Shared Spirit | Moderated by Rachel Stein | rachels83@gmail.com

Shared Spirit is a forum in which readers share their dilemmas. Acting as mediator, I pose the issues to my readers, and the following column prints responses with helpful solutions.

“Lori, I have a proposal.”

“Sounds interesting,” I replied, wondering why my heart was hammering nervously. Perhaps it was woman’s intuition, whispering that if I accepted this proposal, my life’s trajectory would be changed.

Lori and I go way back. Best friends since high school, we know each other almost as well as we know ourselves.

Rachel Stein

Rachel Stein

“How would you like to become a master coach for us?”

Wow. I was honored. I’m self-employed as a social worker; life coaching certification would improve my credentials.

Lori and her husband run a successful life coach training academy, flying all over the United States and abroad to give seminars. She is fully aware that I am struggling to build up my clientele; I’ve been working on my own for only a little over a year now.

I’m told that this struggle is typical when you’re self-employed, especially the first few years until you’ve built up a reputation. Clients move on once their issues are resolved, which means I succeeded in helping them — that is incredibly gratifying. But then it’s a scramble to fill the vacated slots.

So I wonder: Is pity Lori’s motivation, or does she feel confident of my skills and want me on board?

“I’m asking you because Abe and I decided you are amazing with people. You have this way of digging straight to the root of a problem, and then you help people unearth their own solutions, gently guiding them in a purposeful direction. We would be honored for you to join our network.”

Didn’t I tell you we were close? She even reads my mind. Wow. This sounds like the heaven-sent opportunity I’ve been waiting for. So what’s my hesitation?

“I’m really touched,” I told Lori. “Let me talk to Nathan (my husband) and get back to you. Thank you so much. You made my day.”

“OK,” Lori said in her sing-song, chirpy way. “I’ll be waiting.”

Will partnering with Lori do anything to diminish or even, G-d forbid, destroy one of the most meaningful relationships in my life? You know what they say: NEVER do business with a friend or relative. So what am I thinking?

But where is my trust in the backbone of our friendship? We have a solid foundation, and anything that comes up could certainly be sorted out and remedied. Lori and I? We’re sisters. We’re mature adults. There’s nothing in the world that could come between us.

It seems like a hand is propelling me in this direction, and I’ll tell you why. Nathan came home in a pensive mood yesterday, and his eyes were shuttered.

“What’s wrong?” I asked over dinner.

“I lost my job,” he confessed, lifting his eyes to gaze sadly into mine.

Omigoodness, this can’t be happening. Nathan has worked as a full-time teacher for 10 years. What will we do? How will we manage?

I shivered, picturing a mounting pile of bills spilling all over our living space.

“They said they’ve always liked me,” he continued. “No one ever complained about my work. It’s the economy, so they’re cutting back. Instead of having two sixth-grade classes, they’re merging them into one. So that’s it.”

He shrugged and speared a piece of salmon.

My heart contracted; poor Nathan! What a blow to his ego! Yet while I sympathized with his plight, I was worried, very worried, about us and our future.

I had suddenly lost my appetite. This might be the last time I splurge on salmon for an ordinary weekday meal. We’re going to have to tighten our belts and accept our new reality.

And then a surge of hope sprang forward, like a rosebud bursting into bloom. Lori’s call, the generous opportunity she offered: No question about it — heaven-sent, right? Definitely would boost the income while we’re living off my salary and Nathan’s unemployment checks.

Am I walking into a minefield if I accept her proposition?

Well, friends, what would you do? Do you have any sage advice to offer? Should I go into business with my very best friend, or look elsewhere in more tranquil waters?

 

Email your suggestions by Monday, April 4, for inclusion in the next column. Looking forward to hearing from you.