Friday, November 27, 2009

Pondering on Friday

Having realized that I will, in fact, survive this week, evidenced by the very keystrokes on the keyboard that I am living and breathing proof that a tough work week rarely kills anyone (oh, except those that are employed in far more dangerous vocations than mine - of which there are many and I am sad to say some of them probably did not make it through this week), I am actually celebrating the arrival of Friday! And the sun - great Zeus (thanks, Extranjera -this oath is the BEST EVER) I had no idea how bleak my world would be if the sun never shone again -I don't think I would make it. I would be a dozing puddle of ineffectiveness, tear stained and pale, lethargic to the point of catatonia, blithering about sun salutations to wrathful and non-responsive sun god. Fortunately, that sun god is smiling on me today and the world is much brighter!

Conversations - I have been blessed by great conversations this week. With colleagues, with friends, with family - my world has been made up of words. I have seen through these dialogues that being on the brink of change, of the proverbial "paradigm shift" is an uncomfortable place. Like being face to face with our own way of being, considering a monumental divergence in how we thought this story was going to turn out, makes us squirm and wriggle and look for quick and easy exits. Timing is everything. My sense, intuition, that I am grappling with, constantly balancing trusting myself and others with healthy skepticism directs me to a belief, no, stronger than that, a faith in a generative outcome. One that generates growth. This evolution, of which I consider myself an evolutionary, is inevitable. Choosing how and where, while we still have the luxury of choice is the urgent message we are all hearing!

Considering "urgency" a value that I can add to those principles that direct me and support me is a new concept in this little mind. I have been much more of the "wait and see", "let's just take a breath here" kind of philosophy. More and more I can see evidence that challenges me to step up and grow a set.

(Strange, isn't it that having courage and conviction is described as "having balls"? Yet, the Dalai Lama said "The world will be saved by the western woman." Perhaps it is time to change that idiom to "growing some ovaries". Those I have and they have been perfectly functional, thank you!)

Well, sufficient ponderings for this Friday. Hey, let me know what you think - comments encouraged!!

(credit for the photo to orangeacid)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Away from home

It wasn't long ago that I used to regularly do this - travel away from home (usually far away and often to some sunny location), stay in an impersonal hotel room and arrange my life from a suitcase. Spending time working in a resort location where most people are on holidays has its own challenges and eventually the novelty wears thin and even the additional sunshine that you can view from an office window is not compensation enough. That, and the fact that I could no longer reconcile the lifestyles I was participating in selling with my stand for people and our planet.

Yet, here I am tapping away on my ancient laptop (this one goes back 3 employers ago, countless miles and keeps on ticking - even though it weighs, like 50 pounds) really enjoying the typical hotel room layout and even the little bottles of shampoo and conditioner. (pretty good quality here - you can tell where the hotels take shortcuts - crappy products in the bathroom!) There is something comforting about an anonymous hotel room - bonus, if you don't have to share it - which is how mine has turned out tonight and therefore, I don't have to talk at all, if I don't want to. Now, the view outside is on a cold, rainy Vancouver night, not exactly the palm trees and sandy beaches of yesteryear (oh wait, that was only 2 employers ago and merely a couple of years).

So, what is there to say? I almost didn't come over here as I felt odd about leaving, a strange sense of not wanting to leave home. I honoured my intuition and made sure that I created a safe travel bubble, stayed aware for unexpected upsets and just remained vigilant for any possible disruptions to the force. There was a 6.6 earthquake not too far away so maybe that was on my radar but I am consciously creating a space of learning and fellowship which seems to be paying off.

The dialogue during our learning today was fascinating. It is a facilitator training for Appreciative Inquiry which is a philosophy that is very dear to my heart. Not only does it describe the way that I view the world but this week I got clear about how to distinguish it from "positive thinking" which has all those gooey Pollyanna'ish attributes. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is not positive - it is generative. That is, it creates a framework from which to inquire and therefore observe the best in people, organizations and systems. It is in its broadest sense a systematic discovery about what gives "life" to a living system when it is most effective. I have begun to study it in depth and this training that I am away from home for is another step towards more mastery in the discipline of facilitating it in my profession and in my life.

Today, we entered a dialogue in the course room about what it will take to shift the attention of the world from a deficit based world view. While it was acknowledged that there remains a vested interest in that position, surely there is a growing opportunity to find sufficient value in engaging in a new paradigm of thought that gives life force and energy to "change at the speed of imagination". I have discovered that this IS my life's work. Currently it is expressed through my coaching others and growing my coaching and training skills to the point where I can teach and facilitate for learners becoming excellent coaches and I am beginning to see the path which leads me even further in my commitment to a world that works - for every one.

Being distanced from the usual, removed from the familiar and spending some time with myself for company does make room for observation from an uncommon perspective. Nattering away as I do when in a room by myself, I discuss with myself the implications of my scrutiny of my behaviour and reactions and draw some interesting conclusions. I actually like my own company and perhaps because it is now a rare occasion that I have to spend hours alone, I value the manner in which my mind operates and honour the intuitive sense of forward direction that is clarified without distractions.

I miss home and the comfort and luxury of being well loved by my husband. I do appreciate the tremendous value in this introspective review and the new knowledge that I am advancing here. I will return refreshed and renewed. I have traded palm trees and extravagent heat for rain and some marvelous conversations - with others and myself!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Charter for Compassion - and now what?

Please watch this video, then go to this site and add your name, check out the other affirmers, peruse the events and ways to participate and tell me that you are not moved beyond your stodgy, cynical, "this will never change" perspective. I have followed the creation of this charter for many months and was honoured to receive the final version in my inbox this week.

I am left with some questions though... how will we know that a difference is being made? What will be the evidence that a shift IS occurring? How will the orphans of Gaza, the disappeared of Chile, the child soldiers of Somalia, the teenage hookers of East Vancouver know that we are making the world a better place?

Will the fat, apparently heartless corporate heads of the companies that exploit the poor and the helpless wake up tomorrow with a change of heart and give their profits to Save the Children Fund? Will the powerful leaders of countries that dominate and slaughter people in other parts of the world in the name of a "justifiable" defense suddenly smack their collective foreheads and call a cease fire everywhere? Will the angry gang member put down his gun and forgive the slight from the other side instead of getting in his car and shooting up someone's house in a driveby revenge?

What would have to happen to create that miracle?? In the face of all the magical, powerful, amazing openings that are being created every day by so many of us, how can we possibly know we have turned the corner and are not facing the inescapable end of human beings? What certainty can I give to my darling grandson that he will have an opportunity not just to live but to prosper and thrive in a world where the majority also share that future?

As I dwell in these questions, allowing the not-knowing to just be a part of what is present in my sunny office in the space where I was blessed to be born, I can look into my heart and realize that it is not possible to have a Hollywood type conclusion here. There seems to be some inexorable and unrelenting momentum propelling us to our future. The interpretation of what will result will be up to each individual.

I can, in the light of being a part of the creation of the Charter for Compassion, accept that one possible outcome will be that we pause a few years from now and look back on the progress we have made in a remarkably short period of time and experience wonder and joy for what work has been done and how this Charter was embraced by so many. Let it be so. Namaste.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


What if ...

~ I could choose to sleep whenever I wanted to for however long I desired?

~ I could eat what my body asked for without considering calories, salt, sugar or fat?

~ I could choose where I wanted to go each morning?

~ I could spend as much time as I wanted with my mom, helping her, laughing with her, remembering and wondering with her?

~ I could travel anywhere I wanted without thought of the price - monetary and environmental?

~ I could indulge in days of conversation, walking and exploring with my husband without a schedule and deadlines intruding?

~ I could while away the time with my daughter and sweet grandbaby, moving in baby time, sharing insights and ideas?

~ I could sit and sip tea and talk about poetry and theatre and life with my brilliant son?

~ I could volunteer to build a house in another country, working with a crew of dedicated and committed people to make a difference in a real and concrete way without thought of earning a living?

~ I could go to university, take every course that interested me, steep myself in learning, following a path of what piqued my interest next?

~ I could putter about in my own little house, painting and decorating, digging in the garden and sticking my own roots into the soil?

~ I could pick up my calligraphy pens, get my fingers stained with inks, practice making beautiful letters and create flowing works of art with words?

~ I could pour over cookbooks and recipes, shop for the fresh ingredients each day from shops close at hand where I know the shopkeeper's names and then chop and measure and cook marvelous meals to share?

~ I could take a yoga class every day and spend another hour on my mat, stretching and strengthening my body and opening and quieting my mind?

~ I could have marvelous interactions with people, coaching and conversing, engaging the innovative ideas and spirited dialogue every day without an eye on the clock?

~ I could write for hours, deepening the process of committing thoughts to paper, delving into the crafting of language and expression?

What if??
photo credit to Emma Lagunday