Connecting The Dots

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

Post vacation noticings

Mary Johnson - Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Just finished an almost 2 week break - some of it in TO visiting family and a nice chunk in Havana. It was a great experience and Havana was way less 'communist' and stuck in a past time than I had expected. There are some good stories about our adventure for another time, .....

What I hadn't realized, as I came back from a 10 day break from connectivity, was how much my checking the news, emails and texts, playing games had eaten up my time and captured my energy. The doom and gloom of oil prices, the Canadian dollar and ISIS was (is) unrelenting. Each click into my phone news apps (and it was happening every time I walked by my phone) brought more dire predictions. Waves of emails got me caught up in the trap of 'I'll just quickly clear these away.' And well of course! I need to answer my kids texts. Subtly my attention was condensed into a 5'' x 2.75" micro computer I couldn't be without. It was like a life line to the minute by minute happenings of the world. I became caught up in needing to know!

It was a funny feeling - turning off my phone at the airport. What if the kids need to get ahold of us? What about Neil's mom? What if there is something regarding work? Cuba has intermittent WIFI and it's quite expensive to use it. So we made the decision not to buy a package. It was to be a vacation after all. Initially I caught myself picking up my phone frequently, flipping through my apps, simply out of habit. We contemplated hooking up to a WIFI site - and decided no. It took an number of days for all this to pass. 

In the meantime the sights and sounds of a fabulous city took hold. We paid attention to what was in front of us and navigated our days by what we wanted to do in that moment. Without being fuelled by world events, no catastrophizing, postulating, theorizing infiltrated our conversations. There was a flow and an ease to our days. How lovely.

As with all things a vacation only lasts so long. In the airport at Varadero, WIFI was again available. Out came the devices. Down went the heads. Holiday banter stopped. Wanting to hold onto the feeling of ease, I held out for awhile longer. Back home I am liking not feeling ramped up by the world as it happens. It's back to some limits on how much news, checking of emails and playing games I will do. My vacation experience is supported by Dr. Christine Carter, author of 'The Sweet Spot', who quotes 2 studies that found reducing the number of times you check your phone and email in a day reduces stress and increases happiness. Now who doesn't want more of that!?      

Hosting Your Fears

Mary Johnson - Tuesday, February 03, 2015

In a beautiful mutual arrangement, I am the delighted recipient of some amazing coaching from my dear friend and colleague Carol Greenaway ( as she finishes up requirements for an ICF designation. What fun!

Almost always, when stepping into something new, my old gremlins show up. They served a purpose at one point, kept me out of harm's way. Now they are not helpful. Sleep takes a back seat and I become 'fussy' and distracted during the day. You may recognize them - 'Are you crazy?, 'WHAT are you doing?', 'You'll make a fool of yourself!' or the belly clincher "Don't even bother, you'll just fail anyway.' 

If you're like me you try, in a variety of ways, to push those voices down or away. So the gremlins and I showed up for one of Carol's and my mentor-coach sessions. I wanted to 'let go' of the grip they were holding me in. The more I tried to banish, the more they persisted. Bless Carol, she knows that language  - the how something is said really works for me. So she asked, 'What if you host the fear?'  Host it, hmm sounded a tad parasite like (my old nursing background). When I flipped to hosting my fear Bingo! I could feel the shift in my energy.

In my mind's eye I was invited to bring up the fear associated with my goals. Right away I could feel my stomach tighten and I turned away. Mary she said, you are a wonderful host(ess). What do you do when company comes to the door? Ah, ... of course! I greet my guest and invite them in. As I did so, the large murky feeling of this fear changed color. The darkness started to dissipate. It became smaller. As I continued to engage it, it simply faded away. A felt sense of openness and space filled my body. Yes!

While facing one's fears isn't easy, I invite you to consider 'hosting' your fear. Notice what happens when you quit resisting and instead acknowledge your fear, maybe even engage it in some way. Suspect you will be as delighted as I am.

Thank you Carol!


Is there such a thing as a good 'No'?

Mary Johnson - Friday, January 23, 2015

My last post was about giving yourself more 'Yeses' in 2015. It can be harder than you think. We, or rather I frequently know what I'd like to say yes to. It does mean saying 'No' to something else. That I find a harder proposition!

Christine Carter - one of my new favourite authors, has written a great blog giving you some actual phrases to use when you need to say No! She's spot on folks! Try one of these out the next time you are wanting to support your Yes' by needing to decline something else.

Giving yourself more 'yeses' in 2015

Mary Johnson - Monday, January 05, 2015

"The power of the mind (and body) is the organizing and governing force behind all creation." Sri Daya Mata

Science supports this. Take time during the day to slow down. Notice your thoughts. They occupy the greatest part of your existence. Really! What you tell yourself about a situation, a person, an activity, yourself directs your life and life force - either creating more energy/ positive action or less energy/negative action! Your body takes that in and communicates it. Believe it or not your are free to choose your thoughts, so choose wisely.

If you are having trouble deciding if something you want to do is a yes or no, here's some advice from Martha Beck Life Coach.

"When considering whether to say yes or no, you must choose the response that feels like freedom. Period"

Take notice. Where does freedom reside in your body? What does it feel like?

Choose some freedom today! Repeat often.

What will be the story of your life this year?

Mary Johnson - Tuesday, December 30, 2014

As we approach the end of 2014 with all that was, it's wonderful to acknowledge the good and not so good of the passing year. Lots of folks offer up reflective exercises to accomplish this. I appreciate and partake in some of that reflection myself.

For me though, it's a blank journals, new annual calendars, my carefully chosen daytimer that fill me with a sense of exciting possibilities and anticipation. While things are set into play by action we have participated in and are doing in this moment, nothing is pre-determined. That 'anything is possible' is most poignant at the cusp of a new year. No matter what your 2014 was about, my question to you is, ....."What will be the story of your life this year?

I wish you a most worthy one!

2 years later

Mary Johnson - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Had no idea 2 years ago, that that would be my last Christmas with my Mom. I am so glad we don't see these things coming. The intervening time has brought lost of changes for me, some, like not being able to wear the fancier shoes with the high heels and a shift in my work focus, are obvious. Many are not. Once Mom died, I was required to 'fully' grow up. I was no longer a 'child' to someone. My relationships with my siblings, sons, daughter-in-law, husband and myself all needed to adjust - perhaps as a result of mom's death or perhaps because it was simply time. It's a process - damn it! Certain things can't be hurried even though we wish it other wise.

Today I stand more comfortably with who I am and what this next time is about. Don't get hooked and knotted up (well mostly :-)), about how things should be. I can take in events around me with an equanimity previously not available to me.

Isn't this what this Christmas time is about? A birth, or a rebirth that accompanies the returning light. It feels hopeful. For a few short hours the (Christian) world pauses to reflect and celebrate with family and friends.

2 years later, I too feel renewed. It's December 24th and all is well in my world.

Blessings to you for a warm and wonderful Christmas season!

What makes you come alive?

Mary Johnson - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Saw an interview with Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor. An Episcopalian minister turned teacher. She was speaking about embracing darkness as well as the light. That it's all part of the Whole. What struck me as I listened to this woman was her wise questions. 

One that caught my imagination was the one about "What makes you come alive?" Ooo I thought must try that although I already had some thoughts that the items on the list would be quite a stretch, nice to think about, something to go for down the road. Boy was I wrong!

A good book, great conversations, doing things with good friends, to dance, to sing, to teach, some travel, time with my grandkids, ..... The list went on with simple things that are attainable today.

The other part of the inquiry is to put down the reasons why you aren't putting more of this into your days. Wow! that too was an eye opener. Things like; haven't looked for the right class, I need to be focusing on work, time, money and on it went. Silly bits of resistance to adding regular bits of joy.

So her challenge is to take some time to do this AND actually put it somewhere where you can see it - every day. My challenge to you is not only do it, start acting on it. Come alive today!

Quit managing time, manage your energy instead

Mary Johnson - Wednesday, December 03, 2014

This time of year we seem to have less time than usual. While the holiday gatherings, shopping, prep fills up every available nook and cranny on our calendars, it's an illusion. We have the same about of time as we will have Jan. 2nd. 'Hey, you say, stuff needs to get done'

How about rather than thinking 'I just need to get myself better organized' consider managing your energy instead. This means pausing on occasion and checking in - feeling energized? tackle something that is more complex or has priority. You have the energy for it. 

 Feeling tired?Take a 15 minute break. (Hmm that sounds like an old fashioned 'coffee break'!!) Don't check messages, make lists, call folks back - just chill. Here's an article that talks to this. High powered executives have a secret tactic to stay sharp. If they can do this, ... so can you!


Try this at home!

Mary Johnson - Monday, November 24, 2014

Been playing with being more mindful. Pausing more regularly during the day to look where I am and what I am doing. Was feeling rather proud of myself and could hear the words of my grand daughter "Good job Grandma!". 

On this past weekend I decide to review my week - without peeking at my daytimer to see if I could remember who I was with and what I was doing. Ha! There was a whole day and a half I couldn't recall anything for.  Set up my Monday and go through each day. Nope. Go back from Friday, .... not that either. I was actually quite taken back. That's a big chunk of time! Finally had to check. Missed the day where I had an important test and another day that started with a call from a dear colleague who I haven't spoken with for awhile. Things that should have stood out.

2 things came up for me. One was how often (and for how long!!) I am not really present to what I am doing. The second is my reliance on being able 'to look things up' and not rely on my memory. The old saying of 'Use it or Lose it' came to mind. I am looking to clearly pause more often to take note of my day AND to spend some time each week in recalling, recounting events - just to stay sharp.

So do try this at home. Take the challenge. Recount your last week or even two (if you're feeling bold!) - strictly from memory. Would love to hear how you do.  


Finding wisdom in unusual places

Mary Johnson - Thursday, November 13, 2014

Great thoughts show up in many interesting and unconventional places. One of those places I regularly check out is Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology ( He usually has a unique slant on life. Here's what showed up this week.

Acquiring problems is a fundamental human need. It's as crucial to your well-being as getting food, air, water, sleep, and love. You define yourself -- indeed, you make yourself -- through the puzzling dilemmas you attract and solve. The most creative people on the planet are those who frame the biggest, hardest questions and then gather the resources necessary to find the answers. 

Attracting problems to be shaped and to be creative?! ..... Hmm what a delighted way to view a problem. So what interesting, challenging dilemma have you been gifted this week to solve?