A Walk, An Apple, A Friend, A Sunset ~ Keep Rolling Part II

Feed the body, not the beast.

Self-care is our second step in transitioning powerfully from one life season into the next.

As we move from one home to another, sometimes across states, countries, sometimes even continents, we leave behind a world that in most cases we know well enough to walk it in the dark of night. However, as we leave our familiar neighborhood, we leave the fragrance of the air and the flavor of the water we are used to. As we explore and discover our new place, we have to learn new landmarks and points of orientation.

Where we used to be able to drive our kids to school on automatic pilot, we now are struggling with GPS and maps apps, the side of the road we are supposed to be on, and new traffic signs and parking regulations. Where we knew the fastest way to our favorite spot for organic fruits and vegetables, we now are grateful to find any store that sells fresh produce.

It takes time to figure things out, and that’s okay. In the meantime, feed your  body and soul, because this process is exhausting, it is a huge work-out for body and soul, mind and spirit.

Pizza and pasta are fantastic comfort food choices, all along with bread and a certain umlaut-ladden ice cream – and I realized a few years ago that any of those foods will exhaust my digestive system and put me right to sleep, standing up if needs be. Instead of feeding my body, I was feeding beasts and gremlins: irritability, depression, discomfort, sluggishness.

So today, I make sure to have a bag of apples, other affordable seasonal fruits and veggies, to munch on, before I cave and eat sedative Italian foods. I feel more energized and get a lot more done on fruits, vegetables, and light proteins during the day, and leave the carbs, however complex, for the less productivity-oriented hours of my day, if at all.  I learned this by trial and error, testing food combinations over the years, and found out what works for me.

Everyone’s body is different, and you will know what gives you energy, what makes you feel good. I personally believe in eating and drinking clean, as much as that is possible, and it has given me decent health over the years. Try different food groups and observe how you feel – take your time, listen to your cravings, and opt for fresh foods that contain only minimal amounts of sugar.

Drinking clean water and moving around in fresh air also worked wonders for my body, mind, and spirit. I try to get in at least a half hour walk each day – I am not okay if I don’t walk or hike three days in a row. Stretching, walking, climbing, riding your bike or rowing your boat – any plein air exercise will energize you, and like my friend Nelta says, “everything is better after a walk”.

Sleep might not come easy these days. Our minds are working overtime and will start churning the minute we close our eyes. You might know that this is normal, and part of the process. Give yourself permission to be sleepless. Know that your body will get to a point where it will insist, and you will have deep, restorative sleep again. Nap often, even during a washroom break at work. Hold your keys in your hand… they will drop when you nod off, and you will be surprised at how refreshed you feel just from those few minutes of total relaxation.

When I moved from an excellent health care system in Germany to Alaska, I felt lost, and very un-cared for initially. What I learned over time, however, was that the way health care was practiced in Alaska forced me to take charge and become responsible for my own well-being, instead of waiting until something hurts and then seeing the doctor to fix it.  I started to focus a lot more on learning about nutrient dense foods. I felt that getting my vitamins and minerals from food instead of pills made a lot more sense.  I also discovered community health fairs as a source of education and support.  See if Health Fairs are offered in your new area, so you can get to know practitioners and health care providers. Don’t be shy – ask questions, ask for recommendations; use online resources to educate yourself, but always keep in mind that even health pros will have different opinions. In the end, listen to your heart, your intuition, your body – it will guide you to the right person and the right options for you.

Self-care is not limited to the body of course. Our spirit, our mind, our heart, our soul want to be nourished smartly, and generously.

My mind thrives on conversation – serious, silly, complex, light – connection with others fulfills me both in heart and mind. At the same time, I recharge in silence, best in places that have trees, rocks, and water. The territorial war songs of birds tell me stories of ancient times, and tickle my creativity.

Good conversation and trusted friends are my mind energizers.  Silence and solitude are my heart power lines.

Take a moment and reflect about yours. Where do you feel you can exhale? What is a place that makes you smile? Who is a good person to run a crazy idea by? Who is that person you can call to vent? Who among your friends always has a silly story to tell? In whose presence do you automatically relax?

People and places infuse us with energy, or take it away. Gentle tunes, good reads, deep drum beats and the sound of waves, blue skies and cloud formations, sunrise and spring blossoms can empower and delight us. This week, explore your sources of strength and joy – people, places, sights, and sounds.

Let me know what you find!

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Flat Tire In The Wheel of Life? Here Is How To Keep Rolling – Part I

You Can Count on Change

If there is one thing we know for certain, it is that life is in a constant state of flux. Change is part of the game, and the more balanced we stay throughout the process, the more powerful our transformation will be.

Embrace the process, trust the journey!

When life disrupts our routine, we instinctively react: we protest, we defy, we deny, we mobilize what might be called an obscene amount of energy fighting the unbeatable. Whether we are three, thirteen, thirty, or fifty-something, we usually balk before we walk.

Let me share my  7 Northern Lights with you. These steps have worked well for me and helped me to stay energized and balanced during times of transition and change, whether in relationships or cross-country moves. May they strengthen you in your journey and help you enjoy the process joyfully.  Be blessed.

1 Be still & Assess the Situation What works for Bear Safety works in any Crisis

One event I made sure not to miss during my first years in Alaska was any bear safety education the state was offering in many of the nature centers. One of the pillars in bear safety is keeping a cool head. Bears are powerful mammals, who under normal circumstances will not seek confrontation with us humans. We mostly encounter black and brown bears in Alaska, and our reaction to a chance encounter will have to differ depending on the species and on the circumstances.

The first rule we were asked to never ever forget was to stand still and assess the situation. Try to determine whether the bear is a black bear or a grizzly, as we call the smaller brown bears in the interior and South East Alaska.  Clearly, we are aware of the bear, but has the bear seen us? If so, is the animal showing interest, or does it look like it continues with what it was doing when we showed up? Is the animal alone, or is it a sow with cubs? Is the bear feeding, protecting a food source?  In general, a rule of thumb is when a black bear approaches, or charges, fight back. Stand tall, put your arms up in the air, stand together with your fellow hikers, make lots of noise, and if the bear still approaches, or even charges, hit back, threaten with tall sticks, tree branches, pepper spray as a last resort, or a gun shot if you carry a firearm on your hikes, again, as a last resort.

When a brown bear is aware of you and approaches you, don’t run – under any circumstances. If he charges, he might be bluffing. Don’t worry about urinary accidents, just don’t run, don’t scream, stay calm, look down. If he actually makes contact, drop to the ground and play dead. Cover your head with your arms or backpack if you have one. Don’t fight. The animal will be anywhere between 400 and 1200 lbs, depending on where you are, and it’s a you lose – it wins situation. The bear might be aware of you, however, and continue feeding, or simply show interest in standing tall, ears perked up, sniffing – their sense of smell is extraordinary – and then drop back to the ground and move on. You then best retreat with a casual, occasional glance into the bears general direction, to ascertain that you are not being followed.

As you can see – different scenarios require different behaviors.

This is also very true for any situation in life that forces you into transition. This can be as simple as having to make a decision to accept or decline a job offer that involves moving to a new town or country. It can also be as complicated as having been denied entry to your country of residence, your birth country, or the country in which you seek refuge. There are multiple situations in between that require transitioning from old to new, and in all cases it is healthy to take time out and a good look around, on the outside as well as the inside. Be still, and assess your situation. What do you have? What you do want? What do you need? What does the old give you? What will the new provide? What happens if you do nothing? What happens if you move? What options do you have? How would you like things to look different after you make a change? What is the best outcome you can imagine?

To explore these and other questions powerfully and efficiently, it can be very helpful to work with a coach. A coach can provide you with tools that facilitate the decision making process. Unlike any advantages-vs.-disadvantages lists, however, the coaching relationship will assist you with more than making a decision. Regardless what you decide, the result will be only the first step in your journey. Our goal as coaches is always to give you more than just one solution. Whether you decide to move forward, or continue to explore other options to improve your professional and personal life, even if you decide to stay where you are, the coaching relationship can help you get transition  benefits in other ways.

Contact me to schedule a Complimentary Chemistry Call to see if we are a good fit.  This is for everyone, whether you are facing transition or finding yourself in the midst of it, and want to walk through it with serenity as you reclaim your power.

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Banned from Canada ~ Forced into Transition

It is hard to believe I have been on the road for three weeks already!

It is even harder to believe I can add “Banned from Canada” to my resume.

To some, I might lead an adventurous life, but usually, I create the adventures, I plan them carefully, and the ones that come as surprises are taken in stride. This one is more of the traumatic kind, and a perfect experience for a cross-cultural transition coach.

On March 17th, my Canadian boyfriend/common law husband/lovingly renamed “B’zhoolee” and I went to Alexandria Bay, NY, on a short trip to celebrate: his birthday, my certification as a life and business coach, his recent birthday, and, belatedly, one of our many little anniversaries.

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We initially had wanted to go back to Niagara Falls, where we had celebrated meeting for the first time after over two years of just talking via phone and facetime. Then, we considered driving to Montreal to combine pleasure with immigration matters, as we retained a law firm from there for our common-law-sponsorship  application, and we wanted to meet our attorneys in person. Finally, as my partner’s work schedule kept changing, we packed an overnight bag and decided on the spur of the moment to drive towards Montreal,  see how far we would get in a day, but spend the night in the 1000 Island region of New York – absolutely gorgeous drive around the banks of the St. Lawrence River, and probably the prettiest area in upstate New York.

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As usual, we left home late, took our time enjoying the drive, stopped for pictures, checked into a hotel from which we could see the German Boldt Castle, found the only place open for food, and then the B’zhoolee (the bestest travel partner I could ever wish for) remembered the hotel he wanted to take me to, the Harbor View Hotel in Clayton, so we checked out, drove a bit, and checked into the most gorgeous, new hotel in the area with expansive views of the river. We rested well and looked forward to having breakfast in the quaint college town of Kingston, and a sunny drive around some of the 1800 islands in daylight, as it was a beautiful day.

However, we never made it to breakfast.

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At the Thousand Islands bridge border in Landsdowne, Kingston, the first officer told us we had to officially import my car and pay customs on it. She declined to answer why everyone else with U.S. plates was just driving through.  We answered her questions honestly, told her we were a couple who recently had filed for common-law-sponsorship, and that I, the U.S. citizen, would return to my home state of Alaska shortly to wrap up loose ends there, and we told her everything she wanted to know. She was not impressed  with our answers and sent us inside, “you need to talk to immigration”.

The officer who greeted us inside was just as curt. He asked what I do for a living. I told him I had just finished training as a life and business coach.

“What is that, life coach?”

I gave him my elevator pitch, and he responded: “So what do you mean, life? Is life on business? Is LIFE on your business?” He penciled the letters L I F E on a piece of paper and to this day I have no idea what he was asking, and I have to just accept it as one of the mind-fogging tactics they use to confuse and intimidate you.

We told him the truth – not only because our attorneys had strongly advised us to, but also because the truth is the only thing we know – lies are so hard to remember.  He interrupted me, told my partner, who is a Canadian citizen, to sit down and be quiet, then took fragments of what I had answered, put my facts in random order so they did not make sense and I had to explain them all over again, and then he asked to see my wallet.

He found U.S. bank cards for two Alaskan credit unions and one bank. He found my Alaskan driver’s license and voting registration card. He found a few business cards of Alaskan businesses, and my Anchorage library card. The only Canada related card he found was a TD card, something many U.S. citizens carry who travel to Canada a lot. However, he must have had his mind made up beforehand, because the little green TD card outweighed all the evidence of my life and ties to Alaska. Crime number one: having a Canadian bank account.

On the report he wrote, my first three indiscretions are as follows:

-not a Canadian citizen => well… I didn’t claim to be. I am a quite happy American.

-not a permanent resident of Canada => again… I didn’t claim to be. I am in a relationship with a Canadian citizen and yes, we now intend to put our lives together, but that was not the intention when I initially came to Canada for visiting with German tourists, or visiting my boyfriend, or training with iPEC.

-not a registered Indian under teh (sic) Indian Act =>good lawd people. I never claimed to be that either.

The report further claims that I had established a Canadian cell phone and home phone. I am on my partner’s phone as a sideline, and because he is in charge of the cell phone bill, I am taking care of our joint internet. We do not have a home phone, because our living situation is too fragile. We only retained the law firm of Campbell Cohen in early February to file an application for common-law relationship based sponsorship.

I am also accused of having established a coaching business in Canada. I never claimed this, and nothing could be further from the truth.

The border worker claims my website and “Canadian” business card are proof.

The business card he is referring to is a card I created with images of Alaska and the Toronto skyline. The card is an all American product, designed by me, and made by Moo, a U.S. company based in Rhode Island. It contains an image of me on a good hair day, a link to this website (which up until a short while ago was just a WordPress blog), a U.S. phone number, and, in handwriting, my Canadian cell number (on my boyfriend’s line). The cards had a misprinted phone number on them, so in essence they were useless for distribution,  and I had not reordered any. I usually have a couple in my handbag as contact cards. I am not working in Canada, but I am a social person and am networking to make friends and of course, ultimately, create a social network in the area where I now intend to live part-time. I have always said that money permitting, I would love to continue guiding tours in Alaska, and part of my business will be special coaching tours through my most favorite and home state in the union, possibly with dips into the Yukon Territory, if Canada can amend this exclusion mess.

During my iPEC coaching training, from which I graduated March 3, 2016, I had peer clients whom I coached as part of the training, without compensation. Only one of six testimonials on my website is from a Canadian citizen, and it is from a peer client. All others are pro bono clients in Austria, Brazil, Washington State, Arizona; I offered pro bono sessions during training because it was imperative for me to practice, and because it was highly encouraged. Pro bono sessions count toward accreditation with the International Coaching Federation, and they are a wonderful way to get a true sense of giving without being attached to the outcome, one of our coaching principles.

Why punish me with this made-up accusation? What is eating this man’s soul?

We were held at the border for over six hours. My Canadian partner was talked down to in a dismissive manner reminiscent of what we have learned was the tone slave owners used. This doesn’t look friendly considering these officers, two male, one female, were all white,  and my boyfriend identifies as brown.

The head officer, a woman with a middle-eastern sounding name in Persian spelling, was treating us both more civilly, but she had not been informed correctly by her subordinate officer and even when I pointed out that he had omitted crucial facts about my training in the report, she did not reconsider collecting the facts.

My heart tells me that this might be based on fear.

From the atmosphere in the border office, and from what I observed with respect to how people interacted with one another there, I have a feeling that even if her heart and conscience might have told her differently, there was no way she could have overruled the subordinate’s report.  His interview tactics were that of a bully.  I would understand that she feared she did not have any other choice but to go along with what he suggested. What is smarter: speaking up for the truth, and for the U.S. citizen (remember NAFTA?),  who honestly told her story,  who -having nothing to hide- opened up her wallet and unlocked her phone as requested, which was consequently confiscated for six hours; or backing up the report written by a guy who consciously and purposely omitted essential facts that spoke in favor of the U.S. citizen seeking entry, and who might turn up the bully tone in the office if she second-guessed his decision?

It takes a lot of courage to withstand and oppose this kind of volatile strong-arming anywhere in the world, but it is not a battle everyone would pick.

This is the end of how the ban began.  IMG_3885

I will document the journey through this forced transition as often as I can.

Let me know your thoughts, your ideas, your experiences relating to transitions, whether forced or voluntary.

I look forward to the conversation!

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a heart full of joy has no room for fear

i had caught a nice trout and was wading amidst an army of pink salmon, when first a blond, then a cinnamon brown bear appeared to get lunch. they fished about 500 yards upriver from where i stood, grounded and glowing with excitement, assessing the situation and realizing i was neither mobile nor fast enough to run if the bear decided i was the better fish to catch.  i remember deciding this was too precious a moment to worry, so what the heck, enjoy and trust that intuition will signal what moves will be best, and the universe will take care of the rest.

the bear pounced a bit here and there until it finally stared directly at me, and as i slowly lowered my gaze, i knew it was time to move. it allowed me to retreat slowly, continued to fish, but did not seem impressed with what byer’s creek, a small jewel for trout and salmon along the parks highway in south central alaska, had to offer.

i pulled myself out of the stream, took my trout and two humpies, and a camera full of blurry, rainy shots of my “cinnamon girl”, and danced back through the alders to the spot where i had to ford through the creek once more, before i reverse-rappeled myself up the muddy slope to where i had parked my car.
there is truly no need for fear. it is a waste of heart space.

life happens, and it doesn’t care how we feel about it. we choose whether we are fearful, or joyful and excited during any of our life’s moments. it doesn’t change what is happening, but it does change how whatever happens will impact us.

we can choose joy.

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that’s deep – a me/ducation

see, when i say that’s deep
i mean
what u just said will leap
off the page, is the tip of a peak
so i lean, glean, pulling your fins, reining you in
by the skin on your temple’s bling
not gold just perfect eyebrows swooshing in
come sing softly, move
towards me and whisper that beat from your heat to my need
over peat
moss and leaves crossed and
train tracks and brain wrecks
blank checks on bounced decks
i brought you the key
but u had me
before on that chain
lost my train
of thought
strain that caught
salmon king
on sisal string
as humpbacks sing
and swangsters swing
to the drum of my ears’ fears
anxiety pierces the walls of trust
so i must
run up that hill
until
my pump is still
and my breath can chill
at 2 degrees looking down on
myriads of atomic insomniacs
wearing lilacs
on leather straps
dancing on seedy laps
taking them under wraps
folding skin into wax
bees knees bend easily breezy and sleazy
don’t know what it means to geave and leave and be a fiend to sheeet
but urban diction taught me today
that kick rocks means get lost
and that there are seven ways to say fuck you
and not all are rude
and then there is “holla”
which should come with intonation guides
for definition number six alone prides three unrelated meanings:
1. hello.
2. i want to get all up in your goodies. who says that?!
or, number 3. good bye.
this serves as a prelude to
all sorts of deluded combabulations and funfaktations
slice of life lice are rife
use your tongue like a knife on this blithe
fakadillio ~ i’m your wyfe4lyfe if u can handle the strife
kiddo
life in ak is not your average game
watching hulu as i skin a moose with my ulu
and when i hear strip i see little malls losing grip
on small business economy
unless you are living subsistence there’s no true autonomy
in this wily land
we measure
wealth and treasure
by the pleasure
we get from breathing ice fog
parting blizzards like floetic wizards
eating salmon dog
call ’em chum or chinook our gargantuan kings
rocking rings of black ’round their bellies when
kiluitchaq* is cooking fireweed jellies
 in august
we swing our hoops those 5 foot loops of gillnet
still wet
a day after the run
comes in at the resting mid july sun
waves of sockeye
thrash by
roll and rock my
neoprene too fly
oversize suit; i’m not sure why
it seems like
there’s nothing more sexy
than that salmon heart
flexing
and beating for seven more minutes
in my hand
severed
yet committed to ending the journey
not on this gurney of white plastic coolers
but spawn grounds upstream
will never be graced with this buck salmon’s semen
but i gotta go and get my flow from the arctic glow of
aurora at night as my northern starr gleams thru the seams of our
night sky
universes standing by
meteors fly
as i lie
on the snow looking up to see why
we would think to be so special
do you know?
*inupiaq: lock

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loss.

and there, all of a sudden, it is.

a vacuum, where just two seconds ago, we took for granted that he is here, she is still with us, they are.

we see them in our minds alive. with radiant smiles, their voices strong and gentle, their eyes sparkling, beckoning us to share this moment of great joy of being alive, together.
and then no more.

how can we understand this?

the brain knows the facts of life, and death is one, but our minds and hearts have strings that play a tune to every soul we love, and it is a looping symphony, because in that sphere, the realm of affection, connection, there is no end, just more melodies and harmonies that we hum together every time we think of one another, reveling in memories of yesterday and plans for the day after tomorrow.
sometimes, life will give us a fair warning.  bodies become challengers, then enemies, there is struggle, we fight and prevail, but mortality knocks and there is time for what needs to be felt, and said, and walked through and talked through. and when the soul at one point says, “it is enough”, and moves on to a new adventure, we hurt, but prepared, and that’s hard enough.

but sometimes, those bright stars that sparkle in our lives just live with enthusiasm, boldly cultivating their values as they shine luminously, live as right as rain and change everyone else’s life in the process. and suddenly, no more.

we might only connect once, or briefly, and yet remember the moment fondly until we, too, close our eyes for good. there was a light when we needed it, or an idea that opened a door. there was a hand that pulled us through, or a shoulder to lean on just enough to catch our breath.

or we create a tribe, build forts of friendship, look up to one another and appoint each other as side kicks, have each other’s back, and build air castles from blueprints of brain storms. we push each other to new limits and reach new heights, sit with each other in darkness and comfort, allow our tears and screams to be swallowed by the soul sibling’s understanding silence, and because of them, we are okay.

or we are family by origin of blood and birth, and have an understanding of and bond with each other that is special to birth family and hard to replicate outside that realm. we know one another so well, take each other for granted, get along or not, but we’re family, and as such all limbs of one tree.
regardless how we are connected, our bond is something unifying and stabilizing, it roots us, grounds us, stretches and uplifts us and without it, we wouldn’t be us.

i don’t have a recipe for the pain that comes with loss.

i just know that this pain is so deep that it is better to let it be and not fight it. when it devastates us, it’s okay to walk with it. when anger kicks in, and it will, it’s okay to ride with the pain. there will be moments of acceptance, but without warning, the darkness that takes our breath away can be back with a vengeance, and it is good to cry when we can. definitely cry whenever we can. it will take time, but it will get better. in these dark hours and days it is important to be kind to ourselves, because the pain won’t be.

however, it is not our enemy. it is, like everything in life, an opportunity. again, no need to understand it all now. just trust that it will get better, and one day, acceptance will lift the veil of sadness, and what remains is the magnitude of the blessing the loved one is for us, until we, too, move on.

but today, when all we see is the tunnel, it helps to just take it one day at a time. there is no need to think further than the day after tomorrow. there is just the need to eat a little, breathe a lot, stretch, and try to rest.

and to love. the one who left, and to love ourselves.

although our grief is personal and individually unique, we are not alone.

we will get through this.

and just like a rainbow ends the thunderstorm, and spring melts winter, our joy will return.
one day.

give it time.

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opposites.

obstacle turns to opportunity.

challenge turns to cheer.

trouble to triumph.

we choose how we see things. we choose how we treat matters.

we choose who we are and are going to be.

every moment that we are aware, we make a choice of how we see things
and how we process them.

i choose defiance in the face of negativity. it brings me a lot of joy.

i choose joy whenever i can.

what do you choose?

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paris, france. beirut, lebanon. friday, november 13th, 2015

We talk about paris, but 50 dead in beirut as well, and more in gaza, but that, by now, is expected. it has gone on so long, with international approval or blind eyes, that we shrug our shoulders and look the other way, at staged, unreal realities surrounding masquerades and platitudes, tv wannabe families and other blow-up dolls.

What compels someone to take another’s life?

What fuels their anger? their sense of entitlement?

The only answer i see is fear. a fear so deadly they can only meet it with death.

They don’t overcome it.

They don’t win anything.

It is not faith that propels them to kill, because faith is a grounded way of being, resting safely in knowing; faith has no questions.

Belief is different. belief can be am amazing force, but in paris and beirut today we see the power of belief in action. sadly, in destructive action.
belief needs constant approval, proof, nurturing.

Belief can fluctuate like blood sugar, and spike into madness but also into magnificence.

We talk about innocent lives, but aren’t they all? who are we to judge the innocence of the lives taken and of those who took them?

Those who die while taking lives chose to believe that their gruesome deed will gain rewards, something precious and desirable.

Now the life takers and the lives taken are lying side by side, equally dead.

The waves of sadness, anger, and disbelief, numbness, paralysis, horror, fury, hatred, and more fear are washing over everyone who feels affected and connected to these events.

Those who indoctrinate are as responsible as those who chose to absorb and live the dogma, and destroy.

We are angry. we are sad. devastated, but also… now… afraid.

A thousand “what ifs” paralyze us – what if it happens again? what if it is closer to us next time? what if it had been us this time?
this is where we have to take action.

The beautiful thing about us humans is: we can!

We can turn this around. it is by our beliefs and our actions that we can turn this around.

If they can use their beliefs to destroy and instill fear, we can use our beliefs to rebuild, fortify, and instill confidence and trust.

We Can Instill Confidence and Trust.
We Can Choose Faith.
Let us Breathe. Let us Pray.
We Control our Breathing.
We Control our Thoughts and Beliefs.
We Can Act.
We Can Educate and Be Kind.
We Can Speak Up and still Be Kind.
We Can express our emotions and still Be Kind.
We Can scream our frustration and fear, and still remember Kindness.
We have to choose Faith if we want to overcome this.
we also have to choose discipline – responding to war with war is only fueling the fire of destruction.

Responding to war by assembling a flock of people who choose random and purposeful acts of kindness will empower us.

There are more of us who spread kindness. we are the bigger force.

I believe in you, the one who reads this, that you are with me on wanting to heal the world, not rip open its scars. let’s talk. share, discuss, not argue. we can agree that we both are neither right nor wrong, but that we have different experiences that shape us, yet one or more of our values are shared, and let’ focus on that and how we can make this stronger.

We’ve got work to do, thoughts to change, and kindness to spread.

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transition ~ a prequel. or: how i finally became a certified professional coach.

Transition journey to certified professional life and business coach

heavy is the air in the g. ross park parking lot this evening. the park is still teeming with people, mostly families gathered for picnics and barbecues.

i am gentle with my lungs and my feet, walking in a restrained pace towards the steele corridor, along the pond where the bullfrogs mate and make noises fit for big brown ducks. i met an astrophysicist here a few weeks ago, who shared my amazement that such little amphibians could make such loud noise. he told me that he was planning to tackle denali next summer, if his ascent of the nanga parbat this october was successful.

it is still very warm and humid outside, hard to breathe, but it is beautiful and i find comfort in the stillness that is painted metallic by the sound of cicadas everywhere.

hard to believe that in the middle of the greater toronto area is such an oasis of greenery, meandering waters, herons and ducks, hikers, bikers, soccer and cricket players, sunbathers, even a lone fisherman or two, and now, me.

i arrived in one of the warmest aprils ontario has seen, according to the people in my building, who have lived here forever and worry about me because i look like i am way too hot,  until they learn i am actually from alaska where we don’t get 30+ centigrades in any month.

what brought me here? what made me leave alaska?

these questions come so often that i now have a 15 second elevator pitch:
alaska was simply getting too cold, dark and monocultural for me. yes, we do have 90+ languages in the anchorage school district, and the most amazing scenery anyone could wish to have in their back and front yards, but i wanted more societal culture around me, more diversity, a different social attitude, more people who are actually willing and able to truly connect, and a new career. those who asked usually are satisfied with this answer.

alaska was enriching to me for many years. i learned so much here, grew so much closer to who i truly am, met some wonderful people, many of whom moved on, and was blessed with lesson after lesson, many profound, some painful. there was gain, there was loss, and a whole lot of gratitude from sunup to sundown.

but after a while, i became restless. teaching german at the university in anchorage was only satisfying in the realm of student interaction and mentoring. politics, and the order to let students pass so enrollments wouldn’t drop, took the joy out of teaching, and when “divide and rule” replaces “leadership”, there is no point in staying.

my summers were spent as an adventure driver guide, and then came an offer i couldn’t refuse – taking a busload of germans across alaska and western canada at the end of the season. it was worth ditching the uni gig, and to this day, i have not regretted, nor looked back.

although there was another job offer from an anchorage travel agency, i wasn’t sure this was the way i wanted to go – did i want to work in the travel industry for the next 10-15 years? but it would allow me to pay my bills until i found something more fitting.

however, life had another lesson and a turbo charge into change for me, and when the offer fell through, i was forced to take a closer look at what i really wanted to do, and find out right now. unemployment benefits would not allow me to pay my bills. the house needed to be sold, and i needed a solid and safe job, or go all out and do something entirely new, but something i really wanted to do.

It felt as if life was saying to me “look – you wanted to prove to yourself that you can make it on your own for a winter here, but it’s been three winters now. you are pretty isolated where you are, and your close friends are out of state anyway, and you have been saying you’ll sell the house and move to a city, so now go and walk the talk.”

and then i realized – i was no longer willing or able to compromise. i can compromise in relationships, in recipes, and in my garden, but not when it comes to purpose.
what would be the most profitable, honest, and fulfilling way for me to spend my next decade and a half as a working professional?

what helped me most in finding an answer to this query were countless reviews of job openings instate and outside, and the feedback I received after interviews. i learned to pay attention to what really felt good. visualizing myself at any of the advertised jobs… what made my heart jump? what made me smile? what made me get up in excitement, ready to plan, ready to go?
two assessments done by real estate professionals who were trying to place me properly in their organization were particularly revealing.  spot on in assessing strengths and weaknesses, they assessed the best work environment for me, where my work would yield optimal production output, and value for the company. they did not hire me without a real estate license, but were immensely encouraging.

i took a lot of quiet time during the six months i was unemployed. i recalled teenage dreams of becoming a therapist-musician, only to remember how i replaced them with the real life experiences of being a mom and full-time student, a radio show host, an international event planner, a writer, photographer, foreign language instructor, an adventure driver guide, and a shareholder relations administrator for an alaskan native corporation. my humanities degree didn’t qualify me for any of these, and i trained on the job for each of them, and each were at one time highly fulfilling. memories of being excited about every minute of every day “working” remain about the radio gigs and traveling. teaching was fun, but what fulfilled me most was mentoring students, and empowering them in reaching their goals, not so much teaching german as a language.

i also recalled consulting with a career coach many years ago. i don’t recall much of what she told me, except that she saw me as a public speaker, and that i felt she wasn’t advising me enough. today, i understand that coaching is not about advising or mentoring, but back then i expected someone to provide me with effective prescriptions, easy recipes, and irrevocable guarantees for success.

in the early 2000s, there was a daytime reality show titled “starting over”. it was a voyeuristic approach to something i thought was ingenious – helping people attain goals, stay on target, and keep them accountable. the fact that it was on tv was the only downside for me. the starting over house was supposed to be a sacred space, and the journey of each of these women worthy of privacy and protection. what i learned about lifecoaching, however, stuck with me.

it was around november, after talking to a friend who mentioned she was in a coaching program, that i decided to look into this as a potential career for myself.

i found a company that is accredited and will certify graduates after a seven month training period. training takes place in several cities across the u.s., canada, and even in europe. i chose toronto, because it was the opposite of alaska in many ways, and i crave different from time to time for a bit of time. it was time. And then there is that one person who has been a friend for a couple of years and he says “i think you’d like it here”. he knows me well.

so now, i drive through major traffic to a crowded harbor-front just to see throngs of people and intricate architecture, walk through a little bit of italy to get through china to portugal, with persia and india always around the corner.

i love hearing different languages, and english spoken with accents, and i make it a guessing game where everyone is from. i love to smell fragrant foods from unpronounceable eateries, and stand in line with people who wear clothes that i wouldn’t even know where to buy.

i don’t know where all this will lead, and if i can stay here, or how, but i am not worried – i am learning to listen to life, and to take time and envision paths it offers. they all take me further, there are no mistakes.

i just know that coming here, and getting certified as a life and business coach, is the right thing to do now. i will take you along on my journey, and you are welcome here any time.

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