Category : Blog post

Blog post

Here We Go…

Blog day is great. It gives you a chance to sit and think about how you have been spending your time. I have done a lot of shopping this week. I took possession of a condo in Halifax and I have been shopping for kitchen tiles and cupboard door pulls, for closet doors and paint, for shower curtains and new towels and cleaning supplies … and, well, you know what it is like to have a new place. The lists grow even as you scratch things off.

This new adventure began in 2018 when I applied to the University of Kings College at Dalhousie here in Halifax. The course in Creative Nonfiction begins in June 2020 and represents a two-year commitment that I have made to myself to complete another Masters and live in the place of my birth, reconnecting with friends and family that I left fifty years ago. Hardly seems possible.

Fifty years ago, Halifax was very different and so was I, or was I? In many ways, I feel like the same teenage girl who left. Reconnecting with people who knew me then reinforces the “you haven’t changed” theme. So, my entire adult life spent away, learning and teaching and raising children has brought me full circle, back to myself as I was then. That is cool, don’t you think?

Getting settled will take time but much of the groundwork was done this week as my wonderful hosts and friends helped me shop and decide and arrange for renovations and deliveries and move closer to creating a comfortable space for me to entertain guests (you are all invited) and study and work for this next stretch of my life. I am grateful for all of the support from family and friends and colleagues. I couldn’t make this happen without you.

Next step,  move the furniture across the country. Here we go….

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Nancy at the lake
Blog post

It Will All Come Together

Sometimes vacation allows you time to really get away from it all.  Sometimes the timing isn’t quite right so what seemed like a great idea when you booked it 8 months ago, lands in the middle of a male storm of to do’s for a big move across the country.

What was I thinking????

I had a great vacation by the way. Good friends. Good times. Good weather. My favourite location.

Scattered throughout were things calling me back to reality. A webinar, a realtor, an insurance agent, a moving company and others, all intervening as needed to make next week’s move to Halifax smooth and easy.

BUT… there are still sooo many details to attend to and I have had only two nights in my own bed before I am off to Halifax on the red-eye tonight.

It will all come together. Plans always do. It is the frantic bit in the middle that I forget to account for when I am making plans. I feel a little bit like this…

I can do it.  I have always managed. Everything will be okay in the end and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

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Blog post


I am in Hawaii and on the Island of Hawaii at one of my favourite places in the world.  It is a familiar place. The Aloha spirit surrounds me as dawn breaks and the darkness gives way to the crystal blue skies. I love it here. I am back at a resort I have been coming to since 2004. As I sit and contemplate the changes that have taken place here at the resort, I am also considering the changes that I have experienced over the years. I am continually surprised by what happens next in my life as I become an older version of myself.

Like the people who have traveled this path before me, my elders, I am becoming the way-finder, breaking trail and pointing the way or, at least one way, to live life in your 60’s. Spending time in this beautiful place, filling my soul with the warm sun and the sea breezes are highly recommended. Follow me here.

I have been inviting friends to come with me to this resort to experience this place for all of the 16 years that I have come. I have never come alone. Someone has always said yes to my invitation. This year I feel especially lucky. I have six friends who have joined me. They represent a wonderful grouping of like-minded individuals who do not all know each other well but who have committed to this trip, each for their own reason. Some are new friends that I have met over the past five years. Add to those two wonderful, dear friends that have been in my life since high school.

As navigator and guide, I now realize the awesome honor and responsibility this is for me. I will be using the way-finder tools from Chapter 3 of Mapping the Space to guide the group as we make decisions together that we would normally make on our own, in familiar surroundings.  Each person has a different expectation. One is experiencing her first taste of the magic that is Hawaii. Others have been here many times with others or with me so we are all starting from different perspectives on what is possible. That will allow us each to learn and grow and share as we build a shared experience of this fantastic place.

Yesterday, the forward guard, the four of us who arrived first, dealt with the disappointment of lost luggage and the disruption that can cause. AND we saw whales and rays and a beautiful green flash at sunset. What will today bring? 


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Blog post

Connecting in Social Reality

If you were going to embark on a journey into the social space between you and another person, what preparation would you need to make? I would definitely pack my smile and both of my ears. Connecting with others is all about listening and learning about who they are and what kinds of things you might have in common.

If you are meeting someone who works in the same field as you do then you will likely be connecting through the jargon used, the TLA’s or Three Letter Acronyms commonly used in your line of business. You will have shared experiences and may talk about best practices and the road to share understanding could be easier than it might be with someone from a different industry.

This week I was fortunate to connect with fellow mediators as we explored together the world and work of coaching. Our shared understanding of micro-skills served as the glue that pulled the group together. It was a treat to meet them where they were comfortable and move them to where they could transfer many of those skills into a coaching practice. The time spent together was invigorating, enlightening and well spent. It is not always that way.

Sometimes we meet people who have little in common with us.  As we begin the journey, entering into a shared social space, we may share different purposes as well. The connection is not strong. Uncertainty, fear, distrust generate static on the line and moving forward becomes difficult. This is where you may find it useful to engage a WAY-FINDER.  

WAY-FINDERS in social space can help you position yourself for the best results, can help you map a safe route to your destination and point you in the right direction. With the help of a WAY-FINDER, you and your fellow traveler can build a stronger connection and move forward together.

Next week at this time I will be in Hawaii with six of my friends. Some of them know each other and some don’t. I will be watching closely as the journey of shared social space on vacation begins. I love the participant-observer role. I promise to keep notes and share the progress toward common ground that I am sure I will be witnessing daily.

Chapter 2 of the Mapping the Space between Us book is about Connecting in Social Space with the help of a WAY-FINDER.  Later this week you will find an excerpt on the Mapping the Space page. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. Whether you are looking for new friendships or relationships at work or you are navigating existing relationships of any kind, the map shows you the way. Feedback would be welcomed.

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Blog post

Love Gathers Here

Things are going well here in Love Land. I have a wall decoration that says “Love Gathers Here.” The double etendue is refreshing. The Love family does gather here from time to time and it is glorious when they do. This weekend however it was a different kind of gathering. 

I have been working with Paula Drouin to create a “Coaching thought Conflict” program for mediators, and we are holding our first session over these two weeks. We have six fantastic, dedicated and smart mediators looking to add coaching skills to their toolbox of interventions for conflict situations. A small group, who already know each other and were willing to come to Paula and me in St Albert. So, I have been hosting them here. We have spent our time talking about Conversational Intelligence, Neuroscience, NLP, the Enneagram, Appreciative Inquiry, and so many other tantalizing topics, that have occasionally taken us into “Deep Time.” Classroom learning is handled in the board room downstairs where there is no internet, so the videos are shown in my living room … where the sign hangs. People who Love Learning have been gathering here, too.

If you are keeping up with things, and I know some of you are, you may be going to the website to read this blog. You will notice at the top, that a new web page has been added. I purchased that address a few years ago in an effort to move the book, that I have been working on FOREVER now, to the finish line. The book is called Mapping the Space between Us: Wayfinding to Common Ground. With the aid of my trusty sidekick and granddaughter, Kass, things are indeed moving. You can now find us by going to the address. If you click on the tab of the same name, it will take you to the introduction of the book, or at least to excerpts from the introduction.

My next job today will be to send Chapter 1: Here be Dragons, to Kass so that she can also post an excerpt from it. I have found the courage to read through and edit it again. I want to thank my friend Sue for helping me find that courage by reading it with fresh eyes and motivating me to get it out there. My hope is that you will also enjoy reading pieces of it enough to share it with others. Eventually, it would be great to see it published by a wonderful publishing house but for now, I am content to have you read it and comment on it as the nine chapters appear on the new site over the next few months.

Feedback is always welcomed and encouraged.

Take care everyone. Stay safe and warm.

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Blog post

Untethered: The Sequel

In August I wrote a blog called Untethered describing a thought I had to spend time over the next couple of years in Halifax where I was born and spent my childhood. Control your thoughts. Thoughts become ideas. Ideas become actions and actions eventually become habits. I read that once on a Chinese tea label.

Well, you know how things go when you set an intention and then lean into it? Thanksgiving Day I looked at a condo in downtown Halifax and February 19th I take possession. Just like that.

It sounds so easy and as if no thought or planning has gone into this move. Sometimes life is like that. You have an idea and it becomes reality. It is like the curio cabinet I ordered from Wayfair that now houses my good glasses in my living room in St Albert. I knew I was going to have to move the stuff I valued to my home condo and rent out my second apartment. Intent on consolidating valuables and keepsakes I saw a need for extra storage/ display space. I figured out where there was a space that could accept another piece of furniture and measured it. Then I spent time online looking for just the right piece. When it arrived in pieces, I put it together and then filled it with my precious hand-painted Romanian stemware. Just like that problem solved.

The decision to purchase and fill the new space with furniture now occupying the downstairs apartment took some time. A million little decisions have influenced the thought that became the idea that is now becoming action. A renter appeared who wanted to rent my downstairs apartment for two years. Check. The condo in Halifax appeared. Check. My casual employment supported the move. Check. My program at Kings University College … walking distance from the new condo … accept me as a deferred student from last year’s program. Check. Other thoughts on financing and travel and real estate and furnishing and and and …. and POOF, just like that, I have a plan.

So, with the help of good friends, and with the support of my family, I will be in Halifax on April 1st to start yet another adventure, returning to be a part-time Haligonian after 50 years away.

Stay tuned as the adventure continues.

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Blog post

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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Blog post

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

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


Do you know the song “Smile” By Nat King Cole? Here’s the You tube link …

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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