In Troubling Times I Make Quiche to Stay “Heliotropic”

If you’re a gardener, you probably know that heliotrophy means, “turning toward the light.” Plants do it as a matter of survival. (Greek Helios = sun, Greek trepein = turn). I first encountered the word in 2001 when I read Appreciative Inquiry: Rethinking Human Organization Toward a Positive Theory of Change, edited by David Cooperrider and his colleagues, pioneers in AI.


Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a powerful framework for facilitating a positive change, either with others or within ourselves.

In developing PCI, after investigating several change process concepts, I decided to use Appreciative Inquiry within my Parent Coaching Model. Now after implementing it with hundreds of family support professionals that I trained to become PCI Certified Parent Coaches® and seeing the effective results with the parents I have personally worked with, and with the parents of the graduates of PCI, I am utterly convinced that turning to the light. especially during challenges is the only way to go.

On page 5 of Appreciative Inquiry: Rethinking Human Organization Toward a Positive Theory of Change, David Cooperrider and Dana Whitney write:

“Appreciative Inquiry is about the co-evolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them. In it’s broadest focus, it involves systemic discovery of what gives “life” to a living system, when it is most alive, most effective, and most capable…it assumes that every living system has untapped and rich and inspiring accounts of the positive. Link that energy…directly to any change agenda and changes never thought possible are suddenly and democratically mobilized.”

In these troubling times I invite you to explore Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in depth with that book and/or others. You will soon see AI has an outstanding 20-year plus track record for facilitating positive changes in many sectors.

  • What brings life to you, your family, your community?
  • And importantly, what brings you back to life when you are drained and depleted?

Here are three “light-boosters” I find helpful; maybe you will too:

We Always Have A Choice

Dr. Diane Dreher, best-selling author and member of Parent Coach International’s Advisory Board, reminds us that “no matter what happens, we always have a choice. As Viktor Frankl discovered, even in the horror of the Nazi concentration camps there was one thing the direst circumstances could not take away: his choice how to respond.”

I thought of a plaque I saw recently: “It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed.” The one thing always under our control are our thoughts. And like Frankl, we can choose to change our thoughts—no matter what is happening outside of them. Dr Dreher points out that Frankl survived, went on to write the book that has inspired millions, Man’s Search for Meaning, “and developed Logotherapy to help people realize the importance of choices in their lives.”

We Can Choose What We Put in Our Brains

So many of my friends have recently told me they are taking a break from social media—they can’t stand the negativity any longer. I have done the same. And my husband I choose carefully when will tune into any TV news programs. We have to be in a certain mood. I know I have to feel as centered in my body as possible and take the news updates in small doses.

In her blog post, “How to Avoid Being Psychologically Destroyed by Your Newsfeed,” Ann Douglas, parenting educator, and author of Parenting Through the Storm suggests we remember there is a difference between being immersed and being informed.

We Can Do More From Our Souls

The best, and perhaps the easiest way, for me to stay positive is to create something that I am passionate about. One day it might be a quiche because I love experimenting with various quiche recipes, plus just the process of putting a quiche together beings me much comfort (Go figure!); another day it might be a blog to help parents use the political turmoil to enhance children’s thinking skills.

Turning toward the light means we use troubling times to draw out and deepen our creativity.

Moved from deep within us, we may surprise ourselves and do things we normally wouldn’t do. In speaking from and creating from our souls, we find more of our authentic voice, and that in turn affects others–authentically.

Robert Quinn, change process expert, points out, “When a person expresses something from the soul, we tend to listen. Their emotions open our hearts and their content engages our mind. This means that our own minds and hearts open and deep learning becomes possible. Listening may thus lead us to see the world in a new way. When we do, we become capable of acting in a new way.”

And that thought alone keeps me in the light.


Copyright, Gloria DeGaetano, 2017. All rights reserved.