Joy of Summer

Maybe it’s because I live in Canada, where winters can be long, and oh so cold, and the days sadly short. In winter we hibernate, though that has its own benefits – to be explored at another time. However, there is something about Summer that brings warmth to the land and to each of us who partake of all it has to offer.
What I love is the languidness of it, the slower pace, the gatherings of friends and family when kids can run and hide outdoors and let their imaginations run free. Even though there is warmth (sometimes) in April, May, June, and for sure in September and October, somehow summer seems just to be July and August (shades of school-days?). And how swiftly it goes by. Here it is the beginning of August and with plans already made for September, I can see its end, not far ahead.

But why do I project to its end? Why not just enjoy and revel in each long day to its fullest?

Wise people over the centuries have encouraged us to live in the present moment. That in truth is the only moment we have. Of course there is value in recalling the past (both sweet and painful memories) and imagining and anticipating the future. But today, this moment, is what I have now.

Sitting here in the morning light as the sun rises out my window, reflecting, appreciating and being grateful for all that is good in my life.

Thoughts on Mother’s Day

When I was a teenager, anxious for my life to evolve faster than it appeared to be doing, my Mother’s response to my angst always was: ‘your time will come dear”.  Though annoying and frustrating at the time for me, her refrain proved true and wise.
Today my life is full and rewarding, and I am truly grateful for it.
The road ahead sometimes holds a vision of the destination, sometimes a mystery. But it is always there to explore, to follow, to divert from, to use as a guide, to plot our progress, to meet others, to find our way.
My mother’s wisdom was about faith in oneself, an optimistic belief in what the world has to offer us, and about appreciation … and patience.
On this Mother’s Day I remember my mom with love and gratitude, and realize how her view of life is a part of who I am and how I live my life.
On this Mother’s Day, what are you noticing or remembering or being grateful for from your mother, that is part of who you are and how you live your life?

At a Crossroad

People often ask me what brings clients to coaching.  The answer is different for everyone, but there are common themes.  And the clients that do come my way usually say a variation of the following:

  • I’m at a crossroad
  • My work/my life isn’t satisfying/challenging/fun….
  • I know I’m not doing what I’m meant to be doing
  • I feel stuck
  • I don’t know what my next step should be
  • I feel like I’m in a fog
  • I want to change things, but don’t know how
  • If I could just figure it out…

There are times in our lives when all of us find ourselves at a crossroad.  The path we have been going down, while it may once have had appeal, had status, is lucrative, or even challenging, is not bringing deep satisfaction, joy and fulfillment.  It feels like it’s going nowhere. Like you are going nowhere.

However, when you stand at a crossroad and look up and around,  what you begin to see is an opportunity to change direction, to follow a new path, to discover what lies on the road ahead.

The known is comfortable – until it isn’t anymore of course.  So the first step to change is recognizing and accepting the discomfort or dissatisfaction.

The second is allowing yourself to stand in that place long enough to understand the messages it has for you.  Sometimes that’s painful – at first – but eventually it brings enlightened awareness about what really matters to you.  You can see, and almost taste, the possibility and probability of change.

When that happens, a shift occurs: the new road appears, and beckons, and with a little courage and encouragement, you step out of stuck and into that which you have longed for.

Have you ever been at a crossroad?   Did you change to a different path?  How did you do it? 

Or are you there now? If so, take heart. Allow yourself to feel what is true about that for you, what you long for.  Know that if you are willing to listen to and explore what messages are there for you, the change you desire is well within your reach.

Navigating the Road Ahead

Have you been for a long walk lately, on a path or road you’ve never travelled on before?

If you did, what did you notice along the way?  Were you fixated on what you could or could not see ahead? Were you excited or anxious about what might lie around the next corner? Did you notice the log or rock in the middle of your path, and if so, did you skirt around it? step on it?  jump over it?

Or what about the path or road you are familiar with? Do you pay attention to it, or just routinely cover the distance to where you are going, your mind busy elsewhere?  How often do you look behind you, peer in the rear view mirror, or do you keep your gaze on the road ahead?

I once broke my arm on a walk on a park trail that was partially groomed, but allowed to be natural, with roots sticking out here and there.  Apparently I was supposed to watch my feet (as my friend informed me a bit too late), and which doesn’t happen when one is gazing at the beautiful forest all around.  So now on nature hikes, I try to watch where I’m stepping, while at the same time popping my head up often, so as not to miss the sights around me.  (It works, sort of.)

The road, or path, is a wonderful metaphor for how we choose to be in all aspects of our work and family lives.  If we are looking over our shoulder too often, do we run the risk of turning to salt, like Lot’s wife?; if we gaze too far ahead without noticing what’s at our feet, or around us, do we trip and fall?  But if our gaze is fixed on our feet, do we even see the path that awaits our discovery?

What do you notice about the way you navigate the paths you choose to follow?

First Steps

This morning I woke early, restless, and picked up a book on my bedroom bookshelf that I realized I’ve had for a long time and not yet read.  “Dropped Threads” is a beautiful compendium of personal stories about women’s lives, edited by Carol Shields and Marjorie Anderson. I was on the third story by Isabel Huggan when a sentence leapt out at me.

In her musings about life learnings, Ms. Huggan observed:  You cannot know the path through the forest until your feet are making their own footsteps in the ground.

I like how this statement simply captures the notion that our journey is our own.  To me it means that the path is a unique one and that the road ahead will only be discovered step by step, with intention, curiosity, and determination to move forward.  No-one else can walk there for you, or for me.

So my questions to you this morning are:

  • What is true for you about your own path and the road ahead?  
  • Where have your footsteps led you till now, and where might they be taking you?
  • What is your first step?

Ending the Struggle

I always surprise myself when I (re)learn something I already knew.

Playing with my new business Facebook ‘page’, I begin to define and refine what I am about as a coach, as a person.

For years, I allowed myself to struggle with how to ‘brand’ myself in my business. I say ‘allowed myself‘ because it didn’t have to be a struggle. Clearly I chose ‘struggle’.  Or maybe I was just evolving – slowly 🙂  I wondered why it’s so easy for others; so hard for me (maybe I made it hard?  ouch.)

A good friend, Jeannie Campanelli is the The Inner Confidence Coach.  I admire her ability and commitment to reach into her heart and soul, see clearly and define her path in service of others.  She tells me that I try too hard to be perfect. (she’s right of course).  Or another coach friend, Thea Sheldon, The Prime of Life Coach (who was my own coach for a few years and whose website reflects the wonderful, wise and adventurous woman she is), is also clear about who she is and the service she provides.

Both of them and many others I have observed, have been successful by tapping into their own core values and life experiences – the very thing I encourage others I coach to do.  Except I forget how to do it for myself.  ‘The cobbler and her shoes’ perhaps?

I finally, finally listen to myself and realize that I know deep down that my path is helping others find theirs. It’s that simple, that easy. I know that because of how long it took me to see and believe in my own.  And I know the peace and joy that comes from having powerfully chosen, as Thea used to remind me ‘to do it my way’.

So if you noticed the two-year hiatus in writing in my blog, know that was the period of ‘struggle’ or the time of resistance, or the fallow time, where everything evolved as it was meant to.  I’ve got my mojo and my inspiration back. It feels awesome.

A question or three for you.  What do you know about your own path of discovery? What is possible if you just let it happen in its own good time? What are you making hard that you could make easy?

Letting your heart show

This morning at the gym, after a giddy afternoon and evening all across Canada, I watched a short tribute by Stephen Brunt, a Canadian sports journalist, summing up the amazing spirit that fueled our collective consciousness these past two Olympic weeks.  You can watch it on utube at:  Stephen Brunt

One phrase he said near the end, resonated for me.  With deep feeling he said:  “Admit it.  It feels good to let your heart show.”

Yes – it feels good.  How often do we, as Canadians in particular, but as human beings in general, hide from letting our hearts show?  How much of ourselves do we cover up out of fear, or politeness, or modesty, or false beliefs, or dozens of other reasons?  What are we afraid of?  That our hearts will burst if we allow them to expand?  That our carefully crafted defenses will be broken down if we show up as who we are, and do what we are capable of?  That we will be seen in our own magnificence?

The Olympians gave their all in every moment.  They wore their hearts proudly as they should.  Let us all revel in the spirit of the last two weeks, the excitement, the enthusiasm, the excellence, the heartbreak, and the victories.  Let us feel.   We must let our hearts show so we can participate in our lives to our fullest possible potential!

It does feel good!

Connecting with Self

Sometimes the obvious is in front of our own face, and we can’t see it for looking!  It’s true for my clients; and more often than not, it’s true for me.

It takes my own coach – the wonderful, insightful, and wise Shahmeen Sadiq (Anjali Leadership), to point out the (sometimes not-so) obvious to me.  As she does frequently.  As she did today.

As part of my continuing quest to create a ‘platform’ from which to let my potential clients know who I am, what I stand for, and what I offer them, my coach pointed out what she knows to be my unique gift – connecting deeply with others so they can connect with themselves.

Funny – I often tell people my middle name is “connection”…..because I love connecting with people – my clients, my friends, everyone I meet!  And I value those connections, and nurture them, because they jazz me, inspire me, warm my heart.

I am amused to look at the question I posed in my posting last May, that bears repeating now:

  • When were you aware of not paying attention to the messages your heart offered you?

I guess I’m aware now! My heart is telling me I know how to connect from the heart.  People – especially young (35-45) professional women and men (the peeps  who most inspire me!) – yearn for that connection, whether they are aware of it or not.  On a 24-7 treadmill to succeed, meet their own and others’ expectations, be all things to all people all the time, they and their dreams and desires often get lost in the process.

Connecting with our own truth – what’s in our own heart – is one of the most free-ing, enlightening and powerful experiences we can give ourselves.  And everyone else we connect with!  So ask yourself:

  • What is your heart telling you now?
  • What is the connection you yearn to make?

Listening to My Heart

It’s a long time since I’ve written on my blog.  Not sure I can explain why I haven’t, nor why I am finally doing so today, but hope you’re glad I’m back.  It’s something about listening to the wisdom in my own heart.  Funny how the ‘teacher’ teaches what she has to learn.

What I do know is that I have my own process…. And that if I allow things to evolve, they will.  Forcing never works.  So the past number of months have been about ‘just being’, and enjoying life, while my subconscious works away in the realm of deeper knowledge and awareness than is on the surface.

I know that it is time again to step out into the world in this way.  Time to participate, not just read, listen and watch.  How I know that is by how moved I am, as are all of you I’m sure, by the horrors in Haiti.  My heart is deeply touched by the devastation that is almost impossible to comprehend, the widespread suffering, the generosity of those who contribute financially because we can and so far it’s all we feel we can do — and more so by those who go to help because they have the skills, the resources, the compassion to serve in this long hour of need – whether they are medical personnel, soldiers, journalists, family members, friends or strangers.

I also think about what lies ahead – for the saved and the saviours – all of whom are no doubt traumatized in ways yet to be revealed.  And yet I know the human spirit is tremendously resilient and resourceful and believe that, out of the horror, has come humanity; out of the devastation, a future will emerge; kindness and compassion along with concrete assistance, will alleviate the pain and suffering.

What does your heart know?  Are you listening?

Heart Intelligence

I’ve been reading a fascinating book called The HeartMath Solution, by Doc Childre and  Howard Martin of The HeartMath Institute (www.heartmath.org – a nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to heart-based living).  By that – i.e. heart-based living – they mean “people relying on the intelligence of their hearts in concert with their minds to conduct their lives at home, school, work and play.”

The Institute has found that the heart has its own intelligence and by learning to listen to and follow our heart intelligence, we create a ‘coherence’ with our brain, resulting in greater, clarity, creativity, and richer emotional experiences.

The Institute offers a number of techniques to create and enhance that heart-brain coherence.  When we apply them, we are able to deepen our heart qualities of wisdom, compassion, strength and joy and increase our intuitive, creative and heart-centered aspects.

More importantly, because the heart’s wisdom is so quickly accessible, it saves a great deal of agonizing and analyzing, cutting through quickly to the ‘heart’ of the matter.  We often recognize this ‘heart intelligence’ as intuition. What HeartMath does is scientifically explain how this works and how one can actively engage the wisdom of the heart.

This week, I paid attention to the wisdom/knowledge in my own heart, by not stressing over something I would have stressed over in the past, ‘knowing’ somewhere deep inside, that the cause of what would have resulted in my being stressed was going to evaporate. And it did.  As a result, I saved myself agonizing and a ton of what would have been unnecessary work.  I intend to tap into this more often!

  • Are you aware of listening to the wisdom in your heart?
  • What happens when you do?
  • What happens when you don’t?
  • What would it be like to choose to pay attention to what your heart knows?  What would it give you? 
  • How would your leadership be enhanced by paying attention to your heart intelligence?