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October 2019

October 11, 2019

2019 has been a challenging year for me with the death of my sister in early May, then the death of my mother in late September. 

I was going to write about my experiences going through these milestone events but I’m still in process over my mother’s passing. At both transitions I was the sole member of my family present. The rest of my family would have liked to have been there but in the end, I was the only one. 

It both instances I felt enormous grief, yet also gratitude and compassion. It was a blessing to have been there doing what I could to ease the transitions.  Perhaps sometime in the future, I will speak more about how living consciously through their deaths has provided me with gifts I never thought possible. It has certainly brought home to me the inevitable truth we most all face: “How will I face and embrace my own death?” 

For this newsletter however, I will focus on values and share part of a workshop Jody and I facilitated at the last gathering. The content of this workshop is what guides me in my daily life and helps me to maintain some manner of consistency in my desire to live with intention. It also provided me with comfort and direction while I was living into these experiences of death.

If you attended our workshop, I hope this won’t be redundant for you, my intention is to encourage you to continue with your work on values.

Let me begin with this statement:

“Somewhere between my ambition and my ideals. I lost my ethical compass.” -Jeb Stuart Magruder (Watergate co-conspirator) 

In my past, there have been times when I recognized I was out of integrity with myself. There’s a shadow in each of us that feeds our ambition; and given free rein, it can overwhelm our best intentions. Sometimes this shadow may show up in the form of a small lie, an unspoken truth, a betrayal, or an easier softer way during a conflict, instead of meeting it head on. Whatever form it takes, it can compromise our best intentions.  

At our last gathering, Jody Grose and I facilitated a workshop on accessing the mature King Archetype. In the workshop we talked about the importance of knowing your core values. 

It’s surprising how many people don’t give values any thought, let alone, know what values are. Or, more importantly, what their core values are. 

“Values are principals or standards of behavior: one’s judgement of what is important in life.” Oxford English Dictionary

Living our values means walking our talk.  We’re clear about what we believe and hold important, and we take care that ourintentions, words, thoughts,andbehaviorsalign with those beliefs. If we don’t have clarity of values, we don’t have anywhere else to look or focus and we’ll bend to the wishes of others. 

Core values provide us with clarity, a North Star that guides us in times of darkness. It’s how we establish a good internal support system.

When choosing your values, three questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Does this define me?

  2. Is this who I am at my best?

  3. Is this the filter I use to make tough decisions?

If you haven’t explored values before, this might seem like a difficult task. In our workshop we handed out a list of 100 different values to choose from. We asked the men to choose fifteen to start with, then narrow them to ten, then five, and finally two that would be core values.

When I first did this exercise on my own, it was easy to choose fifteen, but it became increasingly more difficult when I had to start narrowing my choices. What I realized was that some of the values I had chosen were actually dependent on another value. What I finally settled on that rang true for me wasCourage.Without courage, I could not live into any of the other values I felt were important.

Once you decide on your core values it’s crucial to make sure you have outside support that can help you to be accountable for aligning with them. Supporters should be those who love and care about you, who see your humanness, and will honestly tell you the truth. They know your heart and who you aspire to be. They will lovingly confront you when you may be close to slipping out of integrity.

Important questions for ongoing support:

  1. Who is someone who knows your values and supports your efforts to live up to them?

  2. What can you do as an act of self-compassion to support yourself in the hard work of living your values?

  3. What are the early warning indicators or signs that you’re living outside your values?

  4. What does it feel like when you’re living up to your values? 

  5. How does living your two core values shape the way you give and receive feedback?

In any situation we find ourselves in, we have a choice to live it with integrity or to live it through shadow. And when we find ourselves slipping out of integrity, our core values can act as a rudder or compass to steer us back on course. 

Living your life with core values guiding you, is another way to grow yourself up. You’re not bending to the wishes of others or living someone else’s desires.

My sister knew two years prior to her death that she was terminal and there was no chance of survival. And she knew her core values were honesty and truth. And encouraged those around her to always speak honestly about how they were feeling. She made it easy to be with her and she chose to die on her own terms. Her transition was beautiful. She died modeling courage and grace. My mother didn’t have the same awareness and her death was much different. But because I held my core values close to me, I felt grounded and supported. I was able to guide my mother while she faced her death, offering love, care, compassion and validation about how she lived her life, when she couldn’t validate herself. If I didn’t have this internal support, I’m not sure I could have done it. 

If you didn’t attend our workshop at the gathering and wish to explore more about values, please email me and I will forward the values list to you. 

Likewise, if you did attend the workshop and wish to clarify any questions that may be lingering, you can email me as well. 


Paul Gemme ( and the COMEGA OC

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