Author Archives: Dr. Nancy Love

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Sigh! What’s the Point?

It has been too long again since I wrote a blog post. I just haven’t been sure what to write about.  There are so many thoughts and emotions associated with this last month that I don’t think I have sorted them out yet.

This morning I presented a webinar on questions and the purpose, process, protocol of asking questions in a deliberate way to build understanding.  I talked about how important curiousity is to building shared knowledge and relationship.  It is so true.  Sometimes it is hard to “get over yourself”and work on being curious.  Sometimes you just want someone to be curious about you and your life.

I think that it is particularly true for those of us who live alone.  We don’t have a Witness to our lives.  We don’t have a SOMEONE who knows how we spend our days and what relationships we juggle. Maybe that is where the difficulty lies.  As the song says “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen.”  Friends are so important when you don’t have a SOMEONE who lives in your house and shares their life with you.  I am grateful for my friends.

Back to the topic of aging … Sixty is a turning point.  I’ll list some of the reasons here..

  1. Your future is shorter than your past.
  2. Your body is telling you to slow down and letting you know your new limitations
  3. Your status in the world of work changes because you may not be around for the medium term let alone the long term.
  4. Ambition shifts and is often given a harsh reality check when you realize people may no longer be interested in what you have to offer.
  5. Even though you have kept up with technological changes you begin to see how futile that work is because it is always changing.
  6. As Grace says on the Grace and Frankie show on Netflix …”Why would I want to make new friends when by the time we make a history together we will be history.”(I’m paraphrasing)

Aging is not for sissies.  It takes courage and stamina to stay with it.  My Dad has had a very hard time lately.  Yesterday when the nurse suggested going outside in the wheel chair and checking out his surroundings he asked “What’s the point?”  It’s a great question.  It deserves a very considered answer and I think it is different for every one.  Dad’s nurse suggested because it would make him feel better.  That was enough for him.  We did go for the roll outside and I think he did feel better.

As our parents age we get a pretty good look at what we have to look forward to and it isn’t always pretty.  It seems that in your fifties you are still moving up and away.  Once you turn sixty it’s different somehow.  It levels out and you see the steep roll down the other side.  I don’t think it is OVER or anything… I just think we readjust our expectations.  We move toward retirement to find new adventures and new challenges … or NOT.  We work hard to maintain physical, mental, emotional and relational prowess … or not.  We have choices … or not.

The key is to set goals and attain them and then set new goals.  My mother taught me that.  “You need something to look forward to” she would say “Otherwise, what’s the point.”

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Life is what you make it…

It’s been more than a month since I sat down at the computer to write.  A few things have happened.  My car … dear Scarlette … is still in the shop after a very weird turn of events on a highway near here.  My dad is still in hospital after almost three weeks of roller coaster life and death experiences.  My very talented and dedicated daughter injured her leg just before dance competition season.  Life is like that sometimes…

I am confident that we will all turn a corner this week.  My daughter will get the rest her body needs to heal.  Dad is scheduled to be transferred to a rehab hospital after his miraculous recovery, one a lot closer to home.  Scarlette is getting the care and attention she needs to be as good as new. And I will be back at the key board writing…

Sometimes it is difficult to understand the patterns in your life.  We hear that things happen in threes.  Do we believe that because it happens? or does it happen because we believe it?  I have never quite figured that out.  If I change my beliefs can I change my life?  Some people thing so.  The power of positive thinking has become a field of study and the evidence suggests that we can change the course of our lives by changing our thinking.  I like the concepts but I really dislike the implication that our present thinking is creating our present circumstance.  Sometimes stuff just happens.

I have noticed a pattern in my own thinking that I would like to change.  Excitement- anticipation – expectations – disappointment.  Too often I get to disappointment.  It’s become a pattern for me .. one I desperately want to change.  I want to generate excitement, anticipation, hard work and success.  I want to feel the joy of a job well done. I want to allow myself to experience the thrill of accomplishment without the self doubt of how much better it could have been if only …  I want to stop letting myself down and punishing myself for NOT contributing enough, not being good enough or smart enough or …. fill in the blank. i want to be sure that my thoughts, sometimes gloomy and dark, are not the sabotaging culprit getting in my way.

It has been a difficult month.  Did I somehow contribute to that?  Am I losing my mind or my perspective?  I think I am.

I have lots of tools that I can use to self correct.  I am the author of more than 100 blogs on how to deal with life.  I am well educated and usually confident.  I know what to do. I’m just not doing it right now…  Maybe tomorrow.

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SHIFT Happens
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Winter is back in Alberta….

This morning it is snowing in Gunn, Alberta.                                  Winter is back

Here we all thought we were on our way to SPRING.  Surprise.  Here is the winter we didn’t really experience …just at a new time.  Some people are calling climate change climate shift and they might be right.

It is beautiful though.  I always love snow falling on trees.  It is so quiet and calming.  Like anything else your experience of a thing is all in your attitude toward it.

Further to my “Tides not Waves” post, the equinox is an important signal in our lives and even though this one change … this slack water for the earth if you will … has been delivered to my part of the world in a snowy blanket there is still the promise of spring and regrowth and starting over.  Soon love and flowers will be in bloom and we know that because it happens every year.

Happy SPRING everyone.

 

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Blog post, SHIFT Happens
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Tides … not Waves

Ebb and Flow… I grew up on the ocean in Halifax.  The rhythm of the tides was something you took for granted.  Sometimes here on the prairie I forget that life is full of ebbing and flowing everyday, every week and every month.  I talk about changes in mood, intention, work etc in terms of waves but today I am rethinking that.  These feelings I experience to be lazy or productive, happy or sad, enthusiastic or depressed are more like tides.  They change but it takes longer than a wave.  Waves follow each other in rapid succession while tides move the water up and down in imperceptible increments, at least in some parts of the world.  That is how I am experiencing change right now.  There are slow incremental changes in my energy levels as my tide begins to change. I am experiencing ebb tide.  The water has receded. The sea bottom is exposed.  It feels like every mistake I have ever made, every flaw is on display and I have lost a lot of energy and enthusiasm over the past few months.  I am at low tide.

At the turning of the tide there is a place called slack water.  What a great description of how it feels to be at the bottom waiting for the tide to change.  I am so looking forward to the tide filling my being and flooding me with energy and excitement again.  It can’t come too soon.  BUT the lesson of course is patience.  No amount of force can turn the tide.  It must turn on its own when conditions are right. The flood tide will come.  I feel the stirrings now, a slow comfortable movement in the atmosphere that warns of a change, a new kind of commitment to live life to the fullest, to finish unfinished business AND set new goals for this anticipated flood tide which will bring back the waters of enthusiasm and motivation.

In Nova Scotia you will find the tides are the highest in the world.  Over 160 billion tonnes of water move in and out of the Bay of Fundy, every day, twice a day.  That’s more than the combined flow of all the freshwater rivers on our planet. The result is a tidal bore .. a kind of wave that washes over the surface as the water begins to come back in.  Maybe because I am from Nova Scotia my highs and lows are more distinct like the tides of my birthplace.  Or maybe not.  I think everyone experiences highs and lows in motivation.  The trick is to recognize when the ebb tide has hit slack water and welcome the turn to the flood tide that follows.  Swim with the tide.  It is so much easier than swimming against it.  Become a part of the natural way of things.  Ebb and flow.. up and down … like the ocean.

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Blog post
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Fay

Do you know the song “Smile” By Nat King Cole? Here’s the You tube link …   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-WqFUnqhSc

It’s the perfect song to describe Fay.  She ALWAYS smiled. Even when her heart was breaking.

I have known Fay since her daughter Tammy missed the bus home from Downtown Edmonton.  She was with her drama class at the Citadel Theatre and she and her friend wandered off and the bus left to go back to the school without them.  Fay and Bonnie came to the school to TALK to the Drama teacher.  I was acting principal that day.  The Drama teacher was suitably contrite and agreed that she had a responsibility to get them home.  I had to interject to ensure that the girls also know that they had messed up and had just as much responsibility to stay with the teacher and the bus. That was our first impression of each other.

A few months later I became the VP in the school that Fay owned.  She was the secretary at Bon Accord School and she ruled it with good humour and no nonsense.  She was so fun to work with. You couldn’t really call her sympathetic with the students.  She rarely coddled them.  But she had this smile and this laugh that made everything okay. I was only there two years like many of the administrators that came and went as Fay continued to run the school.  It as a GREAT school.  It still is.  The camaraderie continues thanks in large part to the support staff and the king pin, Fay’s best friend, Bonnie.  The staff still get together and although I left there in 1992 and Fay left in 1999 everyone who ever worked there is always invited to celebrate whatever the occasion.

As it turned out Fay and I both moved to Calgary.  Her family was there and she wanted to be closer especially to her mum who was dealing with Alzheimer’s.  She loved her family, her kids and her grandkids and she loved taking pictures of them.  Her house was full of portraits of all the people and pets that she loved.  Her brother and sister in law and the extended family became a big part of her life.  Her pets were family too and it was hard for her to let them go. It was so fitting that when she retired she began to work with guide dogs and even more fitting that her guide dog friends would form a guard of honour at her memorial service.  There were no dry eyes walking between the two rows for well behaved dogs sitting quietly as we passed.  It was a great tribute to a fantastic and dedicated per person.

She never lost the Bon Accord connection.  Those people she worked with and raised kids with remained close to her despite the miles.  Although she had left many years before she was still one of them, sharing in their lives as best she could at a distance.  A testament to that was the great numbers who attended her memorial travelling 300 k to say farewell to their wonderful friend.  It was a hug fest for sure and so wonderful to see everyone again and remember the stories that we all shared with Fay.

I was so fortunate that Fay moved to Calgary.  I got to know her in both places Bon Accord and Calgary.  I had moved to attend University the year before she did.  The Bon Accord network made sure we connected with each other and we started to go to Weight Watchers on Tuesday nights and then dinner using a coupon book she had purchased at work.  Soon we just did dinner.  We had a standing date on Tuesdays for 15 years.  We had so many laughs and so many tears over the years.  People would join us on Tuesdays and remain in the group for a while.  One of our dear Tuesday night friends passed away suddenly on Christmas Eve in 2004.  After that the group solidified to Carol, Laurie, my sister-in-law Yvonne who had moved from Ontario, Fay and I.  We went to different restaurants and had Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc every Tuesday that we could.  Sometimes I was travelling or others couldn’t make it but it was our night.

Movies were a favourite topic.  Fay loved movies and collected them.  So did Laurie and Carol. So we started Movie Weekends for the Tuesday girls where we would have breakfast Saturday, head to the mountains, arrive at the condo in Canmore and put on our pajamas and watch at least 5 movies before we had lunch and went home on Sunday.  Once or twice a year we made the trek. We always included a trip to the hot tub where we would inevitable make friends with people watching from their balconies or in the hallways.  The laughter was contagious and we had SO MUCH FUN.

Tuesdays were just special to us.  One Tuesday I was dining with the Queen in Edmonton.  Another I was in Ottawa at a George Bush state dinner.  They were always with me in spirit …every Tuesday wherever I was in the world.  When Obama was inaugurated it was a Tuesday.  I got the menu for the luncheon off the internet, recorded the ceremony and we ate what they ate that night… a meal based on Lincoln’s inaugural lunch.  That was our first taste of Duckhorn wine which was served at the White House that day and at the Signal Hill house and became our second favourite wine.

Many Tuesdays it was just Fay and me.  She was my friend. She was such a good listener, always providing a counter view to my sometimes warped view of a situation.  She worked with me to transcribe my research interviews for my PhD.  She was the photographer at my wedding. She helped with my business.  She took care of me.  Just the way she took care of everyone … with the no nonsense Fay truth that I had come to value greatly. And there was always the SMILE and the Fay hugs.  Even when things were not going well,  she smiled.

It was shocking when she got sick.  We watched her battle her way through and out the other side a couple of times.  And it was shocking when we lost her.

I cannot express how grateful I am that she was in my life. She is always with me, especially on Tuesdays.  After her memorial, the remaining Tuesday night girls went to one of our favourite restaurants. It was Tuesday on Friday. We told Fay stories and toasted her with her favourite Cakebread wine.

To FAY and to Tuesdays… forever with us.

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Social Exchange
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Whoa!!

Are there times in your life when you just want to pause and regain control?

My life has been absolutely crazy since I got back from UVI on January 31st.  The to do list has morphed a number of times as things get accomplished but the list seems to be never ending and I can’t get ahead of the game at all.  Life should be simpler.  My company has been dissolved and the sign has been removed from the St Albert offices.  My trip to UVI for March has been postponed.  Theoretically I should have LOTS of time this week to write and complete the assignment my book coach gave me three weeks ago.

It hasn’t been that way.  A loss in the family and the move to hospice and eventual death of a dear friend have put a somber cover over life.  It is difficult to say goodbye to people even when they have been sick for a long time and you know the end is inevitable and looming.  That was true in both instances and both of these wonderful people were of my generation this time.  I don’t think I am handling it well.  Since I lost my mother ever loss seems to have a greater impact. So even though the sky has been a brilliant blue and we have had unseasonably warm temperatures here in Alberta this month, I have been sad and a little overwhelmed.

I love my family and friends. Losses are deeply felt not only by me but by everyone. Illness of others impacts all of us and adds a strain to our lives.  I worry about Dad and his health and my daughters and their families. It’s also a busy time of year with hockey finals and dance competitions.  And it is not that I can’t handle it.  I know I can.  It is that handling the emergent things means other things get pushed aside… like writing an important blog celebrating the life of my wonderful friend or finishing the final edits on a book that has been in progress for six years now.

It’s interesting.  My apartment and my lake house are spotless right now.  I have been sorting and throwing things out and dusting and washing and cleaning like a mad person.  It is my distraction.  Old files have been sorted.  Any drawer I open gets a make over.  Even my office … the old PULSE office … is looking pretty tidy.  Everyone handles stress and loss differently.  My go to activity is always to create order out of chaos.  Even a hint of disorder is attacked with gusto. Stress turns up my OCD levels and I work hard to control what I can in my immediate environment because there is so much that I cannot control … especially now.

Today is a good day.  I am writing again.  I miss it when I don’t.

Thanks for listening.  Watch for my tribute to Fay, my wonderful friend who had the biggest smile and gave the best hugs.  And as we approach ST Patrick’s Day may the wind be at your back and may you have occasion to pause and enjoy this life, your friends and family NOW.  Later is just too tentative.

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'Tis the Season, Blog post, Christmas, SHIFT Happens, Social Exchange, Winter in Canada
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Small Steps

It is that time of year again when we look back to examine what we have accomplished and set some goals for the New Year.  I always marvel at how much I have accomplished in just one year.  I have initiated my relationship with UVI.  I have travelled to The US Virgin Islands and the BVI by many long and circuitous routes.  I have danced and curled and spent time with family and friends.  I have read books and finished writing one.  I have visited Italy and Scotland.  I have spent time at Lac St Anne and in St Albert and I have written morning pages almost everyday.

There are of course many things I have promissed myself that I would do that I have not been able to add to a daily repertoire.  For Example… I always admired the way my mother went for a daily walk.  It kept her slim, and happier and healthy … or at least we thought she was healthy.  I really do want to add it to my routine.  There always seems to be a great reason to NOT walk today.  It’s too cold.  It’s too hot.  The wind is blowing.  The snow or rain is falling.  Its too dark.  There’s too much traffic.  Beyond weather there are the multitude of distractions in side … dishes, floors, dusting, books to read, garbage to take out, phone calls to make, emails to send … the list goes on … have a shower, get dressed, find warm clothes until there is suddenly not enough time left before work to walk for twenty minutes.  And after work… forget it.  The busy evening schedule which may or may not include favourite tv shows.

I am so good at avoiding it that I am starting to wonder what deep seated, psychological reasons are keeping me from walking.  When I do convince myself to go I usually enjoy the experience. But obviously not enough to do it again the next day.  Since I started thinking about establishing this routine in 1990… 25 years ago… I have NEVER gone two days in a row.  I have enrolled the help of partners… some willing and others indebted to me because I gave birth to them. Buddy or not I have not succeeded.

This is a dire circumstance that I want to change.  Enter the self coaching tools of the certified coach.  Remember Kaizen and one small step.  Remember mind sculpting.  Remember how thinking about doing something and enjoying it can help you want to ACTUALLY do it.  If I can commit to small steps I may be able to short circuit my brain’s built in resistance to the new behaviour. The trick is for me to imagine ENJOYING the walk and how it makes me feel.

I’ll let you know how it goes…..

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'Tis the Season, Christmas, Social Exchange
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Christmas Lists … Don’t Forget to Wish Your Friends Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone.  You are all on my nice list and I have been meaning to tell you so for a while now.  It has been a great year and on my list of to do’s in January is to review it for myself and for those who might be interested.

Today I want to talk about lists.  We all carry so many lists in our head, in our pockets, on our phones and computers.  It seems like everything we do we do so that we can tick off the box beside that thing on our list.  It could be physically or virtually.  It could be our “getting up in the morning routine” list. It could be our “grocery” list.  It could be our Christmas baking, shopping, wrapping, budgeting or dinner preparation list.

There is not just one list at Christmas.  There’s the naughty and nice lists, and the list of presents that need to be purchased and wrapped and tagged. And just when you think you have everything under control your second cousin on your father’s side invites her new beau to the family Christmas gathering and you are off to the pick up “some small thing” for him to open with us.

Christmas Day is like a wedding day.  You plan and plan and carefully make lists and arrange seating and buy groceries and wine and then cross your fingers.   The Day comes.  You all have a wonderful time.  You share time together, food and drink, laughter and conversation. You leave with great stories and a warm feeling and a full stomach and all will be well in the world.

Then it will be time to start making next year’s lists.  ENJOY.

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'Tis the Season, Winter in Canada
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Winter

The calendar indicates that we are still in the fall season. HMMMM Out my window I see winter. This morning it was milder than usual for this time of year and it had rained last night so there was a layer of ice over everything that made my 300 step walk from my apartment to my office a little tricky.

I heard the other day on CBC radio that Canadians have the largest wardrobes, that is they own the most clothes. Our weather is such that we have to have clothes for four very different seasons. We have summer, fall, winter and spring clothes that we may need anytime of the year depending on the weather. So very true.

This week I have been sorting and selecting pieces from my own wardrobe that I am hoping refugees might appreciate … things I no longer wear in that overstuffed wardrobe. To be honest I like the change of seasons and the need for lots of different kinds of clothes. I also love my winter forays to the south which have taught me that it is always summer somewhere. I keep my sundresses and shorts handy at all times in case I need to head south but I had really never thought about the need for more pieces in a wardrobe here as opposed to other places in the world. In fact it is hard to imagine only needing summer clothes.

We Canadians also talk about the weather more than other people in other places do. There is obviously more to discuss. Weather changes rapidly here and sometimes our lives depend on how prepared we are for the changing conditions we face. We are also better prepared physically and emotionally to help others in need. People call us NICE and we are in part I am sure because we know that if we don’t stop for someone freezing by the side of the road that they could actually die.

The other cool (as in interesting) part is that we have fewer weather related deaths than many other countries. Good work CANADIANS. Stay prepared and be cautious out there and look after each other. Keep that extra layer of clothing from your abundant wardrobe in your car. It’s WINTER again and although it is supposed to be milder than most we still need to be ready for anything.

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BEACHs, PULSE Conversations, PULSE Enneagram, Social Exchange, UVI PULSE webinars
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Wednesday’s UVI-PULSE Webinar

This week on Wednesday I will be doing a webinar for the University of the Virgin Islands. You can register on their website.  UVI-PULSE.  This week I am going to talk more about the nine different approaches to the world that can be learned by studying the Enneagram.

I think it will be of interest to anyone who wants to develop their understanding of the nine positions on the Enneagram circle and how you can use the PULSE grid to find out where someone is at the moment.  I will also talk about how you can predict where they might go and how you can help people move when they get stuck.

It should be fun.  There will also be a short ebook available to people who register.

Any exposure to the cultures of the nine points is help full.  It can take only an hour to know how they work and a life time to fully understand.  I always say start anywhere and go everywhere when you are learning a complex concept like the BEACHs.  I hope you join us to expand your knowledge and add to the conversation.

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