Dec 8, 2010

sustaining a change: check-ins

Some teams tell me they experience a sense of hope and clarity after a retreat or facilitated meeting...and  unfortunately that that hope dies quickly once everyone returns to the day to day operations of their work.

Following through on our commitments once back in the 'white water' can definitely be tough. I too have experienced how hard it is to manage the many competing demands while at the same time trying on some new approaches or ways of being.

Of the groups that do witness progress on their goals and maintain that sense of hope, one of the things I notice is that they schedule a follow up meeting in one to three months time. That meeting is dedicated to connecting and discussing their progress - on both the individual and collective commitments made at the retreat or meeting. Some groups ask that I be at that meeting as well but not always.

I figure this planned check-in does a few things: 
  • simply knowing there is going to be one somehow keeps us on our toes and accountable to our commitments
  • having an opportunity to notice what's working and what's improved since the retreat or meeting helps to maintain a sense of hope and of progress - and it gives you a reason to celebrate!
  • at the same time, a chance to name and share the burden of what's not working allows you to unpack the situation, perhaps reveal information that you weren't aware of before, and brainstorm options for addressing those concerns. This might entail modifying or refining the goal, working through a resource issue, or facing any mis-communications or conflicts that may be contributing.
  • asking the external facilitator to be there does a few things:
    • sometimes prevents the follow up meeting from getting bumped (and bumped and bumped)
    • allows the leader/manager of the group to participate more fully then if he or she was also facilitating the conversation
    • potentially have permission to play devils advocate or name any 'elephants in the room' (those un-discussbles)
    • brings an outside perspective that is linked to the earlier retreat process; that person can remind the individuals and the group of their principles and their strengths, something we can forget or take for granted
The point is regular, scheduled communication can help maintain the energy and hope so necessary to move forward on any change initiative. Like flying an airplane, feedback and small course correction's along the way tend to be a more efficient and productive way to get to where you want to go than a big correction further down the line. Sure better than trying to pull out of a metaphorical nose dive!

Dec 1, 2010

hurdle one

Well I have finally begun the process of setting up this recording equipment I bought. Just opening the box and facing the computer was the first hurdle. Many hours later...I don't seem too far ahead. Lights are on but no idea how to get the sound to work. Who knows what system configurations I'm meant to know how to adjust for this sort of thing?!

I will try for a bit longer - including reading the on line manual - and then accept that I will need to call someone in to guide me. Which at this point won't likely be until next week. Oh well. That's the way it goes sometimes.

Hurdles not road blocks. I can still sing. I can still play guitar. I can still write songs. I just have to wait a bit longer for this next level of musical creation. Fun things are worth waiting for.

Till next time.


Nov 24, 2010

procrastination offerings

I understand and have come to appreciate to some extent my procrastination tendencies around writing. I have learned to accept that "Procrastination's" purpose is to help me clarify who I'm writing for, ponder what I want to say and define what the best entry point and tone might be. I have 'reframed' procrastination as an important and necessary time for marinading and mulling over. I trust that it will eventually complete its job, usually with the help of a looming deadline. Built up pressure usually works too. 

What I don't understand is why I would procrastinate playing with a new toy?

Last week I happily purchased some simple home recording equipment. I was delighted by the idea of having a device to support and expand my own song and sound creation. All week long new idea's kept popping up around how this new acquisition was going to open doors for me, both personally and professionally. I saw visions of songs I could add my own harmonies to, record improvised moments at afternoon jams, create audio tapes of guided visualizations and visioning exercises for clients. I saw the ease in which I could share and collaborate with others by a simple click of the mouse.

Imagining all of this has been quite exciting and, I now realize, extremely daunting!

My penchant for visioning possibilities has also set up an equally large balloon of overwhelming expectations. I'd say I'm stuck (procrastinating) because my emotions are more aware of the fear that accompanies those expectations than the joys. I can see that I'm afraid of failure, of not being able to adequately learn how to use the tool to manifest those visions. I'm guessing that some part of me is protecting me from that fear - by keeping the dang thing in the box!

The trick is to balance the motivation that imagining the possibilities offers with baby steps that our hesitation teaches us we need to address in order to get where we want to go.

One of those baby steps is to get find the appropriate support. In this case it's time to call a knowledgeable friend to hold my hand when I do open up the box. And to set a date for this to happen (read: deadline). Then I can to begin to actually sow the seeds for those possibilities to have a chance to bloom!

Are you procrastinating something these days? How is it serving you?

Nov 17, 2010

the paradox of vulnerability

Most of us don't like uncertainty. We do a lot to try to make things 'certain', attempting to gain some control over a particular outcome, relationship, or habit.  Living with uncertainty seems to conjure up fears - I'm vulnerable, this isn't safe. Our vivid imaginations can build up some pretty drastic assumptions and beliefs about where this uncertainty is bound to lead us.

In fact there is a case for sharing our vulnerability - in appropriate contexts - actually helping us. Exposing our vulnerability can lead to stronger connections and thus increase our sense of safety and protection. Interesting paradox...especially for leaders and colleagues looking for ways to work better, more effectively, together. Discernment plays a key role as to what and when and with whom one shares his or her questions, fears, and wishes.

In this TED talk, Dr. BrenĂ© Brown talks about her research on Wholeheartedness and Connection.  Here are some of the highlights that jumped out for me:

  • Role of connection - gives us purpose and meaning
  • Vulnerability - is about allowing ourselves to be seen; the birth place of wholeheartedness
  • Vulnerability is a crucial, central element in leading our lives, leading others
  • Vulnerability is the element that helps us navigate between shame and empathy - two opposing ends of a continuum
  • Defining shame vs guilt: 
    • Shame - 'I am bad'; not a useful motivator
    • Guilt - "I did a bad thing", something that doesn't fit my own code; could be a useful motivator 
  • We can't selectively numb our emotions; if we numb what we don't like we will also numb those we desire, like joy
When I think back to my own experiences, I find several stories of when I allowed my vulnerability to show and I gained strength and perspective to help me move forward. The energy I was using to hide what was really going on for me was able to be directed to finding new ways. I was able to accept offers of help in whatever form they came. I was more open to connecting with others as well as to my true self. 

I have also observed this happening with folks that I work with. As each person takes baby steps to reveal their vulnerability their colleagues are reminded of the person's - and their own - humanity. This experience often makes all the difference in a team moving forward with energy and passion.

Yes there may be moments when our discernment was off and we didn't get the response we hoped for. These are the risks inherent in learning how to connect, lead, be better together. Chalk it up to learning. 

Does any of this resonate with you in your life as a leader, an employee, a colleague, or perhaps as a parent? What are the conditions that help you discern when it is appropriate to step into your vulnerability?


Nov 10, 2010

back bends

Last Sunday I experienced - consciously - the power of my own thoughts and the role of support.

Our yoga instructor had us doing a back bend with the support of a partner. We were to hold onto their ankles as we pushed our pelvis up to the sky and the top of our heads back onto the mat.

I could feel my excuses rising up as I debated whether or not I would participate. All those years as a child (and adult for that matter) wishing I could master a cartwheel came to mind. "I just don't have the body type for this. I'm not strong or flexible enough. I will look silly (read: fail)."

Then my eyes caught those of my neighbour. We both looked skeptical but sheepishly willing to give it a try. It helped that she wasn't nonchalant about it, that this would be a stretch for her too. It would be alright if either of us didn't manage it...really what was the big deal? With that I decided to change  my internal dialogue too. Instead of 'I can't' my mantra became 'I can do this. I can do this!' And to my surprise and delight, I did!

The next day I was able to do it again - if only for a few seconds - by myself at home. I'd broken the 'I can't' spell on this one! It made me wonder, where else in my life I might want to try breaking it? Home recording popped up instantly.

I've long held a vision of recording my songs, of playing with different beats and harmonies. My few attempts in the past were always aborted relatively quickly. Daunted at the sight and confusion of all those buttons and gadgets "I can't learn this" messages would loop in my head and I'd give up.

Today, propelled by a new song I want to record, and a few other half written ones that I long to finish, my decision (commitment) now has me developing my strategies to forge forward.  I re-discovered a book on my shelf that explains fairly clearly the different devices and the ways they interconnect. I took stock of all the equipment I've assembled over the years. I spent time on the internet researching various products, reading their descriptions, noting my questions. I plan on heading to several music stores to hear what they have to say.  I've written to a few musically minded friends to ask for their advise and guidance.

This time I'm determined to learn, to get past my mental barriers. This time I'm approaching it with a smile and a determined "I can do this!" attitude instead of exasperation. I'm motivated, I'm finding different avenues of support, and I believe I can!

What thought or belief would help you move closer to your dreams? What support do you need to begin?

Nov 3, 2010

elephants on the table

Last week I spent two days with a management team where I witnessed strength, vulnerability and incredible courage. Proverbial elephants were put on the table and real conversations about how to work better together ensued.

It's easy to believe that it's the tasks, our productivity, that gets the job done. But tasks can't get done effectively or sustainably if information is held back out of fear, if minds aren't open to hearing different view points, if relationships aren't created with an eye to mutual learning. If trust isn't cultivated.

Trust and risk are flip sides of the same coin. In order to create, maintain or rebuild trust we have to take risks. To come together, to say what is our truth, to listen to the others' truth. We have to have the courage to show up and participate without knowing for sure if its all going to work out.

This team stepped up to the opportunity and discovered what it feels like to have conversations from their hearts. They co-created the space to be courageous, to be supportive of each other and to learn together about a different way of being.

Hidden elephants absorb and preoccupy a lot of energy - energy and creativity that could be better spent in service of your individual and collective health and dreams. Not easy but definitely worth it.

Oct 27, 2010

new beginning

I've been carrying this poem by John O'Donohue with me for the past few weeks. I thought that you might find inspiration or comfort in these words as well.

For a New Beginning

In out of the way places of the heart.
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground.
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Through your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life's desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

From 'To Bless the Space Between Us'
by John O'Donohue

Oct 21, 2010

courage and vulnerability

Here I am, my last day in lovely Nova Scotia. Thought I'd try to get this post off before I get on the plane.

I've met some courageous folks this week, each on their own journey to a life that pleases and fulfills them. Each person I met is in the process of living a major transition in their life: changes that include letting go of a relationship, leaving home, joining a support program, or selling a business*.

Whatever transition we're in, it can often include some lost, lonely and scary moments for most of us - even when they are changes we choose!  The appropriate support can make all the difference in these moments. What I seem to be noticing this week is that support can be plentiful and right in arms reach but unless we're willing to accept it, we aren't likely to perceive it let alone reap the full range of benefits offered.  In order to seek, see and receive that support it seems to me that we need to allow ourselves to be both vulnerable and courageous. 

What helps us dance that delicate line between the two? How do we trust enough - both ourselves and the support offered - to let go and let come? For many of the folks I met this week they told me that what helped them was feeling listened to, non-judged, and accepted. I also heard that they themselves were ready for the change...there was personal desire and commitment.

But the crucial thing that seemed to matter the most for many was hearing someone they trusted say that they believed in them.

Being believed in when you've lost, buried or distorted your belief in yourself is a powerful thing. I've experienced that. What I've learned this week is that we could only hear that message (even if cautiously) if it somehow resonated with our wish, our longing, our own belief in ourselves: Yes, I am capable, worth it, lovable ... (an artist!). The other person is simply shining a light, a mirror, an amplifier on something that already exists. Their belief in us comes in through our vulnerability, perhaps a small crack we've allowed in our armour, our defenses. It lets in that bit of light, warmth, and hope that can help us take the next step.

Look around...who or what support could you allow in today? Give yourself the gift of being vulnerable, of courageously accepting the support offered that you know - you feel in your body - is the truth. It is possible to be who you want to be and live the life you want to live.

* By the by, if the life you want is possibly owning a B & B in Nova Scotia, check out:

Oct 14, 2010

beauty in the fog

The sun is slowly heating it's way through the fog this morning. There is beauty in both the hazy veil and the sunlight streaming through it. 

As I decide to live my life really and truly as I starts to unfold in that direction almost effortlessly.  When I notice what I eat and how I move my body, I tend to make choices that nourish me. When I acknowledge that creativity for me at this point is really about exploring my artist self, support comes my way. As I state unequivocally that I want to attract clients that align with my beliefs and values, work that excites me, that I feel I can contribute begins to come in.

Earlier this week I had a fascinating chat with an artist friend. Not only did I get an invitation to play in her studio ,we also engaged in a dialogue about our different perceptions about the making of art and being human. I heard myself articulate the links I see between art and organizational and personal change. This is the kind of exchange I want more of; more conversations that reveal my thoughts ... and create new ones. 

I also began work with a new client this week and our initial chat left me feeling energized. I can feel my smile resonate through my whole body. It's invigorating to drop down quickly into the juice of this work...listening and searching in the mist for what their needs are. There seems to a level of awareness around what it means to be human in the chaos of an organizational (or personal) change...and a common language for us to talk about it. At the same time there is a trust building that welcomes our different perspectives and experiences and this too will support the journey ahead.

I'm starting to appreciate the foggy aspects of my life - the unknown, the unseen - just as much as I do the rays of sunlight.

Oct 6, 2010

lessons from my cat

I was telling a friend the other day about my cat Rafiki and his ability to heal.

One time he got hit by a car. The driver came to tell me so I knew. It took a few hours before I could find him...hiding under the porch next door. When I made eye contact and called him he came out. I could detect no external injuries. He walked slowly across the grass to our home and then leaped onto the porch. I could see that he realized too late that that hadn't been a good idea.

Inside he basically laid down under a chair and stayed there for three days. I brought food and water to him and left him alone. On the third day he got up, ate, accepted a cuddle and headed outside again as if nothing was wrong. He'd healed.

Lessons I take from this story:
  • when you get hurt you might need to hide a way for a bit
  • when you're ready, accept the invitation from trusted others for company and comfort
  • be cautious with what is usually normal activity for you  ie: don't leap when you're hurting
  • stay still, sleep lots, let time help you heal
  • when it's over, it's over - get back to your life... hopefully keeping any lessons learned well in mind
What do you think; might Rafiki's strategy apply to you and me too? 

Breathe big,


Sep 29, 2010

unexpected support

Woke up in the wee hours again today. Headache brewing. Despite some truly terrific things happening this week I'm feeling off. What is it?

I'm too busy with external commitments again. What happened to my commitment to myself, to substantial hours devoted to exploring art?

I think I have to accept that I have a personality or character or something that attracts busy-ness. If work isn't filling my time I fill it with volunteer commitments, connecting with new and old friends, house chores, and probably problems I invent. I don't say 'No' often enough or at least 'Not right now'. I accommodate for a quick response - not for any martyr tendencies but because I am interested in doing whatever it is. The thing is that means I don't say Yes to what I've identified as my priority.

Back to that thing about choices.

This week I've been trying to negotiate various meetings, trying to fit this person here, that person there, adjust the time with one person to accommodate another that has popped up. Some of it is work related so I add pressure to myself to find a way. And by one, they each cancel.

The Universe heard and delivered. There's space again. Will I choose wisely and according to my priorities? I intend to.

Follow up from last week: a song I wrote has been adopted as the Spirited Women theme song:  (I'd love to get your feedback.)

Sep 23, 2010

unique and universal

A few years ago I wrote a song for one specific special person in my life. About a year later I realized I could have written it for me too.

Then, when I dared to share it with more and more people I was quite taken aback (and delighted of course) by their response to what I considered to be a really simple song. It appeared to resonate with many folks.

While pondering this last week with my Spirited Women gang, I exclaimed: "It's kind of neat how the unique and the universal both begin with "U".

It took a couple of seconds for me to realize what I'd said.


The song is called 'Listen to Your Heart'.  Hearts are certainly unique and universal ... and the listening starts with you and your own.

As soon as I learn how to create a video/audio link I'll share it with you. Homework for me this week.

Sep 16, 2010

shifting energy

Sometimes hope and renewed energy comes in strange forms.

Like large and small men in big boots and ball caps showing up to help me problem solve my well water issues. Like interesting work that includes travel and writing as well as coaching and facilitation - now that's alignment!

Like having one of my songs adopted by the Spirited Women Collaborative*!  Like seeing my first officially published article professionally laid out in a magazine with the words Change Artist attached to it. How fitting are both of these as I embark on a year of focused creative explorations?! To view the article:  (I welcome your feedback)

Or ...  like seeing an albino porcupine.

I spotted this spiky spirit creature at the side of the road, practically glowing in the dark. My joyful, incredulous response to this unexpected appearance (along with all the others I've mentioned here) has reminded me that wonder, hope and possibility are sitting quietly amidst the chaos, the unknown and the unlikely. Stay open to seeing.

May unexpected forms of hope and renewed energy find you when you most need it!

*  I hope you'll join us at our open house next Saturday, September 25th in Ottawa - as part of Culture Days.

Sep 8, 2010


We can’t escape or walk away from grief;
we walk through it.
And walking—not running, not crawling—
is the proper pace to be traveling.
                                           Linus Mundy
This poem was sent to me by a dear friend who knows how to walk with me. She found it on this website:

I'm working on it, feeling my way to resilience. Trusting one day I will see and feel differently.

Despite these set backs I did finally set up my art space! I think it will work just fine too. I feel it calling me to come play, come feel joy!

Sep 2, 2010

PS I stand corrected

PS  Earlier today I referred to a story/parable. I found one version: 

Apparently it's not a Sufi story though:  "This is NOT a sufi story, its from the Ancient Chinese book “Hanfeizi” – much before there were sufi – and even before there was Japan! ;-)  "

If you like such stories, here is a site that appears to have many others:

Linda, still learning to appreciate the blessings in disguise...

endings and beginnings

September arrives. I consider this month to be the official beginning of my 'creative sabbatical' - which means leaving energy, time and space to explore my own brand of art making while I also continue to offer individual and team coaching/facilitation services.

No matter how I slice it, it's been a tough few months. Many of the big, heavy decisions have been made. Letting go of my home (for now). Moving to what has been my work space (thereby ending it's use as a rental space). Letting go of my relationship, possibly our musical duo as well.

My heart is heavy. I suspect it w ill take awhile to heal, to awaken to the gifts that these sad events hold for me. There are no beginnings without some endings.

What am I noticing as I live this? That moving, purging, leaving took a lot more time and energy than I'd anticipated. That I'm struggling with how to inform my clients. That I've reverted back into 'busy-ness' with overloading my community commitments. That I've been slipping on my self imposed deadlines for this blog ...but hanging in there nonetheless. That I haven't created my studio space yet.

I'm also noticing how grateful I am that I have this space to retreat to during these hard times. And amazing friends who have lifted spirits as well as boxes to get me here. I am grateful for my desire to write, to make art, to begin the journey to explore it more fully over this next year. I'm grateful for my moments of yoga that help to ground me and for friends who listen and offer new perspectives. I am grateful for my relative health, for the beauty that surrounds me, for my desire to learn and move on.

So I try to remember the Sufi story about 'could be good, could be bad'. Nothing is permanent. Though I may not understand or appreciate where it will lead me right now, I trust that something good will come out of all this...given  a good dose of compassion and time.

Aug 25, 2010

community art making

Well my trees are 'dressed' in Wakefield. My first public art installation. It's very simple but I like it. And bottom line, given all the other things that have been going on, I'm pleased that I didn't bail.

Process wise I followed true to form. Had lots of idea's, narrowed it down to a basic concept and then went about 'listening' for potential materials that would fit/work with it. Sometime the materials themselves led the in the robin's nests...and the picture frames.

Emergence works for me but I don't think it necessarily was helpful to the larger process. What to write for the bio piece that had to be in weeks ago? What to have on my process story board when the last bit of it is still in process?

Ironically the piece is about community, a reflection on what community means for me - when I feel a part of it and when I don't. Lots of lessons here, and metaphors for my own way of being in this world. The main one continues to be about finding that balance between independence and community. Maybe this is the year that I find a way to live that comfortably.

For info on the Wakefield multi-arts festival happening this week check out

Aug 12, 2010

excavating our identity

I've heard people say your life passes before your eyes when you believe you are about to die. I haven't got any first hand experience on that front but I can say it does the same (at a much slower pace) when you move homes too.

Besides the grunt work of moving furniture and the self flagellation that comes with seeing just what fell behind the bureau...there's the fumbling excavation through books, boxes and the far corners of basements and closets. Amid the junk and dust bunnies are photos, mementos, scraps of paper with ideas and dreams, and ugly clothes that I used to love. Each piece holds a story about who I was and my response subsequently tells me a bit about who I believe I have become.

Not quite sure what I think or feel about it all just yet. Too physically and emotionally tired right now. Maybe in a week or two.

One thing I can say though, is that I sure have remained consistent - consistent with my strengths as well as my limitations. Consistent with my difficulty in letting go of some things. And consistent with what I believe will make me happy:  a community of friends, time in nature, art making, facilitating and partaking in meaningful conversations and actions, writing, a place in the country, feeling like I'm making a difference .... 

Yup, there may be more challenges than usual at the moment, and I may have to follow some different paths along the way, but my roots (values) and my fruits (dreams/wishes/goals) seem to remain largely the same. I am who I am. 

Aug 4, 2010

the stories we tell - part II

Once we have a certain idea or judgment about someone or's hard not to find evidence that concurs with our thinking.  ("She's so inconsiderate...just listen to how loud that music is!"  "He's so generous with his time, look how late he stays to help Sam with his work.")

On the flip side we also tend to ignore or miss any evidence that would dispute our theory. It takes a pretty self aware and confident person to acknowledge that the way they're seeing may be faulty, missing information, or simply different from another person's point of view...and that that this other view is just as valid as their own.

And all of this is true even with those stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. We find evidence to prove how we think about ourselves - positive or not. Our self talk, our self stories can run from "You're brilliant!" to "You're such a dunce!".

Take a moment to consider how you listen to, interpret, and make meaning when you notice your story about yourself. Does your interpretation change depending on context, mood, hunger, fatigue etc? My experience is it does. This is why checking out our assumptions includes the ones we make about ourselves and the current situation.

I know for me it helps to check out my story (of me or of others) with a witness...a friend, a colleague or a coach. It helps me stay honest with myself ...and keeps me from going around in circles. Often it reveals some new angles or approaches to moving through or building on the story that I hadn't previously noticed.

How is the story you're telling yourself about you helping you live your ideal life today?

Jul 28, 2010


The capacity to overcome that what resilience is?

Reslilence makes me think of tender seedlings we put out gradually in the spring so that they can build up their ability to cope with the big out doors and it's varying weather and other conditions. We want the plants to become hardy, tough, strong, flexible...and to develop deep roots.

In terms of people, is that what exposing us to hardships is supposed to do, toughen up our skin, make us less sensitive? Not sure that's what I would want. I like being sensitive. It allows me to enjoy so many delicious and curious sensory experiences - it makes living come alive! On the other hand, I could stand to take things less personally at times. How much time and energy have I wasted in getting bent out of shape to only later acknowledge how out of  proportion my response was? (retorical question!)

In steps flexibility with the skill of discernment - teaching us through experiences when to pay attention and when to let things slide. Teaching us to bend and sway so as not to break. Deep roots are part of what supports that flexibility.

I see my roots as the values and beliefs that guide and strengthen me - both in times of trouble and joy. My roots also provide a lens with which I percieve and interepret my life experiences. I can attest to the difference it makes when I am able to turn an obstacle or a disappointment into an opportunity (car in garage = time to write; economic downturn = creative sabbatical) vs. when I stay stuck in negative, woe is me mode.

Right now I'm surely getting tested on the financial front: slow year work wise, the Revenue Quebec saga (yup it continues), and most recently a large unexpected car repair bill. Can't say that it's been fun but underneath it all there's a sense of trust - in myself and in the world around me - that it'll all work out, that I'll handle it, that this too shall pass.  I believe I have the assets and creative mindset to find my day, one bill, one reframe at a time...and so I do!

Perhaps resilience is less about overcoming adversity and more about working with it, greeting it with grace, acceptance and trust. And acknowledging that it will take a lot of trial and error, self awareness and loads of support to find your way!

How does resilience show up for you?

Jul 21, 2010

late again

OK this makes two Wednesday's in a row that I'm 'late' with my blog. Is this the proverbial slippery slope? Am I losing my commitment? Don't think so...just circumstances. Last week I was heading out on a canoe trip and today I was facilitating a group.

I suppose I could reason that knowing I was going to be busy with these things I could have created my entry earlier. True. OK - so maybe I am slipping. No need to beat myself up, just notice and focus.

So what am I noticing? That I've been suddenly busy again. This means I've allowed my relatively regular journal writing practice to fall away. Also haven't managed to be consistent with my usual morning walk or yoga time. I realize these are the times that I tune into myself, into my world and my thoughts and feelings about it. It's when idea's come forward or are at least heard.

It's time to renew my commitment to these rituals in order to keep my writing vision alive.

And focus. Yes the focal point has certainly shifted these days. The 'plan' (a vague idea in my head) has now moved into the implementation phase.  Tenant has been found. The move is imminent. No more thinking about what to's now time to actually sort, chose and let go of things. Always easier in ones mind than in reality. But I will persist. I'm both making lists and enlisting support. Action is very close at hand. Maybe even as soon as tomorrow. :)

Jul 14, 2010

a celebration of life

Went to a celebration of life - otherwise known as a memorial - yesterday. I was moved to tears and to laughter as those who spoke revealed their relationship with a man who had lived his life large.

Daughter, sister, boss, friend, granddaughter...each spoke about what both inspired and frustrated (even infuriated) them in their interactions with him. They spoke honestly, candidly and often with humour. Here was a man who had not hidden his talents nor his limitations. Jim was always Jim.

Various objects were brought forward; Jim's clarinet teased out stories of music and learning new skills. His paddle reminded us of his wood working prowess as well as his canoeing adventures in remote wilderness areas. The most startling and revealing of objects displayed were his legs, his two prosthesis, dressed in his socks and running shoes. These truly did encapsulate Jim's character.

In his 80's Jim lost both his legs below the knee to diabetes. Despite a myriad of other health issues on top of the diabetes, Jim was determined to make walking again his last adventure...and he did it. He also showed his leg stumps to anyone who was interested (or even those not). I believe this kind of openness helped many be comfortable with the changes. In health and in illness Jim was himself - forceful, directive, warm, interested, curious and it seemed to me, fully in love with life.

Not sure if Jim ever asked himself what he hoped would be said about himself or his life ....but I believe he would have both agreed and approved of what transpired yesterday. I'm glad he was a part of my life.

Tomorrow I head out on my own canoe adventure. Perhaps the spirit of Jim will accompany me as I ponder my current path and what living my life large means for me.

Jul 7, 2010

fighting fair

Well Revenue Quebec is certainly testing my commitment to trusting the process and going with the flow these days. I received another letter claiming I haven't paid them adequately enough for several past taxation years. Huh?!?

The last letter I received a month or so ago, claiming I'd not paid my 2009 taxes in full, we were able to prove their error. Before that, back in April, an audit of 2006 turned up an expense that was deemed unacceptable, resulting in me paying the difference now. My attempt to defend the expense, already seen as appropriate by the professional bookkeeper and accountant I hire to help me interpret these things, only resulted in an extra interest charge of $170 for the delay. I don't get it!

No business person knows it all. I feel I am doing my fair share of due diligence in hiring professional and respected folks to decipher the rules in area's that are not my expertise. Mistakes happen - we are all human - but let's fight fair. Allow time to review the different perspectives and interpretations, to clarify any rules that are ambiguous - without penalizing the small business person in that process.

I'm thinking it may be time to speak out, take this to my MPP or some form of ombudsman for the small business person. I've seen research that suggests that the small and medium businesses are an important part of our Canadian economy. I believe in accountability and oversight...but it should work both ways. Let's not have policies that work at cross purposes: some designed to create a supportive and nurturing environment while others erode and destroy.

Not quite sure what the lesson is for me in this experience yet. Perhaps it's about finding different ways to fight for my rights and beliefs even in the face of what feels like a formidable power. All suggestions on how to proceed most welcomed!

Jun 30, 2010

trusting myself

I finished an article for fall publication this Monday. As usual it took longer than I expected - but I did meet the deadline and I am happy with what I wrote.

Yesterday I heard that the publisher liked it - a lot! (Phew.) As much as I thought it was a good piece I wasn't sure if it was the content or style that they wanted. I was prepared to write something else if that was the case. In the end it appears that the match is good.

So there's a few things that I'd like to acknowledge to myself:
  • At the top: I trusted myself and followed my heart and mind in terms of what and how I wrote.
  • I was prepared to accept that the article might not be a fit for the magazine without believing that that meant it wasn't good.
  • I didn't beat myself up when the writing didn't come as smoothly and as quickly as I'd imagined it would. I went with the flow, trusting that it would come. 
  • It helped to give myself an earlier deadline than the magazine requested. That gave me a strange mix of space and pressure.
  • The initial conversation with the publisher a few months earlier gave me some idea of what they did and didn't want. It also forced me to get some initial idea's down on paper to send to them. This in turn gave my 'back burner' time to be working subconsciously on the subject.
  • I had someone encouraging and supporting me through the process. Thanks Erin!
  • I'm pretty sure blogging has helped as well. It is a practice in writing from my heart and my experience, in letting go of perfection and in honouring my commitment to myself and the life I want to live. 
Feeling quite aligned at the moment and it feels good!

How are you honouring and trusting yourself these days?  I invite you to post a comment - there is likely someone out there who will be encouraged by your story.

    Jun 23, 2010

    what's perfect with right now?

    Ahhh choices, options, opportunities. I usually greet these with open arms. But sometimes I get tied up in knots over mine, possibly because there are too many and I'm left feeling overwhelmed. Or the opposite, a sense of not having any choice, so feel blocked, stuck or forced into something. Neither are pleasant places be in.

    And is it even true?

    My frame of mind, my attitude, my perception of too many or too little choice is actually within my control. I can choose to be exasperated, tired, fed up ...or I can soften, relax, go with the flow. I can choose to find the mini or major aspects of what's good about any given moment or situation and watch that notion expand... or I can stay with a limited view point and watch the fear and confusion grow instead.

    I'd rather choose the former quite frankly...and right now this is what I'm reminding myself to do by way of the question: "What's perfect about this situation?" I'm enjoying the time I have to play with the written word, to spend time in my garden, to see friends, to simply slow down and rest, and to bring space and energy to idea's I had been putting on the back burner for so long. I'm appreciating the financial choices I made before that are giving me some peace of mind right now. I'm thankful for all that I have, including people to seek support from while I navigate my current situation.

    As I notice these positive outcomes of what was initially feeling quite negative, the good feelings in me grow. And as those good feelings grow they lead to an increased sense of energy, hope and creative idea's. I'm now more open to inviting, noticing, and being discerning (choosy!) about the options, opportunities, and choices before me. I'm operating from abundance again instead of scarcity.

    Choosing to see what's perfect with right now, and trusting myself to handle whatever comes, I'm living more relaxed and aligned into the unknown.  I simply need to remember this - often and regularly. 

    Jun 16, 2010


    How many of us have sat at this spot before...weighing, debating, crying, stomping, we try to decide what is right for us, what path to take?

    What do I have to say NO to in order to live my YES!?

    As I deliberate my choices I am trying to be mindful of my patterns and tendencies. I realize I want to move to action quickly. I want to make a decision, any decision, now. Uncertainty and limbo is uncomfortable. I also tend to spend a great deal of time analyzing - pages of journal writing, copious quantities of tea are consumed as I share thoughts and feelings with friends and colleagues.

    So my 'NO' is to jumping to action and obsessive talking and storytelling about my situation. I will take a cue from my yoga practice:  encourage myself to 'pause between poses', to be still, to simply notice without judgment (or analysis), and give space for integration.

    This will allow me to say 'YES' to slowing down and being here in this moment, in this beautiful place surrounded by nature and creativity, feeling these sensations, listening quietly to what's happening for me...  trusting that clarity and insight will emerge.

    Jun 9, 2010

    using the arts for change - in organizations!

    Clay & Paper Theatre's mandate is to "create, develop and perform multi-disciplinary, community-driven theatrical works using narrative theatre and large-scale puppetry in public spaces for large and diverse audiences. Clay & Paper Theatre produces plays, pageants and parades with the community, grounded in the idea that performance in public space is an act of cultural transformation." They want to "reunite art with the daily life of the community, and to make art accessible to all." How cool is that!?

    Here I am wanting to find ways to use all sorts of artful play to open up conversations and possibilities for people in their work or volunteer endeavours.  What if the 'community' in this scenario was an organization - it's employees, managers and clients?! What if the 'cultural transformation' was about meaning and satisfaction, about putting 'fun' back into effective functioning of the organization?! What if the daily practice were the mindful intentions and behaviours each person put towards a shared vision of what that could look like!?

    Can you imagine something like giant puppets in your work hallways...inspiring a different level of conversation with your colleagues, your boss, your clients?

    How could I learn, play, try this out? I've sent a message to that theatre company asking if there's a way for us to collaborate and exchange idea's. I'll keep my eyes and ears open for other possible stepping stones to this world I envision.

    May mentors and teachers begin to show themselves to me (and you for what you long for)! If you have a contact or an idea or even a group that might want to experiment with get in touch!

    Jun 2, 2010

    the stories we tell

    I recently spent some time devouring a journal on social change directed at leaders and folks like me who work with organizations around the people side of change. Among other idea's, one approach that stood out for me was:  transform the stories we tell ourselves.

    Stories offer a perspective, a view point, a way of seeing. They engage and connect us with ourselves and one another. A good story also tends to carry our emotions - and our emotions are an indicator of what's important and has meaning to us. Those emotions can also distort or limit our perspective of the whole picture.

    Let's start with ourselves ...what story are you telling yourself about what ever is currently happening in your life that has your attention? Are you a hero, a villain, a victim in that story? All three perhaps? How does this story serve you? How is it supporting your vision or goals right now? Is the story keeping you stuck or keeping you moving in a positive direction? If you decide it's not truly serving you, how might you alter the story, reframe it so that you might breathe a little easier, move into a more spacious place of compassion and possibility?

    For me I have been telling myself a story about my stressful situation. Each time I tell it - to myself or to others - I need to find evidence to make that story true. Lately I've decided to tell my story differently ...and I'm already feeling lighter, noticing more and more positive, supportive things happening as I find, invent or stumble upon ways to cope with the stresses that are a part of this journey...and notice which ones I have some control over! It's a great feeling! And a much better story!

    I will soon be facilitating a team retreat and I'm pondering ways we might explore their individual and collective stories, what those stories say about themselves, each other and their work.  By listening deeply and perhaps with a different intention, might they also notice in those stories what is wished for? Might there be some acknowledgment of some distortion, missing information, or an assumption getting in the way of working even better together than they are already? I know that creating a space for that kind of listening and telling does open up ways to transform the stories to identifying what it is they all want more of...and the opportunities to move it in that direction. 

    My hope is that you will uncover more opportunities and possibilities in your stories - even the ones you tell only to yourself - than at first or 10th telling. Try to listen differently.  Sometimes that in itself will produce subtle shifts. Let me know what happens.

    May 26, 2010

    check it out

    About a month ago I went to an event where I saw someone I'd recently been getting to know better. At this event she seemed to ignore me...actually she appeared uncomfortable and distant when I caught her attention. I knew I wasn't making this up since my companion noticed as well.

    I was mystified. The other day I decided to send this person an email to congratulate her on a new position I'd heard she'd made and to check in. I mentioned that at our last meeting she seemed uncomfortable and I wondered if there was some kind of misunderstanding between us.

    She wrote back immediately assuring me not at all. She was able to share with me that she was recently having trouble remembering names out of context and was worried about having to make introductions to the people she was old boss that she loved but was blanking out on his last name. There were other personal reasons that she had been feeling rather scrambled that day but certainly nothing in particular to do with me.  She was grateful that I was able to say something and looked forward to our next get together. I was relieved.

    I am once again struck by how easy it is for us to make assumptions and even more so, to take it personally when things don't go the way we expect them to. My imagination had taken me down some pretty incredible possibilities related to work and other things....based only on this slim piece of interaction, totally ignoring the other evidence that suggested we were becoming colleagues and friends.

    I guess it's possible that there had been a misunderstanding. Either way, my invitation would have allowed us to work that out too. 

    I'm so glad I checked out my assumptions.

    May 19, 2010

    appreciative living

    Have you noticed that there seems to be an increasing trend towards gratitude these days? How wonderful is that?!

    I'm noticing blogs like 1000 Awesome Things and Leah's Daily Thank You Notes.  Locally a group of folks created Awesome Ottawa where once a month they pool $100 each to award someone with a $1000 grant to do something they consider Awesome!

    I think the world needs more of these kind of interventions...and given their increased following... so does the world. 

    About a year ago a friend gave me a book called The Joy of Appreciative Living. In it Jackie Kelm describes a study she did with about 30 participants over 28 days. The exercises were simple and pretty painless:
    • every morning write down three things you appreciate; take a moment to feel your gratitude for each of them.
    • ask yourself 'What is one thing I could do today, no matter how small, to increase my joy?'
    • once a week spend 15 minutes visioning your ideal joy-filled life
    I've decided to take this on as part of my self care regime. I'll start here for today:
    • I appreciate:  IBprofin, the telephone, and hot tea
    • One thing I could do to increase my joy today: spend some time in my hammock listening to the creek, drinking in the sun

    Would you like to join me? It would be great to hear what brings you joy...or simply to learn if engaging in these exercises has affected your day to day experience of life.

    From the sick couch,


    living with what is

    I have been sick with some kind of body flu since Sunday...ironically since being involved in a Wellness Gathering. Guess I must have shook one too many hands.

    Of course this was the week I was going to get a lot of writing done. Nada. Instead I slept, drank copious quantities of water and herbal tea, read, and simply slowed down. Another opportunity to practice letting go and going with what is. Getting pissed off wasn't going to change anything.

    Tomorrow I am slated to facilitate a team retreat. I am counting on things being better by tonight so I can drive in. We shall see what my body says.

    How do you handle being sick? How do you support yourself?

    May 12, 2010

    keeping deadlines

    I'm at Bridgehead, my office away from home, trying to beat the clock (and the end of my one hour access) to post a post.

    I've played with four possibilities so far: resilience, a comment on a TED talk, a reflection on a journal article about social change, and  a commentary on a team process I'm involved with right now. None feel ready to go.

    So I'm here simply writing about deadlines...self imposed ones. I want to try to keep to Wednesday's at 5:00 - no real reason other than to have a deadline. I work better with them I've discovered. I had given up ... but with minutes to go I decided that even just this simple post is enough.

    What helps you stay committed to whatever you're trying to do in your life? 

    (let's see if I'm still connected....)

    May 5, 2010

    self support - know thy self!

    I've resumed my self care rituals. Just by doing that I already feel better. Helping myself, doing what I can with what I have some control over, does wonders for the psyche!

    A self care routine for me means starting my day with a walk. Not only am I moving my body I'm also taking time to notice my environment, the colours of the season, the mood of the sky, my own breathe.

    When I return home I drink some water and then find my way to my yoga mat. Delicious, slow stretches help me notice and pay homage to this body that despite the various aches and pains does a pretty good job of taking me through the world. Appreciating all the many parts that are working well and being compassionate with the parts that need some TLC. The monkey brain continues to chatter but every once in awhile I remember to let it go and just notice my breathe.

    From this place of relaxed openness I let loose in my journal. This is where I allow all those thoughts, feelings, dreams, ideas and 'to do' lists to spill out on the page. No holding back. No need to think about spelling, punctuation or style...just steam of consciousness. It is often cathartic and insightful!


    Being a Queen of Self Sabotage, I figure it would be useful to take note of the things that help support me following through on this self care commitment.

    1) Have my walking/yoga clothes ready for me to jump into as soon as I wake up. I've already decided that this is the best thing for me so no need to debate, dither or be distracted by searching for the right top; just get dressed, drink some water and get out the door!

    2) Refrain from 'just a quick peek at my emails first'. That's a big distraction that often is assured to bump me off my track. A way to help with that would be to turn off my computer completely at night. When it's on and ready to go it's a bigger temptation. I tell myself it will be just a quick check. But it's never quick.

    3) Get up early enough so that the phone doesn't start ringing while I'm in my routine, pulling me into my work day. Early means I get to enjoy that special quality of morning light and air too. This of course suggests I get to bed a bit earlier...enough quality sleep is certainly a smart part of any self nurturing ritual.

    There's a bonus feeling when you walk your talk, when you do what you said you will do, when you work around your saboteur. By taking the time to take care of me I am now more able to meet and greet the rest of the world and it's needs - guilt free and grounded.

    How are you supporting yourself through whatever transition you're in? What are you doing to by-pass your self saboteur?

    I encourage you to post a comment - your way might just give someone else an idea for themselves.

    Breathe Big,


    Apr 25, 2010

    Keeping Fear At Bay

    Here's the situation: after 10 years of successfully helping organizations learn ways to work with change, I've been presented with a big change myself: a huge slow down in work. A blow to the ego as well as the finances. And an enticing invitation for fear to come pay me a visit.

    First step: quelling the fear and maintaining my sense of purpose and confidence.

    How am I doing that? By continually checking in with the story I'm telling myself and what the facts are. Being open to other perspectives. I try to re-frame the negative stories, finding a way to view them that soften their edges, make them more acceptable to live with. I'm also seeking and accepting different forms of support, not expecting myself to weather it all alone. That's a direct link to my own business maxim: "The appropriate support can make all the difference." It's true!

    Up until now my work has primarily come through word of mouth. But as the economy took a nose dive, many clients, both individuals and organizations, are fielding their own challenges. Many believe that limited resources - time, money or people - exempt them from attending to the life blood of their existence, namely you, your people and your sense of shared vision.

    Learning; when the chips are down that's when investing in yourself and/or your people is the most sustainable thing to do!

    Here's how I've keeping fear at bay:
    • reaching out to a few trusted people to let them know what was happening (face vulnerability)
    • investing in myself and my business (with time, smart expenditures, and people support)
    • took back more direct control over the handling of my day to day financial transactions instead of having someone else monitor it (learning curve here but doable with support)
    • created or joined several small groups like The Pulse for learning, networking and support
    • continue to invest in myself via connecting with old and new contacts (not resort to pulling in and hiding)
    • reviewing my vision and seeing what I need to remember or alter given the new information about myself as well as the environment
    • reviewing my beliefs - noticing which are holding me back, which are supporting my growth
    • continually checking in with that voice in my head and try to find the opportunity, the re-frame
    • let go of some things that aren't working (looking some sacred cows in the eyes)
    • let go of perfectionism! (eg: letting this blog go without someone else editing it first!)
    • take some risks (investigating new collaborations, writing blogs)
    • make self care a priority: good nutrition, sleep, yoga and exercise (key for me)
    My bottom line: I believe that many organizations/people occasionally need the external support that I can provide - and perhaps will need this kind of service even more so in the future. I also believe that I am good at what I do (happily, client feedback says the same). And I believe that change is synonymous with learning. Sometimes that learning is a new skill, sometimes it's working with our internal response.

    It all starts and ends with you and your own attitude to your circumstances. What we pay attention to, we get more of. I'm putting my attention on my health, my creativity, my vision, and my support systems.

    How are you approaching your challenge?

    Feb 17, 2010

    Daily Choices to Your Dream

    I'm supposed to be on my morning walk but I find myself creating a blog, my first one, instead. How did I get here?

    A series of innocent choices. I chose to come get my camera so that I could capture the morning light on the trees that are just starting to show their colourful brilliance. That choice put me in my office (in the barn behind my house) which led me to choose to turn on the computer to start the download of emails - for when I come back from my walk I told myself. That was 2 hours ago. Instead I ended up reading my friend and colleagues reason for blogging. They resonated and so here I am jumping in, with no plan, creating a blog.

    Life is full of interesting choices. I'm curious as to why, after year's of Jan and others suggesting I start a blog that I am doing it today. Perhaps it's because I've had an intriguing week with several client groups and I want a place to write and share about why that is. Perhaps it's because I now have some office support so my energy is getting freed up for this instead of weighed down with the administrative minutia. Perhaps because I noticed my writing group is meeting next week and I want to have something to bring them. Perhaps it's all of these reasons in combination ... and more I've yet to discover. Either way it feels good to be setting into place another mechanism to support my dream of writing.

    I'll go walk now (to feed my healthy body dream) and ponder that some more. As well as what to post next. Maybe you'll reflect on your 'daily choices' and see connections to your dreams.