Reflections & The New Year

Today’s the close of 2009.  For me this year seems to have flown by.  I think as I age the time passes quickly.  For many years my plans for new year’s eve involved The Haven and a wonderful program there called Reflections.  Each year the program started on the 28th and ran through the 1st of the new year.  The morning of each day  was spend with friends reflecting on the year and catching up and the afternoon was either free time or an opportunity to be a part of the fastest put together play production ever.  The play’s storyline was always the same – someone(s) is trying to stop the new year and someone(s) have to save the day.  Though the storyline is the same the characters are always new and developed by the folks participating.  Everyone gets to be the character they want which sometimes makes the play a bit wild.  Still on New Year’s Eve the play is the center of a great evening.  Along side the play is an awesome talent show.  Basically everything happens by 10pm and the rest of the evening is dancing and hanging out down in the lodge until midnight.  I always believed it was the best New Year’s event around.  By new year’s day there’s been enough reflecting and some imagining that the last morning’s sharing of the one word for the next year is magical and so much more fun then resolutions!

It’s been a few years now since I have made it to The Haven for Reflections.  Partially because it’s not an easy trip and I am generally going back later in January for a faculty weekend.  But I miss Reflections.  I try to create some of the same experience wherever I end up.  Of course the play is out; however, I do still spend time reflecting on the year and trying to come up with a word that resonates with the year ahead.  I’ve added a few things like a collage of images and words of things I want to fill my world with going forward.  This year I may even go and participate in a midnight meditation.

It’s a bit different this year because CrisMarie is in a place where she is grieving the passing of her brother, Tom.  We got so busy after he died that she never had the time to let her feelings surface and flow.  Now she realizes the loss and is working through her own process of letting go.  It is wonderful to be in support and I am aware that is also a process she needs to do at times alone.

Looking back on 2009, I am aware of some very exciting additions to my life.  Bailey of course.  Plus my blog.  Also I have become a yoga fan and even though I am not great yet believe I have reached a point where I can show up for a class anywhere and hold my own.  I did my own workshop – Living Life Full Out and had a positive experience.  We had some great work opportunities and created some excellent relationships.  I signed on as Chairman of the Board of JMSI and have been learning tons in that new role.  Some of the highs were going to the Harmara Yoga retreat, a wonderful Phase program in the summer (plus two excellent Come Alives!), finally making it to the Going to the Sun Road and discovering just how much fun it is to bike in Montana!!  The lows were my horrible winter cold, Tom’s passing, not being able to make to Spokane to visit with my family for the holiday and still not getting any skiing in yet.

Looking ahead I am excited about moving into my 50th year!  We are going back to Haramara for a the second annual yoga retreat and in June will head to Croatia for a bike trip.  It looks like there will be some changes in our work relationship to the Table Group and we are open to that.  There are many events already on my calendar for the year and I am sure there are many things that will pop up.  Last year my word was integration and I think the year’s reflected that.  Many parts of my world(s) came together and that was cool.

This year’s  word has not come forward yet.  I am thinking it has something to do with play, joy and wonder.  I know there are many challenging things happening in the world these days and fear and doubt are abundant.  However, may be it’s Bailey but my heart is light and excited about the possibilities.  When the final word surfaces I will let you know.  This blog has been like my reflections.  I haven’t heard as much from friends but invite you to share your own reflections and what you anticipate lies ahead.

Have a very Happy New year!!


In spite of the crowds,  I did decide to go see Avatar.  It was a three hour film. One way I measure a film’s success is if I notice the length and in this case I found this film more engaging then Sherlock Holmes, a two hour film that seemed more like three.  I am sure part of the engagement was the wonder and color of the planet, Pandora.  I loved the idea of a people so in tune with the land that every step is linked to the life around them.

Okay so this is not an original story by any means.  Natives in any major continent all have histories of being linked into the land and natural rhythms of the earth and all of these aboriginal peoples have been dominated and killed for access to the lands.  There’s also nothing new about foreigners finding some precious metal, resource or nugget that is worth tons of money but would require the destruction of the planet to mine .  Finally the fight that eventually takes place is not new either.  Indeed Avatar is the same story we keep repeating over and over, for real and in stories like Fern Gully and Worship Down.  yet, we never learn.

Avatar means teacher, but I am not sure the lead character lives up to the title.  Maybe Grace did.  But she died.  Our main man did change.  But I was wishing for some other path then fight war with war.  I get he was only defending their home which by any human standard is perfectly acceptable, but isn’t there something else.  Here is a planet that is so interconnected that eventually all the animals come to fight off the bad guys.  What if instead of fighting them off that interconnecting link was used to shift minds.  I know it is not Hollywood but I am still looking for a new storyline.

I liked Avatar.  I was cheering for him and the natives.  But I left wishing there could have been a more unique and novel path for resolving differences.  I have to believe there is something – a paradigm shift that is available to us and all living beings. Often that type of magic arrives through remembering or imagining and then sharing the stories through the present day medium which in today’s world, is 3D film.  Avatar had many elements of that possibility; telepathy, interconnection, blending of different species and of course the age old ingredient love.  However, in the end the story still didn’t provide a new paradigm.

I am still waiting and will keep trying to remember and imagine that there is a path other then violence that leads us home!

Holiday Habits: Movies & Dogs

Holidays, a time to kick back and enjoy friends, family, food and as many movies as possible!!  A few years back we started the tradition of going to a movie on Christmas day.  We found we were not alone!! I am always amazed a the lines and all the people who come to see a movie on Christmas.  I thought it was a Seattle thing.  But even here in Montana where generally a movie is not packed,  on Christmas day Whitefish broke all of it’s records for movie attendance.  For me the entire holiday season is a wonderful time to catch up on all the good movies.  So it starts Christmas day and continues through the week if there are enough good films to see.  I have to admit it is a bit harder here in Whitefish to find enough films but this year I am behind and so I do have a solid series.

Today we plan to go see Avatar.  A movie with a mix of reviews.  Of course the Sci-fi folks are thrilled, as are the lovers of special effects.  I have even heard from some more serious film types that the storyline is one that spurs the viewer to thoughtful consideration of the world we live in.  All I am really certain of at this point is that it is the sold out show here in Whitefish and Kalispell and that is not something that happens to often!

Yesterday’s movie was less popular.  Up In The Air, has been around a while.  Still I doubt it was ever a Montana favorite.  I liked it.  May be because my life keeps me up in the air a lot.  Although I rarely travel alone and I am not close to any major mile markers.  Still I was all too familiar with the insider travel talk as well as being someone often hired to tell someone bad news because someone else is not willing to do it.  What I liked about the film was the fact that it became obvious that Clooney’s character had no personal life; however, was amazingly real and effective in his job.  My favorite scene was when told the guy his kids should be disappointed in him – not because he was fired but because long ago he gave up his dream – french cooking.  That scene was awesome. He was real, honest and gave the man a path to get his life back.

In the end I liked the non-Hollywood conclusion.  He didn’t get a girl, nor totally transform to some new guy, instead he connected to his family through giving away miles, he gave the awesome recommendation that got the girl the ‘right’ job and went back to doing what he did better then most people. I’m glad firing or laying off people did not become an ichat process.  There were a lot of messages in that movie worth considering.   So far the best film of the holidays – but I still have the week ahead.

In case you are wondering what happens to Bailey with all the movies.  Bailey is spending every third day at Stoltle’s where he is having the opportunity to play with a variety of dogs who are all teaching him more manners then I had been successful at doing.  He seems to love it and sleeps like a baby afterwards!  Also Bailey and Sooke are slowing become better pack mates.  Of course Sooke still rules and must sleep on all the beds, steal the toys and get the first chew on any chew bone; however, I am noticing she sleeping closer and leaving things behind more freely for Bailey to enjoy.  I am confident they will soon be buddies!!  In the mean time I am going to the movies!!

A Day of Complete Rest – Sounds Easy!

It is a time of year where I generally have amble material to write about.  The holidays stir up so many differences and traditions, family and relationship issues that I am rarely at a loss for a good rich topic to explore.  Maybe it’s this cold I have or maybe it’s Bailey; but this year I am just not rising to any thoughtful dialogue.  It’s true I have not read about fights of saying Merry Christmas vs Happy Holiday, or stories of airports having to take down Christmas trees because of religious unfairness so either the world is re-focused on more important issues or I have become a bit insulated here in Montana.

The biggest challenge I am facing this Christmas is a serious, unrelenting cold and a puppy that needs constant supervision.  Truthfully Bailey is learning faster then this cold is letting go.

The cold came on over a week ago now.  Every time I think I have turned the corner and I go to do some relatively simple activity like bringing in wood or walk in the woods,  suddenly I am back to square one.  The hardest part is at night, I can not stop the coughing.  Plus my mind kicks in and I start to wonder if this is H1N1 and  if I should go to the doctor etc., etc.

I have not had a bad cold in a very long time and I think that is part of the problem.  I am really no good at curling up in bed and resting, drinking fluids and otherwise doing nothing.  I told myself if the cold was back today that is what I was going to make myself do.  Bailey was going to Stolte’s for a play day and I was going to stay in bed and do nothing.

I do wonder why a day of complete rest so so hard.  I have never liked having to stay in bed.  I wouldn’t say I am an A-type personality.  Because a lot of my activity is not results oriented.  It is simply that I don’t like being sick, down, or may be the real word is helpless.  I do hate feeling helpless and being sick is just too close that feeling word for me!   Even when I was really sick (cancer, chem – sick) , I would force myself to put on my running gear and step out of my door as though I was going to run.  I never ran (likely walked a block or two)  but somehow I felt less helpless and in control if I could at least make the effort.  Even then being in bed all day was not easy.

Well it’s 6Am I woke myself up coughing and I went out to chop some wood and felt lousy.  Found enough already cut to come back in quickly.  All indicators point to me taking the day off.  I’m try to tell myself it’s okay to do nothing, especially if that is what will get rid of this cold!

I want to be healthy by Christmas.  I think a day of bed rest would help.  That means not even going out for lunch at the Green Tea House or deciding to run and pick up some needed supplies.  No my mission should I choose to take it is complete bed rest.  Movies, books and maybe a better blog then this will come out of it.  But most importantly allowing my body to totally focus on kicking this cold!!  Wish me luck!!

Bailey’s Back

Bailey is back in our lives and this time for good.  Life with a puppy is exciting.  I find I have very little time to write unless I get up at 5AM when he is still sleeping.  Once Bailey is awake it is constant supervision!

I have read all the training manuals and checked out various websites to try and figure out what is the best way to ensure a positive adjustment for Bailey, for Sooke and for us.  Of course the data is endless and quite honestly not all that consistent.  Then add to the mix the number of people who once they meet Bailey provide tips or insights they have learned about boxers, or about helping older dogs get use to a puppy or about diet.

Let’s take diet.  There’s all protein, all whole grains, all raw – not to mention countless varieties and prices for something Bailey basically wolf’s down in seconds without any real interest in whether it is chicken, buffalo or pork.  Yes I want a healthy, gasless boxer and I have gathered from my reading that is a challenge.  But all the choices make it quite difficult to come to any clear decision.

Then there’s training.  Caesar says I need to be the top dog and that it’s exercise, discipline and then affection – that’s the right order.  The Boxer rescue folks are not too fond of Caesar and they suggest only positive reinforcement and never say Bailey’s name when angry.  That sounds great until I see him chewing on my leather boots and can not help but yell, “Bailey, No!!”.  So much for never yelling his name.

Then there’s is the little issue of Sooke.  The top dog in the house.  She’s nine an not so fond of the idea of sharing her world with the likes of Bailey.  She is trying.  She snaps at him and makes it clear she will decide when and if she is going to play.  They are best when outside with extra room.  However, temperatures in the single digits are making the time outside short.

So life with Bailey is exciting, exhausting and wonderful.  I have to believe that if we do a ‘good enough’ job of picking the right food, training and allowing the dogs to become pack – all will be okay. In the mean time the blogs will be shorter and likely focused on my canine world.  I hope the adjustment won’t take too long.

Humble Eh!!

Generally speaking when we are bought in to work with a client the maximum  amount of consecutive time we have to work with them is two days.   It’s not easy to convince a team of executives to take two days off for work that they often assume will be fluffy and soft.  So imagine our surprise when we were invited to work with a team for five – yes five days!!  Wasn’t even our idea.  They were asking us and had already set aside the time.

So may be this was because it was a woman who was leading the company.  Though after spending four hours with her before the event she was as tough and as focused as any male executive I have talked with.  Was it because they were a Canadian headquartered company?  Not likely, their target goal was 300% growth in revenue over three to five years – so just as aggressive as any US  company.  No it seemed as leaders they  had the idea that they needed a week and were committed to making that happen.  In our four hours prep it was clear, Shelley, the President,  like all other clients,  wanted a  highly productive focus and not just A team-building experience.  So really no different then any other leader in terms of wanting meat not fluff.

We just got back from the week, and I must say I am impressed with the team.  They were amazingly willing to let us lead them through a process that wrapped team building into a very focused strategic effort.  We left and they realized they still had their work cut out for them but they were communicating better and more committed to collective results than ever before.  It was quite refreshing to work with a team that was not cynical.  They shut down their computers,  turned off their blackberries and really spent the week dealing with the hard issues and underlying dynamics that would otherwise undermine the efforts.  Were they perfect – no!  Of course there was resistance and disengagement at times, but they were willing to either hear our feedback or better yet,  give each other feedback as the week went on and refocus.

One of their core values ended up being humble.  They wrestled with the word because the dictionary definition is meek, modest, lowly in position and they were a Canadian based software company battling the giants and wanted a stronger word.  However, they decided in the end that humble did indeed fit.  Truth is for me – modest, unassuming and self-effacing not only fit but were words to be proud of in today’s business world.

I enjoyed working with this company that was aggressive, competitive  yet humble.  Sometimes I can start to get cynical myself when I am in the corporate world and listen to so many leaders avoid accountability and vulnerability by saying they don’t have time for the ‘soft stuff’ or anything touchy/feely.  The ‘soft stuff’ they are avoiding is generally giving critical feedback to a team member or admitting they don’t know something or even saying “I made a mistake”.  Not so soft really.  I would call that courageous!

We all worked hard last week.  I’d say that this team bought out the best in us as a result of their commitment and willingness.  I believe they will be successful.  Actually they already are!  and humble to boot!!