Connecting The Dots

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

Some Rob Brezsny inspiration

Mary Johnson - Thursday, September 21, 2017

Usually on Wednesday or Thursday mornings I head into Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology. He has a wild and wonderful way of informing your week in inspiring and delightful ways. This last day of summer was no exception. 

Here then is an excerpt from my week's horoscope that I thought deserved a wider audience.

"I invite you to keep a running list of all the ways life delights you and helps you and energizes you. Describe everyday miracles you take for granted . . . the uncanny powers you possess . . . the small joys that occur so routinely you forget how much they mean to you . . . the steady flow of benefits bestowed on you by people you know and don't know. What works for you? What makes you feel at home in the world?"

Oh let me count the ways. Thank you Rob!

What seeds are you producing?

Mary Johnson - Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My garden was quite beautiful this year. It’s been a long time since the berries and apples have been as plentiful. That’s a surprise considering the dryness of our summer.

In speaking with a gardener friend, he indicated that in a year that stresses plants, they produce lots of seeds (or fruit). Nature truly works with what it is given. Then it struck me! This phenomenon of nature could be a metaphor for our stressful times. Are we, as we navigate our work and day-to-day living, being asked to produce something else? Creating seeds in the form of new beginnings and different ways of doing things.

For example the other day I met with my dear friend who has been given a diagnosis that, while is a surprise to few, is a surprise to her. After years of resisting and wrestling her feelings and reactions not 1 but 2 skilled and gentle physicians have held out the same answers to her health situation. She is finally in a place to hear it. Life is asking her to not automatically accept the story(s) she has been telling herself for years. If she chooses there is an opportunity to re-story what as taken place before. To produce new seeds of an equally true story - one more compassionate and nurturing. Re-imagine her place in the world now and going forward. 

Is this not true for most of us? We are experiencing stressful times. What might be the opportunities, if you chose, to use your stress differently? Friction points can be places where perhaps you are being asked to shift some old patterns, ways of being that no longer work well for you. These are the seeds of new beginnings, different ways of showing up and being in your world.

Beyond the challenge, this is the gift of these times.

Let it be broken

Mary Johnson - Friday, September 08, 2017

A long overdue catch up with one of my very first coaching clients was full of wonderful stories and adventures in her conscious evolution. C is one of the most deliberate and determined people I know in seeking to let go of behaviours and ways of being that no longer serve her. In describing the situation at her former employers she said 'I have in previous roles spent far too much energy trying to hold together something that was broken'. C said she caught herself moving into that mode when her department of 8 was reduced to just herself. 

One day she said to herself, 'Let it be broken.' In essence let it follow whatever path it will without interference from me. Whoa that's big and for most of us very hard to do. I see and hear it all over. Men and women afraid to negotiate a new deal in their relationships; showing up the same way day over day hoping and wishing someone would notice the hard work, dedication; constant complaining about someone or some system flaw; little energy at the end of the day to do the things that you enjoy - heck just basic looking after yourself; the same or worse results continuing without a mind as to what can make it better (that's just the way it is!). Collectively we persist, feeling that be viewed as a 'quitter' is far worse. 

Interestingly C. didn't 'quit'. She just stopped playing the business world version of 'Whack-a-Mole' and let it be broken. The upshot! It was declared by the organization really they weren't interested in maintaining this work. That gave her an great out and other opportunities began to appear. 'As long as I invested my energy so vigorously in something no longer desired by the organization', she said, 'there was no opportunity for what needed to happen, happen'.  

I love this story. Sometimes things are broken. Not repairable in their present form. It's honest and authentic to acknowledge it. And to know that something even more important for our journey is waiting around the corner.

Late summer musings

Mary Johnson - Thursday, August 31, 2017

It's August 31st. Looking back over the past few months I've been taking some time to reflect and be grateful.

~ we've had some hot days and some cool ones but no hurricanes, floods, blistering droughts, earthquakes, mudslides. I'll put up with the odd mosquito! 

~ as a country we are trying to walk a middle ground of being open and working with others in a positive way. Hard work living next door to this President.

~ as a woman living here I have an extraordinary amount of freedom.

~ we got our front yard project done! Loads of work and much satisfaction!! and some muscle definition. :)

~ got to see our son who lives in the US. Always a treat.

~ my darling grand daughter has started Grade 1. NO!! too soon. 

~ wedding plans for September 30th are well under way.

~ great get togethers with friends and family.

~ enjoyed more camping and seeing new places.

There are of course many more things to celebrate but as I turn and bid our 'unofficial summer' goodbye, it wonderful to to stand still and simply take in the many, many blessings of my life. A huge thank you from my heart!

May your summer have been blessed also. Wishing you a spectacular Fall!

Ruth and Loie

Mary Johnson - Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Have spent the last couple of weeks away on holidays noodling whether I would, indeed could write this blog. If you are reading it then I got brave. It's about 2 incredible women who have died within the last 2 months.

First Ruth. She was a highly respected, successful publisher of a magazine that focused primarily on resource and business development in our province. I had the privilege of meeting her at an imitate gathering of 6 - 7 entrepreneurial women several Christmases ago. This was an powerhouse of a group but Ruth was in a class of her own. Her fierce wit, sharp mind and genuine praise of her husband and their relationship still stands out for me. In meeting her a few weeks later where she was the speaker at a executive women's breakfast, her intro blew me away in terms of depth of involvements and accomplishments. Again she was confident, so funny and incredibly generous in her acknowledgment of her staff and her husband in creating the success of her magazine and herself. The younger ME would have loved to have had her as a mentor!

Next is my dear friend and colleague Loie. Loie, myself and 2 other colleagues met monthly for a couple of years in a mastermind group. She and I also had an annual lunch each summer on one of the loveliest patio's in town - Manor Cafe. 'At our usual?' we would always ask. We would talk about our coaching practices and the ongoing trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship. Her special talent was having such a good eye for operational dysfunction. Heck anything she determined was off course garnered her very direct assessment. No punches pulled! Even with me. :) 

Then there were the wee people in our lives. My two grand children and her greatnieces/ nephews. Loie loved them to bits. She was also the consummate volunteer. On top of all that, Loie had a wicked sense of humour and was a talented musician coming from a musical family. She was someone who supported me. I can only hope she felt supported in return. I loved her to bits and told her so.

Both these women died by their own hand. Two bright, articulate, competent, funny and fierce women gone. I can not even imagine how the families are coping with their profound losses. There is a lot of soothsaying going on as people look at the last number of weeks, months in these women's lives. What was missed? Chances are there will be no satisfactory answer discovered. Being highly competent, in the driver's seat kinda gals, they also knew how to put forth a 'having it all together' face to the world - at their expense. 

If there can be a takeaway for me from these tragic deaths, it would be taking a chance on reaching out to someone when my foundations feel shaky. To tell those that are important to me how much they mean to me. And let go of the 'why' and simply bless Ruth and Loie on the next part of their journey.       

Where are you spending your time?

Mary Johnson - Friday, August 04, 2017

Waking up in the early hours of August 1st, I had this visceral sense of the calendar shifting accompanied by the thought "Half the summer months are gone!" It was the oddest sensation. Like a pie being cut in half and taken away. Over the next few days choruses of 'Where has the summer gone? 'I can't believe how fast time is going.' Summer is going so quickly.' 'Where is the time going?' echoed my experience. It seems people are saying this more than in years past. Is summer time really going that much more quickly? I asked myself. 

Every morning before I begin to journal I listen to my mantel clock. It's clear, with each tick-tock, that one can't speed it up nor slow it down (unless it's getting time to rewind!). Time has a steady beat. I also have experienced when deeply engaged by something, time seems to expand. No, neither of these seems to fit this general feeling of summer fleeting. So what is it?

One clue is in my weekly reflections. On Sunday I ask myself several questions. 

~ What are 2 things I've learned this week?  and

~ In what ways was my week good/ better?

This requires a casting back over the events of my week. More often than I care to admit I can't specifically remember what I did or what day I participated in something. Was it Tuesday or Wednesday? Have even gone back to look at my daytimer to refresh my memory! It appears while I walk and talk my way through the day(s), I am not always in my body. Looking at my 'do's' to complete over the summer is a part of this. No sooner have I crossed something off my list, then my eye and energy are down the road organizing the next thing. Time off is 'planned' with places to go and explore. The planning accompanied by how will I get items done after returning. Habits like tuning into the news, which I do far too much of, distracts me from the now as I speculate on the next bit of craziness that may occur. 

You see when I'm not beating myself up for some perceived bit of foolishness, I live mainly in the future. A minute, hour, week, season down the road. Am convinced my plotting and planning 'ensures' I won't repeat any foolishness. It feels productive, purposeful and keeps me 'in control'. Also gets me nods and affirmation from those around me. Yay! they 'get me.' What it doesn't do is allow me to enjoy the moment before me. When you add up all these moments whole swatches of my days are 'lost'. 

As a result I am making an effort to check in with my physical presence periodically throughout the day. 'Where am I?' 'Can I feel my feet, hands?' 'What am I noticing in the space around me?' 'How am I breathing?' Exhale!

Is your summer going extraordinarily fast? Where are you spending your time? 

Bring yourself into the present.  'What are you noticing right now?'

The Old Ones

Mary Johnson - Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Don't know if you're like me. You are blessed with a few old Aunties (and Uncles) still in your life. My mom's sister and my dad's sister are both still alive, along with my Godmother. They are 84, 88 and 93 respectively. I have many, many fond memories of each of them. These women were a huge part of my growing up. It's my turn to give back. Today was the day I took time to connect with each of them. And it's not so easy as popping by or picking up the phone.

My mom's sister, for example, is a recluse. She doesn't answer the phone and will not come to the door. She will answer an email. It is her window to the world. We had a lovely back and forth catch up. She's failing quite significantly. Doesn't want medical intervention. It's hard to read, even harder to accept. She's of sound body and mind. This is her choice. I would love to see her, give her a hug. It's virtual wishes and hugs only.

My dad's sister, on the other hand, has dementia. She was so particular about remembering life events such as birthdays and anniversaries, meticulous book keeper and a driving force behind umpteen volunteer initiatives. The whole rethink about how mentally handicapped children grow up and are educated here was changed by my Aunt and 2 of her friends, all of whom had children with Down's Syndrome. They formed Gateway Association. Through it they supported others in the same circumstances and lobby Government for changes. So much she should be able to contemplate and enjoy. Much of this is gone. When I go over, I am remembered in some sort of kind association. She smiles and is happy to see me. And has no real clue as to who I am. It's hard to stay for long. We travel the same territory over and over again.

My Godmother is 93 and hale and hearty. She lives a long way away from here. We had a wonderful catch up today regaling me with stories of her whole family and most importantly her 1 and 1/2 year old great grandson. It was a long wait for this precious wee soul! It's wonderful to connect with someone who still knows me from my birth. Can fill in some blanks from my early childhood. Someone who remembers my mom ......

While I am lucky to have them in my life, a part of me is sad. I would wish something far better for my 2 Aunts. Wish I could make a difference for them. Hope I do at some level. Yet really it's not what I want but what they need or are willing to accept. My Godmom, well she's my shining role model of aging well.

In the end, it's about what honours and shows love for these wonderful women! Too soon they will be gone.

When did we become so thin skinned?

Mary Johnson - Monday, July 17, 2017

Looking through the news, I paused over an article about Ann Coulter and her loss of a paid for seat (with more leg room) to someone else. Now I know if I was Ann I would be royally upset. And too would be looking for answers, and apology and a refund. It looks like that's what she did, ...... 

My issue is she did it publicly on Twitter. Along with a photo of the person, with the 'dachshund legs', who received her seat (did she have permission to take that photo?) as well as berating the staff in an uncalled for way. I was stunned at how nasty it was. Ann is not alone in vented her spleen this way. All over the internet, on talk forums, in comment sections taking down another in an unflattering, unkind, out right nasty way seems to have become acceptable. Trolls aside, everyday people, often under the guise of anonymous, feel they can unload their most angry, nasty selves on another without impunity. 

When did we become so thin skinned? Or quite frankly so uncivil to our fellow human beings? Once we felt it was proper to deal with an issue privately, 1:1 with the individual we had an issue with. Then and only then might we take it higher or more publically. We gave someone a chance and recognized the difference between the (objective) issue and personal demeaning comments. Blurring the two are tactics to bully and browbeat another in a very public way. To create a pile-on of others who feel they have a grievance too. As a business, and organization, a community, an individual, you never know when the tide of social media opinion will turn against you. This creates a kind of censorship that doesn't serve us collectively.  

This reactivity is having the effect of losing sight of the bigger picture and issues that are worth our energy and efforts. Fighting a war of words, to take down another's reputation, keeps us in the muck. We would benefit from slowing ourselves down. What ever happened to 'count to ten', 'walk away and cool off', 'do right, don't just be right' and 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'? I invite you to start with yourself. Don't immediately react. Give yourself breathing space before responding. Turn off the endless vitriol. We don't need to add senseless anger to an increasingly nasty and angry environment. 

Standing back

Mary Johnson - Monday, July 10, 2017

Maybe it's being an oldest, ...... No it's definitely about being an oldest. You are expected to look after younger siblings, if you have them, as well as other responsibilities around the house. Certainly that's my experience as well as what I hear from others first borns. So organizing and 'looking after' come quite naturally to me. There is something quite satisfying when you have finished up an event or project or taken care of some required task. This ability has also handed me a fair amount of kudos over the years. 'Atta girls' are most appreciated but can become a goal in itself. And you can fool yourself into thinking you are spot on - all the time! Another slippery slope is when it dawns on you that what started out in an equitable sense now comes with a a large dollop of expectation and obligation. These are not easy lines to walk, let alone well. It's pretty easy to veer off course. Hands up if you've ever have. Mine certainly is!

All of this preamble is leading up to my son's wedding (yes fellows still need to get some billing!!). This and events surrounding it have been planned without my (capable - she says modestly!) guiding hand Though in all fairness I was asked about helping at the bridal shower that was already well under way by 2 very capable people. Three of those can be a crowd! :) I watch as good steps, missteps and new steps are taken. My internal (mostly) voice just would love to save them some grief. Though grief is my thought process and opinion. Not theirs. I see a fierceness in wanting to make their own decisions - without others input per se. 

Then I remember how it was with my wedding. Bless my mom's heart she really didn't know where to start. Nor did my mom-in-law. They had some ideas and I tried to accommodate but it really, really it was my show. So I shouldn't really be surprised my son is attracted to an independent gal and that she has her own ideas on how things will be done. No siree! It's been a lesson in humility and one of compassion for my 'doer' side. That often tired gal can stand back and take a rest. Be appreciative of how it is all coming together just fine. Hold them both with love and know the big day will be quite wonderful!!        

Shifting from stress to joy

Mary Johnson - Thursday, July 06, 2017

It's pretty easy to get caught up in so much of angst, anger and frustration out there. This article from Greater Good Magazine showed up today. It's a reminder that you can gear down the stress and up the joy factor in a beautiful way. It comes down to shifting you attention and maintaining a connection with good people. There are plenty our there!

Enjoy the article by Kelly MacGonigal. (You might need to cut and paste the link below!)