Setting Sail for the New Year

Christmas mantle and tree reducedFrom the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I just finished a report and had to double check the date. December? Already? Now, I know what you’re thinking … the Christmas decorations all over the place, including my own house, should have been a clue but, really, how did this year pass by so fast?

I read once, probably in my women’s studies classes, that holidays are part of the oppression of women in that they box you in and keep you driven to decorate and host parties at regular intervals, rather than making lofty plans and aspirations.

There may be some truth to the grind of holidays in that way for all of us, but for me they are key markers in time. Back to school and Christmas are the biggies for me. I suddenly realize that my kids are a year older, my husband is a year older, everyone is aging except for me – how strange?

For me, these are two times that I take stock – what am I doing, what am I dreaming, where do I want to go and how should I adjust the sails? I make lists, I think, I marvel at how another year has passed and then I get started chipping away at where I want to be next. These goals are big and small … guide great quality tools at work, learn to play the trumpet, finally clean my closet … all kinds of goals. This goal-setting is an exercise not of feeling overwhelmed of giving me a little reset and a time to reflect on what is important for right now.

December … the season of food and parties and, in those long dark evenings, a little check-in on direction and the settings of the sails.

The Wisdom of the Wind

scenic view of agricultural field against sky during sunset

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – On my drive to work one morning I noticed that fog and low clouds had blocked the view of almost all of the wind turbine down the road from my home. Through the mist only one blade could be seen turning and then replaced by the next in the window in the cloud. It created a grand optical illusion of a single blade whirling around mid air.

This sight made me think about the common illustration of the iceberg – there is so much that we do not see. Down my road I know that there is a great big pillar holding up the three spinning blades, and that all together with a handful more, these turbines make up a renewable power source that most locals hate.  In this of time though it was just one blade moving. One blade visible and whirling.

Beyond the iceberg analogy – about understanding that there is way more happening in a story than we can see – I was thinking about how to face problems sometimes. There are times when you need to see the whole picture; however other times the way to survive, sleep, keep on moving is focus. One blade spinning, that could be our agency, our individual role, one day, one task, one phone call.

The one blade in the right now is what we can control, what we can do well, what we know for sure.  Yes, there is a huge turbine of a change perhaps facing our sector and a lot of other parts of the day’s worries, but right here, one blade we can handle, we can do well. We can make a positive change one blade at a time.

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A Sound Solution

black and gray microphone

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I recently attended a Remembrance Day service in a rural location. The local legion was there with flags, there were two ministers ready with speeches, and the local volunteer firefighters had their truck and many of their crew on hand. However, the person in charge of the sound system was late … then later … and then actually did not arrive.

As a crowd member, I knew something was wrong since the ceremony was late and there was a scramble among the volunteers to get things sorted. In the end, the firefighters rigged the sound system in their truck to work from the receiver that the ministers then held. Next, the firefighters found the needed music on one of their phones and piped the trumpet tribute through the truck’s sound system.

This was far from the perfect solution and it was hard to hear at many times, but what I love is that everyone worked to come up with a solution. I think plenty of “sound guys” fail to show up when we need them… someone that we were counting on let us down, a plan that did not work out as expected, a crisis arrived on a Tuesday morning that completely decimates the well made plans.

Sometimes, we just need to scan the landscape, think about wild possible solutions, look for the nearest firetruck, regroup and ask for help … take the creative, seemingly wacky, suggestions and then just go with it. Perfect the ceremony was not, but it was still a few moments in time during which a group of people joined together to remember their local heroes – and it worked.

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Vantage Point

person standing on top of rock

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I have been working on a speech for an upcoming event and thinking of calling the speech, “Bring it.”

I have been pondering how each of us has an unique perspective, which I have written about countess times. We are hot mess of the influences of our childhood experiences, our heroes, our families, our education, books we read, what makes an impact on us.

When I say “bring it” I mean do not be afraid to ask, to suggest, to recognize something important from your unique vantage point.

Only you may see the situation at hand in a way that points directly to a solution.  However, we are often afraid or hesitant to speak up because maybe everyone in the room has been doing this longer that we have, or don’t seem open to a new idea.

I once heard a story of a long-term care home in which a resident with dementia was “attacking” people walking past his room by running at them and slamming them into the opposite wall.  A brand-new staff member on orientation observed this, read the person’s file and thought about it from his own viewpoint. The resident played professional hockey and the hall was painted and lit in a way that the new staff recognized – the hallway looked the like the boards of an ice rink.  The resident was body checking in the hallway just as he did in his hockey days. The new staff dared to speak out and share this observation – and probably sounded nuts – but a new paint job stopped the “attacks.”

Bring it, all of it, test things out as only you can uniquely do.

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Dark Dalliance

brown leafed trees

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – Wow, is it ever getting dark early! I noticed last week driving home at 6:48 that it was almost completely dark. Then I remembered that the time change was coming and so soon the darkness would be arriving an hour earlier.

Positives of shorter days … there is no drive to do yard work after work (too dark), cozying up with a book is socially acceptable at any hour of the evening and lastly, Christmas must be around the corner.

I think, as humans, we are drawn to the light … we naturally face into the sunshine and soak up positive rays. I guess that is why the vacation companies advertise so heavily in the winter … we are craving the sun.

There is some comfort in the darkness … comfort food, fireside chats and throw-blankets all of the sudden, have some utility. There is time and space in the darker evening to be still and maybe listen to our hearts, to focus on how, if allowed, one candle can fill a room with light.

Take some time to soak up the darkness, the comfort of a snuggly blanket and a cuppa. The sun will be back in its time, the spring yard work will be waiting, and the days will begin to get longer again in just a few weeks.

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Driven Determination

aerial architectural design architecture buildings

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I think most people who know me would say that I drive a lot for work – and yes, my record is over 1000 km in a week – but I drive to Haliburton, Belleville, Kingston and other destinations in my region with ease. The 90 kms to Toronto is a different story.  I am fine until I turn off the DVP and enter the city – streets couched by sky high buildings, pedestrians, bicycles, unpredictable taxis and me.

Even when the driving is not so bad, however, I am always out of my mind with worry if I am unsure of where to park or how to enter the car park at my destination. I fret and grump and moan. This week I tried something different – I forced myself to smile when I turned onto Bloor street. I looked at the CN tower in the setting sun and took a breath to recognize its beauty. I purposely tried to calm my own nerves and enjoy the fact that I have a chance to go to this great city of millions of people and events and culture.

I would love to now say that everything happened with great ease, but no. I entered the hotel in valet part, had to cut through a building to find parking and circled for a full 20 minutes in a dank garage to find a cramped spot to park. What was different however, was in fact me – I was not gnashing my teeth, I was just working to enjoy the ride. I guess  that’s the choice that we have before us in all things – find the view, smile, take a deep breath and recognize the opportunity of the present.

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Tent Trailer Take-Aways


From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – Up until a few days ago, I could have been heard saying that winter tent camping seems like a doable thing as long as you have a super warm sleeping bag. Now, however, I have experienced a camper with no heat when the night temperature dipped to -2.5 Celsius … nowhere near a wintry night … and I froze.

I had a great sleeping bag, wool blankets, wool socks and a toque, but I was still so cold. One of the problems was that I sat too long by a cozy fire and got a chill walking back to my campsite and then, with no heat in the camper, I did not recover.

Two take-aways … first, it often takes a firsthand experience to really have a solid opinion. Second, I think I may have been warm enough if not for that chill.

So, in all, things I would guess that if we can keep ourselves from a deficit … in warmth, in positivity, in rest, in joy, in wonder and in gratitude … even the coldest storms of trouble could not throw us off our game.

A third take-away that just occurred to me is that, after my cold night, my brother came to the rescue with an extra heater. If only I had asked around as I went to bed in the first place, I could have been warm!

Ask around for help and support, get warmer based on someone else’s strengths and you are even further ahead. If, after all of this, you still enjoy winter tent camping, you are superhuman in my opinion.

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Back to the [Basket] Basics

affection baby care carrying

From the desk of Teresa Jordan – I read a book that overall, I did not love. It was a book that aimed to help empower yourself and others. It was a little over the top and was filled with lists of how to define a good life. The list included a good home and while this is where the book lost me, it gave me an interesting insight for an empowered home.

Near the top of the list the author asked, “Do you have houseplants?” Then way down the list of pretty far out ideals it said “Do you water your house plants?” This made me laugh out loud as I reflected on how long it took me to really get how much water hanging pots of annuals need in the summer. Turns out it’s a lot and for about a decade of my adulthood many many died while I was trying to water them just once a week as i did my houseplants.  Now I am committed to a little sprinkle every day and most of the flowers live.

So, this was a book ultimately about empowerment and here is what I think: the houseplants need to not only be in the house, but they need to be watered. People, hobbies, passions and goals need to not just be there, they need a little sprinkle of encouragement, time, interest, reflection and focus every day.

I think we sometimes get caught up with our busy lives and think hey I have the houseplants there – when I am less busy, I will pay attention; when I have time, I will further explore my interests. Soon.

A little sprinkle every day and no need to explain dead crispy annuals to the next-door neighbour (or yourself).  🙂

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Inside Out

person tossing firecracker

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – This week, I had the wonderful pleasure of hearing Sarah McVanel speak about greatness. And I had the heads up of what she was going to talk about – recognizing the greatness in others – and I was so excited.

The surprise was that she began her talk with an exercise that had audience members delving into our own greatness. Now, this exercise was not an appraisal and did not have to be signed off by a critical number of people to verify – it was just us, describing on a small card, what we know to be true about our own greatness.

It was a pivotal idea, that we need to appreciate our own greatness, know what we are good at, value our own tool box before we can even begin to recognize greatness in others. Further, Sarah clarified that if we start the habit of noticing the greatness in ourselves and in others we will see what we are looking for, we will notice more and we will have our own lists reinforced by others noticing.

Another key learning for me – complaints are simply poorly worded requests. Try to pull out the feedback in that complaint that might be important to moving forward; stand in your greatness in the listening. Everyone has something that they alone offer to the world, looking for the greatness moves us all to greater things.

Thank you, Sarah, for great thoughts, energy and the challenge to thank and acknowledge one another.

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Holding Space

silhouette of person holding glass mason jar

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – ‘Holding space’ is a term that I hear over and over again in what I read, meetings I go to and leadership articles.

‘Holding space’  in my interpretation means that – without a real sense of the end, without judgement, with no interruptions and with no clear plan to solve, save, help or redirect – we just listen.

‘Holding space’ means that while someone is speaking from their perspective or about their experiences, we are just letting those words rise and fall into the atmosphere of the room and working to allow the spaces in between the words to just be. Doing this may sound easy but it isn’t – it means setting everything else aside, clearing out worry and planning, and just remaining open to what a person is saying and working on for themselves.

So what’s the pay-off to holding space and working so hard at it, you ask? The pay-off is a true glimpse of what something means to a person, a space in which a person can dream without judgment, a place in which a person can, in your presence, work out a problem or find a solution – a process that you have encouraged simply by listening.

Hold space and watch the magic that can ensue when someone feels safe and heard, relaxes into the moment and really works out the next steps, thoughts and reality as it really is.  Super listening and a focus on what is being said and not said will change the speaker and listener like magic when we try it.

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