last week, I wrote about love and the importance of it in our private and professional lives. In response to the challenge, my good friend and fellow coaching associate, Kate Dwyer,* sent me the following wonderful poem. This week’s challenge is within her message:

“This poem reminds me of how my best coaching works and why — especially the last stanza. Of course, it’s an extreme example. But we often make tiny self-destructive decisions all day long, and the coach is there to help us choose something else, to choose something more creative, intentional, bold, openhearted. On a tiny scale, it’s like choosing life over death.”

Phone Therapy 
by Ellen Bass

I was relief, once, for a doctor on vacation
and got a call from a man on a windowsill.
This was New York, a dozen stories up.
He was going to kill himself, he said.
I said everything I could think of.
And when nothing worked, when the guy
was still determined to slide out that window
and smash his delicate skull
on the indifferent sidewalk, “Do you think,”
I asked, “you could just postpone it
until Monday, when Dr. Lewis gets back?”

The cord that connected us — strung
under the dirty streets, the pizza parlors, taxis,
women in sneakers carrying their high heels,
drunks lying in piss — that thick coiled wire
waited for the waves of sound.

In the silence I could feel the air slip
in and out of his lungs and the moment
when the motion reversed, like a goldfish
making the turn at the glass end of its tank.
I matched my breath to his, slid
into the water and swam with him.
“Okay,” he agreed.

Your challenge this week is to reflect upon the times you offer your coaching skills to your teammates. See if you can find ways to do more of it. Think about the times you offer advice to help others be more creative, intentional, bold and openhearted. See how the coaching transforms them and opens up new doorways. Find ways to have a positive impact on others. Explore new ways to help them see the same set of circumstances differently. Be the steady hand for them when they’re suffering with a problem at work.

Nothing is more meaningful than tapping into our ability to help others. This week, like the woman on the phone, be the person on the other end who is a lifesaver.

Have a good week!


* Many thanks to my wise woman friend and colleague, Kate Dwyer, for this week’s challenge.

“Phone Therapy” by Ellen Bass, from Mules of Love. (c) BOA Editions, Ltd., 2002. Reprinted with permission.
© Copyright 2011 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

4/11/11 “Poetry”

Good day, team.

It’s April again and that means it’s National Poetry Month. In celebration, I’d like to offer you poetry to challenge your mind and fill your heart. As Johann Goethe said, “A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry and see a fine picture every day of his life in order that worldly cares do not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” Your challenge is to find a poem that speaks to you, inspires you and connects you with all and everything.

Here are some of my favorites:

Loaves and Fishes

This is not
the age of information.

This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.

— David Whyte


This morning
two mockingbirds
in the green field
were spinning and tossing

the white ribbons
of their songs
into the air.
I had nothing

better to do
than listen.
I mean this

In Greece,
a long time ago,
an old couple
opened their door

to two strangers
who were,
it soon appeared,
not men at all,

but gods.
It is my favorite story —
how the old couple
had almost nothing to give

but their willingness
to be attentive —
but for this alone
the gods loved them

and blessed them —
when they rose
out of their mortal bodies,
like a million particles of water

from a fountain,
the light
swept into all the corners
of the cottage,

and the old couple,
shaken with understanding,
bowed down —
but still they asked for nothing

but the difficult life
which they had already.
And the gods smiled, as they vanished,
clapping their great wings.

Wherever it was
I was supposed to be
this morning —
whatever it was I said

I would be doing —
I was standing
at the edge of the field —
I was hurrying

through my own soul,
opening its dark doors —
I was leaning out;
I was listening.

— Mary Oliver

The Soul Bone

Once I said I didn’t have a spiritual bone
in my body and meant by that
I didn’t want to think of death,
as though any bone in us
could escape it. Maybe
I was afraid of what I couldn’t know
for certain, a thud like the slamming
of a coffin lid, as final and inexplicable
as that. What was the soul anyway,
I wondered, but a homonym for loneliness?
Now, in late middle age, or more, I like to imagine it,
the spirit, the soul bone, as though it were hidden
somewhere inside my body, white as a tooth
that falls from a child’s mouth, a dove,
the cloud it can fly through. Like bones,
it persists. Little knot of self, stubborn
as wildflowers in a Chilmark field in autumn,
the white ones they call boneset, for healing,
or the others, pearly everlasting.
The rabbis of the Midrash believed in the bone
and called it the luz, just like the Spanish word
for light, the size of a chickpea or an almond,
depending on which rabbi was telling the story,
found, they said, at the top of the spine or the base,
depending. No one’s ever seen it, of course,
but sometimes at night I imagine I can feel it,
shining its light through my body, the bone
luminous, glowing in the dark. Sometimes,
if you listen, you might even hear that light
deep inside me, humming its brave little song.

— Susan Wood

Please feel free to share any of your favorite poems this month on my blog.

Have a good week!


Kathleen Doyle-White

Pathfinders Coaching

(503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2011 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.


Good day, team,

I have a confession to make. I’ve rewritten this week’s challenge numerous times and still don’t feel satisfied with the quality of what I’m writing. So rather than send out a piece that is not particularly good, I’m now exploring my real challenge: following through on the commitment I made six years ago, to publish one every week, even when I’m not inspired to write.

Years ago I took a writing workshop with the poet and writer David Whyte. I remember him saying, “If you commit to being a writer, then you need to discipline yourself to write. Each morning, I return to my desk and writing pad. Sometimes I sit for an hour or so with nothing written on the page. Other times, I can’t write the words down fast enough. But what’s important is that I return each morning to write.”

His advice surprised me. How could that daily discipline exist in the same mind as the incredibly powerful images his poetry evoked?

I had thought of artists and poets as people who went though their lives waiting for a moment of inspiration to overtake them. Then they went into a frenzy in some cold, cramped, solitary space, drinking gallons of coffee and working feverishly late into the night with no regard for food or sleep so that their masterpiece could emerge before their inspiration was gone. It never occurred to me that they could apply the discipline of showing up each day to create with the same energy others would use to show up at a regular job.

Recently, I heard this same message while sitting in a large conference room surrounded by hundreds of bank employees. We were listening to a speaker who was the first woman at the bank to achieve the high position of executive vice president. She talked about what she had done over the years to succeed. What she said struck me powerfully:

“At the end of the day, the most important thing I’ve done in my 26 years with this organization is to keep showing up. When I worked as a teller, a supervisor, a manager, a vice president, a senior vice president and now as an executive vice president, each day, I just show up, sometimes without the slightest idea of what I’m doing or how I’ll get through the day.”

Although it came from two completely different sources, the advice is the same. And so each week I sit at my computer, and sometimes the words come so quickly that my fingers can barely move fast enough to keep up with them. Other times, I sit and gaze out my office window at the lovely wisteria that frames the windows, or the brilliant coral leaf maple trees that show off their seasonal colors of brilliant greens in spring and summer, deep ochres and reds in autumn, and the delicate, woody, bare boughs of winter, waiting, waiting for the words to come.

Your challenge this week is the same as mine: to have the discipline to continue to show up in whatever work you do so that if the inspiration comes, you’re there to experience it.

Upon winning one of her many Wimbledon titles, the great tennis star Steffi Graf was asked, “What’s the most important thing you do to be such an excellent player?” Graf replied, “I practice. For as long as I can remember, I go out each morning and I practice. Some days I play reasonably well, and some days I can barely make the right shot. And then, on rare occasions, I just throw the ball up to serve, and something else takes over. I’m no longer in charge. Some energy takes over, and I watch myself, as if in slow motion, move in exactly the right way to hit the ball in the sweet spot, with the perfect swing. Then I watch the ball sail through the air and land in the perfect spot. In that moment, I know that every hour of practice has made that magical moment possible.”

My challenge is to keep practicing, to keep writing in the hope that, one day, magic will take over and the perfect words will write themselves onto the page. I know I can’t make it happen, and I know I can’t hold onto it if and when it does. But I also know that if I don’t show up every day, I’ll miss it.

Have a good week,


Kathleen Doyle-White

Pathfinders Coaching

(503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2010 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search, Inc., all rights reserved.

9/27/10 “Wild Geese”

Good day, team,

While out for my daily walk yesterday, I heard a seasonal sound. I looked up to the sky to see a flock of geese flying overhead. Ah, I thought, autumn has arrived. This is a favorite time of year for many of us. I often have a sense of relief when autumn arrives. There’s a message within the season that tells me that the long days of sun filled activity are drawing to an end and I have permission to draw inside and to reflect upon all of this past summer’s activity.

I must admit, I’m like a bear. The desire to hibernate for a long season seems very appealing to me. Winter is around the corner and maybe this year I’ll have a chance to burrow into my den, snuggle up next to my papa bear, and have a nice long sleep!

In celebration of the season, I want to share one of my favorite poems with you. It’s called “Wild Geese” and it’s written by Mary Oliver, one of our best contemporary American poets and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her poetry. This week’s challenge is in any part of this poem that speaks to you.

*Wild Geese*

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese,
high in the clear blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are,
no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver

Have a good week!


Kathleen Doyle-White

Pathfinders Coaching (503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2010 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search, Inc., all rights reserved.

6/14/10 “Joy”

Good day, team,

Yesterday, after so many days of grey skies, hard rain and the kind of wet cold that you can never warm, the sun came out. There was not a cloud in the sky. I went outside. I stood in the sunlight. I took my first deep breath in two months. I soaked in every radiant particle. I experienced pure joy.

Here are two poems by Rumi that describe my feeling.

The Source of Joy

No one knows what makes the soul wake
up so happy! Maybe a dawn breeze has

blown the veil from the face of God.
A thousand new moons appear. Roses

open laughing. Hearts become perfect
rubies like those from Badakshan. The

body turns entirely spirit. Leaves
become branches in this wind. Why is

it not so easy to surrender, even for
those already surrendered? There’s no

answer to any of this. No one knows
the source of joy. A poet breathes

into a reed flute, and the tip of
every hair makes music. Shams sails

down clods of dirt from the roof, and
we take jobs as doorkeepers for him.


Joy moves always to new locations,
the ease of its flow never freezing.

A long winter’s tale is over. Now
with each spring day a new story.

This week, allow yourself the experience of pure joy. Perhaps it comes in that first bite of something incredibly delicious. Maybe you sink your nose into a fragrant rose and inhale that intoxicating scent. How about wrapping your arms around someone you love and allowing yourself to fully embrace them? Or when someone says something humorous, allowing yourself a big, full-bellied laugh that shakes your whole body to the core?

Give yourself the gift of joy this week. You deserve it!

Have a good week,


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2010 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search, Inc., all rights r