Rooftop Rebel

close up photo of owl with one eye open

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I attended a meeting this week on the second floor of an office building in Peterborough. Now, while I was paying full attention at that meeting, I was also looking out the window.  On a building across the street I could see the roof and, on it, a humongous owl decoy.

As a continued to scan around – while paying full attention to the meeting, of course – I noticed that other roofs had birds on them, but the one with the “owl” did not. I was impressed that this very simple gesture actually worked and proved an easy deterrent for unwanted birds nesting and pooping on buildings.

I focused my attention back to the meeting for a while, and then turned my gaze back out the window several minutes later. This time I noticed that same owl decoy, only this time there was a bird perched on its head. I am no ornithologist; however, I am pretty sure that a real owl would not allow that kind of thing.

So, what did I learn outside of the gripping content of the meeting at hand? Sometimes the greatest schemes, plans, intentions, designs and solutions simply do not work out.  Sometimes all seems well and the birds are staying completely out of your business, and sometimes those same problems are perched directly on your head.

What are we to do?  I guess just rework the plan, try another angle, wash the poop out of our hair and work on a better solution.  I think the other reminder here is that when we think we have the best possible solution, make sure we check back in twenty minutes or so because everything could be completely different.

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Of Patterns & Processes

woman draw a light bulb in white board

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – Have you ever been asked to participate in an activity to which there is no right answer? For instance, at a very high level training event I had to participate on a scenario involving espionage, murder, adultery and cheating. The group was asked to rank the person for their level of virtue amid all of the wickedness.

The members of my little group poured over the task, as did all the others, only to find out in the end that the task had no answer key, no correct ranking. The exercise was just about getting us together and talking about weighty subjects so that we could learn about how we all think.

This week I had a similar experience about using the most obscure clues on the planet to try to determine who lived where and smoked what with what kind of pet. I sort of guessed that the exercise was more about thinking patterns and so I watched; as it turns out there was much to see.

Some people threw up their hands and said this is stupid, some dug right in with coloured pens and furrowed brow to crack the case, some worked very independently, others worked closely with their team, some asked for constant clues and some still haven’t stopped trying to work out the riddle.  And the answer was … not one of those approaches was correct and none were wrong and in this scenario nobody got the right answer.

We just all tackle things differently; some use colours, some do not even write it out, some rail against injustice, others get right to work trying to solve, some are quiet, some loud, some joke, some fume and we all try.

I guess the point of this “fun” team activity – though in my opinion was a little short on fun – was to provide another platform for us as a team to learn that there is no one superior way to tackle troubles and challenges, they are all right. And if we can just let of our egos and our own well-worn habits and tendencies, leaning on the way others plan the attack will, in the end, lead to a much more robust outcome.  If everyone saw things the same way and faced challenges identically there would very few actual solutions being reached – our unique strengths get better when complemented by the unique strengths of others no matter where they live and with which pet!

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Champion Challenge

man wearing gray and red armour standing on the streets
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From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I continue to spend time writing my memoirs with the book I received for my birthday – The book of me. This week it asked me if I had ever been betrayed. It then went on to ask who had stuck up for me in a tough spot. Such interesting questions that have me thinking about both school yard bullies and former romantic partners in the same sitting. Working on this project is a real exercise in reminding me of the long past or, in the case of the above, framing the past in a way that makes me look at it differently.

So, I challenge you to think about who has stuck up for you in the past, whether in big and small ways. The person who says to a negative comment, “No Teresa would not say that,” or who talks about all that we have been a part of together as proof of character when someone else digs up long past grievances as evidence that character is lacking.

Who were your defenders when you were stared down by the school yard bully? Are they still in your life? Here’s an idea, maybe send them a note. Dear Jeff Walker, thanks for telling Mike Goodhand to leave me alone. Dear Gennifer Chipps thanks for being my friend when others had decided I was a 13 year old social pyorrhea. Dear CLTH staff, thanks for supporting my good and not so good ideas with enthusiasm and interest.

Where would we be if we did not have a tribe or at least a few folks to back us up, give us a little encouragement and offer us kindness when others are being cruel. Let’s not only reflect, but commit, to keep on sticking up for those who need it.

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Community Cafe

woman preparing coffee latte near espresso machine

From the desk of Teresa Jordan – I had a great lunch this week in Burks Falls at a little café … well, actually, the only café. Just me and my son were having a great lunch on vacation in the Near North.

I was relaxed and having fun and taking in what was happening around me. It was amazing – community members were sitting together talking, well gossiping really.  There were three senior gentlemen at one table harassing the waitress playfully about the size of the salad, that the one man had wanted a small one. She playfully responded that salad only comes in one size. All of this was done with the steady use of first names. At other tables more customers were dining, clearly regulars as their names were used as well.

And then the magic happened … the waitress and a few patrons commented, “Where is Ruby today?” Right there was community, there was belonging, there was the natural magic we sometimes work so hard for… So much friendship, so much connection and Ruby was missed. Not only a regular, or someone that frequents on a community outing or someone who has goal of more connection. Here she has a valued role, a place to belong and everyone notices when she is not there.  This is the stuff of magic. I wonder if anyone knew that I was away? I hope so.

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A Cuppa (cake) Kindness

cake cupcake cupcakes delicious

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – The power of a cupcake is extreme delight on a cold, wintry day.

This week I had a setback and I was feeling quite overwhelmed. Then I entered the hallway and was offered a cupcake – and not just any cupcake, but a cupcake that said Happy Valentines Day … with sprinkles.

There were absolutely no strings attached to this sweet gift. I did not have to visit, prove that I could eat it without covering myself with crumbs or offer a counter-gift of some kind. Nope, just a pass by in the hall, a smile, a tray and – boom – I got a cupcake.

Instantly I was shaken from my moment of frustration, not just for the sugary goodness, but the smile, the generosity – and the sprinkles – a moment to bring me back to what is really important, the other human beings that I am walking around with, the generosity of others, the small delights in a day and the holidays that are scattered throughout the year for all of us to enjoy.

I know that this person was giving out cupcakes en mass so perhaps was not aware of the service it rendered in bringing me back to the light. But isn’t that the way it is with all true sprinkled positive interactions – we are mostly unaware of any struggle or hardship another is really facing, so all we can really do is keep handing out the cupcakes, without trying to figure out who needs one or where the biggest impact will be made.

We are all in this together and while I know I loved my cupcake moment, it reminded me to never miss a moment to offer small sprinkled kindnesses of my own – Valentine’s day or not.

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Bathroom Buddha

water drops from stainless steel faucet

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – We had a meeting recently at the library in Lindsay, and in their bathroom was a strange mark on the floor. The mark caught my eye because it was not located where there might be wear and tear – by the sink or the door. Instead, the mark was in the middle of the room away from any real traffic areas. The dark, dirty patch contrasted with the light clean tile everywhere else.

A few seconds of investigation alerted me to the placement of the air freshener spritzer on the wall near the ceiling and, using Columbo-like deduction, I figured out that this patch in the floor was marked where the mist from air freshener landed.

Now when the mist is sprayed, you don’t really see it; it is a microscopic amount of air freshener and I am sure most of us were not aware that it really landed anywhere. Here was the proof though, that over time – days, weeks, years – it had built up and now could not be eradicated from the floor with regular mopping.

This experience made me think of the microscopic words that we spray around, that we sometimes vent, even alone in our cars or homes.  These words don’t appear to land either – in fact sometimes a good rant seems to make the air smell better or us feel better.  But what if that too is landing somewhere, building up, getting yuckier and yuckier until somehow there is muck spoiling an otherwise bright and light life?

Maya Angelou often talked about the weight of words and would ask people to leave her home if she thought they were being too negative. I guess she knew too that soon the mop would not be able to tackle the build up if allowed to pile and pile. Fresh air would never leave a stain and smells better.

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Awed Intimidation

fashion clothing men s elegant

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I can feel intimidated, especially in a meeting at which people say smart things, demonstrate great knowledge and have an eloquent way of saying what needs to be said. I am in awe of strong, succinct speakers in a heated debate.

I felt this way recently when the person who sat next to me was well dressed, well educated, highly intelligent and bang on in his delivery of essential comments. Actually, I was both intimidated and inspired. Afterwards, as we were leaving the meeting, his terrific tie caught my attention and for a moment, I went against my natural tendency to speak. But then I gave myself a shake – even in the face of someone so genuinely amazing, I must be me.

So, I commented on the great tie and the very polished outfit altogether – he was pushing the limit of business casual all the way to business formal with the whole fabulous ensemble. He thanked me and then took the time to show me that his tie was a “Giorgio Armani.” Of course, this made sense to me – well educated, executive job, more than capable of great things – and now giving me knowledge of designer clothes.

There it was again – I was intimidated, I was less than – big time. Until he added: “I bought it second-hand for $4.”  In a flash he went from superior-bourgeois-intimidating to one of my tribe. Never assume, never shrink in the face of perceived greatness. Instead, rise – we are all good at some things, less at others – and a little thrifty when we need to be.

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Marathon Challenge

person running in the hallway

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I read an article about Terry Fox for which someone asked him how he could keep going on his marathon miles of running each day, how did he not get completely overwhelmed by the road ahead, the endless journey, the challenge? Terry’s response was: “I just focus on running to the next telephone pole.”

Sometimes we are faced with challenges so big that they can overwhelm us. The end goal seems so far off and the change so big that we get discouraged or, even worse, quit all together. The wisdom of the “next telephone pole” approach is that within every humongous goal there are little steps, quick wins, achievable landmarks that we can celebrate along the way.

This fast-paced world, with all of its technological wonders, sometimes gives us a million distractions to keep us from focusing on the positive change we want to make, like a healthier body, meditation, a change for the better at work, a renewed relationship.  Sometimes we can lose focus all together if we happen to have a few good Facebook friends who send awesome jokes and videos to pass the time. 🙂

Maybe we would be less lost if we were to bring it in, make it small, focus on the “next telephone pole” – the task at hand tonight, the walk after supper tonight, the few minutes of mindfulness I can do this morning, the first step of development that I can pen today, the box of Timbits in the lunch room that I can walk by right now.

One step at a time is, after all, how a marathon is run; we can do big things a chunk at a time.

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Back & Forth

you are enough text

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – The idea of a remote car starter is that, from the heated comfort of your home or office, you can point and click at your vehicle and have it start and get warm as you pack up to go out. When you are ready to leave, your vehicle is cozy warm and de-iced, prepared for departure. What remote car starting practices can you get started in this fresh new year? What do you need to point at – to start up – so that you can be ready for the next step?

For my birthday I received a great gift – a do-it-yourself memoir. The memoir includes hundreds of guiding questions to reflect on and space record the stories; these weave together to make a life, and doing the memoir has me thinking about things long forgotten.

Last night the memoir asked what I envied about others in high school. This question was easy to answer – I did not want to be tall, I wanted to be tiny in stature and frame. This, I had not thought about that in a long time, and now think it rather ridiculous since I am so comfortable in my own skin. If I think about how this shift happened over the years, I think about the gifts that I have allowed the opportunity to grow, and how over time I knew my strengths and weaknesses and tried to work on both.

I got things started long ago that have led to good habits and just plain contentment and, I guess, a healthy dollop of perspective that the grass is greener because it is fake reality.  Point and click at some of your greatest insecurities and start a new idea that you are the single greatest version of yourself ever.

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Aweigh with the Old

3 Teresa.jpgFrom the desk of Teresa Jordan – Here we are less than a week into a fresh new year and the days are getting longer. It is the winter, it is a fresh beginning and it is a brand new year with no mistakes in it.  Fresh starts are always possible – a new week, a new day, a new hour – but there is something super special about a new year, a new decade in fact.  What opportunity will you take, what change could you make, what will you leave behind?

Leaps of faith usually involve jumping into something when you don’t really have all of the facts or assurances of success. I challenge with a different thought – what if the leap is to leave something behind?

What will you leave in the old year, what did you have in the old decade that you don’t need anymore?  Maybe a belief that you did not measure up, a guilt about a long-past mistake, a grudge about a far-off hurt? What no longer serves you and might be weighing you down? Can you leave it behind?

Many years ago, I bought a wonderful metal trunk that has served as great storage for my entire adult life. Painted on the lid were the words “not needed on voyage.” It’s a fresh start, let’s have a think about what we no longer need. In 2020, let’s put some what could be holding us back to the side, set them down, box them up – let’s figure out what is no longer needed on this wonderful voyage and throw it overboard.