Monday, March 19, 2012

Articles of interest

I'll update this as I find interesting articles.

Coaching related articles
"Making the most out of coaching", Globe and Mail, November 27, 2011
"Seven Reasons Why Most Coaching Programs May Not Work For You",
"Revive your New Year's Resolutions", Parade
"15 Things to Give Up In Order To Be Happy",

"Navigating Work's Little Speed Bumps" Costco Connection, see bottom of page
"A love note to the workaholic", Washington Post, February 18, 2012

"When Helping Hurts: A Lesson on Enabling",

Lives that inspire me
"Shelah was here", Toronto Star, March 17, 2012
"The light has gone out of my life", Facebook post about Theodore Roosevelt

Blogs I enjoy
Gail Vaz-Oxlade, host of several shows on Slice Network in Canada

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Slow cooker baked potatoes are awesome!

I tried something new in my slow cooker yesterday (I've had a passionate relationship with mine for over 15 years) and blew my mind.

My challenge is to have dinner on the table within 15 minutes of arriving home when I have to fetcheth the hubsandeth from worketh (the round trip drive is about an hour). The slow cooker is great for this. I have made many soups, stews and other dishes in it. Yesterday was the first time I'd ever made baked potatoes in it - and I'm in love, all over again.

Scrub potatoes. Pierce with fork. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt. Wrap in tin foil. Cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4-5 hours. The consistency of the red potatoes were similar to a Greek potato - not baked, but not boiled, just right. For added flavour, I'm going to try some smashed garlic and spices in the pouch, and squirt some lemon on it when it's ready to serve.

Why have I never done this before? Consider me converted to the baked potato in the slow cooker now! :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Early Warning System: Lessons from our body

The body has its own sense of humour, if you haven't already noticed. Ever have a persistent ailment like a sore foot, an achey neck or a sore throat? Yesterday my throat started to swell up a bit, and unfortunately when I woke up this morning it was still constricted and it hurts to swallow. So I'm taking extra good care of myself today. So far, only liquids have graced my lips in an effort to be gentle.

But what is it my body is trying to tell me? That I picked up a virus while shopping? That germs linger on shopping carts and door handles? I think it goes deeper than that - I think that my sore throat is indicative of my not fully speaking my truth. There are a few areas in my life for which I have not really dealt with. One of which is the challenging relationship I have with two family members. Another area is this "being in limbo" place of living in the US, not being allowed to "affect the flow of commerce" and wanting to settle in and make permanent roots somewhere, and maybe, just maybe, open my tea room. Not being able to speak to that has, in effect, rendered me unable to use my voice at this very moment.

I don't know about you, but my body is pretty sensitive. When we are disconnected from who we are supposed to be (the person living their life with passion and joy), we become ill. During my most stressful year, I experienced anxiety attacks and cried under my desk or in the bathroom, seemingly inconsolable and hysterical. I had migraines every day. That was my body saying there is another way to be, you have to follow who you really are. When I have spoken to people who have undertaken a complete shift away from their previous profession, they often tell me about how ill they were for months and years up to the shift. Their bodies were their early warning systems that something was very wrong.

A friend of mine recently had a neck spasm torqued facing forward and was in quite a bit of pain. So I asked her, what is the universe wanting you to see that is right in front of you, right this moment? Have you heard the joke about the man waiting on his roof during a flood for a sign from God? A man in a canoe comes by to rescue him. He passes. A man in a motor boat comes by to rescue him. He passes. A man in a helicopter comes by and again, he passes. He finally drowns and when he gets to Heaven, he asks God, why didn't you send me a sign? God says, I sent a canoe, motor boat and a helicopter for you.

What is your body saying to you right now? Is that sore neck or shoulder mean you are carrying the weight of your world on your back? Is that itchy ear mean you need to listen more carefully? What is so obvious in your life that you've looked past it a hundred times? I'm curious to know if you see something a little differently. Maybe it means that you are so wrapped up in caring for other people, that your own physical health is taking the brunt and your body is saying, take better care of me and slow the heck down.

For me, my sore throat means I need to stop talking, listen more and move in the direction of having my big voice be heard. So, today I am thankful for germs for reminding me that I need to listen to my body and my heart.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The human experience

I love those days where you wake up before the alarm goes off, and despite having gone to bed late, you're ready to take on the day. Where you have clarity and purpose simultaneously. Today is one of those days. I have been reflecting on how I am doing so far this year in honouring my values and goals. I have really been enjoying taking a few minutes each evening to write in my gratitude journal the day's experiences I am thankful for. Some days gratitude comes easier than other days. The best days are those when I feel truly supported by my friends, family and coach. I feel part of a community, a network of people who wish nothing but the best for my life.

One of my personal values is community - building, nurturing and including others in an environment that supports them in being their greatest self. That's how I've tried to live my life for many years, and that is one of the reasons that coaching and I are such a great fit. I firmly believe that it takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to create joy and happiness in our lives. Sometimes I feel like we are wandering away from the village, like lost children. I feel like "community" is being eroded, being defiled by culturally encouraged narcissism. It's every person for themselves, it seems. 

The age of narcissism has been slowly encroaching on us. In my English Literature studies, we noted the prevalence of the biography as a genre of literature. And with social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and blogging sites, we're all the stars of our own show. It wouldn't surprise me if there was a new diagnosis for people who are obsessed with the idea of fame and popularity beyond the idea of high school. Me. Me. Me. 

Of the seven billion people on this planet, someone somewhere is feeling the feeling you are right this minute. Their circumstances may not be the same, but there is someone struggling with loss, addiction, depression, relationships imploding, confusion, sadness, being overwhelmed. There is someone out there who is celebrating joy, births, marriage, a first kiss. That is what connects us. Our human experience. It is our humanity that connects us at the deepest level. And if we're to believe media messaging and cultural persuasion, we are fully sufficient human beings as individuals. You're weak if you need help. You're weak if you're imperfect. 

I veto this idea. 

From our hunter-gatherer roots, we have shared our meals, our villages, our children, our accomplishments and our losses. For such an evolved tribe, we've certainly turned into a bunch of pill-popping, drink swilling, excess shopping zombies. People don't talk to each other anymore unless it is on a computer. We're more connected (thanks to the internet) than we have ever been, but we're more disconnected, too. Discontented, too. I've had to work very hard to tap into new communities with my two recent moves from Vancouver to San Francisco to Dallas. I need to connect, face to face, to other human beings. To be part of the human experience.

I don't believe in perfection - we all have our flaws and they shape who we are. What I have found by just being vulnerable and open about who and where I am in the moment, whether it be a good day or not, there is a connection with the other human being sitting across from me. By letting my guard down, I give them permission to do the same. In that moment, I am offering compassion, support and love. We are all capable of this. We've just forgotten how. 

What I ask of you is this: if you have a friend who is in need of love and support, don't wait for the "right time" to give them support. Ask them today how they're doing, and let them know what they mean to you and that they have your support, compassion and love. Sometimes hearing that someone cares is enough to help lift them from that dark place.

And if you're in need of support, reach out. Please. You don't have to go it alone. 

We have such great capacity for love in each of us. Choose love today.