Old Patterns Die Hard (Especially with Family) - Sage B. Hobbs

I was out for an early morning walk on the beach, along the Jersey shore that I have visited most of my nearly 44 years of life.  The gulls soaring, plovers scuttling, waves rolling, and breeze blowing.  For me, it’s bliss.  It’s literally where I feel a joy and calm like nowhere else I’ve found.

I’d get lost in my own thoughts and then I’d pull myself back to really looking at the water or the sky. To taking it in. To being present.

Down the beach ahead of me, with her face tilted toward the sun, and her arms outstretched, I saw my mom walking barefoot in the water.  Similarly, this stretch of beach brings her a sense of renewal. I felt a jolt of gratitude and love for my mom.

I caught up with her.  We hugged and said how much “we LOVE the beach,” a common refrain that we share.  Then we fell into step to stroll together for a bit.

Shortly after we started walking together, chatting, I found myself saying things like “you always like… xyz”  And “I’m never really into…xyz.” I could feel the mood shift between us, the carefree connection that we’d shared moments ago fading.

I didn’t think much of it as she finished up her walk and headed back to the house. But as I continued on my walk alone, I realized how I’d fallen into an old habit of fixed language (the words never and always are big hints.)

I’d accidentally, through old patterns, spoken in such a way that put her on the defensive, that set up some distance between us in a moment that had been so lovely.

Ugh. I started making myself wrong… I should know better!  I do training and consulting on binary thinking and divisive communication.  I know that “always and never” are rarely true and that they set up a “this or that” mentality.

And yet, there I was in the muck of it again.  Self-awareness and social-awareness, two key tenets of Emotional Intelligence, allowed me to notice and pivot. I later sat with my mom on the beach and apologized for falling into that old pattern with her.  

It wasn’t a huge argument or issue.  I could’ve just let it slide.  But it felt good to share my insight with her and to let her know I was trying to do better with how we communicate.

We are all {always} learning, hopefully. 

This summer has been full of opportunities to practice my communication with LOTS of family gatherings … like many who are able to do so, we’ve been catching up from the required distancing of the pandemic.

It has been SO good to hug my brother, cuddle with my nieces, walk the beach with childhood friends, and gather around the (indoor!) table over great food with my step-mom and sibs.

Aside from the requirements of my business, I’ve taken space to BE with my loved ones. I haven’t written much, and the Race, Culture, & Beyond podcast is on vacation until mid-August.  

My default pattern is to go, go, go and do, do, do.  It takes effort and intention to know how you automatically function in your life, and continually assess if it’s serving your well-being, your relationships, your work.

Try it out:

What are your default patterns?
How are they working for you?
Where can you be more clear and open in your communication?

Much love and more “nakedness,”




“The Essential Skills for the Technical Professional”  Problems are rarely 100% technical.

They require communication, connection, self-management, teamwork and collaboration.  This course is a collaboration with two incredible colleagues to bring more of these skills to the technical industry.  I’m excited about this and what it could make available to individuals and organizations. 

What I’ve read so far this summer (because I love books along with beaches). All the authors are BIPOC, if you’re looking to diversify your reading…

  • The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. –  So beautiful and haunting
  • The Lowland by Jumpa Lahiri  – I love her other books more (The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies), but this one is also wonderful
  • You Are Your Best Thing by Tarana Burke and Brene Brown – a powerful collection of personal stories

SHOWS (actually, only one)
Queen Sugar – I’m obsessed with this show at the moment. The characters, the family relationships, the joy, the pain, the resilience, the sexiness, the woman power…

Have you heard the one with the poet and professor Dr. Rochelle Robinson-Dukes?  

Happy listening, reading, and watching!