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Archive for August, 2010

Space Management

I have been thinking about space a lot recently, the space in my life and what occupies it. This SIGN appeared during conversations with several of my coaching clients and as I am prone to do, when a theme repeats in my life, I know it is a call to pay attention.

Here is an example of what the conversation has been about. You find yourself complaining about something that you really want to attract. This could be a new job or a new relationship. Despite this desire, and repeated work on the details,  for example, the qualities and characteristics of a perfect mate,  there are no signs that this person is showing up in your life. 

At the same time you are registering this complaint about your current single status, you also notice that you are extraordinarily busy, with other friends, with your work, with life’s responsibilities. In other words, the space in your life is full. 

I remember when I was involved in various change management processes back in my health care days. It was a time when we were shifting to program management. The chronic complaint from managers was the lack of time to take on all the new tasks required with this shift in focus. Part of the problem was the lack of understanding that, as you take on new responsibilities and the associated duties, you also have to release some of the things that you used to do that no longer serve a purpose. The difficulty was that people did not want to let go. It was the way things were always done, and like DNA, these tasks had become part of the fabric of each person’s working life. I can remember constantly using the analogy of the dinner plate and reminding others that the plate can only hold so much before things begin to fall off. 

This was not time management, it was space management. Here I am once again, looking at this issue with others. The difference now is that space management is required for all aspects of life whether this has to do with your work and the inherent responsibilities, your relationships or even your spiritual care. 

Melanie (not her real name) came to me with the following concern: “I want to know what my life means and what I am here to do.” As I coached her through an inventory regarding what currently takes up space in her life, she noted that she takes care of three men – her father, her husband and her son – in different ways. In addition she is the go to neighbor when anyone needs a ride somewhere or an errand run. Her days fill up, she is chronically busy, yet most of the activity is relatively meaningless to her. Despite wanting to understand the meaning of her life, this does not happen as there is no space left over for her. 

I believe that to some degree we are all guilty of space invasions. Again, when I was in health care, I would often see on the daily OR list ‘removal of space occupying lesion’. These lesions were occasionally cancerous, but more often than not benign, slow growing tumors that simply took up space in the body. My own mother-in-law had two grapefruit size lesions removed from her ovaries in 2001. She looked about six months pregnant prior to the surgery. This was indeed a space occupying lesion (SOL). Similarly it has occurred to me that most of us have SOL’s of our own life, often not physical, frequently emotional or spiritual. Some examples: that old emotional baggage about how we were treated as a child, an old wound that never quite heals because we can’t forgive someone, an old belief system that serves no purpose today yet lingers around. You get the drift.

So what would it look like if you began to clear space in your life? This is the question I am currently resting with. Specifically I am curious about my work, what I have habitually been doing that no longer makes any difference and is simply a long term habit. I am asking myself what kinds of programs I have been offering and have on my website that no longer meet a need or are not in demand. What affiliations I have that may be tired. I can’t help but wonder what I could attract if I cleared some space. I am not clear at the moment what it is I want exactly, so I have set an intention that as I clear space I open doors to possibility and potentiality for things I cannot currently see and I attract all that is my highest good. I will keep you posted as to what shows up. 

The important thing is to be curious and open-spirited, to be willing to stop and take a look at your life and to ask the important question: What SOL’s do I have in my life? You may find a few, some of which will be no surprise to you and others which may be unknown to you until you dig. Whatever they are, understand that SOL’s bind you up, leave no space, closing the door to opportunity. If something you really want is evading you at the moment, you need only ask, what is taking up all the space in my life that prevents the new from coming in?

Until next time….

Betty

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I Wonder

August had been, so far, a lazy month, at least in the sense of relaxing a bit more, spending time in the garden and receiving. Like most of us, I often forget about the receiving end of the equation, I am too busy giving. And that giving takes many forms. I am realizing how complex life has become. People ask me, What is roadSIGNS?, what is it you do as a company? I sometimes struggle to find the words to describe it because we work in different arenas and each arena is perfect in its own unique way. What I do know for sure is that we are guides on that important journey of self-discovery, whether that happens to be through coaching, our retreats or the corporate work we do. And it is all perfect.

On August 28th we have scheduled the second annual Goddess Camp (We still have a couple spots available). Registration has been easy and effortless attracting the perfect participants.

Jim and I have asked the Universe how to bring more people here to TighShee to share in the energy we have created through the gardens and the labyrinth. Retreats are one way and weddings another. I am also applying as a registered wedding celebrant for Ontario. It continues to unfold.

ME FIRST has now surpassed 1000 copies sold, 20% of the way to becoming a Canadian best seller. We are already anticipating a second print run as feedback on the book continues to arrive as do the orders. This has been an amazing journey for both Jim and I, shaping our lives in a new way and guiding our work as we build additional related programs including WE FIRST for couples and TEAM FIRST for teams. I am holding the intention that a tidal wave of ME FIRST energy embraces our planet as we contemplate how this will all unfold.

The other wonder has been the unfolding of my family history. My cousin William and I will soon connect by phone – I want to hear his voice, and learn more about the uncle I never knew and my new extended family.

I am left with this overwhelming sense of ‘ain’t life great’, the wonder of it all, the roadSIGNS that appear everyday and open up new opportunities, the untapped resources. Intentionally, I am attracting possibilities and potentialities that I have not even dreamed of and which the Universe is lining up for me everyday! Do you want to play with me?

Until next time…

Betty

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When I was a little girl, my mother told me endless stories about her brother Felix Conrad. He was, in my child’s mind, a mysterious character who left his native Nova Scotia as a young man for a life of adventure in Canada’s north. Although he came from sea faring stock, it was clear that Felix was of the land. He joined the Hudson’s Bay Company and traveled to Baffin Island, where he embarked on a career as a fur trapper and trader. 

My mother had few details of his life there although he had gifted her with a photo album. I remember leafing through the pictures and examining the round faces of his Inuit companions. A few knickknacks could be found on the corner hutch in our living room passed on to my mother from Felix. The one I most remember was a cribbage board carved from Ivory, brass inlay denoting the necessary markings and pin holes. I played with this as a child and can still feel the slippery smoothness in my hands.

All these memories seemed to have slipped away following my mother’s death although I suspect the album and the ivory are tucked away somewhere in my brother’s basement waiting to be re-discovered. What I do have is the remnant of a fox fur collar also gifted to my mother. She had this attached to every dress-up coat she ever owned even when that coat became worn and tattered. The fur that framed her face gave my mother an air of aristocracy and I suspect she derived some hidden connection to Felix from its softness.

Felix died long before I was born, simply disappeared. Rumor was he had been murdered. No one knew for sure as he died in the north. There is little indication that he even existed except for an inscription in St. Mathew’s Lutheran Church in Upper Lahave, NS, where he is listed in the first confirmation class.

Recently however, his name has come to light once again. Due to the curiosity of one of my nephews, who decided a few years ago to begin a genealogical dig of our family tree, we have discovered the details of Felix’s life in the north and his mysterious death. I have now learned that Felix is buried in Cape Dorset and that he died from alcohol poisoning, drinking brew from his own home-made still. I can only assume that alcohol became a necessary companion during the never ending nights of the Arctic North.

I have learned these details from William Tagoona, my Uncle Felix’s grandson. Felix had a son named Armand, who went on to father eleven children, all of whom are my second cousins. As I share this, the truth of Felix’s life, and the generations which followed him, continues to unfold in a delightfully curious way. This part of Felix’s life was completely unknown to my mother, my brother and to me; we had no idea that he had fathered a son. 

William with Peter Mansbridge, August 6, 2010

This unfolding has been a significant roadSIGN for me. Following my mother’s death I had this great sense of loss, not only at loosing my mother, but at not having a family. As far as I knew, I was alone except for my brother and his two sons. I thought what a tragedy that my grandparents, Ida and Aden bore four children, two of whom died in infancy and one of whom disappeared as a young adult. While my mother lived until her sixties, she too was gone and this part of the Conrad clan had simply vanished.

I knew nothing of the generations before me. Nothing was recorded, as far as I was aware. And then everything changed. Through a website, GenForum, my nephew met Melanie, Felix’s great granddaughter, and the rest as we say, is history.  The Conrad family tree has been traced back to the late seventeen hundreds in Germany, to the original members who immigrated to Canada. I am enjoying the discovery and excited about what is to come as William and I continue to share and I peel away the layers of my lost family which was never truly lost, simply unknown to me. It makes me wonder what else I don’t know about the past and about history and how, each member of my family tree contributed to the person I am, the genes in one great genetic pool. 

I am not sure why this seems so important although it feels like that missing puzzle piece that you search for at the completion of a jigsaw puzzle and that somehow got misplaced. The puzzle has been sitting there for years waiting, holding the space for someone to find the missing piece and to drop it in. The mystery of Felix Conrad, his disappearance, his life in the north, his legacy, has been solved. I am deriving great comfort from the knowing and immense curiosity about what continues to unfold. 

I invite you to be curious. Be prepared to be surprised!

Until next time….

Betty

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I was listening to author Carol Graham, Happiness Around the World – The Paradox of Happy Peasants and Miserable Millionaires, being interviewed on CBC. My husband Jim and I were traveling to Ottawa where I was to deliver a talk. Part of my preparation prior to giving any presentation is listening. That may be inwardly, to my own quiet voice, or outwardly, to whatever voices appear in my immediate environment. Whatever appears is a roadSIGN and this particular interview had a bearing on what I was about to present as Graham discussed happiness.

There were few surprises as she expanded on the notion of happy peasants and miserable millionaires; money, it seems, does not assure us happiness. Despite this, we in western societies are on the ‘hedonic treadmill’ pursuing our belief that the more we acquire the happier we will be.  This of course is a fallacy and as Graham’s research revealed, many of the poorest people on earth, leading simple and uncomplicated lives, experience happiness in ways we can only dream about.

In measuring happiness over the adult life span, beginning at age 18 and upward, Graham also identified a ‘U’ curve. Happiness tends to be at its lowest point between the ages of forty-two and fifty. Is this what we in western cultures have for so long labeled as the mid-life crisis? Is this the big ‘U’ in YOU? 

I thought Graham’s research to be very interesting. As a coach I have certainly identified this mid-life anxt among my clients, although not always limited to this specific age group. It is, in my view, a critical time in both our personal lives and careers, a time where typically one sits back and takes a look at what one has accomplished and what is coming next. By the age of forty, most of us have 15 to 20 solid years of work experience behind us and, if you have traveled a similar path to me, you begin to assess what it is you really want to achieve through your work. You might even ask the question what is my work, what do I believe I am here to do? How am I being asked to serve? What is my ‘WHY’, the meaning behind my choices? Am I making a difference? 

I believe that your JOB may or may not be your work. Let me illustrate this with a story. A friend of mine and fellow writer, Dawna, experienced a serious form of cancer in her mid-thirties. She was hospitalized for an extended period of time receiving chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. She was very sick and during that time admits to losing her sense of who she was. Her illness simply took over her thoughts.

Dawna admits that the most difficult time of each day was after 8:00 p.m. when visiting hours ended and she lay awake in her bed, alone with her thoughts. Every evening however, she would have a visitor. As the darkness settled around her, she would hear the sound of the mop coming down the hallway, its familiar swooshing sound approaching her room as the evening janitor cleaned the hallways of the day’s accumulated dust. As this night worker approached her room, the mop handle would click against the wall just outside her room and this person would glide into her room. She would sit beside Dawna’s bed, take her hand and whisper to her, “Dawna you are bigger than cancer; Dawna, you are bigger than your illness. Dawna you have much more to give this world, focus on this”. After a few moments of sitting with Dawna, the person would rise and leave her room. The swooshing sound of the mop would resume and disappear down the hall. 

Throughout Dawna’s journey, this woman visited her. Dawna did heal and she eventually left the hospital. She did not know the woman’s name and in fact had never seen her face, for they always met in the dark. As you consider this story, you will recognize that this woman’s JOB was to be a janitor. Her work however, was to be a healer. While her JOB gave her the avenue to pursue her work in the world, she had many choices as to how she approached her job. 

The ‘U’ in YOU, that time when you happiness wanes, is an opportunity. Rather than judging it, why not use the time as a signal for checking in with yourself and asking those critical questions about meaning and how you are experiencing life.

Imagine for a moment that you are a pebble. You are thrown into a smooth, glassy surface of water. The moment you and the water connect, you create a ripple effect and those ripples continue to expand affecting life around you. The ripples represent your choices, how you engage in life and the world around you. 

As you reflect on the ripple you want to create, here are the three critical questions to examine:

1)      How do I choose to live in the world? What are my core values?

2)     What do I choose to do in the world? What is my work, my call to service?

3)     Who do I choose to ‘be’ in the world? What makes me tick?

Let these be your roadSIGNS.

By the way, according to Graham’s research, the happiest people are healthy and in stable relationships. Happy people live longer, enjoy life, are politically active, believe in God or a higher power, and have friends and family they can rely on. Interesting how none of these attributes are directly connected to ‘material goods’.

Until next time….

Betty

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