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.


Parenting Your Deepest & Highest Expression

Lately I have been pondering what the deepest expression of parenting would be—especially in our complex digital world. A few days ago, Ali Valdez co-owner of Sattva Yoga and an amazing teacher, person, and mom, told us in class, “Take it to your deepest expression.” She made me think/feel/sense…what is my deepest expression for each yoga posture? Am I pushing too hard? Not enough? And then who is the “my” that is expressing right now?

As class progressed, I experimented, finally deciding that my deepest yoga expression is best captured in three essential qualities; the degree of my intentionality, effort (with ease, as we say at PCI), and another quality—hard to describe—but I recognize it when I feel/sense it, as an inner alignment with my integrity.

Since that yoga class I had occasion to coach several moms and as I was listening to all they were doing and trying to do for their children and their families, I realized that they were indeed parenting from, and with, their “deepest expression.” parenting. parenting

Let’s see how intentionality, effort with ease, and alignment with integrity helped two moms make parenting decisions birthed from their core.

Certainly, when our parenting decisions come from our core, we can trust they will touch our children’s core as well.

“That’s absolutely, non-negotiable,” one mom told me as she explained her need to make family dinners, family time, as many nights as possible. Now challenged with sports practices and long working hours, she started thinking with the acumen of a General Patton, strategically planning what she will say, “No,” to in order to keep resolute with the “Yes” in her heart—making dinner with her children, talking with them over dinner, and enjoying an evening of fun time before bedtime.

I could relate. I grew up with plenty of chatter starting with the clatter of forks and spoons as we kids set the table, and ending with the washing and drying of dishes as we put everything away. During these two-three hours I learned so much chiming into conversations where my ideas were respected and considered important. I tried hard to do the same with my sons.

As I listened to this mom, I heard clearly her intention to make dinner time a priority, and as soon as I reflected her intention back to her, she started coming up with creative ideas. She exerted a lot of effort, yet there was ease about it all, too. Oh, yes, she knew this was going to be work to get everything arranged, but she didn’t mind. She was definitely parenting from her “deepest expression” and that anchored her in her values.

And although she knew she couldn’t have every night for family dinners, like she wanted, she realized that four nights a week kept her aligned with her integrity. That was enough to keep her going to make sure her family enjoyed time together, despite considerable obstacles.

Another mom had a struggle of a different sort. She longed for her thirteen-year-old son to stop playing violent video games. Because her husband thought games of torture, rape, and murder were “no big deal,” she was at her wit’s end to figure out what to do. In listening to her frustrations, I heard her deep desire to help her son learn healthier forms of amusement. In our discussion, she honed on her solid intention like a laser beam. From there, the hard work of figuring out what to do started.

Then the a-ha! She realized she wasn’t going to come up with “the answer” in our one-hour coaching session. This noble cause would take considerable effort, along with continuing dedication and perseverance. And she was all in. Her smile and shining eyes showed me there was going to be ease about all of this, despite the mountain ahead of her. She had made the fundamental decision to align with her integrity. It was downhill from here.

Moms and Dads know in their hearts what parenting from their deepest expression looks like.

The qualities of intention, effort with ease, and alignment with integrity may be something to observe. Or you may want to consider other qualities that you have cultivated over time that you know demonstrate you are truly parenting from your deepest expression.

However you approach this adventure, once you know what helps you deeply express and live from your highest (and deepest) values, you will have discovered an on-going treasure for your children and a safe harbor for yourself.


Copyright, Gloria DeGaetano, 2016. All rights reserved.