Sunday, March 17, 2019


On this sunny Sunday morning, I went down to my favourite cafe for a takeout latte. While waiting for it to get made in my travel mug, I smiled at a young couple with 2 small boys. The littlest, maybe 3 years old, outstretched his arms to his rather tall daddy, "Up, up, I waaaannnnt UP!"

The dad had no sooner scooped him up and held him to his chest than the bigger brother, about 6 years old said, "Me too. I want up." Ah, so cute. And predictable. I was curious about what would happen next.

The dad said, "You want double lift?"
"Un hunh. Double lift" the boy nodded.
Up he went. Two boys held aloft by their daddy warmed my heart. Their mom touched the pant leg of the dad, and the 4 of them left the cafe together.

A minute later, my latte ready, I pivoted to  follow them back out into the sunshine on Main St.
I saw/heard the adorable 6 year old boy scream and break into sobs, then bury his sobbing face in his hands.

"What's wrong?!" the startled mom asked as she bent over to see to his distress.
With his lungs fully loaded with all the pain of the universe in them he wailed, "You yelled at me!"
Then burst back into tears.

Hearing his simple declaration gutted me. It echoed in my heart, "You yelled at me."

He felt completely wounded and violated by his parent yelling at him. "You yelled at me."

Where is the love in that? What's the justification?

His dad crouched down to calmly offer an explanation, "What you said was not kind."

I didn't stick around to see what happened next, as I was crying. All I could notice was my brain replaying the boy's agonized delivery of, "You yelled at me!" I felt  his sense of betrayal.

I slid into the driver's seat of my nearby parked car and sobbed. His simple words hit some truth in my being too.

Had I been yelled at as a child more than I remembered? Why the big reaction? I scrolled through my sense of history for an answer.

Then I thought about a coaching client whose President had just yelled at the CFO and SVP and how wounded they both were.

"We're all broken children inside." I thought. Why aren't we more gentle with each other?"

I yearn for more gentleness and compassion in how we handle each other. I crave more careful communication and gently truthful exchanges with each other.

A podcast I heard on negotiating with terrorists said that when you are talking with those who are really upset, you've got to go gentle and calm inside yourself. "It can be helpful to act as if you are talking with a small child." said the expert. "They need to feel heard."

This little boy will be my go-to soul when I need to conjure up more stillness and care inside myself when coaching others so that I can be most care-full.

His breaking heart ripped through me as if he'd been my own boy. As if he'd been me when I was small. "You yelled at me."

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Everyday Courage

Lately a number of people have been telling me that my positive energy rubs off. That means a LOT to me. It matters. I want to be a positive, loving force in the world. I even received a Love note from one of my colleagues half a country away! Wow.

I mean . WOW! that took courage for her to write and to know that I would receive it exactly the way she intended. Thank you KB!

It would be easy to assume that I was born positive or "up". I suppose that I was. I could self-amuse. Be made happy by stepping in a puddle or eating jello. Had parents who adored me. BUT...

If you knew me as a kid, a teen, a 20-something, you may or may not recall that I threw fits. I was a bit of a firecracker--prone to the odd explosion with so many things acting as matches. To say my moods were "up and down" would be understating it. A LOT. (Ask my sister: as teens,  I kicked her hard enough in the arm to break her wrist.)

Lucky for me, she forgave me and we love each other. Here's proof:

A few years later, a wise boss, Carol Hyams, told me that I needed to smooth myself out for the sake of others. She had seen me practically immolate a vendor over a difference of opinion. Carol later explained that not everyone wants their hair set on fire (or wrist broken)--that sometimes a breath, some empathy and gentle words are all it takes to stop the emotional backdraft and see the other's perspective. 


After that, I learned to pay more attention to the mercury of my interior world so that I could not only see inside or outside myself more clearly, but inside others. I got good at  inhaling oxygen away from my internal sparks so that they didn't ignite emotional dust bunnies or self doubt. I got a grip. And I got curious about how fear and love wrestle inside us. I became a lion tamer.

Still a passionate person, I'm also a lot easier to be around. I've learned to channel that  crazy tempestuous life-force in service to others rather than merely to light fires and watch them burn.

I am so lucky to have worked for Carol. That she had the guts and level of care to tell me the tough truth. That I could hear her because I respected and liked her tremendously (still do). Carol speaking her truth fundamentally changed who I became--who I am. Her courage changed my life. 

Now, that's a hero isn't it? A hero is someone who chooses to step into a dangerous situation for the sake of another's well being? Well, Carol is my hero. In a very real way, she saved my life with her everyday courage. Now, I am able to help others, and be a more positive force myself.

Are you noticing something that could really help someone else but you are afraid of telling them--don't want to hurt their feelings? Maybe consider how a little everyday courage could really transform things. Sure, they might get mad at you. But what if they really listen? What's possible then?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do." Epictetus

These wise words come from a Greek slave who ended up teaching an emperor, Marcus Aurelius, about life. And almost 2000 years later, Epictetus' words are still true.

I'm playing the role of a bar tender in the play "Home is Where Your Dog Is," written by my friend and mentor, Doon Wilkins. Doon has infused the play with quotes from Epictetus with my character quoting the Stoic philosopher by way of giving patrons advice. 

Something I'm particularly enjoying is that Doon lives life according to many of Epictetus' philosophies--and it's starting to rub off on me. Over two years ago, Doon told me he was going to record his first music CD. He was in his late 60's at the time. He did it! 

Then, a year ago Doon told me he's going to write his first play. Then he did that too. 

He told me he was going to ask famous Canadian playwright, Norm Foster, to review the script to see if it's any good. It is. Norm Foster says, "very, very, very good." And Doon says we're shooting to win the one act play competition so that we can go to High River and compete. We'll see, but I expect we'll do, since the whole cast has already booked the dates in our calendars.

I started 2018 off with an mantra, "Plan. Do." I think the piece that might be missing in this recipe is "Vision the becoming." Makes me think of the wonderful art film "Beckoning of Lovely." about Amy Krouse Rosenthal magical 8.08.08 gathering in Chicago. 

Once you set your vision, and start yourself in motion, something wonderful is inevitable. Or as Epictetus says, "Know first who you are, then adorn yourself accordingly."

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What If?

Found this on Medium. It's so perfect I have to share it. Thank you Annie Fahy for writing perfect, lovely truth. For any of my friends reading this, this is what I wish for us.

What if you came over
Instead of the blinking word,
we could have tea
In the backyard
with the sun?
The gold finches are here
Glimmering brilliance and wonder.
What if we listened together
To the locks within that lift
the flow of blood
From heart to head,
like the Panama Canal
so that the head knows:
what makes a life worth living?
The head could load
it’s frantic thoughts
into the belly
of the rocket
bound for Mars.
We could share this
tea, sun and birds;
Heartbeats and breath
fragrant tea and gardenia,
our thoughts part of the flow
of breath and blood.
Moments organized
for our pleasure
~ ~ ~ ~
All rights belong to annie fahy ©2017

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Elusive Progress

When I was a student of  the Japanese martial art Aiki Jujitsu I was  a terrible student for many many months.
I was slower learning than the other students, and the harder I tried, the more angry I got with myself when I couldn't learn the techniques or keep pace with the moves we were learning in class.

My sparring partner was often Udeziah Hasiki, a brown belt who was the most fluid and adept practitioner in our class. Ude could see my frustration and how my self doubt and criticism affected me. One night, when I we'd practiced a complex set of moves which I hadn't quite gotten right I was exasperated with myself. The soft spoken man held my shoulders, "Mahrtee," he said solemnly. "You ARE i m p r o v i n g. But you, you cahn not see the improvement because you are in the meedle of eet so you cahn not see eet, but we," he touched his chest, "We cahn see eet." He held my gaze to be sure I took in his words.

I could have thrown my arms around Udi. It was one of the wisest and most sensitive things anyone ever said to me.

Ude ended up having to drop out of the dojo because of work and family issues. After years of training hard I went on to earn my black belt. When our Sensei tied that belt around my waist, I had tears in my eyes and  heart for Ude. Without him cheering on my spirit when it did not know its own strength and its own gains, I would not have received such an honour. I would have defeated myself first and not achieved one of the things of which I most proud.

So to you who  struggles to see their own gain, or power, or strength, I say, "You are in the middle of the improvement. You can not see it because you are in the middle of it. But we, we can see it."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Who am I without You?

Enjoyed an enlightening walk and talk with my pal Maegan yesterday. She's a psychologist, the mom of one of my favourite kiddos, and a great, intuitive listener. Earlier, she had adroitly observed me cleaning up after arranging some flowers for a friend in anticipation that my life partner, Dave, would not appreciate the flowers or the mess.

She pointed out that while some accommodation of others' needs is an important part of relating, one can over do it. And I, it seemed was over-accommodating. I was paying so much attention to what my partner needs/needed, that I reduced myself in the process. Hmmm, that would explain the sadness I had been experiencing. The resistance and friction with myself, and that whiff of resentment toward my sweetie.

"What's the antidote?" I asked Maegan.
"Knowing what you want." Silence from me, then the  effervescence of awareness bubbling up from my red shoes to my curly haired head. Ahhhhh. THAT explains a lot.
"You're probably stifling your creativity so that you don't mess up your house." said the divine Miss M. Of course! THAT'S IT. I have so many projects in my head but nowhere for the creative kaboom to happen without making a shambles of the home Dave and I share. He likes it tidy. So do I but I guess...

Other people's messes are always messier than our own. Or feel less tolerable to live with anyhow.

I've had a  day to reflect, and having spent a great coffee chat with my new friend, Justin, I would reshape that awareness to say, I haven't embodied what I want. My body knows that it wants to move and conjure, but the rest of me is being just too accommodating. Time to make a workshop space in the garage. Girl Cave here I come!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

On Facebook today I stumbled on a force of nature: Andrea Balt. Thank you Michelle Kiist for introducing me to her! I was drawn by this quote--I mean who can resist the word "weirdness":

I was then lured in by 11 Super Powers You Didn't Know You Had. #2 spoke to me and I want to work it into a collage for my office wall so that my coachees will see it behind me during our sessions:

"2. The Power of Choice. You don’t work for anyone other than your higher self. Other hierarchies are just imitation. Slavery begins in the mind and it consists in choosing to believe that you have no choice. Choice is the on/off button of our power. Every second of our life is really, just a choice to live it one way or another. There is no ultimate reality. We choose that reality time after time, based on one belief or another, which we also have the power to choose or un-choose.
The molten lava at the heart of life is nothing but raw energy. It’s up to us the way we let it burn us." Andrea Balt.
Wow. That's a good mini manifesto! Choose consciously.