Category : Blog post

Blog post
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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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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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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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'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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Blog post, Loss and Recovery, SHIFT Happens
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I think I finally figured it out…. or maybe not….

Life, the universe and everything ….. I haven’t quite figured that out yet but I am getting a handle on my new identity.  I have been SHIFTing from Calgary to Edmonton for two years now.  The SHIFT includes residence and business model as I move away from PULSE and toward Dr Nancy Love Inc.  PULSE continues with the University of the Virgin Islands and I am happy to be working with them to renew that intellectual property and train trainers to continue the work.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am creating a new identity for myself as Dr. Nancy Love.

The new website www.drnancylove.com  was created over a year ago but I haven’t paid it the kind of attention it truly needs.  I do want to continue to promote work other than PULSE that I have generated and continue to generate.  I also want to use it to maintain my connections with colleagues in the field as we collaborate.

I am finding that separating from your history is not as easy as you think.  There are so many pieces, so many moving parts that even after two years I am still sorting and selecting and searching to eliminate what I don’t need and create the new and improved version of my life.  I think we all do that everyday of our lives.

I am proud of my history and the opportunities it has afforded me.  I am also proud of how that history has created new opportunities for me now at this later stage of my career.  2016 is on the horizon and I am already creating my list of expectations for myself and the WORK I love to do.

Okay …maybe I don’t have it all figured out yet but believe me I do continue to work on who I want to be when I grow up.  Younger people may chuckle at that but those of you over fifty will know by now that this journey, this search, never ends no matter how many years you put behind you.

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Pre-Mortem

This morning I watched a Ted Talk by Daniel Levitin, a neurologist talking about the impact of stress on our ability tothink.  It was another reminder of why it is so important to have a plan of action so that when I high emotion takes over your body and your brain you have an automatic practiced response to keep you out of trouble.  He called it a pre-mortem … like a post mortem but BEFORE the event.  Pre-mortems give you the opportunity to generate a chain of reasoning before you are in a situation with lowered brain capacity unable to think about what to do next.  The best example I can think of for pre-mortem is the CPR training I took when I was teaching high school.  Repeat the steps until they come naturally.  BE PREPARED so that panic does not have a chance to set in.

PULSE is a pre-mortem for high conflict and difficult conversations.  With PULSE training you have a set of tried and true questions to guide you through a conflict situation.  Even if your brain has moved to fight, flight or freeze because you are feeling threatened, you will have an automoatic system, a structured conversation to use as a guide to get you to a calmer place.  AND you will also have practiced skills for defusing the other persons perception of threat.  This kind of preparation allows you to get to a place where clearer heads prevail, where the corisol caused by the stress has disappated.

Step one: Prepare for the Conversation … ask How will the conversation proceed?

Step two: Uncover the Circumstance … ask What is this about?

Step three: Learn the Signficiance … ask Why is it important?

Step four: Search the Possibilities … ask What could you do?

Step five: Explain a Plan of Action … ask What will you do?

And don’t forget to breath ….

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All Change is About Adjusting Expectations

Whenever my life has taken a turn for better or worse I have had to adjust my expectations.  As human beings I think we do that on a daily basis and if we maintain our previous expectations in the face of a changing environment we are always headed for conflict.  Ever day is a new opportunity to RESPOND to life rather than to react to it.  When circumstances shift and change we have choices to make.  We can become recalcitrant and refuse to acknowledge the need for us to change our way of looking at the world or we can embrace change with open arms.

Both are valid choices.  There are circumstances where accepting a new way of doing things is NOT OKAY. It may be in some way harmful to you or to your organization or family.  Its okay to become positional and to protect what you know to be a better way.  In those instances we move into fight mode and get ready to battle the forces of negative change.  We defend.  We protect.  We resist.  Or we move into freeze mode and ignore the changes, carrying on as if nothing has really changed.  Or we move into flight mode and run away to a different place where there is no change, where everything is as it should be.

If a change threatens us we are likely to fight, freeze or flee.  It is a natural reaction and is healthy where change is harmful. Where we are experiencing a positive change in our circumstances  we may still resist because there is someting about changing what we do or the way we do it that insinuates that how we used to do it was wrong.  No one wants to be wrong.  That’s why we question any change that we are asked to make or endure.

Over the years I have experienced major changes in circumstances more than once.  New jobs in different places with different people have been part of my history.  I welcome change when it is positive and means an improvement in some aspect of my life … better opportunities or a chance to be closer to family for example.  When I understand the change and the reason for it I can begin to release any resistance, relax into the new situation and relate to the new expectations.

Change has become the norm for me but now I find myself  in a place where change is not as necessary or as easy as it once was.  No matter what change in circumstance you are experiencing it is the adjusting of expectations that takes time and energy.  There are new expectations coming for me to be settled and still instead of uncertain and moving all of the time.  So here I am, the queen of adjusting expectations, setting expectaions for myself around my life circumstances that are contrary and different from how I have lived my life so far.  Can I embrace this change or will I resist?

This should be interesting……

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HEART – Hush, Empathise, Attend, Reflect and Trust

Tomorrow UVI-PULSE presents another Webinar in the monthly series.  This one is about listening … actively.  It is about the state of being we need to have as human beings to involve ourselves in listening to others.  It is not about just showing up and being within earshot.  Listening with HEART is much, much more. It is about deliberately setting yourself the task of truly understanding the other persons position.  It asks you to understand their physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual well being.

HEART stands for Hush, Empathise, Attend, Reflect and Trust.  It is a neural address for a set of skills that demonstrate and strengthen Compassion.  HEART is about caring about the other person, about honouring them as a following human being with their own unique perspective on the world.  There is no judgement in this kind of listening.  Its purpose is to get over to the other person’s side and have a look at the world from there,  It is about creating understanding but not necessarily agreement.

Hush. Stop doing what ever you are doing.  Stop the chatter in your brain. Stop moving.  Stop talking.  Stop judging.  Stop editing the story.  Just stop.  Listen to what is being said NOW.  Watch what is happening NOW.  Turn off your own stuff.  Suspend what ever is going on for you so that you can feel and experience the other person’s world. Hush.

Empathise.  Imagine how it is to be in that person’s world.  Step in.  It is pretty much impossible for you to really completely understand how it is for them but if you can begin to see how or why they are thinking, talking and behaving the way they are that is a good first step.  Feel what they are feeling if you can. Sense the state they are in and emulate it as much as you can. Empathise.

Attend.  Listen with both ears.  Sit up straight.  Watch with both eyes.  Attend to the facial expressions, the body language, the tone and pace, the changes in intensity, the pauses and the words.  Put all of your attention with that person. Learn how it is for them.  Attend.

Reflect.  Let the emotional state that you see and experience reflect in your own face and body without saying anything.  This allows the speaker to continue to speak.  It also encourages expression of the emotional reality they are experiencing.  If your reflection is not true for them, they will adjust their communication to explain more clearly what is true for them until they get the right reflection back. Reflect.

Trust.  Everyone is doing the best they can with what they know.  We are social beings searching for connection with each other.  We want to believe in something bigger than ourselves.  We believe what we believe because of our own experiences.  We act the way we do because of our beliefs, expectations, assumptions, concerns and hopes.  All of this is informed by what we know to be true.  AND we can change what we know.  Trust.

Listening with HEART looks like any other kind of listening.  It is the deliberateness and purposefulness of it that makes the difference.  Put your HEART into it and listening will improve, conversations will improve and relationships will improve.

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Tomorrow I Head Back Home- an update from UVI-PULSE

My stay at UVI this month has been enlightening for me.  I have had great opportunities to connect with people and to assess the role I will be playing here over the next few years.  I have had time to consider my own growth potential here and to examine how I can contribute in this environment.  

Although I have spent time here in the past, I realize now that I have been more of a tourist  … a guest invited to provide a service or some entertainment and then return from wence I had come.  Now I am looking to become part of the family. Now I have to find my own way around campus, do my own cooking and cleaning and fulfill the duties assigned to me.  I am expected to win support and influence people who are unfamiliar with the program.  It can be challenging.

That’s a good thing.  Although I was a little disappointed when some classes had to be canceled here, I am encouraged by the fact that we have regrouped and reorganized the learning experiences to better meet the needs of the local and international community served by UVI.  With great feedback from those who could not make it and our African Friends I believe we have come up with a plan that will bring us future success as we work to have Virgin Islanders “Check your PULSE.” (T-shirts to follow).

The month started out with challenges to overcome as power and internet connections wreaked havoc with our broadcast of the POWER webinar.  Ironic?  And later connections with UVI ST Croix created an echo on the radio program that went live and was recorded.  I had a chance to outline our UVI-PULSE plan of action and to give examples of the kinds of skills that could make a difference for people and their relationships here on the Islands.  It should be availabe on the ILOE.UVI.EDU website sometime soon.

With those issues behind us and an MOU with PULSE Africa and my friend Austin Gamey in place, we are well on our way to contributing in a meaningful way to  this “Historically American, Uniquely Caribbean, Globally Interactive” University.  Watch for news of exciting courses and an upcoming UVI-PULSE Conference planned for May 2016.  The plans include tours of St Thomas along with some Island Hospitality as well as guest speakers.  All PULSE Professionals and Practitioners will be invited to attend.

We are on our way….

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