Autumn, day 11. Snap or is it shift.

I woke this morning and there was sunshine, that’s always welcomed. Terry had the coffee machine set and ready for me.  I went to the gym and worked at a reasonable pace.  Roman gently held open a space for me to talk in between exercises, that let me get in touch with my anger, disappointment, and confusion — a caged feeling.  After that, I spent most of the day working quietly at my desk.  My anxiety if I can really name it that, was not far away and so I had to just do one thing at a time and keep going.  Lots of deep breathing and some small breaks to escape.

One of my business partners came by in the afternoon and we worked through a bunch of things that needed attention quite quickly and did some errands together.  It’s so lovely to have a friend and a colleague nearby to confide in and do things with.  The best thing about Tribe so far is becoming friends with Chris, and the group of fabulous people we get to work with. Life is so much richer with all of them.

Yesterday and throughout my sleep my perspective shifted, I settled into resolve for a future path, which will mean a dramatic change in my lifestyle, and workload.  I’ve often said that ‘the only wrong decision, is making no decision at all‘.  Strange it is that I’ve come to this point, having a strong sense of the source of my anxiety and blues and yet fearful to make a decision to resolve it.  Terry and I are both on the same page regarding the changes.  And so today I got the ball rolling.

I hope that it will be the right decision for us… but since it’s not no decision, it can’t be the wrong decision.  Right?

Autumn, day 9. Musings about power and uncertainty.

In 1969 Canada’s then Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, told reporters in Washington, D.C., “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

There are a lot of twitches and grunts recently.

This past week I watched the hearings for the US Supreme Court: the whole process just adds to the confusion I have about the way that society is handling change. Power is grasping to maintain control.  In every country, but particularly in the US, there are a lot more than twitches and grunts. It seems more like a frenetic, chaotic and desperate palaver, where those who will eventually lose power are biting, scratching, and clawing at everything and everyone around them, channelling for their misguided outrage and fear of becoming irrelevant.  Older men in positions of power are attempting to pass their privilege and ideology to younger men even while they continue to try to hang on to it for themselves. However, there seem to be fewer and fewer younger men willing to sacrifice themselves for outdated social norms that promote sexual violence, racism, and the othering of difference.

One problem with recognising white male privilege is that if you’re a privileged white male you can’t see it, even when others point it out. It’s an ugly blind spot. For me, it’s so very uncomfortable when I see it in action, as I have this week, and know that it’s trying to self-propagate. Frankly, the sooner that privileged white males are out of power the better the world may be. What we are seeing is phallogocentric panic and desperation.

Perhaps happiness and collective growth will prevail over anger and destruction, surely it’s a more compelling draw for the human spirit. As I watch the world burn physically and intellectually I need to hope that what emerges from the fires will be a new more enlightened structure of governance and stewardship that supports everything living on earth and our shared habitat.

I wonder when humanity, if ever, will completely move away from unquestioned trust in individuals who claim to be wise toward collective thought. Everything from managing a destructive and shifting world climate and the resulting loss of habitat and human migration, to improving our local communities’ well-being, may depend on our ability to trust one another’s ideas and insights enough to explore and decide together the best actions to take. The consolidation of power in individuals throughout history has never been successful and may always result in negative consequences for most. We must consciously evolve rather than take the steps that seem easy. Complex choices that serve the distant future over the immediate present are not easy or clear. Human lifespan is too short for us to notice what we have done or are doing to the future. If our species is to survive and enjoy a habitat that supports us all we must think about centuries far in the future and find ways to support better possibilities and healthier options of living together that allow for personal freedom, happiness, and collective governance.

In my struggle to make sense of the world dynamics right now, I ponder why it is that when humans feel uncertain that they are drawn to those who act and speak with certainty (regardless of whether true or false). Currently, the population tends to shy away from leaders that say “I don’t know” or “we’ll have to work together to understand”.  For me, the truth is that there is no magic pill that will solve everything.

Because of this phenomenon to gravitate toward absolute certainty, I suspect worldwide there is also growth in religious attendance as well. People seem to like to believe that the world is a certain place or that absolute truth exists out there for discovery. It seems clear to me that all that really exists is an uncertain world with many competing beliefs, truths, and ideas. I wonder what might happen if we all embraced uncertainty and became a little more curious about everything including research into statements that seem absolute.

Power feeds on certainty, and belief in the absolute.  If we are ever going to get past this world divide we are all going to have to drop our knowing and be curious about what else might exist right now.  We could consider what we might become if we listen to one another and ask good questions.   Even forgiveness and healing could emerge if we can begin to see that we are in a process of transitioning away from power embodied in individuals, particularly older white males.

Meanwhile for me, it was a long first week of fall.  Many good moments, but mostly it was just focused labour. It was helpful to not be drinking, and I had some great sleeps. For the most part my cold is gone too — a day or two early.  I’m trying to leave perfection for heaven… and just do my best right here, right now.

Tribe was busy this weekend and that’s helpful.  I spent as much time as I could working on the addition: afternoons and evenings were spent scrubbing glue off of the floor when the place wasn’t busy.  It’s come a long way.  Sunday we built the demising wall, which means we’re getting down to the final stages before we call for inspection and start to use the space.

Perhaps progress is perfection.

Autumn, day 5. Prioritizing joy.

Slept well last night apart from the cold.  It’s the third night without a drink during the day before, and that always makes for a great night’s sleep.  Coconut water, you are a friend of mine.

Strange thing that I noticed when I was planning this morning.  All the tasks that I had on my lists for the past few days, that contained joy were the ones that skipped over in favour of the other tasks.  Interesting observation.  So today I purposely prioritised joy in the tasks.  This made a difference and I found myself doing a little more self-care.  I didn’t get some of the urgent items done but I’m feeling a bit more satisfied with the day.  Could also be the cold pills.

The cold is progressing and I hope to have energy tomorrow to tackle the day and accomplish some urgent things and also some things that bring joy.

Autumn, day 4. Cold beating.

As my friend Morris said to me yesterday, ‘7 to 10 days!’  Today is day three of my man-cold and my energy levels have dropped.  I made it all the way to 11:30 a.m. before I had to buck up and drag myself through the rest of the day.

Oh hello, insomnia! I woke this morning around 5 a.m. and fought off the urge to pick up the phone and start flipping through social media and other websites.  Instead I got up, wrote my top five list for the day, broke out the neti pot, had a steam, and a coffee.  This was my first win of the day but it was a hard-fought win.  It was good that I was able to notice this happening, and it was good to have shut the phone completely off before bed.  That action added one extra layer of will power.

I did well with the list in the morning, and later this afternoon I willed myself to go down to Tribe and continue to scrub the floors for another two hours. Chris’s cold had him in the same boat, but as always, he’s a joy to work with and we took pride in our work together – doing that male thing afterward, by puffing up and saying repeatedly, in different ways, how well we did and commending one another.

‘Looks good eh?’

‘Oh yeah amazing.  That part is so good?’

‘Oh yeah, so good.  Amazed how much we got done in a few hours’

‘I know right?  So much in such a little time.  Especially when we’re nearly dead eh?’

‘Oh man, I know. But look at how good it looks and how well we did?’

‘Exhausted but we did so well, eh?’

etc… for another 10 minutes.

Oh, men! Quirky to be us but fun.

So, there’s a picture to prove it.  Feel free to clap and cheer at will.

Autumn – day 3. Progress, slow but progress still the same.

My strategy did, in fact, work to get me off to a good start today, Some of the things that were causing me anxiety made my top five list and were tackled head-on.   It definitely helped to get to bed early, and to do my morning routines and planning before I turned on my phone or the news.  It felt so much more focused and I think that was partially because I was able to think clearly about the day before listening to the news or engaging with social media.  After all, the purpose of sleep is to clear your mind and heal your body.  What better time to plan than after a shower washes away the sleep and the mind is focused.

Sadly however, I woke with a head cold. My friend Alan calls colds boring.  I’ve never been sure why – perhaps it’s an accurate description.  I felt it coming yesterday and thought just maybe it would go away with a good night’s sleep. Ha!  Wishful thinking. That slowed me down quite a bit and made it hard for me to carry on a smart conversation,  but since we had planned a work bee at Tribe tonight I just carried on.  We achieved some things which will set up us for the next steps but we sure didn’t get as much done as usual.  Chris was also sick, Syfronia was out of action too. We were all moving a little slowly in general. We stuck to the plan and worked until 8 p.m. and then ate together.  I truly love my friends.  We mainly worked on the floors today. That was hard work but it was good work.  The old glue is a pain to remove but the floors underneath are beautiful.

It’s late here now, and I’ll go to bed soon with the hope that my body can go to work and defend against this cold getting any worse.  The strategy for tomorrow will be the same as today. Booze free evening, rest, prepare for the day, plan, and then engage with the world. As I think about this now, this does sound like self care, doesn’t it?

Tomorrow it will be clear what I need to do next to make progress.  I’m sure there will be five things just nipping at my heels to be attended to.  Meanwhile, it’s a beautiful full moon tonight to be enjoyed perhaps with a lovely cup of tea.

As always you’re invited to subscribe to my website.

Autumn, day 2. Shifting routines.

We just landed in Vancouver after an all-night flight from Maui.  I’m awake and excited about returning home and getting to work on so many projects, including my own self care and improvement.

Tomorrow will be my first full day back at work and it’s going to be a good one. To set myself up better I’m going to skip the drinks today, enjoy a healthy salad for dinner and get to bed relatively early.   No time like the present to drop the extra pounds that I managed quite rapidly to accumulate during the past couple of trips, and the patch of blue that I’ve been battling.

I’ve been pondering the questions that I posed yesterday and realise how easy it is for me to trade something in the moment for something in the future: such as having a drink with a friend but then not sleeping well and having a less productive day following.  So… there will be drinkable things around for me to enjoy with friends that won’t cause issues later.  Coconut water is my new best friend.  Of course moderation in all things.  I think this may be a key factor in managing the tremendous activity of the next 90 days.

The other thing that I am going to try is to establish is a morning routine that excludes cell phones, and internet, until I’m through the shower, have a coffee, and make my list of five tasks for the day.  It’s so easy for me to roll over in the morning, pick up the smartphone and get ‘caught up’ with the world, only to find that an hour or two of the day has slipped away, and that my perspective is altered by what I’ve encountered.  This tool that connects us has an awesome power to muddle thinking and derail plans.  Oh, look, a squirrel!

I long for the days before we had cell phones, social media, and everything at our finger tips.  I haven’t quite worked out when I’m going to write daily.

These two changes in lifestyle may make a world of difference.

One other thing that I am going to attempt to pay attention to, is when I feel anxiety over an important communication task.  When I experience this anxiety, I’m going to prioritise that communication task and move it up on the list.

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Autumn, day 1. Some curious questions.

Today, I travel back to Canada leaving the island of Maui 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 achieve five things each 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.  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 years’ sales 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 on 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 our restaurant 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 do the worsening problems of the downtown.

I need to focus on the things that will generate business and help us catch up financially.  Everything else can wait until the winter solstice and a time of hibernation when the pace slows.  Now there is one final push this year – three solid months of activity with a focus on communication with our customers, and with people around whom I’m a more positive person.  The negativity that has been trying to root must wither.  Perhaps I can maintain 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:  I was asked to share the invitation, so I wrote a newsletter to Sunworks clients and used our social media channels. The local paper called and I did an interview.  I was stunned at how fast it was picked up: my marketing and communication networks are well established.  I realised that I hadn’t sent 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.  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.  I’ll get to the doctors 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 the few extra percentages of fat that I 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 strengthening.  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 wished I could.  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.


I call it blue because it gives it a less clinical ring and because it feels more personal.  No one else 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 realisation 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 realisation 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 a year since stepping down, I’m still struggling with making headway on the issues.  I have made some progress, to be sure, but the effort that I need to put in far outweighs the energy (or is it motivation) that I can 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 is 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.


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.