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Roadtrip With Lenny

Posted by on Sep 18, 2018 in General | 0 comments

Roadtrip With Lenny

Dinner on the deck of the Coplin Dinner House in Stratton, Maine was delicious. On top of the fresh food, rolling landscape and soft summer breeze, our dog, Lenny, was a welcome guest. He lay under the table, snoozing. That is, until the unmistakable clucking of hens filled the air. Lenny stood up and let out several big dog barks. The couple at the next table, clearly on a date, looked alarmed and held their pastel-coloured cocktails in mid-air. Lenny had never encountered chickens until our road trip. There is something utterly delicious about summer holidays, a time that gives permission to unstructured play. This year, Batia and I drove to Prince Edward Island, Lenny in tow. Our destination was Stanley Bridge, a coastal village in the Cavendish region, where we rented a lovely cottage on the ocean. From the moment we rolled out the driveway, swung by Starbucks and set out for the highway on June 21 ―the summer solstice and the longest day of the year ―our adventure started. The car, our part-time mobile home for the next three weeks, became a place for conversation, debate, reflection and observation. Sometimes, Bruce Springsteen accompanied us; other times, just the sound of tires on the road and the smell of pine trees. Planning our route, we debated whether to travel to PEI through Maine to our first stop—St. Andrews, New Brunswick — or to travel only in Canada. The thought of crossing the border into the United States made us nervous. In the end, we packed our passports on the recommendation of a friend who raved about a dog-friendly motel in Maine. Changing routines allows for a fresh new awareness to unfold. Letting go of schedules, mobile phones and computers to spend time outdoors is good for the soul, opening us to the magic of changing seasons and shifting weather patterns. While travelling with a dog requires more planning —where to stay, what outdoor cafes allow dogs, which beaches are canine friendly —taking a holiday with the family pooch creates new adventures. Enroute to PEI, we drove through Quebec, Maine and New Brunswick. In St. Andrews, New Brunswick, we stayed at the Algonquin Resort, a destination Lenny adored. Evenings, he would lie on the grass, his water bowl within nose reach. No amount of tugging on his leash could budge his 80-pound frame, stretched out, tail fanning the air, waiting for the next family to greet him. Lenny was like a magnet for tourists from across Canada, the US and Europe. Frequently, they would wander over and say, “I miss my dog. May I say hello to yours?” Yes, even the dog was on vacation. There is something grounding about a road trip, a time to appreciate the changing landscape from the car window, chat with the locals and sample fresh regional cuisine. Crossing the Confederation Bridge, we marvelled at the engineering of the 12.9 kilometer structure transporting us to Prince Edward Island. Once the car tires hit the red soil of the little island, we were greeted by lush fields filled with lupines and potato plants. And, of course, there was the omnipresent ocean, one moment sparkling and still, another moment dark and turbulent. Settling into our cottage, we felt the spirit of Anne of Green Gables everywhere,...

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Dear Diary

Posted by on May 10, 2018 in General | 0 comments

Dear Diary

I love to write in my journal. Every morning, I get up at 6 am, pour a cup of coffee, settle into my writing chair and reach for my journal and pen. Words tumble onto the page, sometimes slowly and deliberatively, other times in a steady flow of stream of consciousness. The only thing I ask of myself is to keep pen to paper until there are no more words. Sometimes, by the time I have finished the last drop of coffee, I will have written several pages. Other mornings, I might have written just a paragraph. Keeping a journal is a passion I developed at a young age. The diaries of my pre-teen years had soft pink covers and little-heart-shaped locks with keys. Invariably, I lost the keys. My entries covered the universe through the eyes of a young girl —from how much money I made babysitting to interesting butterflies and caterpillars I had caught. One time, I scoured the house for an empty journal I could use for an upcoming coaching workshop. I found one in the basement. It looked new. It had a lock on it. The key was nowhere to be found. I located a pair of pliers and popped the pages open. My first entry read: Wednesday, November 17, 1999: “Writing in this dairy marks a new passage in my life of journal-keeping and journey noting. It’s a time to be more reflective about who I am and what is important.” My promise to journal fizzled out four pages later. Fortunately, my journal has now become a constant companion and daily habit. Journalling helps me think, work through issues and challenges, create and dream. Before the age of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, where every moment of our lives are recorded, shared and commented on by scores of followers, keeping a journal or diary provided a place of private introspection where people expressed thoughts and feelings on paper. Diaries can recreate a picture of a certain time and place. Queen Victoria, for example, kept a diary from age 13. For 63 years she wrote almost every day until ten days before her death in 1901 at age 81. The first entry the young princess wrote was: “This book, Mama gave me, that I might write the journal of my journey to Wales in it.” And following the death of her beloved husband, Albert, she wrote: “My dreadful and overwhelming calamity gives me so much to do that I intend henceforth merely to keep notes of my sad and solitary life.” One of the world’s best-known and beloved diarists was Anne Frank, whose book, “The Diary of a Young Girl” was written at age 13 when she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. How poignant is this from her diary: “For someone like me, it is a very strange habit to write in a diary. Not only that I have never written before, but it strikes me that later neither I, nor anyone else, will care for the outpouring of a 13 year old schoolgirl.” And how heart-breaking is her entry from July 15th 1944: “I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet when...

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Are You Listening?

Posted by on Jan 12, 2018 in General | 0 comments

Are You Listening?

(written for The Coaching Corner; Glebe Report) Marcel finally got the news that he had been dreading. He was being laid off. While he knew that cuts were coming to the telecommunications firm where he worked, he was not prepared for the moment he was called into his Manager’s office and told to clear out his desk. He was escorted from the building in a daze. What was he going to tell his wife who had just gone on maternity leave and was excited about the pending arrival of their new baby? Rather than go home right away, he decided to call his old friend, Paul, to ask if he was free for coffee after work. Friends from university, Marcel and Paul used to spend weekends cycling. In recent years, however, they didn’t get together as often. Now in their late thirties, both men were married and working hard on their careers. They met at Bridgehead. Marcel was distraught, pouring out his heart to Paul who had never seen Marcel in a state like this before. Shortly into the conversation, Paul heard his BlackBerry ping. Try as he might, he could not resist the urge to pull the device from his pocket to check the message. He typed a response. Then, he kept on checking, looking up every once in a while in Marcel’s direction. The conversation went on like this for an hour following which Marcel went home feeling like he had not been heard. This little story about two friends getting together to talk about a personal problem is one that takes place in countless interactions in the workplace and in our personal lives. This is a story about listening. Listening is a powerful communications skill which helps us connect with one another. It allows us to stand in the other person’s shoes in such a way that a whole new world opens to us. To listen fully is a gift. To listen with awareness during a conversation increases understanding, helps build relationships, resolves conflicts, and enriches relationships. Deep listening invites a conversation of hearts and minds. If you were to “check in” with your self during a conversation with a partner, family member or colleague, how would you rate your ability to listen in that moment? By that I mean: • How were you holding your body? Were you relaxed or were your arms crossed? • How did you feel in your body? Did you feel at ease or tense? • What was your state of mind? Were you fully listening to both the content and the context or were you already interpreting the conversation in your mind and making assumptions about where the conversation was going? In a time of so many distractions ― mobile phones, electronic games, Internet browsing, social media ― there is a tendency for some of us to focus on honing our skills with these applications at the expense of cultivating listening skills. While these applications help us organize and, in some cases, speed up our work, they do not replace listening. And it is through listening that we can learn more about ourselves and others. According to writer Linda Stone, “We pay continuous partial attention in an effort not to miss anything. It is an always-on, anywhere, anytime, anyplace behavior...

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Finding Your Voice

Posted by on Jan 12, 2018 in General | 0 comments

Finding Your Voice

(written for The Coaching Corner; Glebe Report) As a child I was outspoken at school, a class clown cracking jokes behind the teacher’s back. Come high school, my whole world as I knew it turned upside down. I became a teenage girl, filIed with angst and insecurity and a deep desire to be popular. I stopped talking in class. University was even worse. I don’t think I uttered a word during my fourth year semester on Shakespeare. Like a lot of young women, I did not want to stick out. I kept my head down and stared at the page in front of me, hoping I would magically become invisible. Heaven forbid that I draw attention to myself. It took me a long time to regain my confidence. Over the years in the workplace I have worked with men and women who ooze confidence. The confidence that comes across in how they enter a room, walk and speak at meetings. I have also worked with individuals whose self-doubt causes them to shrink when they enter a room and to whisper so softly you have to lean across the boardroom table to hear them. “Sorry” is a common word in their vocabulary. And in a lot of cases, they are women. In her 2013 best seller “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead”, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg discusses the tendency of women to question their abilities and downplay their achievements, especially in the presence of others. And in their book, “The Confidence Code”, broadcast journalists Claire Shipman and Katty Kay examine the difference between men and women, citing evidence for how devastating a lack of confidence can be for women. For example, they refer to a Hewlett-Packard study that shows that under-qualified and under -prepared men don’t think twice about applying for a job for which they did not have all the competencies. Over-qualified and over-prepared women, on the other hand, still hold back. Women feel confident only when they are perfect or practically perfect. The Hewlett-Packard study reminds me of my days as a coaching student seeking volunteers to be coached by one nervous and rather green novice. Two men I approached in the workplace turned me down, saying they could not think of a single thing they need coaching on; most of the women I approached joked about how long their list of topics was! All of these observations came together when I met Lucy, a woman in her early 40s, who contacted me for coaching. Lucy longed for a position as a manager and was frustrated by her inability to get ahead. She was taken aback and puzzled when she received feedback from her boss that she was too passive in meetings and did not speak up often enough and when she did, nobody listened to her. Learning to find her voice at the table became her topic during our coaching program. Over time, she began to see the importance of learning to believe in herself and to develop some much-needed confidence. While there were many aspects of “finding her voice” we would eventually focus on, Lucy and I decided that she first had to learn how to become more visible in group settings. To find her voice she needed first to claim her space...

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Let’s Dance

Posted by on Jan 12, 2018 in General | 0 comments

Let’s Dance

(written for The Coaching Corner; Glebe Report) When I was a student studying to become a certified coach, one of the first lessons I learned was that to become a good coach I had to learn about myself. And one of the first things I learned about myself was I was uncomfortable dancing in public. At first, I was puzzled as to why, every day in the classroom, the teacher would turn on the music in the middle of the day and ask us to dance. I often felt embarrassed and fearful, hanging back from entering the circle where all the confident and coordinated coaching students moved. I tried to make myself invisible. Often, my teacher would grab me by the hand and drag me into the circle. I felt as awkward as a beached walrus, making little shuffling motions with my feet, gamely flailing my arms and biting my lower lip while I tried to move my hips. I was no Shakira, believe me. Little by little though, I began to look forward to the dancing sessions, a time when I could tune into how my body responded to a song and a beat. I started to loosen up and to explore new ways of responding physically to the rhythm. Leading with my body not my mind, I found myself gravitating to the middle of the circle and my confidence on the dance floor blossoming. Clearly, dancing was the potion I needed, helping me to crack through my stiff physical posture to discover a more relaxed and receptive way of moving with my body in public. Dancing in the classroom gradually spilled out into my personal life. These days, I often put on music to do the dishes in the kitchen, sometimes shimmying back and forth as I imagine my new career as a backup dancer for Bruno Mars. This certainly doesn’t help me get the dishes done very quickly but I certainly feel good at the end of chores. Dancing alone, dancing with a partner, dancing in a group ― it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to get up and move. For those of you too shy to get up on the dance floor at parties and concerts, but curious enough to check out what dancing might do for you, here is a little practice you can try, two to three songs at a time, at any time of the day: 1. Create a space in your home where you can physically move with ease and spontaneity. Move any furniture out of the way so that you can move freely without bumping into objects. 2. Put on some music and begin to move around. Let the sound dictate the movements of your body. Feel into your torso, pelvis, arms, hands, legs and feet. Be aware of how you are holding your head, allowing it to move freely. Keep your eyes open or closed. Vary your movements. Dance, walk, or hop. 3. Breathe into the rhythm and allow yourself to be transported by the music, experimenting with various movements and gestures. 4. Stop after one or two songs. Take a deep breath and check to see whether you feel like dancing to one more song. 5. Vary the music daily. 6. Finally, remember to lead with...

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Spacious Being

Posted by on Sep 24, 2017 in General | 0 comments

Spacious Being

(written for the Coaching Corner; Glebe Report) Recently, I was talking with a friend about the challenges of keeping her teenagers busy during the summer holidays. She created a list of activities for them so that they wouldn’t get bored. As we chatted, I thought about the word “bored” and how often I hear it in everyday conversations – “I’m bored to tears”; “school bores me”; “work is boring”; “I’m bored out of my mind”. Boredom has become something to avoid. Many of us pride ourselves as multi-taskers who can juggle several things at the same time― our heads filled with a million thoughts and “to do” lists, we leave no room to daydream, an activity that can lead to enormous creativity. Instead, we have become a generation of bowed heads and earbuds. Everywhere you look, someone is staring intently at a small mobile device cupped in their hands – behind the wheel, on elevators, crossing streets. It’s an epidemic that touches all ages. In restaurants, I’ve stared in amazement at whole families indulging in this activity.  And I wonder, what is the impact of constant screen activity on our nervous systems? A while ago, I met with a coaching client who was feeling increasingly anxious about having to be available by BlackBerry, long after leaving the office for the day. She was sleeping poorly and her blood pressure was inching dangerously up. She had her device set to “ping” every time a new message arrived. To alleviate some of the stress she was feeling, we worked on breaking a habit of putting the Blackberry on her night table in the bedroom before going to sleep. I also introduced her to a short, daily meditation practice. At first, she resisted, calling the idea of sitting with eyes closed “boring”. To me, when someone says they are bored or describes something as boring, they are expressing their own restlessness and revealing an overactive nervous system that responds on cue like the urgent “pinging” of a Blackberry. Meditation provides an opportunity to break that pattern and to sit with mindful attention with what is happening, gently allowing the breath and breathing to ground the body and mind in its own spaciousness. This is the way I introduced meditation to my client: Create a space in your home or office that is airy, clean and free of clutter. Place a comfortable chair in this space. Sit on the chair, your feet touching the ground and open at hip width apart. You may sit against the chair back or sit forward with your back not touching the chair. Place your hands on your knees or thighs, roll your shoulders back, engage your sitting bones and find your comfort zone on the chair. Take a deep breath and autosuggest to yourself the length of time you wish to sit. At first, autosuggest a sit of five minutes. Gradually build up to 20 minutes at a time. Between meetings at the office, sit for one to three minutes. Now, feel your spine, connect with its natural curvature and once again roll your shoulders back, let your neck sit over your shoulders and let your chin be neutral. Soften your jaws and eyes and let your skull be at ease. Close your eyes. Gently bring your attention to your nose. Inhale through...

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The Suitcase

Posted by on Sep 24, 2017 in General | 0 comments

The Suitcase

The train to Jaipur rattles into the station, brakes piercing the heavy evening air. “I’m so glad we upgraded to first class,” Sarah says to her friend, looking at the night sky while she wraps her yellow silk scarf more tightly around her neck. “Finally, we’ll be able to get some sleep.” The buzzing station lights cast a pale green tint over Margot`s weary face. “If I have to sit on one more train floor beside one more lavatory and listen to the sloshing of human shit I’m goin’ scream.” “Nah,” Sarah replies. “It’ll be great. Our very own cabin. No more passengers. No more wailing babies. No more creepy men staring at my boobs and making sucky noises. Paradise. ” The boarding gates open. The long, orderly lineup turns into a sea of bodies, lurching forward and jostling the two women. Sarah and Margot hug their  knapsacks closer and thrust their boarding tickets at a small man with sticky eyeglasses and faded uniform. He blinks at them for an instant and points to a car.   They climb the steep and narrow stairs to the train and squeeze to their left, scanning numbers posted in gold above the private rooms. At A12, Sarah stops and studies her crumpled ticket stub. “Ah, here we are. Home sweet home. She draws open the sliding door to the cabin. One hand on her left hip, she surveys the tiny room ―two upright couches, an empty overhead bin, a small weather-beaten coffee table. She looks down and frowns at a large red suitcase lying in the middle of the floor.    Margot peers over Sarah’s shoulder “What the fuck”, says Margot. “What the fuck is right,” repeats Sarah.   The two women hover in the doorway momentarily before stepping into the room. Together, they attempt to drag the suitcase to the side. It’s too heavy. Sarah pokes her head out the cabin door and calls out for an official, anyone. Nobody. The train is suddenly asleep.  She locks the door. They step over the suitcase and take their seats. “What if there’s a body inside? ” says Margot, staring at the suitcase.  “Wait, maybe it’s the severed head of some poor tourist.” Sarah ignores her, glancing nervously out the window into the  darkness. The engine starts and the train slowly picks up speed.  She closes the blinds. Gradually, the women are lulled to sleep by the rolling train, their heads bobbing gently against the upholstered chair backs.   Five hours later, the train shrieks to a stop. Margot opens her eyes and scans the cabin. She pulls open the shade and looks out. The sky is a pale gold. People walk on the sides of the road. A young man on a motorcycle zips past with a woman on the back, a sprig of white jasmine in her hair. A camel appears. Margot gently opens the window and catches the tinkle of the camel’s ankle bells and behind the big beast, a man dressed all in white and wearing a rose-coloured turban. “Sarah, wake up! I think we’re here.” Sarah sits up with a start. She looks around the cabin. “Margot… the suitcase. It’s gone!” “What?” They look down at the floor where the suitcase once lay. In its place, a bowl...

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A Simple Request

Posted by on Sep 24, 2017 in General | 0 comments

A Simple Request

A gentle pinging on the window pane made her look up from her novel. She leaned forward in her armchair and squinted into the darkness. Snowflakes swirled and cedar branches waved wildly back and forth. She sighed. At times like this she resented having a dog. She leaned back into her chair and resumed reading. Five minutes went by. A cold, wet nose gently nudged her arm. She looked up from her page and stared at her dog, Lenny. “Do we have to?” she said. “I hate winter.” He stared back with big golden eyes. She sighed again. “Okay, who wants to go for a walk?” Lenny’s black, fur ears perked up. His fan tail began to make circular motions. She grunted as she pushed herself up from the chair.   She walked stiffly to the bedroom, Lenny in tow. She peeled off her dressing gown and nightie and quickly pulled on long underwear, thick socks, turtle neck and a wool sweater. From the hall closet she retrieved rain pants, down coat, scarf, mitts, toque and boots. Finally dressed, she reached up to the wooden peg on the wall. The tinkling of the red leash alerted Lenny and his tail moved even faster, sweeping the floor as he awaited a winter walk. She clipped the leash to his collar.  Collar up, shoulders hunched, she pushed open the back door and stepped out into the cold. Lenny followed. She felt the sting of snowflakes striking her face and quickly melting on her skin. She heard her breath, quick and loud from the effort of forging a path in the snow. She stumbled now and again.   Lenny stopped to carefully examine a mound of yellow snow, lift a hind leg and mark the pile. Each time, she stood quietly at his side. “This is his walk”, she reminded herself. Twice, a rabbit bounded out from the shadows, forcing her to grip Lenny’s leash hard.  Thirty minutes into their walk, the storm began to abate and the night skies cleared. Slowly, the moon appeared, flooding the white ground in a blanket of shimmering light. Her stride became more even and she synchronized her movements with Lenny’s trot. He stopped again to sniff a snow mound, and as he did, she looked up at the tall trees silhouetted against the midnight blue sky. The wind whistled. She softly touched Lenny’s back and felt his muscles twitch slightly. They were alone, a woman and her dog out for a winter evening walk. She smiled....

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Lessons from Lenny

Posted by on Dec 24, 2016 in Nature | 0 comments

Lessons from Lenny

It is the eve of Hanukkah and Christmas. I woke up this morning feeling sluggish. My neck hurt and I wondered whether to blame my new pillow. I re-adjusted my body on the bed and as I did so, caught the eye of my dog Lenny sitting on the floor staring at me. I rolled over but could feel his big golden eyes fixated on my back. All I wanted to do was linger under the covers. The problem was, Lenny had an internal alarm clock and this morning it said,. “It’s 7am. We must go for a walk now”. I turned to look at him. His eyes widened and his fan-like tail began to sweep the floor. Slowly, I rolled out of bed and staggered over to the window. Ugh. It was snowing again,  I usually love this season but this morning with my neck and waking up so early made me a little sleepy but anyways it’s almost Christmas and I’m excited to get the only thing I been waiting for, a brand new body camera amazon just like the ones the police and all the law enforcement use at work, as I love photography and law, who knows maybe Ill be a police officer one day. So anyways  I got dressed, pulling on layer after layer of winter clothing, clipped cleats to my boots and attached Lenny’s leash. We set off for our walk, still thinking about the camera. Lenny trotted happily in front of me, his long black fur seeming to shimmer with joy. We stopped frequently so he could methodically sniff mounds of yellow snow. After each examination, he lifted a hind leg and marked the pile. We also watched a startled rabbit bound away and peered up into cedars to look at chirping chickadees. As we continued our walk, my head cleared and my pace began to mirror Lenny’s rhythm. I found myself listening to the crunching snow under my boots, the sound of my breath in the cold air and the faint tinkling of my dog’s leash. I felt content. While my dog’s request for a morning walk was so simple, it had powerful consequences. It was a reminder for me that, in movement, I can let go and surrender to the moment. Lenny is one wise guide.  ...

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Dear BlackBerry,

Posted by on Apr 27, 2016 in Business | 0 comments

Dear BlackBerry,

It’s over. I loved you for a long, long time. I loved you from the day you were born on January 19, 1999. I was faithful to you. For 17 years, my gaze never wandered from your oh so sensible reliable self. You never let me down. My secrets were always safe with you. True, you were not a flashy kinda gal. But you were my true blue Canadian-born love. But then, you couldn’t keep up. Your calendar mode kinda sucked. You never, ever took a good picture. And Uber?… You never allowed me to add it to your apps. Yesterday, it happened. I wandered into a Rogers store, and there she was. Samsung 7. My heart skipped a beat when I picked her up. I thought it was simply a retail flirtation. But it wasn’t. BlackBerry baby, Samsung 7 and I are in love. No, no. Don’t cry. Honestly, you’re something else. I don’t deserve someone like you. You deserve better. Go find yourself a good woman who can appreciate you for your understated strength ―maybe a hot gal in a pin-striped suit who works in a big corporation. Just know, BlackBerry darling, it’s not you, it’s me. Call me deeply superficial, but I crave a little adventure. Now, now, there you go, crying again. Good bye BlackBerry. I’m really, really...

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