Thoughts and such like.....
Driving is a great time for thought, or listening to the radio and having conversations with the host, sometime disagreeing others yelling at them because they can't see what is obvious to me! Yesterday I had to visit a client and go to an event in Victoria, about two hours from where I currently live. I was able to listen in peace to the radio and then after stopping for coffee, listen to music. I have an eclectic collection of music, everything from bubble gum to opera, and all spheres in between!
Yesterday I was pondering a course I'm putting together with some colleagues and started through my collection of Chris Rea albums. The course is about transitioning to a different life, it's based on my friend Dr. Edward Kelly's work in Ireland 'The Third Act', and as I was driving Rea's Winters song came on, never mind that the music is wonderful, it's also got great lyrics 'Autumn begins', turn you in from the storm, from your Autumn through Winter, darlin I'll keep you warm', I felt it was a great synonym for what I have in mind, and for the work I'm doing with clients who are transitioning from one season to another moving from Summer into the Autumn of their lives. Ed, talks in terms of a play, I talk in seasons. Autumn can be wonderful, the colours of leaves turning, red, orange yellow, time is less frenzied, the outdoors calls for long walks, and we have thoughtful discussions over red wine and comfort food as dusk falls earlier each day, much like how the Autumn of our lives should look like. However for many of us life just charges ahead, 'okay I'm now here next is retirement and then I'll do what I've always wanted'. What was that? One thing I'm certain of, life happens, things change in the blink of an eye, so why do so many of us think 'I'll do that when I retire', rather than what would I have to do to do that now. What would happen if we were more focused in planning this next evolution in our lives? What would it look like? For the first time in our lives, we have the opportunity to plan what the next 20 - 30 years might look like, don't we want it to be the best if can be?
At the event yesterday, I had a conversation with one individual who spoke of how disappointed she was in her retirement; she had gone into it, she thought, thoughtfully, she had sufficient money to stop working, but that was the extent of her planning, yes she was involved in causes that interested her, but she was disappointed, retirement wasn't what she had thought it would be. I asked what she thought it would be, she really couldn't answer! We're probably the first generation to have this Autumn time, and we deserve to make it a glorious, joyful, colourful season, so why do we go into it without any firm plan?
What do you think, have you planned the Autumn of your life? Leave your comments below, let's start a conversation.
I was watching the Canadian Forces Snowbirds fly above our inner harbour the other week and got to thinking that life is a little like the flight of one of these planes. We soar and sweep, sometimes dipping down low life can often feel like a loop de loop as we chase ourselves in circles. We're flying along, the sky is blue and nothing seems to trouble us and then suddenly we hit an air pocket and down we go, twirling madly as we try to find something to cling to! Then next moment we're soaring again, everything going our way, our friends, family and colleagues flying with us, everything in sync, then one flies off on their own, but hey we're okay we've still got everyone else, then another disappears, or maybe starts twisting with their own challenges, and once again it feels like we're flying solo, no support. But then, as we think other planes have disappeared for good, they pop up again and fly with us, once again providing that support.
Sometimes we just need to reach out to friends and family, they may not realize we're in difficulty, however once they notice they're there supporting and flying with us, other times we're giving the support and that's good too.
There are times in our lives that people do disappear and that's okay, they have been in our lives for a reason and now it's time for us to fly away from them. When a friend turned 40 some years ago, she told me she had decided to be done with those people who brought her down, let her down or weren't supportive of her - she let a number of people go, she felt so much better, and it was then she realized that they were no longer supporting her, but rather the weight they carried was in put pulling her down with them.
I often tell people how much I want my kids to fly, I needed to let them go, to have them come back to me, trusting that the lessons I taught them as young kids would hold them steady. I've never regretted that decision, I adore my boys, but they have their own lives, and need to live them without me. I'm there if they need me, but they need to be free and I wouldn't have it any other way.
What or who are you holding onto that no longer serves you? What would it take to let it go? Let me know below in the comments section.
There's a lot of chatter on social media about cutting the cord: the electronic cord. Have you ever tried it?
I do, sometimes deliberately others without noticing. I might spend a day, a weekend without touching my computer, phone, tablet or whatever, and I feel great, missing something but not sure what!
Kovert designs in the UK designs wearable jewelry that allows people to remain connected but with boundaries, they do this through data collection and research, read the follow article from Fast Company about Koverts research and find out what happens to your brain during a digital detox, it's fascinating
I read this article yesterday, and then waiting for a friend I struck up a conversation with my server about mobiles and how he has talked with so many people who immediately upon waking reach for their phones. I'm amazed, yes I use my phone as an alarm, but once the alarm is off, the phone is off until I'm awake, had my tea and maybe even breakfast before I check e-mail and all the social media I am on. I wasn't always this way, it took me some time and work before I could turn off the habit, but it has changed my mornings. I know I can wait to see my messages, I'm not that important that I have to check them before I have worken up. I continue to have a land line, it's part of my business and my friends and family know if they need to connect with me urgently they can phone me on it.
So why this need to stay connected? We talk of how stressed we are, and yet, we check our e-mails and messages constantly - what would happen if you did not look at your work e-mail once you left your office at night until you arrived back the next day? Would the sky fall? Oh you argue, my employer expects me to be able to respond? Why? Are you paid to work 24 hours? Is it you and your ego, or have you given that expectation? The one that says my work is so much more important than my family and friends? So today my challenge to you is, this weekend turn off for one day, can you do it? Let me know how you fare, and if you need a little help, let me know that too... Now it's 5:00 pm, time to turn off my computer, have some tea on my deck and maybe a walk in the evening sunlight.
It's been a long time since I wrote here. I disappeared into myself for a while, which can be good or bad, for me it was good. I needed to figure out what next? I knew I wasn't fulfilled anymore in my 'day' job, but was afraid to go to close to the edge, in case I fell over the cliff. So I did what I would ask my clients to do, (nothing like being my own guinea pig) I sat down and thought about what did I need to move forward, how could I become unstuck? It was not a pretty process!
I emerged from this exercise, maybe not as clear in my intentions, as I would like, but determined, I confirmed with my employers that I would not be continuing after June, 2016, I enrolled in a Master's program to be completed by the time I exited, and I found a sufficient number of clients to help pay for my degree. Two years later, here I am, I have jumped off that cliff. I finished with my Foundation last week, I successfully completed my degree at the beginning of June and despite having no guaranteed income, just a few clients, I feel great! I've put my intention out there and I know something will come my way.
It's been a journey, I was pretty secluded, overworked and fearful, all those uncertainties came forward, you know the gremlin on the shoulder asking me was I nuts and all those questions we would not think of asking anyone else. Now it's time to celebrate, reconnect and enjoy the balance of the summer, have friends over - maybe even try to garden a little. Pick up my pencils and draw, make a new frock! How do you celebrate your success, probably by others standards I'm not great at it, but it works for me...
Now I'm back, you'll hear from me a lot more - I'm off to contemplate my poor garden, maybe even pull a few weeds, check in with friends and see who might like to come over one evening. And, then I'll think about what next.. And for you.. what next, what does this next phase in your life look like?
So I'm packed and ready to go - feeling sooooo excited! First off to Ottawa, so had to pack some sober clothes as I'm presenting on Succession Planning in Non Profits. Then my friend Christine is flying in and we'll be staying with another friend of hers for the weekend and exploring Ottawa! This will be the start of Christine and Maeve's Excellent, Amazing Adventure. Off we go then to Boston to meet Number one son who graduates from Berklee, I'm so proud of him! We'll spend a week with him, enjoying Boston, eating and probably drinking a wee bit, but most of all celebrating his success - he also graduates on his birthday - surely a good omen.
As you can see two half empty suitcases! I'll just have to do a little shopping. Suitcases have some books, along with my e-ready, sometimes I just have to feel the paper in my hands. Bringing my knitting, I have a top I took apart as it was knit in the round and too short, I need to have it a quite a bit longer, however since it is on round needles it means I won't poke my neighbour on the plane!
One of the things I like to do before I travel is to put new sheets on my bed so that when I come home I have beautifully fresh sheets that first night tired after travelling. It's one of my peculiar foibles.... we all have them. Another is to put a fresh set of clothes into my hand luggage, along with my toothbrush and face wipes. I've lost my luggage so often over the years that I now try and ensure I have something to sleep in, clean my face and teeth and change into the next day...
It's funny writing these blog posts, I can see the statistics and know there are people reading, or at least looking, at the blog, but I'm not sure how many of you enjoy it. It's a very strange relationship - sort of having a diary that everyone reads but no one talks about! Do leave a comment or note on your thoughts of my posts, or even like me on Facebook, which will allow me to access all sorts of information. Thank you!
Today is the last few days of April and I'm trying not to look at any of my electronic devices when I get up in the morning. A challenge I've broken because my meditations are on my computer. So I've compromised and only grab the computer for meditation purposes - I've set it up so that I go straight to the icon, and let me say - it's tough. The computer is there, maybe I can just check up on Facebook and see what's happening with family and friends or maybe I should just check my phone to ensure my kids are okay!! The excuses are great however I'm not succumbing and have now also decided that about an hour before bed, I'm turning them off. This is to try and allow me to have a better sleep which has for most nights worked!
I'm really pleased with this challenge and it has made me much more aware of what was happening to my sleep patterns, having a computer/iPad, a cell phone and any other electronic item on or beside the bed. Now except for the iPad they are all out of the room. I use it as both an alarm and as access to my meditations. Again I'm going to keep this challenge going - it's healthy for me. How do you manage your devices? Have you thought about what you have in your bedroom at night, having never been one for a TV in my room, it is not a problem for me, but slowly the other items crept into my room without me even being aware - could you change this one habit? Try it, and let me know how you do!
I'm off to Eastern Canada to Ottawa, (a city I don't know at all), this week, for the last few days of my challenge, and still thinking about what May's should be. I'm continuing with my Yoga and Pilates, however I would like to incorporate some outdoor time into my routine now that Spring is here and the days are longer and brighter. So I think I'll add at least 5 days of outdoor walking/biking a week during May! This does allow for a couple of lazy days, but because writing here makes me accountable I'm much more likely to keep the resolution. Too after Ottawa, I'm off to BOSTON - a city I do like and which is so great to walk around. I'm going to my eldest's son's graduation!!!! So proud of my young man - it will be awesome, a friend is coming with me to celebrate, always fun to have a pal, we'll enjoy lots of exploring, good food and great music! So expect a few posts during the next few weeks of our Excellent Adventures!
March is month three of my year long challenge - if you remember I decided to add Pilates and/or Yoga to each day. Well only halfway through the month, I'd lost two days, not back to back, but in the same week and now at the end of the month I've lost 6 days, however I don't see that as a failure rather I look at it as adding at least 20 days of exercise that I may not have had. When I look back at the days I wasn't able to exercise, I see a pattern, not being a morning person, I usually exercise, meditate, write or do anything else that takes time in the evenings. My mornings are usually taken up with getting ready, interspersed with peeks at e-mail, Facebook etc... in other words electronic media - guess what next months challenge will be!
So going back to the pattern of why I lost the days of exercise - they were all evenings that I got home late, and by late usually after 9:00 pm, I was tired, bone weary and I hadn't really eaten properly during the day, so late, tired and hungry, obviously for me not a good mixture - so now for the next month I have to be more aware of later evenings and either get up earlier on those nights I know I am going to be late and do my yoga or pilates, as well as bringing something that I can eat, rather than buying a chocolate bar - being tired isn't something I can do much about other than trying to get more sleep - another months challenge option.
It's fascinating to me that I find it easier to cut things from my life rather than add them, maybe I need to take a closer look at how I spend my time away from my office(s). Granted there are nights I need to bring home work, but in-between getting home and beginning this work, maybe I could fit in my exercise. I know there will always be days that I can't exercise for one reason or another, but I'm not going to beat myself up, I'm determined to continue making this a priority and that soon it will become a habit. I was reading lately about a study led by Phillippa Lally, PhD, a psychologist at University College London, that found it actually took people 66 days (9.5 weeks) for a behavious to become automatic, so I have a wee while yet. Meanwhile, from Tuesday I'm not looking at my e-mail, or any other electronic device that I have, in the morning until I'm ready to work - no more peeking at it when I awake or as I get ready!
Now I'm three months into my challenge what I have found is that pressing the reset button in January and February and then adding exercise this month has allowed me to become healthier. I'm looking at this year as a total reset of bits and pieces of my life - so what next. April, cutting back on electronic devices, May - I'm not sure., if you have any ideas send them to me. What is also great is that I'm enjoying the challenges I've set - an end date in sight makes it easier to manage each change, and once I get into the mindset it's not so difficult.
So what changes have you made in your life recently, how are they going?
So I'm back painting, which allows me great globs of time to think. So a warning, you'll probably find a lot of posts over the next few days as I unload my thoughts!
Today my music was very eighties - Bruce Springsteen, Eurythmics and more recent Bruno Mars, great bopping (dancing) music. I had a lot to think about - yesterday we celebrated International Women's Day with a coffee hour hosted by Olympian and MLA (Politician) Michelle Stilwell who invited another Canadian Olympian, a former MLA and the ED of our local Women's Transition House to talk about what drove them to pick their careers, who inspired them and what they hope for the future! It was both exhilarating and inspiring.
While painting I thought back to yesterday and thought 'okay but what now? What are those 130 Women of all ages and walks of life going to do, change, today as a result of what they heard yesterday?' It is so easy to walk away feeling great, then as the 'tyranny of the urgent' takes over the excitement we experienced disappears and is forgotten. So I'm challenging you to think what could you do this year to make a difference in a women or girls' life? I've loads of ideas, of course! What about helping the single mum by offering to drive her child once a month to their activity of choice, allowing the mum to rest? What about mentoring a girl in high school or university? Volunteering your time once a month to a women's charity?, like your local transition house. What about in your professional life, how about mentoring a young women coming into the profession? Try it.
What am I doing, since it is my suggestion! I've done a number of things which I will continue - I mentor/coach someone who is new to the non-profit profession, a program I was involved in last year and enjoyed, so I volunteered to continue this year with another individual - we introduced ourselves via e-mail this week. I also joined a great group www.tenthousandcoffees.com
We’re a team of young people who believe that the next generation has incredible potential just waiting to be unlocked. The problem? There’s a gap between the leaders of today and the social generation. We built Ten Thousand Coffees to be the solution: to bridge that gap and help people connect in a way that’s never been done before.
Business leaders go for coffee all the time, but they’re restricted to their personal networks of friends and family. Ten Thousand Coffees is democratizing the coffee experience by opening it up to
youth all over Canada.
The conversations I've had so far have been incredibly interesting, and with young women. Ten Thousand Coffee has a new idea and a great one. Those women I've had the privilege of talking too are not from my side of Canada and with technology today it's easy to talk.
I believe each of us has a lot of value inside, we just have to open up and share - start with a smile at the bus stop or at the car beside when you're stuck in a traffic jam! Take it a bit further and listen, really listen to a friend or colleague when they are unloading or trying to sort out a problem out loud - don't let your mind wander, even if you've heard the story a hundred times, sit and listen. All of us have amazing talents, we just have to share them. A professor at the University when I took my coaching certificate used to say, 'what people really want is to be seen, heard and understood', and it's so true. I love watching people blossom as they grow in confidence, it's my payback
So I challenge you to think about what you can do this year, let me know and return in one year and let me know how it went!
You remember the saying March and coming in like a lion - yesterday March 1st, here in Southern British Columbia we had another snow storm. Such a coward, I am, that the very thought of snow turns me to a blithering idiot. However it was also the day that I finished my chocolate reset button. So breakfast started with chocolate, which I had purchased the day before. Chocolate that had been in my fridge and was taunting me that last night! Actually it was the most difficult night, having a bag of chocolates in the fridge and being unable to eat them. I didn't eat them all that morning - it took me a few days and actually my reset plan worked I couldn't eat them all at once - even the couple of breakfast chocolates felt too much!
And so, now it is March, roaring like a lion. I'm not giving up anything this month - I'm adding. I've decided to add something to my day and so I'm adding either six sun salutations each day or doing my Pilates practice, some days I've done both. I'm also taking a page from the weather and adding the lion pose each day - if you don't know the lion pose in yoga, it's a great one to for our faces
"in this posture is thought to be one of the best face exercises you can get. People often overlook another benefit of Lion Pose: it stimulates the platysma, which is a thin, rectangular-shaped muscle in the front of throat. This exercise will keep the platysma strong as you age." (http://www.cnyhealingarts.com/2011/03/13/the-health-benefits-of-simhasana-lion-pose)
It actually looks a bit like this fella on the right, tongue out and all!
So how is the reset going, both on the wine and chocolate it's been great, each reinstatement of the two things I enjoy has been easy and exactly as I'd hoped. What have I learnt, as everyone tells us, making out goals realistic and attainable. I think if I had said I was giving up one or the other item for the year, I'd have failed miserably. As it is I've achieved my goals and reset the button for both that is I'm not overloading anymore. Now by adding yoga and pilates into my daily routine I'm getting into the habit of exercise, doing something that I like, even when I'm at home which given some of my longer days is great. Too, it helps me in the rehabilitation of my knee which needs movement each day to avoid getting stiff. One of the great things about doing either of these activities is that not only do they help me build strength, in both my core and upper body, but also I feel great after both and I'm sleeping better too!
So my challenge to you is to add something extra to your day, something that is attainable. As Spring comes it may be a walk each evening for a month, or even as simple as giving yourself the gift of sitting quietly, no TV, no noise, each day; try it and see what happens and let me know how it works for you. Remember it's only for one month!
It was a dark and dreary day, (I've always wanted to write that line!). Rain pouring down, it was as if the day was trying to make us as miserable as possible! I decided it was an ideal day to stay home, have a leisurely late breakfast and tackle some of the painting I have left undone, forever. So after breakfast in bed with my latest read 'The Trial of Fallen Angels', by James Kimmel, Jr., which despite the title isn't as dark as it sounds, I got up and dressed for painting.
I am the messiest painter out there, most of the spare paint somehow lands on me, so I now designate old special paint clothes that I throw out after each job. These days I'm painting the wood ceiling and shelving in my loft, I want to have more light up there all year round. Like any 'have to' jobs I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time getting psyched up, funny actually as I quite like painting. It gives me time to think, ruminate over my week, wrestle with problems or just go off on tangents. There are a few things however that I need to bring with me, first coffee, then water and finally music - to paint I prefer what my sister terms 'bubble gum' music, stuff that I can dance to, stuff from my teen years right up to today and to which I can sing along to as loudly as I wish!!
The music is always upbeat, and allows my mind to jump all over the place - it makes me feel happy. I think of my younger son who cringes at his aunt and myself and our love of this music, at his brother who understands the genius behind those that can create such sounds and my sister who coined the phrase 'bubble gum' music, I can see her dancing in the night!
Today, as I painted I thought of a friend who had contacted me during the week to apologize for not being in touch, personal problems she explained. I had invited her to come over, anytime, we could have a bottle of wine, talk and she could sleep over in one of the kids beds. Her contacting me made me think of how often we don't reach out to others when we have problems. I'm guilty, are you? When I first became a single parent, I told no one that my husband and I had split, other than my family and with the closest relative probably over 10,000 km away it was an expensive conversation any day! I think what stopped me from telling friends was pride and fear of everything, from how would we survive to how would I survive financially? Don't ask me what telling people had to do with any of those and the hundreds of other reasons I had but then I felt there was a connection! Mixed in was also relief, and from that relief a little shame that I would feel so!! How crazy is that? What was actually a good thing for me and my kids, and I told myself that I should feel shameful for feeling relief - sometimes we should smack ourselves for our own foolish self talk. How much easier would life have been, how much less lonely I would have felt if I had confided in others during those years. Instead I closed in on myself. Now I'm not exactly an open book today, but I have learned over the years to reach out
It sounds like that I spent my afternoon thinking somewhat negative deep thoughts, when it was actually lots of fun. As I said I'm painting the ceiling and I have to do it in stages otherwise I get a bit glassy eyed at the thought of doing the whole undercoat at once. So each time I go up there I give myself a certain portion to paint, before I'm allowed to go onto something else - like diving into the books I've taken down from the shelves (I can sort and maybe give away a few). Or check out a new pattern, look at my fabric stash and start imaging what I could make. My challenge is there is so much to play with, and I want to do it all - NOW! So I need to give myself a goal before I move onto something else - a skill I've learned over the years as I get to know myself better. Today, I only stopped because I ran out of paint!
So who do you talk to when you are fearful, or when life kicks you in the knees? Take a look around, there are so many people out there who are willing to help, you just have to ask!
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog
Maeve O'Byrne is the Principal of Cumhacht Coaching & Consulting, she loves laughter, light and life and she feels passionately that everyone deserves to find that right place for them in life!