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Life is Good

A hot cup of coffee and a beautiful sunrise… life is good.

I am missing my family.  They keep reminding me that, even if I was in Alberta, I wouldn’t be visiting them in person these days.  Most of the time I agree and I suck it up and keep myself busy. Time and distance are increasing daily now and not knowing when I might be there and be with them again hurts.

On facetime one of my friends mentioned that my eyes were sad.  Some days my whole body is sad. I get discouraged and anxious. I am sharing this so that if you have similar days and thoughts and feelings, that you understand that you are not alone. And I know that I am not alone.  So many of my wonderful friends read the blog and leave comments or likes and I am encouraged to carry on. I want you to be too.  Thank you so much, my friends.

Then someone sends me the link to a virtual choir singing a moving rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours… ‘You with the sad eyes, don’t be discouraged … it’s hard to take courage … You can lose sight of it all …”. The song is an encouragement to dig deep and let your true colours shine through. Rise to the occasion, my mother used to say. Stay Calm and Carry On and Stay the Blazes Home. Take it one day at a time.

I think this TEST in time is asking us to be our best selves, to do what we must, to enjoy the sunrise and the hot coffee and never, ever take it for granted again. Now is a time to rise to the occasion, to show what we are made of, our true colours, knowing that as Cyndy says “I see your true colours and that’s why I love you.  Don’t be afraid to let them show. Your true colours are beautiful ….” Whether you are happy or sad, let that show, too. 

It might be time for a stiff upper lip but if emotions set your lip to quivering, let that emotion out where it is less likely to take its toll on you and your wellbeing.  Stay well physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually and spiritually.  Reach out when you feel the need.

Take courage, everyone. Enjoy your virtual visits with friends and FAMILY. Embrace the sadness when it comes and always believe in rainbows…

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Stay the Blazes Home

This is a direct quote from the Premier of Nova Scotia. “Stay the blazes home.”

It’s a great quote and I like to think that people are basically doing that. For some of us that are more difficult than it is for others.  For extraverts and social personalities, it is unnatural to be at home alone.  These people struggle and, like me, they are probably moving from one distraction to another as they try to move through the day without the social interaction that gives their lives meaning. These people are the ones who are missing their team sport or their dance class and just can’t understand how to or what to do without that outlet. 

For the introverts, the self-preservationists will make out fine.  I heard one introvert say that the isolation seemed to be requiring more ‘check-ins’ then he would normally be able to tolerate.  He found himself hoping to limit who he needed to touch base with and how often. And another friend who is an introvert exclaimed this week that she was enjoying her own company and may just stay in isolation when this thing is lifted.

Some people are most comfortable with one on one interaction.  For them, it can be less of an issue.  As long as they can connect online through audio or video with people one on one they can meet the need for social contact in a way that may not have the physical closeness but can allow them to become closer to other measures of wellbeing.

So, in your household you may find that different individuals are responding differently to the “Stay the Blazes Home” imperative … and that’s okay.  People are complicated.  It might be an opportunity to discuss how people are all really different from each other and we cannot expect that everyone will respond to this situation the way that we do.

Giving people space doesn’t just refer to physical space and distancing.  There may be a need for other kinds of distancing in stressful times.  A good check-in for how you are doing is to consider a measure between 1 and 5, on our wellbeing on all of these scales; Social, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual.  If one is lower than use the others to shore it up.

More about all of this next week.

PS Check out the Mapping the Space tab on my website Excerpts from the book have begun to appear.

PPS #staytheblazeshome

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I know I have written about uncertainty before but this week has given the word new meaning for me. I am uncertain about my future. I am so uncertain that I can’t make plans to go back to Alberta to reconnect with Friends and Family, to pack a few more things for the summer I intended to spend here in Halifax.

Nova Scotia is insisting that out of province visitors go into self-isolation for 2 weeks. The likelihood of visitors in the near future has decreased. The university program that I came here to participate in has changed to online delivery, defeating one of my primary purposes for enrolling… to meet new people… make new writing friends… in person. My world is shrinking because the world has become so connected.

I am uncertain and I am grateful.  The gratitude is for those making the difficult decisions that are aimed at keeping us safe.  The gratitude is for the fact that my family and friends are in touch and we can smile at each other from across the country and our lives have slowed enough for us to have time to reach out, to once again enjoy connections, savor them.

I am anxious for this to be over, for us to have learned the valuable lessons the universe is teaching us and for us to live our lives more deliberately and thoughtfully having been reminded of exactly how uncertain things can be.

Take Good Care…

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It’s a New World

Last week I wrote a blog called “talk to strangers”. Who knew that only a week later the world would have changed so completely?

Getting off the plane here in Halifax on Saturday, I saw two old friends go a little crazy when they realized they had just gotten off of the same plane and didn’t realize that the other was there.  There were screams of delight and friendly greetings and “I haven’t seen you since…”. There was a quick, natural move toward a hug that quickly became a backing away and an awkward elbow share dance.  I am sure it was a less than satisfying way to meet a friend you haven’t seen in a while but there you have it. It’s a new world.

How temporary is this situation?  Let’s hope that in a little while we will be free to be friendly from closer than 2 meters and that we can regain our connectedness, our closeness. Who knew that electronic communication would become such a vital and integral part of our everyday lives as we work from home and self-isolate?  Now we rely on strangers who deliver our food and other necessities from the outside world and stay ‘in touch’ by phone and computer.

That is where I am and what I am doing. I am living and working from my new condo in Halifax.  The tradesmen scheduled to come today are not taking any chances with someone who flew in on an international flight days ago and will not be back to finish for at least a week. I am unpacking boxes and trying to organize for a couple of weeks of no one here but me.  It is weird.

Take care everyone…

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Travel Lightly

I have spent many hours aboard planes and normally I build myself a fort and hide in the little space I claim at my seat. Sometimes a friendly smile will sit down beside me and, although I have something to read or watch and my pillow and face mask and headphones, my personal protective gear, is at the ready, I find myself in delightful conversation with a perfect stranger.

Everybody has a story. Listening to that story makes both of you happier. 

I have been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book “Talking to Strangers” and learning a lot about what bad judges of character we are as human beings, for both better and worse. So, on my flight yesterday, I struck up a conversation with the gentleman next to me to see what story he had to tell. What a fascinating story he shared, complete with pictures, of having been to Africa to spend time with his girlfriend. He was so obviously in love and so desperate to be living in the same place as she was, where ever that would be around the world, that I was moved and began to wonder how I could possibly help.

We talked about travel and time and distance and compared airports and hotels that we had experienced and the time we traveled moved quickly.  Before I knew it, I had reached my destination and, even though I had had very little sleep, I felt rejuvenated by his excitement and anticipation of a wonderful life with the perfect partner.

In Hawaii, they call it “Talking Story” and it is embedded in the culture of the Maritimes where I will be spending more time over the coming years and I am encouraged. People are weird. Their stories can be uplifting or very, very sad. Even so, they take us to places we have never been, through experiences we have never had and they enrich our world.

Talk to strangers…

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Filled with gratitude today. I have a wonderfully talented family. I have wonderful friends who take me to concerts and include me in things. I have a career that is sometimes difficult to manage (back to the being two places at once theme) and is so rewarding that I cannot imagine giving it up. I have a wonderful home in St Albert and a new one under renovations in Halifax.  And I get to be Nancy, or sometimes, Charlotte.

Hmmm … Maybe that is where the need to split and do two things at once comes from. I have two names which I use in different situations. Interesting.

I have been reading Gretchen Rubin for book club and then she came up in a staff meeting at work. Another thing that made me go ‘hmm’. She writes with so much vulnerability and candor that I am always impressed, even when I don’t necessarily agree. The passage I read this morning was on gratitude so I thought I would try it our here. The fact is I do have LOTS to be grateful for and I understand that others may not feel as fortunate. One of my father’s favourite sayings, when he met someone less fortunate, was always “There but for the Grace of God …..”.

That saying has kept me grounded over the years. I have a good education and I have ‘means’, as my cousin puts it, and I understand the responsibility that comes with good education and good income. I do what I can to help others. We all take things for granted from time to time and so a little check in on how we are doing and how we are contributing to this wonderful world is important.

I continue to be grateful. At the end of the week, I will be working with my friends from the University of the United States Virgin Islands again. I haven’t been there since Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck in September 2017. I know they have been through tough times there and I am anxious to see for myself how people are recovering and to understand what lasting effects there might be there. I will keep you posted.

Take care. Be the best you, you can be this week.

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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
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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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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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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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