Autumn, day 1

Today, I travel back to Canada leaving the island for the rest of the season.  I’ll return near the first day of winter.  I admit that I’m excited to get back to work and to tackle the challenges I’m facing right now, as well as to make some strides toward personal aspirations.  Today will mostly be about packing, cleaning, making lists for the upcoming weeks, and considering moderation in my planning.  I really want to be able to tackle the most difficult items, with realistic expectations of myself.

This morning i’ve been thinking about what blocks me from achieving the tasks that need to be done.  Asking questions like, ‘what is keeping me from communicating?’  ‘where is my time being spent that draws me away from the tasks that I need to do?’  ‘what else is getting in the way?’  ‘are there external factors that I can change?’  ‘can I be more conscious about my routines, that help set the day up for success?’

I wonder how best to make these plans so that I will do better at carrying them out.  I think back to a time when I did set and did five things a day.  Perhaps there is some wisdom in that approach.

As always, I share my journey with the hope that you will find something useful to improve your life, or at the very least to enjoy.  Comments are always welcomed.

Autumnal equinox 2018, the start of season of inspired communication.

Where I am the autumnal equinox will be at 3:54 this afternoon.  It seems a good day to plan for the upcoming season.  As I think about this, the word ‘balance’ comes to mind.  My world has been out of balance for a while, perhaps like one of those old washing machines that when the load becomes lop-sided and the whole thing rattles and bangs across the floor until someone rushes to hit the stop button and move the garments around inside before it can be started once again.

As I’ve been away this week from the pressures of work, I’ve actually been able to step back and see a bigger picture.  Tomorrow I return from vacation.  I leave the island of Maui where I sit now on our lanai and write in the early dawn, to return to Red Deer where they are under nearly six inches of snow which is wreaking havoc with the urban forest.  I wasn’t there to shake the heavy snowfall from our trees at home.  I’m sure there will be damage.

I want and need to think about balance.  And at the same time, the new season is the busiest season for all of our businesses.  Retail picks up and hopefully this year will be one of recovery.  The past two were the lowest in the decade.  The restaurant business picks up with parties and holiday fun.  What I need to do is to hold the line of expenses and make a concentrated effort to promote and communicate what we offer.  Our teams of people at both places are strong and wonderful.  This week in Tribe we had very few customers, some days only two.  Even with a minimal number of staff it’s not possible to make the numbers work with so few customers.  Snow keeps people away, as does the worsening problems of the downtown.

What I need to be doing is to focus on the things that will generate business and help us catch up financially.  Those are the main things.  Everything else can wait until the winter solstice and a time of hibernation when the paces slows.  Now, for me, will be one final push this year — three solid months of activity with a focus on communication with our customers, and for me personally with people in my life whom when I’m around I’m a more positive person.  The negativity that has been trying to root must wither.  Perhaps I can form a communication habit that comes naturally.  I recall I was communicating well in the past, somehow it slipped.

This week in Red Deer citizens started a campaign to clean up the drug use and debris problem: standup-now.ca  I was asked to share the invitation, so I wrote a newsletter to Sunworks clients and used our social media channels.  The paper called and I did an interview.  I was stunned at how fast it was picked up in our circles.  It reminded me that my marketing and communication networks are well established.  I realized that I hadn’t send anything to customers in over three months, which was disappointing and eye-opening at the same time. I can hardly lament poor business traffic when I’ve clearly failed at communicating.  It felt really good to be working with trusted colleagues on marketing this message, and it was so good to reconnect with my own skills in community organising and communication.  Truly, it helped me emerge from the blues, no matter how temporary that may be.  I’ll take it even if it doesn’t stick, but perhaps this moment of clarity will help me chart a path for the next few months that can help me solve some of my issues.

If ever I needed a theme for a season I think it would be ‘inspired communication.’  I started off thinking about balance this morning but I think I can handle that with a good long list and not overdoing the days.  I’m planning to practice yoga once a week, and want to return to painting and creative writing.  And I’ll get to the docs and get my annual check-up, make sure that I’m good to go for another year. Perhaps I can reconnect with my thesis.  I’d really like that, but I’m stuck.  I want to have a great gym season and drop these few extra percentages of fat that I likely don’t need.  I feel like I’m so close to my goal, but the blues get in the way and I don’t work as hard at it, and frankly too much booze at the end of the day isn’t helping.  And I’m going to get this damn horn removed from the top of my head before I sprout a second one and the crazies really start to believe I’m satan.

Balance will dial some things back and some things forward.

It’s my marketing and communication that needs strengthen.  I’ve been silent for a long time.  Before council, I used to write almost daily… another sacrifice I unintentionally made.  Until recently I haven’t felt like it, even when I wish I did.  I suppose, partly, my thoughts were so muddled that I didn’t know where to begin… or end.  Perhaps even like this post.

It’s been a while since I wrote any new greeting cards.  Perhaps one will pop out today.  I’ll keep you posted.  It’s bound to be funny given my current wobbly state.

Blasé

I call it blue because it gives it a less clinical and feels more personal.  No one can know what it’s like to be blue and to be me.  Most people don’t know that I’m blue, or how long I’ve been blue.  Life has been so full of doing, trying to keep everything going after a series of decisions that may have taken me down the wrong path.  When I didn’t run for council last fall, I remember being surprised at the realization of the sacrifice that I had made.  I had begun to see the ripple effect on my businesses from the time spent away doing council work during the last couple of years of my tenure.  The month leading up to the election and immediately afterward the stark realization of the ‘things that had fallen off my desk’ was so very obvious.  The economy had been difficult, business was slow, the bills had piled up, the accounting was far enough behind to be problematic, but I could at least begin to tackle the challenge.  However, I have been blue.  So as we move onto a year since stepping down I’m still struggling with making headway on the issues.  I have made some to be sure but the effort that I need to put in far outweighs the energy (or is it motivation), that I can seem to muster.

Today is a day off from the restaurant, and I’m trying to do a little self care among the business tasks that need to be dealt with.  My coping strategy today to do things in 20-30 minute blocks.  Strangely this post was meant to be a poem.  I guess that it will continue to rattle around in my head and gush out later.  Perhaps tonight.

Blasé.

Few know I’m blue and,

have been off and on for a couple of years.

That I wake throughout the night and,

stare at the ceiling,

both wanting to be asleep or finally free of worries.

The morning comes, and I don’t want to get out of bed.  Don’t want to shower, eat, move.

I take everyone moment I can before obligation moves me on its own, through the shower, the kitchen, the city.

I smile when I greet people.  I laugh at their stories.  I tell my own stories, and make them laugh. I make the spaces I go feel good for visitors and also for myself.

Issues come and go, staff come and go, sometimes well, sometimes sick and absent.

Sometimes they look to me to solve their problems.

I hold the mirror steadily for them to see their challenges and help them ask better questions, find better perspectives to see from.

I help them stand back, to examine the details, to engage with what needs to be engaged with no matter how frightening.

I hold their hands as they grow.

Where they cause turbulence in my business, I pick up the pieces where others can not or will not.

Mostly customers are happy.  Mostly I shield them from the hidden workings of the business, from my struggles.

On good weeks I find some way to do a few things, small things that take the business into a better future.  On those weeks hope and happiness begin to stir.

I try not to create my own turbulence. It’s easier to do when I’m alive.

Just for a while it would be lovely if the world would just stop, if time would stand still.  To give me the time back I need to regain my footing, to do my laundry, catch up my accounting, to rediscover my passions for things creative.

Perhaps today candlelight will turn blue to flickering gold..

Just for a while..

Long enough for me to get a glimpse of myself…

of my own hopeful becoming.

Sweep

When life feels crazy,
And the world spins out of control,
Sweep your floors.
Tidy your closet.
Do your laundry.
Buy a real card, one with dog-eared edges, that many people have touched,
but no one wants anymore.
Send it to a real friend, not a meme or an email.
Write something that you’d be awkward to say face-to-face.
Accidentally put a coffee ring on the envelope.
Press in it a flower from your garden,
or a dandelion from the park, or
Some old rose pedals from those flowers you dried ten or more years ago and which now fill a dusty bowl on your dresser.
Those pale papery reminders of important times.
Of love.
Of laughter.
Of getting older and perhaps wiser.
Post it with a bunch of old one cent stamps.
Shop at the florist on the way back from the postbox.
Pick up a single rose.
For yourself.
Nothing that requires arranging.
Pet your cat for as long as she likes.
Open all the windows as wide as they’ll go.
Line up your shoes.
Throw some out.
Sew on a button.
Flip through some recipe books but in the end put a roast, carrots, onions, potatoes, in a pot.
Splash it with red wine.
Salt and pepper.
Into the oven on 225 for the day.
Walk to the grocers.
Buy chocolate amaretto ice cream which you’ll eat in bed later without guilt.
Put on a favourite album. Ponder what albums are called these days.
CDs? Discs?
When it’s over embrace the silence.
Sit on the front step.
In the sun.
Listen to the sounds of the neighbourhood.
Smile.
Say hello to the letter carrier.
Keep a pad of paper handy.
Put a row of numbers down the side.
When a task invades your day.
Write it down.
Forget it.
Weed a bit.
Smell the roast cooking.
Plan to be in bed two hours early,
with a book,
that you’ll read until you fall asleep.
Scoop a moderate serving of dinner into your favourite bowl.
Light a candle.
Dine alone.
Slowly.
Savour.
Use a cloth napkin.
Buy a beautiful bar of soap.
Clean white sheets.
Bath before bed.
Appreciate what is simple,
what stays put after you touch it.
Embrace what is kind,
to a friend,
to a stranger,
to yourself.

(June 27, 2016)

Identity

I’m thinking about how we make new connections with people who come together for the first time. We bring with is a series of relationships with others, with place, and with ideas. These form perhaps our identity. Who we are in that given moment is perhaps based on which relationships are most active.

Iceland

Our friends, Terry and I enjoyed such a fun afternoon and evening. We were all deep in conversation from the time we gathered until we parted that there were no pictures of proof. We spent a lovely two hours in the public pool and hot spa splashing around and enjoying debates about everything. The meal tonight was at Fish and More. We sat at a table on the sidewalk for dinner under a light mist, nearly rain. The food was fairly traditional and so very tasty. The bread was unbelievably good. At the end of the night I recounted how when I’d read a book called Bliss, a few years ago, about a traveller’s search for the happiest countries in the world that I’d decided that I would go to Iceland to experience this happiness with dear friends. And celebrate my 50th birthday — even if that meant a delay. This time here and this day has been magical in so many ways. Time with beautiful friends, laughing and teasing. We never heard an argument in the streets. We never saw fighting or crime. We saw a lot of culture and expression. People were so very pleasant and genuine. There was a lot of respect for one another here. People seemed relaxed and cared about getting along together. At the end of the night I saw a hanging in the restaurant. “Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.” A fitting ending for a lovely visit to a lovely place. I’m better for being here, and for being here with wonderful friends.

Forgive yourself for doing your very best when more seemed required. And forgive others for the very same reasons. – Paul Harris

To realize our dreams we must become experts at getting out of our own way. – Paul Harris

Being me.

At this moment,
life is perfect.
White sheets,
belly full with good Iranian food,
laughter, plotting, possibilities.
Siamese purring, Montana my buddy.
Beside, lover breathing quietly,
drifting away into the night.
Me reading.
A small book of philosophy,
inspiration, complexity, words with fluid meaning. Worlds being constructed and reconstructed.
Poststructuralism, a very short introduction.
Nodding off with enjoyment and intrigue.
Not wanting this good moment to pass.
Synapses slow.
Connect random thoughts, day’s events waiting to be sorted, filed, stored, solved.
Perrier.
A gentle breeze.
Peace outside and in
Alive and still.
Just being me being me.
Being.

Anticipation.

In a darkened room waiting quietly,
For the show to begin.
An audience of one,
still with anticipation I sit.
Opened wide, the windows.
Damp cool air flooding in around my feet.
My skin tightens.
Sweet reprieve from the heat of my office.
Accounting.
Paper.
Progress.
The network says eleven it begins.
Wild wind at first.
Already black shadowy trees sway back and forth across the solid grey sky.
Bending gently, deeply,
Like they’re stretching before taking their part on stage.
Limber lumber.
First the rain.
Then lightening will waken colour.
Deepen silhouettes.
Just before thunder sends cats scurrying for box spring cover.
Waiting.
Enjoying the fresh heavy air.
Dancing shadows on plate glass.
The network may be wrong.
Glad I didn’t make popcorn.