Year in Review

Happy new year everyone!

It’s a great time of year to reflect on past experiences and work on actionable future goals.  Here is my 2019 in review:

1. Continuing to work with coaching clients on a one-on-one basis.

I especially appreciate being able to hone my ability to listen and to ask open-ended questions which not only helps facilitate a good coaching experience for the client, it also helps me immensely in other aspects of my personal and professional life.

2. Going on a 10 day trip to Turkey in May. I fell in love with mystical Istanbul and had wonderful adventures throughout the country with my G Adventures group and good friend Christine. 

I am ever so grateful to my husband and son for supporting my independent travel and for my clinic partner Kristine for holding down the clinic fort so that I can enjoy this passion without worrying about my work responsibilities. 

3. Hosting my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday party at my cottage in early December.  There were 25 people spread over cottages (mine and two other rented ones on the same property) for the 3 day celebration.

I learned that I am less likely to get overwhelmed by large social gatherings if I feel comfortable in my environment and can plan out the itinerary so that it’s in alignment with my energetic needs.  I also learned that I can cook eggs and bacon for 25 people pretty easily! 

4. Seeing the growth of our acting school (of which I am the Administrative Director).  My husband and I added a new teacher in March. Shaun started observing classes in January, which was a great way to introduce him to current students and to get his name out there.  Shaun continued to participate in John’s classes even when he started teaching his own classes in March and in September we created a class where John + Shaun both co-taught.  This allowed for students to get the opportunity to be taught by two teachers, which is a unique experience not usually found in professional acting schools. 

It reinforced the importance of being patient with on-boarding a new team member as well as the importance of team work and collaboration in our business.

5. Learning to accept all the physical changes which come with being a 46 year old woman (soon to be turning 47 next week!).  

I was happy with my ability to carry a 35 lb backpack + physical stamina for a strenuous 3 day hike near Jasper, Alberta this summer. I was less enamoured to discover increased soreness in my feet post-hike compared to previous years.  In December I sprained my back working out with weights and the healing time was more than double the usual (close to 4 weeks). These physical ailments forced me to confront age-related changes to healing  and have made me more empathetic to my patients’ frustrations with pain. I need to remember that the other side of the aging coin is all the amazing wisdom gained through experience and to try to be more compassionate with myself in 2020.

[originally published January 2020]

Art of Compromise

Compromise does not come easy to me, which is why I thought it would be a good challenge to write about it this month. With recent world events we’ve all been asked to compromise for the greater good and I know for me, it’s easier on some days and harder on others.

Since I’m generally not a ‘gray zone’ type of person, the ever-changing landscape of pandemic survival has challenged me. Just when I think I’ve figured out how do to ride out the pandemic, new timelines and restrictions and realities come head on. I’m realizing more and more that surrendering to the unknown nature of how this pandemic is playing out will be my only saving grace. 

Regarding compromise when it comes to my interpersonal relationships, it is helpful for me to remember something my husband taught me: 

Do you want to be right? Or would you rather be happy? 

For me, this mantra neatly sums up how “winning” an argument may cause more suffering in the end. 

[originally published July 2020]

Positive Intelligence

This photo was taken a few weeks ago on my 48th birthday. Truthfully anticipating a ‘lockdown’ birthday had bummed me out the week prior but the day ended up being lovely. It included a walk in Toronto’s east end, an impromptu distanced celebration with great pals in my garage and culminated with cake (!) and watching Hamilton with my family. 

Part of what helped change my attitude was my recent completion of a six week course called Positive Intelligence. The goals of the course were to teach individuals how to quell their sabateurs (the parts of ourselves that get in our way) and how to boost the sage (the part of our brain that can see things in a positive light). 

Anyone can take the free Saboteur assessment – which tells you which of the 10 sabateurs you have in your personality. It’s been really useful in my life, and with coaching clients, to learn what behaviours we exhibit that may have negative consequences in our life. 

It hasn’t been easy but this course has taught me ways to actively turn potential negative events around and to see them in a positive light. 

Please message me if you are interested in learning more about this method or exploring the concept of sage/sabateur in a coaching session.

[originally published January 2021]

My Kid’s Broken Teeth + A Taoist Parable

Early in February my son fell walking up some basement stairs at a friend’s place; he banged his head, knee and cut his finger. When he was waiting for a band-aid, he felt dizzy and passed out, falling forward and breaking his two front teeth on the kitchen floor. After six hours at Sick Kids Hospital it was determined that he did not have a concussion, his knee was just bruised, emergency first-aid dental procedures would be enough to seal his broken teeth (until we could see our regular dentist) and 4 stitches were needed for the finger cut. After 3 weeks the internal tooth fracture healed well enough that our dentist could build his teeth back up.

You can imagine it was hard for me to not freak out and panic. Fortunately while this was all happening, I was reading a book about Traditional Chinese Medicine approaches to healing the different stages of women’s cycles, Reflections Of The Moon On Water by Xiaolan Zhao. Reading the following parable has helped me put my son’s traumatic accident and consequences in perspective:

“There is a Taoist parable that expresses the relative nature of opposites. One day a farmer was telling his neighbour about his horse that ran away. The neighbour sympathized with the farmer, say, “That’s too bad”. The farmer replied, “You never know what is good or bad”. The next morning the horse returned. But it was not alone. It brought with it many wild horses. The neighbour said to the farmer, “Congratulations, it’s good that your house has returned and brought many other horses”. Again the farmer said, “You never know what is good or bad”. The next morning the farmer’s son went to mount one of the wild horses. The horse threw the young man, who fell off and broke his leg. Once again the neighbour sympathized with the farmer. For the third time, the farmer said, “You never know what is good or bad”. The next day soldiers rode by. They were forcing young men to join the army. Because of his broken leg, the farmer’s son was not conscripted.”

Broken teeth and possible future root canal? I’m trying to tell myself: you never know what is good or bad. Leaving Sick Kids and all of us musing on what a great experience it was (all things considered) and my son mentioning he may want to work there in the future? You never know what is good or bad!

[originally published March 2020]

Silver Linings Fatigue

What is silver lining fatigue?

The pandemic has been challenging for many people, in lots of different ways.

My biggest challenge has been keeping my chiropractic clinic open in downtown Toronto, one of the slowest economic centres to recover from the consequences of Covid-19.

Since I haven’t been as busy for the last 18 months, I have had more time to devote to my coaching business, which has been a silver lining.

It has allowed me to complete my systems coaching training, create a series of module-based courses and expand my client base.

It’s also a classic coaching technique to ‘reframe’ something negative into something positive – so I have been doing constant mental gymnastics since March 2020 to turn every disappointment/worry into something positive, and for the most part it has worked but I have discovered there is a limit. 

Around August I began finding it harder and harder to do the ‘reframe’ and a few weeks ago the stress peaked. I think since I am a coach, I felt a greater drive to try to constantly find the silver lining but I will admit now that it has taken a toll. 

When I shared this with my husband, who is a good listener and is slow to offer advice, he simply said to me “sometimes things are stupid and broken”. It’s a family joke that I’m often muttering ‘stupid and broken’ if I can’t get the can opener to work or something silly like that – and so hearing that from John liberated me from trying to silver-lining-the-hell out of every tough situation. 

Why am I sharing this with you? 

So that you know sometimes it’s okay to quit the mental game of finding the silver lining.
Sometimes things are just stupid and broken and we do the best we can with the pieces we are left with.

[originally published December 2021]