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Horse sense Nancy Lowery, The Natural
KE WAK EF I EL D
JUST TELL JUDSON Beaumont he can’t do
something and watch what happens. For
the acclaimed wood-furniture designer and
founder of Straight Line Designs (straight
linedesigns.com), impossible is irresistible.
Imagine fully functional chests of drawers split into a jagged V at the top, squid-like end tables and sideways-leaning
grandfather clocks sprouting bendable arms.
Creations begin as early-morning
“what if?” sketches in the Costco member’s
Vancouver studio, and morph—with the
help of 10 carpenters—into furniture for
clients around the world.
Occasionally, plans take detours. A
doghouse mutated into a mini pet caravan
cute enough for a spot on Good Morning
America. And a disastrous attempt at “
puppet furniture” became his little-black-dress
armoire, his most grown-up piece, he says.
Lofty claims for a guy who
bristles at the label “children’s furniture
maker.” Still, he voluntarily shares his pas-
sion with young artists and young-at-heart
woodworkers. His play structures—a num-
ber of them donated—grace chil-
dren’s libraries, hospitals and airports.
Beaumont enjoys the opportunity to
give back, and the childlike curiosity first
nurtured at art school in the early ’80s
makes work his favourite hobby. “My
friends are talking about retirement,”
he says, “and I’m just getting started.”
—Dana Tye Rally
WE CAN LEARN a great deal about ourselves from horses, says
Costco member Nancy Lowery.
“When we work with horses, we have to respond to what’s happening
right now and not react based on what’s going on in our heads,” she says.
For the last decade, Lowery has hosted leadership workshops through
her Alberta-based business, The Natural Leader ( thenaturalleader.ca).
The purpose of the sessions is to get people to respond to an actual situa-
tion and not jump to any conclusions based on preconceived notions.
“Some people arrive and are scared because of something that
happened with a horse when they were in grade school. We ask them to
put that aside and observe: What is the horse doing now?” she says.
Most of her clients are in management or leadership positions or are
working toward that, says Lowery. They usually opt for a one-day work-
shop. All workshops are customized, and hourly coaching is also available.
“If you want to take your horse for a walk and he won’t budge, what
do you do? Do you talk nice and coax him? Do you dig in your heels and
pull hard? The fact is that we often respond ineffectively when we’re out
of our comfort zone,” she says, adding that how we respond to a situation
decides the outcome.
A day with Lowery showcases the parallels between horsemanship
and leadership roles. She says, “The most important thing that I hope
[clients] learn is to change the mindset from being successful to having