personal development

Change is on the Wind…

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Something has happened to me. I don’t know what caused it, but today, when I stepped out of the house for the first time and felt the wind, I thought

Isn’t that a nice breeze… just the sort to “blow the stink off ya.”

Whoa. It was -18 C out (about 0 F)!* This nice breeze is WINDCHILL to everyone else in the world! Yikes. What has happened to me?

I’m turning into that lady from Cambridge Bay who — when everyone else is flipping their collars up, re-wrapping their scarves and pulling their toques on tighter — walks down the street with the wind gloriously blowing through her long black hair. It’s like she’s at a Hawaiian beach, she’s enjoying it that much. Any sort of wind we might get is like a gentle breeze compared to what she’s used to. For a split second, that was ME!!

Now, every Canadian knows how +5 C in fall feels so cold, and +5 C in spring is definitely T-shirt weather. It’s all relative — it all depends what we are used to! Once you get used to -40 C, as I have in the month, then -10 C with a breeze is still pretty pleasant. I figure with that breeze, it was about -25 C with the windchill — still a good deal warmer than -40 C. It’s all relative, and when the changes are incremental, it’s not so bad. We gradually inched our way down to -43 C a few weeks ago, and yes, it was bleepin’ cold, but we were more or less able to function.

toomanycheezies

So it seems to me, we can get through huge changes as long as they are fairly gradual and we are able to adapt. I wonder if I could apply this personally, to a change I want to try and make in my life. Could I make it gradual enough that it is fairly easy? Could I stop eating cheezies and other junk food by gradually eating less and less until I don’t eat any at all? Could I gradually change my life and my relationships by defining what I wish they were like and then gradually changing the way I act towards people around me?

The Big Leap cover
I think it just might work. If it’s gradual enough, it won’t even be painful or difficult. So rather than worrying about how something in my life isn’t working very well, I could take small steps to make my life a little bit better. If there is a “big leap” that must take place — like selling our house and moving — preparation helps to make the leap possible. I know that taking a big leap is an amazing way to change, but it can be really hard to do. I also know that we are always changing, so I ask myself

Am I becoming a kinder version of myself? Was I sweeter today than I was yesterday? Did I listen better and try to understand those around me? Is my integrity increasing; is my procrastination decreasing? Am I appreciating the good things around me more each day?

In a year’s time, I wonder how different I would be?

Our change is gradual, sequential and inevitable. It’s just a question of what we’re changing into. Among other things, I am turning into a real, serious northerner. For those especially cold days, I have ear flaps on my hat, but for the other days, I’ll let the wind blow through my hair a little.

2011 in Review

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Every year, I like to do a summary of how the year went, what was good, what was bad and what I’m looking forward to. So here goes!

The Fire Department

I have been really active on the fire department, particularly in the winter and fall (paddling off-season). I’ve literally lost count of how many calls I’ve been on, but it’s a lot! I’ve been to MVCs, building fires, a great mock-accident at the High School, a few fire alarms and medical assist calls. I spent nine hours on the roof of Extra Foods for a fundraiser, and yes, I can add that to the list of Weird and Unusual Places I Have Peed (that will have to be another post)! I’ve helped out with some fire hall tours — I always have fun with the little people. I’m not a newbie any more; we had eleven new recruits start in fall, so I have actually been giving some advice and help to them, both in the hall and on calls. I’m in that netherland between newbie and experienced firefighter. I’ve gone to lots of training, and I now know enough to be dangerous! Seriously, I have learned a lot, but there is still so much more to know. I started taking the Emergency Medical Responder course, but unfortunately had to drop out. It was a good course, and it covered a lot more than I expected. Even though I only did about a third of it, I’m glad I went — now on medical calls, I have a much better idea of what the EMRs and EMTs are doing, and I can help out more. I’m getting fairly good at a few simple tasks, but I am still challenged on virtually every call, which is why I joined the department in the first place! Never a dull moment — and that’s what’s life’s all about! | Fire Dept posts |

Personal Life

I’ve got to say, my personal life has been great this year. I’ve been surrounded by friends, and even when I was stressed about deadlines and completing the York boat on time (photos here), I still had people around me, notably my friend Michelle’s parents in Calgary, who gave me a place to stay for two weeks, fed me, and were so amazingly generous and kind. My relationship with my husband has been great, and we’ve been connecting better all the time. I enjoy our late-night pillow talk; we just chat about whatever has been on our minds. When I am stressed, I can tell him about it and we figure out something that will help. I am so loved by friends and family, sometimes it just amazes me… I am so full of gratitude and appreciation!

Business Success

Flow North had a great year! After doing the Paddling the Peace River guide for GeoTourism Canada, I was hired to run the York boat project, and then I got to be the Captain of the boat on the big, 18-day expedition. It was fantastic! I couldn’t have asked for a better crew, although at times, looking for a crew stressed me out the most. In the end, it worked out so incredibly well, one could only say I was blessed. I’ve got 5 more best friends than I had before the month of June. Beyond the York boat, I got to run a couple of canoe camps, several canoe parties, expeditions, and had lots of fun at our weekly “Family Canoe Nights” as well. What a *great* summer we had! It didn’t hurt that, as usual, we had the nicest summer weather of the province, and perhaps even in all of Canada! Not much rain, lots of sun!
canoeing on the Chinchaga river

A Few Struggles

That’s not to say it was all sunshine and roses. There were a few struggles in the fall, with some bills from the summer piling up and expenses from the York boat not being paid. Things got a bit slim, but that’s what happens some times when you’re in business for yourself. We have exchanged time freedom for money freedom — we have plenty of the first and less of the second, whereas most people have very little time freedom, but more money to work with. We created a few websites in the fall, which was great. I’m really quite proud of what we did: Northern Express, Fox Haven Golf and Country Club, Patrick Cameron
Even though we have time freedom, I still felt the crunch of not enough a few times. I am still volunteering as the secretary of the Northern Lights Forest Education Society, which is developing new trails and busy with various other activities. I am also a board member of the Mackenzie Frontier Tourist Association, which has taken up a bit of time on web development and other duties (I’m not ready to share that website yet — it still needs a lot of work)! On the other hand, I stood up for myself when the workload was getting too big and said “I can’t keep doing this for free. Normally, I charge for this work.” There is always good in the bad!

The Coming Year

There are lots of changes a-coming, which I won’t go into right now. But my vision for the year includes:

    being more consistent in exercising
    planning our meals better so I feel more organized
    continuing to learn more about fire fighting
    getting a part-time job doing radio work, either dispatching or in air traffic services again (woo hoo!)
    expanding my business and being amazed at my success, yet again!
    doing lots of fun things with my husband and friends!
    being more carefree and playful (and helping my friend publish a book all about play!)

So, most of the time, I am excited and eagerly anticipating the year to come. When I’m not? When I get caught up in the business of life and my to-do list. Nothing new there! Stay tuned for more adventures!

Moving Past a Fear

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I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled on Niall Doherty’s fantastic blog, Disrupting the Rabblement, but I’ve really been enjoying his articles on courage and going against the grain. In a great post Curiosity vs. Fear, Niall says

Most people, when they fear doing something, avoid taking action until the fear goes away. “I’m too afraid right now. I’ll do it when I’m feeling more confident.”

The problem is that fear never just goes away by itself. Most people have it backwards. You don’t overcome the fear and then do the thing; you do the thing and then you overcome the fear.

I came across a related article that expanded on this further, written by Jennifer Gresham. She says

How do you make yourself act in the beginning, when you are scared out of your mind?
When you feel scared to make a change, move forward with questions instead of answers.
It’s easy to over-analyze and fret over answers. If you let one question simply lead you to the next, the process is a lot less threatening. Curiosity can be more persistent than fear if you cultivate it.

Some interesting things to think about, aren’t they? Earlier this winter, I felt quite frozen by indecision. I was trying to decide what direction to take for winter work, but at the core, I was nervous about the change that it represented. I had several options, and although some seemed quite interesting, none were really igniting my passion. I saw Jennifer’s suggestion to move forward with questions and gave it a try.

I asked myself “how would I like to spend my time? What am I really good at? What is the best use of my skills (and therefore my time)? What type of work would suit me best?” Asking myself questions like this helped me cut through some of my confusion and figure out what I really wanted. And none of the questions triggered fear, which can be one of the most paralyzing things about making a decision or taking action of any kind.

So, questions spurred on by the desire to learn something about yourself or figure something out can greatly help you find curiosity where there was fear. Once you feel better about things, the answers to just some of those questions can help you move forward. Don’t worry about questions that don’t have answers; I didn’t have the most enlightening solutions at first, but my brain worked on the questions for a while and my intuition really kicked in and I got some fantastic ideas — things I was really excited about.

What if you are stuck on questions that seem hopeless, like “how am I ever going to make this work?” If you catch yourself thinking like this, counter with “what one small thing can I do to improve just one aspect of this situation?” You can turn “what if this doesn’t work out” into “what if this does turn out? There is probably a 50-50 chance… what would that look like?” If you can start imagining your situation improving, even a little, you’ll head away from fear and towards confidence, courage and curiosity.

Paleo Diet

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My husband and I started following the Paleo Diet a couple of months ago. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Paleo Diet encourages eating as paleolithic man would have eaten — meat, veggies, nuts and seeds. No dairy, no wheat or corn, no sugar, minimal starches. We haven’t been fanatical about it — who can resist stuffing at Christmas?! — but we’ve been pretty good about it. I thought I’d share a few things I’ve noticed.

I no longer like cheese. This is HUGE for me! I was a cheese nut, a major fan! I loved cheese and it loved me! All cheese! Swiss, cottage, Monterey Jack, mozza, ricotta! The only ones I wouldn’t eat are the truly stinky cheeses! Cheese was me and I was cheese! You know what I’m talking about! I was a cheese lover and I quit cold-turkey. Actually, I still eat cold turkey. What I’m saying is, I stopped eating, buying or cooking with cheese. Almost completely, except perhaps in an omelet at a restaurant or a tiny skiff of Parmesan on roasted cauliflower.

The other day, I had some cheese and I didn’t like it. It was like orange plastic. It wasn’t the best, fanciest brand, but I don’t think it would matter. It was not enjoyable, and that was a big surprise to me!

Then the other day, I let myself have a few crackers, something I haven’t done in several weeks. And I didn’t like them either. They were like cardboard. Crunchy at first, then gummy. Flour gummy… a bit like glue. Not enjoyable! Another huge surprise! I used to love crackers! Of all kinds! Wow. I had to gradually ween myself off carbs, because I would go into withdrawal and crave them really bad. I ate carrots when I craved carbs. I don’t know why… but it seemed to work and my eyes are sure healthy!

So, I can’t help but conclude that we are pretty much conditioned to like what we’re eating, but those likes and dislikes can change. We like how this-or-that food makes us feel. Carbs are comfort food. Chocolate gives us a high. Caffeine makes us feel invincible! :) But if you change what you eat, it only takes a short time before your taste buds adjust to whatever new food you are feeding them. And you can start to feel a “high” off other foods instead of those you used to get a rush from.

You might have a food you’d like to give up. Well, let me tell you — it’s not actually that hard! Many people (and I was one of them) are addicted to carbs. But, it’s not as hard as you think to leave them behind. Just take it one mouthful-at-a-time — let yourself cheat a little once a week or so — and in a month or so, your cravings will be gone. I’ve read that it only takes 21 days to make a new habit. That’s not very long at all (the days go by so fast)! And then, maybe you’ll find that the foods you used to love don’t make you feel good anymore and don’t taste good anymore! Once they don’t make you feel good, then you won’t want to eat them anymore, and it will be super-easy not to.

By the way, we have both lost some weight, and except for occasional withdrawal from wheat products, we feel great. Oh ya — we haven’t quite given up chocolate yet. It was on sale, what can I say?!? So, uh, that might bring a little withdrawal too. Not ready for that yet! :) So if you’re thinking of eliminating a food from your life, for whatever reason, let me be your encourager — you can do it! Leave a comment and then we can all encourage each other!

I Never Used to Procrastinate

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I never used to procrastinate. I used to tackle things head-on, and things that didn’t get done were left on the list simply because of lack of time. I was a go-getter. Well, go-getter mixed with please-let-me-sleep-in.

But lately, I’ve been noticing a little procrastination creeping in. What’s that about? I don’t like it. I’ve written about how not to procrastinate! I was an expert. But now…. I just don’t know.

I think going full-tilt all the time prevents procrastination. But who can keep up that pace? I think that’s what happened to me — I decided to take better care of myself and be more balanced, thus throttling back a little on the pace I was keeping. Working 7 days a week was just tiring me out! So rather than burn out completely, I gave myself a few days off. Or the odd evening off.

And then I started fully accepting myself. Realizing I don’t need to DO ANYTHING to be loved. Resting and learning to trust the universe. And this made me lazy.

Ok, not true — I’m not exactly lazy, but compared to how I used to be, I’m just not as productive. And I have my own business to run! I can’t afford to be anything but a go-getter. Can I? On the other hand, going just to be going, working harder and not smarter, is not, uh, smart! And I like this new me!

So I’m still looking for the right balance. Don’t want to be lazy. Too much action and I might burn out. But then again, if I’m doing what I love, I won’t burn out. Hmmmm… so maybe I’m not as inspired as I once was, and don’t love it quite like I did… or maybe I just got a little discouraged when the customers were sparse. That’s normal, right? And discouragement can lead to procrastination, right? For sure.

Well, I’m going to do something about it. A friend of mine, Patty K, had a great idea to help anyone procrastinating on anything. She calls it That One Damned Phone Call. I’m going to join in and get the little push to do something I’ve been procrastinating on! I’ll let y’all know how it goes! If you want to join me, that would be fun… Go check out her page and sign up and we’ll compare notes. :)

Balancing Act

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Major intersection in Beijing, after a snowfall

I still think about China sometimes… the friends I made there, what living in Beijing is like… how they can be so happy in such a crowded, busy place! How they can find time to think or have any serenity! They do it, though… not sure if I could!

Life is such a balancing act, isn’t it? I need enough sleep, but not too much. Enough food, but not too much. I definitely need more exercise, and I don’t think I’m in danger of getting too much, but some people are! A little caffeine is great, but some days, coffee makes me jittery. A little sugar is okay… some vitamins… enough free time, enough work…

What about my mental state? I’ve realized that it’s okay if I’m not happy all the time, but I wouldn’t want to be down and out very often either. A person has to think about money sometimes, but if you start to obsess, that’s going to skew your perspective. I like to be positive, but also a bit skeptical of what I hear — it’s easy to go too far and end up a nervous basket case (which sounds so much better than “paranoid freak,” don’t you think?). I don’t even believe the news on TV, because I think it’s usually over-summarized and often has a slant to it. Finding the balance between taking some things seriously and others with a grain of salt is tricky.

Life naturally has good days and bad, happy and sad, easy and hard, and if it didn’t, it would be like living in a monotone world. I think we all naturally need these contrasts; if you’re dissatisfied with your life, perhaps you have too much of something?
You could be stressed because of too much instability, or bored from too much security. It’s good to avoid certain extremes:

Too much instability Too much security
Too much routine Too much adventure
Too much stuff Too much nothing
Too much money Too much debt
Too much work Too much down time
Too much busyness Too much laziness
Too much loneliness Too much togetherness
Too much freedom Too much religion (or too many social expectations)

Look at the table above — what areas do you immediately relate to? If you think to yourself “well, I certainly don’t have too much adventure” then it’s possible you have too much routine. A balance of both makes for an interesting life! Maybe you immediately realize you have too much stuff… have you thought of getting more nothing? Giving things away, and not buying things you really don’t need? If you recognize you have too much of something, rather than simply decreasing it, try increasing whatever’s in the adjacent column. If you realize you don’t have enough of something, try decreasing whatever’s in the adjacent column.

Also, we all need beauty and creativity in our lives! Make sure you have a creative outlet, whether it’s creative cooking, building, a hobby, music or art.

That’s all for now! Okay, one more China pic!

Nope, it's not daytime. That's a huge LED screen! It's showing dolphins jumping out of the ocean, but it also plays a few other videos, like a space voyage! Wow!


Endpoints

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What is your goal in life? Have you spent much time thinking about it, or does the question catch you off guard? Maybe you don’t even think there’s much point in goals, and just living day-to-day is enough. And that’s a good idea too — I think it’s best to have balance between looking toward a goal (personal, physical, whatever) but also not forgetting to live in the moment.

I’m reading a book about personalities, and it also gets a little philosophical at times. Very interesting stuff… so I thought I would publish what the author calls “endpoints.” They are the goal, or the main wisdom, or even the main struggle, that a certain type has. I’m going to introduce them to you as goals without telling you what personality type they go with… See which ones call out to you and sound like they apply to you!

- To harmonize your internal world with the external one. To live a life of integrity, only doing what you know to be right. Learning not to seek the applause of others, but instead to trust yourself, and find approval within yourself.

- To learn to find serenity and simplicity, and keep it.

- To recognize your seeds of discontent, the intense desire to grow toward perfection, fulfillment… even purity. To give selflessly, but also to learn humility.

- To reach an inner calm that is never upset. To know a peace so profound that nothing in your physical situation (flat tire, loss of job, etc) can upset you. To know inner harmony.candle_holder

- To experience the freedom of true individuality. To defy the norm, the crowd, the social pressures. To be happy to be an exile, at times, because you have stuck up for the truth and spoken your mind.

- To perceive, observe, and understand the world. To unravel the clues to the meaning behind things you experience/witness. To be like a journalist, seeing all.

- To reach inward, to feel every nuance of life and deeper things. To love, trust and accept all that the world offers, even if it is unpleasant or undesirable.

- To live every minute as if it were your last. To strip away pretense, game-playing, and live in truth only. To live intensely in the moment.

- To change the way you see the world, to embrace more mystical ways, to think of consciousness and all the mystery that life is. To realize that no matter what, consciousness is everywhere.

- To live free of limitations, and to go for every challenge, despite roadblocks. To have the courage to say “I am going to pursue what I want/need in my life.”

- To create, to express yourself. To leave nothing hidden in your vast imagination. To learn to truly be yourself, to show exactly who you are to the outside world.

- To get out of your comfort zone, to explore. To learn new things and explore the world intellectually. To grow your intuition, and become more philosophical. Ultimately, to continue on the quest for the meaning to life.

Pause and think about each one as you read them again. Which one calls out to you? Some will certainly appeal more to you than others, and there might even be one that shouts out louder than all the rest! Tune in next week (or whenever I blog next) for more insight into these!