This past week my high school swim coach, Dave Pells, passed away. He is someone that I thought of often over the years. The things that I do and the person that I am today are shaped in part by the influence that he had on me. Aside from my parents he was the most influential adult throughout my teenage years. I am grateful to him for instilling in me – hard work, grit, respect and the desire to be successful.
None of the training was easy, he was demanding, he wasn’t interested in excuses and we worked HARD! When I look back now I have no idea how I did it for 5 years. The early mornings, the practices after school, the constant wet hair… it amazes me that he brought out this kind of dedication in me.
After the announcement of his passing in a high school FaceBook group I was amazed with the number of comments and memories from both fellow swimmers and his former students. He was tough as both a teacher and a coach but the stories of how he believed in people and helped people believe in themselves made me smile. I am proud that I had this man in my life. I am honoured that I got to learn from him and be part of his legacy.
My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children. As well, my gratitude for sharing him with us. His many hours a day with us, were hours away from them and that is appreciated.
I haven’t written in a while but today, on the drive home from the grocery store and after witnessing a few incidents this week, I decided I needed to get the thoughts out of my head and write.
The past 15 months have been difficult. Each person is experiencing the pandemic differently, but I would suggest that each person is finding it difficult in some, or more likely, many ways. What I am finding very disheartening is the divide that has been created. It seems to have become the norm to shame others when their opinion is different than our own. Without taking into consideration their reasoning, it has become black and white – right and wrong. We have no idea what others are going through, what their past experiences are and why they are making the decisions that they are.
I don’t understand why she is so excited about getting the vaccine when I know it’s a terrible idea
I don’t know why he won’t get the vaccine when everything I have read says you should do it
We are all in this mess because you won’t wear a mask (yelling with finger pointed)
They must not know there is a stay-at-home order in place (condescending voice)
And here’s the thing, we don’t need to know why people are making the decisions that they are, in fact, that is their business and not ours. Can we try to give people the benefit of the doubt that they are making the best decision for themselves, their life, their family?
Everyone reading this would tell you without hesitation that bullying is bad and needs to be stopped. But guess what, that is exactly what’s happening right now, every day, by nice people. I honestly don’t believe that the bullying and shaming is intentional. I don’t think people know how much they are hurting others when they do it. When you tell people that they need to get the vaccine, or not get the vaccine, or they need to stay home or they need to wear a mask without knowing anything about the person’s reasoning, you are bullying them. I know that there is so much uncertainty and fear right now and we have been through so much, but this does not give anyone permission to shame.
I am not writing this to start a debate, quite the opposite, I am writing to see if we can all look at ourselves and see if we are capable of being a little kinder to one another. This is happening on both “sides”. What your opinion is does not matter. How you treat people does. If instead of judging, we can stop and think – I don’t know what they are going through and I can only assume that they are making the best decision for their life – we will make a difference. Mental health issues are skyrocketing. Being treated unkindly by others is adding to this significantly.
We have all heard this quote many times. Never has it meant so much to me as it has in the past six weeks!
One of the biggest lessons that I am taking from this period of self-isolation is that going forward I am going to do things, get things done when I have the opportunity.
Why did I procrastinate getting my hair done? Now the salons are closed and it’s going to be months before I can get another appointment. Why didn’t I get things done around the house while contractors were still working? This one is key when you are trying to sell your house through all of this! Why didn’t I go to the dentist, especially after they called… for the third time! Why didn’t I keep a stash of toilet paper at home before everyone started hoarding it? Ok, that last one is a joke, but living through this period where only essential businesses are open has made me realize that being prepared is actually really important. I think many people who are experiencing this will, for years to come, appreciate the things that we have immediate access to that much more. I think (hope) we will take less for granted.
When presented with opportunities we often say, not this year, maybe we’ll do it next year. But as my coach often says, “Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not promised”. There are obviously other factors – mainly money – that prevent us from doing everything now but I think in many cases we put things off thinking we have all the time in the world, or that we will always have the ability to do things.
Last year at this time our family was getting ready to fly to Europe. In 2019 we planned a family cruise for our parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. The thing is their anniversary isn’t until September 2020. The decision was made primarily around my nephews’ busy schedule. As it turns out, it was a great decision and I am extremely grateful that we went a year early. Had we planned to go in May 2020 instead of May 2019 the trip would have been cancelled. It was an amazing family trip that we are fortunate to have experienced together.
I will think of these times in the future when I want to procrastinate doing something, when words come out of my mouth like – I’ll do it later, tomorrow, next year. I will remember these months that we are living now, when later, tomorrow or next week aren’t options.
As we continue into another week (month) of self-isolation I am focusing on controlling what I can control. It is very easy to get caught up in feelings of frustration, anger, fear of the virus, the uncertainty, the state of small businesses. As these feelings start to surface, I am stopping myself. I can’t control what the government is mandating, what new rules are in place this week or how other people are reacting. I think it’s this last one that I struggle with the most. When people are scared they react, often in negative ways. This has been very upsetting to me, but I decided to start focusing on what I can control.
I can control how often I workout, I can control what I am eating (although sometimes this one feels a little out of control!), I can control how I spend my time, I can control getting enough sleep and I can control how I react to other people’s comments and actions. To emphasize that – I can’t control the comments and actions of others but I CAN control how I respond to them.
A good friend of mine regularly says “Love is always the answer”. Rather than starting an argument, or giving in to the negativity – I choose love. I change the subject, I choose to talk about something positive, I remind myself that their comments are made out of fear. What we need now, more than ever is to support and love one another. We don’t need to shame people for their decisions, we need to focus on controlling our own life. Eating good foods, exercising regularly, getting outside for walks, doing things that are good for our mental health. For me that means doing puzzles, reading and talking to friends and family. I maintain my daily routine as much as I can. I still get up at 5am to do morning time. I don’t need to get up that early right now but I know when I do this my day goes much better than when I don’t.
We purchased a new house back in February and listed our current house the day that non-essential businesses were forced to close. How’s that for timing! I can’t control that the real estate market came to a screeching halt. I could have gotten upset about it, I could have been very angry but I chose to pray on it and put things in place with the expectation that it wouldn’t sell as quickly as I had anticipated. Getting angry isn’t going to change anything and it’s certainly not going to make the house sell any faster. So I chose to control what I could control and create an alternate plan.
When we first started self-isolation, a friend sent me this list of Daily Quarantine Questions. I have been doing this every morning and I it holds me accountable to move my body everyday, check in with people, let go of unrealistic expectation and get through this period of time in the best way that I can.
I was reminded recently that I should start writing again. More now than ever, people need to read positive messages.
In this time of non-essential businesses being closed, being isolated from our family and friends and being exposed to so much fear-based messaging it is so easy, it is the default, to have negative thoughts. Worry and fear can consume us. The first few days of self-isolation I was very upset. I cried multiple times a day. I was scared and I didn’t know what to do, the uncertainty was overwhelming. I had conversations with friends and realized that this needed to change.
I limited my social media time, I started watching videos with positive messages (like Message of Hope from Dave Ramsey https://youtu.be/z2Bq7gcB35M) and I started to focus on what I could take away from this time.
What I started to see, is that this is a time of huge opportunity. Over the years I have talked to a lot of people about their dreams and goals and when asked why they haven’t worked towards them, the resounding answer is – I don’t have enough time. We are in a strange time where we have nowhere to go and for most of us, we have more free time.
I truly believe that coming out of this, things are going to grow fast. Having this time is a huge opportunity to get a solid foundation set to be ready for growth. I don’t want to be sitting here a year from now thinking I should have done this or that while we were self isolating and I had the time. Everyday I am focusing on something that I can get done now, so that when businesses reopen, we can travel again and we are able to be with our loved ones I am ready for whatever our new normal will be.
I am taking online courses that I had the best of intentions of getting to but couldn’t make the time for, I am reading the pile of books that I really want to read but haven’t gotten to, I am cleaning up by inbox – which has been on my list for years and we are planning vacations that we don’t when we will be able to take, but we will be ready when we can. And one of the key things we are looking at is understanding how to get things done in a different way. In our business most of our team works remotely on a regular basis so we are fortunate that this wasn’t a huge disruption for us. That being said there are still areas that we are reliant on a physical location. This is an opening for us to further make improvements in the way that we do business. Our team is working on projects that will help us scale and grow, doing things that we were never able to get to before.
Everyone is in a different situation and what is working for me isn’t necessarily what will work for you, but there is certainly the opportunity for everyone to look at the fact that things have changed and how you can use that to your benefit.
Please don’t read this and think that I’m not worried, scared and sad. I am worried what this isolation is going to do people’s mental health, I am scared of the damage that these shutdowns will do to our economy long-term and I am sad that I can’t hug my family and friends. And while I have all of these feelings everyday, I try not to focus on them. I choose to focus on Hope.
In this stormy season of our civilization, it is essential to shift from victimhood to leadership. To lead is to free yourself from excuses, protect your positive focus and raise the spirits of all around you. ~ Robin Sharma (excerpt fromThe War Measures Manual by Robin Sharma )
When you are in a taxi in Barcelona and you get a text from a good friend who asks “Would you consider going to Iceland in October with me?”, the correct answer is Yes. Yes, book the flight.
Having just returned from this trip to Iceland, I was reflecting on this quick decision to go. It’s really easy to come up with reasons that I can’t go… or shouldn’t go. Money, afraid to make the commitment, maybe for you it’s who will watch your kids. For me it is time away from work. I will tell you this past week was NOT a good time for me to be away from work, there is a lot going on right now. But there is always a lot going on.
The reasons not to do something will ALWAYS be there. I decided a long time ago that I need to make the time for the things that I want to do. So it’s crazy busy before and after the trip. I work long hours and go in on the weekends. The people in my life are the most important thing in the world to me and I have to make them a priority.
I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find I lived just the length of it. I want to live the width of it as well ~ Diane Ackerman
Iceland has been at the top of my list of places to see for years, many years. The text from my friend was an opportunity. We are given opportunities everyday but we get caught up in our everyday that we don’t always see the opportunities for what they are… they are the chance for us to make our dreams and goals a reality. I seized this opportunity because I know what my goals and dreams are. I write them down and review them regularly. This opportunity allowed me to make my dream a reality.
There will always be a reason not to do something, there will never be a perfect time when you have the money and free time and someone volunteers to take your kids. If you truly want to make your dreams a reality YOU need to make it happen. Get a side gig for a couple of months to make the extra money, take the favourite aunt up on her offer to watch the kids (she really does want to… trust me!), work extra hours to get things done at work. MAKE. IT. HAPPEN!
I haven’t written in awhile. To be honest the ideas aren’t coming to me like they did when I started the blog. Most writers would say that you need to work at it and ideas don’t necessarily just come to you. I don’t disagree with that but I also don’t want to write posts just for the sake of writing.
Today though, I wanted to share.
In January I created a Vision Board as I do every year. It is a reflection of what I want the current year to look like but also my dreams for the future. They are things that I imagine and think about but have NO IDEA when or more importantly HOW they will happen. I don’t want to lose sight of those things even though they seem unachievable at the moment. The idea of a Vision Board isn’t to create a to-do list, it is to have vision.
One of the items on my board this year is an office. I have office space that I use now. But this picture was what MY office would look like. My personality, a space that inspires me. I don’t want this office space in my house, as I am more productive in an office. I live in a small town and I didn’t know where I would find a space the right size. I also work with a group of companies and my proximity to them is very important. So I put the picture on the board with the hope that one day it would happen.
Never limit your vision based on your current resources – Michael Hyatt
Yesterday, 2 months after putting the picture of the office on the board, I found out that the tenant DOWN THE HALL from the group of companies that I work with is moving out. She has a 2 office space available immediately. It is bright with big windows overlooking our cute downtown. Guess what, in my picture, in my vision, the space had lots of natural light! The size is perfect, the location is amazing.
I can’t wait to make this the inspiring space that I dreamed of! I can’t wait to see what amazing things happen being in a space that inspires me.
While I am very excited about the space, what is even more exciting is the idea that vision is so important…. and it works! Had I not had this vision, the opportunity would have appeared but I wouldn’t have necessarily seen it is an opportunity. So I will continue to dream and have vision even when those things seem impossible.
For a long time I have had a dream on my heart but had no idea what to do with it. I think this is common of many people. We have dreams, we know WHAT they are but have no idea HOW to make them a reality. And that’s usually where it ends and why people stop short of achieving their dreams, especially the big scary, messy ones. The ones that we don’t fully understand.
It has always bothered me that people struggle with money. Personal finance isn’t taught in school, it’s a topic that just isn’t talked about and people are left to struggle silently. I worked in Finance for many years. My job was to create budgets. I have always thought I have this knowledge and interest, I should do something to help people. I wanted to do something but I had no idea what to do.
The crazy thing about dreams is, once they are put on your heart, they never go away. Months would go by and I wouldn’t really think about this dream to help people but it would always come back. A few years ago I started talking about it. I started telling people about this dream. I would tell them that I wished there was some way I could help people. This knowledge to improve their financial stewardship would save people’s lives, it would make their lives better.
Despite the fact that I had NO idea how to make this happen I would talk about it and think about it. Last year I even put it on my vision board.
If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it
And the beauty of acknowledging my dreams is that once I am mindful of them, the opportunities appear. The timing is never known and the opportunity may look entirely different from what I had imagined but the opportunities do appear.
Last year, my brother, who I had talked to about this dream, called me to tell me about a program new to our church – a Money Course. As I was very mindful of wanting to educate others on personal finance I saw this as my opportunity and jumped on it.
After a year of meetings, planning and training. Our first Money Course happened last weekend!
To be honest, as much as this is something that I have always wanted to do, as the days approached I didn’t want to do it. I was hoping it would be cancelled, I was hoping something would happen so that I wouldn’t have to go. That’s the thing about working towards dreams, it’s not easy. It’s called a comfort zone for a reason. But I know that I need to step out of it to make great things happen and so I showed up on Saturday morning and the day was amazing!
I don’t know what the next step is but I am grateful that the opportunity appeared and more importantly that I took action!
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world ~ Harriet Tubman
This past Sunday I ran my 6th half marathon in Ottawa. As I was running I was writing this post in my head. The weather was great, much cooler and less humid than what I had trained in this summer. I felt strong and my first 5K was faster than I expected. The story was going really well and I couldn’t wait to write it… and then I hit kilometre 16! In all of the runs I have done I have never “hit the wall” like I did at kilometre 16, and it was literally in front of the kilometre marker sign. My head was telling me I only had 5K left but my legs were telling a much different story. My hip flexors stopped working, the forward motion of my legs was barely happening. I had no idea how I was going to finish those 5 kilometres. I did finish but it was S L O W.
So, as much as I couldn’t wait to write this post at the beginning of the race, by the time I finished I had zero interest in writing it. Why? It wasn’t because I had a tough race or because I hit the wall. The reason I didn’t want to write about this – EGO. I was very unhappy with my time and I didn’t want to talk about it, I didn’t want you to know. I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be a personal best but this run was significantly slower than any other half that I have done. My ego didn’t want me to write this post because people would know how slow I really was. I thought, if I just don’t write about it I can just forget about it.
The other night I was putting my nephew Alexander to bed. He did really well in his recent cross country meet. As I was leaving his room I said “Good Night Mr. Third Place” and his response… “Good Night Miss Half Marathon”.
As the week has gone on, I have been a little kinder to myself about the run, thanks in part to Alexander.
I RAN 21.1 kms.
I pushed my body when it resisted.
I had a difficult run and got through it.
I know most people have tough runs at some point. I’ve witnessed others go through it and thought more of them for facing the adversity than I might have if they had an “easy” run. And so I’ve decided to be proud of myself and stop beating myself up.
So what was my time? 2 hours and 23 minutes.
When you run the marathon you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time. ~ Haile Gebrselasie
Thank you to everyone who is reading this. Having this avenue to express myself helps push me out of my comfort zone. I would have much preferred to ignore how I felt about this run, it would have been easier. But the result of being uncomfortable and writing this is that I gain better perspective, I am less angry and I realize I can run another one anytime and the next one WILL be better.
Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” Mahatma Gandhi
I was at a transformative coaching seminar this past weekend. Removing myself from my daily routine for a few days and spending time in a beautiful setting allowed me to think differently and more creatively. Add to that being surrounded by incredible people and great things happen.
In a conversation with a friend this weekend I was reminded of my vision and realized that while I had been working towards it, in the past year I have slipped back into my comfort zone and have not been pushing forward. Why? Because it’s easy to sit in my comfort zone… it’s well… comfortable. I am really good at planning, and I even execute the first couple of steps, but then I stop. The next couple of steps are hard. I don’t like hard. I don’t like the idea of failing. As much progress as I have made on it, I still worry about what people will think. I don’t know exactly what I am supposed to be doing. And so I stop.
I like things neat and organized. I like tangibles. Ideas in theory don’t resonate with me as I am task oriented. I struggle with taking those really big ideas and breaking them down into action. It’s not that I don’t work towards my goals and dreams but what I am good at, is taking tangible goals and dreams and accomplishing them. Running a half marathon – buy running shoes, register for the race, follow a training schedule, run – all of that I can do, I understand it. The big intangible goals are my struggle. The dreams that I don’t quite understand.
I complete a coaching form every month and one of the questions is “what are your fears?” Every month I have the same answer – I am afraid that I will quit before I achieve greatness because there will be some failures along the way. In the past year this fear is real, I have quit on the vision.
So here we are – day 1 post seminar and I am putting it out there. I am being real and vulnerable. I am telling all of you to hold me accountable to continue on this journey. This post is my first step.
You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. It always does feel strange to be knocked out of your comfort zone. ~ Jojo Moyes