Connecting The Dots

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

What is my purpose?

Mary Johnson - Monday, April 30, 2018

Purpose. A big concept. Current wisdom says we all have one. We are all on this earth for a reason, have a purpose to fulfill. This is something I have been struggling with. What is MY purpose? What is inviting my time, enthusiasm and energy? Today. Right now ...

For years it was a no brainer. I wanted an education and career. Tick.  Was lucky to find a good partner and marry. We had 3 boys. I knew what I was about in a very practical way every day. Tick. Work required certain skills and abilities I was able to provide. Tick. My parents got older and needed care before they died. Tick.  Friends, travel, new learnings. Tick, tick, tick. Somewhere in there I was fulfilling a purpose. I hope!

Now I won't be so foolish to say 'what's left?' There is much out there. Trouble is nothing has really grabbed me. Throwing myself at things because I can doesn't interest me any more. I have more than enough day-to-day activities to fill that box. No I am looking for the 'the one thing' that turn my head and creates that whole body 'Yes'. I have a couple of friends that have been clear on their purpose for years. 'To touch the lives of a million people.' is one.' To support and create resilience in young women in our still misogynistic workplace'. These provide a clear direction every day. My sense of purpose has never seemed this large or well articulated. If I am truly honest what still gets me excited and spun out are new ideas, new concepts and how they might apply to everyday life. How they might explain behaviours and actions. I can get completely lost in the world of ideas for hours and hours. Or lose time exploring those ideas and concepts with like minded individuals. This is certainly a passion. Is it a purpose?

Or could it be I am looking for a purpose bigger than it needs to be? One that I can hold up against my friends and say 'see me too!'. Perhaps I have fallen into the trap of comparing myself to others. Wouldn't be the first time! Or maybe purpose is an invitation. A siren call that you can't resist. One recognizes it when it shows up. Either way I'd like to think I will know it when it appears. 

In the meantime I cannot force a 'purpose'. As much as I'd like to have that tick mark. Ha! My challenge is to sit for a time empty and leave enough space so I will recognize it when it shows up.


Catching yourself in a mental trap

Mary Johnson - Wednesday, April 18, 2018

In my last newsletter, (go to for sign up), I spoke about sitting in a trough of energy. A place where nothing happens and you can't see what's coming. It's a place I don't do well! Interesting too were some of the reactions. A good number of folks identified with this and shared how they ride it out. Others though were concerned, worried that I was in a too deep funk. All comments were appreciated. 

Siting and marinating in this 'no-thing' time allowed me to see I had placed myself in the mental trap of persistence. To keep going in a set direction at all costs. Persistence has a doggedness, moral imperative that we finish what we start. Even when the original reason has evaporated. The act of beginning binding us to continue no matter what. We put ourselves in a leg hold trap of our own choosing. This is in contrast to perseverance. To pursue our aims despite obstacles has a very different feel. There is a clear headedness to perseverance. An occasional stepping back to course correct.    

When I caught myself in this persistent thinking, I realized the word insistent is in someway embedded in it. My body should have been a pretty strong indicator being wound tightly. My posture pitched forward both walking and sitting. This influenced my thinking narrow down a most linear path. A + B = C. As you may have experienced this is not creative or fun! 

So back off I did. Indulged an 'only just before bed' love of reading. Gave myself permission to read some mystery novels. Inhaled 7 of them actually. Can't remember the last time I did such a thing. When I felt sated and wonderful thing happened. My energy came back. A more discerning energy that looked at my 'to-do' lists, general direction with kinder eyes. A number of personal items that have been dragging on are now finished or in the final stages. Other things have morphed into something I actually want to do - without a need for a certain result. Others no longer matter. 

In persistent mode all thing felt like they had equal weighting. Required equal attention. This took tons of energy keeping all those balls afloat. I was tired and didn't recognize it at first. A mental vacation was what I needed to see the mental trap I was in.  

What's in a name?

Mary Johnson - Wednesday, April 04, 2018

In 2017 I was contacted about my time at the Charles Camsell Hospital. It was regarding a documentary about the hospital including some of the darker history associated with it's exclusive 'Indian Hospital' days. I felt I couldn't truly represent a time before I was even born but did have a story of my time to tell. My time included the last 3 years of the Camsell being a northern referral hospital. I chose to participate in the documentary.

Since then I have had the pleasure of getting together, on a number of occasions, with the young woman involved in spearheading this initiative. Miranda is an activist in championing awareness, fairness and due process for Aboriginal people's. I love her energy, determination and chutzpah. She has gently provided materials and sources of information to help broaden my understanding of what's at stake. That indeed is happening. In our times together though I have continued to come away questioning 'what the hell have I missed?' in terms of the abuses and substandard care that is at the bottom of a class action suit being brought to bear against the Federal Government and it's 'Indian Hospital' system. Was I naive? Willfully blind to what was happening around me? 

On this I have searched my soul, horrified that I might have actively participated in something so terrible. My 2 tenures at the Charles Camsell are quite simply a highlight of my nursing career. I learned so much about a different approach to treating patients. One that moved in Kairos vs Kronos time. Was more inclusive of the patients because their reality didn't fit into nice neat boxes in a linear framework and we had to work with multiple levels of complexity in people's lives. This opened my eyes and my heart. And clearly was not the experience of those pursuing the lawsuit.

One day it dawned on me as the news reported on this lawsuit that the moniker 'Indian Hospital' did not describe the time I worked there. My stint saw all manner of patients from northern Alberta as well as the Territories and the Yukon - Whites as well as Aboriginal. We also served the Department of National Defence so had patients from Griesbach and Cold Lake airbases. My floor also treated end stage cancer patients from the city cancer hospital. My experience was a more eclectic and diverse version of that early hospital. 

When I shared what I had realized with Miranda she said no it was still an 'Indian Hospital' when I worked there and the lawsuit included that time. Hmm yes people who hadn't stepped foot inside still referred to it as such. I can remember correcting people on a regular basis. Certainly Aboriginal patients who had been treated at the old Camsell returned to as it was where they were familiar. It had changed though and perhaps with that so had the care. I do know what I saw. There was not abuse or substandard care. This was not my first job. I was not naive. 

So northern referral hospital or Indian (TB) hospital? In recalling my time there in no way takes away from how this place is remembered by others. Really it was both over it's history. A time of great learning and growth for me and a dark time for others. The name does make a difference. In saying this I do wish those who experienced harm at the hands of those who should have be there to respectfully care for them the best in receiving acknowledgment and restitution from that dark time.