Archive for November, 2012


It’s that time of year when expectations seem to mount. The Holiday Season is quickly approaching, family members are voicing their expectations of you, there’s a big sale at Sears you want to take advantage of and you just found out you have three Christmas parties booked the same evening. Match all these ‘extra’ demands with the demands of an already busy life and you may feel like you are out of breath.

So what do you do, how can you keep your sanity with all the additional demands this season seems to impose. It is meant to be a time of celebration and joy and yet as you look around you, you’re not sure there is a whole lot of that going around! Time to shift gears.

A Resilience Check-In
Here’s an opportunity to take your pulse and assess just how you are doing. You can do so by measuring your resilience, your ability to bounce back in response to added responsibility or adversity and not become overwhelmed. Take a look at the following statements and give yourself a score from 1, I strongly disagree to 5, I strongly agree.

I remind   myself every day of the things I have accomplished. 1 2 3 4 5
I am able   to take things in stride and remain calm in most circumstances. 1 2 3 4 5
I have the   ability to handle a number of different things at the same time. 1 2 3 4 5
I have a   strong sense of what my priorities are and put these first. 1 2 3 4 5
I know   when to say ‘NO’ and stick to my guns, even when others may not like my   answer. 1 2 3 4 5
I am able   to laugh at myself and circumstances when things don’t go as planned. 1 2 3 4 5
I have a   strong sense of my core values and purpose, engaging these to guide me   through each day. 1 2 3 4 5
I am   resourceful and can find my way out of most difficult situations. 1 2 3 4 5

Add up your score – you will have a range for 8 to 40. While this is not a scientifically valid questionnaire, you can use your score to understand the degree to which you are handling the demands of your life. A score close to 8 suggests you are approaching overwhelm, perhaps feeling frantic, fatigued or even postponing the things that need to be done. A score close to 40 suggests you are dealing with the day to day easily and effortlessly and coasting into the holiday season. Most of us will most likely score mid-range.

This is not a diagnostic, just a notice, and as you notice where you fall, let me offer you some strategies for managing the approaching holiday season in a way that will assure you that Joy and Celebration care the main theme.

Holiday ‘Sanity’ Tips:

  1. At the end of the day, bring your attention to all the things you accomplished during the day. You may notice that your habit is the opposite, focusing on what you did not get done. Stop that!
  2. Give yourself time during the day to come up for air – that may mean sitting at your desk and taking a few deep breaths, closing your eyes for a short meditation or going for a 10 minute walk.
  3. Be planful. Look at your days and make sure you identify your priorities. These are your big rocks. Once these are achieved, other things fall easily into place.
  4. When you are faced with decisions regarding your time and various commitments during the holiday season and the upcoming weeks, let your intuition guide you. Say NO to what does not serve you. This will make your YES’s much more powerful.
  5.  Learn to laugh at yourself over the innocent mistakes. Little damage is done in most cases and laughing goes a long way to disperse any negative energy.
  6. Take some time to identify your core values. Your values are the guiding principles by which you choose to live. They help you to say NO and to choose the direction in which you want to move.
  7. Simplify – attend fewer events and buy fewer gifts. Focus on the meaning of the season.

Know your NO’s

The holiday season can be challenging or easy – the choice is really yours. Make this your best holiday season ever by making perfect choices for you. Pass this gift along to others.

Until next time,


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I am very much a believer that we have some friends for a reason, others for a season, and some for a lifetime. This notion of friendship had been on occasion challenging for me. As a very loyal person, the idea of having friends only for a reason or a season has been a hurdle for me to climb. That said, as I grow older, I recognize the value in all friendships and the many lessons I have learned from those I have attracted to me during this journey.

This past week my dear friend Betty Jones left us. I have known Betty only a few years meeting her for the first time in 2007 when we travelled to Townsend, Tennessee to facilitate to tw-day retreat. She was known to me beforehand, fondly referred to as Colonel Betty. Her sub-title was a bit intimidating and I wondered who I was about to meet.

Sight unseen, Betty invited us into her home. The person who greeted us was not military. Rather we were greeted by large warm, brown eyes, an open, curious face, and southern hospitality that would make even the friendliest Canadian pale. Yes she was retired military, a nurse with an MBA, formerly the head of the nursing corp under the surgeon general of the United States. Impressive, yet this was just a mention for her current focus was working on Obama’s plan to extend health care benefits to all Americans. She was in her own way, a social activist, go-getter, health advocate and all around energetic vortex.

Her own health had had a few challenges including a heart attack and stroke, although neither had the capacity to slow her down. On our last visit to Townsend we were out with her on the trails of the Great Smokey mountains. An experienced hiker knowledgeable about the lesser known trails, we wandered the woods taking in a feast of spring flowers. Although seemingly lost at one point she simply reassured us that she knew exactly where we were and to just follow her. We did. She was a leader in so many ways!

Highly spiritual, a seeker, always curious – this is how I came to know her. Her home looking out over the Great Smokeys below, became our southern respite.

Janice, Denine, Betty Jones, Jim – the Happy Hikers, March 2012

Betty’s daily  intention was to live large, love lots and die fast. After a monthly luncheon with her best friends, Betty felt fatigued and unwell. She left a few hours later.

I am better for knowing you Betty and I celebrate your life. And while I am sad you left us too soon, and that I had hoped our friendship would continue for years, I am grateful our paths crossed.

For all of you who have lost friends or family in the last period of time, I encourage you to acknowledge your sadness while celebrating the gifts the other person gave you. Celebrate their life. This is not the end, in fact it is a new beginning, a continuation of life in another form. As humans, we become so attached to the human form.  We need to remember that the spirit is so much more and lingers with us always.

Until next time…



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None of us wants to admit that we have failed at something and yet, in my view, failure is not an option. It will happen at some point in your life. So perhaps the issue is not whether you fail or not but how you deal with failure when it happens.

Let me propose an alternate thesis to what you can do when you fail versus what you most likely have been doing. Most of you will travel the path of self-recrimination coupled with ample doses of self-criticism. The option – treat failure as a time of celebration.

Before you throw something at me, let me explain the process. Take a moment and turn back the clock of time. Remember the many great lessons you have learned from life. As you do a quick life review, recall the two or three greatest lessons you have learned from your life experience to date. Ask yourself this: ” Did I learn this from a great success or from a significant failure?”

My guess is, that if you are really honest with yourself, failure will be the word that comes up. Here are some of my examples:

–      That time in university where partying and play overtook my desire to study and I almost failed my year. I had never faced the possibility of failure before –it shook me to the core when that ’D’ appeared on my transcript. Suddenly I had a new-found respect for the need to study and my desire to complete my degree.

–      Or that time not so long ago when I accepted a full-time job even when my intuition was telling me not to go there. My intuition was right – the job was not a perfect fit. Giving it up after 9 months felt like failure (I don’t give up!) and I learned some very valuable lessons. I remembered why I had started my own business and that I did not want to work for anyone else any more. I gained some extraordinary business wisdom which I have since applied to my own organization.

–      Or that time where Jim and I drifted too far apart in our relationship and almost lost our way. This may have been my strongest sense of failure ever. I really believe is us and our marriage. Facing this failure down taught me everything I needed to know about re-building our relationship to where we are today.

There have also been numerous business failures – poor investments of money and time, bad decisions regarding training approaches – the list go on.

Failure makes us human. More importantly, other than offering us life’s most important lessons, it also offers contrast.

In ME FIRST vocabulary contrast is what you need to have so you can decide what you really want. Failure represents what it is you don’t want to repeat or to attract on a regular basis. With the experience of failure you can turn things around and define what it is you want to fill your life with. I enjoy looking at my own life through the lens of, “Well that was less than perfect’ and then imagining what it is I would rather have.

Failure is just like that – it shows you what you don’t want. Here’s the good news – you get to choose again!.

That said are you ready now to bless your failures? Okay, maybe that is going too far so let me suggest a slight modification. Here is it: Everything you have experienced in life is perfect.

Still a stretch?

I’ll explain – you are the sum total of all of your life experiences. You are the person you are today because of what you have experienced which includes both successes and failures. If you agree that life’s’ great lessons stem from your failures, then they are perfect events in your life. They taught you what you needed to know. There no longer is any need to feel guilt or remorse over something that happened in the past. Simply chalk it up to experience and be grateful it happened.

Here’s the deal. If you want to learn and grow and expand and reach for more, failure is NOT an option. If you can learn to bless the failures, see them as lessons and laugh at yourself a little more, you are going to be far healthier and happier. The thing is, you get to choose how you respond. Choose well for YOU!

Until next time,


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