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Archive for the ‘roadsigns’ Category

With the predictions for a very cold and snowy winter looming, my body began to yearn for warmth and simplicity. The answer: a ten-day getaway to a warmer climate.

After our last ‘all-inclusive holiday’ three years ago, I declared that the appeal of such holidays had waned and that in the future, beach vacations were no logger desirable. WRONG! Winter weather can influence your decision-making I have learned. And opinions can change when influenced by certain circumstances. Celebrating the first anniversary of my first knee replacement Jim and I left for Cuba. Flying there with the intention of simplicity, we held our ground engaging only in ample beach walking coupled with book reading and occasional sun bathing (with SPF 60).

As an avid reader this was a great opportunity – no distractions. I chose three non-fiction books to get me started: No Reservations by Alice Steinbach, On the Brink of Everything by Parker Palmer, and Becoming by Michelle Obama. With my nature, that of a soul always searching for meaning, each book touched me in a specific way. Sharing….

No Reservations
Author Alice Steinbach shares a year-long journey, a travel sabbatical, through her experiences in Paris, London and Oxford and finally Venice and other parts of Italy. Stepping away from her busy life as a journalist with the Baltimore Sun, Alice identifies the challenges of engaging in a quieter life when one is accustomed to the demands and busyness of a journalist’s typical routine. Early in the book she asks, “Are we measuring time or living it?’

I was sure she wrote that question for me. I ‘measure life’.  Of this I am clear. I struggle with being in the moment, with having a day without a plan, with facing a new year with no intentions, goals or resolutions. When I go for a walk, I time it or measure how far I have walked. And even as I write this, I know that I am unlearning these habits. But it is an unlearning, a shift. It does not happen simply by snapping my fingers. As I traveled with Alice on her year of adventure and observed her ‘softening’ if you will, I could and can see myself easing into a different approach and life style.

I also loved this: M = EA (Mishap + Excellent Adventure)
Mishaps happen, and we allow ourselves to become dismayed, upset, angry, or disappointed. OR we can re-program and know that a mishap is an opportunity for an excellent adventure.

Okay, some serious re-programming is underway.

On the Brink of Everything
With the sub-title Grace, Gravity and Getting Old, this book spoke to my ongoing search for healthy aging and living the Third Act full-out. By one of my favorite authors Parker Palmer, this book offers a series of insightful essays and poems. The author, approaching his 80th birthday may have a few years on me and with that added wisdom, a slightly different perspective on living the later years.

In introducing the contents, Palmer had me hooked, inviting the reader to enjoy being old as this is a time in life when we can stand on the brink. It is that time when you can take in the full panorama of your life and understand the past, present and future with new eyes and with unfolding wisdom. His invitation is simple – there is very little left to fear, nothing left to lose so simply go for it!

One of the poems he shared truly touched me.

Harrowing
The plow has savaged this sweet field
Misshapen clods of earth kicked up
Rocks and twisted roots exposed to view
Last year’s growth demolished by the blade.

I have plowed my life this way
turned over a whole history
Looking for roots of what went wrong
Until my face is ravaged, furrowed and scarred.

Enough. The job is done.
Whatever’s been uprooted, let it be
Seedbed for the growing that’s to come,
I plowed to unearth last year’s reasons –

The farmer plows to plant a greening season.

I know that not everyone loves metaphor or poetry as I do (especially metaphor). The idea of plowing my life, uprooting the history of rights and wrongs, has been a habit of mine. The poem reminded me of the philosophy I now embrace which is, ‘Everything is perfect’ and ‘Everything happens for a reason’. I have learned that embracing this philosophy is a breath of fresh air for me. It allows me to forgive and forget the sting of certain events; it helps me appraise the lessons learned when I have fallen hard or screwed up; it has helped me understand the building blocks that life lessons are, making me, allowing me, to be the person I am. Finally, it has helped me understand that perfection is a journey, not a destination, a becoming….

And finally form Palmer’s book, this question: What do I want to let go of and What do I want to give myself to? Isn’t this the perfect question for moving forward?

Becoming
And finally, on this week’s hit list, Becoming by Michelle Obama.

I admit, I was skeptical, lots of hoopla and….more.

Okay, I loved it. I would say to any reader the following: it is a ‘full meal’ book, something hardy and which takes time to digest, uplifting and at times disturbing, well written and relatable, a look at what it is like to grow up in a completely different culture than is familiar to me while still identifying similarities.

And I appreciate the message ‘becoming’, which flows throughout the book, understanding that again, life is a becoming, a journey, not a destination, not about’growing up’. It continues….

There were no big AHA’s or profound messages in this book, just a great read and an engaging story; a read that left my curious about what is next for Obama and what is next for her country.

Final Thoughts
As books are prone to do, they have a lasting effect either through sharing or through ideas that are spawned by the words of others.

Coming into 2019 I keep wondering what it would be like to live life from a platform of JOY. I am far from having the answer, yet this questions was informed by some of my reading. I realized that JOY cannot stand alone and that it is a state that we reach in stages.

What emanated from my musings was something I am referring to as the Joy Equation which is as follows:

Joy = Peace + Gratitude + Love.

I hope to share more with you in future blogs. For now I continue to hold the Joy Equations in my heart as I wonder what joy means to others.

Wishing you all a JOY filled and fueled new year.

Until next time,

 

Betty

 

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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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“You need two things to get unstuck: Clarity and Courage. And, clarity is the reward of having courage.”

It has occurred to me in the last two weeks that courage is something to embrace as the opportunities for self-expression continue to unfold in my Third Act. Why courage? I am finding it challenging to crack open the eggshell of old habits and daily routines which have governed my life for so long. One of my greatest gifts in life has been my purposefulness and goal orientation. One of my greatest liabilities in life is my purposefulness and goal orientation!

It takes courage to face it down, to challenge it, to understand how I trip myself up by relying on what I have always known. It is a bit of a trap, for even though we can agree that purposefulness and goal orientation is a great thing, I also see the limitations, the blinders these habits impose.

Enough self-flagellation; this is not meant to be a critique of me. The question really is ‘now what’?

In a moment of clarity, the other day I realized that what I really wanted to release was the ‘need to work’. Yes need. I don’t know how it has been for you, but I was raised in the school of responsibility, obligation and ‘shoulds’. The reality for me is that I no longer need to work. Now on the government payroll with CPP and OAP, I may not be completely set for life and I know that our financial health is strong. So what is this need thing, this drive?

In its place I would much rather embrace the joy of work and be open to whatever that may be. I still love what I do and offer clients. I thoroughly enjoy coaching, facilitation and teaching. Am I not fortunate? And there are as many opportunities out there for me now as there were 20 years ago when I started my business, perhaps even more.

And here’s where courage comes in – saying ‘NO’ to the less than perfect opportunities, releasing the work that lingers that no longer engages me, because I don’t need to hang on. This gives me the space for clarity, the opportunity for opening new avenues of connecting with and serving people. None of this is a surprise; I have been ruminating on this for a while.

I am a person that also enjoys structure and routine and again I am asking if I need it. With summer upon us, I dream of morning walks, time on the front porch in the early morning sun, gardening and painting, hammock time with a good book, evenings in the gazebo sharing a glass of wine with friends. My usual work schedule does not accommodate these things or this life style.

As I envision the July and August landscape, I see great possibility. The second week of July is fully booked with a series of workshops we will be facilitating from Quebec City to Vancouver. Yes, it will be an intense week. More importantly, by having the courage to speak honestly with our clients, we will be engaged in work that we love and which we believe will make a significant difference for our client. Clarity was our reward.

Then guess what, the remainder of July and August is a fallow field. Will I have the courage to ‘BE’ in it allowing time for new possibilities to emerge and clarity to grow?

So onto you. Some things to consider. Are some of your greatest strengths also your liabilities? It is a great exercise to recognize this.

Is it time for you to address some on the repeating patterns that have governed your life and crack open the egg? What would you like to replace these patterns with? Remember if you can’t name it, it is unlikely you will get it.

Summer is such a wonderful time to relax and allow yourself to sink into the days. Why not do so? I plan to and hope you will join me, perhaps even share with me a few of your AHA’s that show up.

Have the courage to let go of what you have always known and create space for clarity to walk in the door.

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I have recently had the pleasure to dive into the work of Joan Anderson, an American author whose books A Walk on the Beach and The Second Journey have truly resonated with me. It is always good to be supported on one’s own journey. Joan’s vulnerability and humanity spoke through the pages, as if she and I were having a conversation. And this conversation was an important one as she disclosed that despite her work, that of encouraging others, especially women, to find room in their lives for themselves, was a message that she personally struggled to live. And in their lies my truth, that despite my ME FIRST teachings, I have lots to learn about ME FIRST.

Like many of us, I am caught up in the flow, forward and backward movement. A self-avowed doing addict, I have trouble at times slowing down and even when I do, I cannot seem to harness my mind. Oh sure there are a few divine moments, when the quiet descends and I find myself in the ebb. I relish those moments and hold on to them greedily, for it is in that ebb space that I see, I know and I am. And then, just as quickly as the ebb appeared I am back in the flow. And I know this is right as well, the ebb and the flow, the movement of the tidal waters around the earth and the tidal waters of our life, is as it needs to be. Nothing is static.

All of this insight falls on the heels of a year of what feels like slumber. One year ago in January 2014, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, a rather serious, although treatable, auto-immune disease. After month of stiff and sore fingers and toes, blood tests and X-rays pointed in this direction. This is an illness familiar to me as I have been part of the Rheumatology community for a few years as the facilitator of the Colour of Communication designed for health professionals working in this field. The irony of suddenly attracting this illness did not escape me. Yet somehow, in the back screen of my mind all this news did not ring true. My intuitive “energy” colleagues supported that belief. Despite this I embarked of a course of treatment which over the next eleven months included two drugs, Plaquinil and Methotrexate (a form of chemotherapy). I saw my energy levels diminish yet I stayed with the program. I saw no observable forms of improvement in my joints yet I stayed with the program. Without recognizing it, I began to slide in my desire and drive to be of service.

Here Comes the Sun - A New Dawn!

Here Comes the Sun – A New Dawn!

Five weeks ago, in a collaborative decision with my rheumatologist, all medications were stopped. We both agreed that while my blood work was highly suggestive of RA, my lack of response to treatment indicated otherwise. Subsequently I have had additional joint studies completed which have revealed osteoarthritic changes in my fingers, no meds required.

I have written previously about Awakening, and I feel that at this moment I am once again in the awakening process. My energy levels have returned, I am waking up with a new sense of vigor and I feel that suddenly I am once again in the game. I have a suitcase full of appreciation for this. You do not realize what you have until it is removed for a period of time. And I, admittedly was under appreciating my life, my passion, my sense of purpose and my drive. I was under appreciating the ebb and the flow.

I have no judgment of the last year or the decision I made to seek and accept treatment for an illness I do not have. Rather I am grateful for my current state of health and for the lessons learned over the past 12 months. A significant aspect of this lesson is to embrace the ebb and the flow, to be in movement and to be in solitude and contemplation; to find the easy balance between the two.

With the newness of 2015 still on my skin, and an appreciation of all the forecasters and pundits, I know this to be a year for transformation. This means casting aside what no longer serves and creating space for what is waiting on the other side of the door. It is in the ebb that I have time to identify the castaways and in the flow that I can reach out and receive what is next.

I encourage you to identify the ebb and flow, the natural rhythm of your life. So much of daily living is forced rhythm. May this leave you with the desire for contemplation and the willingness to step into the ebb for a few moments everyday!

Until next time,

Betty

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On Tuesday October 21st, Jim and I travelled to Ottawa with our friends Lynn and Norm. As they were visiting us from New York, we wanted to take the opportunity to briefly tour the nation’s capital and take in an event at the National Arts Center. After parking the car we walked by the National War Memorial. Norm, who is former US Army Corp of Engineers, noticed the two soldiers keeping watch and commented on how respectful this was. Interestingly, as many times as I have been to Ottawa in the past, I had never noticed the soldiers standing there before. Our day continues with the joy of sharing our capital city and enjoying an evening performance of ‘Once’.

Then Wednesday arrives. Following our friends departure I become suddenly aware of the activity on Facebook and expressions of horror, fear, sadness and more. Canada and Canadians have, in a few short moments, seen the arrival of terrorism at the foot of Parliament Hill. One of those soldiers, perhaps one of the same soldiers we saw the previous day, has been gunned down. In a country of peacekeepers, the guns they lean into during their guarded stance, are not loaded. That same gunman heads for parliament hill where havoc reigns for several hours until he too is killed. Again, as Canadians, we have never required the extreme security measures of our southern neighbours and as a result, he easily entered the building.

More than inheriting fear from this sudden attack, I feel that we as Canadians have lost something much larger – our innocence and perhaps our peacekeeping soul. I will admit to having shed tears this morning, at the unnecessary loss of a young soldier’s life and at the enormous loss we as Canadians are experiencing.

And, this is only a beginning. Now comes CHOICE!

I have long understood that there are only two ways to live in the world, in LOVE or in FEAR. Yesterday’s incident thrusts into a crisis of consciousness and an opportuntiy to decide where we, individually and collectively, will play from here. Will we dive into fear because of this act and in response to the terror that reigns in locations around the world or will we hold ourselves in love because this is really what we want to perpetuate.

I ask you to choose Love!

Radiate Love - Painting by Betty Healey

Radiate Love – Painting by Betty Healey

Through sceptical eyes you might ask me why.

My simple answer is this: what you give energy to grows.

Do we want to grow FEAR – no! Do we want to grow LOVE – yes!

And so with that in mind, this is my request and advice. Feel outraged! Express it through writing or discuss with a friend. release it. Fill the space with LOVE, peace, gratitude and all the emotions that you consciously want to perpetuate and grow in your corner of the world. This is the way we curtail terrorism.

Living in FEAR offers fuel to a fire that I do not believe most people want to live in.

I invite you to join hands with me and feed the fire, feed yourself, feed your life with Love and Peace. You get to choose.

Until next time,

Betty

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Four weeks ago while browsing through Facebook I came upon a TEDx talk by fellow Canadian Drew Dudley entitled This Game has No Winners. The fifteen minute presentation not only had an impact on me, it validated my personal beliefs and the work we have been doing with organizations.

In his talk, which I invite you to watch (see link below), Drew talks about the education system we have been raised in and how we have been cultured to not challenge the ‘truths’ we are taught, nor the rules or perspectives that are downloaded to us. These so called truths and rules form what I refer to as the IBSC (better known as the Itty Bitty Sh—- Committee), that choir of critical voices that sings in our ear and tells us how we are expected to play in the world. We teach our children that life and work is a game, that there are winners and losers, the great competition and the fight for resources. It is a scarcity rather than an abundance model.

The symptoms of this game are all the things we complain about in today’s world: greed, jealousy, bullying, empire building, spiritual dis-ease, lack of meaning, and more.

Many of us believe that there is another way. The what if is, what if we chose not to play this game? What if collaboration, understanding, and yes, LOVE, were the more powerful and potent tools. What if rather than beating the other guy down we endeavored to simply Add Value! What if we lived our lives through our compelling ‘WHY’, our sense of purpose and how we chose to serve the world? Same or different?

As Drew stated in his talk, there really is only one goal to strive for in life:

I will add aim to add tremendous value in every single interpersonal interaction in which I am a part of.

I will strive to give someone something they didn’t even know they needed or wanted.

…this is a matter of no longer asking what we need to do, rather asking who we need to be

(and to choose) to be the type of person who allows the people around me to shine brighter.

Drew Dudley

 

(To view this TEDX Talk go to http://youtu.be/d02UlBC3knw )

In the last two years we have focused our work on Conscious Communication, developing your communication intelligence. This has two fronts, one internal and one external.

The internal front addresses those conversations you have with yourself and asks if these conversations are uplifting or diminishing. It requires listening in on the IBSC to assess the messages that are running in your head and what you are feeding yourself. Are you telling yourself the truth? Are your messages driven by ‘them’, all the voices which told you the rules and expectations? Is your internal conversation intelligent? If it does not lift you up, it isn’t!

The external front addresses your relationship with the world, friends and family and work colleagues. It begins with self-knowing and acceptance which then allows you to see others and how they are similar or different. Communication Intelligence or CQ teaches that life is about understanding and working with diversity, learning about, celebrating and embracing your personal strengths as well as the strengths of others. It teaches that the approaches others take in their communication to us are not about us, they are about the individual speaking. Hence it teaches how not to take things personally. Of course the ultimate vision is collaboration and adding value.

I invite you to examine both your CQ as well as the value you add to every conversation and interaction. This might just be the new start you need….

For more information regarding Conscious Communication go to www.roadsigns.ca.

 

Until next time,

 

Betty

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I have just returned from a two week vacation on the beaches of North Carolina. The intention was to break completely with the day to day obligations of running a business and have a complete rest. That said, I imagined that I would stay connected, follow my e-mails, keep up to date – not really keeping with the intention you might note!

The Universe has a way of providing what it is you need, so do be careful what you ask for. On the way to our vacation spot I began noticing the SIGNS! First was:

it can wait

Located in the I-81 in New York State, this sign took me by surprise. I could not believe that rest stops had been converted into ‘text stops’ to accommodate those drivers who cannot seem to travel a few short hours without texting. This raised the question, “what are my connection needs?

Arriving at our destination, I noted hat the name of the resort was Barrier Island. Another SIGN?

barrier island

Barrier – suggesting ‘boundaries’ perhaps. Hummm, some food for thought. Perhaps I was being directed in a way that would force me to live up to my intention after all. The next indication: no wi-fi in the condo unit. If I wanted to connect I had to walk to the closest Starbucks, conveniently located about 15 minutes away or the office. While there was access it had to be planned. This was a good thing.

The Importance of Stepping Away
We have become so connected with our electronic devices, Facebook, e-mail, texting or what ever our choice, that it has become an unconscious habit. Without the presence of wi-fi, plus no blackberry or phone as we had not purchased a US plan, we blissfully found ourselves in a vacation vacuum, a space to be filled not by the day to day but simply by ‘being’. I rediscovered books, devouring at least 4 great novels and Cheryl Stayed’s book Wild, walking the Pacific Rim Trail. I spent more time resting, reflecting, meditating, walking the beach, the types of things I rarely give myself permission to enjoy when engaged in a full throttle life.

Returning home, I appreciated the importance of the break – I can breathe again. Yes re-entry has been challenging. As if to keep us dis-connected, our Internet was down when we arrived back in the office today. It is back – a temporary situation, yet a gentle reminder of the benefits of taking time for oneself and for one’s significant relationship. Stepping away also gave Jim and I time to talk without the distraction of technology, to have real conversation outside of work and to re-connect in ways that are vital for couples.

The last SIGN, sighted a few days before leaving our North Carolina Retreat:

good for you

Stepping away gives you both the time, opportunity and a place for you to be good to you. It is an essential ME FIRST act. It offers you perspective on your life, an ability to look at things from the outside in. So here is my parting advice: on your next vacation, disconnect your devices! You might just find yourself again or at least those parts of you that get lost in the busyness of life’s demands.

Until next time,

 

Betty

 

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