LifeShine’s Inspiration

Michelle’s Grandparents

Roland and Doris Larson

My grandparents were my lifelong role models. As I was growing up, these two were my “rocks”, my safe haven, and my solid foundation. They became my best friends. And as time went on, they turned out to be a favorite double-date pair for my husband, Bill, and me.

When I was young, I observed them making the world a better place in everything they did, and I knew that someday I wanted to do “life” like them. Not only in how they lived their lives personally, but in how they impacted others professionally.

“Each person must live their life as a role model for others.”

Rosa Parks

Psychologist and Social Worker

My grandpa was a counseling psychologist, and my grandma was a social worker. They loved working together in private practice as marriage counselors, group trainers, educational consultants, and co-authors. Together, they conducted over 800 workshops and seminars for organizations in the U.S. and abroad. And they wrote four books.

They were training consultants to numerous organizations, including the Government of Sweden, the U.S. Army throughout Europe, and the U.S. Air Force worldwide. Their work focused on listening skills, relationship-building, marriage enrichment, communications, values education, and living with appreciation and thankfulness.

My Grandpa’s Counseling Sessions

When I was in elementary school and stayed with my grandparents on occasion, I have fond memories of my grandpa counseling clients in their home. Shortly before a scheduled appointment, I remember watching out the front window, waiting for his client’s car to pull up in the driveway. As soon as the car drove up, my grandma and I kicked it into high gear like we had so many times before. I’d race downstairs to hideout and wait patiently and quietly, while she took the phone off the hook so it wouldn’t ring during the session.

A few moments after the doorbell rang and the client came in the house, my grandma would pour coffee in the kitchen and bring it into my grandpa’s office for the session. Then, like clockwork, she’d shut the door to his office, and I could hear her footsteps coming down the stairs to join me. We’d play board games or cards (my choice) during the 60-minute counseling session. We had to talk in very quiet voices.

I had a sense that something quite special was going on upstairs; it almost felt sacred the way everything in the house was brought to a hush and centered on that new person during the one-hour timespan. There was a reverence to it that transcended words, and we all respected the moment.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

Helen Keller

After my grandpa’s client left, I loved venturing into his office by myself to look around. It had a comforting vibe and felt soothing to me. It was filled with shelves of hardcover books, knick-knacks, and 1970’s wall hangings that focused on being positive and infusing humor.

As I took my time to examine all the details of his office, I knew that powerful and life-changing conversations went on in that space. I knew that my grandpa helped a lot of people within those four walls.

Looking Up to My Grandpa

I wanted to be like my grandpa – helping one person at a time, deeply focusing on that person and being present to them, while supporting their personal growth. I wanted to create a figurative ‘space’ that allowed each individual to feel heard, seen, valued, affirmed, acknowledged, and encouraged. This now makes up what I call a big part of my life’s purpose.

Now it’s been 20 delightful years in business, doing what I love and doing what I was born to do! It’s a joy knowing that so much of my work was initially inspired by my grandparents.

While my grandparents were here on earth, they modeled for me what it means to be fully present with another, to breathe in and see that person’s uniqueness and beauty, and to affirm them in who they are. It’s no surprise that for years, the bumper sticker on their Buick said: “Listen to someone today.”

What an incredible gift to have the honor of carrying on their bright and important legacy.