Friday, 19 August 2016

No Other Way but UP

I came around the corner expecting to find a plateau to rest on. There was a small indent in the hillside and I got to sit and rest. I was revelling in the breathtaking view of the vast rolling hills of a small county in Scotland. My hiking buddy and local expert attempted to sit on the grassy slope but slid down the side of the steep hill. The grass is slick and I had underestimated the climb. After our brief break we are motivated to resume climbing.

As we maneuver up the hill we realise that the path we had taken was created by sheep and was not a valid hiking track. The climb had become trickier. I had said to my hiking buddy that I thought we should turn back. As I turned to look over my shoulder, I saw glossy grass without a clear path to descend. I had a flashback of my fellow hiker’s earlier slide down the hill and realised that going “back” was going to be more treacherous than going up the hillside. As we forged ahead we suddenly came upon a well-trodden path. My guide recognises the “big rock" and we celebrate our victorious landing with a long drink. We unpacked and ate badly bruised bananas as we took pictures of the most incredible view, thrilled that we had made the decision not to go back. I was grateful that we kept advancing in spite of my initial nervousness.

This is so often true of life particularly when we find ourselves in unfamiliar terrain. It is easy to become disoriented and allow fear to cause us to retreat. There is danger in withdrawing. Fear can cause you to lose ground that you have already gained through great effort. It can create the illusion of barriers and lie to you about the lack of your capacity and ability. This results in increased self-doubt. Facing your fear and daring to advance into the unknown brings with it incredible rewards.

For my friend and I, we found ourselves the beneficiaries of the most awe-inspiring panorama and the most delicious mountain air. In addition, as we travelled further we found ourselves descending to the last bench of the hike. This was an unexpected bonus. The rest of the hike was effortless. Somehow our unforeseen detour had set us on a trajectory that shot us way past our goal and allowed us to climb down to the last bench (goal), to rest and languish in our accomplishment. I came to realise that this challenging climb had actually led us to our goal. We did not have to fight for it we just had to trust the climb and the gift of the challenge was the final bench.

I encourage you today to press upward wherever you may find yourself in life. Don’t allow fear to perplex you or cause you to turn back. Embracing the climb will bring with it many promising breakthroughs and rewards. Sometimes, going back is not an option and the only way to go is up!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Your Future is unlocked by Your Process

Your future is locked up in you and can only be released by your process. The future of an apple for example is housed within it. Seeds of its future life cannot be discharged until that apple is broken open and the seeds of promise extricated from its safe inner recesses for planting… the apple itself sources its future life.

Hope is that container that stores your future. You can endure your process if you have a picture of what you hope for. Your life’s process is designed to free your future from you so that you are able to create where you are going. Hope gives you a picture of who you can be and this becomes your purpose. Your process helps you develop this picture and your passion becomes the fuel and the light in the development process.

Growing up as a child in a country where my worth was measured by the colour of my skin, created an angst within me. I wanted to be that person who could show up in the world and “see” people. I mean really see people. To let them know that they matter and affirm their dignity. I wanted to be that person that would see and awaken people to their own innate preciousness and their life’s mandate.

This hope/vision could not come to pass without me being processed. Along the way I endured multiple indignities – rejected for job opportunities, rejected in relationships, being taken advantage of financially, being lied to and lied about, and suffering ravaging loses were all a part this unlocking process. If I did not have my picture of hope before me at all times I could have “died” a little after each of these negative experiences. However, my experiences made me more determined to achieve the hope that was in me. My future self - making a difference, bringing hope and assisting humanity in making meaning of their pain and sense out of their chaos was being pressured out of me through each of these experiences.

Today, I am grateful for the pain, grateful for all the struggles as they have uniquely given me insight into human suffering and human potential. My hope for you today is that you will allow your process to unlock your future so that with hope you can purposefully and confidently walk into your future. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Purpose and Passion = Healthy Partnerships

Recently, I became curious about those ingredients that make certain relationships thrive and work. I see a lot of broken relationships in my work. Marriages, siblings, friendships and work relationships all plagued by distrust, hurt, resentment and the withholding of love and service.

The underpinnings of strong and healthy relationships in my observation, are those that are drawn together by purpose and fueled by passion. Friendships drawn together with a vision to be better mothers and fathers produce a conscientious and intentional way of showing up relationally. Conversely, relationships that fall into stagnant, visionless and purposeless connections give birth to all types of dramas. The fuel for these relationships are gossip, suspicion, speculation, strategic sabotage, offense and cycles of “break-ups” and “make-ups”.

Purpose has a way of anchoring relationships and gives individuals courage to transcend hurt and misunderstanding to hold onto what is important. Passion for the purpose serves as the lubrication around areas that get uncomfortable and chaffing in relationships. I remember serving on the board where a specific individual “chaffed” me at every meeting. The organization was doing noble work which strongly aligned with my personal beliefs and life philosophy. I loved the work we did and the lives we impacted. Many times however, I was tempted to quit and walk away but the passion for the work and my own sense of purpose tied into the purpose of this organization kept me connected. Eventually, I was able to break through with this person and we remain close friends today. Outside of purpose and passion this relationship was doomed and would have become a casualty to a purposeless existence. Now we have a strong and healthy partnership and can call on each other as trusted friends.

I encourage you to take inventory of your life, of the relationships that work and those that don’t. I am convinced that you will see a theme. Those relationships that have been drawn together by purpose and are fueled by passion have the ability to endure all seasons. Consider what brings you together in relationships that are marked by conflict and drama. WHAT FUELS THESE RELATIONSHIPS? Relationships aren't underpinned by purpose are typically held together by drama. Contemplate why you stay invested in relationships that do not lead to strong partnerships and then begin to invest more intentionally in your authentic partnerships.   

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Don’t Wiggle from the Niggle

This past week I was contemplating a big decision in my life. This decision would have the power to reroute my life and change my course significantly. I had arrived at my choice and was settling into this reality when I woke up 3 days later feeling what I like to call, “the niggle” … you may know this to be intuition.

  • : a natural ability or power that makes it possible to know something without any proof or evidence : a feeling that guides a person to act a certain way without fully understanding why

As it turned out investigating my niggle paid off and preserved me from what would have been a complicated outcome. We all have “niggles” every day. It could be when you are crossing a street, walking down an alley, making a business decision, reacting to a loved one or when you are about to put something into your mouth. How often have you heard someone say, “if only I had followed my gut?” or, “I knew that was going to happen.” 

The niggles in life are designed to preserve us from nasty or harmful outcomes. It is our built in prevention mechanism. This is not about being so fearful that you are not living life because you painted yourself into a corner trapped by your fears. This is about living life effectively in tune with your preservation/prevention mechanism so that you are not falling into relational ditches, financial ditches or exposing yourself to physical and emotional harm.

The more responsive you are to your niggle the more in tune you become with yourself and your world. The more you take your safety cues seriously the more intuitive you become. The greatest defense against mental, emotional or physical abuse is your intuition. If the hair at the back of your neck is raised that becomes a clue to get to safety. If you are making a business decision and “something” does not sit right don’t do it.

Most people who have overridden their “niggle factor” testify to getting into relationships that have harmed them, married the wrong person, formed alliances with inappropriate business partners or bought the wrong vehicles. It can be said that the more responsive you are the more intuitive you become. The more you override your intuition the less intuitive you are.

Self-doubt, poor decisions and chaos are some of the fruit of a discharged/neutralized intuition. Each time you use your intuition you recharge it. You learn to listen for it and use the information you receive from it wisely. The fruit of your life will show, confidence, decisiveness, healthy boundaries and direction. Pay attention today. Take inventory about the times when you have listened to your “niggle” and the times when you did not. Think about the outcomes. Now pay attention and start recharging your built in safety and harm reduction mechanism and watch your life get better. 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Negative Life Experiences = Genetically Modified Emotions – “GMEs”

We have all heard about the ongoing controversy around Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Genetically Modified foods are the product of GMOs. The underlying premise is that organisms undergo genetic restructuring/alterations. This alters the original expression of specific organisms as they take on the resistant characteristics of other organisms. This adaptation is said to make them more “durable” to drought and insects. What was initially thought to be a “good thing” and a proposed solution to world hunger issues, is now being shown through research that these genetically altered foods are “causing health concerns and environmental damage.”

My curious mind began to think about the concept of “genetic modification” in the context of mental and emotional health. I began to ponder how certain life experiences modify our sense of self and make us resistant to life and endangers our well-being. When we experience abuse, neglect, abandonment, loss, sickness or injury we are altered.  We survive these experiences typically through insulation, anger and inner vows to “never let anyone hurt us again”. We become guarded, suspicious and may even become the one who hurts others to alleviate our internal sense of threat and discomfort. Often times a person can be so altered by life circumstances that he/she becomes unrecognizable from their original self. Resistant to love, hope, peace and forgiveness - individuals suffer emotional, mental and physical consequences which inadvertently affects those closest to them (environmental damage).

  • You are not your anger, you have been modified. 
  • You are you not your pain, you have been modified. 
  • You are not hopeless, you have been modified.
  • You are not a victim, you have been modified.

Monsanto is considered to be the greatest perpetrator of genetically altering organisms and then manufacturing “other” products to cover up the fallout. The long-term consequence is speculated to have massive consequence on human beings and the planet. 

The good news is that you are not “Monsanto.” You are not such a colossal machine that needs many people to come into agreement to change their behaviour. You are your own consultant. You are your own organization. You can acknowledge those factors that have altered your original self, you can recognize how you have become resistant to love, acceptance, hope and change. You can change. You don’t have to continue on in your pain and continue to hurt others. You can let love heal you by allowing it in. Stop resisting so that you can return to your authentic self. Make a choice to stop being mentally and emotionally altered – start being responsive today!   


Sunday, 1 November 2015

What Happens When You Elevate Others?

The word elevate is a simple, but a powerful and an extraordinary word in the context of social consciousness. This word has the weighty requirement of action at its core. Elevating is all about lifting, raising, enhancing and advancing.

Several months ago, while having coffee with a dear friend I became aware of how committed she was to living her life in way that elevated all those she came in contact with.  As I listened to her stories I became acutely aware of how each time she helped a single mother, facilitated opportunities for a poor family or used her networking skills to connect the right person to the right job that her face lit up with the memory of their breakthroughs and successes as if their achievements were her achievements. 

It was a profound experience to observe someone who understood her place in the world where she was not in competition with, or threatened by anyone. She had incredible insight into what “doing life” with others was about. She had tapped into a life principle that when you make something good happen for others, you do “good” to yourself and when you elevate/raise/advance others you inadvertently elevate yourself.

This got me thinking about the state of our communities and why there seems to be so much chaos and heartbreak in our relationships as a result of us viewing each other as competitors rather than co-labourers in the vineyard of life. The growing aggression, hostility and lack of kindness in our world propagates a frenzied way of living where our focus on ourselves is all consuming. This way of living leads to self-absorption. Self-absorption is closely followed by selfishness, and with selfishness comes the need to self-elevate. When self-elevation occurs inadvertently someone is depreciated and the end result is hurt, distrust and ultimately relational alienation which has significant social and communal impact.

Make a choice as you go into your week to use your influence to connect and elevate others. Be conscious about living your life in a way where you raise the quality of life for those around you. After all, as a society we are only as strong as the weakest among us.  If you are tired of seeing weak people around you then clearly your passive judgement of them has not been affecting change. If it is in your power to do good, do it. Make that call that connects someone to that job, that opportunity that relationship. Help others find their spot and get into position. Who knows, we may start a social trend that by esteeming others we produce the “hot air affect” where we all rise out of our lack and together we will achieve a richer and more meaningful life. 

Monday, 12 October 2015

Cultivating a Heart and a Mindset of Thankfulness

A holiday marked on a calendar once a year does not magically orchestrate thankfulness. It is Thanksgiving, and I am in a season of grieving at the sudden and recent passing of my wonderful husband. Similarly many others may have little to be thankful about.  I typically awake to the world curious about what life will bring me each day. I was more curious about what today would look like … after all it is Thanksgiving. Going through my daily regiment turned out to be an intensely reflective time as I pondered the events of the past 3 and a half months.

I became acutely aware, how oftentimes, as human beings we want something tangibly felt before thankfulness is evoked and spoken. What comes first the chicken or the egg?  I became intrigued with the idea that cultivating a heart and mindset of thankfulness precedes “good” things happening in life and activates a flow of grace that enhances one’s ability to outlast challenging times.

Cultivating thankfulness implies an attentiveness to fostering, enriching developing and promoting this mindset. The opposite of cultivating, is neglect. Neglecting to be thankful causes self-harm in that thankless people tend to focus on everything that is not good in their lives and this often leads to poor health, depression and anxiety.

Being thankful and kind calms the nervous system (Hamilton, 2010) and promotes a sense of overall wellbeing (Sansone, Randy, Lori & Sandsone, 2010). We do not need research to encourage us to be thankful. This is going back to basic and simplistic living when we were taught by parents and caregivers as our speech developed, to say “Thank you”. Thankfulness is not a feeling it is a discipline and an intention. I am interested about my journey through my grief how much thankfulness has oiled the difficult areas I have walked through and how it strengthens me to stand in the hard places and embrace the memories of my love without wavering or questioning and asking “what if?”
I am thankful for how we met, thankful for the joy we found and lived with, thankful for our adventures, thankful for how we supported and cared for each other, thankful for how we believed in each other, thankful for the tough days and the good days, thankful for the cost of our love and what it took to be together, thankful for the sacrifice, thankful for the spontaneity of our days, thankful that we loved cooking together, thankful that I got to make the bed while he walked the dog, and thankful that I go to clean the toilets while he constructed “interesting meals”. I am thankful even in his death that I continue to learn many unique and wonderful stories about the way he lived. I miss him every day – I am thankful that I miss him because being relieved at his passing would say something quite different about our love.

There is so much to be thankful for. Don’t wait for the feeling or a gift. Get your immune system up. Allow thankfulness to help you transcend your current situation whatever it is. Cultivate a heart and mindset of thankfulness so that it activates a flow of grace that will enhance your ability to outlast challenging times. Thankfulness is smart living. Be smart J  

Hamilton, David. Why kindness is good for you. Hay House, Inc, 2010.

Sansone, Randy A., and Lori A. Sansone. "Gratitude and well being: The benefits of appreciation." Psychiatry (Edgmont) 7.11 (2010): 18.