Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cold and Flu Season

I've been smacked in the head with a wicked cold. So no "will-ups" these last few days. I've been noticing how often I start something and then get distracted by many other thoughts, just like with the "will ups". So things are shifting by degrees.

Thanks Sly for photo!
Luckily, I got to skate on Gap Lake Saturday before my bed and I became conjoined.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pushpins = Ideas

Yesterday it struck me that push-pins are like ideas. They are only useful when deployed. If they aren't doing the heavy-lifting, they just take up space.

Willpower Exercise Day Six

Break through today! Each day I've scheduled 3 things to start my day:
  1. walk
  2. journal
  3. tacks
 But I've missed at least one from the list EVERY DAY. Today, I got all three done by 9a.m. and threw in a call to Toronto to talk with my book collaborator, Laura.

I sat at my desk to start my "tacky will-ups". My little squirrel brain tried to do so many things before I did my "will-ups" and I kept corralling my thoughts promising them, "I'll do that AFTER."Once I got started moving the tacks, I worried less about "perfect" and focused more on "doing."

Instead of worrying about the protocol around my tack task, I turned up the tunes, and counted each tack while saying "I will to will." The task was SOOOOOoooooooo much more enjoyable. I even chair danced! I also found that I've got 51 tacks in my box--wondering about the number had been something I'd brushed out of my consciousness as not as important as the DOING.
In my journal this morning I had written, "Just show up." It was one of the main life lessons I'd learned during my martial arts journey. I "just showed up" every night to class and after 5 years received a black belt in Aiki Ju Jitsu. Yes, it was hard work. Yes, I faced challenges, and got hurt, and sweated until my skin bubbled. But so long as I "just showed up" for class regardless of how healthy or inclined I felt, I'd overcome the hardest part of the journey and moved incrementally toward my goal.

Today, I was committed to the process regardless of what was happening in or around me. Today, I worried less about being perfect in my task, and focused more on feeling good while doing it--emphasis on doing it. But DOING IT was my commitment.

"Are you committed to your task, your goal, your desire? Are you in or are you out?" Simple and yet so hard. That's the key learning of my tack task today. Committing and acting in concert with your commitment are the key things. An attitude of contentment focuses you on the right mindset but can be hard to create. How you show up and what you get out of it changes every time you show up, and seems beyond the realm of influence at this point. For me at least. So, just showing up and doing gets you a loooong way. There's something else that's happening too, but I don't quite have my finger on it yet.

It's something around lifting the veil over who I really am vs. who I thought I was. But that's for another entry.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Willpower Exercise Day Five

I rushed a little. It took less than 5 minutes this time. I noticed that doing the declaration out loud helped me to notice my mind wandering. I had at LEAST one new thought between each tack. That's 50 different thoughts. Refocusing on the declaration and my contentment helped. But today, I felt no progress.

Will Power Exercise Day Four

I am trying to decide if I should declare that I took the weekend off from my will-ups, or pay penance and do 2 more tack-drops today...I'm feeling kinda busy, so let's say I took the weekend off and my penance is that I will carry the experiment forward an extra 2 days at the end.

It's still difficult manifesting contentment, focusing on dropping the tacks and nothing else, while declaring "I will to will." That said, it's slightly less difficult and slightly more enjoyable than it was at the start. At 1/3 into the task, I thought "This is taking FOREVER!" then I reminded myself "Maintain contentment!"

But at 2/3 into the box I thought, "Wow! I'm almost finished. That wasn't so bad." and my contentment increased all on its own. And when I had only 4 tacks left, I super slowed down, as I was enjoying the focus. Maybe there's hope for me at last!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Because I Can

 Earlier this summer, my sister, who is a marathon and avid runner, hurt herself while running. She had to take months off to recuperate, do physio etc. It was so hard for her to not run.

I do not have the same problem. I can not run regularly, and for long periods. But it occurred to me the other day that if I want to keep up with my active friends and not hold them up skiing or biking or whatever, I owe it to myself and my friendships to up my fitness. Plus my little sister had told me that I should be active "because you can" and at the time, she couldn't.

 There are lots of folks who have had injuries or are differently abled who would like to run if they could. Yesterday, while running for the first time in many many months, I had the thought, "I run because I can."

Thanks Sister. That 's good advice. And look at where I got to run. I listened to the songs of the wax wings who are in town, and the burble of the Bow river. Doggy, Yamnuska, and I stopped for a little break and to lap up water + beauty.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Willpower Exercise Day Three

I did not start my day with this, but fitted it in just after my afternoon run. I say "afternoon run" like I do this all the time, or maybe even have a morning or evening run. Fact is, that I have wanted to start a consistent running programme for many many moons. Don't know if my "will-ups" are strengthening my will and improving other habits or not. Too early to tell.

Today, still more mind chatter around doing the exercise WHILE doing the exercise. But contentment was easier. Likely, the endorphins from running had a part to play in that.

In mediation classes, I've been told to just watch my thoughts drift in and out like clouds. That never works for me. My thoughts are more like wild horses charging across an endless plain. The horses can be corralled though, and I can watch them, figure out which one I want to ride when, and then take action. I wouldn't try to ride 2 horses at once, but that's exactly what I have done with my thoughts. Ride one for a little, then get distracted when the next comes snorting and stomping its hooves.

What if that's what the "will-ups" exercise is partially about? Hold one thought, or one tack, or one horse, and ride it into action, or the box or the corral.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Will Power Exercise Described

Here's a summary of what I'm doing:
1. Exercise will. The article I read suggests "cultivating the feeling of contentment" while exercising will, and it gives full directions. In short, take a pile of 50 small somethings: pennies, thumb tacks, beads, whatever is small. "Drop them slowly and deliberately into a box one by one, with a feeling of contentment and satisfaction, declaring with each movement, 'I will to will.'" We're urged to watch our thoughts as we do this task as a form of working meditation I suppose. When complete, write our observations so that we can mark our progress doing this over 7 consecutive days. The writing is what I'm doing on the blog.

Willpower Exercise Day Two

I was really looking forward to moving 50 tacks from my desk into a box. I'm taking this very seriously. I re-read the instructions to clarify some things I had become unsure of, lit a candle, took a photo and started.

At first it was easy to maintain an attitude of contentment because I was so looking forward to this exercise. Then I thought, "Maybe I'm supposed to say 'I will to will' outloud?" So I tried that. It was like an incantation for a spell. Much more powerful said outloud. I found that the more I focused on the task, the quieter my vocalizations became. I had to remember to say them out LOUD.

I also resisted the urge to speed up and do the job quickly. It's supposed to take 10 minutes and in all, it took 4.5. Again, thoughts swarmed my head like mosquitoes to bare flesh. The more I tried to empty my thoughts the more they seeped in. My mind abhors a near vacuum it seems. I developed a character for some imaginary novel I might write one day WHILE putting the tacks into the box, and noticing their sharpness, their simple construction, their smooth surface and shine.

Again, focus on contentment and "I will to will". I still am not sure what that phrase means, other than the only reason that I'm doing this exercise/experiment, is to see if I can strengthen my will.
I'm starting to appreciate that the will holds focus on a specific task or direction, and that a strong will will hold its focus until the task is finished. It's almost like a shield or a force field which resists letting other thoughts take hold and redirect. Thoughts bounce through, but don't stick.

I can see that doing this exercise daily, I could get bored if I weren't really paying attention to all the inner chatter and workings of my mind. That if I get better at not just shielding my thoughts, but slowing them, or eliminating those not task-focused, I will feel quite delighted. That skill, that state of being, would be a lovely one to cultivate. Perhaps that's part of the power of will, that singular state of one-ness with the task. But I get ahead of myself. Tomorrow's another day.

p.s. After writing this entry, I looked at the other two entries about the Will and it struck me, "I wonder if the will is like a backbone that keeps all the actions in alignment?" Those of you who have a strong will, what do you know?

Wanna try? Directions here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Willpower Exercise Day One

Ok, that was WILD! A simple task: take 50 push pins and put them into a box while holding a state of contentment and satisfaction, and repeating the phrase "I will to will". Then record what you noticed.

I noticed how many other thoughts went through my head in the short time. First I wanted to take a picture of the pins to show you. That meant I had to not get distracted by my other photos on iPhoto or my iPhone, not get distracted by arranging them perfectly on the journal.
Thoughts that went through my head just BEFORE starting were things like, "I'm cold I need a blanket" I grabbed one. "I'm still cold I need slippers." I didn't grab them and now my feet aren't so cold. "I need to find a better box to count these pins into." I looked at 2 other options before saying to Self, "Finish this task." I dropped a tack on the carpet and noticed it blended in well with the sisal weave.

While putting the tacks into the box and while saying to myself in my head "I will to will", I had myriad thoughts fly through like, "they are so shiny", "they are so sharp", "I should focus on the task", "I am going to fast/slow", "What does this statement 'I will to will' really mean? My nephew's name is Will."

And other similar tangential thoughts. Crazy! So much busy-ness that was NOT ON TASK.
Holding the state of contentment and satisfaction while staying on task was not successful. I had it at the start, then wondered if it would be better if I smiled. Then I got caught up in all the aforementioned thoughts and forgot the contentment. I regained it at the end with the final tack, when I super slowed-down. But I sustained contentment for less than the time it took to pick up the tack and drop in the box. Other thoughts came in in the meantime. Who knew that my brain was so active?!

I can see that this focusing will take some practice. What was interesting in a horrifying and terribly "that makes sense" kind of way, was how many other things crossed my mind to do before tackling this. I have given in to so many of the distracting thoughts in the past. Starting to see that strengthening will is about focus and see the wisdom of "finish what you've started".

If you've tried this, let me know what you found.

Nudges and Willpower

Plaguing me lately is why I don't take action which I know is beneficial to me, maybe even desired strongly by me. Worse, why do I take action which I know is detrimental?

Last night a recurring thought kept nudging me. My best solutions come when I'm sleeping, so I arose at 4 a.m.and acted on the nudge. "Get up, go to Tim Horton's and Google 'strengthening the will'." I've been curious about The Will for decades. One of the senior black belts in my dojo, had said, "My will is important to me as a spiritual being." I never fully grasped what he meant. But this morning, I acted on my urge, ordered a small coffee and a honey cruller, and found some interesting perspective.

One site described what I've been experiencing as I enact my mission. Without will, "You would start in the right direction, and then, because there was not sustaining power in the thought, you might turn and go in another direction." My passion is there, but my will is not and my attention wavers. "It is the will which holds your mental faculties in position relative to the creative power which does the desired work."

Or put another way the function of the will is to keep the imagination and action centred in the desired direction. Success of failure is contingent on mental control. There are other factors, for sure, but without focus fueled by will, none of the other foundations matter.

So how do you strengthen will power? Behaviour modification psychologists would tell you that there is no such thing as will power. I remember arguing with my prof about this at uni. He said it's all about avoiding trigger events that provoke the undesired behaviour, and cultivating or rewarding the antecedents which result in desired behaviour. Makes sense if you have a master or a trainer who can impose or direct. But what if you are your own master?

There are three ideas that I want to test:
  1. Exercise my will with small, repetitive, actions focusing on maintaining a certain mindset (so that I can feel the difference when will/desire are aligned and coordinated)
  2. Leave no task unfinished (so I'll have to shorten tasks I choose to be finishable in shorter periods of time)
  3. Start each day without hurry
3. Last idea first. I've calendarized a walk and journaling every morning starting at 6am. Today I'm ahead of schedule with a coffee and donut already munched. Now, researching, thinking, writing without hurry.

2. No task unfinished. My friend, Bruce Sellery, was coaching me the other day to help me complete some stuff I was avoiding. He gave me "fierce deadlines" of 20 minutes to complete a task which was mission-critical. I phoned him when I'd completed my task, then was told to do the next thing and agreed to another short deadline. The first task, I completed and felt GREAT. I immediately received positive results from it ("reinforcement" or "reward" for the behaviorists). The second task, was actually 3 tasks in one, and I only did 1 in the time I had. The other 2 are still undone and feel yucky, a drain, a black hole sucking my energy with no productivity to show for the spend. Hmm.
"Leave no task unfinished" is going up on my dreamboard as a reminder.

1. Exercise will. The article I read suggests "cultivating the feeling of contentment" while exercising will, and it gives full directions. In short, take a pile of 50 small somethings: pennies, thumb tacks, beads, whatever is small. "Drop them slowly and deliberately into a box one by one, with a feeling of contentment and satisfaction, declaring with each movement, 'I will to will.'" We're urged to watch our thoughts as we do this task as a form of working meditation I suppose. When complete, write our observations so that we can mark our progress doing this over 7 consecutive days.

I'll share my observations here. If you try it, or develop another exercise, please share how it works for you. I'll likely do more reading and research on strengthening my will, but first, I have a box of thumbtacks to fill.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Piercings, Pain and Being Alive

I love Bjork and was watching some of her music videos the other day. Remember the beautiful love song, Pagan Poetry, that ends with a woman getting 6 piercings down her back so that she could have a "corset" laced up for her lover? Kind of a surprise ending.

It seems strange that someone would do that for someone they loved--or even for themselves. But there's something about pain, be it physical or emotional, that you miss when it's gone. There's something about the aliveness that you feel while in tension with pain, that makes it somehow bearable. There's something in that much aliveness that some friends with tats or piercings, say draws them back to get more. There's something in our crazy friends, or waaay-out there lovers, or even extreme adventures, that make us lean forward in fascination while poised to lurch backward in pain.

Hmmm. As I think about the barbs in my head, I wonder, "How alive can I feel without the pain?"
You? How does pain help you to feel more..

Monday, December 5, 2011

Great Quote

John Tong is a partner in 3rd Uncle. He said something today that really struck my heart and mind, "Joy has a different body posture and a different way of breathing."

It's so true. I want to breathe in the way of Joy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Awesome Sauce

"You have to get vulnerable...That's when we feel faith in humanity. Those warm moments of colour in the tepidness of status-quo life. Whether you're on stage or in the audience, you must channel that fear into something productive, or get rid of it...We watch people on a stage. The ones who really blow our minds are the ones who tap in to that carnal part of inspired humanity that allows us to just be alright with each other. The ones who really inspire us are the ones who put down their armour. They get naked with such brilliance that instead of cutting them to bits, everyone in the room wishes they had the balls to get naked, too.

The fact is that, those moments on stage when everything goes right inject enough awesome sauce into one's life to make up for an eternity of predictable financial stability. In fact, you begin to pity people who can't let go. It's like being in on this amazing secret. You start to live your life moment to moment. You realize that getting vulnerable is a catalyst to having boatloads of memorable moments in your life. You learn that most people will actually meet you there. And you stop caring if they don't. And you learn to disregard people who don't "get it". The good ones will.

Dan Mangan published by the Guardian. Words to live by.

My favourite artists crawl right into the thick of an experience, and show themselves and the heart of the matter uncovered. Yes, naked. They expose themselves as they hold up this moment of complex and torturosly beautiful, real humanity and you just can't look away.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Vulnerability Dan Mangan-style

I'm a big fan of Dan Mangan's music. "Road Regrets" is the best driving or running tune ever! especially if your energy stores are low and need a picking up. His lyrics are profound and powerful.

I just read in his newsletter about his successful appearance at the Orpheum and his Euro-tour dates. Best of all, he talks about vulnerability. I'm going to post his words directly. I encourage you to read his Guardian article.

From Dan, the man, "I recently wrote an article published in The Guardian newspaper. It was quite an honour - I have a deep respect for the publication and its dedication to true journalism not only in the UK but around the world. Many thanks to Film & Music Editor Michael Hann for the opportunity. My article was about getting vulnerable, and what getting over the fear to do so can bring about. I would like to add that when I speak of vulnerability, I’m not talking about “sensitivity”. Those are two different things. I’m talking about being porous to the universe – being fully alive in the moment. The hardest, most intense punk-rock show I ever saw was vulnerable. I recently watched some old footage of Nirvana performing. Best believe they were vulnerable. It’s not about being soft, it’s about being honest. Sometimes, being honest might mean being soft, but the two are not one in the same.

Anyhow, feel free to read the article here."

I'd love the hear what you think about what he wrote. "Porous to the universe." That's going to be my mantra for Dec.

Check out more Dan at
p.s. you can get a free download of "Oh Fortune" by simply sharing an email address. Very good idea! It's got the same rolling drum beats of Road Regrets.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What If?

My friend, Maegan, sent me a list of a few famous What If's. I thought they'd be fun to share:
What if... ?

"The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper."                   -- Eden Phillpotts 

"What if you were to pretend that you were healthy, wealthy and wise? What if you were to decide to be happy, no matter what else was happening?

Take the power of ‘what if...’ seriously, and you will grasp the power to create a world of your own design. Everything, EVERYTHING begins in the imagination. Put it to work constructively for you."   Unknown

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes."                   -- William James 

"Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."                   -- Lewis Carroll

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Animated imagination

I am looking forward  to baby sitting tonight! There's nothing I like more than coming up with fun things to do, and stories to create.

I was thinking I'd buy a pulley and some rope and we'd try sending favourite toys, stuffies, and dolls through space on their own zip line. Of course, the temptation is there for us to make one for ourselves, but since we'll be playing inside, we'll have to use our inside imaginations.

What I'm aching to try is to make an animation like Ms. Beveridge has in her incredible video. Maybe we'll be inspired by one of the stuffies to animate his/her likeness on a bike tire...such anticipation my day will fly by!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Great Quote

I was watching reruns of Bones, one of my fave TV shows, and a character, the Watcher, delivered this in a monologue.

“There is an infinite thrumming, unseen web that joins everything. Everything is connected to everything else. This fact is nearly impossible for us to grasp because we are just mollusks, shut up tight at the bottom of a dark, cold ocean trying to make sense of stars we cannot even see. I challenge everything because when I do a quick bolt of electricity jolts through between two elements that otherwise seems unconnected. You call it paranoia, I call it epiphany."

Love it!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pay It Forward for Yourself

It's a great book to work through with a partner or close friend. Thanks to Angela for recommending it to me
More on the power of thought, not in a "the Secret" kind of nebulous way, but in a "you are what you think" or "you become what you believe" kind of way.

In her book You can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay writes that self criticism will only  perpetuate negative feeling and behaviour. She says, "The place to put the mental energy is into releasing the old and creating a new thought pattern." She suggests constructing affirmations that counter your negative thought. Affirmations are a way of reprogramming your brain's thinking tracks. Affirmations are a way of being pro-active as well as reactive to negative thought patterns.

I really like Hay's encouragement to focus on what you wish to retain in your life as constructive and what you are willing to release as destructive. An example of an affirmation she gives, "I am willing to release the need to be unworthy. I am worthy of the very best in life, and I now lovingly allow myself to accept it."

I found it helpful to make a list last year of the things I wanted to release and retain as I entered 2011.
Different from a New Year's resolution, but with the same intention for positive change. I was amazed, looking at my list in April, how I'd released all already! Incredibly potent the brain is.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thoughts on Thoughts

How to manage your thoughts?
  1. Notice them: see if they are constructive or destructive
  2. If destructive, call that thought back, rework it, and send a constructive version back out
Dr. Badri Rickhi MB, BS, FRCP out of Calgary researched the effects of meditation on controlling emotional states. Dr. Rickhi proposed that monitoring thought was crucial to healthy emotions. In his 8-week programme teaching spiritual principles and practices to counter unipolar depression, he talks about "calling back" the energy of a negative thought. He says we awaken each day with only so much energy, so we must reclaim and recycle that which was squandered in destructive thought.
Dr. Rickhi & Dr. Hal receiving Dr. Rogers $250,000 award

Simple as that. Notice the thought. Call back the destructive ones. Upcycle the negative and send it out.
You don't cancel the thought so much as flip it around. Be purposeful with your thinking. Not purposempty.

The abstract from Rickhi's study may be found here. Worth a read--especially if you find yourself in a rut of negativity. Good for athletes and children. Good practice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vulnerability & Safety

Parents yearn for children to be safe. Safe in a world where uncertainty hides under every bed and evil crouches behind each and every closet door. We teach our kids how to manage volumes of information, how to embrace diversity, how to extend empathy and compassion to others. But we equip our children little to fight the invisible monster that is the truest threat--their own thoughts. The incessant bombardment of  thoughts in our heads which measure us as lacking or adequate, weak or powerful, broken or brilliant attack us or fortify us. It is our thoughts which rule us and our place in the world more certainly than any learning we might aquire.

I have been working on the Maverick Project, assembling the stories of people who have crafted original lives for themselves, because I believed that they could be talismans of what is possible for those just starting to carve their trail through the forest of possibilities. But maybe I am wrong. Maybe mavericks' tales don't illuminate the way through darkness, but rather obfuscate the truth. 

Our kids are most vulnerable when they leave school "ready" to take on the world. In fact, each of us is most vulnerable when one foot is in the old world, and one in the new. Transitions are where we need to watch that the flying monkeys of doubt don't come and smother our babies in the night. Our thoughts can give us wings or paralyze us. Our thoughts can be seeds or graves.
Julian Barnes photo by Luke MacGregor/Reuters

On CBC's  Writers & Company (at @43:05min),  Man Booker Prize winner, Julian Barnes, recalled his time at Oxford, "There is a vulnerability at that age when you go out into life for the first time, when you leave behind the institutions where rules and companionship and everything protect you...I remember when I was a student, there was always one or two students a year who would kill themselves and it always came as a surprise. And yet,  it shouldn't have done."

Our kids walk a slackline strung between worlds. Have they hope, confidence and helpful self talk as their companions? Or have they doubt, rampant fear, and self blame or loathing? We are all "students" transitioning through different stages. We've never been exactly "here" before with this set of experiences, skills, knowledge and awareness What do we believe to be true? What ruts have our thoughts worn into the road ahead? I have to be constantly vigilant that my thoughts are creative and buoyant, focused on possibility finding rather than doubting and sinking. As they say, "Think you can or think you can't and either way you'll be right". We each need to teach and model possibility thinking. How do you do that?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Comfort Food

I recently moved into a new place with a GREAT kitchen. It's moved me to cook. My friend Vicki called me and we were talking about chicken pot pies. I was inspired. Only thing, I had no wheat flour, butter or lard for the crust, and no milk or cream for the sauce.

Instead I used some homemade Boursin (soft cheese) for the fat mixed with rice flour for the crust. Tasted very cheesey & peppery. Then I ground up some roasted root veggies along with white wine, chicken stock and water to make the sauce, flavouring it with thyme and rosemary. I added in remnants from a roasted chicken, frozen peas, onion and garlic, and shazam! I had me a chicken pie. It was soooo delicious!

Why do I mention it here? Because my intention was to make a chicken pie and my momentum was not stopped by an idea of what "perfect" ingredients were in order to create the vision in my head. Sometimes we have to create using what we have, and in so doing, find a new and better way.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

TEDx Waterloo

I am thrilled to be included in the list of amazing speakers and speeches on the website!
Thank you to Matt Gorbet and the team in Waterloo who all made it happen.

If you haven't seen the talk, please check it out along with the lifetime's worth of inspiration at

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Collaboration is my mantra for this quarter. Everything on which I have been dragging my heels has remarkably moved forward under collaboration.

What If's new brand had been mired in development for almost 18 months. While browsing in a local bookstore, I see some greeting cards which remind me of a friend's artwork and think, "I'd like to work with her on a project." I call her up, we meet, and I find the momentum to evolve the brand.

Working with the local artist then leads me to my favourite art gallery where her husband works. I drop in to say Hi but he's not there. Instead I get talking with the gallery owner about her upcoming show--it's brilliant and exciting. We brainstorm how to capture the essence of the exhibit for posterity. She's delighted with the enthusiasm and ideas. Later, I ask her to advise me on my brand. "Poof!" She comes up with an enlightened perspective that will take the visual brand from simply decorative to enriching narrative--completely in alignment with the experience we are shooting for with the evolved brand.

My friend Grace and I have been speaking each week to move my passion projects forward a little more each week. I would be nowhere without her keen mind, fresh ideas,enthusiasm and regular check ins.

For 5-6 years I've been stuck with too many ideas for books I'd like to write. I've developed 5 outlines over the years and committed to none. Then I read a friend's wife's blog and thought "she's the perfect one to write a book with". We're 3 weeks in and have already created an incredible amount (more on the book later). Collaborating with Laura is WAY better than starting a writing club which is what I was thinking about doing. More writing and less organizing of others this way. Plus we laugh a lot.

Same with my fitness-collaboration is golden there too. Working out or exercising on my own is soooo uninspiring. I spend hours by myself already and for an extrovert, too much alone time is enervating. Since January I have P90X'd with my friend Vicki, kayaked with my friend Barb, cycled with Heather and Martha, hiked with Doon (who is training for Kilimanjaro) and all of a sudden, I'm fitter, lighter, happier, and more energetic all from collaborating with friends on exercise that brings as all closer to our goals. Fantastic!

So my mantra will continue as my operating principle into this next quarter. It seems to be working for me. What's your mantra for this quarter? Or even today?

Monday, April 25, 2011


We all have different responses to stress. Several couples, myself included, are trying to sort out the separation of stuff and $. It can take a LOT of energy or a little depending on the people and the approach. It's extremely hard to come back from icky, so setting parametres or goals or intentions for how to split can be helpful.

For example you can set the intention that throughout the parting process as well as afterward both individuals wish to be as psychologically, emotionally, physically, financially, and socially healthy as possible, then you "design" your process with that outcome in mind. No fear evoked so no fear response required. More a "gather and tend" response which stress researchers say females prefer because of the way estrogen, and stress hormones cortisol & norepinephrine interact. (Abstract here).

If you set the intention that "I'm going to make you act or feel a particular way," you might have an icky mess on your hands as the fight, flight, or freeze response kicks in--testosterone mixing with cortisol and norepinephrine. Similar results show up with the "If I ignore it, it will go away," stress response.

I've had a $500 divorce where the first intention was invoked. The parting was mutually respectful where no one tried to take advantage of the other.

In my current split, we've become polarized in the Tiger and Turtle paradigm--one drawn into a protective shell with the the other pawing at the shell. Frustrating and hard to change the dynamic of.

Listening to Imogen Heap's song "Shine" on her Leave Me to Love CD, these two lyrics really struck me as descriptive of the dynamic we're in:
"Crawling through a brick wall is hard to say the least." No kidding! A brick wall calls for dynamite or a ladder.

"Yes sir, yes sir 3 bags full. It's easier to say 'yes' than say 'no' to a fool." Which is to say that if you want easy, you gotta let the fool take the lead. Hmmm.
So, where's the I have to build it or merely discover it?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Walt Whitman

We are all singing ourselves alive. As I enter the spring of my soul, Walt Whitman keeps playing through me. There are so many brilliant places he can take you.
Today I'm enjoying this:

I Celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil,
 this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and 
 their parents the same,[...]
The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, and buzzed whispers.... loveroot, silkthread,
   crotch and vine,
My respiration and inspiration.... the beating of my heart....
   the passing of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore
   and darkcolored sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belched words of my voice.... words loosed
   to the eddies of the wind,

A few light kisses.... a few embraces.... reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along
   the fields and hill-sides,
The feeling of health.... the full-noon trill.... the song of me
   rising from bed and meeting the sun.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sing Your Song of Self

In July, 3 years ago, I almost died by suffocating. Since, I've been afraid to live.
But bit by bit, remarkable people float into my life and sing alive some part of my smothered self.

Recently, I felt my heart return and open. I hadn't know it was closed or hidden away elsewhere. I thought it was protected, yes, but I hadn't felt it's absence. Classic case of you don't miss what you don't miss. Except I did feel a hole.

What helped? A hakomi session with the amazing Jaci Hull and the company of a remarkable lover. He is one of those few good men who just by how he is in the world calls forth my deepest and most naked self;-)

Now that I can feel everything again, I'm less inclined to be so democratic in my friendships. I still want to "see Jesus in everyone" as Sister Benedetta used to say. But until I know how to stay loving and open without taking in emotional radiation, I will be surrounding myself with people who are generous, good, balanced, creative and kind. Generosity is a value I prize more and more in my relationships. Without generosity, so much is absent--like safety.

It's like when you are recovering from being really sick and your immune system has been assaulted, you don't hang around people with flu and colds. Generosity is a natural immune booster. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Courage and Tenderness

I just noticed that my last two blogs have to do with courage. We have Irshad Manji's "Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the recognition that some things are more important than fear," and we have Dr. Brene Brown's "Courage is the ability to tell the whole story of who you are with your whole heart." 

One of the things that is more important than fear is telling the true story of yourself. To tell who you are with your whole heart everyday and in every action.

Something I am learning to do more and more is to not control others' reaction by controlling what I tell them in order to make them feel or think anything. I'm starting to really value the opposite of "making" someone do or feel. The opposite seems to be about exhibiting, yielding and surrendering to tenderness. I'm mindfully cultivating more tenderness with myself and others, and mindfully grateful to receive another's tenderness with me.

In these months since Michael and I have split, I have received such uncommon tenderness from new and old friends (and yes, a lover) that I know to my core the power of such a gift. Tenderness unlocks my fear, shame, anger, guilt, pride, and has released me to be free to receive, create, feel, and share joy, love, gratitude, grace, peace and the innermost corners of myself. There is nothing to do in the face of tenderness than to surrender to it. Yield to tenderness. Be tender with another. That's good medicine.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

TEDx Women

I found a blog post at today bemoaning the fact that there are so few women presenters at TED and TEDx events. This, despite the fact that some of the best talks EVER are by women like neuroscientist, Jill Bolte Taylor's recounting of her stroke, or Aimee Mullin's idea that dis-abled has evolved to mean extra-abled or supra-abled, or Eva Vertes new take on medicine and memes in cancer.

The blog author is encouraging us to nominate women speakers we'd like to hear speak at TED and has created a Facebook page where you can nominate your favourites by clicking on this button.

I've been nominated! I Should Talk at TED

I'd like to see/hear Irshad Manji. Why? Because the woman is brilliant, and her insides are on fire with insight, and she has the gumption to take a stand that puts her straight in the cross hairs. Ms. Manji is an erudite and moderate muslim. She challenges her faith to wake up to radical Islam and suggested there is room for reform in her faith.

Ms Manji's speaking in Toronto March 7, and I almost booked a flight from here to there just to hear her and watch her in action. I can't justify the carbon. Please, someone bootleg a video and send it to me?! Irshad maybe your "handlers" can send me one? You know I want to be there!

For those of you who are ADHD, well, I've likely lost you already. If not, watch this video snack of this earthmoving woman talk about what she is up to:

As she so rightly says, "Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the recognition that some things are more important than fear."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Top 50 over 50

Yesterday I took advantage of fresh powder here in the Rockies and skied for 3 hours with some friends. One of them is Martha. Martha is a "femme d'un certain age" as they say in French. Like me, she's tall, blonde and over 50. What a remarkable woman! She's been a wildlife biologist, an irridologist, and ran a successful restaurant in Canmore for 3 years. She's published scientific papers, climbed tall peaks, and traveled all over the world. She currently makes her living as a hiking guide, and a yoga and meditation teacher. She gets paid to take folks heli-yoga or heli-snowshoe trips! She's helped vets overcome PTSD while working with Outward Bound. She's a fantastic skier! She blew down a long mogul field covered with 5cm of fresh powder without stopping to catch her breath!

Later this week, Martha's off to guide a mindful meditation trip into the Grand Canyon, and she's been cooking and drying the food to get ready. In March, she's heading to Morocco to be tech support for an extreme race. Later this year, she'll guide a trip to the West Coast Trail. How is that for crafting an original life? Oh, and she's also the mother of 2 teenagers who has managed to parent with a light but effective hand so that her kids don't just respect her, they LIKE her.

Yesterday, I told her that she's like the woman I always wanted to become. She's an adventurer who has crafted a life that perfectly suits her. She's compassionate, overflowing with love, welcoming and kind. She's full of life, humour, gratitude, forgiveness and patience. What a woman! She's living proof that you can be yourself and thrive. I am blessed to know her, and curious to know more about her journey from there to here so that I might share some learning with you, and learn more myself.

Friday, February 4, 2011

300 year plan

In business we plan in 3 month, 12 month and 36 month cycles. Personally I have a few 10 year plan items. Today, my friend Jean and I were talking about the Notre Dame cathedral and remarking that it was part of a 300-year project plan! "What is there these days with a 300 year plan?" we wondered.
Since we couldn't think of a single thing, we wondered, "What's changed?"

It actually took over 200 years to design and build the cathedral, I was off by a mere century. 1160 to 1345 A.D. and still standing almost 7 centuries later. But it meant that if you were the gargoyle carver, you might never see your carvings in situ. You'd carve over 30-40 years only to have your work taken over by an apprentice. I guess in that way, continuity was preserved. Most of what we tend to today has such a short horizon. I wonder if that disconnects us from our impact, awareness and acceptance of our role in the long range?

Canmore, Alberta

I live in the most amazing town! In one week's span I can:
-take a workshop on book binding and creation given by the endlessly creative Dea Fischer. Find her blog here 
-learn about permaculture and help to design a community garden Visual Meeting Notes on Prezi
-hear live music at any number of venues--including my home. We've got Cosy Sheridan and TR Ritchie coming on Wednesday
-sample excellent wines at the Canmore Wine Merchants
-hike up Cougar Creek through a canyon to a milky blue cascade of ice. Thanks Denny Pratt for photo
-eat hand made truffles at Le Chocolatier or drink coffee flavoured stout at the Grizzly Paw
-skate on the outdoor pond with heated benches
-ski along wooded trails at the Nordic Centre  or even ski to Banff on Goat Creek trail
-eat a fabulous meal at innumerable eateries
-see mountain culture films like Mi Chacra at the Banff Centre
-watch the AJHL Eagles battle the Olds Grizzlys
-walk little white fluffy dogs along a frozen river
-get an energy treatment from Rose Reeder that'll clear out the emotional ghosts that haunt you
-massage out body tightness with Lu Duce at Wilflower--she's remarkable, or extremely knowledgeable Lisa Rummel--yes related to the famous Lizzy Rummel!
-oh, and did I mention dancing freely at the Canmore Hotel to the blues legend Sonny Rhoads?!
-or hanging with friends, doing charades or playing Monopoly
-or just renting a movie and snuggling on the couch
If you are an ice climber, good on you. There's that too. And knitting circles/clubs, avalanche training, wilderness first aid, and comparative religions courses. It's hard to choose.

It's an incredible place my Canmore.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flying Solo

While dog, cat and house sitting for friends away for a month, I am enjoying listening my way through their CD collection. This morning, I heard these great lyrics from Paul Simon's "You're the One."

"Nature gives us shapeless shapes-- clouds, wings and flame. Human expectation is that love remains the same and when it doesn't, we point our finger in blame, blame, blame."

It seems that I'm at the time of life where so many people I know are choosing to be out of the main relationship they have been in for years. One partner "leaves" the other. The language that we use about "leaving" or "splitting" or "ending" or "failed marriage" doesn't seem to include the feeling of natural transition that Simon speaks of.  Maybe we hurt ourselves by holding on so hard for the sake of permanence.

Not to say that relationship doesn't take vigilance, like the tending of any fire or flood. But maybe thinking of love as clouds or wings is also helpful?