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made for a time such as this

Some of us are made or built for a time such as this.  These personalities fit well with staying at home, not having social events, engaging in solo activities, spending time with only the few people we share our homes with.

Some of us are not made or built for a time such as this.  There personalities thrive in being with people, having a calendar full of social events and activities, interacting with a large number and diverse groups of people.

I don’t know about you, but I guessing this time of self isolation and social distancing is making it clear to you which group you are in.  This is not to say we aren’t all a little bit of both personality groups, but I know that some people are finding it easier than others to adjust to this current reality.

I’m in the first group.  I am content staying home.  My preferred activities are running (alone), gardening (alone), reading, knitting, sitting on my deck in the sun.  I usually only go to the grocery store ever 10-14 days.  It’s easy for me to decide that an errand or a purchase is not essential. I’m feel relieved at not having the weekly pressure to make a plan about “who I’m going to be social with this weekend”.  This doesn’t mean my friends and extended family are not super important to me, or that I don’t love spending time with them, because they are and I do.  And I’m sure that with each day that this continues, I will become more aware of who I haven’t seen or been with in months.  But in general, adjusting to this new norm has not been particularly hard for me.

My personality was made for a time like this.  And I have lots of people in my life who were not made for a time like this.  We need all kinds of people in the world, in our communities, in our families and in our circle of friends.  How can those of us who are adjusting more easily offer support and encouragement to those who are not?  Some could say it’s our time to shine as we have the emotional and mental capacity that others may not have.  We are all in this together.



For most of us our home represents a significant portion of how/where we spend out income.  It costs a lot to own or rent the place we call home.  In addition, to the rent and mortgage, there are utilities and upkeep.   And many of us have also invest a fair amount of money into decorating and/or renovating our homes to reflect our personalities and family/personal needs and preferences.

I have always loved my home and over the past year, can now say I spend more time here at home than any other place.  That said, these days I am even more grateful for my home.  I feel even more blessed that I love my home and who I share it with.

May we all find ways to appreciate this opportunity (even if it’s one we didn’t ask for) to be spending so much time in a place that represents so much of our financial investment.

we will find new ways

A few weeks ago, few of us would have predicted we would be where we are today.  These are unprecedented and uncertain times.  The ways we have lived and worked and connected and been, have changed.

But I am encouraged and strengthened by knowing and observing that we will find new ways.

We will find new ways to be in this world.

We will find new ways to connect with each other.

We will find new ways to see meaning in our everyday lives.

We will find new ways to work.

We will find new ways to support each other and our communities.

We will find new ways to do church and be communities of faith.

We will find new ways to spend our time.

We will find new ways to appreciate what we have.

Whatever comes today, tomorrow, next week or next month.  I have faith and believe what we will indeed find new ways.

What’s important… Family

I facilitate a time management workshop where I talk to people about how they spend their time and life priorities.  I also have opportunities to talk to people about what’s important to them and what makes them happy.

And the vast majority of the time, when asked about top priorities in life and what is important to them, people say “family”.

These days, many of us are spending a lot more time than usual with our family.

Our family is important to us, they bring meaning to our lives, they often our top priority.

May we find ways to embrace this time together.

Passing along something that brought me so much joy

This week I sold my convertible.

This comes with a little bit of sadness.

I loved that car.  It brought me so much joy and happiness. I loved getting into at the end of day at work, putting the top down and blaring the tunes as I drove home.  I love that it helped me notice smells I had never noticed before, some good (like the Dare Cookie factory) and some not so good (like manure).  I loved bundling up on cool, but sunny mornings to drive to work.  I loved the long drives home in it after a day of hiking.

The deeper story is that I got that car at a time when I really needed to feel better about going to work each day.  It gave me extra outside time (or at least what felt like outside time) before going into a office all day when it was bright and sunny and warm outside.  And driving that car helped and it brought me happiness and joy in those moments and in some many others.

But here’s the thing, I no longer need that car to help bring joy on a daily basis.  Almost a year ago, I made changes in my life that mean I no longer drive to an office 3-4 days a week.  Most of the time I have the flexibility to go outside on sunny days and stay inside on grey days, and enjoy nature whenever I need to.  Last year I drove my car only a handful of times.  It was a bit of an aha moment to realize that sometimes things can make us very happy and fill our lives with joy, but that it’s okay to not need those things forever.  And that maybe it was time to let someone else experience the joy.

So yes selling my car comes with a bit of sadness.  It also brings the reminder that our lives change and we don’t always need the same things we once it.  But more than sadness and insight, selling my car brings me joy, as I have passed it along to some for who it’s going to bring them joy and happiness and independence.  It’s the little car that keeps on giving.

Be kind…

In these times of uncertainty and ever changing situations, be kind…

Be kind to those you encounter who are feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

Be kind to the person who is working so you can have the things you need.

Be kind to people who have to go to work, especially if you have the option to stay home.

Be kind to those who made a choice you might not have made.

Be kind to the people who are concerned for the job or the business, so many industries and people are impacted.

Be kind to those who are experiencing or who have a loved who is experiencing a health concern that has nothing to do with the virus.

Be kind to yourself when you aren’t sure what you feel or should do or what to say.

Be kind to the person who changes their mind.

Be kind to people say something that isn’t helpful.

Be kind to the person who wants to talk about it.

Be kind to the person who doesn’t want to talk about it.

Be kind to yourself when you can’t seem to stop thinking about or talking about it.

Be kind to yourself when you focus on other things for awhile.

Be kind to people who aren’t feeling exactly the same way you are.

Be kind…..

These are challenging times.  Be kind to yourself and others.  We all need it.

how we spend our time

How we spend our time has changed a lot.  I was recently reminded that 10 -15 years ago, most of us could not have imagined that we would be spending most of our time looking at and doing things on a small screen that we hold in our hand.  That we would get our news, connect with others, read books, play games (like Suduko and crosswords traditionally done on paper), colour and do jigsaw puzzles, learning how to do things by watching a youtube video, and so many more things that we do with our phones and tablets.  It becomes even more obvious how much this is part of most of our lives when I interact with people who don’t have phones or tablets with data and internet access.

Having all these things on our phones and tablets and right there in our hands, is very convenient.  It’s much easier to look up a fact on our phones than it is to visit the library like we used to years ago.  It’s much more convenient to send a friend a quick text with a kind word than it is to call them only to discover they are not available to talk.  It’s great to be able to stretch our minds doing a sudoku or relax by doing a on-line colouring page when we have a few minutes of time without having to carry a book and coloured pencils.

There are many benefits to having access to all these things right in our hand.  However, just as we couldn’t image all these things being possible.  Most of us could also never imagine how much time we would spend doing these things.   We all spend hours and hours doing these things.  More time that we would if we had to carry the Suduko book.  More time than when we had to be in our homes to watch a particular TV show on the right day of the week at the right time.  More time than when we listened to the radio or read a newspaper to learn about what’s going on in the world.  Gradually and then suddenly, we are all spending a lot of time (and I’d hypothesis a lot more time than we realize), looking at our phones and tablets.

I’m not suggesting that any of these things are wrong or that good things aren’t coming from the time spent doing these things.  What I do wonder about is what aren’t we doing given that we are spending so much time doing these things.  Time if finite.  There isn’t more time than there was 10-15 years ago.  So if we are spending more time doing these things, what are we spending less time doing?  And more importantly are you okay with spending less time on these things?  And if you aren’t okay with it, remember you have the power, control and can make the choice to change how you spend your time.

self efficacy and old patterns

This week I was reminded of the concept of self efficacy.  Self efficacy is our belief in our ability to make things happen.  Its our belief in our ability to change our behaviour and thinking so that we can achieve our goals.

Self efficacy came up this week while teaching DSW students about self determination and goals.  During my university days, where I my studying and learning was focused on health-related behaviours, self efficacy was discussed regularly.  It was part of my everyday language and thinking.  I had forgotten about it.  I had forgotten about the important role our personal belief in ourselves can have on a situation.

For the past few days another part of my brain has been worrying about falling into my old patterns of behaviours that happen when I feel like life is too full and that I’m not sure how I will get all the tasks done and when I don’t want to let down the people I’ve made commitments too.  Last March was a very similar type of month for me with respect to my schedule and commitments, and the fact that I’m experiencing it again and there are so many reminders of last March, is only contributing to my anxiety.  This was my life for a long time.   However, over that past year, I’ve made some changes that have resulted in a healthier me and a life that includes time for exercise, time with friends and families, and the ability to be flexible with others.

Our sense of self efficacy is increased by practice (and reminding ourselves of our past successes), watching and identifying others who have been successful, and through positive self talk and affirmations.

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the things we once knew.  In my case, this week it was self efficacy.  I was reminded that I have learned new ways of being in the world and have recent experiences to help me remember that exercise and being in the sunshine and time with friends is important to being effective with work tasks.  I am remembering the words of a wise friends who said “you just find the time and things do get done”.  I tell myself that just because this March is also full, it’s full of good things and I’m not in the same place I was last March, so I don’t have to feel or think or talk the way I was a year ago.

This week I needed to be reminded of self efficacy, why it matters, what can increase it, and that I am not the same person I was a year ago (none of us are).  How can learning about or being reminded of the concept of self efficacy help you today?

tangible reminders

Tangible reminders are a good thing.  By this I mean, physical items that remind us of something else or offer comfort and support beyond what they should.

As a child, I had a blanket.  The blanket didn’t provide any warm, it was far too small for that.  Rather touching it or having it with me provided me with comfort.  It was a tangible thing that offered emotional support.

As a youth, I worked at summer camp and we made necklaces with 4 beads on them.  Each bead was a different colour and represented the 4 letters in the acronym TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More.  For several years after I stopped working at camp I would wear that necklace on the days I needed to be reminded of the value of teams and the great teams I’d been a part of.

In my home, I have many photos that are out and visible.  Some of the photos are of important people in my life.  Some of the photos of are places I have been and had happy experiences.  These photos help remind me to stay focused on the people and experiences, not the tasks and lists.

Similarly, my house is full of books.  The books reflect my love of reading, but also my passion for knowing and learning and the reminder that there is always more to learn and different perspectives to read about.  They are tangible reminder of growth both past and future.

We choose what tangible things we surround ourselves with.  They can be things that make us feel better and remind us of things we value.  They can help us remember to be the people we want to be and indirectly provide us with whatever they represent (e.g., comfort, encouragement, etc.).   What tangible items do you need to be filling your space with?  Go surround yourself with the tangible items that will help you.

Life is easy. Life is hard

So many of us have a believe deep inside of us that life should be easy.  And then when it’s not, we can feel frustrated and angry and like life it’s fair.

The truth, sometimes life is easy and sometimes life is hard.  The hard isn’t always followed by the easy.  The easy doesn’t always balance out the hard.  This is the truth of life.

The times when life is hard, it’s not because you are doing things wrong or that you have done something to deserve it or that the universe (or God) is not on your side.  The times when life is hard it’s simply because that’s part of life.

We can’t change the reality that sometimes life is hard and sometimes life is easy.  What we can change is the story we tell ourselves about what life is supposed to be like.  Perhaps if we stop tell ourselves life is supposed to be easy, we will be better able to embrace all the times and experiences in our lives.