A few weeks back I went to a Japanese tea ceremony at the Nitobe Gardens at UBC. Now I have made a lot of tea in my life (and coffee) but I was truly struck by the whole process and how deliberate and conscious it was. Care was given during each step in the preparation of the tea. There was no rushing, and the women preparing the tea only held one thing in each hand at a time. They were totally focused on what they were doing, in the moment.
It was a pretty normal beginning to my Friday. By 6:30 am I was out the door with the mutts, letting Bodhi walk us around the neighbourhood in the dark, with a light rain falling. He is a curious soul and follows his nose, and we (Finn and I, and usually Julie) follow him. There was a moment about 30 minutes into the walk where I had a sense of foreboding, about nothing in particular. We were just in a dark laneway and intuition reared it’s head. I stayed alert but didn’t change direction...
I’ve wanted to fly a plane since I was about 4 or 5 when I got a ride into the sky in a Cessna with a family friend. I don’t have a lot of clear memories from before the age of 11 but I remember that. The adventure. The mystery of it all. What keeps a plane in the air? What would it be like to be in control and feel like a bird?
Are you suffering from a case of mistaken identity?
“What do you want to be,” they ask? I’ve pondered this question a lot. And at some point I realized that it’s the wrong question. That question often leads us to choose an identity that is deemed ‘worthy’ by whatever society and family we find ourselves growing up in. One that leads to financial security, safety, and demonstrates our sense of responsibility. Or one that follows in a family tradition. And it doesn’t apply to career path, but to any label like husband, wife, friend, or acquaintance just to name a few. The label or identity that we adopt creates a whole set of expectations for how we are ‘supposed’ to show up in a relationship that have little to do with who we really are. Does this feel familiar?
The real question we should be asking is “who am I?”
I’ve been curious about death my whole life. I know that probably sounds morbid to many, but it’s true. Then again, I’m curious about almost everything.
But death is a subject that really tends to kill a party (no pun intended). Our society is, as a general rule, afraid of dying. Maybe it’s our need to control or predict the future. Maybe it’s the unknown of what, if anything, comes next. Maybe it’s both. I don’t have the answers to when or what or why, but I do know that death is part of life.
My life is and always has been about asking questions. Exploring what’s possible. Impossible didn't occur to me when I was young. I was lucky, because not only did that lead me to great adventures and experiences but also into beautiful and powerful relationships. Engaged relationships. Relationships that helped me stay involved, stay curious, and see things through
Here we are, another trip around the sun complete. As cliche as it can feel at times with resolutions and so on, the New Year marks a significant passage of time and an opportunity for us to take stock.
I’ve been thinking about what I want to invite in for 2017, what I want to create/manifest/experience. And the word that keeps coming up is Courage. This poem appeared in my inbox the other day;
I hardly know where to start. Yesterday the people of the United States of America had a chance to choose their next leader. Most of us had opinions, some of them very passionate, about who that should be.
I am not American, and did not have a vote. I care because I know that a leader sets the tone and helps create the energy for the whole team, be it a school, an organization, or a country. To say I was surprised at the result would be a gross understatement. I was utterly gobsmacked and stuck in a perspective that all those people who voted for President-elect Donald Trump were simply wrong.
Trauma is a word that evokes pictures, often unpleasant pictures, of accidents, wars, violence. Pictures we wish we could erase from our consciouness, and sometimes do. I’ve always mostly associated it with physical pain, visible to the eye. Pain we can see. As I continue to stretch into new awareness and understanding I’m expanding that perspective and seeing the full spectrum of what trauma is. What it means, and the not so visible impact that trauma can have.
Dreaming is good, in fact it’s almost an essential part of living, at least to me. And it’s not about not being satisfied with what’s here now, it’s excitement about the possibilities that exist, the idea that life is dynamic and things are constantly changing, whether we want them to or not.
The problem is that there often seems to be this feeing that the time isn’t quite right, that I can’t go for it quite yet, I have to take another class, I have to learn more, I have to save more, I have to be a bit smarter, I have to look better, I have to know more people…and on it goes.
I was out for a walk with the dogs today, around a beautiful and quiet Vancouver neighbourhood when I heard the sound of screaming kids that actually startled me because they were screaming at me. I can’t call it yelling, it was shrill, the sound of over stimulated children who are losing any sense of propriety. No problem, it’s Saturday afternoon…I smiled to myself and felt lucky not to be in the car with them.
Until the next block when I heard the screaming again and then saw the van pulled up in front of a house.
It must be a dream, right? How could that possibly be my age?
My heart beats faster just thinking about it. What does that mean? Why does my heart race at the idea that I’m nearing 50? That I’ve been on the planet for nearly 50 years?!? Okay, now it’s beating really fast.
What’s different today? I’m one day older than I was yesterday. The other thing that is different is that I believe I am actually wiser. I’ve been really striving to be more conscious in life, to really savour my choices and be discerning about how I spend my time. Sometimes that’s hard, because I want to be in lots of places with lots of people and yet I know the dangers of spreading myself too thin.
This is what I know. Leaders need to be curious and they need to think like skiers. Skiers look for the open spaces. Open spaces are chock full of possibility. Trees and rocks and logs will stop us in our tracks, but the open spaces let us run free and discover. The open spaces are where we get to use our imaginations and create.
Back in the day, communities had barn raising events. A barn is a huge and somewhat complicated structure to build, and required a lot of people power, so the family that needed the barn would prepare and organize as much as possible in advance and on the chosen day loads of people from their community would show up to do the heavy lifting and hammering.
I'm fully exercising my curiosity this week by exploring a new place I have been curious about for many years, Haida Gwaii BC. Haida Gwaii (meaning land of the Haida) is an archipelago off the coast of BC and considered to be a magical and sacred place. I arrived last night and just drove to the end of a road where I found a pristine place to camp right by the water. I am super excited to learn about the area and Haida traditions and history.
This post is the first in a series to sneak a peak at what you will find in my new book about Curiosity, which will be available in print and e-book this summer! I will send out a new teaser each week or two and pretty soon there will be info on how to order. the book. Curiosity is more than a buzzword in education and leadership. It’s a way of being that we all have inside us, and when we let it out it makes life richer and a lot more fun. It also allows us to be more creative and innovative which in today’s world will help us stand out in a crowd.
It’s happened to all of us…more than once. We get the question, “if you could be any animal would what you be?” (and I include birds, fish, etc in possible answers) Well, we may know what we want to be, but what are we really? I mean, it’s cool to be a jaguar or a lion, or it would be wonderful to be a horse but I think we all embody the spirit and character of some species other than human, and it’s different for all of us. I happen to be an albatross.