I Get It

It has taken me a while, but now I get it.

Tears are streaming down my face but I’m not sad, or hurt, or upset. I’m so overwhelmed and uplifted that emotion has taken over, in a good way.

For some time now, I have been dealing with all manner of change, stress, grief, expectation (some mine, some that belongs to others), and fear. Not a great combination to propel me to happiness, joy, success and fulfillment.

The fear has been the most influential in my recent journey. I just couldn’t figure out what it was all about? What do I fear? Is it fear of failure? No. Fear of success, then? No. Fear of change? An emphatic NO, given that I am a strong proponent of change. I couldn’t figure it out. I didn’t get it.

Then, this evening, I finally watched “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.

It’s a phenomenal movie that I recommend highly. I’ve been meaning to watch it for some time. Many of my friends have been giving it rave reviews, and yet it took me until tonight to watch it. And it turned out to be less of a watching experience than one in which I watched and learned. It’s so true what they say: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

Tonight I realized what it is I fear. The resonance of the realization was so strong, I felt its force as I sat there and heard the following words:

    “ All we know about the future is that it will be different.
    But perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same.”

There it is.

I get it now.

And now that I know what it is I fear, I have greater clarity of what I must do to conquer the fear, to get on with making my life want I want it to be, and find the joy that is waiting to be found.

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Feel the Rhythm… of Life Balance

Most of us have become experts at balancing budgets, whether we’re running a household or a large corporation. But when it comes to balancing our lives, it’s a whole other story.

The principles, however, are the same: to balance a chequebook or budget you monitor credits and debits. If we apply this methodology to balancing our lives, we analyze where we get our energy, where we spend it, how we spend our time and how we take a little from here and move it over there to cover what’s important to us.

And that’s the key to understanding balance: in order to achieve balance, whether walking a tightrope or crossing a creek by stepping on rocks, it’s more of a back-and-forth rhythm that’s needed to bring you back to centre by leaning more one way or the other. The same is true in life: there could be days or weeks when your focus is more on work because of projects or deadlines, and other times when your family comes first and work is merely another entry on your to do list. And there are times – although most of us don’t admit it – that we could really use a break and make ourselves the priority so that we can heal or refuel.

When we’re establishing a rhythm or balance, there are many variables to throw into the mix. Are you single? Do you have family obligations? Are you responsible for children, spouse, parents and/or the running of a household? Do you work from home? Are you a high-profile executive or entrepreneur? Does your career require travel?

Here’s a simple approach to deciding what to do and how: answer a few questions and then look at your options. You may find that the solutions are small changes you can make that can add up to create a fresh new perspective and routine that boosts your energy and creates time in your schedule for you. Big changes are also possible, if you have the luxury of a leisure allowance, additional family care options, or extra cash to hire help.

First, find a quiet spot where you can think for about fifteen minutes. Ask yourself:

• What’s fueling me? What gives me energy and makes me feel happy/content?
• What’s draining me? What do I do that makes me feel tired, bored or empty?
• What do I do for me? Where am I on my “to do list”? What do I do to care
for me?
• What is non-negotiable? Do I have to go to work? Care for children?
• What is negotiable? Be honest here. What am I doing that may not
even be my priority? What am I spending time on that takes away from my
must-do list?

Once you’ve thought about these queations, make some notes. The act of writing it down will give you fodder for drafting your life balance plan. Some things will jump off the page and make you think, “Why do I do this?” Others will seem non-negotiable – at first. At this point you need to be even more honest with yourself. (I didn’t say this was going to be the easiest thing you ever did – is balancing a budget easy?)

Are you doing what you do because your mother always did that? Is it because you think others expect it? (Cool… you’re a mind-reader! Or maybe just an over-acheiver?) Have you negotiated your role in your family, work environment and circle of friends, or have you taken on or inherited responsibilities that you wish would fall off your “to do” list?

There’s always room for maneuvering. But you have to want it, and you have to be willing to renegotiate your role and the contributions made by your family, friends and colleagues. It really is like balancing your finances: it’s a balance of give and take, credits and debits.

Also remember that little things add up. It’s very unlikely that you’ll need to do a complete overhaul to create balance. But with just a bit of tweaking, an honest analysis, some planning, negotiating, and a few trade-offs, you’ll see and feel a big difference.

You can’t “make time” but you can certainly find time. Look for possibilities to edit your “to do” list so that you can carve out more time to build better relationships, pursue passions, and be an energized, balanced, and happier “you”.

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Positive Anticipation

Martha Beck is a very insightful and amazing coach. I’ve read (and re-read) her books and follow her blog. She sees things objectively, and from a very realistic perspective.

She also has the uncanny ability to focus her advice and musings on whatever is holding me back or is my “obstacle du jour”.

When I received an alert for her most recent blog post “Enjoyment is in the Waiting”, I thought, “Yeah, right — not when it’s something that causes stress and anxiety.” As I was reading it, I realized that it was exactly what I needed to hear today. And that I was causing my unnecessary stress and anxiety.

I hope Martha’s post helps you breathe easier and relax your shoulders while you wait in positive anticipation of something really good happening.

Happy waiting!

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Official Dilbert Widget

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I love Fridays!

I love Fridays! Especially warm, sunny Fridays.

I shot this photo during an errand run this morning. As I make my way through Toronto daily, whether walking for pleasure or with purpose, I often stop to admire particular scenery that strikes me as remarkable. I almost never capture the moment in a photo.

Today was different. Although I pass by or through Nathan Phillips Square at least once a week, I don’t take notice of what other people, particularly tourists, find photo-worthy.

It’s occasions like this trip through NPS that reminds me that there are beautiful spots within this built-up, crowded, concrete-filled, yet vibrant and remarkable city.

If you looked through a “tourist lens” in your neighbourhood, what would you see as photo-worthy spot that you hadn’t before considered?

Enjoy the great weather and get out there and find a spot in your ‘hood that ought to be in pictures, and share it here. Enquiring minds want to know.

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The Measure of a Woman

I just finished a really good business book by Guy Kawasaki – Rules for Revolutionaries. I was drawn to this book because I can’t let go of my desire to change the world – if only “lille bit by lille bit” (see early posts for the back story). I love his books because they extend beyond the boardroom and engineering lab. There are applications for his theories and approaches in all walks of life. I’ve learned a lot from Guy. (NOTE: I highly recommend his new book, Enchantment – it is truly a must-read!!)

One of the things Guy included in Rules for Revolutionaries is a reference to a Nike ad that focused on women. I read and re-read it, loving it more each time. Here it is:

“A woman is often measured by the things she cannot control. She is measured by the way her body curves and doesn’t curve. By where she is flat or straight or round. She is measured by 36-24-36 and inches and ages and numbers. By all the outside things that don’t ever add up to who she is on the inside. And so if a woman is to be measured, let her be measured by the things she can control. By who she is and who she is trying to become because as every woman knows, measurements are only statistics, and statistics lie.”

animated frame stick figure portrait of author

My wish is that the standards by which human beings are measured someday become just that: standard. Consistent across the board. The same for men and women, regardless of the body we were born into, and in which we carry our spirit, hopes, dreams, goals, love and respect.

Wouldn’t it be great if we were all measured by who we are, who we are trying to become, and who we are on the inside?

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Life Rx from Everyone’s Favourite Doctor

Lately, I’ve been researching and reading a lot, preparing to establish a consulting practice as a management consultant/coach specializing in building capacity for change and changing the common-heard refrain, “Oh no, what now?!?” to “Bring it on!”

While most material on being the best “you” is very informative and applicable, it can also get a bit dry. And the stuff written for grown-ups by grown-ups is hardly ever light and fun.

So here’s a little change of pace.

I’ve always been a big Dr Seuss fan, so I think the infographic below is awesome! Lots of great lessons, presented in an easy-to-relate-to format.

(BTW: my favourite Dr. Seuss when I was younger was… wait for it… “If I Ran the Zoo”. I know, big surprise! More on this to come…)

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