To realize our dreams we must become experts at getting out of our own way. – Paul Harris
At this moment,
life is perfect.
belly full with good Iranian food,
laughter, plotting, possibilities.
Siamese purring, Montana my buddy.
Beside, lover breathing quietly,
drifting away into the night.
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.
Connect random thoughts, day’s events waiting to be sorted, filed, stored, solved.
A gentle breeze.
Peace outside and in
Alive and still.
Just being me being me.
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.
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.
First the rain.
Then lightening will waken colour.
Just before thunder sends cats scurrying for box spring cover.
Enjoying the fresh heavy air.
Dancing shadows on plate glass.
The network may be wrong.
Glad I didn’t make popcorn.
Shopping for new cushions to replace faded ones,
Used only by stray cats that make our zen garden their home.
Snoozing comfortably but always alert,
On the sky blue adirondack chairs,
That call to us too,
To be still and relax,
To purr in the warm summer sunshine.
We rush past from work to work,
Credit card out,
Slips casually onto the counter,
A pleased salesperson.
New cushions, gingham and stripes.
Cheap and cheerful.
Orange and yellow citronella candles.
A red ice bucket, big enough.
An owl candle holder and a yogic cat,
Especially for the observant in our congress of literarians,
And for Max.
Things to renew, to amuse, to welcome friends.
To hold a space open for connections to gently grow.
Packing my car, the skies open,
Torrents of rain.
A garden party being washed away.
Grey turns to blue.
It’s meant to happen.
Amber wine glasses sparkle in the afternoon sun,
Adorned with small bees pressed into moulded glass,
A dozen for ten friends
Waiting for name tags that,
A fellow shopper implored me to tie on them — with raffia,
Down aisle eight,
Past the fake flowers.
But, I’m too pressed to hunt.
Still needed gin and sushi.
String ties are fine and,
How the group will describe each other,
That will be pure inspiration.
Modifiers that invite being.
Friend, the _____________!
Six bottles of champagne.
As many hours of sunlight.
Laughter until our cheeks hurt.
The other old actor,
The magnificent bacon zen master,
The warrior hobbit.
It’s dark and I’m alone on the beach in a place that I often come to think. My dreams had been full of troubling relationship issues, replaying past hurts, mistakes, and attempts at repair. Even in the quiet dawn, it’s immensely difficult to quiet the my mind, particularly those voices that, in hindsight, can see how things could have happened differently. The remind myself that I’m only one in a relationship and I can’t alone control outcome — that it’s always jointly created by all the participants. And besides, the past is past. I’ve been involved with others that bring so much negative personal history to the relationship that it’s like swimming against a tidal wave. It’s those ones that cause me the most anxiety, always feeling that just perhaps I could say or do something that would make a grand difference. It’s those ones that find their way into my dreamscape and begged to be sorted, that wake me feeling anxious. This morning sitting here I need this time alone to be with myself, to remember my own humanity, to practise self compassion, to forgive myself for doing my best when more was required, and to forgive others for the same reasons.
The rhythms of the earth are supportive — I focus on my breath. I grow more and more appreciative of being in quiet relationship with this space. Slowly, I return to a position of knowing that my best intention and open invitation remain my most precious gifts.
The full moon is high in the sky, descending. It’s bright and round and softly illuminates the earth. There are no clouds between the moon and me. The ocean rolls in one wave at a time, slipping onto the short a few feet from where I sit to contemplate the things I’ve encountered during the past few days.
I learned yesterday that one can reset the intention of a crystal by placing it in moonlight. I wonder what it might be like if I thought of myself as a crystal sitting there in a moonbeam. The thing about moonbeams is that follow you wherever you go. This one sparkled across the waves in a loose triangle shape, its gentle point of light settling between my eyes.
Perhaps what I was doing this morning in the moonlight was renewing my invitation to allow my best to be and to accept my humanity. I’ve reset my crystal thanks to communal time with the ocean and the moon. I remember the Japanese speak of perfection of anything being in the imperfection. The crack in a bowl, worn leather, a dog-earred book.
The ocean continued to roll in as the moon slow moved toward the horizon. The sun rising on the other side of the island, blocked from view by Haleakala, gently warmed the sky. No shadows as whole vista, the ocean, sand, and sky transformed into pale shades of green, blue and grey. As the moon approached the water it grew bigger and became pink. Then it disappeared.
Maui is a beautiful place, some say magical. I may be one of them. There’s a four hour time difference from Red Deer, Alberta to our place here – which we affectionately call Chip and Max’s Tiki Resort (tikihalekipa.com).
We bought this small flat a couple of years ago are slowly renovating. We’ve paid very careful attention to design and aesthetics, selecting colours and furnishings that invite creativity, relaxation, and fun. Each time I’m here I find space to explore my current identity, to write, to paint, and to get in touch with a broader perspective of life. I return home with a sharpened ability to see things my life and work in a relational context — nearly always feeling calmer and ready to carry on. The weight is a little lighter it seems. It’s a real treat to have space and time to be reflexive.
I’m reading Kenneth Gergen’s text titled An Invitation to Social Construction and thoroughly enjoying it. It’s like I’ve come home to a place where someone understand what I’ve been thinking and saying for years.
Recently, I’ve had many deep and lively discussions with colleagues in civic government that challenge the assumptions that we make about governance, authority, and civic leadership. I remember the very first council meeting I attended four years ago, as a newly elected councillor. We were to pass the organizational bylaw as one of the first matters of a new council. It legally allows us to ‘exist’ as a city. But why? I asked the question “what is the purpose of civic government?” and was so bold as to table the organizational bylaw until we could draft something that included a reason to exist. Strangely it may be a quintessential moment in my career as a participant in politics. I still feels as one of the moments of which I’m most proud.
So many organizations appear to exist for a sake onto itself, and I’ve always been curious what would happen if we were more explicit about exploring organizational purpose. Articulating it in writing, in conversation, in practice, in policy. Revisiting it often, feeding it, watching it grow and change — and being thrilled that it’s never complete and finished.
Organizations are creatures of human desire, and as such we should talk about our purpose for them. Even as our desires and passions change so must our organizations be flexible enough to morph.
From a constructionist perspective, the intervention of a single question altered the entire path of the organization and our community. It created an opening for council to explore together the meaning of our work, both as elected officials but also as participating citizens. It opened a door for the organization to more fully involve citizens in decisions that affect their future and future of their city.
Since then purpose dialogue has become deeply rooted in our organization and continues to provide as a philosophical perspective with which to consider every decision we make. Our new governance framework has aa its foundation the purpose of our city. Red Deer is being looked to for leadership in civic governance.
As I read through Ken’s thoughtful exploration of social construction I find myself feeling many interrelated thoughts. Firstly, I’m more in love with Ken then ever before. The robustness of his thinking and explanations makes me wonder if I have anything new to add to the conversation, or if even adding anything is valuable. I counter my own internal dialogue with, ‘of course you do, you are uniquely you and therefore only you can have your perspective, build from your years of personal experience.’
Now at the end of a day of reading, it’s dark. The sun has dropped into the ocean, I’ve not switched on any lights. It’s time for me to find a cocktail bar, some good food, and chat with perfect strangers. I wonder what will come of the evening.
5:00 a.m. Good morning a wee bit too early given the last night and the wine. Packing. Sky Train at 5:45 to Vancouver Airport. 7:40 flight to Denver – yes, that’s the wrong direction. I have a two hours wait and discover near the end of it that I could have met one of my cohorts in MSc in Relational Leading – Amanda. (Next time I’ll let you know when I’m coming through.) 2:30 to LA. 6:00 to Kahului. All day I ponder, how will I get this blog started? Where is the entrance into a good space that will be fun for the reader and helpful for me to record my thinking over the next several days?
For many years I’ve invited people to consider that the entrance into anything is always right where you are. All you need to know is the first step… and you always know what that is. And so I sit down and begin to write.
I hope that you’ll engage with me, whether that just be private thought or whether you choose to enter into a conversation. I invite you to post your thinking, make comments, ask clarify questions.
I set out early in the morning for Vancouver. It’s the first day of my 10 day writing retreat. I’ve recently been accepted into a Masters Program in Relational Leading with the Taos Institute and Middlesex University in London. While I’m away I’ll work on the current two modules, continue writing in my book, build and send a couple of newsletters for Sunworks and The Coconut room, and find time to read. It’s a bit of a packed agenda, especially when happy hour in Maui starts at 3 p.m.
To start my retreat well, I meet up with my friend Sam Khany. He’s a brilliant young planner with a keen sense of philosophy and strong passion for expanding knowledge about the relational influence of space and design on community wellness and culture. We first met at the Vancouver Urban Forum, a conference that he helped organize in 2011. It brought together great thinkers to consider better ways that we can design and organize cities in ways that improve human experience and protect the planet and everything that depends on it.
Over fresh oysters and wine our conversation moves quickly from catching up with one another into relational ideas and what he observes as a rise in reflexivity globally due to social media and the ability for people to easily connect.
I’m interested in exploring a book he’s appreciated. Modernity and Self Identity by Anthony Giddens. Perhaps Amazon can dispatch one of their delivery drones and have it to me in a day or two. Even as I am aware of the increase in dialogue in the world I wonder if the particular way in which we are connecting is actually isolating ourselves in circles of other like minded people, rather that opening us to difference that exists and therefore the possibilities created when we ‘bump’ into new ideas and different ways individuals and communities construct the world.
My particular interest is not in just increasing dialogue, but rather I’m fascinated with the idea of creating openings in the dialogic space to be able to stand back and notice the relational dynamic of the dialogue itself. I use the word dialogue to represent the interactions or signals between various participants. I believe it’s important to recognize we are part of multiple relationships and that they go beyond just our interactions with one another to include our relationship with our habitat, our bodies, the various communities we are part of, our internal conversations, and the natural world.
I’m less interested in the content and more interested in the process. To call attention to ways we can gently intervene both individually and as organizations. How can we become more fully aware that every conversation we have changes the world in some way – that we have the choice to shift those conversations and therefore create a better future.
How can we invite highly structured (rigid) organizations to become reflexive in their work? Maybe it’s highly rigid communities.
I ponder what happens when we have time to ask questions like: What were we doing just then as we talked about what we were talking about? What was it like for you, for us? Why were we talking in that particular way?
To me these are reflexive questions. They call us to look outside of the content and become aware of ourselves both collectively and individually. I propose that reflexive questions help us become aware of the socially constructed ways in which organizations behave, even as they make us aware of the ways we are constructing our world through our own inner dialogue.
Sam and I talked about doing some work together in the future. It will be an absolute delight.
What a great way to begin my retreat and more serious work on my Masters. Deeply intellectual conversation, grounded in practical experience in planning and civic governance. Rodney’s Oyster House get’s bonus points for providing space for us for being always so welcoming and friendly.
As I prepare for my vacation I find myself being unusually productive 16-18 hours a day, split between my work at Sunworks, The Coconut Room, The Metropolitan Block renovation, City Council, and a number of small projects in our building downtown. Not to mention catching up our accounting for year end. Last year’s efforts to be reelected put a number of things on the back burner and finally the pile is starting to diminish. It was without a doubt one of the most difficult years of my life.
What is fascinating is that as spring approaches I feel an incredible amount of change around me. Projects are moving and rapidly developing, some are nearing completion, others are just getting started. Most are moving freely without a lot of effort. What I begin to think about begins to happen. This of course appeals to my belief in social constructionist philosophy. Our words do create our worlds. I become more aware of the need to pay attention to this fast moving energy and the change that it is inviting.
I have an image of energy, squishing out everywhere, in a random way. Like perhaps wet clay does through your fingers when close your palm, or a garden hose gone wild. I recognize the need to sculpt and direct this energy for change — to pay attention to intention.
There have been a number of issues that I’ve failed to properly address over the past couple of years as our businesses developed. I’m consciously paying attention to addressing the issues that seemed stuck, to explore the reasons I was procrastinating doing them. Results are beginning to appear. Some of the work, where people have been involved has been quite painful. I no longer accept working with people who choose negativity as their approach to life. I’m surrounding myself more and more with people that believe in collaboration and cooperation — openness, trust, and dialogue. Some of this work is helping me more deeply realize what real friendship, love and kindness feel like.
And it’s reminding me of the many positive and kind people with whom I want to associate. Some have been around me for years and others are new friendships. I’m particularly inspired by some of our staff at the store and the restaurant. It’s been a joy to work with these lovely women.
Even though there is pain in dealing with the difficult situations, there is much joy in the discovery of new friendships and the renewal of seasoned friendship — particularly those who have travelled along side me on my journey as they have travelled their own. These connections are so important to life and happiness.
I’m in Maui now and working on my book manuscript which is a slow by passionate process. In between I’m working on unfinished renovation projects here at the flat as well. Yesterday and today I go to ACE hardware to purchase paint for the glass backsplash. Over the course of several trips back and forth, the man working at the paint counter and I begin to talk about life while the machine shook the various colour samples. He lives at a Buddhist centre in Paia.
At one point, he says to me that there are only two things in life to remember — intention and paying attention to intention. I like this thought and certainly it fits with the things I’ve been pondering over the past few months.
We each need to find time to consciously explore our invitations to the world. What is it that you most would like to invite? That’s your compelling intention, the thing that attracts you and draws you toward it. To engage your imagination and soul think about this question: What is the single most compelling image you have about your future that you’d like to journey toward?
Your image will hold appeal, mysterious cache, almost like a mesmerizing grip of joy. With further exploration of that compelling future you’ll begin to find more specific questions to ask yourself. When you carefully craft the right questions to ask, you are in a process of giving your future colour, shape, and texture. You are breathing life into that future, life that will need to be nourished. Intention that will be attention. That future will start to feel tangible, as if it were just a few steps away, perhaps in another room, or around the corner — close enough that you can go there if you choose.
Once your image begins to form — it doesn’t need to be completely clear — think about how do you create a bridge from today’s present to tomorrow’s present. Ask yourself, what is one most helpful or obvious activity I could do today, this week, or in the next short while that would take me one step closer or my compelling future?
Exploring your invitation to the world, your compelling future and its richness, and then intentionally taking one step toward it will invite the energy of change — the kind that joyously squishes out between your fingers like wet clay.
A week to write away from every day life, and to do it in Maui is a real gift. As I write this week takes me some time to quiet my mind from all that has been happening at home. Citizens often forget that elected leaders also have feelings, can hurt and feel pain like all humans. Often times that hurt is the suffering of the community. We become vessels which carry the collective desire and fear. Of course there is great joy as well. There is an expectation of strength and of being able to resist and repel the muck and delight in the joy and success — to take nothing personally. Easy to say and harder to practice.
Political life is not easy and yet it may not need to be hard either. I’m learning to be with my feelings but also be able to observe them. I’m learning to empathize deeply with my fellow citizens and yet be able to allow them to be with their own feelings.
this week I find it difficult to get past some of what I consider to be my own shortcomings in working with the community. Sometimes my best is still not good enough. I need to reconsider self compassion and so on Wednesday of this week I take some time to find a ‘fellow traveller’. I search the internet for a yoga practitioner with experience in multiple areas. I find Maire. She and I arrange to meet at Grandma’s coffee house just past Kula on the road to Haleakala. It’s a bit of synchronicity since it’s one of the places on Maui that I enjoy the most.
As a pull up to the shop a few minutes late, I see Marie’s beautiful round Irish face pressed up against screen door looking for me. I instantly recognize her even though she looks nothing like the photograph on the webpage. Big smiles all around and the first thing we do is hug and say hello again. It very much feeling like a reunion.
Inside we sit in one of the old wooden booths and talk about my writing and the direction it’s taking. I conversation is very much about understanding self compassion and forgiveness. We talk about how it’s impossible to work in community healing without first learning to be kind and compassionate towards oneself.
The coffee house heats up, and even though we are by a window which Marie as wedged open as much as possible, beads of sweat form on her brow. It’s one of the drawbacks to having a full head of hair. I’m grateful at the moment to be bald. The conversation moves to dealing with conflict and it’s then suggest the time is right to be outside.
There is something about thinking and walking that works. It’s as if the repetition of putting one foot in front of the other creates a rhythm and opens up space for understanding and dialogue. Conversation never moves too quickly or slowly when I’m walking. Conflict is not a topic one wants to discuss sitting down.
We walk along Thompson Road toward Oprah’s Maui home, toward a place formerly called Silver Cloud. When Terry and I visited Maui for the first time, this is the road that we biked up. I took pictures and later painted a piece in lieu of rent for the accommodations that were so graciously provided by some good friends.
Marie and I talk deeply about conflict. I share that I avoid conflict and believe that there are better ways of arriving a good outcomes than having to deal with conflict. However, we both agree that sometimes it simply can not be avoided. It’s part of our humanity. She invites me to consider conflict as a gift — something that I haven’t thoroughly considered in that context. I spend some time in the afternoon and evening reflecting and seeing the usefulness of the question… ‘What if we consider conflict as a gift, where does that take us?’
The next day I have a chance to visit again. This time we talk about art, about form and shape, and the nature of relationships between things. I share how it’s not the edges of a form that give an object shape but the space around the form itself. We do yoga under the clouds. It’s an inspiring time. I take all of that with me into my solitude as I sit and write this morning.
It’s been a brilliant time to be able to dedicate space and energy toward writing about something that I feel so passionate. This space in Maui and this little condo has been a gift to me in the creative process. It’s given me time and enough ‘white space’ for my ideas to flow out onto the page and for me to make connection with the universe. What’s more is that there is some sort of organization that is beginning to appear in the work. The form is appearing as a result of allowing the space around it to be.
I am not trying to write a book. I am writing a book.