The Easiest Lessons Are Often the Hardest Ones to Learn

April 9, 2012 § 1 Comment

Reading glasses

Reading glasses (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love it when my brain is able to process things for me and still let me get a good night’s sleep. Like it did on Saturday. I woke up well rested, but also with a big “A-ha!” on my mind. In this particular moment of clarity, I saw an obvious obstacle. It must’ve been in a blind spot. I’m glad I’m learning to change and evaluate different perspectives, because now it’s staring me directly in the face.

What I’ve always known on some level, is that the way to success in any endeavor is to come at it from a space where we’re 100% genuine, authentic and ourselves. In terms of work and my career, I’ve never had any problems doing this. Thus, I’ve never really had any problems in the workplace. Most of the time, I get what I want, although it’s not always when I want it. And if I’m not getting it, I’ve got the ovaries to say something about it or stick my neck out and seek it elsewhere.

Where I run into the most difficulty is in primary relationships. I get stuck on what I think a “girlfriend” or a “wife” type is supposed to be. I put on my happy face and play the polite, nice girl from a small town that everyone’s parents would find delightful. And though those are certainly elements of my personality, I don’t allow the rest to shine on through with them. And yet, over and over, in each given situation, I would start off being myself, but the more I’d get into the relationship, the more I would play the role, and the quicker things deteriorated.

Somewhere in my logical mind, I’ve of course always known this one. I would have had to in order to have that kind of approach in my work life. It surprises me that I wasn’t able to make the connection before between my behaviour in either situation and the results I was seeing (or perhaps it was more that I hadn’t attributed this point as the direct cause of my success or lack thereof before). But alas, it’s always those things that are right in front of us that we often have the most trouble acknowledging.

A conversation I had with my friend Dave later on in the weekend regarding relationships spurred the topic of censorship. How much of ourselves do we censor in order to be the kind of person we think our other half wants to be involved with versus just being ourselves? Each of us had numerous examples of couples in our lives that we considered to be censoring dreams, attitudes, beliefs – any number of things really – for the greater good of the relationship. We also each had a much more limited quantity of examples of couples we felt had attracted their ideal mate and just worked because both parties were coming from a space of complete authenticity.

My biggest challenge now is changing the behaviour. I’ve been playing the role for so long, it’s going to take me awhile to reprogram things, undue the habits I formed long ago. But they aren’t providing the results I desire, so why continue to repeat them?

As I think about all of the steps involved, it seems like I have a relatively large task at hand. Yet, I’m reminded of an example I once read in the book by Chip and Dan Heath, Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard.

My loose rendition of the example is as follows… Essentially, there was this doctor researcher type who was supposed to head over to a developing nation and attempt to solve some of the hunger problems. He was to have a couple of years to complete the research. Unfortunately, a change in government showed up on the horizon and his contacts warned him that his time frame had just shortened to about six months. They couldn’t guarantee that they’d still be around if and when a new government took power. Six months were not enough time to understand all of the factors at play, yet him and his team decided to go in anyway. Instead of trying to identify all of the complexities of the problem, they would look for what the book calls the “bright spots.” In this particular example, the bright spots were any children in the villages that were above average health in their communities. Outliers, if you will. They surveyed families from a variety of nearby villages and found that most families fed their children rice, but the families that also mixed in a local plant had healthier children. The plant was viewed by most as something only lower class families would use, but was providing much-needed nutrients to the children that were consuming it. The researchers then encouraged all mothers to mix in the plant. A decade or so later, the average height and weight of children in the same area had risen considerably. The lesson here? Identifying all of the factors in a problem can waste valuable time. Looking for consistent examples of a preferred situation and discovering what’s being done differently in those examples can bring a simple solution to a large problem.

So, transferring over the mindset of work Wendy versus relationship Wendy is as simple as speaking my mind and going after everything I want in any given situation. If I give no regard to any “considerations” I might come up with to delay progress, I shouldn’t actually experience any delays in progress.

Wish me luck! Let’s see how this goes.


Communities Need Love, Too

February 27, 2012 § 4 Comments

Over the past few weeks, with St. Valentine’s Day being celebrated in February, people around the world have focused on love and how to express it.

For me, after being married for almost 26 years, I’ve come to know that love in a relationship is something that is nurtured by both people involved. It continues to evolve and you see it illustrated in different ways, physically, through gestures or words.

Does love extend beyond individuals to larger groups of people, to communities? Do people have a relationship with the place they live?

I think so. It gives me goose bumps every time I hear of someone performing a random act of kindness. It brings tears to my eyes when I see someone recognizing they can make a difference to those around them.

Jody Kettyle is someone who realized she could do her own part to make Grande Prairie a better place by focusing on the good news – which there is plenty of – that doesn’t make headlines.

She started the Kinder Gentle Side of Grande Prairie Facebook page:!/groups/334373066581266/

It has 360 members as I write. I’ve included some of the entries below. But first, I thought I would share a bit of Jody’s story.

Like me, Jody has lived in Grande Prairie twice. My job as Manager of Marketing and Communications with the City involves promoting the municipality and the community. In her job as a delivery driver, she sees and hears of negative things that can and do happen anywhere. She wanted to create a forum for people to celebrate what’s good here.

“There are a lot of wonderful things that happen in this city, but unfortunately happy, good things don’t sell papers,” she told me. “I came home on my birthday and saw the wonderful greetings people had put on my Facebook wall, and I was feeling the love. I wanted to share that feeling with as many people as I could so I started the group on January 5th. Someone told me once to be the change I wanted to see. I have wanted to do something like this for a very long time. I am so happy to live in this city and even more so now that I feel the emphasis is definitely shifting to the more loving, caring side of humanity.”

Jody wishes there could be a good news channel staffed with reporters who circulate through the community looking for the wonderful things people are doing.

“I guess I am a bit of a dork and a dreamer but it won’t stop me from believing we should celebrate the good things,” she says.

Here are some recent posts I wanted to share:

Ruth Hamm (Post 1): I am amazed by the huge hearts of the people of Grande Prairie. Three of us from Grande Prairie leave for Uganda in 3 days to do some relief work in a village as well as work with street children in Kampala where 50% of the children live on the street.

Individuals that I do not even know have come through with huge hearts and generosity. Thank-you hardly seems adequate for how this project has been blessed by you. May you feel blessed in return.

Ruth Hamm (Post 2): Today as I was busy trying to settle my clients prior to leaving for Uganda for a few weeks, one of them called and asked me to come by his home for a bit. As I was preparing to leave after our chat he handed me 2 balls with the Canadian flag on them. He had gone to the Dollar Store to purchase them for the street kids I am going to work with in Kampala!! I just wanted to cry as I accepted them…this from a man who himself was homeless up until a few weeks ago.

Michelle Wurtz Dana Wall: A wonderful story. I went to the Co-op with my daughter and grabbed a few things. When I was standing in line, I realized I’d left my purse in the car. I asked the lady if I could leave my stuff there and she could ring in the next guy… no prob…When I got back with my purse the lady in front of me paid for my groceries for me!!! Wow!! All she said was “pay it forward”.

Jen Simons: I would just like to thank everyone who stepped up over the last couple of days to help out those affected by the cold snap. So many people have given up their own time to be out in the cold rescuing others with boosts and rides, not because they were obligated to, but out of the goodness of their hearts; I hope they know how appreciated they are.

Tracey Matchett Silliker: I go to Sun Capsule fitness and I went for a tan and left my gold necklace hanging in the tanning bed. I did not realize I had left it there until the next morning. The necklace means a lot to me as my hubby bought it for me for our 12th anniversary. I called them first thing and the lady said she didn’t see anything. So after dropping my son at school I went to the gym…. And after looking, it was in the desk taped to a paper with my name on it. Someone could have easily taken it but thankfully someone kind found it and did the right thing. I was almost in tears when they found it 🙂

Darlene M. Astle: I just want to shout out a big ‘Thank You’ to a fellow GP resident who came to my house yesterday to drop off a chopping block for firewood. My husband was out at the bank to get some cash to pay the guy but wasn’t back in time, so the nice guy gave it to me free of charge! It’s refreshing to know that there are still kind people around to help when you need it! :).

Patricia Colosimo-Andreeff: I have had a very rough 2011. Out of the blue, a yoga-instructor friend of mine invited me to her classes for free. Her friend offered me the same gift. OMG! Totally unexpected and right what I needed.

Janice Kretzer-Prysunka:  Two nights ago my crazy golden retriever found an open gate and took off … The coldest night and he’s off by himself. We looked and looked, posted on Facebook and called the radio stations. Very kind people in my neighborhood recognized him and noticed he was loose. They watched as he found a dryer vent across from their house to warm up under and then they called him over (he came of course, he’s a retriever!) I was so relieved to get their call and thankful that someone noticed a serious situation and took action!

Vicki Vienneau: I would like to give props to DeAnne Conway-Podolchyk!! DeAnne offered to purchase a bed for a lady with cancer who is sleeping on an air mattress!!! We definitely need many more people like her in the world 🙂 She totally made someone’s day and is going to make a huge difference in that person’s life :).

Angie Kipke:  A huge THANK YOU to my neighbour for snow plowing my driveway yesterday. I so appreciate it!

Meanwhile, this past Sunday evening, a gathering of 40 residents assembled for the first gpsoup event, an initiative that emanated from the City of Grande Prairie’s Love for Cities workshop. After a meal of soup and bread, participants voted on ideas for projects that were brought forward at the meeting.

The $10 collected from attendees at the inaugural event will go toward a bird house building project with kindergarten students (A total of $402.60).

The gpsoup (check out, #gpsoup on twitter or!/gpsoup) concept is intended to be an ongoing initiative.

Congratulations to Heather Renner and Lloyd Piehl for taking the leadership to spearhead its development.

Perhaps they have adapted the famous John F. Kennedy quote for local purposes – they are doing for their community without asking what will be done for them.

I doubt that’s possible… or do I?

February 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

There are times where it can be easy for me to get caught up in the mechanics of a situation.  There are details I just haven’t figured out yet, and I get so focused on trying to find a solution that I miss out on everything else that’s going on.  Right now, for instance, I’m fumbling.  I have an idea of where I’d like to go, and for most of last year I was just out in the world, doing my thing, going wherever the wind took me.  Because I figured if that’s where the wind blew me, then that must be the place for me to be.

As much as I talk about being clear about choices, and trusting yourself and your instincts, I think an important part of this process is knowing that at some point, you may fumble.  How is it possible to be so sure of oneself if you haven’t spent any time being unsure?  The questions milling about in my head right now are ranging on all levels.  From relationships, to music, to career.  I’m questioning my choices, I’m looking at where I’ve been and I’m wondering if where I’ve been headed all of this time is still where I want to go.

Is it possible to devote my spare time and energy to build a company, write a blog that will turn into a book, follow my heart further down the musical path it loves so much and still have time for quality friendships and relationships?  Many people over the last couple of years have told me “no, no it isn’t possible.” And yet, I’ve found some that tell me “of course it is.”

I’m in a moment right now, that I don’t know which one of those sides to believe.  I’m doubting the truth of everything I’ve said so far.  And yet now that I’ve put those doubts into words, I wonder just how true they are?  Or if I’m just looking for a way to prove the rest of the world right.  The ones who say it’s not possible.  The ones who can lull me back to a spot of complacency.

Part of living the life of my dreams has been about recognizing everything I might be feeling at one moment or another.  Knowing that there will be moments that I doubt myself and my abilities, but having the strength to acknowledge it, but not to give in to it.

Doubt is as much a part of the process as belief. It’s as natural a feeling as any other.  It can be what gets in our way, what stops us from continuing on down the path to what we want.  But it can also serve as a valuable check and balance.  Whenever you are at a place of doubt, don’t just banish it from your thoughts, but don’t get caught up in it either. Stop, observe it, explore where it’s coming from. It crept into your mind for one reason or another. Take it as a sign to check in.  See what the situation is around you, see if what you want still fits, or if new opportunities have arisen that change your game plan.

Just as light cannot exist without dark, the good is never good unless measured against the bad, belief cannot exist without doubt. Use it to your advantage and then decide which one you’d like to prove right… what you believe… or what you doubt. Consciously pick one.  And I think you’ll find your proof either way.

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