Connecting The Dots

Discussing the threads of my own passions which have culminated in my work as coach, mentor, presenter in my own business.

The time has come

Mary Johnson - Monday, June 24, 2019

Oh the dance I've been doing in my head. Do I? Don't I? Am I ready to shift gears? No, yes and no again. My inside voice says there are still things I want, or think I want to do! Or do I? ..... 

For a good number of months now have been taking stock of where I am at in my 'work life'. Since I graduated from nursing training I have worked for 45 years. Not shabby! This doesn't include my part time jobs going to school or the massive amount of babysitting I did as a young girl. Been at this old work thing a good long while. It's incredibly hard to see myself any other way. The niggles have been there though. It finally hit me just the other day. This - BridgeWorks Consulting (formed in 2003) followed by BridgeWorks Coaching, is complete. There is nothing more I want to give to it. It wasn't a head decision. My head has been rather hopeless in all this. What I experienced was a 'click' in my body. When I felt it, I knew it was time! For those that know me well know I like to keep options open. I don't believe I'm done, done yet. Am working on a small project interviewing women in their 60's - 90's. It's been incredibly sweet and there are seeds of something else there. But this version of myself, my website, blog etc will be removed from the airwaves next month. Seemed only right to let you know.

Now (she says with a full heart) I want to thank each and everyone of you who has taken the time to read and/ or comment on my thoughts presented in this blog over the years. It made a difference to me to know you were there! Often I could see certain people as I wrote. You gave me purpose. This time with you has truly has been a great privilege. My deep thanks and best wishes to you all, Mary

P.S. I still can be contacted at


A teacher has come

Mary Johnson - Thursday, June 06, 2019

Up on a flip chart my office is my 'Spring/Summer' Plan for this year. In beautiful felt pen colours are clusters of activities to support some large objectives. Some days it looked pretty and doable and these days daunting. This year has been one of shifting of plans, schedules, the actual amount I can accomplish. While I've always thought I had a high tolerance for ambiguity, this year has challenged this notion of myself. 

When the the student is ready, the teacher appears. A dear friend of mine reminded me of that the other day as we caught up on our lives. The teacher isn't always about some white robed guru gracing your life. It can be a tendency, habit that it's time to let go of. Looking at the many line items on this flip chart has the mental effect today of tying me up in internal knots. I see all that still hasn't transpired and feel somewhat panicked. Clearly looking at this can be remedied. Remove  the sheet or flip it over (it is a flip chart after all!). It goes deeper than that. It's wanting to do it all and damn the torpedos. The sense of applying a full court press to make things happen or, ..... Or what? That things fall to rack and ruin around me; I'm viewed as a slug (by myself mostly!); my life goes into a drift I'll never recover from. Now there are some interesting stories I'm telling myself. Not a lot of self acceptance here. Certainly a simple equation is playing out. Tasks done = good person. 

So my 'teacher' is disruption, delays, rerouting. And she's laying it on pretty thick! My challenge is allow what's on the other side of this to see what I'm being asked to do. It's not easy. Though I guess a good lesson doesn't come without some work. Damn!

 For now I'll just flip that sheet over and take a deep breath. 


Mary Johnson - Friday, May 24, 2019

Have been home from our travels for a couple of weeks. Been sitting with all I saw especially in Nevada. Now a couple of thumbs up for Nevada. They have loosened abortions laws rather than repealed them. Nevada has also elected more women to their legislature than men. Check out the link. ( This happened after we were home. An unexpected surprise. 

That said, this blog isn't about the above, though there's much from my point of view to celebrate. It was about the amount of poverty we saw in our travels around Nevada. This is still reverberating for me! I have always had angst around money. This comes from my younger years and the very lean times we experienced. So the residual feeling (vs truth) hovers around not enough. Well, .... we looked unbelievably wealthy compared to what we saw down south. Gave us a deep appreciation for our circumstances. This triggered a discussion about our trip to Florida. Specifically to Boca Raton to visit friends a number of years back. Boca, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, these are places of opulence. Many of the world's wealthy 1% have a home in Florida. For years I had told myself I could do or buy anything I wanted. Realized my wants were pretty small in comparison. Neil and I lived in the land of chump change by comparison to the wealth that surrounded us in Florida!    

There are two powerful lessons here: 

 The first one is your situation can take on a different light depending on where you are standing! We looked lacking when we hung around in Florida and looked like kings when in Nevada. Neither of which was really true! 

Secondly comparisons create suffering. My 'not enough' theme was fed caviar in Boca Raton. Wow I really didn't have 'enough'. Fast forward to our trip to Nevada and I felt uncomfortable with how well off we were by contrast and worried about what to do with the harshness of lives we saw. This thinking helps no one. It's a waste of time and energy.

So I stepped back, focused on my circumstances vs eyeing someone else's, felt grateful for what I have (and it IS enough!!) and will do what I can to help others based on my values. This feels good. It is good. The gift of travel has allowed me to see sites and experience life outside my bubble. It's given me new perspectives. As I said in my last blog The American Dream, it's been an eye opening!  

The American Dream

Mary Johnson - Monday, May 06, 2019

Being down in the USA is always interesting. While Americans are similar to me, they are a breed apart. They have a unique character and approach to life. Particularly in the mid west. We are down visiting our second son. He makes his home in Elko Nevada. We have enjoyed checking things out. What has overwhelmingly stuck me is the amount of poverty there is. Not necessarily Elko which is surrounded by multiple productive gold mines. That has afforded this town a degree of stability and wealth, ... for now. Not all places are so lucky.

We have traveled through lots of territory and stopped in many small towns. Towns that were once fuelled by mining most specifically but not always. Whatever gave the place it's appeal has long since left. Homes are terribly neglected. There is little pride of ownership. The spirit of place and it's people subdued or lost. Staying too in RV parks throughout the State we met loads of folks for whom the RV park is their home. They live in a variety of trailers from quite nice to pretty old. The sort of RV the they can pick up and easily move when fortunes turn. Or walk away from. Our son says by the mine there are several squatter villages. People rolling in to live as they can on the land doing whatever work they can find. Federal land is free and available for anyone to enjoy.

That's the thing. Individuals we spoke with love their freedom. The ability to live as they want without a whole lot of folks telling them otherwise. They feel they are living the American Dream. There is fierce sense of independence. They don't want any government interference, rules, regulations (that's the sort of things that shut down their industry we were told). They view themselves as free men and women. Independent souls who carve out a (what I would describe as marginal) living - but absolutely on their own terms. This is Trump country. In spades. He has spoken about making things great again. Once upon a time in these small places it was great. Or a heck of a lot better. Not anymore and nothing we could see would bring it back. Still capturing that sentiment has meant something in these parts and the people who live here. They want for something more. And in passing through these parts I can understand why. The glory days have passed them by and they'd like a taste again. (We have some of this thinking in Alberta! The good times will roll when those pipelines get built!)

That said I get some things more fully now. If it was me I would gravitate towards someone who recognized and spoke to my plight and held out something better. These aren't foolish people. They are a people who are looking to have back some prosperity, dignity and pride. It's been an eye opener for sure. 2020 will be an interesting time down here.

Tired fields

Mary Johnson - Tuesday, April 30, 2019

We are off on a sojourn down to the US to visit our #2 son. We love the opportunity to take our time winding our way through new territory to the latest place Johnnie makes his home. Time in the car always give me space to think about things. You see things that can take you down different thought processes. 

Our route this time took us through southern Idaho. I was shocked by the conditions of the fields. Specifically the colour of the soil. Field over field, the soil colour was a cafe au lait. Light milky brown. Not dark brown and no where was the soil a rich black. Both my husband and I were taken back. The soil is tired. So very tired. I’m thinking it requires a large amount of fertilizer to produce the onions, potatoes and lima beans, etc. that comes of there. Yearly planting means the soil never gets to rest. 

Away went my thinking went to how I get when too much is asked of me. How I begin to get over done. Often I turn to caffeine and sugary things to get me through. Lots of us do that. Push our selves and use unhealthy things to get use through. Not great stuff to fuel a body. Struck me there are parallels with the fields that now our food. Is using artificial fertilizers better? What about forcing the soil to produce year over year without a break? This isn’t good practice. Certainly it’s not good stewardship of the land. 

This then got me contemplating the quality of the food I eat and serve our family and friends. Is it really good food? In looking at those fields I’m no longer sure. We are often told by dieticians and nutrition experts that you get all of the nutrients you need from a regular diet. Don’t need to take extra vitamins or supplements. Though taking or not taking a vitamin isn’t the issue. The bigger picture is how can we produce our food in a way that is less taxing on our lands. Once upon a time crop rotation and letting field go fallow for a year or two allowed the soil to recover. Certainly it’s not about feeding the hungry. We throw away an incredible amount of food! Now it’s about profits.

When you don’t see where your food is grown you can get lulled into a false sense of thinking all is well. That I can get any kind of food almost any time of the year. That this can keep going. The drive through that farming area was a wake up call that we are, on many fronts, pushing the boundaries of what we are asking of Mother Earth. I know it’s got me thinking, …… 

We will survive

Mary Johnson - Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Today is election day in Alberta. For the past (officially) 4 weeks we have had a parade of dire and dastardly things paraded out to us if we vote this way or that. It's been nasty. Disappointingly so. The larger container of our country has similar commentaries and  nastiness are shaping up as our federal election will be this fall. And with our neighbour to the south the long mad road to their election 2 years hence has begun. 

I have felt so over run with the negativity that I have reduced my news intake. So many opinions. News pundits in my face. Predictions of election interference. What are the real goods? My checking and rechecking does nothing to the change the rhetoric. It just has me worrying about things that may not happen. And no news before bed!! That's why a conversation yesterday with an amazing older woman went a long way to putting my mind and heart at ease. 

 A bit of background. Her personal history is marked with much trauma. I was taken back by the challenges she has faced. Survival is a strong thread through her time on this earth. Survival personally and now in her later years more broadly in support of the survival of our species as she put it. This has her take up a number of causes locally as well as provincially. She was quite clear that what she does may not make a difference OR it might. Her larger context is that it makes no difference who gets elected today or in the fall or south of the border. It might make some initiatives harder! Either way we will survive and meet the challenges of whoever and whatever shows up. We always do! I needed to hear that.      

Old habit, Another lesson

Mary Johnson - Thursday, April 04, 2019

With my website host getting out of the biz, I have been making steps to begin the process of shifting my website. With this I am pulling off material. Deciding what I'll keep and what I'll toss. So it's been with some surprise and delight I have been reading through old blogs. Heck there is a lot of good stuff there! And an edge. One that seems to have softened this last while. What's with that? I've been asking myself. 

Ah, ..... as I sit with this question I am reminded I'm off my center. That this time of hosting our son, his wife and new baby while their house is built has taken up more energy that I want to admit. I mean really, I'm a good person; can handle adversity with aplomb; am generous in thought and indeed roll with the punches. Well apparently not so much! What I am good at is denial! My old habit of 'slap on a cheery face and carry on' bit me in the bum and the pocket book. A cosmic 2x4 landed it's blow!

The telling story is one day a few weeks ago I was obsessed with doing my errands, washing my car and getting home while the place was empty to enjoy. When I say obsessed I mean obsessed. That should have been my first clue! Off I went to fill up at the PetroCan across the Henday. Now as an aside I have been filling up for years. It's automatic! Well after pre-paying for my gas I picked up what turned out to be the diesel pump. (Yup you know where this is heading!!). The regular price selection light didn't go and didn't go. What?!? I thought. Then it did light up! So away I go. Of course I now know that the pump I just thought was bent is made to fit diesel vehicles only. But I made it work! Let me say again - obsessed. It was when I went to pay it dawned on me what I had done. OMG! At that point my only thought was could I go the few blocks home to get it towed to have my gas tank drained. The answer to that question is no!

My car quit on the 87th Ave bridge. I was sick with my stupidity. Sick! Mega dollar signs flooded into my head. Shame filled my psyche. But there was a car to take care of. With effort I slipped into that mode and did just that. When I was deposited back home to await the news of 'how much?', I saw myself as I truly was. Holding my own - just, weary most nights with my efforting to be positive if only to myself and just not prepared to acknowledge any of this. Ignoring the signs, and there were plenty, has put me into a painful situation more than once. Going back to my older blogs I saw a smugness that quite possibly I had this one put to bed. Apparently not! As is the case situations come around to give you another chance. Another lesson was in order, .....         

Wisdom From Wendell Berry

Mary Johnson - Monday, March 25, 2019

Read this today and it stuck home. I think I'm almost here, .....

The Real Work by Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Change up your language

Mary Johnson - Sunday, March 17, 2019

As the weather warms and winter is losing her grip, it feels like time to break out of old ruts; ways of approaching things that have served their time for now. Feels like the same old, same old isn't enough!  Time to change some things up!!

I was inspired by an article that offered a new 'you' in 40 days. 40 days, ..... hmm. That seems rather ambitious time frame for it all to be 'new'. Still 40 days gives one a pretty good start! Believe the current wisdom that you can change up something in just 21 days has lost it's lustre and foothold in the change world. The idea that a mere 3 weeks really establishes a new habit hasn't worked well for me either. By all means it's gets you down the road some but we really need longer to develop more and stronger neurons lining up supporting the change. So when I caught the title of the 40 days to a new you article a couple of things struck me.

First, we weren't talking about weeks. (Well we are but not really!) Thinking about weeks (and weeks) at this time of year feels soul sucking. I don't feel the slightest bit inclined to even bother. Looking for something that feels doable. 40 days spins a whole different effect in my head and body. Some excitement, anticipation perhaps. Secondly, the number 40 itself doesn't seem too big. Only a bit more than a month, ..... less than half of 100 days. All of this is has me inclined to say 'Sure I can do that!' 

I recognize that fundamentally this is comes down to semantics but hey, ... it's got me excited about stepping into something in a new way. If the same approach or the sameness of a routine has you uninspired, try changing up the language you use to define or describe it, it might just have you feeling excitement and energy to create something new for you! 

Unexpected delicious

Mary Johnson - Thursday, February 28, 2019

In January I wrote about this year being about Delicious (Seeking and finding delicious). It is wonderful what this focus is doing to not only the broad strokes of my life, but to the small day to day events! I am challenging myself to add a little juice by seeking out some new-to-me things. I've attended some events I've probably only entertained in the periphery of my mind. Like a Reconciliation event (and now signed up for a second); a fashion show; saying yes to an unexpected invite to a play; participating in a shamanic journey; learning how to create a photo book; saying another yes. This time to a cheap junket to somewhere we have never been. In my office I have a flip chart with a list of ongoing events and situations that I anticipate will be delicious. I am on the look out for additional opportunities. It's been fun!

Then there is my day to day. Have to admit the cold has layered an element of 'drag' into my psyche. Still I have made big efforts to get out regularly to walk, meet friends, make my way through books that have been calling me for a time, attend yoga, have some Baby Hailey time. These past  3 - 4 months have brought connecting with dear people I haven't seen for a time. Nothing like catching up with interesting people for a few hours over coffee. That alone is delicious!

As often happens in conversation, my friend inadvertently gave me some fuel and nourishment for the road. I asked about her marriage; how were things these days? Both of us have had some times of struggle. It can be pretty easy to blame the other. As her story unfolded she shared her recognition the struggle was within her. Not her partner. And how this realization shifted the relationship. Ahh so true. My head nodded in agreement as this mirrored something similar with me.

Then there was the part of the conversation about our 'echo' careers. My friend is a consummate facilitator. I asked her about some of her co-facilitating partnerships. She spoke about the waxing and waning of these partnership and sometimes it's simply done it's job and is over. This spoke to me also as I figure out my next steps.

Lastly, there was the dive on changing energies at this time. Both of us have experienced a significant shift in recognizing certain people, places and events simply take more than they give. To not take on, to be more discerning, of that which no longer serves seems a sign of growing wisdom. 

I can get into my head and noodle around too much. By sharing her stories and perspectives on where she is at was great comfort and a huge affirmation I am not in the weeds but on a good path. It was not the intention or focus of our time for her to provide me with all this. And she did! This was the unexpected delicious!