How Do You ‘Show Up’ in the World?


On my way to California a couple of weeks ago to join the family of the Speakers Consultants Network, I passed some of the time by watching a movie. It was based on the true story of Tonya Harding called “I Tonya”.  As I am from Canada, I didn’t know much about her other than she had to be an amazing skater…she went to the Olympics after all. The other piece that I knew or at least heard about was that she was somehow involved in an assault against Nancy Kerrigan. In fact, I had thought she was the one who damaged Nancy’s knee herself. I learned from the movie, however, that she was not directly responsible for injuring Nancy but was involved with the people who did.

Tonya Harding / Nancy Kerrigan

Tonya Harding grew up with truly challenging family dynamics. As depicted in the movie, her Father finally leaves the dysfunction of the marriage and a then 6-year-old Tonya. She is crying uncontrollably and begging him to take her with him while he is driving away in his car. A heart and gut-wrenching moment all around because you know by this point that she is left behind with her controlling and downright mean abusive Mother. I do have to give her Mother some credit though…she managed to recognize early on that Tonya had a love for skating and on her meager waitress wage was able to pay to facilitate Tonya’s figure skating career.

Tonya regularly outskated her competitors with her talent and she knew it. After one of the competitions, she boldly went up to one of the judges in his car in the parking lot and asked him why she continued to receive the marks she did even though her routines were delivered flawlessly on the ice. He was uncomfortably honest with her and said that the skating committee judges simply didn’t like what she represented. She wasn’t aware that they were judging and giving marks for ‘how she showed up’ in addition to her talent on the ice…and obviously, they were not being kind about ‘her way of doing so’.

Tonya is portrayed as a ‘rough around’ the edges…a ‘diamond in the rough’ kind of gal but really…can we blame her? She was in an environment that did not show her any other way. The people that were directly influencing her much of the time were showing up that way. It was all that she was familiar with.

One of her coaches encouraged her to ‘play along’ and ‘fit in’ so that she would be seen differently by the judges…that they could ‘feel better’ about her representing the team and ‘shine’ in a new light. She did ‘try’ in all fairness to make an attempt but in the only way that she knew…She simply tried to ‘look pretty’ as if it was ‘the way she looked’ or the ‘exterior’ that was the problem.

She was seriously talented…and it took her far…very far…but ultimately how she ‘showed up’ and the environment and the people that she spent much of her time with shaped her world. This created endless frustration and suffering and then ultimately a demise of her skating career.

Now this is an extreme case… but a profound example of how our experiences, relationships, and actions shape the way we move through life. This may attempt to negatively affect our personal and professional life, leaving us feeling stuck and unable to navigate out of painful situations.

Most of us don’t even see how we ‘show up’…until someone tells us. And what we ‘can’t see, we can’t change’! Awareness is only the beginning…Awareness does not create change at all. We sometimes keep doing the same things over and over…sometimes we change course and sometimes we fall back to our old ways. Sometimes life organically creates change because we are so uncomfortable about the situation that we are forced to make that shift. Most of the time we are happy we did.

Palms in California at the SCN

Engaging in the work of showing up differently or in a way that brings out your best self is not easy. It requires us to be vulnerable with ourselves, to open our minds, our hearts to allow change to occur. Sometimes change happens organically but most of the time it’s deliberate practice. But the rewards are great.

Many years ago…I was labeled ‘a handful’…’frenetic’…’scattered’…Ouch right? So I became ‘aware’…but that didn’t support me in ‘changing’…I just spun it into a joke like ‘that’s the way I am’ and ‘if you don’t like it then well that’s your problem’ (I would think to myself)…sound familiar?

Fast forward and I am told that I appear to be grounded, present and logical…It was a ‘feel good moment’… grateful that what I had learned and the practices that were intentional has enabled me to ‘show up differently’ and that doors are opening for me now that might have stayed shut.

Fairy Lake in British Columbia

I am eternally grateful for the work that I did to show up authentically and that work never ends. It’s always under construction! I have since left full-time clinical practice in October of 2017 but I was able to be more ‘present’ with my clients. Bringing grounded positive energy with me in the operatory was a must for my anxious and fearful clients. I have better communication skills and clarity in my delivery. My listening skills have improved so that the ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ of my clients were heard. I am slower in my movements …less frenetic and scattered. I am more confident in my ability to have difficult conversations and boundary setting. All of this as you can understand does not just remain in the operatory. It filters out into all aspects of your life. Your ability to have more meaningful relationships, to be a more present and grounded parent, an effective leader. The rewards all lead to greater trust in yourself, the universe and others, loyalty and respect from your clients and most of all stronger relationships. My biggest accomplishment of all has been my new-found willingness to lean into areas that were not a strength. Things that would require more ‘staying power’; like reading an article that is lengthy and perhaps challenging in it’s learning… I was the proverbial ‘hummingbird’…ain’t got time for that…just give me the short version.

So where does one start?

I started reading self-help books 20 years ago or more. The one that allowed me to make a dramatic shift in my perception was “The Road Less Travelled” by M. Scott Peck, M.D.‘ If I may offer another piece is to make a list of 5-10-25 people that share similar core values and you ‘look up to’ and keep in touch with them regularly. These people are your tribe.

The biggest move forward however and what has created the major ‘change’ in my life was that in 2014 I stepped into the world of Integral Coaching Canada. It was there that I spent 18 months in the blood sweat and tears of it all to become certified as an Integral Master Coach™ I have combined that skill with my 30 plus in the Dental world and created Instrumental Coaching and Integral Hygiene.

It’s beyond an honor to share what I know with you and support you in becoming your ‘best authentic self’ for you most of all, your family and friends, your teammates, your clients and your leaders.

“I work with Dental Hygienists who want happier careers, happier clients, and happier bosses.” 613-314-6615


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