A few years ago I bought four really cool chairs to put around my kitchen table. They were two sets, actually, that I decided would look great together. Used and refurbished, white wrought iron with seats that had been re-covered in yellow and gold tones. Total whimsy.

Photo courtesy of FreeImages UK

As it turned out, though, I wasn’t crazy about how they looked in the room. The proportion was off. They got kind of lost in my old, charming kitchen. I’ve since bought new chairs in a sleek contemporary style and I love how they look with my solid oak pedestal table. It works beautifully.

In the meantime, my friend Kathi graciously stored the yellow and white ones in her small storage space. It was a welcome solution for me at the time because I had built some kind of fantasy around those chairs. I saw them in a sun room or an alcove. They evoked possibility.

Last week, with much going on in Kathi’s life (the emotional and physical clearing and selling of parental homes), we determined it was time for my chairs to find a new home. She needs the space in her unit.

Shortly after the decision, we went for a walk and I was telling her how pivotal the timing was for this. She seemed intrigued. Those chairs set off all kinds of questions in my mind. Long-term, vision kinds of questions. This is roughly how it went in my head:

Do you want to find a new place to store the chairs?

Hmmmm. I don’t know.

What’s in the way?

Well, I’m not planning to move any time soon. And even if I did, I don’t envision a cottage with a sun room.

Well, let’s go at this from another direction. If someone handed you cash and you could do anything with it, what would you add to your life?

More travel.

Not a beach house or mountain getaway?


Are you sure?

Yes. I’d prefer to rent those and have the freedom to move about.

Are you really sure?

Geez, the chairs are cool, but it’s not like they belonged to Virginia Woolf or Jane Austen.

(Laughter ensues inside my head – crazy, I know.)

So what are you going to do?

Sell the chairs. To a loving home.

There’s more, isn’t there?

Yes. This felt so good that I must apply it to my life as a whole.

As in, what else do you really, really want at this time of major transition?

Precisely. Let’s take this a little further.

OK, what else do you really, really want?

That’s broad.

I hear you. How about we limit it like this – what three things do you really, really want most right now?

1. To love and be loved well

2. To publish my book

3. To travel more

Um, that took you all of 10 seconds. How did it feel?


And the rule moving forward?

Anything I spend significant time on from here needs to further one of those three things or it should be reconsidered.


Yes. I would tell any of my coaching clients the same. I’d hold their feet to the fire. And they’d be exhilarated by it. Over the moon, even.

All this from chairs?

Yep. That’s how it’s done. Thoughtful living. Focusing time wisely. Being willing to bend and even change. Letting go of one vision and creating another.

Chairs indeed.

Funny, right? Ripple effects of a seemingly small moment. Chairs as gauge. Infusing a routine thing with meaning.

And here Kathi thought she was the one clearing space.