SHIFT Happens

This week I began teaching a class at a local university. I assigned a Blog Post topic to the class and have been reading the students’ entries this morning. The topic was Ethics. I allowed them to decide the approach they would take and invited them to either create their own blog site or to just send me the paragraphs that would make up a post if they did have a Blog Site of their own. I was impressed by the diversity of approaches I received for this assignment. Some talked generally about the subject of ethics and others looked at business ethics exploring the ideas from the text. My hope is that the students in this class learn a little bit more about themselves and each other in the course. I hope to learn more about communication in this digital age as seen through their eyes. I think we are off to a good start.

Ottawa is the capital of my country, a city where I spent some of my formative years and one of my favourite places in the world. The parliament buildings always remind me that people have been making decisions that affect my life and millions of others for generations right here in this meeting place. It is a place where both official languages are spoken as well as many “unofficial ” languages. It has beautiful river valleys and skylines and museums and galleries that hold the treasures of our land. In short, The people of the National Capital Region are engaged in the running of our country. They represent its diversity and its commitment to excellence and compassion. Ottawa is impressive. I do feel very fortunate to be Canadian. Ottawa reminds me of just how lucky I am.

This week I have been working for one of my favourite national agencies, Parks Canada. I love the work and the people who I meet. I also enjoy the sense of contribution I get from doing what I can to help members of the Parks Canada team protect and present our natural and historic treasures.

On a personal note, I miss being home. Over the past few years I have found comfort and a sense of belonging with my family and friends in St Albert that I cannot remember having experienced before now. Could it be that my wunderlust has begun to fade and I have found a place I can comfortably settle for the next few decades? I believe that I have. That is not to say that my trips to the University of the Virgin Islands and Hawaii will stop all together. That is not to say that cities like Ottawa, Halifax and Paris will not continue to be my destinations of choice. That is to say that my perspective has shifted. My home, my heart is in St Albert. And I am content.

In just one week I start my new adventure on the Island of St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.  I am equal measures of excited and anxious.  I look forward to being there, being part of something larger than myself and I am anxious about leaving my very comfortable home and the way of life I have developed over the past few years.  I will be staying on campus at UVI and I anticipate a very steep learning curve over this first month of offering classes and moving the intellectual property of PULSE to its new owners.

Am I ready? My suitcases are packed.  I have my airline bookings and my accommodations are booked.  I have made arrangements to have my apartment looked after.  I have paid my bills and notified everyone who needs to know including my cell phone company.  I have sent the proofs for the manuals for the courses I will teach. I have American money in my wallet.  And I still have a week to say my goodbyes to family and friends and put the finishing touches on the packing and planning for a month in the beautiful Caribbean.

Am I really ready? On the SHIFT scales of well being that I ask others to use I would say that I am still getting ready for this adventure.  SHIFT deals with five scales of well being for a well rounded look at how a person is experiencing the world.  This seemed like a good time for me to take inventory. How Sharp, Happy, Independent, Fit and Trusting am I right now?

The S in SHIFT stands for a Sharp Mind. It measures intellectual well being.  Intellectually I still have work to do to get the clear purposes, protocols and processes in place for me to serve the participants I will face in the next few weeks.  I want to be totally prepared to further their understanding of PULSE and the Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge that PULSE, the Frame, represents.  I have acquired so much information and experience over the years that my mind literally races as I search, sort and select, wondering about what to share during each of the programs and when.  Timing is important for understanding and I know that there will be nine perspectives on the world watching me deliver the programs.  Doing a good job of meeting all of those needs is important to me and my intellectual prowess will be tested as I juggle what I know with what they need to know and when. Even though I know that most of that I will learn in the moment by listening and adjusting as needed, I still feel some panic in this regard.  I think I will need this week to think it all through again a couple of times.

The H in SHIFT is for a Happy Heart. It measures emotional well being.  Emotionally I am not quite ready to go.  I am leaving behind my father who is pretty mobile right now for an 85 year old but who I worry about all of the time. I am leaving my children and grandchildren who will all be very busy with September’s glorious beginnings of school and after school programs, new adventures of their own.  I am leaving behind my friends from curling ( and occasional golf) who may need to replace me more often this year as the adventure unfolds. I am leaving my dear friends that I spend time with in St Albert and at the Lake.  I have created a wonderful network of support here and I know they will be here when I get back but I have never been away for a month before … except when I was in Calgary for 15 years.  I’m sure I will miss them all.  I am also sure I can keep in touch and catch up with things upon my return.

I am also sure that I will meet new friends and be reacquainted with old ones on St Thomas.  The sun and the sea always improve my mood.  There will be lots of reasons to smile and to feel happy as I meet new students and work with them so that they become conflict competent.  I hope to visit my favourite place on earth … the Baths on Virgin Gorda … while I am away and that will feed my smile bank for a long time afterwards.  I will not be less happy while I am away.  I will be happy in a different way and for different reasons.  Nonetheless my happiness scale will fluctuate as it always does.

The I in SHIFT is for Independent Spirit. It measures relational well being and today for me is very closely related to the H – Happiness measure.  I am independent.  I am Oprah in my Talk Show life.  I take charge and make decisions with careful consideration and deliberate thought.  I can also be completely clueless, not willing to ask for or accept the help I need to move to the next step.  I have more alone time than I need right now.  Spending time with “coworkers” and workshop participants is something I have been craving for awhile.  I am really looking forward to working with others and spending time with people again, especially like-minded people with similar goals and aspirations.  At the same time I am cautious because I will be in a new environment where there is a different social contract already established.  I will need to have my wits about me.  I hope to create lasting friendships and collegial (double entendue intended) working relationships in the most mutually agreeable way while maintaining my sense of Independence and self control.

The F in SHIFT stands for Fit Body.  It is a measure of physical well being.  I am never really satisfied with my levels of physical fitness.  Maybe that is because it is something that requires daily attention and takes time away from my intellectual pursuits which I much prefer.  Am I ready physically for this adventure?  I think so.  I have packed the necessities … tooth brush and other  tools for physical hygiene.  Although I will miss my first few tap dancing classes, I did put in a pair of runners just in case a university campus has a fitness facility.  I say that facetiously hoping they don’t and knowing they do.  Any excuse for missing a work out that isn’t tap dancing or curling is worth hoping for in my world.  I am armed with Yoga videos to maintain my flexibility and will TRY to walk everyday and because I will have kitchen facilities I am PLANNING on eating well … not out every night.

The T in SHIFT is for Trusting Soul.  It is a measure of spiritual well being.  Am I ready for this adventure spiritually?  Yes.  Firmly yes.  All roads have lead to this adventure.  At times it does feel beyond my control, that the universe is unfolding and that this will be my legacy.  I am ready for that and willing to work as hard as I can to see that through.  This opportunity is a gift to me that I will not squander.  I am grateful for it.  I intend to work hard to revive the PULSE dream of a world full of people who know how to be gentle and honest with each other, people who can use the tools of mediation to create wonderful relationships, people who recognize each other as whole and complete, where people take the time to honour each other with deep listening and careful consideration of other peoples thoughts, words and deeds in context, where people care about what they say, how they say it and the impact of their words on others. That is my personal vision and mission and this is another vehicle for me to accomplish these things on a larger scale.


The adventure begins next week.  Stay tuned for updates.

On Wednesday morning at 8:00 am Mountain I will be doing my first UVI-PULSE webinar.  I am really hoping you can join me.  The webinar is free and is the first in the series of monthly webinar I will be providing through the University.  If you can’t make it yourself please feel free to share the link with others.  Although I am confident there will be room for everyone, spaces are limited, so let me know if you intend to be there and I will make sure you have a spot.
For this webinar you just have to enter as a guest using the link below.  Future webinars will require you to register through UVI.
UVI website for registration: 
For many of you this webinar will be a review of the PULSE Frame and its elements. For some it will be an introduction to the three dimensional nature of conversations.  I am hoping it will serve as an introduction to the thinking that is guiding my book on “Mapping the Space Between Us”.  I am hoping to give everyone a peek into the structure of the PULSE tetrahedron, not just the triangle, to show what makes it strong as well as simple.
It is my first opportunity to work with the UVI in this way, as a partner.  I am very excited by the possibilities ahead of us with this venture. I am also grateful for the support I have had from all of you until now and look forward to what else we can accomplish together.

The University of the Virgin Islands’ Institute for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness (UVI-ILOE) is pleased to announce its new program, UVI-PULSE. UVI-PULSE will offer proprietary, customized solutions while providing a variety of expert opportunities for individuals and organizations to (1) gain the courage to make change and the confidence to make a difference in their world, (2) identify goals and attain them, (3) improve the quality of every social encounter whether it be in a personal or professional setting, (4) create products to improve social exchanges and (5) provide learning exchanges, through face-to-face workshops and online training.

Join us for our free webinar on July 22, 2015

Freedom to choose liberates power.  I have always believed that.  When I can choose what I want to do I am much more likely to feel responsible and accountable.  I raised my children with choice and consequences and now that is how I treat myself.

Today I have NOTHING on the agenda.  I can do whatever I want today.  I can go whereever I want to go. I can contact people and maybe connect if schedules permit or I can stay here at the lake with the blue sky and the song birds.  

I can work on my book.  It is a possiblity and yet I hesitate.

My book is sitting patiently on the dining room table about three metres from here.  I could just get up and go sit in front of that book and start editing.  I have that power to choose and the time to dedicate to the project that has kept me busy for more than five years now.  It is so close to completed.  

I have felt that before, that feeling of being close to finished and then the target moves and there is more to do.  I am concerned by this overwhelming dread that once I sit down to finish the edits to chapter two and seven and once I do one more read and edit through that some other issues will arise and the impending completion will once again escape from my grasp.

Fear of competion or NOT.  Fear of SUCCESS of not.  Either way it is not going to finish itself.  Steps forward and back are part of the process.  I know that.  I also know that even though I have published other books this one is different.  This one is important.  I want it to be perfect.

Choosing not to work on it today doesn’t feel like an option I can comfotably accept repsonsibility for either.  I have the power to choose.  I can avoid or I can approach.  Noone is forcing me.  The consequences are clear though.  I work on it and move it closer to completion or I don’t and feel frustrated for longer.

 Is it time?  Have I been away from it long enough to have the perspective I need to make the necessary edits?  I don’t know.  

All the books on writing say ‘JUST SHOW UP TO THE PAGE’ so here I go … jumping into the deep end of the pool….hoping I still know how to swim.

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 year after many years, no decades, I have taken up tap dancing again.  It was at the instance of my lovely and talented daughter who teaches the class of exceptional adults on Monday nights.  My daughter loves these ladies and the time she spends with them and thought I would too.  She was right of course.  They are wonderful and FUN.  We laugh so hard sometimes I can’t even breathe.  Last night was classic.  It is getting close to performance time so on Saturday we had a stage rehearsal.  With three people missing I got completely lost on the formations.  It was humbling.  My daughter was laughing pretty hard as she video taped the number as evidenced by the jiggling on the play back.  Last night she was showing the video to my grand-daughter who was one of the members of our group who had missed the rehearsal.  Let’s just say they were thoroughly enjoying my confusion on stage.

Last night’s class was much better.  I finally got the steps I could not master before.  We reviewed a number of times the changes in formation and the transition steps so I am feeling much more confident that I can pull this multi-generational number off  … as long as I practice my behind off for the next three weeks.  What keeps me going is that I am not alone.  Others who have been taking the class for five or six years also experienced confusion with formations and the more difficult steps and we all agreed sitting on the patio after the rehearsal for a beer was the best part. These people enjoy each others company.  They laugh at themselves and with others every week.  They play jokes on each other in a good-natured way. Last night the teacher ( my daughter ) left the room and they jokingly dared a class mate to block the door so she couldn’t get back in because they felt they really needed a rest.  So it was blocked.  A little tug of war ensued and when the door opened there were peals of laughter.  It was fun, innocent fun and so good for the soul.  When we all managed to get the line and do the step together a loud celebration broke out spontaneously.

It struck me that they have SHIFT covered.  Sharp minds remembering steps.  Happy hearts dancing with joy. Independent and interdependent relationships where they rely on each other and understand their own responsibility for the success of the group. Fit bodies actively improving control and stamina. Trusting that it will all turn out in the end.  I am thoroughly impressed by them each week as we learn more together.  There is a clear performance goal and a light-hearted approach that will get us there.   I love it.

I love this time with them and I look forward to helping them bring home the gold the way they have for many years.  My goal is to be brilliant or at least to not mess up so bad that I break the streak for them.  The cool thing is they would take it in stride.  One said to me after she saw the video of me standing in the wrong place, not once but twice ” At least you didn’t run of the stage…”  Hmmm I didn’t think that was on option.  I am sure my daughter/teacher would prefer I stay on stage and entertain in what ever way I can.  It is a performance thing.  Stages don’t scare me but I definitely need to be more confident about what I should be doing there before our next venture into the world of tap competition.

Learning new things at any age is commendable right????


Last week I had a chance to help some people come to agreement on a long-standing issue.  It’s always satisfying when you can see what’s in the way and help them move around or through or over or under what ever that is.  It made me realize a couple of things about practice and mastery and how reading people is essential in this business.  It is not just about reading people and identifying their criteria for resolution but also ready what behaviours are infuriating or frustrating the other people in the room.  So you watch EVERYBODY and you notice your own responses and you name it.  The naming part takes courage but it is really all you have to do.  Finding a gentle way to tell someone that their behaviour is not helping can be tricky but well worth the mental effort it takes to cushion the words and use language you are confident they will understand. When you do SHIFT happens.

I was reminded that the PULSE Frame is very effective.  It is part of my MO now in most situations and in a high conflict one the elements are more obvious and their strong grounding in theory makes them very dependable.  Prepare for the conversation.  Then Uncover what they have come to resolve today.  Then Learn why its important to them, their criteria for resolution. Then Search possibilities that could resolve the situation and meet the shared and individual criteria.  Then write a plan of action that contains detailed items that are within their authority and will be shared with those who are involved in its implementation.  Introducing the process at the beginning … the process, purpose and protocol … and wrapping it up at the end are also important to give everyone confidence in the outcome.


By now some of you will be able to tell that the SHARP as a Marble post was a repeat of the Making a SHIFT.  I was testing out the new website  It is live and it is undergoing some adjustments as I figure out how to keep all of you informed and interested and move to the new site without disruption.  The SHARP as a Marble was a test. And it proofed that I am not as SHARP today as I need to be to enter into the underground, mystifying world of the connected, interconnected “inter-web”

I have somehow acquired two Facebook pages, three twitter accounts and have connected the linked in account to both blog pages.  Once all of them are coming from the same source and only once we can make this work seamlessly. For know it’s a little rough.

On the PULSE website we had a newsletter list that we wanted to integrate as well because the PULSE site was going into mothballs.  I will be able to send newsletters from the site to the loyal PULSE followers around the world. So the plan was based on my retiring and becoming a writer.

Plans change….  as you have heard me say  …. they are just something to base change on.

More on that later….

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