Subject: Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda
Welcome to Celebrating the Journey!
produced by Margo Chisholm
Coach, Speaker, Author, Adventurer
Monday, January 3, 2000
Eliminate the Shoulda, Woulda, Couldas
No, your CTJs haven’t gone astray and your email
program is fine. The month of December was an exercise
in flexibility and acceptance for me. Also a month of great
miracles. My dad was taken critically ill, not expected to live,
and I traveled back to Connecticut where he lives for an
unknown span of time. I left my office in a huge hurry,
taking only what I absolutely needed and trusting that the
rest would keep until I returned. I do not yet have the
capability of sending CTJ from my laptop, hence the
holiday gap. I thank you for your patience and for the
notes I received from several of you who missed receiving
It was a stressful time and also a time of being with family.
Our Christmas miracle was that Dad, contrary to medical
beliefs, survived and was home for Christmas. He
continues to grow stronger every day. There could not be
a more wonderful Christmas gift.
We had much waiting time in the hospital. Time sitting
in my father’s room just being with him, even when he
didn’t know we were there; time standing with an arm
around my stepmother or niece; time sitting in a waiting
room or corridor, one more cup of coffee in hand;
enormous quantities of time to think and be. Some of that
time was spent wondering if my Dad would survive,
playing the scenario out if he didn’t, asking myself what I
needed to tell him or apologize for, what was left
unfinished. I was almost startled to realize that there were
no unfinished ends with my father.
We tell each other, “I love you,” on a regular basis. I made
amends where needed many years ago and have
apologized quickly for insensitivities or words spoken in
anger in the last few years. I have said all the things I want
to say. There are no “shoulda, woulda, couldas”. That was
also true with my mother when she died. It allowed me to
grieve her in a real way rather than being stuck in all the
things I hadn’t said or hadn’t meant to say. It is true with
the rest of my primary family as well. My dad’s near-death
brought home the importance of this completion to me in
a new way.
It is difficult to lose people who are close to us. It is a
tragedy when we lose people close to us and are left
with thoughts like, “I never apologized for the time I got
so angry at him,” or “I never told her how much I love
and respect her,” or “How could I have put off contacting
her for so long.” These are the “shoulda, woulda, couldas”
that can keep us stuck in remorse and guilt and shame,
rather than allow us to honestly grieve the person we
Now is the time to eliminate the “shoulda, woulda,
couldas” in your life. Before they turn an already major
emotional loss into a bigger tragedy. Take a look at your
relationships with the people you love. Do they know
how much they mean to you? How much you respect
them? How much they impact your life? When was the
last time you talked with the aunt you are so fond of? Are
there arguments or angry words or insensitive actions
that need apologizing for? Do it now, this month, this
It is a new millennium. There is no better time to clear up
the “shoulda, woulda, couldas” in your life. You will sleep
better, your shoulders will ride lower, and the sudden
loss of a loved one will not be aggravated by the
Make a list of all the people you care about. It
doesn’t matter how long it is. It could be one person or
100. Add to it as you think of additional people. Don’t
judge whether someone belongs on the list. If your heart
says to put them there, do. Make sure you include
Spend time with each name on the list, letting your
heart examine the relationship.
Are you avoiding this person for any reason?
How would you feel if you ran into them
If they died suddenly, what would you wish
you had told them? What would you
wish to have apologized for?
Contact each of the people on the list. Tell them
what you want them to know; make the needed apology.
If there are no incompletions with this person, simply
make the connection, and let them know how important
they are to you, that you love them, that they do great
work. Acknowledge them for whatever role they play in
your life. Do this with everyone on the list, including
Develop the habit of being complete with every
contact you have with people. Don’t step over
anything with them. If there’s unfinished business, finish
it now. If you love them, tell them that – every time. If it’s
a professional relationship, let them know how much you
value their work – every time.
Complete the present – every time. We must
complete the present and let go of the past in order not to
be stuck there.
Honesty + Integrity + Speaking the Truth Now =
“Friendship with oneself is all-important because without
it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
The glory of friendship
is not the outstretched hand,
nor the kindly smile,
nor the joy of companionship.
It is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one
when he discovers that someone else
believes in him and is willing to trust him
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A simple friend has never seen you cry.
A real friend has shoulders soggy from your tears.
A simple friend doesn’t know your parents’ first names.
A real friend has their phone numbers in his address
A simple friend brings a bottle of wine to your party.
A real friend comes early to help you cook and stays late to
help you clean.
A simple friend hates it when you call after he has gone to
A real friend asks you why you took so long to call.
A simple friend seeks to talk with you about your
A real friend seeks to help you with your problems.
A simple friend wonders about your romantic history.
A real friend could blackmail you with it.
A simple friend, when visiting, acts like a guest.
A real friend opens your refrigerator and helps himself.
A simple friend thinks the friendship is over when you
have an argument.
A real friend knows that it’s not a friendship until after
you’ve had a fight.
A simple friend expects you to always be there for them.
A real friend expects to always be there for you!
Pass this on to anyone you care about…
if you get it back you have found your true friends.
Thanks to Christina Vanderlip for sending me this in an
email and for generously opening her home to me
during my dad’s illness. She is a real friend.
The Day the World Forgot: A Tale for All Times by Robert
The story is simple, but the tale is dramatic. It is written in
a way that will cause heads of state as well as school
children to reassess the way they approach their
relationships. The message is simple: we must let go of
the past if we are ever to achieve true peace, both as
individuals and as nations. Buy this marvelous little book
– you can read it in an hour – for $9.95 at
Give yourself the gift of completed relationships this week.
I am extending the Holiday Coaching Gift Certificate
program through the first quarter of 2000. The certificates
are for one month of coaching – that’s 4 half hour sessions
– at the discounted rate of $150. They are available as gifts
or as an introductory rate for new clients. Give the gift of
coaching to a friend or to yourself! Contact me at
mailto:email@example.com for more information.
Margo’s book, “To The Summit: A Woman’s Journey into
the Mountains to Find Her Soul” is no longer available in
stores in the hardcover version. You can purchase a
signed copy by sending a check for $18 – a 25% discount –
37 Dakota Meadows Dr.
Carbondale, CO 81623
To find out more about Margo and her book, visit her
website at https://www.tothesummit.com.
Margo has a few spaces available in her coaching practice.
Every serious athlete has a coach. Why not have one for
the most important game of all: Life! Contact Margo at
mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website for
information and resources for YOUR life at
The trip to Connecticut has delayed several upcoming
events. I want to let you know about them briefly now.
Details will follow in the coming weeks.
Your Best Year Yet
I will be offering the 3 1/2 hour YBYY workshop
nationally beginning in February. The purpose of the
workshop is exactly what it says: for you to make the
coming year Your Best Year Yet. Over the past two
decades thousands of people have used this exercise to
think about what really matters to them and then make a
sensible and realistic plan for the next year of their lives.
The results have been inspiring.
Completing my own Best Year Yet plan only a short
time ago has already impacted my life in a remarkable
way. I have a clarity of purpose and specific goals to
support it that I did not have several months ago. I will be
offering followup group coaching sessions to track your
progress with Your Best Year Yet plan.
Winter and Spring Workshops and Teleclasses
A detailed schedule will be emailed to you within
the next few weeks.
Copyright © 1999, all rights reserved, by Margo Chisholm
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“At every moment of our life we have an
opportunity to choose joy.”
Henri J. M. Nouwen
Coach, Speaker, Author, Therapist
Partnering you in having success,
freedom and joy in all areas of your life
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