Choosing to start anew


Staff Writers
, The Tennessean


Bookseller returns to her roots

Five years ago, Thelma Kidd marked her first New Year's Day as a former co-owner of Davis-Kidd Booksellers, a four-store chain that she helped nurture from a Nashville base.

She wasn't sure exactly what she wanted to do next. She did know she wanted to work on something smaller than the independent bookstore venture that had been part of her life since 1980. She wanted to build on her love of learning and of being with like-minded people.

Today, Kidd has returned to her professional roots as a social worker, creating a new career as a life-balance coach.

Coaching combines the counseling skills of social work with the strategic thinking required in business, she said. It's not therapy, she said, but more of a meeting among colleagues, ''based very much on a belief that everybody has ups and downs in their lives.'' How people handle the changes is what life's all about, and coaching helps people make good decisions, she said.

Her transition from bookstore owner to coach was gradual.

The four stores she co-owned with Karen Davis — one each in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Jackson, Tenn. — were sold in 1997 to Cincinnati-based, independently owned Joseph-Beth Booksellers. (Kidd has consistently declined to disclose terms of the sale.)

Selling the stores, she said, ''freed me up to be a more active parent'' to son Noah, age 12 at the time. But, she acknowledged, she didn't quite know what her next move would be, other than to take time off.

Fast forward a few years.

A book by Cheryl Richardson, Take Time for Your Life, and talk on the television talk show Oprah about life makeovers struck a chord with Kidd. Around the same time, she recalled, a friend asked, ''Have you ever thought of being a coach? I think you'd be good at it.'' That was ''tremendous encouragement,'' she said.

Two years ago, in 2000, Kidd started courses at The Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara on life-balance coaching. She graduated last year.

''It was from being in that program that I developed the idea of the learning community. I designed the women's learning program on the plane on the way back from graduation,'' she said.

Today, in addition to two currently running sessions of the nine-month women's learning program, she offers daylong workshops on taking stock of your life. This month, she will kick off a new, yearlong program for up to 16 men and women, called the Leadership Learning Community.

The courses cost anywhere from $95 for the Day For Taking Stock, to $2,650 — which includes lodging and meals for two retreats — for the yearlong program. Kidd also offers personal coaching.

''A lot of what I do is helping people think about their own values,'' she observed.

Her advice for managing change: Consider the ramifications of what you're going to do. ''That doesn't mean you don't do it,'' she said. It just means you've thought through your plans.

''Change is normal — it's healthy and it's good.'' Kidd said. ''One of the characteristics of living life effectively is to anticipate change and plan for it and not resist it and embrace it.''

Thelma Kidd
Life Transitions Coach
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