A Gift of Friendship

 

‘This Christmas I was given the best gift ever;

experiencing the value of friendship.’

Guest blogger, Becky Beaton

Guest blogger Becky Beaton

Late Christmas eve, I realized that I was going to be alone on Christmas Day.  Feeling melancholy, I decided to spend Christmas day with my best buddy Jane. She was recovering from surgery at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.  

No one should be alone at Christmas. Much less someone in a hospital!

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The minimal decorations I brought were strewn around the room. A goofy stuffed Christmas dinosaur clung to the IV pole. I wore my gaudy Christmas sweater and dangly snowflake earrings. For Jane, I’d brought a Santa hat and my favourite beaded Santa earrings. The Lions Gate Foundation gave every patient a small poinsettia. Jane’s plant was on the window sill.

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

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We laughed and giggled until it hurt. We toasted with orange juice. And we hailed “Merry Christmas” to everyone we met on our ward walkabout. We got warm smiles and “Merry Christmas” in reply…. It was joyful and we were having fun playing.

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My time with Jane was short and sweet. She was fading and needed her bed. Time to leave. My mood on the ferry ride home was sombre. I pondered what makes a true friend, and why is having a close friendship so fragile.

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Having close friends is wonderful, but they need tender care. Complete faith and trust in each other have to be protected. One unintentional slip can threaten the connection.  Courage, love, acceptance and forgiveness may all be required to mend the damage. If it is not meant to be, let it go graciously and be truly thankful for the fond memories and time shared.

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A true friend can share anything honestly, and be intimate, trusting and caring. Although most of mine live a distance away, we will always be there for each other, no matter what we may say or do.  When we do get together, we catch up as if we never parted. There is no judgement… no competition. Kerfuffles are resolved by talking and listening to each other.

We feel free to say ‘I Love You’.

I can count on my hand, four true friends. I feel blessed. True friends are few and far between. Hold on to them tightly, they are treasures. True friends are forever.

*******

 “The best portion of your life will be the

small nameless moments smiling with someone who matters to you.”

Unknown

 

Choose Joyfulness Every Day

 

Choose joyfulness every day.

You probably had someone wish you “a joyful New Year”.

That’s a nice sentiment, but it won’t happen by someone wishing it for you.

Or even wishing it for yourself. You have to choose it.

 

I was reminded of this by watching a Sadhguru video early this morning. If you are a YouTube fan, you may know of him. I find him relatable and practical.

 

One of his teachings is about joyfulness.

Before I encountered his teaching on joyfulness, I would have said to myself that to aspire to ‘joy’ as a constant would be over the top. Not realistic. An irritating idea. Certainly not an expectation I would have for every day. I’d settle for contentment or satisfaction or peace. But joyfulness? Not likely. And I would have been wrong!

 

In ‘Five Life Hacks for 2020′, the first hack is how to create joyfulness every day.

It occurred to me as a perfect New Years’ challenge.

Here’s the simple practice…

Start every day start with a question.

Shall I be miserable or joyful?

 

If you choose to be ‘joyful’, you may notice that you feel lighter,

brighter, and more optimistic right away.

Now do it every morning:)

Let’s create a joyful new year!

 

Sadhguru talks about creating joyfulness. Start at 0.30. You may have to drag it back.

New Life Focus

The theme of ‘new life’ had a special meaning this month with the arrival of our granddaughter Shalamay Worsfold. 

I also gave birth to a new song called ‘Take the Stage’.

About giving birth to a new self.

I sang the song at our MorningStars Toastmasters last week

at the home of one of our members. Shortly after 7 am I might add:)

 

Take The Stage 

 

I know you’ve got a secret dream 

Of who you’re meant to be 

Your future self is calling you 

Yearning to be free 

 

When I saw who you could be 

You felt like you’d been busted

Now your secret’s out

I wonder if you trust it

                       

Chorus

Your destiny is calling you

                        No place now to hide                      

It’s time to take the stage 

The world is open wide

 

Your life is going to change

No more playing small

Your dream is coming true now

Stand up strong and tall

 

I see your fancy coloured sox 

I know they’re all the rage

They’re sure to boost your confidence 

When you take the stage

 

Not many people feel the joy 

Of betting on their dreams

There’s really nothing like it

And It’s safer than it seems

 

    Chorus        

©. December 2019

In tribute to Katherine Scott,

fellow Toastmaster and mentor, who died this month.

Katherine helped me start this blog earlier this year. She will be missed.

Change Management 2

 

To all New Retirement Subscribers,

Apparently some people on the list were not notified of my Sunday blog.

Click on the link https://www.enneagramcoach.ca/enneagram/

The topic is managing the stress and costs of ‘reaction’.

I wrote this because I see reaction everywhere and experience myself despite years of work.

The blog summarizes tools that I have learned over the past 20 years.

I hope you find the information useful.

I would appreciate your feedback. Useful? Not useful? Comments? Questions?

‘Like’ comments are great but what is better is feedback about usefulness.

Thank you,

Michael.

Mastering Change

Mastering Change

 

A reactive experience goes something like this.

A change occurs.

That creates a problem that stops you.

You feel helpless and powerless and you are stuck!

You just want to get something done and you can’t. It’s infuriating!

Usually, you are pretty easy going, but this time, it’s been a bad week, you are hungry and tired and this pushes you over the edge.

You lose it. You feel enraged… you want to smash something.

You seriously want this problem to go away. NOW!

But it just sits there… mocking you.

 

So you lash out!  You fire off an angry email. You cancel your program, you quit your association, you quit your job, you quit that relationship. You walk away. You call somebody and let them have it, or attack some innocent bystander. Perhaps you retreat into a dark place and cut yourself off from people. The stress is too much to bear!

And then… there’s the morning after.  You wake up to the carnage.  You start realizing the consequences of your reactive actions. The people you hurt. How you hurt yourself.  What you’ve lost. The guilt. The regret. The embarrassment. If only you could pull that back. 

You may still justify your actions, but you know that it goes deeper. There are times when anger is appropriate, but the equivalent of road rage over some relatively minor problem isn’t one of them. If we are honest with ourselves, we all know the difference. 

Perhaps you can’t pull your actions back, but you may be able to do some cleanup. Acknowledgement is a good start. You may or may not want to change your decision. Perhaps you can’t change it.  But an apology might do wonders. People are generally understanding.

You might still be able to ask for help to solve the problem that had you so activated. I know… asking for help is a stretch.:)

This description may sound extreme. But we all have experienced something like this. This blog is about how to deal with it when it happens, and how to prevent such reactive breakdowns from occurring.

Managing Autopilot Reactions

The pace of change: Technology driven change is getting faster and faster. The more change there is, the more problems we have. Problems tend to accumulate, not go away. We experience change as a threat. When we feel threatened we react defensively. It’s wired into us. 

Solutions, not sedation: Our first reaction to change is often resentment and resistance. If the stress and depression get too much we want to escape. We may act out, or we may ask our friendly doctor for help. But usually, we don’t need sedation, we need solutions to life problems. 

Guidelines for Managing Reactivity in Times of Change

One: Self Observation: It starts with observing yourself in reaction. You can be conscious and self-aware. You are not your reaction. You are the observer and the chooser. You can observe yourself in reaction, and knowing that you are at risk, you can make a wiser choice.

Two: Responsibility: Seeing yourself in reaction, and seeing your compulsion to blame and complain, you can choose to accept responsibility for managing your reactions. You’ve heard it said that pain is a fact of life, and that suffering is a choice. But it’s really only a choice if you are aware that you have a choice. Otherwise, you become victimized by your lack of options. 

It is not easy to accept responsibility for your reactive state. It’s much easier to be the victim and blame someone or something else, but it’s costly. Accepting responsibility is the way through.

Three: From Reaction to Response. This may be the most basic strategy. Finding yourself in reaction you ask yourself -What would be a more appropriate, more effective response? You may be surprised. The answers come immediately. 

Four: Notice your mood: We think of mood in terms of ‘good mood’ or ‘bad mood’. But it actually more complicated than that. And more important. Your mood, your emotional state, predisposes you for action.  Living in a mood of resentment you are resistant. Creativity dies. Your inner conversation is words of complaining and blaming. You ‘sentence’ yourself to prison. But the door is not locked.

The Mood Continuum

The mood continuum shows the steps to free yourself from negative moods.

Resignation >>>>Resentment>>>>Acceptance>>>>Ambition

You can stay stuck in resignation or resentment and continue to blame and complain, which will spoil your experience and make you less effective. You can walk away in a huff, which may cost you more. Or, you can simply accept what is, take responsibility for moving out of your victim state, and shift to a state of ambition.  Stop letting the problem run you. Decide to take back your power and master the problem.

In my experience once you see where you are on this continuum, and what it’s costing you, it’s relatively easy to shift your state to acceptance and then ambition,  it’s amazing how fast it works. It is as simple as making a couple of decisions.

Five: Time out rule. If you are extremely reactive, your body chemistry has you in flight/fight mode.  You are not thinking clearly. The smart move is to take a time out. Go for a walk. Create space. Sleep on it. Allow your system to normalize. (Don’t push send until you reconsider the next day)

Six: Seek help from Google: I am constantly amazed at the answers I can find to the most basic questions. Especially tech problems. Got a problem?  Google your question. Make it a habit to save a lot of time and frustration.

It happened to me a couple of days ago. I noticed that I hadn’t received any email on my laptop for three days. I Googled for an answer. I couldn’t make sense of the answers that I found. So I slept on it. Came back the next day. Tried again. I found the Mailbox bar that I couldn’t find before. I followed the instructions to click ‘receive mail’ and voila I was back in business. It feels good to solve these problems yourself.

Seven: Ask for help: This is an advanced strategy:) There’s this thing called ‘asking for help’. It’s amazing what can happen. I have had to seek help a number of times this year with tech problems. People have been very willing and very helpful. Sometimes just talking about the problem helps solve it.

Eight: Change Your Way of Being: I tell a story about a reactive episode I had with our Apple TV. After fuming for some time, I said to myself  “You know better than this Mike. What is your current way of being? Angry and avoiding. How is that working? It’s not. What would be a more effective way of being?” The words “creative problem solver” came to mind. I kid you not. Right away I noticed my internal state shift. I called Apple support and we got it done.

Nine: Master it: Doing a minimum to get through a problem is the norm. That usually means that the problem will come back because you haven’t really mastered it.

As an example, I got my first Apple laptop a couple of years ago. They said learning to operate it would be ”intuitive”. Maybe for twelve years olds, but not for me. I struggled. Finally, I got some coaching from my son PJ. He said, “Dad, you have to master it.” That meant going online, finding the tutorials and spending time figuring it out step by step.  I got a few extra tips from PJ along the way and learned to collaborate with friends who were having similar problems. Soon I was able to function. I keep learning.

Note: When I say ‘mastery’ I mean pushing through to a place where you can function. There may be plenty more to learn. 

Summary: As the pace of change increases, we have more problems. We need to see that our basic problem is change management. There’s a natural cycle that starts with reactive emotions such as resentment and resistance. We may fall into fight or flight mode.  If we don’t see what is happening, we become the victims of our reactive state. We get stuck. We may say and do things that are costly and which we later regret. Mastery starts with self-observation. Seeing ourselves stuck in ‘reaction’ we can choose ‘response’; take back our power, be more effective, and improve the quality of our lives. It’s about managing change so it doesn’t manage us.

 

Untitled

 

 Launching a New Retirement Program in early December

 Two people are committed. Dates and time to tbd by the group.
 You could be one of 2-3 more who can make this an exciting group process.
 Below is the flyer.
 If you are interested in knowing more please call or email me. See below.
 Thank you, Michael

Coming of Age: The Inner Game

Thriving in your 50’s 60’s and beyond

    Conversations to energize and add joy to your life:

 

    • A new meaning for retirement: From pleasure to purpose.

    • The goal of wellbeing: Keeping the main thing the main thing.
    • The inner game: More wellbeing by navigating your life experiences.
    • Creating your ‘noble aim’: “The nobler your aim the better your life.”
    • Your story defines you: Author your ideal future. Your hero’s journey.
    • Speaking your story into reality: Declaring your new life with your ‘words’.
    • Be a ‘wise elder’ in training: Cultivate your ultimate asset; your wisdom. 

Best suited for: people contemplating retirement or already retired and looking to rejuvenate.
Process design: Not a ‘course’ but rather a process for creating and launching your new life. For cost-effectiveness, the process is done in small groups as demand arises. It consists of five 90 minute group sessions and two private coaching sessions. We aim for a spirit of ‘partnership’; helping each other to reach our goals.
To put your name on the list for the next date call 604 989 3657 or email mw@partneringdesigns.com
Investment: $295.00 Includes GST. Cheque or bank transfer to Partnering Designs inc.

The process is changing my life. Continually evolving. I am wholeheartedly grateful. 

Becky Beaton

 

www.enneagramcoach.ca

 

 

Sleep is Your Superpower

 

We were supposed to get an extra hour last night. 

But we forgot to tell Taj about the time change.

She was up dark and early.

Now she’s ready for a nap.

 

In keeping with the theme,

I thought I’d share this Ted Talk. 

(Thanks to Becky Beaton)

 

Rising Up From A Dark Place

 

I was in a low dark place this week. 

It was a dark and rainy night. Really.

It was Monday night. Election night.

Here’s what happened.

 

Earlier in the day, I’d spoken to a friend who is suffering from chronic pain. It’s been going on for months. They can’t find the cause. She’s exhausted and getting weaker by the day. She’s used to being the rock, the strong one. Now she needs the cavalry to come save her. She has a strong daughter who could help, but my friend apparently hasn’t called for help… “yet”, she said yesterday. We are 3000 miles away. Our friend is in distress and we are powerless.

Then there was that conflict with a friend a few days ago. It left me feeling unsettled and sad. And let’s throw in a dash of loneliness for good measure. 

Watching the election results I became aware that I was sinking lower and lower. Maybe you were too. What stood out for me was the signs of division and discord. Not much to be happy about. 

Sometimes it just piles up. If I’m a bit tired it can get me down.

As I went to bed I asked myself – How can I climb out of this place? 

Recently I’ve been revisiting ‘present moment awareness’. Playing with it at odd moments during my day.  Here I was in the depths. I wondered how present moment awareness might help me now.

Here’s what I did as I lay in bed:

I began to observe myself and remembered the phrase… “I am not that”.  I am not my mood of depression. I could feel that I was creating some space between me and my turmoil. It was a start.

I become aware of my breathing, noticing the inhale at the tip of my nose, and listening to the sound of my breath inhaling and exhaling. 

I noticed the thoughts in my mind and let them go... as another would come up and I’d let that go. 

Next thing I knew, I was waking up for a pee. It was the middle of the night.

I went back to sleep with no difficulty.

A good night’s sleep works wonders, doesn’t it? 

I woke up at 6:05 feeling ready to meet the challenges of the day.

Have you worked with present moment awareness? 

Please leave a comment.

 

Create the Life you want.

 

Smart young man. Living life as an adventure. Unconventional.Inspiring.

Some key points: You can’t do it all. Focus your north star. Design your life to focus. Don’t worry about perfection. Be open to change in direction.

Attract Don’t Promote

A friend who has been in AA for 34 years shared the AA formula. ‘Attract don’t promote.’

Every meeting people share their AA experience for their own benefit and the benefit of others.

This morning I felt prompted to write out what amounts to talking points for my experience in putting the pieces of the NRP together. I am sending them to you in case they may either be a good review and or talking points to share your experience with others.

For those who are not grads of the NRP process, it’s a short review of the context for NRP and of the process steps.

I hope it’s useful.

Michael

PS. It hasn’t had the benefit of proofreading so I apologize for the typos.

 

New Retirement Project

Retire Rich: A New Perspective

Transitioning from the years of work-life to retirement can be quite challenging in ways that we don’t expect. Such as loss of identity, loss of purpose, loss of structure, being used to responsibility, relationship stress and too much time to think.

The last point, too much time to think, is a common complaint. Now that they are not preoccupied with work responsibilities the old childhood wounds may rise to the surface. We all have those emotional imprints from childhood that we repressed as adults. There may be healing work required. That involves accepting and embracing those feelings and reconnecting with our childhood spirit. Our nature.  Step two.

That vacuum feeling: Most of us retire as ‘working machines’. Turns out it’s not so easy to turn that off. It’s in our bodies. People often say they feel like they are in a vacuum. I used to get the feeling on weekends years ago. 

These problems can lead to depression, isolation, loneliness and despair. Medication isn’t the answer. We need a game plan.

The word retirement holds the meaning of an ‘ending’. It’s supposed to be something like a vacation. Except that now it’s a much longer vacation. What’s missing is meaning and purpose to fil our lives. The new perspective we refer to is creating a life rich in terms of the depth of living. 

We need tools and a structured way to reorient ourselves in order to generate a new beginning.

Enter the New Retirement Project.

A process for creating your new life in retirement. 

Step one is to lay a foundation of wellbeing by taking stock of where you are in relation to ten key factors for wellbeing. You feel better right away.

Step two is to get a deeper understanding of who you are. When we retire we are identified with our work roles. Now we are offered the extraordinary opportunity to create a new identity. We use the Enneagram personality model to give us a frame of reference and a method to clarify our true nature, our deepest motivations and how to differentiate from our ego. 

Step three is to clarify our new aims; our life purpose. Different personality types have different motivations and needs. The goal is to create a dominant orientation that will get up every day motivated to engage. In retirement, we seek heart-based goals that have to do with relationships and soul-based goals that have to do with creativity and contribution. 

Step four is to write out your vision of your ideal future. You can do it your own way or use the recommended online structure that offers a proven psychologically sound method to envision your future. Writing it out in specific terms including the emotional components magnetizes your vision and draws you toward it. We feel good when we are moving toward what we care about.

Step five is to speak your vision into the world. Everyone is asked to speak for five minutes about their vision. This makes it real and helps to embody your vision and declare it into existence with your words. 

Step six is one one one coaching to help you to sustain your momentum and address any new challenges that may emerge.