Tag Archives: grateful

Oh Glorious Morning!!

Oh fresh breath of Spring!4368007125_dc4edd0f8e

You glorious morning.

I have just heard the season’s first Robin song.

My windows are open wide to let in the cold air just so I can hear you more clearly.

Sing away sweet traveller.

You are always a most welcome guest.

It is true.

Spring is upon us. At long last.

When it feels all hope is lost – that winter’s bitter grasp will not let go –
your presence lifts us.

Your song melts our heart.

The end is near.

Hello Spring and all your glory.

Welcome.

Welcome.

photo credit: N06/4368007125″>Robin, 2/2010, PA via photopin (license)
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15+ years off skates. Guess what happened when I laced them back on…

So…winter’s here again in my part of the world which normally, for me, meansmedium_10844052273 three+ months of hibernation, cozied up inside, snuggled under a blanket, hot chocolate in hand (with marshmallows, of course!), enjoying the snow and cold through my living room window. Cold outside? Is it? I hadn’t noticed.

Not this year.

This year I plan to embrace winter and enjoy its offerings.

And I’ve convinced a few friends to do so too. Mwa ha ha!

Here is our list of potential activities.

  1. outdoor ice skating
  2. snowshoeing
  3. cross-country skiing
  4. hiking
  5. camping (apparently we’d been sampling the hot toddies)

We’re not the youngest of bucks either.  50+ is our demographic.

What’s the saying? You’re only as old as feel? (Kinda depends on the body part you’re talking about.)

Here’s my tally so far:

  • Walk at least an hour/day
    20141202_110052

    That’s me, hiking by a waterfall.

    (I admit to missing a few days, but on others I’ve walked up to 3 hours) When did I begin? Mid October – and still doing it!

  • Hiking on trails
    I bought some Nordic Walking Sticks especially for this purpose.
    # of outings: 6
    When did I begin? Mid-October – and still doing it.

And then I added skating…

When I was a kid, I used to skate a LOT. (You can read more about that here.)

And then I became a parent…

stooping over holding up your toddler while balancing on extremely thin blades yourself is not easy on the back! (This was pre-‘learn-to-skate-with-handy-dandy-bars-the-kid-pushes-around-the-rink-themselves‘ days.)

Did I mention the toddler did NOT, under any circumstances – even bribery! – want to learn to skate and hence rag-dolled her body the entire time while wailing from the extreme torture she was being asked to endure? (Result: Added parental back strain from lifting and holding up the weight of said floppy potato sack while stooping over and balancing on extremely thin blades.)

Guess what? Staying inside with hot chocolate, warm and cozy under a blanket won out. (Ok, we did go tobogganing from time to time but skating dropped off the repertoire for a number of years, never really making a come-back with the exception of only a few semi-successful attempts when peer-pressure was added to the mix.)

Hence, I lost practice too. (That kid is now 22.) And life and age has made me wary of hurting my back. Plus years of less-than-consistant exercise hasn’t helped.

But hey! That’s life. If you don’t move it, you lose it.

So this year, I’m moving it.

Today I got my skates sharpened. That was the easy part.

It was public skating time at the rink. Should I go? By myself? Nah, I should wait and go with my friends. But there aren’t many people..why not? ..oh, all right. So I went.

Holy cow those blades are thin! How did I ever stand on them?

Just trying to walk across the rubberized floor was hard. My ankles were wobbling. My knees felt weak.

I felt like a giraffe lumbering along, a giant body on thin legs, knobby knees feelingmedium_7928938732 like they were going to collapse under me with me every step, ankles bending from side to side and all culminating down upon those frickin’ extremely thin blades!

Who invented this sport?! What’s wrong with sliding about in your boots?

Ok. I can do this.

I let an eager kid and his dad go ahead of me through the gates.

Let the gazelles go ahead. The giraffe can wait.

I was glad to see there were no hyenas on the ice — you know who I mean, those ‘tween boys who like to prey on the weak and work in packs chasing each other around the rink, circling and taunting and coming ever-so-close, trying to make you fall so they can laugh and point.

Luckily the plains were calm today.

There was one other giraffe on the ice – any hyenas would prey on him first for he, as it turned out, was weaker than I.

I won’t go into every detail but suffice it to say the start was definitely slow and shaky. Tightening my laces helped a bit with the ankle wobble. And where the h*ll are those learn-to-skate-handy-dandy-bars-the-kids-push-around-the-rink-themselves things?! I want one!

I gradually gained confidence with each stride. The more I focussed on the fear of falling, the fear of hurting my back, the more difficultly I had.

I let go of the fear and breathed into the action. Looking ahead, I took it one push at a time – ‘If I can walk, I can skate’, I told myself. ‘Glide, glide, glide.’ I was doing it!

And then I made the mistake of trying to perfect my techniqueWAY too soon for that nonsense.

I stepped, then… wobble, wobble, twist, bend, wobble – first right, then left, then around, then back, then forth – my arms outstretched waving non-synchronized giant circles in the air. I can’t even imagine what sort of face I was making. I only know that my eyes couldn’t have gotten any bigger. I was trying so fiercely not to fall!

And I didn’t!! I stayed erect! Shaken and stirred but with composure regained, I hoped no-one saw the graceful ballet. The rink guard skated by and looked politely over, a slight smirk on her teenage face as she adeptly slid past. I laughed imagining the site she had just taken in from behind.

Crisis averted, I returned to the basics gaining confidence, calm and speed — yes, I did feel a breeze on my face, even if ever so slight.

Shins aching from the strangulation I had inflicted desperate to brace my ankles and make my skate boots one with my feet and from the lack of flex denied by those blades, I decided to call it a day while I was ahead.

Total ice time: 15 minutes, approximately. Not bad – one minute for every year absent.

I’m definitely going to have to build up to this.

So what did I learn by lacing up my skates after 15+ years?

  • We all start as giraffes when we try something new. 
    We lumber and run awkwardly. We wish we ran like gazelles and are fearful of the hyenas who want to trip us up and laugh at us but we’re giraffes, at the moment, so until we learn to be something else, we have to master being a giraffe, and that takes time. 
  • When we focus on the fear, we can barely move.
    The weaker ice-giraffe clutched to the boards and pushed himself half way around the rink by his hands too afraid to take the first step. When he did finally let go, he didn’t fall. He just took his time and did what he was comfortable doing.
  •  Don’t be afraid to perfect your technique.
    Be brave enough to push past your comfort zone. If you’re not ready, then that’s ok. Congratulate yourself for trying and continue where you just were. But you will have to try again so figure out what you need to do to get there. For me, more hours at this level to build my strength and confidence.
  • Don’t be afraid to look foolish.
    We learn the most from our mistakes and failures. Would you rather have tried and failed than not tried at all? And besides, how many people are actually watching you anyway? For me, just one (that I’m aware of – excuse me while I check YouTube) and who cares anyway? Everyone starts as a giraffe on skates. Most of the time, WE’RE the only ones that care if we fall. And so what? Get back up!
  • Give yourself your best chance at success.
    Stay calm, let go of fear, dress for the weather, and sharpen your skates first, then confidently step out on the ice. You can always take a rest on the bench to catch your breath, but don’t give up.
  • Master your challenges.
    Skates blades are really really thin! (I think mine actually shrank.) Gain the balance you need to keep you from falling over. Practice, practice, practice.

Embrace your giraffe-ness, especially when you begin something new.

Personally, if I am destined to stay a giraffe, then that’s ok with me. Did you know:

  • medium_1197126812Each giraffe step is far greater than any other animal.
  • They can run faster than many horses.
  • Lions rarely bother them since one swift kick in the head and it’s ‘Mary Queen of Scot’s’ for the lion.
  • Giraffes are the symbol for intuition and flexibility.

That sounds pretty good to me. I’ll try to be the best darn giraffe that I can and if I’m destined to become something else, then I’ll strive to be the best of that too. 

For now, I am a proud Ice-Giraffe!

Ever felt like a giraffe on skates in your business or personal life? I’d love to hear about it. Share it below. 

Thanks to: The Weekly Bull for the skating photo
My hiking partner that day, my sister Sue, for the pic of me
Michelle Bender for the giraffe running photo
Jude for the baby giraffe photo
Interesting giraffe facts: 

http://listverse.com/2013/10/12/12-fascinating-facts-about-giraffes/
http://www.onekind.org/be_inspired/animals_a_z/giraffe/

2 Quick Ways to Help Pave the Path from Poverty

For the last ten years or so, my extended family gathers for Christmas dinner but medium_12684133474instead of giving each other gifts, – we really don’t need anything – we all put whatever amount of money we feel we can afford to donate into a hat – money that would have gone toward store-bought gifts. Then each person puts in one suggestion of a charity that they would like to support. One suggestion gets drawn and the pot of money gets allocated to that charity with the suggester receiving the tax receipt.

My kids, age 6 & 9 when we began, even did extra chores throughout December so they could have money to contribute too. They were happy to pass up gifts from aunts, uncles and grandparents in order to give to a worthy cause (after all, they still got gifts from Santa).

The tradition of giving is not new at this time of year. Whether you think of giving as  a feel-good practice, a feeling of obligation, or maybe simply as a tax break before the year-end, the choices of places to donate are endless and varied.

That, my friends, is why I am so excited to share these two companies I’ve come across that I feel break the mould of traditional donation locations. (I get absolutely zero kick-back, I pinky swear!)

If you’re an entrepreneur, or know one, you know how hard it is to get a business off the ground.

Now add to that third-world conditions, very little money or food, and just struggling to survive from day-to-day.

What if there was a way that these people could help themselves get out of that situation using the skills they have and the knowledge of what they need based on their daily lives and traditions.

Well, the companies I’m about to reveal assist in entrepreneurial endeavours in medium_10833890384third-world countries, empowering citizens to create businesses that change the lives of thousands of their fellow countrymen and women.

Given a leg-up, these people are able to stand on their own and grow profitable businesses.  Money invested, once re-paid – and it is repaid – gets reinvested toward other entrepreneurs. A real pay-it-forward practice.

But don’t take my word for it, check out the websites for yourself and read about the hundreds of people, families and communities that are being helped to help themselves.

Being an entrepreneur myself, I know how much time and effort it takes to get a business off the ground and keep it rolling. I can’t imagine even attempting it, let alone thinking about it if faced with the challenges of poverty.

Wouldn’t a donation in the name of an entrepreneur you know – who really doesn’t need another reindeer sweater – make an excellent holiday gift(I can hear them thanking me now!)  You’d be saying, “Your entrepreneurial spirit has inspired me to give someone less fortunate the chance to succeed, just as you have.”

I can tell you from first-hand experience that it feels great to know my money is helping kick-start a chain reaction of good.

Please take a look and decide for yourself. 

Kiva
http://www.kiva.org/

The Acumen Fund
http://acumen.org/

Let’s start a chain of sharing. What’s your favourite place to donate to? Please share below. 

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/miguelvirkkunen/12684133474/
photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vinothchandar/10833890384/

5 Life Lessons You Can Learn from Looking Backward

A year ago this time, I was in a very different place.medium_407591133

I was secondary caregiver to my mother whose Alzheimer’s disease was progressing more rapidly than any of us had expected, and certainly had hoped.

I was primary relief for my father who was shouldering the brunt of the daily exhaustion, frustration and heart-ache of living with a loved-one with Alzheimer’s.

I was living in the suburbs, trying to maintain an aging house and yard.

I was working hard to grow my business while also working part-time in a career path I had no interest in, but it paid some bills.

And I was trying to balance my own family life and all that entails on a daily basis.

I was stressed, I was tired – ok, exhausted.

Mostly I felt alone. My mom, the one I knew at least, my compass, my champion, my sounding board, my support, my friend had left me.

Flash-forward one year and all that has changed.

My mother seems content and is physically healthy in a nursing home surrounded by angels who attend to her daily and nightly needs; the stress and constant worry lifted from our weary shoulders.

Don’t get me wrong – we still worry – but we know she is safe and well cared-for. And what more can we ask for her, knowing that we could not provide the same level of care ourselves.

I  have moved to the city and down-sized to an apartment. I don’t miss my house or my excess possessions. In fact, I am still donating things weekly, anxious to pare down to just the essentials (and a wee bit more – it is nice to have a few luxuries, but only if I have space to store them!)

I am walking to shops instead of driving everywhere.

I am living close to theatres and our world-renowned symphony and film festival planning evenings out instead of in being numbed by the television.

And I am gearing my business toward a path that I know will be fulfilling.

So here are the 5 lessons I’ve learned over this past year that you can use too:

1. Ask For Help.
Try as we might, we could not provide for my mother as we wanted to and especially as she needed. We called on in-home care until that option was exhausted. When the phone rang and my dad asked me to come over to help him, I ran, because I knew if he was asking, he was reaching a breaking point. (Asking for help is not something that comes easily in our family.)

medium_2234720298But if we hadn’t asked for help, we may not have received it, and who knows where we’d be today.

Maybe my mom would still be in a nursing home, but not with the timing she and we required and I shudder to think of the many scenarios that could have unfolded if we had soldiered on, trying to manage by ourselves.

2. Accept Help.
Sounds obvious that if you ‘ask for help’ you naturally ‘accept help’, but they really are two separate things.

As hard as asking for help is – and if you are not used to asking, believe me, it is hard, very hard – sometimes accepting help is equally or more difficult, especially when it is offered unsolicited.

Often our friends, family and colleagues recognize well before we do that we are struggling and could use a hand.

When help is offered, step back and pause and try to stifle your pride.

Ignore the “I can do it”, “I’m fine” “I’m managing” voice that so many of us listen to.

medium_3445776069Take a deep breath, recognize the gift you are being offered and say, “Thank you so much for caring. Yes, I really could use your help”.

Even if you only allow them to do something small or easy, it is one less thing for you to worry about.  Then accepting help the next time it’s offered may be just a tiny bit easier for you. 

3. Surrender
There are some things that are simply out of our control. So surrender to them instead of fighting against them, wishing and hoping that things were different.

Accept that this is the way it is.

We could not stop, halt or reverse my mother’s disease progression no matter how much we wished we could. We had to surrender ourselves to the facts and do what was best for her, taking ourselves out of the equation.

We can only control our own actions so we acted in her best interests.

Surrender can bring grief. Let yourself grieve. You’ve been fighting the no-win battle.

Surrender. Release. Breathe. Accept. And move on from this new place.

It is from this place that I realize my sisters and I are providing the same for my mother that she for so many years provided for us. We are now her compass, her champion, her advocate, her support, her friends – and we’re good at it since we had the best teacher.

4. Look forward
Funny  that ‘looking forward’ appears on a list of lessons learned by looking backward, but I learned that by looking forward and envisioning a different possibility for myself, my life is now following a new trajectory – one that feels supportive and right for me. 

image012If all we did was look backward, we’d only see where we’ve been and have no idea what possibilities await. Some might call that ‘living on the edge’ or ‘living spontaneously’. I don’t.

Living life through the rear-view mirror harbors regrets.

You look at opportunities passed-by. Forks in the road you could have traversed. I don’t want to live with regrets.

Looking forward allows for planning and intention. For me, those are two crucial components in achieving my goals.

And I know that the future means I will have to say goodbye to my mother once again. (I think having to say goodbye twice is the hardest part for the family of Alzheimer’s sufferers.) But until then, she is still a part of our lives and we love her just as much. Passing on is a fact of life for us all. I shall be grateful for the time we’ve had but continue to look forward to other happiness ahead – she would want that.

5. See how far you’ve come.
Contradictory to #4, looking backward can be extremely helpful IF you don’t live there. 

Periodically turn around and see where you were six months ago, or a year ago, of five years ago.

medium_1431384410Examine the lessons you’ve learned.

Celebrate your achievements.

Recognize your champions – even drop them a card of thanks.

Be grateful for the help you accepted along the way.

Then turn around and set your course for the future.

Yes, a lot has changed for me over the past year but what has remained consistent is my positive outlook.

I have realized that positivity isn’t a character trait.

Positivity is a choice.

I choose to look on the bright-side.
I choose to find the good in people.
I choose to look forward more than back.

And when I do look back, I look for the lessons I’ve learned and the distance I’ve travelled.

Change brings momentum.

Training wheels off, I'm goin' all out!

Training wheels off, I’m goin’ all out!

That is why I’m excited to announce that in the next day or two (technical challenges considered), the name of this blog will be changing.

I hope you come back to see where I’m taking it.

Because with you, the journey is much more fun.

Hop on!

Enjoy the ride!
Let’s see where we end up!

What lessons have you learned over the past year?
Share them below.

Photo credits: Photopin
calendar photo:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/eliazar/407591133/
dog photo:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/themacinator/3445776069/
hands:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/kwerfeldein/2234720298/
white flags:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexnako/624779750/
boat wake: Alberto Mateo, The Last Footprint e: 
info@albertomateo.com w: www.albertomateo.com – www.thelastfootprint.com
boy with magnifying glass:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/1431384410/
bike rider: my dad – thankfully no photo of me crashing into a parked car moments later. He didn’t tell me how to stop! That was the next lesson. 😉

10 Life Lessons from a Couch Olympian

I love watching the Olympics, like everyone else.medium_4379618393

The few individuals in the world who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of athletic perfection in their chosen field is an inspiration.

You rally behind them – rooting for your country’s representative to do their best, even if this is the first time you’ve ever heard their name.

You hold your breath during their performance, gasping if they fall.

But what does it take to become an Olympian?

Personally, I haven’t a clue – my favourite sport is channel surfing.

But for 16 days every two years, I am taken back to my childhood when I imagined I could be Nadia Comaneci.  (Btw, did you see her during the 2014 Sochi games? I would still like to be her!!)

One of the Canadian women athletes (and I am ashamed to say that I can’t recall which one – if you know, please post it below) said something that I thought really summed up what sets Olympians apart from the rest of us mere mortals.

She said, (and I am paraphrasing),
“The Olympics aren’t something you can dream about coming to.  You have to believe you will get here.”

It’s been almost a week since I heard that, and it has stayed with me.  Not because I believe that one day I will get to the Olympics, especially if I put zero effort into training for …well, anything.

But I resonated with that statement because it could be applied to each of us, in whatever our life’s pursuit.

For me, my career goal is to tell the stories of people and businesses who are making a difference in the world so they can gain the recognition and support they need to continue their great work.

I could go about making up ad campaigns and marketing strategies to attract companies to my website.  I could cold-call prospects.  I could network and schmooze my patootie off, but if I don’t BELIEVE that I can do this work, I will never reach the ‘Olympic’ level I’ve dreamt about.

Why? Because something in me – in the way I speak, in how I present myself to clients – will convey that I don’t believe in myself – so why should they?

Of course I can’t just cross my fingers, close my eyes, click my heels and say ‘I believe, I believe’ – even if I feel that belief in my soul.

The belief has to be accompanied by action.

There is work to be done to attract the clients, just as the athletes need to train vigorously for hours on end.

I will compete against others vying for the same clients.  And I will win some and I will lose some.  That’s part of the game.

I have heard that athletes that win a silver medal are often depressed becausemedium_2723280142 they were so close to the gold; that bronze medal winners are thrilled because they made it onto the podium; and that fourth place winners are driven to train even harder and often return to win a medal themselves at the next Olympics.

The psychology of competition is complex and interesting.

Often our biggest competition is against ourselves.

We question our very value and self-worth.

Can I do this?
Will anyone find me in the vast webosphere?
What can I offer that is different from the next person?

While I won’t be presented with ribbons or medals for each of my wins, I will consciously acknowledge and celebrate each victory, no matter how small, because with each step I am learning what it takes to be champ.

Here’s what I believe:
To have a chance at winning, no matter the race, you have to:

1. Find what you love to do.
2. Learn all you can.
3. Practice every possible moment.
4. Set firm and realistic goals.
5. Set your intention.
6. Believe you can do it, no matter what others may say.
7. Do it – as many times as it takes, over and over again.
8. Surround yourself with coaches and cheerleaders.
9. Celebrate each and every milestone.
10. Never stop believing.

And every now and again, look back at the starting line and see how far you’ve come.  

Because every victory along your journey is a gold medal win.

Share your latest victory below.  
(Tooting your own horn is like playing your personal anthem.)

Photo credits:
Couch Olympian: photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonnetofthemoon/4379618393/”>sonnetofthemoon</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
Doggie winners: photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/geckoam/2723280142/”>geckoam</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Why Is The Sky Blue?

medium_483158331 The age-old question which scholars and school children have answered with equal thought and insight is one in which I have my own theory – simple yet obvious – and one in which I am sure to be nominated and ultimately win some worldly award for Questions Yet To Be Answered To The Satisfaction Of All Mankind.

So, why is the sky blue?

Simple. So we can see rainbows.

Brilliant, right? Think about it.

If the sky were red, the rainbow would be missing a stripe.

Same goes for yellow, pink and orange.

Also, had the sky been white, how would we know if it were cloudy?

Brown or Green? Mountains and trees would vanish, camouflaged.  Millions of people would be walking around smacking into things.

So why does blue seem the perfect choice?

Blue sets off all the other colours so that we can see and appreciate their beauty.

Now stay with me. I have saved the best for last; the indisputable, award-clinching part.

If, as I say, the sky is blue so that we can see rainbows, why does that matter?

What good are rainbows?

Rainbows symbolize hope.

An end to the storm.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

That tomorrow is a new day.

And as long as we all have hope, we’ll keep our chins up, our eyes on the horizon and keep searching for that elusive pot of gold.

And what better reason is there than that?

Would you agree? Comment or nominate me for the world award below.

Photo credit: http://photopin.com
flickr.com/photos/marthax/483158331/

One Simple Way To End It All

garden June 6-06 035 (1)Tired of wishing things were different?

Sick of hoping things will change?

Discouraged by events not happening as you had imagined?

Me too.

Well I know one simple way to end it all.

I’ve been doing a lot of mindset work lately with a kind and wonderful woman named Therese Skelly.  She is a business coach, heck person, like no other I’ve met.

If you, like me, believe in the Law of Attraction, well we are likely babes in the cradle compared to Therese.  Therese embodies and imbues the Law as if she wrote it herself.  What’s more, she can extract from you deep-set beliefs like you wouldn’t believe and turn them on their head.

We’re complicated creatures, us humans, and it is surprising what makes us tick.

One of Therese’s lessons is to teach you to own your value; something many of us let others bestow upon us (often which are false messages rooted in jealousy, ignorance or fear) and then wear like a suit of armour shielding us from other more realistic heartfelt honest messages.

It was with this lesson that this next message came my way.

While perusing the blogs I follow, a recent post struck my eye; Tracie Louise’s post entitled “Giving Up Hope.”

Concerned, what I read imparted a startling message; her solution to end her turmoil.

Her philosophy, so simple and humble, struck my heart and mended the tapestry of lessons past.

Her message: she is tired of hoping for things to change, for ‘hope’ gives you an ‘out’.  I hope this will happen, but if it doesn’t, that’s ok because I can always fall back on blah blah blah. 

Instead, she is making the conscious choice to give up ‘hope’ and replace it with ‘Intention’.

Wow.  Think about it: Replace ‘Hope’ with ‘Intention’.

Aaaaaaaaaa! Do hear the angel chorus?

That one simple shift: Replace ‘Hope’ with ‘Intention’.

Simply change the way you look at the situation.

“I hope one day to be able to travel to Europe” changes to “I’m going to travel to Europe” and suddenly the planning begins.

How can I afford it? Start socking away bits of cash, get a part-time job, sell un-used items on eBay.

Where will I go? Start the mental planning, pour over maps, google travel deals.

When will I go?  Pick a date and write it on your calendar.

By simply making the mental shift, you have opened the door for new possibilities (my new favourite word).

The Law of Attraction is strong, my friend, so be sure your intention is clear.

I’ll bet you’ll be surprised how things start falling into place.

Giving up Hope for Intention. Are you with me?

photo credit: Carolin Grandin
All rights reserved.