Connecting The Dots

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

My Auntie Betty

Mary Johnson - Sunday, February 25, 2018

On Thursday my mom's sister, Auntie Betty, passed away at home. This was her wish. Auntie's heart had been failing. It simply stopped getting ready for her day. An accepted  inevitability of her disease. I have written before about the dear Old Ones in my life and just wish to reflect a little on this dear soul here.

There were 9 years difference in ages as well as a different father between the 2 sisters. Mom was first born. Lost her dad at age 4. Mom was taller, larger framed, dark haired, more out going. Auntie was born after her mom remarried. She was short, finer boned, wicked white blonde and, as I found out these past number of years, introverted and extremely private. I have often described my mom as a little brown bird. She never found the knack of doing her hair, wearing stylish clothes or feeling comfortable wearing some of the beautiful jewelry Dad gave her. Auntie, on the other hand, was classic and classy. She wore beautiful expensive clothes, tasteful but lovely jewelry and was always impeccably coiffured. And lipstick. She had her signature color and was never without it on. I was fascinated by my Aunt. She shaped some of my ideas about dressing up and jewelry. Let's not forget the lipstick. I too love to wear it. It's rare to see me without!    

The sister's lives traveled very different trajectories. The very regular family gatherings of my childhood dwindled as family busyness took over. Though bless my uncle Leo's heart, he created periodic gatherings for us to stay in touch. When he died around 8 years ago,  in a variety of small ways so did my Auntie. Or at least the impetus to be out in the world with the variety and enthusiasm as she and my uncle had done. She became a bit of a recluse. Hard to draw out of her home. That said last November Auntie was feeling better. Her daughter, my sister and I took over a lunch and had a wonderful visit. It had been close to 2 years since I had seen her. Auntie was in fine form. We enjoyed a delightful afternoon. A quick story, .... she wanted to show me some pictures of a fellow that starred in a Netflix series she was really enjoying. "Isn't he a hunk?" she said. You could have bowled me over with a feather. Never heard her say anything as earthy as that. And yes he was a hunk! It delighted me that part of her life was still in play. 

Secondly, there was a wee piece in our last correspondence on email. She loved email! I had shared that my sister and I made pirogies for the first time in any significant way. Used her dough recipe and it was amazing! Also told her I had received a ring for Christmas, similar to one I had admired for years and years of hers. Told her I thought of her when I wore it. "Good hubby" she wrote back. Made me laugh!

There will not be a gathering of any kind. Am sorry for that. There would be other sweet stories of my Auntie Betty that would have been fun to hear. She lived and died on her terms. In the end what more could you ask for. Will miss you dear one!


Downstream effects of technology

Mary Johnson - Thursday, February 15, 2018

As I have written before, I love when presented with a new twist on an old idea. So it was on the weekend when I read an article by Michael Harris in the Globe where the author wrote 'I have forgotten how to read.' He was talking about a book or a whole article. It twigged a conversation I had, oh about 6 months ago when my website fellow mentioned the same thing. He said he was too impatient to read a full length article let alone sit down with a book. Seems our digital technologies are indeed shifting the way we take in information. I had resisted the notion that I too was developing a shorter attention span! Yet it's true. It takes a real effort somedays to read to the end of an article rather than just browse the title and first few paragraphs. I can still chug through a book but gee it better be pretty darn interesting and fast paced!!

There are secondary effects of this needing to be engaged at such a constant level. Author Nicolas Carr (The Shallows) has suggested that "digital technologies are training us to be more conscious and more antagonistic towards delays of all sorts." Think of the implications of this. As I did certainly driving in traffic came to mind. I tend to drive just over the speed limit and yet constantly have other drivers sitting on my backside just waiting for a chance to get around. Grocery and other line-ups is another place to experience loads of impatience and rudeness towards those doing their jobs. Send an email and get huffy if someone doesn't reply right away. And texts are expected to be an immediate response ( I know Jane has her phone on ALL THE TIME. Why isn't she texting back!!). Have an issue with a service provider, email your question. We'll get back to you within 2 business days. WHAT?!? ........ You get the idea.

Then in a societal sense we are losing the ability and patience for due process. People are convicted in the social media sphere without all the facts. No explanation afterwards or during is good enough if I feel you are wrong! We want immigrants to hurry up and integrate so they are like us (and yet aren't), minority groups to just get on with 'it', old people to quit taking time and resources. Our sense of urgency and impatience has permeated so much. We get tired, frustrated, bored easily and want to move onto something less messy. This isn't serving us.     

So how does one navigated enjoy the (now not so new) technologies and maintain a sense of perspective and remember those larger rhythms of time? My thinking is it is about catching your self in moments of impatience. Slowing oneself down, even briefly, to regain as sense of equilibrium. Be mindful of the degree your technology has you in it's grip. (Digital providers are admitting to wanting to bind you more and more to your phone/ their app.) 

The world needs cooler heads, less reactivity, more playing a 'long game.' On this one you can make a difference!


Mary Johnson - Wednesday, February 07, 2018


The other day a friend of mine made an interesting comment. "I'll be glad to turn 65 as then I don't have to go back to work. I can be retired." This is a friend who left the workforce 4 years ago in a combination of circumstances about government downsizing and her health. She but has felt the not-so-sublte  pressure of 'aren't you consulting? or here's a good job that fits your skillset.' Her declaring that 65 was now safe to say one is retired. There is a lot of jockeying and competition amongst colleagues and friends about who is still working and for how long. Then there are those that circumstance have favoured and have left the paid workforce sometime before 65. Even though choices and legislation have made working longer possible, it caught my attention that 65 was still a significant demarcation line in the sand. If not in terms of work vs retire, certainly as marker of our next stage of life.    

Going back to the 80's and 90's I remember the sparkly days of 'Freedom 55' being championed and desired. Watched a whole generation aspire, indeed take up the cause, of endless playtime. My folks sure wanted this but circumstances precluded them from leaving their jobs that early. That said they were 'outta Dodge' before age 65. The cache of saying you could retire sooner was a desirable thing.   

As my cohort has been facing this time the situation is now reversed. For those considering leaving the workforce before 65 I hear the inevitable "What will you do with your time? I couldn't just sit around!" Wow! conversation goes from a discussion to running defence about your choice. Boom, judgement passed that retirement means turning into a slacker. Working on and on carries a big badge of honour - proudly worn. I have several colleagues who profess to be somewhat or semi-retired. Then they take great pride in telling you the extensive hours and number of clients/ projects they have. The numbers don't add up to semi anything! Heck be thrilled you still like the game and indeed are thriving.  Don't couch it. You're still  working- period!  

My wander around this, is this. We have choice, maybe more choice than any other generation. People will chose what feels right for them and their journey. Be curious. Invite a sharing of how someone can to their choice. Applaud what they have come to. It would be a wonderful place not to feel as my friend does. That hitting a number - what ever the number, means get folks off your back. Surely we've earned the right to simply travel by our own lights!