It was an emotional day as I said farewell to my 17 year-old Japanese student who’s come to Canada for an English educational experience. She inspired this topic of discipline. Coming from Asia where education is the highest priority for school aged youth, she demonstrated consistency and effort every single day with her routine of study. Before she arrived, I had wanted a more productive routine in my life, which is one reason I said yes to taking one of the 45 youth that came to North Bay from Saga Japan. I was aware of other Asian cultures, so I knew this experience would be good for my new single, independent life, as well as my children’s experience too. I set some written house rules, more about routine, so she could read them and better understand them with the language barrier.
About a month into her stay, we watched The Karate Kid together, and the movie coupled with the experience of watching her habits made me aware of the difference between disciplines in the Asian and Canadian lifestyle. I think we have a lot to learn about discipline from the people of Asian traditions, and I think that our lives would be more productive, our governments more effective, our budgets more useful if we adopted some of the productive efforts that are demonstrated in these ancient ways of living.
It seems like we’re more social here, and that is not a bad thing. But I believe that our social desires do distract us from what could be a more productive result, especially in this era of technology and social media, social networking and the entire knowledge base of the internet right in the palm of our hands.
- Would you like to shift your results in business, relationships or wellness?
- What would you like to be different?
- What discipline (habits) do you need to form to achieve the new result?
- How are you going to stay on course?
I’ve written a full Leadership Tip about the topic, here’s a link.
Having coffee with an influential woman in my life the other day had some food for thought tossed on the table. She said that people see me as ‘near perfect’, and that it could possibly hold them back from connecting. I was surprised to hear this feedback, because I have a messy life, but it wasn’t the first time I’d heard it.
Several years ago I was working with a Spiritual teacher in California on an exercise around intimacy (meaning allowing people to see into me, into-me-see). I failed the exercise miserably. The teacher said, “I agree. When you show up, you’re still ten steps back, and although magnificent from there, people can’t feel you.” I was shocked by this feedback, and remember sleeping like a baby that night (went to bed early, cried all night, woke up early crying some more). I was a mess to learn this about myself, but it was true, and I grew from it.
Up until that time, I’d mastered the art of allowing people to see what I wanted them to see. With the outer mask and energetic wall I’d erected, my image seemed to be quite controllable. Or at least that’s what I thought, until I realized the huge cost for masks and walls. The cost gets paid in connection, or lack of connection. People couldn’t get in, and I couldn’t get out.
A common example of masks is seen in all media. Social media posts have people staging their best photos, best times and put their best announcements up for all to see, which masks the big picture of their life. Print media and magazine images are touched up, teeth are whitened, blemishes removed etc. etc.
Another example of masking is noticeable in the workplace. People wear masks to seem perfect in their roles or attain promotions. They dress the part, and presto! They feel like they’re half way there, but it doesn’t take long for those who work with them to get the ‘real read’, because we can’t hide our energy.
The most important question I think we need to ask is “What’s wrong with messy?” Or what’s wrong with real, authentic, genuine ways of being, of which imperfection is big part? Ego isn’t nearly as attractive as authenticity, intimacy and vulnerability. Take off the masks, and tear down the walls, and let people feel the real deal.
I want to ask anyone who hasn’t reached out to me because they thought I was unapproachable, or they couldn’t feel me, to try again. My life is messy. It’s nowhere near ‘perfect’, thank God! Perfect is way too much work. The verb (to perfect) is good planning and good use of our time, but we all have ‘stuff’. If you’re looking at someone who seems better than you are in some way, just remember that you are only seeing the surface. You have no idea what’s really going on, and how messy one’s life can be, nor does it even matter. Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t let your joy be stolen by the idea that someone else has a near-perfect life. We are all on this earth for growth, and we grow most during the tough times.
I now celebrate the messes in my life because without them I wouldn’t be able to inspire others with my own experiences. My toughest lessons have brought me wisdom, humility, strength and made me more able to relate to others. If I could wave my magic wand I wouldn’t change my past. There’s some very important relationships that I wish were better, but the messiness is part of who I am, where I’m going and how I can serve people in the future.
The best way to enrich our lives is to accept and love ourselves, and hope to get messy often enough.
Here’s a fitting testimonial: If I could offer a suggestion…although your site is very informative and pleasing to the eye….I was initially a little concerned your approach may be more of a business/corporate style….but you are very personal and intimate and genuine in your style and I think that should be somehow represented on your site so folks realize you can and will do small groups; specifically First Nations groups as your style is very fitting for our People and don’t be reluctant to draw on that and target First Peoples agencies and organizations. You have left a lasting impression and your mentors and teachers have nothing on you…..your style is infectious and unique unto you! Be well, J. Mattson
“Until death do we part” is etched in my mind as a popular wedding vow. Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about how death or tragedy brings people together. The sharing of loss, grief and compassion has family members dropping the things that would normally keep them too busy to connect so that they can show up to support one another. The deeper question I have is why do we wait? Why does it take a tragedy to put the first things first in our lives, which—for most people—are relationships?
Even a minor shift in a relationship piques my interest in this subject. I recently heard news of a talented businessman leaving our community and felt an urgent need to connect with him. I wanted to ensure that our relationship doesn’t end. He’s valuable to me. I feel I have as much to offer him as he has to offer me. “Why did I wait?” I asked myself.
If you took your last breath upon retiring to bed tonight, would it all be said? Would those you love and care about know how you feel? Would the strained relationships in your life become resolved? More importantly, would you feel complete with those who really matter to you?
My partner Matt received a phone call about a month ago with sad news of his step-father’s passing. Matt’s mom had left his stepfather at home while she ran a daily errand, only to come home 45 minutes later to find him laying on the floor. He had passed away very suddenly and with no warning. Matt spent a few hours with his mom and the body of his stepdad before the coroner took him away. It was in those moments that Matt was able to say a few things that he’d been wanting to say for many years.
When we see someone, we never know if it will be for the last time; yet if we think about how we’d leave things with that person—just in case it is the last time—we’d respond and communicate from a deeper place of love and acceptance instead of judgment and criticism. It’s not just the person we’re losing that we connect with in a time of tragedy. We rekindle, resolve and reconnect with other members of our family or community with whom we’ve grown apart from because we realize that the human needs of support and compassion that we can give far outweigh our own selfish battles of ego, being right, being accepted, or being treated a certain way. Why don’t we just default to love, support and compassion?
Things that matter most shouldn’t be at the mercy of things that matter least. In the end, relationships matter most, so why wait? We’re not too busy when there is a tragedy to drop everything and go to support the people that matter, so why don’t we make time to nurture the needs of relationships that matter even in the absence of tragedy?
I’m sharing this personal experience to help in the healing of mothers and children, as we celebrate Mother’s Day.
Early this morning I sat in a deep meditation, inviting wisdom from spiritual sources; some who are alive and some that have passed. In the center of my circle of wisdom keepers and seekers, a fire burned and the intention was set for healing, clarity and wisdom about being a Mom, and/or a daughter/son.
It was known that we can be called to duty because we’ve got gifts to give. The Creator, God, has a divine plan for us, and the duties sometimes seem unfair, but we’re given tasks because of our capabilities to perform them best.
Sometimes as Mother’s, we need to make difficult choices to save ourselves that seem to interrupt the flow or the comfort of our children or families. Being a Mom / child is just a part of who we are, and taking care of the other parts of who we are critical to our inner peace. These choices can cause upset for our children or parents, they will grow through the struggles. The bond of love between a mother and child is unbreakable at a soul level. Our job as Mother’s is to love our children. It is not their job to love us back. It is their job to find their way amidst the obstacles of life, and we must allow them to explore. There is a lot of time in the future to allow the bonds of love between parent and child to be fulfilling.
I was reminded that well beyond this lifetime, there are many other lives to live out, and we choose people long before we came into this life to live with and learn some of our toughest lessons, which strengthen us for this and future lives.
We have choices to make about the company we keep. At times, those choices divide families, where alternatively, we could continue a life of stifling our own spirit, to maintain the connection. Either way, there’s a cost. The question is, what result do we seek, and are we willing to pay the appropriate price.
It was suggested to love our partners, for the relationship long outlives the term we are parents. Children pass through our lives, partnerships are something we crave long-term, and shouldn’t be at the mercy of parenting. There’s always a regret when we’ve lost a partner, that we could have invested more love, more time.
Although the search for true happiness and completion will never end, we must enjoy the journey while we continue to live curiously through each day, soaking up every moment with a sense of gratitude for what each moment brings. This is possible and amplified with a Spiritual connection. With a connection to our higher power that we truly believe in and nurture daily, we realize that life is far more than our role as mothers or children. Spiritually connected and in tune, we know that the core of our being we are loved through all our imperfections, we are enough and that we are never ever alone.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Being among family can be more demanding of our emotional capacity than anything else. You can choose your friends, but family is chosen for us, and the bond runs deep whether relations are good or not good. Tolerance is an asset.
Be the Gift this year. Be tolerant of others. Be the one who can mingle in family time without judgment. Accept people for who they are, or who they are not.
Be aware of your intolerant thoughts about people, places or things. If thoughts of resentment, jealousy, judgment or self pity back come up, redirect them back toward your own peace as if they are light beams that are yours, and being chosen to keep for their brilliant energy. Call it back to you, and convert it to light, bright goodness so that it can be medicine for your own mind, body and spirit.
Other people’s issues aren’t our problem to solve. They’ve got their own struggles and we have ours. If we were supposed to be dealing with their struggles, it would feel right. But it feels off, which is our internal guidance system telling us to focus elsewhere.
This is a very short Holiday greeting, because I know you’re busy and heading into the most intensive seasons of the year. A time when you’ll be with family, and those that matter most to you, and for some, a time when you can only wish you could be with someone special who isn’t there. Be Tolerant – and Be Rich in peace, love and joy.
Perhaps a more personal topic than I usually write, this one is too close to home having just attended the funeral of my partner’s 31 year old nephew, and knowing the story of alcoholism that took over his better judgment. I’m struggling with why not to write this, why not help other families, why not change even just one person who reads this.
Army was his name. Drinking and drugging became his answer to something. It got a hold of him, the cunning, baffling and powerful obsession slowly made the decisions for him that would result in his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends saying good bye to a young man who’s organs became the victim to an incurable disease – alcoholism.
Now just for a moment, imagine that was your family member. Your son, grandson, nephew, brother, cousin or friend. Just see the people that you love that you know are users of substance, maybe even yourself, and let that thought really sink into your mind, so you can feel the feeling of loss.
This isn’t a judgment of how other’s spend their time, money, or find answers to their deepest questions or challenges. This is a message that there is another way. There is a road to recovery. There is an honesty that is required, for people to dig deep into, to find out why they do what they do, what the risks are, and how alcoholism affects families.
In my past two years of workplace relationships, resolution and reconciliation services, I’ve heard hundreds of personal stories by people affected by alcohol in their families, stories hidden deep down because alcohol wasn’t a topic to mention. Painful stories of people unaware of how their drinking or another generations drinking affected them, revealing experiences created by the undercurrent that alcoholic families have running, but no-one’s talking about. This has to stop. We need to vent. We need to speak up and encourage those hurting to speak out about how we’re all affected.
I’ve experienced this personally in my relationships too. I’ve been one to party regularly, and luckily managed to escape the powerful grip that substance has on others. As I look back, I’m concerned for our youth. What example do we set for them when they’re little and learning about life? Children learn with they live. What do they continue to see and experience with other adult influences in their lives outside our control? And are we talking with them about it? Are we living the example that we hope our youth model in their later years?
I’ve always said that whatever the question, love is the answer. So many people numb the feeling of not being loved. Not being enough, not being seen, not being acknowledged. Being abandoned. Being abused. Being lied to, cheated on. The list is long … We need to express our love with words. We need to express our challenges with those we’ve grown up with using conversation to talk about things, and not hide in the fear of having difficult discussions for our own healing. We’ve got to be vulnerable enough to share honest thoughts, feelings and experiences. This is the answer that our soul seeks most. Alcohol and drugs are a cover up for the real answer. It just so happens that the numbing affect of alcohol and drugs wear off, and in the constant need for more, our bodies and relationships are strained and broken.
This article is dedicated to the life of Armond Jr. Thorpe to carry on his legacy by empowering people to create one conversation at a time, to help heal those who think they’ve found the answer. If you need help creating conversations, I’m willing to help. Contact me personally.
I’m gardening in a different way this year. I’ve completely turned over what used to be my garden beds, and laid new beds down elsewhere to yield a different result. It’s been a family separation, and there are two gardens now. The perennial children have been offered an opportunity to split themselves and plant themselves in two places. Personal growth can be a struggle, as witnessed in human and plant life.
I can control my own flowerbed, and I use the word ‘control’ very lightly. I’ve planted new seeds for my harvest to be full, and I’ve tried to create a fertile soil (soul) for my growth and the growth of my offspring. The best gardens grow when sprinkled with manure and tended to with love and encouragement.
Some sh*t happened the other day, it ruffled my leaves and temporarily upset the vision I had for the way my garden should grow and flow. I was in earshot of a social worker in my training session that day, so I asked her for some advice to cope, and to do what’s best for my young sprouts. She confirmed that every garden needs manure, and that the longer effects of willingly receiving the smelly situation would improve my soil (soul) and ultimately provide the best building blocks and nutrients for everyone’s growth. I was able to see the need for manure in my garden of life and embrace it. I was immediately able to cope with the ‘aroma’ of decaying matter, (the old ways of the relationship) and believe that the manure gives the greatest nutrients that will bring bigger blossoms and colourful appeal in its own time.
Did you ever wonder why manure continues to fall into your lap when you have the purest and cleanest intentions to grow? Perhaps because it’s fertilizer and needed, just as the sun is needed, the rain is needed, and the storms are needed for the complete cycle of life to transform. Celebrate your manure, and also, the manure that is spread by other farmers over your garden. Look at it as a contribution to fertile grounds for improvement.
In my theme of my new book, Give and Be Rich – Tapping the Circle of Abundance, the chapter on RECEIVING everything that comes your way has once again been tested and confirmed this Spring. Sometimes the greatest gifts come wrapped in the smelliest packaging.
The lesson — every garden needs manure to grow. May all your gardens be seen as meaningful manifestations of a beautiful life, and may your own leadership be blessed by the lessons of Mother Nature.
Dedicated in appreciation to Joanne K.