Pat Zimmer: self-awareness, service, and the woebegone dog

Pat Zimmer

Pat Zimmer

Pat Zimmer served as a Wings intern in 2017-2018. Retired since 2016, Pat was a communications specialist for Bonneville Power Administration. She has two grown daughters and lives in Portland with her husband of 30 years, where she sings, writes, reads, runs, and volunteers at organizations close to her heart.

A friend I met at Wings gave me a card with a photo of a woebegone-looking dog holding a paw to his head. The card read: “For extreme courage in the face of paradise.”

I often think of that friend and her reminder to be thankful, to lighten up, and laugh. Because my life is actually pretty darned good.

This quote from Arthur Schlesinger Jr. says it well: “In seeking excellence, take life seriously, but never yourself.”

Wings has taught me that kind of humility. To me, humility is recognizing and acknowledging my strengths and my personal challenges (OK, some call them weaknesses) and using them to live the best life possible for me. Humility also is seeing and accepting others’ strengths and challenges, asking for help where those abilities can complement my own. In essence, humility is self-awareness and service.

My journey with Wings started way back in 1986. A friend told me about a wonderful experience he’d had in this new-to-him seminar called PES. Being a lifelong spiritual seeker, I was in the next PES seminar scheduled. I did CrossOver right after that, then a couple backup teams. I told all my friends. They went.

Then I started doing something I’ve heard called manifesting. In the year and a half following that, I bought a house, got a dog, met and married my husband (we’re still happily married after 30 years), and went with a choir to Europe for an international choral festival—which we won. All dreams of mine. Life just burst open for me.

We had kids, bought another house, continued our careers. Life happened. I came back to Wings in 1994 when a Wings grad who contracted with my company to offer a teamwork training recruited a few co-facilitators from within the company, including me. As training for the job, I did CrossOver a second time.

The teamwork training we did incorporated many of the tools of authentic communication and self-differentiation that are taught in PES, CrossOver and LifeWorks. Sometimes this was a challenge to teach! In the workplace, there can be “the search for the guilty”: avoiding blame, finger-pointing, triangulation. The system often reinforces and encourages this. There is so much competition and pressure; accountability can seem risky, difficult to understand and embrace. We met with resistance at times. And, time and again, we also watched our coworkers learn and use the tools. There were plenty of “ahas.” I felt empowered, and it made a huge difference in how we all worked together.

Over the next several years, I savored all the wonderful seminars Wings offers. My husband and I took Listening Heart in 1998. I did LifeWorks in 2003 and Integrate in 2009. I did some more backup teams. My youngest daughter did True Colors and PES. I did Namaste in 2015. It finally culminated in my internship in 2017.

What a long, strange trip it’s been. I’ve not always been successful differentiating and staying centered when things got really challenging. I pick myself up and keep learning! The sense of perspective and the self-awareness I’ve gained from Wings has assisted me in being more successful in everything.

My core values are spirituality, learning, and service. This quote embodies those for me. It’s how I want to live: “Believe in your heart that your reason for being is to enlarge the lives of others. All the other things we have been taught to concentrate on will take care of themselves.” —Pete Thigpen, former president, Levi Strauss

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