Connecting The Dots

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

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! 

Watching New Dad

Mary Johnson - Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Almost 12 weeks ago our youngest son became a dad. As with many youngest children, the older siblings (and his folks!) would say they did a lot for him growing up. As well as bossing him about and giving tons of unwanted advice. Youngests are quite brilliant because they manage all these competing personalities and behaviours. That said there is this propensity to view youngest as still needed some sort of assistance even as adults.

When 'my baby' and his wife had their baby, I watched a transformation. 'Bub' (as I call him) is an amazing father. He's supportive of his wife, helpful around the tasks of baby care, an incredible voice of reason around new parent concerns. Willing to research against  unwanted advice and stand firm in his decisions. He delights at every smile, eyebrow raise, baby's bath antics. I get pictures all the time. Everything little Hailey does is noteworthy is the most beautiful sense. She has thrilled him to his core and he simply adores his daughter!

We have a ringside seat with the new wee family living at our place for awhile. We are fortunate to witness the making of these precious parent bonds. My Son has deepened in so many ways. His loving, gentle nature has, in addition to his wife, another natural place to flow  It's with pride and great love I watch this new dad. 

The Joy of Cold Days

Mary Johnson - Wednesday, February 06, 2019

It's been cold. Really really cold! The Polar Vortex has made its presence know all over North America though it has decidedly settled over Alberta. Yesterday morning was minus 34 though colder here in the burbs. Damn! That's just cold. 

Now it's pretty easy to get caught up and moan and groan about our winter fates. It is a challenge on many fronts. Yet there are some fabulous things that cold, cold weather invites you to take advantage of. Here are some of my favourites!

1. A glass of wine, good music by the fire.

2. Time to read some of the great books I got at Christmas!

3. An excuse to say 'No, can when it warms up!'

4. Cooking hearty meals with enough for hearty left-overs.

5. Cozy sheets and blankets.

6. Sleeping better under those cozy sheets and blankets.

7. Catching up on my PVR'd shows.

8.  Sitting around the kitchen table chatting for longer because you aren't rushing off somewhere.

9. Your neighbour driving! :))

10. Taking a little longer over the paper (yes we still do an actual paper) and coffee. 

11. Planning your garden, ... maybe ordering seeds.

12. Knowing how wonderful and energetic you'll feel after this enforced downtime.

Yes there is much to appreciate during this time. We know it won't last forever. So dive in and make the best of it. What choice do you have!?


From yesterday's conversation

Mary Johnson - Friday, January 18, 2019

Had a marvellous conversation yesterday with a dear and very long time friend. She had read my previous blog Seeking and finding delicious and had a caution for me. 'Be careful when you open yourself up, make yourself vulnerable, you may get sick. I did.' Hmm this rather took me back. Eleanor is one of the most 'there's a way to resolve this' kinda gal I know. Her saying this wasn't proposing that sickness would happen. It was just a heads up not to be surprised at what does indeed appear. 

My immediate counter was that perhaps her illness was always there ticking along below the radar. Or not. She has had a hectic couple of years of Board work, grand babies, planning a wedding, etc. There are many of us who completely miss the niggles and hints that our life's are out of sync. Certainly it's been the case with me a couple of times. My friend admits to being on a learning curve with this one. She has no choice.

Doing some conscious work on this time of life will no doubt bring up some unresolved muck in my life. Frankly I'm counting on it! For years I've been a follower of the philosophy of Scarlett O'Hara - I will deal with that tomorrow, .... There are a lot of tomorrows buried in my psyche. Yet I'm ready to pull out, examine, integrate and perhaps put a new perspective on my story. I believe I am more resilient now. Have a much broader perspective on the ebbs and flows of life. This puts me in a better place to welcome what shows up as I learn to sit in solitude, silence and stillness to contemplate the whole of my life - good, bad, indifferent. One of my favourite poets, Rumi, had it right.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing,
And invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent,
As a guide from beyond.  

I suspect Eleanor and I will enjoy more delicious conversations about the guides from beyond

Seeking and finding delicious

Mary Johnson - Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Happy New Year All! Hope it's a great one for you!

Last year I felt somewhat rudderless. Usually my year has a theme. Some word or phrase or sentence that captures the essence of how I see and feel about the year ahead. The theme emerges rather organically rather than through some sort of deliberate process. I am always surprised and delighted at what shows up. Nothing came to me early or at any point during 2018. In many ways it was signalling a transition for me though I really didn't want to see that. Over a coffee, a dear friend of mine prodded me. "You've been writing a lot about letting go. Have you?" Good question! There wasn't tangible evidence that I have let go so much as aspects of my life were letting go of me. My work softened, relationships changed, people became ill, moved or died. The house got an unexpected emptying when the kids moved in this Fall. "I could never be a gypsy" was scratched off my 'never' declarations after our 7 week sojourn down east. Gypsying is rather fun!

Coming up to this year I did a check in. My energy is running low. My house is full of the new young family and, for the time being, no longer my refuge. Enthusiasms for things I've done before not really there. Clearly not a time I can push or conquer up something even if I wanted to. It was into this 'Oh dear!' space that my theme popped into my head.

"If it's not delicious, it's NO!"       

As soon as it came to me I felt this incredible sense of relief. I had given myself permission to say NO! The letting go thing I have so often alluded to was my wanting to do just this. Say NO to the things that for now feel heavy with obligation. Looking for delicious is starting to feed me. It's a being pulled toward rather than pushing way energy. And it's working! A mere 8 days into the new year and delicious has put in an appearance everyday. Sometimes several times a day. Unexpected letters, invitations to events I wouldn't have seen, good folks I haven't heard from in a while calling to get together. 

There has been a shift around saying NO. Some asks are an absolutely clear. With others it's looking for where the delicious resides. Or delaying until delicious can be felt. It's become kind of a game for me. What I know so far is that my life is taking on a slightly adventurous feel. With practice maybe even daring!! 

On my January calendar is a saying from Thich Nhat Hanh.

'Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.' 

 May 2019 be full of your version of delicious!

From Parker J Palmer

Mary Johnson - Monday, December 31, 2018

Parker J Palmer has shared a poem by Anne Hillman and beautiful thoughts on the New Year. Much more eloquent than anything I could say. Please enjoy and wishing you a delicious 2019.

"This “New Year” thing is a curious fiction, isn’t it? The hoopla we make at midnight on Dec. 31st is a tad over the top for what is actually just one more tick of the clock.
But this annual ritual allows us to imagine that maybe, just maybe, we’re on the threshold of something new and better. And some of our imaginings might come true, depending on what we do.
As Anne Hillman says, “we look with uncertainty” to the future. But rightly held, uncertainty can generate creativity instead of anxiety. To that end, here are five questions that Hillman’s words evoke in me—five questions for crossing the threshold that, if we took them seriously, might be life-giving for us and our world:
• How can I let go of my need for fixed answers in favor of aliveness?
• What is my next challenge in "daring to be human" in personal, relational, and political terms?
• How can I open myself more fully to the beauty of nature and human nature?
• Who or what do I need to learn to love next? And next? And next?
• What is the new creation that wants to be born in and through me?
Nobody knows what 2019 will hold. But if we wrap our lives around good questions—and try to live our way into good answers every day—the better world we want and need is more likely to come into being.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone! May 2019 be a year of Light and Life for you and yours. And may we help make it a good year for others with whom we share this brief but beautiful ride around the sun."

[If you’d like to learn more about Anne Hillman’s wonderful work, please visit]

Christmas Carols

Mary Johnson - Tuesday, December 18, 2018

One of my favourite things this time of year are the playing of Christmas carols. When we put up the advent calendar December 1st, on goes Burl Ives, The Robert Shaw singers, The McDades, Bing Crosby, church organs and choirs. I love to do my Christmas baking to the music, tidying the house to Holly Jolly, journaling and now this year singing carols to baby Hailey. Have to tell you she's a most attentive audience! There is this amazing internal unfolding of love, memories and warmth for me as I croon along. I can tell Hailey feels it!

There is lots of fabulous music that has been a part of my life. Growing up listening to mom and dad's big band sound. Singing in the church choir. Being a child of the 60's and 70's. Smoking hot tunes from that time. Neil's love of opera and the classics. Listening to the tunes of my kids as they grew up. So much variety and delight. Different songs underscore different events and people in my life. 

So never really thought why playing Christmas carols every year is so satisfying. Then a chance comment shared by Serena Ryder with Terry David Mulligan Saturday night on CKUA struck a chord. (Ooo bad pun!) It was about the fact this music is played this time of year. Year over year. Bingo! The one constant, the one genre of music that has been a part of my life - my whole life, is the music played at Christmas. I revel in it for a whole month. See myself as a young child enchanted by all things Christmas. The women in my life - Grannie, Mom, Auntie's Audrey and Betty making the season merry and bright. Our joy as parents of our own children as they experienced the wonder of the season. And of course playing carols for our grandchildren. With luck this will become a forever part of their Christmases. Then like all good things the music, decorations, tree all get put away to again be brought out and savoured once more next Christmas. 

May your Christmas and holiday season be blessed with the love and companionship of good people, good health, happiness and of course good music. xox        

A baby changes everything

Mary Johnson - Monday, December 10, 2018

Our new wee Miss is almost 2 weeks old. She entered this world reluctantly her momma and dad told us. Inside seemed a better proposition than the outside world! :) None the less she's made that leap. Our son and daughter-in-law are living with us for a time. Not an easy transition for Neil and I. Can only imagine how it is for my son and daughter-in-law. Surprisingly or maybe not, all those edges or little rubs of adjustments have disappeared. We all are focused on this new little person. Our house is overflowing with the new gear required for a baby. The coffee tables covered with little barf rags and soft blankets. A bottle tree decorates the kitchen. Hungry crying along with the stretches and squeaks when she sleeps. It's an old world made new again. 

32+ years ago we had a baby on this sort of basis. My baby now has his own. Old patterns of rocking, talking, changing diapers and feeing have come rushing back. Caring for a baby is wired in the bones. It's not that I wouldn't want a baby of my own again. It truly is the work of much younger folks. Still to have a little person to discover and watch unfold is a unexpected privilege and delight. Neil and I smile and laugh a lot more watching it all unfold. Our house is overflowing with love. A baby changes everything!       

Tomorrow a new baby arrives

Mary Johnson - Monday, November 26, 2018

There's a huge anticipation in the air around our place. Tomorrow our youngest son and his wife officially become parents. For them much focus is on the upcoming birth. The questions about how will it be? how will I be? am I up to the delivery? The angst is overlaid with nervous laughing, occasional tears and a flurry of activity to be ready. I remember that worry.

What is almost impossible to explain is that this part is a matter of a few hours in a lifetime. That as of tomorrow your life is irreversibly changed. It's a shift in a couples paradigm that you only 'get' once baby arrives. I know we didn't get it. Our friends still kid us about our insistence that nothing would change. Neil and I would continue quite as before, .... just with a wee one in tow. Ha! I look back and realize how naive we were. Blessedly so! Once we were into the swing of parenting, we had 2 more. The wonder and joy of being a parent had us commit readily. The whole birthing process didn't stop us. 

Time puts a sweet perspective on things. I love being here, at the Grandma stage. The new one will be a delight. All the ups and downs of parenting a child are not ours to do. We just get to love this baby. And hold a space for the new parents to find their way. 

Tomorrow a new baby arrives. Wish the new parents well!