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Archive for the ‘Intentions’ Category

For some reason I awoke this morning in a searching frame of mind. What kept emerging through this search was GRACE. I have always considered GRACE as one of the four pillars of my work and life. I define it as ‘ Being is a state of Grace with the world and within your relationships; allowing yourself to surrender and be in the flow.’

As I continued my rumination my mind tracked back, remembering a chapter in the ME FIRST Playbook in regard to the GRACE Diet. Themes repeat themselves in my life and I saw this as a SIGN to resurrect and review some of the tools and exercises I have created in the past. Memory is an interesting thing for me as I often lose sight of what I have written and taught over the years, not in a way that invalidates it, simply that my mind marches on.

Given the body of work I have accumulated, moving on at this point may mean returning to what I have known and practiced and resurrect the principles, ideas and teaching which have been the backbone of my work. Since I have been called back to GRACE, I have decided to use this as my starting point.

The GRACE Diet was created to address the junk food diet many of us feed ourselves on a daily basis. I am not referring to the food you put into your body in the context of what you consume, rather the diet you are feeding your spirit. Are your words to self spiritually uplifting or depleting? And if you have developed the art of putting yourself down, how can you begin re-programming that inner conversation. This is where the GRACE diet comes in, an acronym standing for Gratitude, Respect, Acknowledgment, Courage and Enthusiasm.

Gratitude: gratitude practices are bountiful these days, whether you keep a gratitude journal, have a daily practice of sharing gratitude with friends, or at the end of day as a before bed ritual. It is easy to assume that such a simple practice is fluffy or unsubstantial yet research has shown that those who practice gratitude regularly are more positive in their view of themselves and of life. Knowing this, why not give it a try. I can personally testify that I have had a daily gratitude practice for over twenty years and it is an activity that fuels my positivity every day.

Here is your opportunity– try the 21 day gratitude challenge, recording 3-5 gratitudes every day for 21 days in a gratitude journal and see what happens. Gratitude helps you notice what is right with your life.

Respect: I am referring to self-respect. In fact you can not elicit respect from others if you do not respect yourself. This is a simple truth. Time to check your inner dialogue and listen to the stories you are weaving about yourself. Remember that a large portion of your story was never yours; it was given to you by others – a parent, a teacher, a friend, some external source. What they saw or believed is not yours to own. Respect implies that you begin to see the truth of who you are and re-direct the inner-critic to becoming your inner-coach. Most importantly begin simply with I am enough.

Your opportunity: listen in to your inner dialogue, record the five most common things you tell yourself and, if they are not uplifting, re-write them. Now say them to yourself repeatedly. You are now in the process of ‘neural re-programming’, creating a new inner pathway.

Acknowledgment: acknowledgment marries gratitude and respect, in fact I often refer to self-acknowledgment as the highest form of gratitude. This takes respect a step deeper but encouraging you to see the gifts and strengths you possess, the impact you have in the world, the important roles you play in the lives of others. This is no small thing even though you may not feel important. I refer to it as the highest form of gratitude as self- acknowledgment means thanking your higher power for the gifts you possess, whether this refers to your abilities within your career, as a parent of family member, for your creativity or expertise. It goes like this, ‘I acknowledge my love for writing and relaying messages of hope and selfness to others.’

Your opportunity: as part of the 21 day gratitude journal, add on 2-3 self-acknowledgment statements. You might be surprised at what you learn about yourself. BTW a great source for self-acknowledgment can be harvested from the feedback you receive from others.

Courage: courage is the backbone of GRACE. The ME FIRST journey is not for the faint of heart, it is for the brave. It is easy to go through life accepting everything, never addressing your inner dialogue and riding the wave of self-deprecation. It may not be healthy yet many people will not addressing it on. Trust me; it takes courage to face yourself, go inward, re-shape the inner landscape, face the self-critic and tell him/her they are out of date, and design a new conversation. And those who choose not to join you on the journey will share their skepticism and endeavor to pull you back. Courage, listening to your heart – it desperately wants to heal, which wants to guide you forward into a more positive and beneficial relationship with yourself.

Your opportunity: create a daily practice where you pause, reflect and ask your heart, not your head, what it wants. Simply listen in.

Enthusiasm: begin to identify moments of joy in your life; pay attention to what lifts you up; limit your access to negative news (lord knows there is plenty of that these days), and play with people who generally have an optimistic attitude. In other words, feed your enthusiasm for life. Allow yourself to dream and consider the future. Share those dreams with others and encourage them to share theirs. Create a vision board that lights you up and which, when you look at it, inspires you.

Your opportunity: back to the 21 day gratitude journal, add 1-2 things which are fueling your joy and enthusiasm each day. One of mine: I am enthusiastic about the new opportunities opening to me at this time in my life. (BTW I have no idea what they are, I simply trust they exist!).

Let me close with a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh: “ If you are capable of living deeply one moment of your life, you can learn to,live the same way in all other moments of your life.”

The GRACE diet is a recipe for emotional and spiritual health that can sustain you and lead you to a more meaningful life.

Blessings and Until Next Time,

 

Betty

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You show up every day, sometimes mindfully and sometimes not. You want to make a difference, in the lives of clients and co-workers, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. Your intentions are sound, to live a life of purpose and hopefully passion, to be of service and to make a difference. You step into each day, into your work, and you engage, hoping that your efforts will make the world a better place.

This is how I have endeavored to live my life. But how do you measure success; how do you know what your ripple effect has been and whether you have had a beneficial influence on others and the world around you. Reality – for the most part you don’t!

So here I am, about to turn 70 years old (OMG!). I have been working in my career since I was 22. You can do the math – I have been working a long time. Sometimes I have worked in a J.O.B. – Justifiable Occupation or Business. For the most part I have worked in my Passion Place, which makes work play. I suspect that in my Passion Place I have been more successful in having an impact.

Recently, while not looking or asking, I have received a few Mental Pay Cheques, a series of comments from random sources speaking to the impact my/our (Jim and I) work has had through the years. This feedback is not solicited, it simply shows up. It is not ego building it is humbling. And yes, it does feel good especially as I am of an age where I often look back and reflect on the many roads I have traveled career wise and wonder if it has made a difference.

Now it is true that not everyone is carved for the same stone as I am. Not everyone has the luxury of pondering their purpose and designing their work accordingly; so to this end I have been fortunate.

Recently, while attending the National Sales Meeting for our primary client, Jim and I were greeted warmly by more people than we can count. We have been fortunate to work with many of the teams who are part of this multinational Pharmaceutical company over the last ten years.

Our inaugural event with this organization was a Continuing Health Education Program, The Colour of Communication, which we co-designed with their Education Department. This program was created to provide Rheumatologists, and their staff, strategies for being more effective in their communication and teaching with their patients. Over a period of three years, I had the opportunity to teach this program in twenty-three cities across Canada reaching about eighty percent of the Rheumatology community. It was demanding and it was a privilege.

At the recent National Sales meeting, rheumatologists were asked to provide feedback to our client regarding the impact they had had over the last decade. Of the three areas highlighted by the RA Community, this program, the Colour of Communication, took top billing. While Jim and I were not present for this feedback, the business unit manager made sure it was delivered to us when she saw us at the meeting. The organization was thrilled with this feedback as was I. Truly a Mental Pay Cheque.

There have been other such moments recently which I do not need to detail, only to say that when your work feels rewarding, when you sense you are making a difference even if you cannot measure it, there is a good chance you are. If your work is intentional, fueled by a sense of purpose, of being of service, you can be reassured that you are having a beneficial impact. When you go to work versus having a J.O.B. you play in an entirely different field of energy.

Pause – as I am writing this blog the phone rings. Damn, an interruption, just when I am in the flow of writing. And, nope – a coaching client calling unexpectedly just to check in and give me an update on how his business is turning around. He simply wanted to share the good news. A Mental Pay Cheque !

I am waking up and appreciating that Mental Pay Cheques are my roadSIGNS. For months now, maybe even years, I have been struggling with the idea of retirement. In fact, I really dislike the word. In conversation with some of my colleagues, I have also come to appreciate that I have nothing to retire from. It seems to me that these random Mental Pay Cheques are reminding me to stay in the world. I realize that teaching, facilitating and coaching are in my DNA, they are not roles that I play, they are me. They are a part of every conversation I have, whether that is a friend, a family member or client. It is not a J.O.B., it is my work in the world.

Whether I continue to work for remuneration or not, this is a part of me that will remain. Whew! No need to retire, I am who I am who I am.

And I am fortunate. As I mentioned earlier, I have been the creator of my own career for the last 23 years. I do not represent the majority. Some folks have to retire or are retired from their J.O.B. Then what?

I believe it is a new beginning, an adventure, an opportunity to fulfill unlived dreams, passions, and desires. Yes, I am an optimist and I believe that the Third Act, as this phase of life is now referred to, is a second chance at life. It is not to be wasted or endured. It is designed to help you live in ways you had not imagined; a time to be curious as to what is possible.

If you are reading this and wondering where to start, here are the questions that I play with and offer to clients:

  1. As I look around the world today, what is it I want to influence, shift or change?
  2. What is it that gives me joy, lights me up?
  3. What is my sense of purpose?
  4. When I decide to step away from work, what do I want my legacy to be?
  5. How do I wish to influence the world around me?
  6. What are my core values? Am I living from these?
  7. In what ways am I experiencing my joy, my purpose/passion, my values in my life/work?

In some way I feel like I can breathe again. I am in gratitude for the clients who continue to choose to work with us and I am content in the knowledge that when this ends, something else will appear. And I appreciate the random Mental Pay Cheques coming my way, reminding me of the ripple effect my work has had and continues to have.

It has taken years for me to appreciate myself and to be authentically grateful for the gift of my work in the world. It is worth pausing, taking a look at the ripple effect you are creating and have created, to receive the feedback and compliments with an open heart, and to see the gift of who you are in the world.

On that note…until next time

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Living in the Mystery

On December 30th, the brink of the arrival of a new year and a new decade, I read the following quote by Brian Andreas, author and cartoonist:

“I don’t know how long I can do this,” he said. “

I think the Universe has different plans for me and
we sat there in silence and I thought to myself
this is the thing we all come to and this is the thing we all fight
and If I am lucky enough to lose (the fight),
our lives become beautiful with mystery again
and I sat silent because that is not something that can be said.”

Beautiful with mystery.

These words resonated with me. And as for the entire quote, I do believe the Universe has plans for me which I am not yet aware of, and yes, I have in my own way need fighting the fight for, like anyone else, change and uncertainty can be a bit scary. The quote goes to the heart of everything I have been exploring over the last couple of years from thriving in the third act to sitting on the threshold.

I do love when words wake me up. As I began to contemplate what living a life beautiful with mystery looks like, I felt that light within me being re-ignited. Mystery suggests curiosity, wonder, imagination and more. And yes, it is undefined, has no boundaries or framework. It suggests allowing life to unfold, engaging patience and trust, embracing new ideas and notions.

OMG, that is scary. That means being in flow. That means no New Years Resolutions, lofty goals, and all the should and must do’s. It means living in the moment, being intentional and clear with your wants and desires, understanding what brings you joy and lights you up, paying attention to the roadSIGNS and when opportunities present themselves, taking action.

Yes, I do live my life this way and yes, I have done so for a long time. And I am not an expert, I remain a student. I want a life filled with mystery.


Entitled Inner Space, this feels like Living in the Mystery!

Staying Upbeat

Sometimes when I am writing about life and living, I wonder if I am being naïve. I am well aware that we in Canada and other civilized nations have the great privilege of working on ourselves and determining the choices by which we want to live. Meanwhile, around the world, millions of people struggle to simply put one foot in front of the other every day. You can feel guilty or you can express gratitude and do your personal work, understanding that your work matters to the world. This is an important reminder.

Likewise, the news. As I write this blog, 2020 began with catastrophic wildfires in Australia, a pending war in Iran because of the stupidity and will of one man…I could continue. As an empath, the situation in Australia had led me to feel great sadness at the loss of millions of animals and maybe the termination of certain species. These events challenge my optimistic spirit even as I endeavor to embrace the mystery.

Two days ago I listened to an interview with Margaret Wheatley, a well know leadership guru and community builder. She spoke to the despair she feels with the state of today’s world. Despair, a word not generally in my vocabulary and yet, exactly what I have been experiencing. As Meg continued, she described her new relationship with despair. Although she felt despair was something she always avoided, she now believes that it is perfect experience it, be in it, move through it. Avoiding it only buries the feelings.

Considering this, I realize that staying upbeat means acknowledging the feelings you have, experiencing then to the extent they need to be experienced, crying if you need to or finding another way to release. Feeling emotional pain, moving through it, and then returning to the mystery is a key step of remaining resilient in a challenging world.

Wheatley went on to share her current work (BTW she is now 76), a program for developing ‘Warriors for the Human Spirit’. To quote her,

We need leaders who recognize the harm being done
to people and planet through the dominant practices that
control, ignore, abuse, and oppress the human spirit.
We need leaders who put service over self,
stand steadfast in crises and failures, and
who display unshakable faith that
people can be generous, creative, and kind.

Margaret Wheatley

I may need to investigate this further, being a warrior for the Human Spirit. It feels like the path I have been on or could be– a roadSIGN?

 

Unraveling

In a previous blog I wrote about sitting on the threshold, which is equivalent to living in the mystery. I also shared my thoughts on responsibility and how taking, being and living responsibility has been a hallmark for this life’s journey. This was my work of 2019, or so I thought. After noticing the old habits of assuming responsibility for others and for who knows what else, I now realize that responsibility is an enormous, thick knitted sweater I have been wearing since my earliest memory. I am now unraveling it, stitch by stitch, row by row. I am making progress and every now and then I run into a knot which takes effort to undo so that I can continue unraveling. Evidently this work continues in 2020.

 

I have shared my insights regarding responsibility with a number of folks now and have been met with tears, AHA’s, OMG’s, and more. It seems I am not alone. And so, in approaching a new year, a new decade, an upcoming transition, I encourage you to practice, embrace, be open to the following:

 

  • Begin living in the mystery. Ask yourself what you want at this time in your life, what brings you joy, what lights you up? And play there for a while.
  • Be intentional, pay attention for the roadSIGNS, and when opportunities appear, explore them.
  • If you are sad, if you feel despair, allow it, understand it, move though it. Always remember that for all the bad/detrimental events occurring in the world, there of hundreds of uplifting events occurring. Direct your attention to these as well and look at your life through the eyes of gratitude.
  • Assess what you are assuming responsibility for. Before jumping in to rescue anyone or takeover a situation, ask yourself, “Is this my responsibility? Is this mine to own? If I take responsibility am I helping or hindering others in their learning and living?

 

Final Thoughts:

Last evening I watched An Astronaut’s Guide to Optimism 2020, with Chris Hadfield. I encourage you to take a look, as it creates perspective and balance in what is happening in our world.

 

Until next time…..

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Following my last blog regarding ‘curiosity and mindset’, I had the opportunity to facilitate  ‘Vision Book’ Workshop for a few friends. I admit, I am a bit of a Vision Board junkie and I enjoy the creativity and intuition that underlines this activity. It is also an apt way to explore, reflect and yes, cultivate one’s curiosity.

I also enjoy reviewing the boards months later and recognizing those aspects of the vision that have manifested. That said, vision boards get discarded, eventually. I gave at least ten to the fire pit last summer as we were de-cluttering the office.

I began to wonder what it would be like to create a Vision Book – would it be any less amazing? Would it be easier or more challenging to organize? What would be different? It did occur to me that it would be much easier to keep, and to follow my journey as it evolved. I had in fact played with this idea several years ago, and still had the book – only a few pages used. And so, I present to you the experiment.

Page One

Questions! Nothing cultivates curiosity like questions and more questions. You don’t need to find the answers, at least immediately. As Rilke wrote: “Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. ” I love this quote as well as the idea that we will grow into the answer, which as Rilke suggested, at a time when we are ready.

Questions are like intentions. While you may not have the answer at the moment and you are opening up the space for the answer to arrive. Paying attention to what the responses might be, and when an answer does appear, having the curiosity and the will to explore, are the next vital steps. That said, “what defines me?” seems like the eternal question, one that changes with the seasons, which shifts with life experience, learning and experience, and one to travel with everyday. Hence, this is Page One!

Finally on this page comes “I am that unexplainable impulse!” Yeah, I hope so! not that I want to surprise you as much as I want to surprise myself, with spontaneous, perhaps even erratic impulsive choices. That could be FUN!

Page Two

This is my ‘Mindfulness’ page, reminding me of the importance of stillness, quieting my mind, being in the moment. I know only well enough, that there is no space for answers in an overly busy life. An even in semi-retirement I can find lots of ways to be busy. Busy however, does not mean engaged or inspired; it is simply doing.

I love the pose, although my knees no longer bend that way, but it is beautiful and evokes breath, peace, and serenity. With that is the statement ‘the only thing standing between me and fun is….awakening.” This over and amazing photo of storm and light; and isn’t this a great representation of what awakening is like. You can read the other words captured on the page. Two that strike me now in review are: ‘uncork extraordinary’ and ‘add whimsy to your morning’. Seeing these messages I can see an underlying trend –> Lighten Up!

Page Three

Let your passion define your journey. Interestingly I read this morning that happiness is rooted in pleasure (passion) and purpose. This is a fitting definition for me as I understand the importance of purpose, passion and pleasure in defining our lives. This is the root of my exploration at the moment. Capturing what is important to me at this phase of life, and how s my purpose/passion has grown, changed , evolved. An important question to hold and fed by wake-up calls, wisdom, stepping up and out and embracing the plot twists.

Page Four

Who is my tribe? What and who inspires me? What am I willing to stand-up for? What is my contribution to building a better world? What do I rejoice in?

People in circle, dancing and celebrating. This picture reminds me of the power of the circle and how I enjoy facilitating and helping others find their answers to the same questions I am asking myself. And yes, this is a response to my purpose and passion.

Final Word

These are the first four pages of my vision book. I may share the others; there are ten in total. More importantly, I hope this inspires you to give yourself the gift of an afternoon and with a few good magazines (O Magazine is the best), a pair of scissors, a glue stick and a blank book or canvas, that you take the time to explore.

Begin by setting a simple intention such as, “I am open to new possibilities for expressing myself, living my life, engaging in my Third Act, …..”

Choose a few magazines and begin going through them. Allow yourself to respond to images and words, tearing out whatever appeals to you. After thirty minutes or so, stop yourself; this may be a challenge!

Review the images and cut or tear them down to size. you may begin to see themes emerge. Lay all the words and images out on a large surface and see what emerges as you compile them. The begin to paste. Let your intuition guide you. There are no rules! AND, have FUN!

Once completed take time to review, then step away. In the following days, take another look. What do you see? What shows up that you did not see before? If you are really brave, share with a friend and allow them to share what they see or to ask you questions? This adds another layer.

Until next time…..

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As 2019 approaches, more quickly than I would like to admit, I find myself reflecting over the weeks and months of 2018 and sinking into the many lessons that have popped into my life during this time. As I have not written my blog now for several months, I thought I might take the time to share what I have been thinking about and consider what is important in forging forward.

Learning to Walk Again
I am now officially bionic, or at least in my view. On January 5th and July 11th of this past year, I received two new knees. Even as I write this, doesn’t it sound and seem just a little weird; the idea that my used and very arthritic knees could be replaced by Titanium and Teflon. Cool!

And as I write this and consider that I met my Orthopedic surgeon just over a year ago, I am feeling blessed by the presence of a small miracle. I can walk again, easily and effortlessly. I can no longer kneel or do squats (Darn!) and so what!

Yes, I am being a bit glib as I hesitate to mention how challenging the journey has been. I have had to both literally and figuratively learn to walk again. Literally, because it had been at least four years since I had been able to walk with comfort. This was a huge blow to me as I am a ‘distance walker’ priding myself in walking 6 km or more 3-4 times per week. Walking was where I found solace, quiet and answers, my meditation. All of this had come to a grinding halt. I had had to learn other ways and means of deriving the same benefits walking could no longer offer me.

And although walking has returned, I quickly realized that a few years of less than optimal physical activity had left my walking muscles tight, shortened and weak. Indeed, I have had to learn to walk again, heel to toe, engaging hips, knees and torso. You would think that as a former physical therapist this would have been obvious. My thoughts – it’s not obvious until it happens to you.

And then there was the metaphorical learning to walk again. In the last few years I have stepped more fully into my third act. Knee surgeries, and a few other health hiccups this past year, have given me ample time to rest in the ‘neutral zone’ of transition; time to wonder, reflect, explore and probe the possibilities of what’s next. Going slow is not my usual speed. I enjoy action. This has been new territory for me. I continue to learn how to walk in this space.

Love, Loss and Lessons
In August my brother-in-law David left us. He died by his own hands; yes, it is difficult for me to say – suicide. This act is one of those things that you hear about and which happens to other families. And now it arrives on our doorstep.

At the wake, watching a series of slides featuring Dave and the way he lived, looking into his eyes, I asked my brother-in-law Todd where Dave went to. We were both puzzled. This is the hidden story of depression and anxiety and our inability as a society to understand the pain, hopelessness and frazzled brains that leads to this choice. Dave’s descent into all of this was rapid and insidious. Therapy, medications, support – nothing reached him.

The lesson for me, as I hope it is for our family, has been to exercise my understanding, to celebrate who he was in health (an amazing father, husband and citizen), and to exercise non-judgment. I have endeavored to understand that he died of depression, as malignant and aggressive as any cancer I have ever experienced. I am sad; our family is sad. We are a relatively tight knit family and a hole had been punched in the fabric of who we are.

And on the other side, Jim and I have been privileged to be part of Mary’s journey. My sister-in-law has amazed me with her courage, her ability to face this sudden loss and the effect this has on her life, her capacity to support her three children, and most importantly, to move on. She is and has been a role model for all of us.

Cultivating Curiosity
When I grow up, I want to be….. How many times do you hear that from youngsters and the occasional adult. And, do we really want to grow up. Doesn’t it imply that there is an endpoint to reach. And once reached, then what? This has me wondering.

I have decided that growing up is overrated. That end point I mentioned feels too finite, that once I reach it I will have learned all I need to know, that growing up is the death of curiosity. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration AND…..

If I have learned anything over this past year is that curiosity is the life blood of remaining young and vibrant; it may even be a significant antidote to aging. Curiosity is more than just learning although learning is definitely involved. For me it is living with the ‘what if …’ What if I made different choices, what if I go in this direction, turn that corner, jump, leap or run. What if I stopped doing all the things I habitually do and do well, what would show up? What if I created more ‘being’ space, what would I learn or experience? What if I traveled and explored more, what surprises would reveal themselves to me?

You get the drift. I recognize not everyone will agree with me just as I understand that curiosity is like breath to me. And with that understanding, I will continue to cultivate curiosity and to endeavor to understand what is left for me to be and do as I continue my life journey. Care to join me?

Living in the White Space
Take out a clean sheet of paper. Now take a pen or pencil and draw a dot on the paper. You chose how large. Step away, avert your gaze for a moment. Now look at it again. What do you see?

Most people will see the black dot. Do you? What else do you see? Do you see the white space around the dot? Which occupies more of the paper, the black dot or the white space?

Imagine for a moment that the black dot represents all the negativity around you – sickness, loss, negative news, fake news. Yes, these are the things that both capture and hold our attention. And yet, in reality, they are only a single black dot in the whole. Negative events exist in a field of other events, mostly positive and uplifting, small miracles happening around us, generally unwitnessed because the black dot holds our attention.

I want to learn to live in the white space. I fear that the black dots may take over and I will lose my sense of optimism. The white space does not imply ignorance, it simply means learning to be in the small miracles of everyday from waking up, to a new flower or fresh snow, to the abundance of life and to the good and great things happening in the world around us.

I remember listening to an Abraham (Esther Hicks) tape a few years ago on the topic of negative news. She was counselling an audience member with a fatalistic and downward spiraling attitude and reminding him that for every piece of negative news reported, there are thousands of uplifting and positive events occurring and unreported. Fear makes news. Love does not.

And so part of my learning to walk again, despite the changes and challenges contained within 2018, is to remain in the white space, to identify the daily miracles, to cultivate my curiosity and seek out the amazing things that are happening around me.

I would love to hear your thoughts and observations.

Wishing everyone a joyful holiday season and celebration.

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My coach Patty frequently reminded me that in life there are many choices and we get to choose what it is we want. She suggested that we chose in favor of ‘what lights us up’. While we no longer have our weekly calls, I find myself considering her advice more often than not, reminding myself that at this stage of life, my Third Act, I can finally give myself permission to choose for me. With obligation, responsibility, ‘shoulds’ and more fading into the background of my life, I finally can choose what lights me up.

The re-awakening of this idea came through a conversation with one of my coaching clients last week. Like many of us, her retirement has been dedicated to several causes. Being the loyal person she is, it has been challenging for her to say no or to step away from a group or cause once she has committed. And like many of us who are living our Third Act, she is slowly and progressively burning out because the work involved no longer lights her up. Fortunately for her, she is aware of this and is seeking coaching to understand how to extricate herself from the circumstances she has co-created and to begin making different choices for herself and what comes next?

As each of us moves forward at this time in life, perhaps any time in life, there are a few intentional questions that we might consider asking ourselves before jumping in…Does this choice light me up?

  • Does this choice bring me joy?
  • Does this choice pique my curiosity, engage me, inspire me to help me learn?
  • Does this choice serve to feed my soul, my purpose, my passion?
  • Does this choice contribute to the legacy I wish to leave for others?
  • Does this choice have meaning to me?

Have you asked yourself any of these questions? I have and I have also forgotten to. I still find myself saying yes to things that do not respect any of the above and most certainly do not light me up. The thing is, others know that you are capable, perhaps a go-getter and probably reliable, so they ask you to get involved. And out of some sense of obligation or loyalty to them, you say yes. The thing is, in doing so, you are being disloyal to yourself.

As stated earlier, life is about choice. It is my hope for me and for you that we begin making the choices that light us up because if not now, when? This is the opportunity of the Third Act.

All that said, you may be reading this and thinking, ” I haven’t a fu__ing clue what lights me up. Maybe, maybe not. If you have never explored the idea, how would you know. Maybe what lights you up lives under layers and layers of responsibility and obligation. It might be that you need to clear your plate of anything you are currently engaged in to create space for new possibilities. It’s challenging to see an entirely new landscape if you are living in the basement.

So start here:

  • List all of the activities that currently occupy your time.
  • Run them through the filter – the questions listed above. Do they fit any of the criteria?
  • Decide which of these activities you will drop (it doesn’t need to be all of them but at least some of them). This is called space management.
  • Before replacing any activity take a time out. Set an intention: “I am attracting opportunities that light me up, that bring me joy, that inspire and engage me”.
  • When something appears, especially if it is something totally unexpected, exercise your curiosity and explore it.
  • Check in with your heart frequently, your head not so much. If you find yourself excited or intrigued, you are in the right ball park.

It all sounds simple and it is. We are the filter that complicates things.

The key is making mindful decisions for your Third Act and how you want to play in the world. Look before you leap, reflect before you commit, be true to yourself and your desires. And, most importantly, have FUN!

Until next time,

Betty

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This is a dangerous thing, or at least that what my husband believes. It seems that whenever I tell him “I’ve been thinking” it implicates him as well. This is not always true and as you can imagine, some of my plans cannot be executed solo.

It has been awhile since I have written. Recovery from my knee surgery has occupied the lion’s share of the last few weeks, as well as planning a staycation when are plans to travel to Portugal were circumvented by a medical incident. I shared this in a Facebook posting as follows:

Making Lemonade:

Four weeks ago today I landed in the ER with “atrial fibrillation” (rapid, irregular heartbeat). Unexpected, surprising as this was a first and very scared. As the cause was unknown and is yet to be determined (although I have my suspicions) we were advised to cancel our trip to Portugal scheduled for Feb. 25th. The disappointment was huge, tears were shed. We had both been looking forward to escaping winter and shedding the cabin fever that had accumulated.

After a couple of days of living in this space, we both decided that this lemon needed to be turned into lemonade. I signed up at NAV Fit and began swimming twice per week. Jim played hockey locally. We began walking short distances. We checked out events in Ottawa and Montreal and scheduled plays and other events. We went for a spa day. In other words, we set about enjoying our “staycation”.

Today marks our return date from Portugal, where it has been raining most of the time we were supposed to be there, and I am celebrating what has been an amazing four weeks’ vacation. Attitude is everything; that has been my most enduring lesson. I have lingered in bed a little longer in the mornings, meditating and being grateful for the day, I have read more books, I feel regenerated. And isn’t that the goal of any vacation.

When faced again with lemons, and I am sure there will be opportunities, I plan to feel what needs to be felt, move on and make some lemonade.

Turning around this unexpected situation required some planning, an attitude adjustment and a wee bit of thinking. There is much more to share however; here are a couple highlights.

Forgiveness
My staycation allowed me ample time for reflection and reading. One of the books I chose was Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto. After listening to Mark interviewed on CBC radio, I was completely attracted to the book and to exploring a topic which has long been important to me.

The book is a memoir dedicated to his grandparents Hugh MacLean and Mitsue Sakamoto, both of whom experienced incredible hardship during WW2, Hugh as a prisoner of war in a Japanese Camp and Mitsue as a Japanese Canadian expelled from her BC home to labor in Southern Alberta.

Can you imagine the first time these people met around a kitchen table when their respective children decided to wed? The book describes Mark’s grandparents’ journeys, and how these journeys formed him and led him to understand forgiveness.

I learned long ago that to forgive was to give yourself a gift, for those that you refuse to forgive have no idea that they have wronged you. Not forgiving others causes you pain, not the unforgiven. To forgive is to release oneself from the pain and the burden. I also learned that forgiving never implies agreement or condoning the actions of another. These two learnings have helped me time and time again.

“Forgiveness is moving on. It is a daily act that looks forward. Forgiveness smiles.”
Mark Sakamoto

 

Self-Confidence, Self-Esteem and Self-Worth
I have long-held the opinion that self-esteem and self-confidence are different. I believed that as despite thinking very little of myself for much of my life, this did not stop me from having the confidence to try things.

In her book Wire Your Brain for Confidence, Louise Jewell describes self-esteem as one’s global evaluation of self and one’s self-worth. By contrast, self-confidence is defined as the belief you can do things well or succeed, feeling the capacity to cope with things. You can have one without the other. Finally, she also describes self-efficacy which is essentially the courage to act.

It occurs to me that these days it is self-efficacy that I need the most. Yes, I have spent a life time in action, I have always had goals to be reached, I have always been willing to dive in and see what happens. This seems to have changed recently however, as I step away from the business that has kept me occupied for over 20 years. Frankly, I feel a bit lost. And while I know that the sense of being lost is very much part of the transition process, that neutral zone of discovery, I have to say it doesn’t feel that comfortable.

In looking further into self-efficacy and saving myself from falling into a self-judgmental hole, Jewell goes on to recommend several ways of retaining one’s sense of self-efficacy including setting goals, perseverance (which I also consider to be GRIT), and expecting positive outcomes. Of all of these perseverance rings most true for me, bringing me back to GRIT which is defined as Passion + Perseverance.

What I have been thinking is that it is time for me, perhaps all of us, to define our passion for this phase of our life, that thing that lights us up or which we want to influence in some way and then set about defining how this can happen. All of this requires esteem and belief in oneself, the confidence and courage to try what might be new things. It all feels a bit like starting over.

 

This is some of what I have been thinking about, finding my way through what some days feels like a maze and other days feel like a vast open field. Either way I have a couple of solid intentions for the journey forward:

  • A happy healthy body, resilient and strong
  • Work/projects/activities which both inspire and engage me and which contribute in someway to the betterment of our world.

Sounds simple….Maybe not….Jumping in anyway!

Until next time

Betty

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