Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Breaking up is hard to do

Why is it that good habits, the ones we work and toil to build and refine, are so much easier to break than bad ones?

It's easy to stop leaving for work on time, especially if a warm bed or interesting tv show beckons.  Forgetting good driving habits - turn signals and merge rules - is apparently very easy.  Snacking on a bowl of ice cream every night for a week after a long habit of healthy eating becomes way too quick and simple.

And yet, the bad habits are so hard to shake.  The stop-smoking industry makes an incredible amount of money each year from people who are struggling to quit something that's killing them... if that's not incentive enough, I don't know what is.  Many people fight to stop an ongoing habit of negative self-talk that pervades their self-conscious and affects every minute of every day.  But these thoughts and actions, the ones we know (or at least say we know) we don't like are so difficult to quit.  They just seem to hang on... sometimes for years, or forever.

Here's a radical, if easier-said-than-done, solution: treat breaking bad habits the same as we treat breaking the good ones.  Pick one bad habit - just one - and focus on all the reasons it's bad, and all the good that will come from leaving it behind.  Make a list, if it helps.  Think of things you can do instead, ways you can replace that behaviour.  Then, just...

stop.  Just stop.

Whatever it is, just stop doing it.

If you're thinking it's not that easy, I'd agree - it's tough, brutally so in some cases.  But you're tough too.  Every day, you choose to get out of a comfortable bed to do things you need to do.  You make tough decisions, and commit to and accomplish difficult things.  This decision is something you have in your power.  We each choose our own actions, our thoughts, our words, our reactions.

So what are you waiting for?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Moments That Shape Us

In which moments, from which memories, do we learn the most profound lessons?  What part of each individual's experiences is the most impactful, the most lasting?

There are the moments of pure, unadulterated feeling - deep joy, pain, or anger.  There are the memories so often photographed for preservation - birthdays, first steps, weddings, new homes.

But I wonder if the moments that leave the biggest impact are often the ones that are initially unnoticed.  Perhaps it's the small things - the casual comment someone makes about your outfit that makes you walk a little taller, leading to you keeping the item for a long time because of the confidence it instills.  Or the realization you build over time about your own ability to cook, as you practice and experiment and build small successes.

It's the everyday, often unnoticed moments then, that shape our learning, understanding and experiences.  And, conversely, it is our smallest comments and actions that most often have a profound affect on others.

If it's these "little things" that make such a big difference, I am inspired to pay closer attention - both to the small things I do that impact others, and the way I am changed and impacted by things that happen around me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I Am A Giraffe

Each month, JCI Calgary members are invited to get together to discuss what's happening in our community and enjoy a presentation from a speaker or trainer.  This month, our speaker was Shelia Morrison, a local Realtor, who shared her perspective on sales and behavioural styles.  One of the personality profiles that Shelia mentioned is called Surviving the Serengeti - a short quiz that gives some insight in to your personality based on which animal you share personality traits with.

I took the quiz and, it turns out, I'm a giraffe - without the long neck, of course, or the spots.  No, apparently the giraffe is identified by grace and, as this particular profile defines it, a compassion and love for others.  In reference to my own personality, I agree with some of the statements and definitely not with others.  However, this was the paragraph that really struck me:

"Our ability to develop grace isn't based on what we have or don’t have. What matters in terms of grace is whether or not we appreciate what we do have, and how we interact with those around us."

I strive to appreciate what I do have, and to treat others with respect and love - and can only hope to live up to that every day.

Anyway, on the whole, I agree with some of the qualities of the giraffe, and am quite certain that I do not embody others.  (Ever see me try to roller skate?  Yeah, not graceful.)  But, an interesting quiz all the same!

**JCI Calgary provides personal and business training and skill development for people ages 18-40 as they strive to make a difference in their communities.  Interested?  Check our website for details - and come check out an event!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Magic pen & paper

There's something magical about writing with a pen and paper.  Generally, I consider myself a pretty high-tech person.  Much of each day in the office, if not in meetings or visiting other areas, is spent firmly planted at my desk, typing away on projects or emails.  I nearly go in to withdrawl at the thought of being without my Blackberry, and refuse to run without my iPod & Nike+.

For all that, thought, I sometimes find my best writing and thinking comes while holding a pen and writing on paper.  Something about the colour of ink, the act of scratching out a mis-spelled word or (let's face it) simply bad idea... it just makes the words flow and sentences fit together.

So, dear whoever first put pen to paper: you're brilliant, and I thank you.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spinster? Really?

This is not a rant on single-dom.  Far from it.  But, you may have to read the entire thing to find that out...

Last week, while reading the paper, I stumbled across this article.

On one hand, the author describes Jennifer Aniston (and the masses of single women like her) as empowered and powerful - "...loud and proud in singlehood".  Yet in the next breath (in fact, much of the rest of the article), single women are described with pity, sadness even - "sucker punch to the lovelorn heart of the average single woman".  These women are described as part of "Spinsterhood 2.0".

For the record, I would be one of those single women.  Also for the record, I am not lovelorn, sad, desperately searching for love, nor (hopefully) pathetic.

And so just as I got to the end of this piece, and feeling slightly put off with the perspective I was receiving, the author threw in this paragraph:

"If Jennifer Aniston can't seal the deal, maybe that's proof that there
really isn't someone for everyone, that love -at least the kind of love
that we are programmed to spend our lives looking for -isn't everything."

I don't know about being "programmed", but I would agree that the kind of love many of people - men as well, though I've noticed this with women particularly - spend much of their lives waiting, hoping & searching for includes a relationship, a partner.  And while these relationships are no doubt incredibly valuable and important, profound and deeply meaningful even, they can not possibly be the only kind of love that matters.

While I do intend to marry one day, when the time is right and I've met someone with whom I could live forever, I find my right now every day filled with other kinds of love - friends, family, and important and valuable people who surround.  It is this love that gives me a sense of purpose, of fulfillment.  And while I can believe that the kind of partnership and love found in a spouse is deep, wide and beyond my wildest expectations, I wouldn't give up the love and relationships I have right now for anything.

See?  Not a rant - instead, let's call it a passionate plea to celebrate the many kinds of love each of us enjoys.

But really... spinster?  Even if it is describing Jennifer Aniston... can we please find a better word for people who are living lives filled with love and happiness?

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Sometimes, a story captures, touches and inspires.  Today, for me, it was this one.

This tells the story of twin women who have autism and area also brilliant savants.  Perhaps this hit me because I have worked with families who have kids with autism for a number of years, and so personally feel attached and sometimes fascinated by the challenges that people live with.  Perhaps it was because the story of their lives - from sheltered and mis-understood childhood's to finding enjoyment and some independence as adults - shows an arc of determination and growth that is inspiring.

Anyway, it's a bit long, but well worth the watch.

What do you think?  Oh, and... any Dick Clark fans out there?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


How do you start your mornings?

I find that I am most effective in the morning - best time for writing, being inspired, learning and understanding.  Unfortuantely, it's just so early!

Beautiful sunrise in Seattle
For the past year or so, I've gotten up each morning around 5:15, read a couple blogs, and then walked over to the gym, followed by rushing home to change and head to work.  But, I feel like I've been missing some time - time to write a few emails, ponder a blog post, and really settle in to some early thinking and working prior to starting at the gym.

To combat this, I am starting to get up even earlier - about 30 minutes earlier - in an effort to use the time that I am at my most effective.

When are you most productive?