Thoughts and such like.....
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.
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!
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've always said that if you are going to eat chocolate, you must eat the best chocolate you can afford! It's the last day of January and I decided to indulge myself with some spectacular chocolate from my friend Christine's shop. Tomorrow I begin my chocolateless month. No temptations please.
So for me, today means tea and chocolate - yum. I have two of my favourites, salted caramels and hazelnut cups, plus a gift from Christine of a lavender and I can't remember what else filled it, it was good too. I'll keep a couple for my tea tonight the rest are gone......
A New Year, and rather than making resolutions which i'll either forget or more likely give up on, I've decided instead to do something different. Each month I will either give something up, or try something different that is add something to my life. I'm looking at what I might learn about myself along the way.
So for example in January I decided to forgo alcohol, it was time to hit the reset button after the holiday celebrations. Immediately after the boys left, my booze free month started, and of course the invitations poured in! Ukrainian New Year, Girls home movie night, a fundraiser for the Symphony, dinner with friends. However I've stuck to my commitment and I've earned lots of favours, being the DD on a number of nights. It's nearly at the end, and I have to admit it hasn't been too difficult, I'm not amazed since it was only for 31 days and with with an end in sight seemed easier that I had thought to do. When I say no alcohol, I mean nothing not even a glass of wine, I did however cook with wine, because I feel it didn't/doesn't count as the alcohol burns off during cooking. On the negative side however I've discovered that my chocolate consumption seems to have gone up or maybe it just continued without a break after the holidays! So even though I feel good and I've increased my exercise I still feel sluggish, so it's time for a reset.
Soooo, guess what February's resolution is? Yep you got it, I'm giving up chocolate! I'm not sure if I have ever given up chocolate for any longer than a few days, maybe a week, but normally after Christmas things slow down, I don't eat as much. Maybe since I wasn't having a glass of wine when I felt like it, I instinctively felt I could eat chocolate instead - yikes!!
Yes, I know it'll be Valentine's day, but with no sweetheart to entice me to break my challenge, and a good reason to do it, better health, I start on Saturday. No chocolate for 28 days. I know it's the shortest month of the year, but for someone who has always believed a good day means a couple of pieces of chocolate, a bad one, maybe a bar, this is going to be one of the most difficult things I can do, or do without!! So no baking muffins with chocolate chips, no candy with chocolate inside, or chocolate flavoured anything!
I'm not planning on giving up something every month, I want to add more to my life so now it's time to think of what I can add for March - I want to do things that are free, don't cost a lot... something that everyone can do, that's easy and doesn't tie me up in knots. This year allows me to test myself, to check out some of the things I challenge others to do when I coach them. So send me your thoughts, what should I add and/or removed from my life over the next year that you think might challenge or be different for me?
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.
I was invited to the Survivors dinner, Dragonboat Festival, the 11th, over $2 Million raised for diagnostic and operating equipment. I sat at the front and watched as women young and old greeted each other. Some came from down the road, others from flood ridden Calgary. Each of these men and women have a story, each a survivor of Breast Cancer. Some friends from last year weren't able to come, others will never return - they lost their fight. I sat and marvelled at the courage and felt privileged that I for a few hours became part of their fight. They laughed and teased each other, dressed to the nines for the dance competition later - the songs they chose ranging from Swan lake to Stronger inspired by this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaQdwTsVtCY). And me, I was invited to say thank you and what I wanted to do was go away, hide and cry - why? These are incredibly strong women and men, who have battled and are winning their individual fight, why am I so emotional? Is it my ego, am I crying for myself and my fears? I acknowledge that some is fear but what else pushes that button that brings tears? Is it guilt that I have, to date, avoided this disease on my dance card? As I sat and watched these women and men, it occurred to me that I was avoiding the question? I skipped around it, testing, but I don't want to answer, I'm letting my fear take over. There is no big question today, no clever discussion - just a thought - when did you last look at the good in your life and give thanks and love to those around you?
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog