Posts Tagged ‘learning’

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.

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


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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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