Wrapping Up The Games: Canada Vs USA

Today’s final hockey game will be last medal event and it seems fitting that Canada and the USA are competing for the Gold.  I have been torn for who to root for.  I started the Games writing about how proud I was being part Canadian.  I was thrilled when Canada won it’s first gold and I thought I could hear the singing of O Canada on Gabriola (quite a ways from Vancouver).  However, since returning back to the states and watching the hockey mostly from my computer (thanks to NBC’s strange coverage), I have not been all that proud of the Canadian fans.  Watching from the computer means I get to see the running text messages beside the picture.  The hatred that came from these posts towards the USA was hard to take.  I realize the USA upset the Canadian dream path to hockey Gold.  But I was surprised that it resulted in a meltdown.  Good thing that was mostly just the fans and not the players.  Team Canada seemed to have used the loss to get over their complacent ways putting together an awesome run of victories for a second chance.  They actually seem to be a better team now then last week.

My discouragement got worse when a friend shared how poorly they had been treated as a fan at a curling match while wearing a USA jacket.  I felt sad.  I was ready to just start rooting for the USA team. I shared my pain with one of my Canadian hockey fans.  He wrote back a story that balanced the scales.  Apparently a radio show up in Canada was asking folks to call in and share how much they hated the USA team.  A young boy called and instead of sharing his hatred, he asked the question, “Why do so many people want to hate a team that has made hockey so exciting?”  I love that.  My friend also shared a series of other stories like the ice dancers—USA and Canadian—who train together and hug after each  performance, regardless of who won.

So now I am rooting for the best game, the one which provides the excitement the young boy spoke about.  A game that somehow reflects the best of these Games.

I am not even a hockey fan.  But I do appreciate how much hockey means to Canada.  I also appreciate that the USA has not won the gold since Lake Placid and that was the “miracle on ice” experience.  These days the players out there are professionals, very different than the college team that won back then.  Still this USA team is young and passionate.  The Canadian team has the nation backing it and carries the weight of expectation.  It sounds like a great match-up and hopefully one that will make all of us proud!!

Back to Mac

Today I am back to being a full time Apple person.  I tried the PC netbook because it was small and light.  Not to mention much less expensive.  For a year now I have given it my best shot.  But I have had my frustrations.

Back in 2000 I switched to a Mac.  Started with the ibook.  Loved the ease and grace.  Next I talked CrisMarie into switching over our Thrive! systems to Mac.  This wasn’t easy since she is a long time PC fan.  Though within a week she was in love with Apple.  She has tremendous style and I knew that alone would convince her once she got past her business consultant view that one most have a PC.

For years we have been happy Apple folks.  Even happier when it got super easy to pull up most documents on either a Mac or a PC.  So you may ask why did I ever go back to a PC.  All I can really say for myself is that I was cheap.  I wanted light, small and something that did not take up all my carry on bag.  The netbook did intend fill that role.

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with the Acer netbook.  In many ways it is a perfect little machine for email, surfing the web and blogging while traveling.  But I could never convince CrisMarie to logon.  So I was generally carrying her computer as well as the netbook.  The screen was small.  Also there were just things that were not as elegant and as nice.

So I have gone back to Apple.  I decided to try the MacAir.  It is light, elegant and I have no doubts CrisMarie will be happy to use this new machine on the road.  Honestly I am not even sure how long I will be able to call it mine.  The Air is so light and so far is fast and reliable.  (I have only had it for a day so reliable might be pushing it.)  Still I am happy to be back on an Apple.

I know this is not really a deep, reflective piece of writing.  But I just had to share my joy.  Plus this is my way of notifying some friends they my have to find me fresh on ichat and Skype.

Maybe tomorrow I will have something more significant to write.  For now I will just be playing on my MAC!!

Life Lessons from The Games

I have been soaking in as much of the Olympic vibes as possible.  Last week on my way to The Haven for a Come Alive, I caught the skytrain down to the heart of Vancouver and enjoyed just walking and chatting with folks.  Of course during the Come Alive my energy and attention shifted to the folks in the group.  Though I found it quite fun to check out the results either online or through dinner conversations.

Now back at home I am watching with CrisMarie, an Olympian from the summer games.  In the past she wasn’t too fond of  watching.  It seemed to stir some pain from her own Olympian disappointment in finishing sixth.  Fortunately she seems to have come to a different place now.  Able to recognize the amazing triumph of making it to the Games and competing at that level and even drawing from the disappointment to speak about the lessons learned about teaming; primarily the difference between being a boat of champions and a championship boat.

It is interesting to me to watch the athletes.  Especially the ones expected to medal.  So much pressure.  Some seem to embrace that moment and rise to the occasion.  I am not just speaking of those who win their Gold, Silver or Bronze but also about those who don’t,  yet still stay thrilled with the moment and able to recognize that on that one day they did not win.

Personally I believe it takes excellence and dedication over time to make it to the Games.  It takes a peak moment to win the Gold.  Very different.  One not better or worse then the other.  But different.

I love the events where some unexpected contender races to the lead, surprising everyone.  I was watching the USA hockey team beat Canada 5-3 and watched the goalie defend 45 shots at the goal, only allowing 3 to get in.  I could not help but wonder was that a peak moment or a sustainable performance.  Just the fact that Canada got 45 shots on the goal versus 20 some by the USA, who was the better team and who was having the better moment.

That is what makes the Games so interesting to me.  There is just that drive that allows someone or a team to come together and practice and dedicate themselves to making it to the greatest sporting event.  That effort alone is something any Olympian I would hope could recognize and honor for themselves.  Then there is the moment – the event.  Some will rise that day and fly; others will put their heart in the event to simply be beaten by a better performance and some will fall and never cross the finish line.  Indeed that moment can be crushing after all the effort.  Still I can’t help but believe that  there will be a day when each and every athlete that walked through the gate during the opening ceremonies can and will fully embrace the accomplishment of that – with or without a medal to show for it.

In the Come Alive we talk about the Power and Strength Model. This is a continuum that we are all living and choosing all the time.  The power side of the model deals with control, roles, security and dominating the world around us.  The strength side deals vulnerability, authenticity, risk and finding our will from within.  For me this is the essence of the Olympics.  I see and hear the continuum being played out through these athletes.  The power in winning – taking the podium. The strength in competing – rising with or without a medal.  Some will get fixated on their moment.  That moment may be one of greatest or humility; victory or defeat.  Some will flow through the moment.  Again through the high of winning or the low of falling short of their dream.  I can see it on their faces as they embrace their team mates or not, speak to the press or not and through the awarding of the medals. With some  the fixation is clear.  This moment will define them for some time.  For others it is simply another piece of the fabric of their lives.  May be a bright spot but still just a piece and they are already moving on.

We are all like these athletes. Life is like the Games.  Fortunately not being captured on TV.  Yet still working with that same dynamic.  The moments and the day-to-day effort it takes to make those moment possible.  We are our peak experiences as well as the little choices we make every day.

Sometimes I get stuck focusing on the moments and miss the opportunity to move on.  Sometimes I forget to celebrate a moment and move on too quickly. Indeed life is always offering me so many opportunities to wake up – in-the-moment and over time.  I would like to be one of the ones who does indeed wake up and can celebrate that I made it to the Games and gave it all the power and strength I had to offer; with or with a medal.

That would be cool!!

Let The Games Begin!!

I watched the opening ceremonies of the Winter Games in Vancouver, BC.  I don’t think I have ever watched an opening ceremonies from start to finish.  I did last night and was amazed at the pride I felt in being part Canadian.  I know lots of people have been upset with the amount of money spent to put on these Games.  I have heard there are groups protesting for many reasons and even stopping the flame from easily moving across the country and specifically last night through the streets.  But even with all that protest I was reminded why these Games need to happen and why Vancouver, BC is the perfect location right now.  It isn’t about perfection, it’s about heart, resilience and connection – and that rang through in so many ways for me watching the Games begin.

When I lived in Canada I spent many years working with the aboriginal people there.  I was a family counselor and a trainer for community Drug & Alcohol and Family Violence counselors.  Indeed there were many challenges facing the native communities.  Each year a new group of students would arrive for training so that they could go back into their communities and help their people.  The students often had to deal with their own history of abuse, alcoholism and victimization.  Many of the stories shared were horrific and stirred my own sense of injustice and anger at the treatment of people with different beliefs then those in the majority.  Canada’s treatment of their aboriginal peoples’ was not something most would think of as even possible based on the friendly, welcoming nature attributed to Canada in comparison to most of the other world powers.  At some point through those years, the Canadian government took a much different stand regarding that history.  Through acknowledging the suffering and pain inflicted by some of the government’s choices, followed by court actions, money and land distributions, they  made an attempt to ‘right’ some of the ‘wrongs’.  I’m not sure how well that really worked.  But I did think last night watching the ceremonies open with such a grand acknowledgment of the tribes across Canada that many of the angry voices I had heard through the years screaming for acceptance of their ways and values most have been proud.

These Games started on a sad note.  An athlete died on the opening day on a training run for the luge.  I was moved by the moment of silence taken for a comrade who had fallen and the flags flying at half-mast.   The silence of such a huge crowd and the faces shown of the athlete’s made it quite clear that each knew the dangers and the risk taken in any type of competition.  In that sixty seconds there were no differences between nations, the common bond of our mortality was quite powerful.

I loved that the flame was not lit by one but by many.  That moment when the fourth leg of the cauldron did not rise to provide perfect symmetry may have for some been a major error.  However, I found it yet another significant meaningful touch.  A reminder that life is not about perfection but about heart, resilience and connection.  Those athletes did not get shaken and thankfully the plan was not designed for one but for a team.  So yes there was that pause, just like there was that silent moment and the flags flying at half-mask, that crack in everything that adds  depth and reality.  Personally I liked that things did not go off without a reminder that all is not perfect in our world.  Yet there is much to be celebrated, much to be enjoyed and with all of that the Games will go on!!!  Even without the snow – these Games will go on.  There will be many amazing moments and personally I think Canada will shine not just through it’s greatest but even in it’s imperfections.  That really is life and something I think worth celebrating!!!

So let the Games begin!!


I went to see a Black Curtain showing of the play, Distracted by Lisa Loomer. I am glad it was the Black Curtain showing.  The play was awesome, and I really enjoyed just focusing on the lines and the characters.  After the show one of the actors was saying what it would have been like with full staging.  The script calls for an amazing amount of stimulation – big screens, lots of movement.  Indeed, this would fit in terms of distracting; however, for me I think it might have been too much.  I liked just seeing and hearing the actors.

The play is a  funny, heartfelt and thought-provoking look at a mother’s journey dealing with her 9 year old son who is struggling with hyperactivity and difficulty staying focused.  The mother talks to the teacher, the psychologist, the doctor, a Homeopath and various other experts.  The mother is trying decide if medication is the best avenue.  The script is written through her eyes, but there are many windows into the husband, who at times seems like a man avoiding the problem but ultimately reveals his own inner beliefs that he is the problem.

As a child I would have been considered ADHD along with some other learning issues (dyslexsia). Later in life, as a mental health professional who worked with “ADHD” kids I appreciated the script on many levels.  I do think there is much too much medication distributed not just to children but to adults.  I also believe that children with ‘ADHD’ may not have a disability.

The play did a wonderful job of tracking the mother’s process.  The pain in not knowing what was best, the frustration in discovering that the experts really did not know more than she did, and the challenge of maintaining a marriage when dealing with something that is not easily solved.  It was clear that both for children and adults our solution is all too often medication.  It is amazing how many medications are out there for ADD, OCD, depression, bi-polar, anxiety etc….  Of course, it is also amazing how over-stimullated we are with TV’s, Blackberries, computers and everything available 24/7.  Are we ADD or AOL (Attention OverLoad)?  Are we depressed or simply out of contact – well connection not just text messaging.

When I ran groups for ADHD kids I apparently had an amazing success rate.  I had some other professionals wanting to know the secret and asking to observe.  It was interesting though when they came they could not stand the group dynamics.  My ‘success’ was simply was too chaotic for them.  The groups were often very active sessions where everyone had a drum.  There were strings that each child used to create a space and those boundaries had to be respected.  But other than that I was okay with quite a lot of noise and interaction.  In the end, each of the groups found their way to move forward.  When I interviewed the kids after the group, they all seemed to have learned the most from each other and what seemed to convince them to settle down and focus was their own desire to connect to each other.

Though the groups were successful, without any real science, the positive results were simply not taken very seriously.  However, the parents all seemed to get the idea.  They had been trying so hard to help ‘control’ their out-of-control child that may be they needed to join them sometimes in being a little on the wild side.

The play Distracted provided an equally refreshing conclusion.

Maybe a diagnosis helps sometimes. Even medication might be useful for a short period to assist someone.  But we have taken that WAY too far and stopped looking at the bigger picture.  All these ‘disorders’ may just be trying to tell us something else.  What might happen if we stopped drugging and turned off the over-stimulation and sank in and connected.  I am guessing at first that would be very uncomfortable and in the end I believe we might just discover there is an important message to be received when all the noise stops.

Breathe & Change the World!

I put together a two hour presentation called, Wake Up & Breathe.  I had fun pulling together tons of information I had learned over the years.  Of course I had way more then two hours would allow, plus I had promised experiential and needed to build in time for that.  In the end, the two hours was a variety of tidbits and lots of  opportunities to breathe.  I was very pleased with how willing people were to try things and share they experience with each other.  I also learned myself just how easy it is too get caught up in all the interesting bits of information about breathing and never breathe.

The day after the talk I found myself running ahead of myself throughout the day.  I didn’t remember the most important piece of information from the night before – keep it simple and take the few seconds throughout the day to breathe!

I could easily say I big piece of the problem for me is having a hyper puppy demanding my attention.  I could also blame a busy schedule.  But I had in my talk given lots of ways that only took seconds and/or could be done easily with Bailey in my lap.  ( which he loves and he definitely beathes!).  So what makes it so hard to make the time to breathe.

I do believe there are two possibilities.  One is that when I breathe  I often bump into places where I am holding or begin to feel some feelings which I may or may not be so open to allowing.  That use to be the common cause of keeping the breathe shallow and holding on.  I am actually better at that now.  Of course I still get get caught avoiding feeling but at least I am more aware and can shift.

The second reason is a bit more surprising because it just seems odd.  These days when I am regularly breathing and stay present.  I actually find I feel more alive, joyful and quite content.  Now you would think that would be a pretty good motivator to remember to breathe.  But it seems I have some sort of speed bump around contentment or aliveness.  Some is great but too much just doesn’t isn’t okay.

I don’t think I am the only one who operates this way.  I know others who seem to wrestle with a similar set point.  Why is it that contentment, joy and aliveness are so hard to stay in.  I think most people would say they want that in their lives and most people stop themselves.

I have read the quote about our greatest fear being our greatest and our light not failure.  May be that does have something to do with it.  We don’t seem to have too much trouble dwelling in worry, doubt and all that is wrong with the world.  What about what’s ‘right’.  I can get to the idea of being present.  But I think there’s even more.  Presence taps me into unlimited possibilities and some type of oneness or wholeness.  I am much more then me and from that possibility anything is possible.  I guess I believe from that space we aren’t just present we are everything – the past, the present and the future – which means we can influence and shift ourselves and our planet.  To me that is worth considering.  We do it unconsciously anyway – breathing is the one function that is both voluntary and involuntary.  So way not  breathe conciously.  Just imagine what’s possible.  Wow!!

Today I started out taking some time to breathe.  Nothing too big but enough to get me vibrating and excited about life.  So far I am finding the day is going quite well.  I haven’t changed the planet but I also haven’t been afraid to imagine that I could – one little blog and breathe at a time!!

My Love for The Haven

I am on my way home from the annual Faculty meeting at The Haven.  It is a long trip with added frustration this year due to Olympic security in Vancouver.  I had thought I would not make it.  Now heading home, tired and weary from the travel I am very grateful I made the effort.

As many of my regular followers know I have been engaged with The Haven for over twenty-five years.  I’ve been through all of the core programs a few times, been leading programs for over a decade.  I worked, lived there and in many ways grew up calling The Haven my home. Yes, arriving there many years ago thinking I was dying I was given something to yearn for when I didn’t really believe I had any good reason to live.  So it’s easy on a personal level to know why The Haven is home.

But it goes beyond personal for me.  I was reminded in many ways this weekend not just why I love The Haven but also why I truly believe the place is special and needs to always be there.  I won’t cover everything but I will address two key reasons I think more people need to know about The Haven.

This year’s meeting provided some back to the basic stuff for those of us who are long time leaders.  We started the first afternoon breathing with a partner.  Doesn’t get much more basic then that.  Fifteen minutes later I was reminded of how such a simple experience can be so transformative, grounding and connecting.  We then spent the next few hours taking the time to speak frankly, honestly and deeply with each other.  These conversations were one on one.  Some short,  some longer.  Again I was reminded of how easy it is to avoid being open and honest. Yet, when structure and time is provided,  defenses I didn’t even know were present drop.  I not only discover the person sitting across from me,  I rediscover myself.

After that it did seem easier to talk about some of the challenges we face and having some great dialogue about some issues that have gone unaddressed openly for a while.  We didn’t resolve everything.  But we were able to discover how we can disagree and still commit fully to going forward.

So the opportunity to walk our talk was awesome and that so many choose to do that with the time and structure provided was refreshing.  I don’t know many places where leaders really take the time to do that.

The second reason I was reminded of how much I value The Haven came through and evening presentation about the experience of folks who are dealing with Transgender issues.  I listened as someone I had known as a woman long ago who is now a man spoke about not just his own experience but a world that I fortunately have not experienced as harshly has many do.  I realized as I listened how grateful I was that I had lived and learned at The Haven how to be accepting of people.

I wasn’t really the most normal person growing up.  I had found a way through learning disabilities, being a minority, living through some darker aspects of life in my childhood and when I finally decided to deal with some of that I didn’t go for counseling, I went to The Haven.  I wasn’t labeled or alienated.  I was listened to and given a place that somehow made my crazy life seem normal enough.  I grew beyond all the crazy happenings of my past and realized that life was in the moment, not in holding on to my story.  In listening to the presentation I realized just how fortunate I was because many do get labeled, hated, alienated and walk a much lonelier path.  That path is is even called health care sometimes but it really sounds quite inhuman and not so caring.

I think I had wondered about the topic, was it the right topic for us?  Mainly because I hadn’t had lots of experience with transgender as a label.  But I so loved the way the presentation was so real and people’s response was so personal and affirming that indeed The Haven is a place to come with any label and be given the space to live where labels really aren’t that important.  Labels seem to just drop away, the so called good ones as well as the not so popular,  and people show up and relate and discover themselves beyond whatever label they came with.

I love that about The Haven and I am very grateful I have been reminded once again why The Haven so such a special place and why I keep going back even if it is a very long trip!!