“My gift from the universe is all the amazing people I meet. My way of paying forward is to connect you all to one another.” –text from me to Tim Cohen
How does one person get so lucky? For years now I am convinced, knowing this many smart, creative, loving, generous, and committed people cannot be for no reason. I am a magnet for my tribe from all over: readers, learners, helpers, leaders. Why would this be, if not for them all to know one another through me? What a win-win!
I met Tim at Ethos Training Systems before the pandemic. ‘Ethos’ is the perfect name for the business, and I felt immediately connected–we share a holistic approach to whole person health. Tim knows his clients as whole people, not just members of his gym. He studies how sleep, nutrition, and stress impact exercise performance, and takes an integrative approach to helping people–I consider that he and his team conduct a practice more than a business. I took a class in January 2020, led by Coach Ryan, and loved it. I was surrounded by people more fit and versed in the movements than I, and yet I felt welcomed and included. COVID shut down operations not long thereafter, and Tim invited me to an Instagram Live session to help clients understand, anticipate, and prepare for what was coming. I kept in touch and helped them prepare for reopening safely, and the place and its people have thrived since. Tim and I recently reconnected, and he invited me back to classes. Ryan still coaches, and this time I also met Coach Jacob. What sets this team apart is, indeed, their ethos (and it’s one of my favorite words). Everybody I have met exemplifies a growth mindset, always seeking new knowledge, integrating new learnings with existing expertise–faster, higher, stronger! They read widely and deeply, sharing enthusiastically with one another and me. Their collective vibe is palpable–we all matter, our potential is boundless, and we are all here to help one another. They attend to class participants with full engagement, watching for subtle breaks in position and stability. They approach with humility and caring, correcting while explaining the rationale and application in functional movement. I have only experienced such a holistic and loving training encounter with one other person.
I started training with Melissa Orth-Fray in January 2014, at age 40. In August of 2015, I wrote this homage (I’m so glad I have documented this journey!), concluding thusly:
“Melissa helps me stay on course in training with knowledge, application, openness and compassion. I can do the same for my patients and their health. When I withhold judgment about patients’ physical and motivational limitations, I make it safe for them to bring their fears and aspirations to every visit. I can meet them where they are each time, and hold space for the inevitable roadblocks: medication side effects, obstacles to behavior change, complications of treatment. We can then find a way through together, because we both know we’re in it for the long haul. Physicians and trainers may have more in common than we think.”
Melissa’s expertise has broadened, deepened, and integrated remarkably in the last few years. I don’t understand most of what she does (neuromuscular and reflex integration; somatic education-??). I just know it helps people and her work needs to be amplified and accessible to more people, no question. She has relocated to California, and developed a practice that works over video, as evidenced by multiple patients whom I have referred and who benefit from her help. When she told me she was coming back to town this month, I scheduled a session right away and invited the Ethos team to come and observe. We are all fluent in the mind-body, it’s-all-connected language; Melissa and I knew the ‘boys’ would appreciate the introduction. During our hours together, we invited their questions and feedback. I described my experience in words as they witnessed first hand the changes in my movements, my body and energy responses to treatment.
The whole time, all I felt was love and connection. I was under the care of my friend and trainer again. I was sharing her and all of her expertise with my new friends, whom I have adopted as brothers in the helping professions. What I most wanted to demonstrate, I only realized later, was the profound depth of relationship and trust between Melissa and me, and how foundational that is to the success of any therapeutic encounter. I think we all felt it; I left with a deep sense of mutual reverence and respect.
I have lived long enough to know that relationship and connection cannot be forced. I expressed to all parties in advance that nobody should feel obligation, pressure, or expectation for friendship and collaboration. Such bonding occurs organically, and often only over time. I simply wanted to facilitate the initial proximity, in service of possibility and potential. Now we go home, stay open, and allow complex adaptive emergence to occur as it will. SO exciting, and I hold it loosely.
My friends, this is what I wish for you: That you may find connection and mutual uplift from anyone you might meet, and that these connections help us all live more meaningful, loving, and fulfilling lives.