Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fired in Line of Duty

A friend I met through a consulting gig just got fired today. She called because she was worried about what she had or had not done right to get fired.

I told her we could go down that path. But it might be more helpful to realize that the job and the company had changed, and that the role she was required to fill did not now fit with her genius or her passion.

It’s hard to realize that the context we’re operating in is changing--as are we. When we start to feel friction, it’s because things that before weren’t rubbing up against each other, now are. It’s important to notice what’s causing the heat--see what fuel there is for us.

In this woman’s case, she was having trouble completing her tasks. Now, she’s more of a Starter personality type, full of ideas and vision, and less interested in the details, so she might have trouble finishing most things. But, now she was finishing less.
This lack of focus, or motivation, is usually as sign that you aren’t living your passion, and not working from your innate talents.

I don’t know this woman well enough to be certain of her innate talents, but she’s highly articulate, philosophic, and wonderful at building relationships. She was in Marketing--which seems right for her at first glance. She could have hired a Finisher for the details. But the actual daily work involved in the job changed--it went from idea generating and strategizing the plan to administering the plan. What the job needed now was more of an Administrator. Not an Idea/Relationship generator.

She lost energy and heart while filling out forms, writing direct mail, following up on process. Not surprising that things were left undone. Or that she got fired.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I am sooo psyched! For almost a decade, I have longed to work with my two sisters. My dream was that we’d design, build and run a school together. This was not their dream. I managed to get my older sister, Neville, to act as President to my start-up, What If? so that I would have to be accountable to someone other than myself. That went brilliantly for me. I’m not sure she got anything out of it . After my accident, I took Doon’s advice and wrote down the 10 Things I want to Do before I Die. I misunderstood him and wrote 101 Things. oops. #37 “Work on a book with my little sister” is now in progress! During my last visit to my parents’ in August, I overheard my little sister, Grins, say that she’d written a children’s book: she had had it illustrated, and she felt less than satisfied. My little sister had found time to write a book!?! She’s the hyper-involved mother of 3 under 11yr olds, a teacher and busy community-outreach programme coordinator and she found time to write a book! (Shades of Harry Potter!). I asked her if I could give illustrations a go. (That’s the beauty of knowing what’s on your 10 Things list. It’s EASY to spot opportunity). My sis sent me her draft manuscript, and I’ve tried some preliminary drawings. Check it out! One is above--that’s Shady, the Newfie Dog and character in the book. I tell you it feels GREAT doing these sketches! Who knew that I could draw dogs? I’d never before tried. Also great, is #82 on my list was “Do more art or creative each day with tangible result.” Ahhh. I love efficiency. Especially when it feels THIS GOOD! Good thing I didn’t listen to the night monkeys when they came and whispered, “You don’t know how to draw dogs!@#$@” Those night monkeys better watch out, or I’ll draw a cage for them. Here’s Jinx, Shady’s sidekick:

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I've been absent for a while.

I could blame my crashed laptop. I could blame a busy summer, or my brush with death...but really, it was that I had too much to say and couldn't figure where to start, or rather stop.

So I've been throwing it all down into a sloppy-joe of a manuscript.

Recently, nutritional healing for my heart, mind, body, soul came from my sojourn to www.webofchange.com. An assembly of folks transforming their corner of the globe, this event defies description. I came away feeling like I'd attended a family reunion where I discovered that all the truly enlightened, brilliant cousins had been kept secret from me for decades.

I was lucky enough to be a presenter and test drive some of my learning with others. Hard to pack everything into a mere 75 minutes. More soon...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Back in Saddle--sort of

Fear is that little dark room where negatives are developed.
Michael Pritchard

Sorry to have been absent for so long.

My laptop charging pin snapped off the motherboard, so no laptop (new MacBookPro on order). And my cell phone fell off the kitchen island and it’s charging pin bent so I couldn’t recharge.

Hmm. Is the universe trying to tell me something?
Like, “you aren’t recharging” or “disconnect for a while”?

So I listened.
I returned to the Elbow River to the scene of “the incident”.
Sat quietly, overwhelmed by the sound of the water. It was the sound I remember most from hanging there in the river.

I cried a river.

Then I walked downstream put my hands in the rushing water, and my eyes to the sky and thanked the River Gods for releasing me.

And I paddled.
First a canoe. On flat water of beautiful Lake Minnewanka.
My sensitive, sweetie, Michael packed an elegant picnic complete with china, wine (in real glass stemware!), and a wildflower bouquet. Terrific.

Next, a canoe in the swift water of the Kootenay.
That was scarier. We arrived at our campsite riverside after midnight, so we slept in the back of the van with the back flipped open to hear the water and feel the stars.

I couldn’t sleep. I panicked and started walking down the highway--heading back home. I was irrational. Freaking out imagining all the ways I could die if the canoe overturned. Michael talked me off the ledge. I got back into the van and fell asleep.

In the morning, I was glad. It was a star day, perfect for paddling.
The azure blue river took us to the take out--safe and sound.

Next kayak was on Murtle Lake with some canoe support.
Perfect despite the rain.

And finally, I took myself down the Bow downstream of the Falls in Banff. Easy-peezey. I had done this 20 times on my own and felt totally at peace. This time, every fallen log looked menacing--and there was a lot of dead fall lurking off the banks.

What helped was focusing on the areas of the river I had never explored. The little tributaries and marshes that wended away from the river’s body. Some times in life it pays to get out of the main current, and take a look around.

So, I’m officially back on the horse. Well almost. Paddling the Ottawa with Janee and Susanne will make it official.

I am still looking forward to trying ocean surfing. And now I’ve even more reason to. There are no logs! All the surfing action a girl can dream of...but only the sand and surf to smack me upside the head. I’m heading to Cortes Island off the coast of Vancouver Island in September. Maybe Tofino is a place to park and play?!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Death Confirmed

(Entry posted 3 months after date listed out of respect for Linda’s family. I didn’t want the media snooping into this. I’ve posted finally--and post-dated it, as I feel the messages in it are important.)

I received a call today from my paddling friend Barb. She wanted to let me know that the woman with whom I’d kayaked during my own near-death paddling experience, had died over the weekend.

I was stunned. Struck physically with the news.

27 years old, mother of 2 girls and she died just like that. 2 weeks after my accident.

Linda’s dead. I am alive.

After hearing the news, I cried for what seemed like hours. My body shook hard as I fought for breath.

The day of my accident, as we floated down the river before everything went wrong, I had told her I was worried that she was taking undue chances with her choices of rivers.

I had agreed to paddle with her on the Elbow, a smaller river, in part, to share this opinion. It wasn’t right for an email or phone call. I told her she was getting a reputation for being a bit reckless. She seemed hurt and surprised. She said she used to paddle with a crazier crowd--and I felt reassured.

We had e-mailed in May about running the Kicking Horse later in the summer. I needed convincing. It was a big, hairy river. I wanted to paddle it with someone I trusted implicitly if I did it at all. She felt very confident. She said she knew the river and I could follow her.

I always admired her confidence. She seemed fearless.
But maybe a bit of fear is there for a reason--to preserve us.

Thinking back on what happened to me, to Linda, I
reflect on how important it is to:
-know yourself and your limitations/abilities
-trust your companions
-know the river or have a guide who knows it really well
-scout anything you’re a bit concerned about
-remember before running that first aid only works when they reach you in time
-a little fear is a good thing, a lot of fear can be managed, but absence of fear, when fear is reasonable, is a warning.

As I reflect, I wonder why I wasn’t afraid of dying as I slowly asphyxiated that day. I had thought it was my spiritual beliefs and that I’d lived life well, fully. But maybe, just maybe, there’s more for me to reflect on. Right now, shock

The announcement of Linda’s accident follows.

From the Sun http://calsun.canoe.ca/News/Alberta/2007/07/31/4381745-sun.html

Calgary woman dies after capsizing

UPDATED: 2007-07-31 01:31:57 MST


After her kayak capsized in a B.C. river, a 27-year-old Calgary woman died in hospital.

Linda Huu Thi Thanh Englehart was kayaking on the Kicking Horse River east of Golden, about 260 km west of Calgary, on Saturday when her boat overturned.

STARS air ambulance transported the woman to Foothills hospital, where she died on Sunday.

Englehart leaves behind husband Denny and two daughters, Alyssa and Jenna.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Daddy's birthday

Ah, my Daddy. It’s his birthday today. He amazes me. He’s been retired now over 20 years. I remember him wondering what he would do with himself when he retired. And now he fills every day. Golf games. Coaching or cheering on grandkids at any of their sports/games. Driving across Toronto to make sure he wasn’t missing anything. Swimming. Working out. Doing stretches. Getting massages from Fred. Walking Poco the dog. Giving business advice. Getting investment advice. Reading the paper. Watching stocks online. Trading e-mails with his golf cronies. Advising on the pro shop or course redesign. Resolving conflict. Husking corn. Lots of corn. He loves the stuff. He loves life. And he seems to love who he is. Not in that puffed up or smoothed on kind of way. Just a soft groundedness. A gentle humility. A fiery spirit. And comical gestures. He’s so Zen. More into the present than anyone I know. He lets trouble roll off him. Stuff that before might have irked him or pushed down his spirit, just slides right off. He seems fulfilled. Happy. He looks like he’s in his 60’s and still grins like a 3 year old. His hugs are just as warm and powerful as they were when I was 5. I have so much to be grateful for that starts with him. Happy Birthday Daddy. I miss you. I wish we weren't separated by 2 provinces.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Great friend

after my near-death experience on the Elbow River, I called my friend best paddling pal, Susanne, and left her a voice mail at work. I think it was midnight when I left the message. Susanne called first thing the next morning. She asked questions. She was shocked. She empathized. And then she said the magic words, “I hope that this won’t keep you from doing what you love to do? Paddling is when you are most alive.” She continued, “When you, Jane, Ash and I paddle, we don’t take chances. We’re very safe.” What a brilliant thing to share! She totally understood me, what was essential to me--right then and for my future. Her words anchored me in the joy I feel on the water. If she hadn’t said that when she did, I might never have paddled again. I needed what Susanne said more than any of the sympathetic words I got from anyone else. Making sure that you have people in your life who “get” you, who understand your essence is crucial. They are champions of your spirit. They urge your spirit to overcome the body’s fear, and do what brings you most life. As we paddle through life, we need to choose our paddling partners carefully. More on this in the next entry.

Monday, July 16, 2007

River Gods Called my Name

Wednesday, July 11, 2007 my life was saved by a brave and selfless man, Kevin Zeh. I was kayaking unknown whitewater, and ended up swimming after banging into some overhanging rock. Then I became pinned at chest height between a submerged log and my water-filled boat. Good news was my head was above water.

Bad news: i couldn't breathe. (Think of a refrigerator on your chest). I tried squirming out, prying, being skinnier, but no escape. Neither I nor the boat would budge.

Kevin, who was a stranger to me until that day, managed to get up river to me and repeatedly tried to pull the boat off. It wouldn’t move! There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to die. I heard river gods called my name--seemed so...soon. I was too young! “At least I’ve lived a good life.” I thought. “A full life.”

Kevin almost slipped and fell into the flow as he tried to better his footing to gain more leverage with the boat. I thought, “He’s going to feel guilty his whole life for not being able to save me!” I felt terrible about this truth. There was nothing I could do.

Seconds from losing consciousness, an option I hadn’t tried appeared to me. I rolled forward over the log, trying to shift my position in any tiny way -- it might help. Maybe the small angle change in the boat would allow the water would lift under the edge of the boat?

At the same time, Kevin had his own idea. He seemed to jump off the rock island and throw the full force of his body onto my boat. The kayak somersaulted free. Kevin and I floated down the river.

July 11 is Kevin Zeh Day.

More at:
Calgary Herald, or the Calgary Sun.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


It's been a while since I've written. sooo sorry but I was having too much fun paddling with gal pals, playing in waves, and meeting incredible people to sit and write.

I've been pondering connections, omens, and what I want out of life. Some answers where there were holes is the good news, and some holes where there were answers is the bad news--or at least a rising wave that I might need to surf some day.

Highlight of highlights: meeting author and speaker Jim Hayhurst on his back deck overlooking Georgian Bay. So terrific to see someone living life as he does--a Maverick and a Wagon Master. I couldn't have learned more if Yoda himself were there. If this sounds a bit obscure, good. We all need mystery and magic in our lives. If you don't have enough, I recommend buying The Right Mountain, written by J. Hayhurst.

Other highlights, not making the same mistake for the 20th time. I almost went there, but turned back before all the buffalo jumped off the cliff. Seems that you can reroute a stampede to safer ground. But the cliffs are always soooo interesting...

Thanks to my mother for weighing in with an opinion. Just in Time.

Monday, May 14, 2007

At Last

I have just put the finishing touches on a blog for my mom for Mother's Day. Last May I scanned some of her artwork with a goal to create a web presence for her. I want more people to see what she creates and how amazing it is. I wish I were more adept at websites creation. Until I am, this will be my little gift to her and thereby to the world.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Perfect Comes a Step at a Time

Some friends are at the stage that they are wondering, "What now? What's next?" A couple have been fretting on this for a long time but only looking under the odd rock to see if their life purpose could be hiding there.

As my dad once told me, "You'll never figure out what you want to do sitting in that chair. You've got to get out and try things, see what you love and hate, and go from there."

Or as a fashion editor shared when I showed up with a modeling book, a design portfolio, a photography portfolio, and an illustration book hoping she'd help me choose my path, "I won't tell you which to pick, but I can tell you to choose one. Do it till it's not fun anymore, then pick the next thing." She went on, "I'm 35. I've already had 5 careers and hope to have 5 more before I stop." Great advice. I'm doing NONE of those things now--although I've explored them all.

In the same way, it's hard to extend your self knowledge if you are looking each day at the same artifacts of who you are. Get off the chair, go try something. Get into motion. You never know what you'll find. Like Doon Wilkins says, "Get stumbling." Expecting to KNOW FOR CERTAIN before exploring, is unrealistic. As Sun Tzu says, if you don't know yourself, it doesn't matter if you know the terrain and the opponent, you'll lose every time. In this "battle" for purpose for your life, you must know your Self. See him/her through different lenses by thinking AND doing.

Don't wait until you can find "The Perfect Thing". Get in motion toward Some Thing. That way your muscles will be strong and ready to spring when you see the Next Thing. Along the way, you may just find Your Thing.

Watch for Signs

Reading Doon Wilkin's book Stumbling Toward Enlightenment, I'm reminded that there is not one path towards enlightenment. But as Coelho says, there are many clues that you are on the right path. Watch for omens--or signs that you are heading toward your destiny. For example, I had hoped that I might meet Doon one day. His book and life inspire me. I have/had many questions for him about my path and career and hoped that Canmore, the town we both live in, was small enough that we might meet.

The universe made that happen within a month or two. I joined the Toastmasters group newly formed in town, and who is a club mentor? Doon. Now he's my mentor, I'm helping him with some stuff and we are collaborating on a workshop. How cool is that? It pays to pay attention.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Snuggling into bed last night with the Alchemist, I reread where Coelho says, "The universe conspires to bring you what you want." I nodded, Turned off my light and smiled in the dark.

I had just enjoyed a weekend at Lake Louise celebrating a friend's birthday. People had flown from all over the world to be there, including some of my most beloved gal pals. As with big gatherings, it was impossible to get any one-on-one time where we could talk about our aches and triumphs. I longed for more intimate time/space with them to share.

On the final run of the final day, doesn't the chairlift stop! Suspended 5 metres off the ground with 3 of the best women I know, it took an hour for me/us to notice we were going nowhere. The sun hung high enough above the mountain that we had plenty of warmth for our bodies, our souls soaked up each others' stories. And if that wasn't enough of a gift, we got to ski down an empty mountain into the arms of others who loved us enough to wait 4 hours for our descent. What a feeling!