There is never any end to things like dishes and other kinds of housework.  As human beings we create messes and need to clean up after ourselves.  Dust accumulates while we are not watching and just when you thought you had a place for everything and everything in its place you decide to redecorate or someone else comes to visit and moves your stuff.  Life’s like that.

At the moment I am researching the balance between alone time and with time.  These past few years I have spent a lot of time alone. My new doctor seemed concerned when he asked if I lived alone and I said yes.  He prescribed outings everyday, spending time with friends and family and getting involved in the community as if I had some sort of disease.  He unnerved me enough that I didn’t go straight home where I would have been alone but chose to go to the nearest Chapters/Starbucks to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations for a while.  Of course listening to conversations is what I do best.

The Doctor got me thinking.  How much time alone is too much?  How much time should you spend with friends and family?  What’s the balance that works best?

I know that the answers to these questions are as individual as a finger print and that those answers are cyclical depending on time of life but there must be some general rules that I could use to make sure I don’t get what ever horrible ailment lurks in the shadows of my condo or my lake house when no one else is there but me.  I really don’t mind spending time alone as much as I used to.  I have lots of friends and I enjoy curling and yoga and tap dancing with others when those activities are in season.  I often say I have enough friends and, like in other aspects of my life, I am simplifying and down sizing my friend list.  It is a great list of wonderful people who already know me so I don’t have to explain myself and my life to new people, like my new doctor, who doesn’t quite get it.  I find that aspect of new relationships difficult.  I always feel judged.

I raised four kids and they were all teenagers at the same time.  I know what NOT alone is.  This week I am being reminded of what that was like as I entertain my grand kids and their friends at the Lake for a few days.  Cooking and cleaning and then cooking and cleaning again and then doing laundry and sweeping floors etc, etc, etc.  It takes me back and I wonder how I did that and taught high school full time and completed course work for my masters and coached a sports team. In those days I was only ever alone in the bath tub and when I sat down to watch MASH on TV.  No body bothered me then.

These days I feel as if I may have gone too far to the other extreme.  I find my self NOT doing things I might enjoy because I have no one to go with me.  Everyone has their own lives to live and those lives don’t always coincide with my need for companionship …. so I stay home.  Alone at home or alone in a crowd seem the same to me but maybe I am missing something.  Maybe I could start being out with people without knowing them.  Maybe the key to balancing the need for social interaction and the need for solitude is there in the together with strangers approach.  Those strangers are also doing what I wanted to do so maybe we can connect.   A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet, right? It takes courage and curiousity.  I’ll call it research….

This week I am heading for the Barbados.  My friend and I will be “Yachting, not Cruising” the islands south of there.  These islands are all new to me and I am excited about adding to my list of places I have been.  I INTEND to post often from aboard the ship but I am not sure about what kind of connectivity we will have so as with many intentions it may not be within my power to fulfill this one.

It’s been a crazy week getting ready to go.  Hallowe’en is a special day in our family.  My mum and dad got married on Hallowe’en in 1952.  It would have been their 62nd anniversary.  It is another first of annual events without mum and it was difficult. I am not looking forward to Christmas this year because it will be the first Christmas without her as well.  I know you have all lost love ones and know the pain and confusion that you experience as you celebrate holidays with someone missing. It is a shared human experience, I know, but it feels very personal right now.

My mum’s mum died on Christmas Eve when I was 9.  No Christmas goes by with out my mother reminding us how long she has been gone.  I guess that responsibility will fall to me as have many others since she passed away.  It is interesting being the oldest female in your family.  There seem to be a lot of responsibilities that fall to you.

Enough about Christmas.  First to the sunshine and clear blue waters to learn more about Bajans.  I can already feel the healing sun on my skin and the warm breezes soothing my soul. Although I do intend to Blog I do not intend to work on the book while I am away.  If I get inspired fine but usually I leave with visions of chapters edited or sections written and then I come home with less achieved than I had planned and I beat myself up.  That takes the joy out of the trip.  I am giving myself permission to relax and enjoy the trip, leaving my internal task master behind.  I think it comes from years of travelling to beautiful places all over the US and the Caribbean for work but I need a break and I intend to take it.

Nine islands with beaches …. hmmmm one for each Region in my new book about mapping the space between us.  Maybe I will take a camera.  Maybe there is no escape when you have chosen to be a writer.  Seeing more of the world means that you have more world to write about … when you get home. Permission to relax and enjoy granted.

So what shows up in my life lately are movies and invitations about story telling and writing.  I am always fascinated about how what we focus on appears.  I believe it is likely always there but we don’t necessarily see it until our attention is drawn by some inner need to complete something.

This weekend I watched a movie called Sunshine and Shadows.  It is set in England and Tuscany.  It is about a publisher who is also a fledgling writer who is assigned to find a writer who hasn’t written a book in more than 20 years and convince his to write again.  I loved the story.  It was funny and compassionate and well written.  I also am a fan of Tuscany and the people there.  the other movie I watched this weekend was Under the Tuscan Sun.  I had seen that one before and just needed to watch a good story with a happy ending again to bolster my faith in humanity.

The line from the Sunshine and Shadows movie that has stayed with me is “Writing is hard work.”  Why that is news to me I can’t really figure out.  I know that writing is hard work.  I also know that GETTING TO THE WRITING is harder for me.  The two books that are in my head are heavy.  I feel as if I am nine and a half months pregnant with twins. I can block time and set deadlines until the cows come home but it doesn’t really move the book along.  I need help.


Today I drove from Edmonton to Canmore.  That’s nothing new.  I do it all the time .  Today was different.  It was a bright , crisp blue sky and the snow covered mountains were calling so I turned off Highway 2 and drove to Rocky Mountain House so that I could wander back through the foothills to Cochrane and take 1A into Canmore.

If you have ever done that drive you know the vistas are beyond spectacular. The Rockies are majestic and today you can see Mount Lougheed from Sundre.   The road is mostly straight through the rolling hills and the small towns are so typically small town-ish.  I saw one sign that offered hand crafted gun racks and sewing alterations in the same facility.  It was a great day for a drive.

I was on what is known as the Cowboy Trail.  I love cowboys and the idea of cowboys.  The quiet confidence and humility that comes from working with animals on the land tells me that they learn something out there.  There is a rugged individualism with a sense of down home manners and sensitivity that is likely a stereo type.  It could also be a myth.  Who cares.  This is fantasy.  What is for sure is that there is a mystique in those mountains, on those ranches and in those fields that you can’t really find anywhere else.

Today I was reminded of a question I was once asked by a teacher from Hong Kong.  We were at a teachers of gifted children conference ( Not to be confused with a Gifted Teachers Conference) when the subject of attraction to the opposite sex came up.  I walked into a conversation and was asked rather suddenly.  “What kind of man do you find sexy?”  I was a little taken aback because I hadn’t really thought about it but there it was just falling out of my mouth….”There is just SOMETHING about a cowboy…”   I smiled in reply. The debate raged.  Suits were sexier.  Doctors in Lab coats.  Fighter pilots. Sailors on the high seas. Oilmen.  Academics.  Everyone had an answer that worked for them.  It was another example of the individual nature of humans in cultures.

Not sure why that conversation stayed with me but there was a raw emotion attached to it that has lingered.  Driving through the beautiful Alberta Foothills today with the Rockies shining in the background, I thought of cowboys today and it made me smile.  It always does.

I am not sure why but this morning I have been thinking about the movie “The Wizard of Oz.”  I think at the Academy Awards they recognized the 75 th of anniversary of the film.  I remember P!nk singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  Maybe that is why it is with me.

The characters …Scarecrow, Tin-man and Lion … were all searching for something.  Even Dorothy was looking for a way home.  These characters represent our Head, Heart and Body.  Scarecrow was looking for a brain. What the Wizard gave him was evidence of his already being smart with a diploma.  The diploma gave him the confidence to move forward.  The Tin-man was looking for a Heart, ways to connect with other people.  The Wizard again gave him evidence that he already demonstrated the compassion he was seeking. The Lion was looking for courage.  He wanted to be brave in the face of present danger.  The Wizard gave him a medal as evidence that he had already demonstrated courage and bravery. Confidence, compassion and courage.   Head, heart and body.

Dorothy, too, discovered that she had had the power to return home all along.  All she had to do was click her heels together three times and say …”There is no place like home.”  Like Dorothy we all  have  the power we need within us to make a change and make a difference.  We can demonstrate confidence, compassion and courage under certain circumstances but we may not be very good at recognizing our own strengths.  Think about a time when you had the confidence to make a change and the compassion and courage to make a difference.

BE the Wizard today.  Give someone else evidence that they already possess confidence, compassion and courage.  Do it by noticing for them what they may not recognize in themselves.  Tell them their own story from a different perspective.  They will smile.

I have been working on combining the two PULSE books today.  They both include some of the history of PULSE and some clear distinctions that make PULSE unique. I love the five stages and how easily they occur in regular conversation.  I love how you can watch the patterns emerge and people move through orientations to the past, the present and the future all the while shifting directions from away from the other,  to with the other and toward the other in a kind of dance that fills the space between them.  Each social exchange helps them define their own social being.

I write about the patterns as a structure to use when the exchange is difficult, when there is conflict or miscommunication.  It is also so helpful in everyday life.  Whether it is a face to face or a voice to voice or a text to text encounter really doesn’t matter.  Social interaction guided by good communication that furthers the social capital of the sender and receiver always contains the five stages, anyway.  They occur naturally.   Prepare, Uncover, Learn, Search and Explain.

Prepare for the social interaction by defining purpose, process, protocol, people.  Some times these are tacitly understood but if there is no clear understanding or assumptions are made that are not shared then things can go very wrong.

Uncover the circumstance that lead to the encounter … the past.

Learn what’s important about the circumstance  in the present and identify BEACHs to use as criteria for change.

Search possibilities for a future that will meet the criteria.

Explain a plan of action with enough detail to make it sustain able.

The guiding questions move us through past to present and future orientations when you need them .  The encounter map works to ensure that we use all of the directions.  People have an opportunity to move away, to move with and toward when the structure is followed.

Each stage has critical elements.  Mastering the elements takes time.  Learning to use the frame is a little easier.

In Prepare for example it is important to use GHOST – Gentle Honest Open Specific Talk.  It is important to be thorough and deliberate as you explain or have the other explain the rules of the game as you understand them.  This is where you take an Appreciative Stance and ACT AS IF the encounter will result in a mutually beneficial outcome.  The more you know about AI and how it works the better you get at Prepare. It is here that relational well being comes into play.

In Uncover it is important to listen deeply – with HEART – Hush, Empathize (feel their pain or joy), Attend, Reflect and Trust. Passive listening without judgement or bias, allowing the past to surface and sometimes change in the telling of the story with a different audience and allowing the shared title of the story to emerge. Emotional well being is important here.

In Learn it is important to prove that you are listening with POWER – Paraphrase, Open questions, WAIT, Empathize (name their pain or joy) and Reframe.  Social selves emerge as do rules for future encounters and redefining of past encounters as Beliefs, Expectations, Assumptions, Concerns and Hopes are shared, acknowledged and understood. Relational well being is again at play here.

In Search it is important to focus on creativity and possibilities and the future.  Patience is key as ideas are generated later to be vetted against the criteria of the BEACHs. Intellectual well being can make a difference here.

In Explain the other side of the brain, the analytical side is asked to perform as the details of the plan emerge and are tested to determine their sustainability. Again intellectual well being makes a difference.

Each stage requires levels of  intellectual, emotional, relational, physical and spiritual well-being.  More about that later.

Today was about remembering PULSE and the power of social exchanges.  It was about expanding that thinking to include not just conversation but any human social interaction that contributes to us knowing who we really are, or re-membering ourselves as part of a greater whole.

Remembering PULSE and RE-membering PULSE.

We are working on getting you back into the habit of PULSE.  Watch for a Newsletter next week and notice the changes on the website and join again if you can.  Making it membership based has been the plan for a year or two now and we are closer today.

Adding value for our members and adding to the list of those of you who read and learn is the PULSE 2.0 Purpose, to give you the courage to make a change and the confidence to make a difference.  The Process is to generate Products and Opportunities that help you gain the courage and the confidence you need to have successful social exchanges, when and where you need it.  The Protocol remains a gentle, honest, open, specific, talk approach, using PULSE to teach PULSE.  The People are PULSE professionals past, present and future with a shared desire to create the best social exchanges and build social capital for brighter futures.

Thanks for the member – ies. (smile)

The first scale for measuring well-being on the SHIFT hand from the last blog, SHIFT Happens, is the scale for mental or intellectual well-being. It can be found on your pinky finger. How sharp are you today? That is the first question. Are you feeling on top of things mentally or are things a little foggy and dull today? On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your mental well-being today?
Scales are personal. Only you can determine what they mean for you. Generally speaking you have an average day that ranks around a 5 on your scale, a day where nothing gets missed and things go well. Nothing too exciting happens.  You answer questions that are asked of you and you accomplish routine tasks in routine ways.
Then there are days where a spark of curiousity illuminates the ideas in your head and you can hardly stand how brilliant you feel. Usually someone notices that you are ON and that lights you up again and away you go. The ignition is usually based in curiousity and the fuel is satisfaction of the curiousity, a new idea or a synthesis of thoughts that create new packaging for old ideas. A 10 day on the scale from 1 to 10, where your ideas are at your fingertips … literally.  You have a sense of feeling encouraged and motivated and in the groove.
And then there are days where you can’t even string a sentence together. On those days you tend to rely on your other modalities or intelligences to get you through. Some days all of the scales are close to the palm of your hand, at a 1 on the scale. On those days it might take the igniting of one intelligence to pull the scales up for all of them. Mentally it is curiousity. If you can find something to be curious about you can improve the scale almost immediately. Sometimes I just get curious about why I am feeling so dull minded. That can be enough of a spark. I write about it because words and language serve our mental wellness. Or I read something that might provide a spark.
Rest is important. We are dullest when we have had little rest. Energy is important and we can take energy from that spark of curiousity. Nutrition is important. There are many studies about brain food. Exercise is important. Sudoku or cross words or brain teasers give us a work out. Water is important. Hydrate you r brain. That three o’clock drop in mental capacity is best served by a tall glass of water. My First Nations friends always remind me that water is the first medicine. To improve on our sharpness scale it is important to keep hydrated.  Rest, Energy, Nutrition, Exercise, Water = RENEW for brain health and wellness.

Keep the mind Sharp so that we can SHIFT our integrated scales toward greater personal well-being.

A Sharp Mind – Pinky

A Happy Heart – Ring

An Independent Spirit – Middle

A Fit Body – Index and

A Trusting Soul – Thumb

Use your fingers to do your own check in now.

Watch for the next blog on ideas for improving your Heart well-being on the Happy Heart Scale.

It’s getting busy again.  The season of added responsibility is upon us.

How do you handle the pressure of Christmas?  Making lists and lists and lists and working to complete the shopping and the baking etc can be overwhelming.  And then there is the loneliness felt by many who are missing loved ones or who are measuring themselves against a standard of involvement in other people’s lives that may or may not be realistic.

I have to admit that Christmas and all of the activity that goes with it is not really my favourite time of year.  I do feel the pressure to do the right thing, be in the right place, attend the right events, give the right gifts, cook the right food, entertain the right people.  It has always been stressful for me, especially with all of the in-laws and out-laws I have gathered over the years.  Preparations are hectic and sometimes overwhelming.  Decisions about who will be where and when also cause me a lot of grief.

Once the actual festivities begin I calm down and I know that things will all work out fine.  Christmas will come and go whether or not I am ready for it.  Others will be thrilled with their gifts or not.  Really I will likely never know because they will always politely say that it is wonderful.  Meals will turn out well or not.  Again I will likely never know because everyone will rave either way.  I will see my good friends and my wonderful family and enjoy their company tremendously as I always do.

I am really very lucky to have wonderful people in my life.  They would not want me to stress over the preparations for Christmas.  Maybe that’s why I do.  I never want to let these wonderful people down. The stress is self-imposed.  I know that and I will make my lists and do what I can knowing that the important people in my life will love me whether or not Christmas is perfect.  They are kind and forgiving and I love them.

So bring on the madness of the season and enjoy it.  January will bring the wonderful healing Aloha of Hawaii for me.  Anyone else feel the need for a rejuvenating vacation??

I have been writing the BEACHs book for three years now. Somehow over that time pieces of it have ended up in different location. Today I think I have pulled it all back together and can begin to work again on this ambitious and potentially important book. You may recall it is about sociology in the workplace and uses the enneagram as a basis for a sociological construct to understand and predict how people react to each other in the workplace.

I am excited about the book and the myriad ideas in my head. I am realizing again how much perseverance and patience it takes to put a book together. I have the time and the energy but it is the where to start again that stops me in my tracks and convinces me to go do something else for a while. Patience was never one of my virtues. I have always preferred immediate gratification. Patience is something I have had to learn.

I have had many opportunities to learn the effects of NOT waiting and I have had many lessons on the payoff for patience. When I find myself becoming impatient with myself I have to force myself to slow down and think. Moving toward the project slowly and methodically so as not to scare it away is the best approach I find. I can always find distractions and excuses but if I set up a step by step approach and put time aside in my calendar to write I can make progress.

What is progress? For me right now it is getting everything in the same place and taking one small step on a long journey to completion. Writers block for me is just the unwillingness to sit in the chaos and figure it all out. It is a detour on the journey, one I have become too comfortable with and have learned to enjoy. NOT GOOD.

Back to work. Thanks for listening

So today I head back to reality. It’s a long trip. It is so beautiful and relaxing here. its’ been a week of physical challenges and plenty of time to think and be. I missed my journal and writing everyday and although every day presented topics for blogs I just didn’t get a round to it. Luxurious lazy days. Last night I slept for 10 hours I was so tired for sitting by the pool and waling along the beach and having a fabulous dinner at the St Regis.

It is another sunny day here with a little bit of Vog from the volcano on the big island. Tomorrow they tell us that the rains will come. Back home to the snow and ice and the cold … mood altering weather.. but to friends and family.

Aloha, Kauai…. until next time.

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