Thoughts and such like.....
The Third pillar of the Third Act is spirituality. When they hear the word spirituality many people think of religion, but that couldn't be further from the truth - spirituality to me is at the core of who I am as a person. It is about how I operate in this world, what I hold dear, what my values are, and how I live them daily... Spirituality to me is about my soul.
The word 'spirituality' comes from Latin, a noun: spiritualitas, derived from the Greek noun pneuma, meaning spirit. The Oxford English dictionary defines spirit as
'The non-physical part of a person regarded as their true self,
capable of surviving physical death or separation'.
Thomas Moore in his book Care of the Soul (www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/care-of-the-soul-twenty/9780062415677-item.html?ikwid=Care+of+the+soul&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0) says that care of this soul 'is not primarily a method of problem solving. Its goal is not to make life problem free, but to give ordinary life the depth and value that come with soulfulness'.
I believe that people can be spiritual, and religious, but that people can spiritual without being religious, or can be religious without being spiritual. Often spirituality shows itself in individual behaviours, contemplative practices such as private prayer, meditation, reflection, journalling and yoga or other meditative activity. And, there is growing research that demonstrates that these spiritual practices are associated with better health and well-being. In the Third Act program participants are encourage to look at values and beliefs that may have been imposed or unconsciously adopted at an early age, and examine whether they still serve today, a kind of self-mastery review. As James Hollis states 'A mature spirituality requires a mature individual. A mature spirituality already lies within each of us, in our potential to take on the mystery as it comes to us, to query it, to risk change and growth, and to continue the revisioning of our journey'. (Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/finding-meaning-in-the-second/9781592402076-item.html?ikwid=finding+meaning+in+the+second+half+of+life&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0)
Spiritual people are often described as compassionate, empathetic, and open hearted. Galen Watts suggests that 'there are certain virtues which have come to be associated with spirituality: compassion, empathy and open-heartedness'. He goes onto say that these virtues, or values, denote a high level of self knowledge that demonstrates knowledge of why we act in certain ways, and most importantly, knowledge of our interdependence. (http://theconversation.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-spiritual-87236)
You may ask, surely spirituality and mental health are the same, they do overlap, however I believe that there is a difference. Spirituality is curious, it asks questions about finding meaning and connection, it's internal; Good mental health is about developing a positive state of mind, it's external. They're separate, but intrinsically linked.
My first experience in deepening my own spirituality was during coach training, the premise being that you can't really coach others well, if you haven't looked deeply into yourself - it was an experience that at the beginning I hated, who would want to do this stuff? Literally taking out all my baggage, beliefs and things that I clung to for many years, and ask why? This internal sh*t, who wanted to do it? It was painful, and something I resisted, for a long time - however once I got serious, I was able to let go of a lot of baggage, and more importantly, I was able to forgive and let go of blame and negative feelings. Many spiritual traditions, including traditional religions include a practice of forgiveness. Again, science shows that forgiveness has many health benefits, including longer lifespan, lower blood pressure and fewer feelings of anger and hurt. It can be transformational, looking back and reflecting where we have been, and what we have achieved, then looking forward and seeing possibilities - letting loose our imagination and expanding our mind.
How is your spiritual life? Is it time to take a few minutes each day and examine your being, try meditation, study spiritual ideas or as Thomas Moore suggests: Begin your spiritual life 'with an appreciation for the soul of the world and of all beings'. Your spiritual health is as important as your mental and physical health. Remember you are in charge of how you live this next third of your life, and there is plenty of life left in you to live!
Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, man cannot live without a spiritual life - Buddha
Yesterday I woke up to a winter wonderland, as I said in my facebook page, "who moved my house?" I had gone to bed with the rain pounding down and woke up to approximately 6 inches of snow, beautiful, however it changed how I spent my day. Life tends to do that to us, and often it isn't as beautiful as the scene before me yesterday morning. However, as you've probably heard before it's not what happens, it's how we react to what happens that matters. We cannot control a lot of stuff like the weather, whether our company is downsizing, whether our peers and others are rude/disrespectful to us, but we can change how we react to each of these actions. Yesterday, I had planned to continue painting my office, but as I watched the sun come out and how it twinkled on the snow, a visual delight, I felt my resentment at this unexpected change, melt away (couldn't resist the pun!). My car, of course being at the bottom of the driveway meant I had to clear the driveway, and it would depend on the roads around me as to whether I could get out to shop. My plans to paint, and then spent some of the day shopping and people watching as I walked, slowly disappeared.
But instead of grumbling I got up cooked myself a yummy breakfast which I ate sitting at the window with this amazing postcard perfect vision in front of me, and then did the filling and painting that I had planned for the day. Then, with the sun still shining, I donned a cap, my hiking boots and tackled the snow. It was easy, well not easy but because I went at it without resentment and took in the beauty, it was a lot easier than if I had gone at it with feelings of being hard done by. I was even able to fill in a little walk afterward, and shopping, except for the cat, who cared, I had enough food in my cupboards, just had to be a bit more creative!
If we look at what is happening around us, and keep asking why is it me that bad things always happen to, we are going to embrace thoughts of being treated unfairly, or mistreated, and we miss the beauty of what is around us, or those individuals who support us , we're so caught up in the 'poor me', syndrome we miss out on other 'brighter' things. The kindness of a co-worker, the smile of a homeless person, the fact someone left cookies in the the kitchen! Sometimes this 'poor me' is because we've set ourselves up, we expect certain things to happen, or people to support us and they don't? Did they know our expectations? Life happens in it's own mysterious way, and although we may not like it, we can start to look at the opportunities that change brings us.
Sometimes the best way to bust resentment is to look inside ourselves, and ask what did I do to set myself up and what can I do to get out of this funk? I don't mean if life hits you unexpectedly that you should grin insanely and pretend everything is right, more take a few minutes, alone, and think about why you're feeling the way you do, what was it that you thought might/would happen, and how can you turn it around - for you, or at least take away the bitterness that you may be feeling...
Unexpected change happens to us all, taking the time to be aware of your feelings, how they appear and why, can make us more adaptable and happier with life.
In my blog and on my website, I've talked about the Third Act and some of you have asked what do I mean by The Third Act? This was an idea introduced to me by my friend Edward Kelly. Ed introduced and has taught the concept for the past few years initially in Ireland and now across Europe. We are living longer, and the idea of retirement, as conceived in our parents and grandparents day has changed.
Image your life as a play. The beginning, Act One, like a play sets the stage for your life: You are born and the influences you have during childhood and adolescence, the family you are born into, where you live, the principals and values that are instilled in you and that you may still live by are formed during this time. This is the nature/nurture period, and sets the stage for your Second Act.
In your Second Act, there may be further development and learning – like the second act of a play there is growth, maybe complications. You are independent, building a career, partnering, bringing up a family, saving for later… Independent, however as you progress through this act there are often others dependent on you. Often in a play the Second Act ends with questions, so too as we transition to the end of this act, we wonder - What happens next? What should I do now? Is this old, I don't feel old? How do I proceed without the structures and supports that I have had throughout my lifetime? Is this it?
Our Third Act is a time for reflection and transformation, longevity has given us the gift of time, today there is a second chance, a chance our grandparents didn’t have. There is time and space to look at new opportunities, maybe a new career – this is about you! This is the time to review who you really are and the tenets you live by. It is a time for new beginnings, and adventures, however without proper preparation it can be a time without focus, a time of regret and of lost opportunity. Preparation should include a holistic audit of not only our financial health, but also our physical, emotional and spiritual health - if we want to sail across the ocean, are we physically and emotionally ready? Even if our goal is to play 10,000 games of golf, would we be physically able to do so?
Finally the end of the Third Act is a time for paring down, increased frailty and loss of sense, health or mind – the curtain comes down and we face the inevitable end of life, without regret.
'Each of us will have a third age, not all of us will have a Third Act'. Edward Kelly
Are you in transition? What do you have in mind for this next stage in your life? Do you need some additional insights, or support to prepare you for this new stage? How is society treating you, is there an assumption that maybe you're just checking out, or are there supports there for you?
Does this column resonate with you? Comment below and let me know how you are preparing for your Third Act
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!
So I'm nearly half way through my chocolate-less month and I have to admit it is as difficult as I thought it would be! Even chocolate covered ginger is out! Plus after visiting the British sweet store in Victoria this week, I have decided that I have to also cut sugar from my diet. This came to me as I happily chewed my way up the Island highway! What was I doing? I didn't consciously decide, but without thinking I was jeopardizing the good I was trying to achieve by cutting out chocolate for a month. What a eijit! (a good descriptive Irish word)
So I've decided that apart my yummy cereal, which is almost all nuts and seeds with a wee bit of honey, I'm cutting out sugar too! I started this on Saturday and so far so good, I've been replacing the candy with fruit not quite the same, but it is working. In the meantime, I've been thinking how funny it is that we do this, we make a decision about changing a habit and then test ourselves consciously or unconsciously by doing something to jeopardize what we are trying to achieve. A book that discusses how habits work and suggests how to change them, is "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. I read it recently and really enjoyed it. It gave me the idea to quit alcohol for the month of January and now chocolate in February. Pressing the reset button!
So as I continue my challenge, let me know what you think.
I seem to be talking to a lot of people about Succession Planning and it appears to me that like death and taxes, it's not something people, particularly people at the top of an organization want to think about. Why not? I've come to the conclusion it's a bit like death and taxes, we don't want to think that far ahead, for some it's frightening, a step into the unknown, others think 'why rock the boat', I'll/we'll think about it when we have to.
Who should think about Succession?
I believe that both the Board and the CEO should be responsible for, and worry about Succession and yes, it should begin with a capital, it is that important. There should be both an Emergency plan, for three months or less, and a plan for when it's time for goodbye.
One of the reasons I believe that these conversations are happening now, is the number of changes taking place at the top of many organizations - some have been somewhat clumsy, with games of musical chairs at the top, others seem to have got it right, but have they, how many organizations do you know that after the long tenure of a CEO, there seem to be a number of individuals rotating through the CEO's office over a short period of time. A succession plan can help smooth the transition from one leader to another.
When should we think about Succession planning?
As soon as possible, it's easy to put it off when things are going well, however that's probably the best time to develop your plan? If you're in the middle of transition, or you are playing musical chairs - it is not too late, however you need to start straight away, don't go blindly into picking another leader without being absolutely sure of what/who you are looking for. Some of the questions that should be asked include:
What are the attributes that we are looking for in our next CEO?
How will we go about the search for a new CEO - by ourselves/using a search firm?
What is our timeline?
Time must be spent reviewing who we are and what we are looking for. Each Board orientation/annual review
must include a review of the Succession plan to ensure that it follows the current needs of the organization.
Succession planning is not a once in a while operation, it must be part of Board work and should be part of the Board's fiscal responsibility. It is also important for the Board to have it's own Succession plan, asking who will be following us in guiding our organization? It is also the responsibility of the CEO to ensure that not only does the Board have a CEO Succession plan, but also that she/he has a plan for the organization in the same way - what happens when a key staff member decides to leave, who can carry out those responsibilities while they search for a new colleague.
So if you're serious about Succession planning and need to start, or review your plan, let's talk.
As I heal from my surgery, I'm discovering new things about myself, some I'm okay with, others have surprised me and some I need to leave behind!
I am I believe with others, patient and practical I encourage them to be realistic when setting goals, I urge them to be patient about acquiring new habits, learning new skills and I suggest to them that they practice, practice, practice. So why do I find it so difficult to follow my own advice? As I recover from my surgery I am discovering that I want to heal - NOW. That I really don't want to do my exercises every day and that I have to be patient with the healing process - some days are going to be better than others, and look where I am now compared to six weeks ago.
I am getting a new appreciation of the hurdles clients face when they approach challenges in their lives. So what is it about us, that makes us so impatient, unforgiving and unrealistic about ourselves in ways that we would not be to our friends? What is it that is so difficult in change, and changing habits? One thing I'm realizing is that for me, changing one thing at a time is easier than trying to change a whole load of things at once. For others I know they feel better if they can just make a whole load at once. So each day I practice up and down the stairs, sometimes if I'm feeling good, I'll go on my stationary bike and/or add another exercise and later on every second day I work on my arms, continuing with my weight training. I'm changing my diet, I have time to review what I eat - more protein and lots of vegetables and fruit all aiding my internal recovery.
I can look at the positives in my life, and I can continue working acknowledging and honouring my limits. What are you challenged by, and how are you working to overcome, acknowledge and honouring these challenges?
So during the last few months, and particularly in recent weeks, I'm learning new things about myself. I've always thought that I was fairly easy going, moving along life's path riding the waves and with a few exceptions coming out the other side intact.
Over the years I have spent time learning more about me, doing some self examination and have a better understanding of who I am. I've become much more self aware. So it comes as some surprise to me now, when I find myself fretting. I'm about to have surgery, a knee replacement, not a small thing I know, however what I have learned so far about myself is that despite the easy going exterior I show to the world, I really like to control the environment I live in and how I show up! With this surgery I have to let go, I have no control around what is going to happen to me, other than say no, and believe me at this time it is not an option if I want to have a better quality of life as I age. I have done everything I have been told, shown up at the pre-rehab information session, worked on the exercises given and more, re-organized in my mind not only that session but also the whole pre-admit process in BC hospitals! Sent out a spreadsheet to friends to organize my life after surgery, reorganized my bedroom and home to accommodate me during that time of learning to walk again. Ensured that friends and family are contacted after surgery letting loved ones especially know that I'm out and fine. And yet.... I still fret!
And so it's a time of learning, I'm amazed at the generosity of friends, of others who have gone through this operation and are willing to share their learnings. I'm also interested to listen to others who rather than encourage and applaud the decision to move forward with this operation, are negative. Quite frankly if another person tells me it is going to hurt like hell I think I'll scream - those that do for the most part haven't had the operation themselves, but they know. They continue about how difficult recovery will be, and how I'll not be able to do certain things! I find myself curious, why are they so negative? What is driving them to make such comments? It has made me conscious that I should be more mindful of comments I make when speaking with someone who is facing a hard decision, or who has made one about moving forward - what assumptions am I making about their decision, is it my life I'm basing those assumptions on, or theirs? Why be so negative when someone has obviously thought things through?
It's just over a week before I go into hospital and I find myself working to still my mind of worries, fears about the what ifs? What if something goes wrong? What if I don't make it? Have I got my papers in order (of course not!). What if ? Minds are funny things, we can't control what passes through but we can control our reaction to them. So what if something goes wrong - I can't control that, but I have trust in my surgeon, I know that the team working on me are on my side, that they will do everything in their power to make sure nothing goes wrong, the admit process that I am so critical of is just one of the check points to ensure that I am ready and able to undergo this surgery - I need to accept this and not stress out about what I can't control, rather focus on what I can - ensuring I eat well and am as prepared as I can be both before and after surgery - I follow instructions rather than knowing better than the experts. Again it makes me think about how much energy we put into focusing on our fears, usually fears of the unknown. So now I'm focusing on 'So I'm out of surgery, all is well, how can I ensure my recovery is the best it can be?' What do I look like three months from now, six months? What am I doing? Walking with friends, hiking maybe in a year I'll be snow shoeing up that same mountain that was the location of the accident that was the start of this three year journey - life will be good, because I will make it so - I'll be back in the driving seat, in control!
ps. A friend sent this link to a TED talk about how our body language shapes who you are! Enjoy
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog