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

bonfire

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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Eco Essentials

photo of foggy forest

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – At one point this summer I found myself in a car with some other professionals, carpooling to the second location of our learning event. I did not know the other riders well, but we all kept the conversation going for the duration of the 40 minute drive.

A woman in the front seat remarked on the forests that we were driving through, saying that she wished there was some sort of forest management to keep the forest floor tidier, cut down and haul away dead trees, and keep things trimmed.

Now, I am not an expert, but I know a little about how nature works. I was overcome by that thought that this person had no idea that what she was suggesting was, in fact, a recipe for disaster.

Forests aren’t botanical gardens that have shrubs shaped like giraffes. The forest is a living ecosystem and the rotted undergrowth feeds the new growth, the dead and dying trees provide habitat and, if left to its own devices, a forest lives and dies in perfect balance.

I guess that forest is like a lot of things ~ leave the messy, let things lean and sway and crash, and in the end, there will be new growth, there will be new insights, there will be a renewed sense of home. So much of the day-to-day can look like a jumble, but resist the urge to trim and sculpt ~ just live, breath and learn ~ we are all still growing – perfectly.

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The Journey of Generations

mapsFrom the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I am grateful for a crisp day during which the sun shines, I have the swooping display of a bat in my yard, apple spice tea is brewing and the birds are flocking together to face their huge treks across the expanses to the south.

I found out this week that for my whole life I have been blissfully naïve about the monarch butterfly migration … until now.  I did know that theirs was a massive trek, and that monarchs group in trees in Mexico. But now I know that the monarchs do not migrate together; they make the journey alone and find the group at their destination.  Then even more shocking, I learned that these butterflies never make it back to my yard.  They will set off and then females lay eggs that hatch and those new butterflies emerge from cocoons and keep on heading north.  The butterflies in my yard in the summer are two or three generations apart from the ones that left last fall.

This new knowledge makes me think about all of the journeys we begin and count on others to take up and finish. While we don’t really think about it many of the decisions that we make will affect coming generations, and it is up to us to make sure that they know the way and can find what they need for their own summers. Maybe like monarchs more than birds we are wandering on our own, but the tree in Mexico is not far away; there we can find others ready to help, to plan, to dream and pass on the knowledge of how to get home.

 

Not so Random Acts of Kindness

kindness

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – This week we celebrated Random Acts of Kindness day, and while having a day set aside does seriously dampen some of the randomness, it was a wonderful day of surprises and joy.  From a delightful coffee, to a bowl full of inspirational quotes to flowers, the kindness piled up.

It is often passed around Facebook and other places of wisdom sharing that kindness is free, kindness is strong and kindness is necessary as we are all fighting battles about which others know nothing.

Being kind is not as fluffy and easy as it sounds. It means that sometimes you have to look past a rude remark or mean action, look past a troubled past relationship or a blatant attack on your character. You have to squelch that part of you that wants to sting back, and instead dig deeply for a kind thought, word or action.

Kindness is brave, kindness is intentional, kindness is always the best course and kindness most often benefits the giver in unexpected or unintended ways.

Wonderful day, super idea, let’s make every day a “somewhat planned random acts of continual kindness” day. It

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never hurts to keep the joy moving in ripples all around.