Tag Archives: small moves

Kaizen

The tag line for this website – cultivating great relationships with family, friends and self – comes close to expressing what I offer. But I guess much depends upon one’s definition of “cultivating”.

I love these definitions from The Free Dictionary . Cultivating is to ~

  • Improve and prepare (land), as by plowing or fertilizing, for raising crops; till.
  • Loosen or dig soil around (growing plants).
  • Grow or tend (a plant or crop).
  • Promote the growth of (a biological culture).
  • Nurture; foster.
  • Form and refine, as by education.
  • Seek the acquaintance or goodwill of; make friends with.

This implies that together my clients and I seek to ~

  • Improve the context of their lives (plow the land);
  • Soften any rigidity in the Self (loosening the soil);
  • Introduce new ideas (plant new seeds);
  • Promote new habits (water and feed and weed those seeds);
  • Provide support (nurture the growth);
  • Care and fuss a bit  (take pride in and monitor growth);
  • Teach new skills (introduce new ideas);
  • Grow together (befriend one another).

These are good. In my role as relationship therapist / couples counselor / coach I do all these things.

And, I want to add a nuance I’ve come to appreciate in my own life. That of Kaizen.  Literally this is a Japanese word meaning “good change”. However, it has become the embodiment of a philosophy for Japanese business meaning  “continuous small improvements.” It’s deliciously non-Western since there can be no arriving at perfection.  No end-point.  No noun. Only the verb – to improve. Only process.

Like my mother before a dinner party. She’d have everything looking perfect (to my eyes) about an hour before guests would be due. And then she’d kick-in to her own Kaizen space. She’d move slowly through the house since, by now, she’d look like a million dollars with the hair just so, the heels and jewelry on – not a time for rushing. With great elegance, and a slowness bordering on contemplation, she’d touch up the house. Picture frames would be gently swiped with a soft cotton cloth. The shiny-with-age loose-covers on our ancient wing-back chairs would be smoothed once more. The piano bench would be snuggled up into the piano.  The cushions would be tenderly plumped.  The enormous vase of flowers in our entry hall would be turned, ever so slightly, to showcase the prettiest bloom.

It drove me nuts!

As a child I thought “Shoot me now! If my life ever diminishes to the care and nurturing of loose covers and picture-frame-dust-management  just put me out of my misery. There’s gotta be more!”

Now – ah age! – I see it as a prayer. As a nod toward the idea that each one of us, each day, has a little dust to brush off, a little tightness to smooth, a little plumping-up here and there, a stunning flower to showcase. It’s love-as-verb, in miniature.

Now, as my clients and I cultivate great relationships (with family, friends and self), I’m noticing that it can be the smallest moves – the gentler tone; a squeeze of the hand; a quieting of the inner critic; a heartfelt “Thanks Honey!”; the choice to listen not speak – these continuous small improvements we practice in our relationships,  which bear the tastiest fruits.