As November draws to a close, we have been paid an uninvited visit from January. So ill-mannered and disrespectful of others traditions and norms. We’ve been experiencing piles of snow and bitter cold. January, you need to stop skulking around here and return to your proper place in the world order. That said, in January’s defence the world has become disordered the past few years. The pandemic, climate change, up flip-flopping with down, normal getting lost amidst uncertainty and, dare I say, a whole lot of crazy. What are we to do?
I suppose we need to decide for ourselves what will be our normal; what will give us our ground zero; what will give us a semblance of stability and comfort; what will provide meaning, well-being and joy in this climate of unpredictability. We just have to work with what we have, do our best while understanding that our best may vary from day to day and that’s okay. Above all, don’t forget to include fun.
As the saying goes, if there was no change, there wouldn’t be butterflies. May we all become butterflies. All that being said, January you still need to get out of Dodge and go back where you belong!
Sometimes the universe conspires for us when we least expect it. There must have been a wrinkle in time or something like that about 7 weeks ago. Twice a year I teach a course for a coach training institute. There’s a minimum number of students for the course to run. There is also a cap. I stress from time to time wondering if we will get the minimum even though we always do. This time something most unusual occurred. Not only did we reach the max enrolment, but the waiting list made up the equivalent of another full class. The head office asked if I would consider teaching both groups as 2 separate classes. I agreed. This was a first for me. I was both excited and a little nervous.
The classes were very different - very different life experiences outside of their studies and different vibes over all. Yet , both equally enjoyable and great to work with. There was even a broad international flavor which enhanced the experience. The countries represented included Canada, the U.S., Mexico, South Africa and Russia. Although this course was about enhancing coaching skills, some students shared some extraordinary personal stories. Everyone seemed to feel trust, support, genuine caring for each other.
I felt these classes were a real gift, perhaps more spiritually than tangibly. After each class, I felt a whole lot of gratitude and fortunate to be in this position. Sometimes things come together in a most unexpected and extraordinary way. A wrinkle in time? Perhaps. A blessing for sure.
Comments are welcomed.
It’s still November. I ought not complain as I was noting last week how fast the months seemed to be rolling by. It’s more of a weather thing. November usually tends towards gray, dank, dreary, maybe a little snow, maybe some frosty nights. We actually have had an uncharacteristically warm month. Still dreary with serious cold heading our way. That is the downside. November does have it’s upside. There are several special days. Veterans/Remembrance Day, U.S. Thanksgiving, Advent, for example. Appreciation, gratitude, charity, kindness are top virtues of the month. Personally, I think they ought to be for every month.
Here’s the thing. Whatever happens, there is always another side of the story. We have to decide which side we want to focus on, which side will add to our well-being.
Here’s another side to the holiday fare. I saw this on Social and had to share.
I'm writing about some concerns I have as a turkey. It seems that in your infinite wisdom, you decided to make us fat, flightless, and evidently delicious.
Did we say something? Did we do something? Will our species become endangered?
Thomas Turkey, spokes-bird for our fretting flock
Suddenly it’s November. What happened to January through October? They came. They went. Now we find ourselves in ‘Tis the season’ all over again. It is a curious phenomenon how some days seem to linger endlessly, while the weeks and months fly by. Honestly, I don’t know how to feel about this. Have I missed something along the way? Was I not paying close attention? It’s all a little weird. However, it does give one pause. This pause can be a useful pause by including taking a breath, assessing what has been and what can be going forward, for example. I know such reflection generally happens closer to the year’s end. Why wait? Why not take the opportunity when it comes knocking. That seems a better way to spend my time an thoughts rather than bemoaning the warp speed of time.
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.
Comments are welcomed.
Today’s the day ghosts, witches, goblins and all sorts of spooks run amuck. Trick or treaters may not be running quite as amuck as before Covid. Yet, The times have sure changed from my childhood Halloweens. There was never any concern about the safety of the treats. The worst tricks were soaped store fronts or buildings wrapped in toilet paper. We even had a Halloween parade through the main street of my small town with prizes for the most original costumes. One year I won $15.00 for a costume my uncle and I made together. Good times. Good memories. Following is one of my favorites offered up by Linus . Happy and safe Halloween.
“With each year the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch he thinks is most sincere. He’s got to pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see. Just wait and see, Charlie Brown. I’ll see the Great Pumpkin. I’ll see the Great Pumpkin. you wait, Charlie Brown. The Great Pumpkin will appear and I will be waiting for him.”
Thinking about the 4 seasons, Autumn really is the season of change as noted by the Tao. Winter is a time of rest and restoring. Spring brings rebirth and renewal and new hope. Summer is the time of fullness and maturity. Then comes Autumn when everything begins to change and sets the stage for that which is to come.
As I’ve written a few times, Autumn is a favorite time of year. I love the vibrant colors, the wonderful smells of spices wafting from baked goods, mulled cider, wood stoves, leaves crunching under foot, et al. Following is Emily Dickenson’s delightful poem about Autumn that caught my fancy.
“The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.”
Comments are welcomed.
This morning I met up with a dear friend for coffee. Returning to our favorite coffee shop felt almost surreal. It was truly a blast from the past. Honestly, I have been super cautious and uncomfortable about dining indoors since restrictions were lifted. We were able to find seating at a good distance from other patrons which helped me relax. I ordered both for eating there and for some take out. Just like I used to do. Our time there was so enjoyable, so normal, so like old times, and so good for our mental health. In these challenging times how important it is to savor and cherish these moments that can increase our well-being.
“Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odorless but all together perfume the air.” - Georges Bernanos
Comments are welcome.
Things change. Sometimes permanently. Sometimes temporarily. Either way, things always change. So will this blog on a temporary basis. I’m teaching a couple of classes for the next 6 weeks. They will be consuming my time and attention. I did not want to put a pause on the blog, so I’ve opted for a change that will keep things going. When my time is compressed I will post thoughtful, positive or smile inducing words. Who knows? I may even find some moments to speak for myself.
I’d also like to wish a very Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all those celebrating today. Many blessings to you.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy, Jr.”
Comments are welcomed.
Truth be told, I’ve been struggling more recently with post COVID stuff than during the restricted times. Crazy, right? I am fortunate that it takes very little to lift my spirits. A friend, who had just returned from a trip to Switzerland, came over. She had remembered something I told her awhile ago about a teaching assistant I once had. He would bring me champagne truffles for a treat. They are my absolute favorites. My friend had taken note and brought me back a small box of Swiss champagne truffles. I was over the moon. The day got even better. We went out to do some errands and I experienced another happiness booster.
Pre-pandemic when I was out in the afternoon, I would occasionally get a Starbuck’s Chai Latte. This is something I’d even forgotten about during our confinement. After completing the errands we went to a Starbuck’s and I got a Chai Latte. It may have been the best Chai Latte ever.
Those 2 inconsequential moments in the greater scheme of life turned my entire outlook around. I started to think about all the little things that bring joy and happiness and gratitude. It truly is the little things. Following are a few of those little things for me.
A Starbuck’s Chai Latte
Time with my daughter’s dog (and my daughter, of course)
Doing Wordle and crossword puzzles with a friend
The crunching sound when walking through fallen leaves in Autumn
The opportunity to do a kindness for someone
The smell of Linden flowers
A 64 pack of Crayola crayons
Roasted chestnuts from a vendor
Holiday snow globes
My list could go on. Let us just say that happiness is anyone and anything that is loved by you.
Comments are welcomed.
When you read this, the day will have passed. I wrote this on September 21 which is World Gratitude Day.
I’ve written a few blogs on gratitude so this is not new. It is more of a renewal in honor of the day. When things go awry or we are not feeling well for any reason, it is easy for our attention and focus to be on the immediate situation rather than gratitude and appreciation. That is not a bad thing. It is just a part of being human. Yet, if we had some cue to remind us that there is likely many things to be grateful for as we navigate the difficulties, it could make a big difference. Getting in touch with those things and people for whom we are grateful, can actually lighten our burdens.
Practising daily gratitude gives us a deeper connection to ourselves and the world around us. Research has shown that exercising gratitude regularly can enhance our moods, strengthen social bonds and improve physical health. There are many exercises we can do to lift us into a state of appreciation. Here are just a few for starters. You may certainly have a number of your own that work for you.
STOP, BREATHE, TAKE NOTICE OF THE PRESENT. ENJOY AND SAVOR THE LITTLE THINGS. CULTIVATE TINY MOMENTS OF JOY, AND NOTICE THOSE TIMES WHEN THEY SPONTANEOUSLY HAPPEN.
PLAY MUSIC. LISTENING TO MUSIC CAN MAKE US FEEL MORE ALIVE. WHEN YOU PLAY MUSIC THAT RESONATES WITH YOU, IT HEIGHTENS YOUR SENSES AND GIVES A GREATER FEELING OF AWE AND REVERENCE FOR LIFE.
FALL ASLEEP TO GRATITUDE. In a journal, write down what you feel thankful for each day. Capture specifics and small details. Make this the last activity before falling asleep. This puts your mind in a thankful and positive place before you drift off.
Make a resilience list. WRITE DOWN FIVE TOUGH TIMES AND HOW YOU MADE IT THROUGH. WE ALL NEED REMINDERS THAT WE ARE STRONGER THAN WE THINK .
DO SOMETHING NICE FOR SOMEONE THAT IS TOTALLY UNEXPECTED. A SURE WAY TO LIFT OURSELVES IS TO LIFT SOMEONE ELSE.
Comments are welcome.