Habits, Pre-commitments, and Identity

Once upon a time in a far off land, I was a Canadian with a name I could not pronounce. With a name like Dawn, Hispanic people find it a strange name (when they hear it spoken), to be calling a woman. In countries with a stronger ‘British’ English accent my name is not pronounced in a way Hispanic people would find it strange. There I was years ago, in Australia, and people were correcting me on how to say my name.

I will be honest, although it was annoying to be corrected each time I said my name and then had to spell it, then was told how to say it correctly, I didn’t consider it an assault to my identity. I knew who I was.

In February, in both our mastermind and book group we are reading Indistractable by Nyr Eyal and The Scroll Marked 1 (daily for February) in The Greatest Salesman in the World-Og Mandino. Each book talks about identity in obtaining success through habits.

One component of creating a habit is commitment, however we don’t always keep our commitments to ourselves. Section 4 of Indistractable goes through ways to keep us on track. Nir Eyal talks about pre-commitments–making a decision before you have to decide. I have some personal policies that eliminate decision fatigue in some areas. It’s an “If this then that” situation. I wrote about personal policies in my post 3 Reasons to Have Personal Policies.

Making appointments helps too; I have signed up for bootcamps because I know I will show up. I will also show up if someone is meeting me to workout. Pre-commitments to other people may be a stronger motivator for some. This applies to learning activities as well like workshops, conventions and masterminds. I heard a phrase today, “Those who pay, pay attention.” When you money into an activity, you are more likely to show up, to pay attention and to put effort in than if you don’t have skin in the game.

The Scroll Marked 1 starts with: “Today I begin a new life.” It is about not accepting our ‘lot’ in life, not accepting that past failure is who we are. It is about making new habits to become the person we wish to become. We are already slaves to our habits. Knowing we are and will be slaves to our habits empowers us to choose habits we wish to be slave to and be rid of those that don’t serve us.

Reading the scroll daily is a commitment to the habit, but what if you don’t like reading. Is it that you don’t like reading or is it that you have been telling yourself that for years and it is who you are now—your identity. Is it that you don’t have time. Is it true you can’t carve out 7 minutes in the morning to read it, or is it what you have told yourself? Are you not a morning person? Are you a night owl? Is that true or is it the identity you have chosen? We all have them. I am not good at …., I am not smart enough, I am more of a _____ person. What if we desire to do something that doesn’t fall in our current identity? We can accept we are not that person and not do it. Or if we really desire it, we have the capacity to change our identity. We may never be great at some things, but in changing our identity we can become proficient enough to understand it or do it less ‘painfully.’ It’s about our perception of the ‘job.’

We can change our identity in two ways.

1. We can do this through speaking it. When we say “I am…in front of an identity it precludes us to certain actions and activities. Years ago, I decided to lose weight and run some half marathons. I called myself an athlete. There was a funny side story prior to that that also influenced me saying it (I’ll share in comments). If someone in the grocery store asked if I wanted help, I would say, “No I got it, I’m an athlete”. if I was working at something difficult, I would say, “I’m an athlete, I got this”. What we put in our minds, becomes our reality.

2. We can do the actions until we become the identity. A few years before to number 1, I decided to try jogging, then began running regularly. I didn’t ‘feel’ like I could say I was a runner until I was doing it regularly. If I didn’t challenge my identity of ‘non-runner’ by starting, I would not have made it a habit; I would not have become a runner and participated in half marathons and a duathlon. Who are you? Who will you be in five years? Who do you desire to become?

We hold fast to our identity. Sometimes that identity doesn’t serve us. We will become different people in 5 years whether we try or not. We can put effort in to become the person we wish to become. We can create habits and pre-commitments to aid in that effort. Decide who you wish to become and create the habits and identity to become that person. In March we are reading The Scroll Marked 2 in TGSITW and finishing up Indistractable and will start Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy. If you are looking for a mastermind group to keep help you become the person you want to become comment below. We have a few spaces left in our small format group. Just want the book group, let me know and I can hook you up.

Virtual Room Etiquette-6 Tips

Have you personally been privy to one of those astonishing situations that have gone viral on Zoom or other meeting platforms? I have not. I am content with that. I have had some frustration on zoom and that likely got me a side gig. I joined the first zoom in March, for a woman’s business group. They scheduled someone to speak on zoom etiquette and explain the buttons on zoom. I am not a technical person but I do retain information pretty well particularly in ‘here, let me show you’ format. I had been on zoom for a mastermind for a good nine months by this time so I was fairly familiar with using it, and knowing more just made me…

…a know it all. Not really. I knew what could be done and when someone struggled to find a mute button, I spoke up. When someone couldn’t see something, I put information in the chat. When people didn’t know how to save the chat, I spoke up.

Because events for ‘that’ email from California went virtual, and I was home all the time, I suddenly could attend. I spoke up, I helped out, I gave a similar ‘let me show you’ talk at the beginning of the zoom. I was asked to be cohost to mute people, because the event was being recorded. I took the job seriously. Oh you just connected to our meeting while also on the phone…..MUTE…bwahahaha…

I added value in the zoom room and learned a few things. I was then invited to be part of a workshop to do the things I was doing and to help the host…and participate, which led to another, which led to a summit and another one and a little bit of monetary compensation and another paid gig.

There are some things I have learned from being a zoom support/host assistant. Many of us have been on zoom for a long time now, some maybe not. When we have been on a long time, even with the same people we can often wonder, “Why is this so difficult to know after 10 months?” Because if you have been on zoom regularly with the same people, it is the same people who just aren’t getting it.

So what things do we hope people will learn and know? What are some points of etiquette? Keep in mind there are many different types of meetings. We have family game nights where some of these things don’t apply, and large gatherings where some things are more or less important, masterminds that are smaller and more intimate, but professional, professional meetings where we are talking to clients or partners. Here are some things to consider while on virtual meetings taking into consideration the purpose of the meeting.

  1. Stay muted unless you are talking. This is particularly important in a large group. The speaker is interrupted and can’t be heard over the background noise of someone not muted. Worse is the person taking a phone call or speaking to someone while the mic is on. Play is safe, mute. You can make brief comments when addressed, by pushing the space key if you are on your desktop. If you are in a small group, 2-6, being unmuted may be more beneficial for the conversation. In that situation, mute to cough, take a call, if suddenly there is background noise. Really, just be polite with your personal noise; it distracts from the event/meeting.
  2. Keep your camera off when you are moving around. This includes multitasking, eating, getting up to do something, blowing your nose, scratching body parts, looking around, talking to someone next to you, when there is activity behind you or not moving, but falling asleep. Movement is distraction for others. In a smaller personal group, some things may not matter and may be more fitting, like when a small child crawls on your lap or the cat crosses your line of vision.
  3. Dress appropriately and cover your butt. No one intentionally spills their hot coffee on their lap. If you are wearing pants, there is definitely not time to turn off the camera before jumping from your seat. Be prepared for the unexpected! No one will know you are wearing sweat pants if something happens that quickly, but they will know if you aren’t wearing pants. Aside from that, dress appropriately; dress how you would if it was an in-person meeting (at least the top of you). Keep in mind, how you show up for yourself is how you show up for others. That may be different for everyone. Consider not only how you feel about yourself, but how that person who you want to work with sees you. The great thing about zoom is the details are not always there, so oily hair and being smelly isn’t as bad on zoom as it is in person. Having said that, if your feel less than wonderful, it can create a wedge in your self-confidence. Again, it depends on what your purpose is for being in the meeting, the size of the meeting and if you need to be confident in what you are saying and presenting.
  4. Lights, camera, action! So much technology, so little practical use. Lighting is great if you are going to be on camera. If you are not a presenter and you are showing up from your living room, perfect lighting is not that important. If you can’t see your face when the camera is on, and you are merely a shadow of yourself it is better to keep your camera off. Being that shadowy figure is uncomfortable for others; they see an image, but they can’t read the expressions. Better to just have your name showing. The camera angle is important too. We often have a camera on the top of the computer screen. Position your camera so people see your face straight on. We may be looking at our screen a lot and that’s okay if we are a participant. If you are the presenter, you should be looking directly at the camera. If you have a separate camera hooked up, it should be where you are looking. If it is below your computer screen, everyone has an ‘up the nose’ view of you, which is rarely flattering. If the remote camera is off to the side, you appear to be talking to someone out of the room while you look at the people on the screen, and if the camera is way above your screen, it may appear you are napping. Finally action. What is in your background; is it distracting to others? Good rule of thumb is to have a wall behind you. This makes it virtually impossible for moving parts coming into play; unless you have a cat–they can be impossible.
  5. Engage in the meeting or event. Virtual activities can be exhausting especially if you have a lot of them or they are long. When in a meeting, and asked a question, answer, or at least put it in the chat if you simply can’t unmute because the blender. If there is a speaker, engage in the chat, comment on things related to what the speaker says, answers to the speaker’s questions, questions for the speaker for the end of the presentation. When on camera, look engaged, nod, lean in every once in awhile, take notes. If you are bored or unengaged, turn off your camera.
  6. Network. We have been isolating and virtual is not the same as in person. Small regular activities like masterminds and weekly meetings with the same people help with connection. Larger events and summits can have you feeling invisible in a room. We often like that; does that comfort serve us in the best way? Networking virtually in a bigger forum is not as difficult as it seems. You don’t even have to be on camera, but like real life and social media, seeing a face increases the know, like trust factor, unless you are a psychopath then it backfires :-). Engaging in the chat has your name pop up, when others engage with you, a connection begins. Put your information in the chat if it’s appropriate to share with all, for the purpose of networking; if not, reach out to someone in a private message and exchange information that way.

Finally, I want to leave you with a couple time savers if you are going to a lot of regular meetings. Use your notes on the device you normally use, putting the recurring meeting links along with passwords, in a note, so you are able to just click from there rather search in emails or other places. Put your contact information in notes as well. Write up a sentence of what you do, your company name and where people can find you on social media as well as websites, emails and phone numbers. This way you can copy and paste in the comments on zoom with little effort. And save the chat and followup on those people who also put their information in the chat.

We talked about showing up, engaging, and not being seen or heard when we are not participating. We talked about lighting and camera angles and background noise. We talked about networking, even though some may hate it. Virtual meeting will be around for awhile. Best to adapt, and while not being rude and intrusive to others, get the most out of it. And for those who have regular meetings, some time savers, because who doesn’t love to save time. What would you add to this list?


Hindsight is 2020. It’s been said for a long time and we can say that literally as well as figuratively, reflecting back on the previous year. Looking back has its uses especially if you have a clearer vision to go forward, from what you learned in the past. We often start a year with resolutions, vision boards, goals or some combinations of them. I have never done resolutions; they always felt contrived and I didn’t want to set them and fail, so I avoided them. Hmmm, I resisted goals for the very same reason, no matter what time of the year. Not that I wandered aimlessly through the wilderness. One can’t accomplish certain things without deciding to do the thing. For instance, getting a degree or finding a job, doing dishes or cleaning the toilet, all noble causes, some more celebrated than others.

Going into this year, I was working on a schedule to time block activities that would get me to my goals, some things I started last year and some new things I am working on. I became overwhelmed. One of the things I have been thinking and talking about for the last six months, is starting and leading a mastermind. The idea has grown and I have had inspiration for it as the time for the year to begin approached. THEN…I was working on my schedule and thought, I have so many things to work on; why would I add something else?

I belong to a mastermind. I joined one with Lorne almost 2 years ago. We were in it for just over a year. It was on zoom for the most part plus a couple of retreats. It was interesting and helped with our growth. We looked at five year goals and when I looked at that paper I wrote a year ago, I am seeing am seeing the progression toward what I set out then. I am now in the alumni group working on going further.

One of the tasks we were giving in the current mastermind subgroup, in which we are focusing on networking, was to write down fifty things we are proud of, from anytime in life. The proud things can be large, like my degree for instance. I also added some smaller things that someone may think are ridiculous, like when I went in the water off the sail boat with a life jacket; my fear of not being able to touch the bottom, had me so afraid, but I did it anyway. The reason for the list for networking, is for confidence in having done some amazing things and being interesting.

I listened to a couple podcasts before Christmas as well that inspired one of the books we will be reading this year. It is Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy. In the interview with Dan Sullivan he suggested sending an email to ten of your closest friends/coworkers and ask them what your unique abilities are. I sent out the email to more people, expecting some would not reply. Two weeks in, I have had half of the people reply. That gives me a lot of data. I asked them for three unique abilities that I have, not to think too long, just what comes to mind. Some gave me three words, concise and easy to use as data. Others gave me words and personal examples. It was so nice to see the frame of reference in the answer. Some gave me up to six and others gave me a bonus or two. Most of the answers fall under 6 categories that in some ways are also related. I will be sharing the results in our Abundanthood newsletter which you can subscribe to here.

Within the first day of responses (I had one in 5 minutes and another in 20 minutes), it was apparent that the one thing I should be doing is the mastermind and book group. I realized it is where I can serve people the best.

We are starting off the book group and mastermind with Indistractable by Nyr Eyal. I have set up a reading schedule and we are adding people to the fb group who have asked to be part of it. I have some people for the mastermind group as well. We are keeping the group small and we have a couple spaces open yet.

The other thing we will be doing with the groups is going through The Greatest Secret in the World/Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. We will be working on one scroll a month from February through November. Further books are/will be chosen with those scrolls in mind, and our Abundanthood newsletter will follow the same themes.

We will be starting the reading for the fb book group and the zoom mastermind next Monday. Let me know if you want more information.

We will have our Abundant Homes website up soon. I am working on my book again, and finally had some inspiration for a title. I have the book mostly written and now I am going back to the beginning and reading it as a reader, editing and filling in details. My goal, plan, vision, is to have this book published this year. I will pin down a date with my mastermind group when we do goal setting the first couple weeks.

What is your vision for 2021? What is your vision for the next few months. Do you have goals set out and actions steps weekly/daily? Do you have accountability? If you are looking for any of those things, send me a message and we can get you set up with the mastermind, and/or the fb book group.

What Is Your Hope?

What do you have hope in at this time? What do you hope for the future? This month our theme for Abundanthood is HOPE and BELIEVE. I sent an email to our newsletter readership last week asking some questions. With the response I received back, I decided it was worth sharing with those who are reading here. Here is the email in full:

“My idea is to give hope, because where there is not hope, there is no vision, and where there is not vision, people will perish.”—Oprah Winfrey

I just wanted to send out a quick pre-newsletter email. A bit of a check in, a little something to having you thinking about this month. How are you doing as we approach the end of the year? How can we help you?

This month you will notice our social media (@abundanthood on instagram and fb) and our newsletter will focus on hope and believe.

As we will be saying good-bye to this strange year at the end of the month, some may have hope for a better year next year, while others may feel a sense of despair, believing things will only get worse or at the minimum stay the same. Are you on one side or the other? Do you go back and forth? I have been up and down lately as my body recovers from illness and my energy bounces like a ball.

When we were choosing our name for our REI business and community, our desire was to communicate our willingness to help and to bring hope. When helping a person who is stuck and needs to sell their home, we can help

For people who want to to invest in real estate while not able or interested in years of education and the work involved to make the best decisions possible, we can help; working with a group of investors means there are more investment opportunities to connect you with.

Our desire in our community Abundanthood, is to bring inspiration and hope to everyone who sometimes struggles with motivation, mindset or getting out of their comfort zone; to help with encouragement and insight, and to inspire growth. An abundant life is more than the house you live in, it is the home you make, your family, the people in your life, the health you improve or maintain, the wealth you build, and the purpose and well-being you desire. 

In our newsletter this month we will talk about how we help sellers who may be feeling hopeless, those who are overwhelmed with the thought of selling, those who don’t have enough equity to sell by regular means.

Starting January we will be featuring local small businesses. Small business drive the community, and we want to help, supporting them through our platform, that is continuing to grow. The businesses will have their own small features. January’s theme will be Vision. 

As we work through this month and all the differences from previous years, let’s remain hopeful and focus on a better future. 

Finally, thank you those who have been reading our newsletter regularly, and those who have sent feedback. Your words have lifted us up. It is our hope that what you read in the newsletter serves you well; that you are inspired and encouraged. We desire for you a hope that leads to vision. 

Live Abundantly, Dawn

If you would like to receive the monthly newsletter, you can subscribe here. Leave a comment about your hopes, answers to any of the questions. Do you have a favourite quote about hope?

In Sickness and In Health

We had just had supper and we (my husband Lorne and I) sat on the couch to rest, just a few short weeks ago. We each took a deep breath; you know the kind, those deep sighing type breaths one takes when just so tired. We each took another and another…every breath that each of us took, was that deep breath. It wasn’t painful, nor was it frightening in itself. The frightening thing; we weren’t sure if that was as bad as it would be, or if it would get much worse.

One doesn’t know the outcome until…there’s an outcome, or at least a clear path towards one. By the time of that time on the couch that evening, we had had covid for over a week. We were fortunate the breathing did not become more laboured. We didn’t know that until a few days later when we were on the mend, and doubt still had a wedge in our ‘know’.

Over the last couple weeks I haven’t done much writing as far as my blog or book. I did begin and finish my monthly newsletter which came out this week. You can see it here.

I also spent some time on messages and emails answering questions people wanted to know. We were the first people that many of our friends and acquaintances know to get covid, so there was much curiosity along with the concern. As there is when someone gets ill or passes, it is human nature to ask how, why, when. Perhaps it is our way to reassure or brace ourselves. I decided I would write my/our experience here, to look back years from now, and also just share the link for those who have questions.

I drank a lot more tea than usual. I even had medicinal teas I don’t like because they are probably good for me and I couldn’t taste them.

Do you know how you contracted Covid? We can’t be 100% certain, but most likely the gym. We had seen some people through the two weeks prior but none of them got covid. We were also in a couple restaurants and stores. We had both been to the gym the two weeks before, Lorne had a physio appointment 2 days before, and had a tooth pulled that day as well. On Tuesday the 3rd, the gym called Lorne to let him know he was potentially exposed on October 29th at his evening class.

When did you you start having symptoms? Lorne started feeling ‘off’ on Sunday, November 1st. We were doing some work outside because it was a very warm day, but he didn’t have much energy and was a little grumpy (in my opinion haha) and he said he felt ‘off’, which we thought could be the result of the tooth pull and physio two days prior. I began to feel ‘off’ the next day, he was feeling flu-ish by then. The ‘off’ I felt was no different than any other ‘off’ I may feel if I didn’t sleep right, hormones, ate something that didn’t agree with me, any number of things throughout life that is there one day and gone the next. But because he was more ill than the day before, I stayed home from my evening dance class.

When did you get tested and find out? On Tuesday the 3rd, Lorne slept in because he couldn’t sleep the night before and he was feeling ill. He had an appointment a test that afternoon. He got the call from the gym when he was getting ready to go for the test. He got his test results via text on Thursday the 5th. I went on Friday the 6th, in the afternoon and received my test result via text on Sunday evening.

Did you expose anyone to Covid? We babysat our grandson on the Sunday afternoon (Nov 1). He slept most of the time on a walk we took him on. When we got back our daughter was done her exam. I was making supper, so she did most things with him. She stayed for supper. She began isolating the next day when she found out we weren’t well. She got tested on the Friday an hour after me, and tested negative. She isolated the following week as well and did not become ill. Other than being out on Friday the 30th (those places were notified), before we got it and less than 24 hours from his time of exposure, we did not see anyone else so we believe we did not infect anyone.

How bad were the symptoms? I believe each person reacts differently and even though we went through it together we did not get the same things happen at the same time. That breathing thing did happen on the same night. I was less sick at the beginning. Had I got it first, I may not have known that I had covid. Like I mentioned earlier, feeling ‘off’ can be pretty normal. I generally felt off all week. I couldn’t sleep, felt wired, then tired, but still couldn’t sleep and had a headache Tuesday and Thursday the first week. I would have attributed all those weird things to something like ‘anxiety for no apparent reason’. Because Lorne was sick and flu-ish, and had the same sleep problems, then was diagnosed, I knew I had it. I was more sick at the 10-18 days mark. I got heavy head congestion, yet could breathe through my nose. I couldn’t smell or taste for a longer period than Lorne had that symptom for; he had the taste/smell symptom earlier in his illness. He had more chest and throat soreness. He had more lower abdomen/intestinal problems, I had more stomach nausea and reflux and heartburn, which follows our normal sensitivities. He had fever at times, I don’t recall having a fever or being especially warm or cold outside of normal. Neither of us had much or any cough. Other than the breathing problems I didn’t feel it in my lungs the way I have read others have suffered. I am thankful.

Flu like symptoms? It wasn’t like having the flu. Our experience with having the flu is being sick for some time, having all or most of the symptoms at the same time and sleeping through the worst part. We had flu like symptoms that were not the same for each and they were often separate, sometimes at the same time. They were also sporadic and unpredictable. We would have a headache, then 6 hours later a fever, then a day with a sore throat, then an hour fever, then feel pretty good, then can’t breathe, then feel good, then headache. It all seemed random and we didn’t know when it would get worse or better or what would come next. Toward the end it seemed we would feel pretty good one day, bad the next, good the next, bad… And I don’t think I had a fever at any time; also I wasn’t testing regularly and could have had one in my sleep.

How long before you were covid free? According the the health professionals when we had the test, and the website, we could be out after 10 days, or when we no longer had the fluish symptoms, whichever was longer. Lorne was better in just over 2 weeks, whereas it took me closer to 3 weeks. They do not have you retest. It is normal to have breathing issues and tiredness beyond the end of symptoms. The main symptom they seem to stress is fever, 24 hours after last fever or end of other symptoms.

Do you have lasting effects? Yes, we are both still struggling with breathing when we do something more than plain walking and even for that if it’s too fast or is too far. I pulled a sled full of wood to the house a week ago and was breathing very heavily and it took awhile to catch my breath. I pulled the same load a couple days ago and it took the same amount of time to catch my breath (2ish minutes), but I wasn’t breathing nearly as heavily. I still don’t have a ton of energy to get work done.

Did you take anything to mitigate the illness? Because I am not a medical professional I won’t say too much about it. I did get a list sent to me from someone who got it from a lung doctor. The list was for vitamins which included in part, vitamins D, C zinc, and melatonin, as well as aspirin and recommended dosages. I took most things on the list and the levels mentioned. I also took cold caplets (day and night), for the congestion and tightness in my head and when not those, sometimes Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen. Lorne took those more regularly for fever and joint pain.

Were there any weird symptoms? The inability to sleep struck me as weird. It felt like anxiety physically. I was surprised when Melatonin was on the list, but then I knew why. The other thing that may or may not be a symptom was the unusual smell of our urine. The first day, the day each of us felt ‘off’, we had odd smelling urine (just one time), strong like asparagus pee but different. It happened on different days for each of us, so it wasn’t what we ate (we ate different food on Monday than Sunday) and we didn’t eat anything that would cause it like asparagus does. It seemed to happen within a few hours of realizing, ‘I am feeling ‘off’.’

Our experience was mild to medium illness, but how can you gage that…what does that even mean? We lost our sense of taste and smell, felt sick for too many days, Lorne worked most of it since he works from home. I did a few learning things and worked an on-line 5 day summit, went to zoom meetings and read a ton. I also did some purposeful networking along with messaging with our family and friends to keep them abreast.

This week our daughter lost a long term acquaintance from covid. He got it and was gone in 5-6 days. He was posting his severe sickness on instagram, keeping people updated; his symptoms were violent. Our daughter was seeing his posts for 5 days, and then she got the text from her friend. It can happen so fast. He was 35 years old with no known co-morbidities.

We didn’t post it on social media. We weren’t keeping it a secret. We just didn’t want to broadcast. We also didn’t want those who are conspiracy theorists using us as example of ‘see it’s not that bad’, and we certainly didn’t want to prove them wrong through our experience. We were also afraid of the outcome…because you don’t know the outcome…and we didn’t want to have it all in real time. I am sharing now because it seems we will be okay and I can share this post with those curious about our experience.

We are thankful we were not among those who end up in hospital, on a respirator and worse. We had groceries, supplies and even a gift basket delivered. We had someone take our vehicle in for it’s appointment. We were blessed by many messages and check-ins. We felt loved, taken care of, cared for and blessed. The outcome line keeps moving. We are very thankful for the outcome up to this point.

3 Reasons to Have Personal Policies

Our kids were subject to a lot of rules growing up. There was the rule that the pet person of the week cleaned up all the pet messes. One child felt the cats and dog waited until she was on pet duty to puke. The dish drier had to clean out the dishwasher. The sweeper had to put away family laundry (towels, mats) and everyone was responsible for their own things. They knew not to ask for treats before chores were done, nor before supper. They we aware that certain behaviours unbecoming of children had certain consequences. They may have been like little soldiers had I directed their every move.

I home schooled them and they knew that five years of piano lessons was the expectation, and 2 years minimum of percussion and one year of voice. Tears were shed, passive-aggressive non-practice occurred, and whining ensued at times. The rules stood, the kids survived and thrived. As parents and families we set rules and boundaries and we may say to our kids, “In our family we do things this way.”

I remember when I met someone as we were traveling in a vehicle together. She was commenting on struggles with her kids, I think she had two and I had the four. She said something specific and I said something specific like, “Oh, the pet person checks for the food and gives them food.” She mentioned another thing and I said, “Yeah whoever is this person for the week checks and gets it done.” A little further into the conversation she said “Wow, you have so many rules in your house, how do your kids remember them all?” It seemed a bit of a judgement on my kids not being allowed to be kids. I didn’t consider them rules, but more like policy, standards and systems. With policy, standards and systems there doesn’t need to be rules; they are the guideposts to get things done, the pillars that hold up the structure and more than anything they kept things running like a well oiled machine.

Aside from the whining of the “The cat always pukes on my week”, every person did their job when they needed to do it and things got done without the frustration of making one more decision, without micromanaging each item daily. There was no “I always have to…”, there was no “I did it last time”; things got done.

I was listening to Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft last night. They were talking about personal policy. It was ironic since I had shared a personal policy with someone last week, my personal policy of not opening videos or reading anything long (that is copy and pasted), on messenger that does not have a personal note. I said it in a kind way as I had with others. She very nicely said she respected my ask but knowing me, she was surprised. I did ask about this ‘surprise’ she spoke of, curious both how she saw me and how it connected to her surprise. In her response, I believe it was more that I was not engaging in her content and that she thought I would want her to share it. Alas, my personal policy did not save me from her judgment, nor her potentially taking my policy as an affront.

Just like policy and systems in a workplace or a family, personal policy has similar benefits. Here are a few:

  1. It takes away the stress of decision making which can cause decision fatigue. Having too many decisions to make is tiring. If I have a policy about something, I don’t have to make a decision; I defer to my policy, that makes the decision for me. When there were towels to put away, I didn’t have to think about who should do it; there was a person for that, and I didn’t even need to know who. I just had to announce it was not done yet. and the person would step up or the others would point him or her out.
  2. Personal policies help with time management. I have policies and systems around my emails and messages. It simplifies my life, not only in the decision fatigue realm, but also in allowing me to say no or to say yes, because it is my policy. In that way, it helps me with time management and attaining my goals. When I have my phone on do not disturb, I don’t know about the notifications. If I am writing and have headphones on I have a personal policy not to check my phone. My phone does not get answered during sports. I time block to get goals done. I set aside times for meetings and masterminds. I set aside time for fitness. I get enough sleep. I get things done partly because of my personal policies.
  3. It helps people not to take it personally when you don’t do what they want you to. If you have to say no to someone because of your personal policy, people don’t take it personally as often. This is not the case if they misinterpret your personal policy and still think it is all about them, but it works more often than not. Because when it is your personal policy it is not about them. You are not choosing to something for everyone else and not them, you are making a blanket choice for all. An example is with fasting. It is much easier to refuse a cookie and say that you are fasting rather than saying you are cutting back; “It’s just one cookie” your friends will say, “You just worked out,” but when you say, “I’m fasting,” they tend to leave you alone, because now you are not refusing their cookie, you have a personal policy. I tend to be an all or nothing person so that works in my favour too.

Policy, systems and standards guide our life in pretty much every way, but sometimes we stop creating them. Or we get so busy we just take care of things not considering how to make it easier. Some people are more inclined to make policies; they thrive on systems, finding easier ways of doing things. Others are less wired to creating systems but we all live by systems. I believe some don’t make policies because it constrains them. Like a menu plan, you make it, you can break it, you can switch things you can change it at any time, you can be flexible. Having policies is very freeing. In a business and family, it has everyone on the same page, knowing what needs to be done. With personal policies, it’s freeing as well having yourself on task with yourself and not having to make the same decision over and over again.

Do you have a lot or a few family policies? Do you have specific, thought out personal policies? What systems have you set up for your family? What personal policies do you have?

Get What You Deserve

‘Oh Sweetie, it’s my award. I borrowed your items to make my display. Here is a penny. Thank you for lending me your things.’

I was a seven year old second grader, she was in fourth grade. She had made a display of Girl Guide items, her uniform as a guide, mine as a Brownie and the badges and books; she won an award for her display at the science fair. There was an announcement to pick up the displays and awards. I was seven, and thought I won the award because my things were on it. She saw me in the hallway of the big school and asked why I was there and I told her I came to pick up my award and my uniform.

Her answer was full of compassion and care and my eyes welled up with tears as they always did when someone showed me compassion, (and also if someone looked at me the wrong way). I also felt really stupid that I didn’t realize that it was her award. Of course it was her award, why would I think otherwise, it was so obvious? I was embarrassed because I cried and I was embarrassed that she may have thought it was because I didn’t get the award but it was because I was embarrassed at thinking it was mine and I cried because she was so kind.

All those things would bring tears to my eyes, compassion, looks of disapproval/disappointment, feeling stupid and my tears would just make it worse because I would be embarrassed. When I look back on that incident, I feel it was the time I made the decision to not cry, to not be that soft. I became resolute in being less sensitive.

It’s been a challenging week on a number of levels. There is the breath time right after a very busy and challenging couple weeks that can create a sad mood. There were the thoughts I was challenging myself with, along with the challenging thoughts that…well, challenge me.

At the beginning of the week I was working on a real estate purchase situation. I was not sure how to structure the offer to make it a win-win. I asked myself and God the MIQ, (Most Important Question) before falling asleep. It is a practice I have been consistent with, having an MIQ. Most of them lately have been questions from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. He has a list in the last chapter and I have taken to ask one a day.

I don’t remember the MIQ particularly but I know it related to the writing up of the offer. It was Monday night. I know a lot about a lot of things, but I didn’t know how to do what I needed to do. Is it not true, “You don’t know what you don’t know?” I felt strongly that I was clueless in the task at hand and needed to talk to someone. Which leads to what happened next.

I woke up a few hours after falling asleep. I had been dreaming and the last images were of some items (earrings and necklaces) I had seen in a friend’s on-line catalogue. Then there was a list, that turned into a menu board much like you see in coffee shops and pastry shops. As I looked at the board, it was faded and I couldn’t read it, but the voice I heard said: “Everything you seek from other people, You Deserve….from Yourself.”

I woke up at that moment with the thought replaying in my mind, and spent the next 4 hours meditating (about lots of things not just that), because I couldn’t sleep. I was confused by the message; it didn’t seem to be congruent with my MIQ. I felt like there were simply things I did not know and would need to seek help with. I felt there was more to the message to unwrap.

For the house deal, I had a great call with a mentor who had many suggestions, and we walked through all the details. I decided there wasn’t a way to have a win for both parties at this time. There are many factors involved which I had worked out for the most part. I needed confirmation. I didn’t want to make a mistake and make a bad deal, or miss a good one because I overlooked something.

I believe it makes good business sense to consult with people who have a lot of experience. I really didn’t think the message was about my knowledge, although I also believe I under-acknowledge and undervalue my abilities and my knowledge.

I am reading Robert Greene’s book The Laws of Human Nature. This week I was reading Chapter 9 on confronting your dark side. One of the parts of my dark side is the sensitivity I have and the vulnerability I have protected through my tough, resilient shell. It may not seem like a dark side, but when you are working hard at not showing it, it becomes the dark side. This sensitivity dark side is not news to me; I have strategically softened over the years, focused on love. Some may still think of me as crusty. What I loved as I read to the end of the chapter is we need to see, embrace, explore and show the shadow. In exploring, I loved this part that I read this morning and it seems to be to some extent the answer to the MIQ, perhaps the answer to every MIQ:

“Understand: The conscious thinking we depend on is quite limited. We can hold on to only so much information in short- and long-term memory. But the unconscious contains an almost limitless amount of material from memories, experiences and information absorbed in study.

Over the last year in our mastermind class we have talked extensively of using our unconscious minds, our dreams, our odd associations in our thoughts and coming up with inspiration and ideas. I had a call with the coach yesterday and a number of times tears welled up. It is still so annoying to me and I stress beforehand about situations where that will happen. It doesn’t matter if it is a safe place, I don’t really want to be that sensitive. I don’t think I am alone on that. I believe it is natural to not want to cry in front of others and culturally it is not seen as a positive.

The last part of the chapter said to show your Shadow (a term coined by Carl Jung), that dark side we don’t want to show because we don’t like it. The more we try to hide it, the more it grows and comes out in less ‘fashionable’ ways, ways we regret afterwards. Robert Greene encourages us to be who we are with what we see as our good and bad qualities; it makes us truly authentic.

I like that freedom, also I still don’t care for those shadowy parts of me including the biggest one, my oversensitive nature. All those things would bring tears to my eyes, compassion, looks of disapproval/disappointment, putting myself out there, open for criticism, feeling stupid… and my tears would just make it worse…they still do. I am working on being okay with it.

3 Reasons to Front Load Your Week

When a team is up by a lot of points at the beginning of the game, there is a psychological thing that happens in the minds of the opponents and their fans. Doubt has been introduced; the doubt that the trailing team will be able to pull up their socks, secure some luck and establish a win. The team with the greater number of points needs to keep momentum. We have all been witness to those times when a team was flourishing and then choked. It happens, which is why there are sports psychologists, for the potential chokers and those who lose heart because of setbacks.

It happens in the game of life as well. How many times have you set up a schedule to get things done in a week only to have your plans unravel as things come up, you have interruptions from or urgent matters to attend like a sick child? How often have you had time blocked to work on something, only to have an ‘important’ phone call? Have you ever planned to get something done only to have someone ask you to work on something else instead? It feels like being behind in a game and the chances of winning this week is slim to nil.

Let’s touch on goals before we talk about how to manage them.

We have long term goals, and shorter term goals, maybe weekly goals. These goals often build on each other and can be action steps toward our larger goal. When we follow those steps, when we are consistent, we build the habits and see the progress as we travel in the direction of our greater goals.

The actions steps are things we want to get done, the things we believe will get us to our long term goals, but the things we are not getting done due to daily treadmill rounds.

On the treadmill we have our daily, weekly, monthly tasks that we get done because we have no choice. Like showering, we don’t want to leave a task too long or we will start offending people, especially that person intimately close–ourself. But those things often end up taking our time and we fail to get the more important items done.

We may have a work list and family list and to do list and ‘must get done now’ list. Often those are swirling in our head. There are so many important things to get done and then there are all the urgent things and the things people suddenly dump on you. Sometimes managing those things is a matter of taking a breath, staying in your lane and plowing through to the best of your ability. Other times, you can curate a decent schedule to get a lot done. Above and more importantly we have our weekly goals or action steps toward your big goals.

The list of actions step goals should be no longer than three things for your week, but it may include a daily meditation or daily reading, or exercising three times a week, or once per week hour long massage. Whatever is very important that you won’t do if you don’t make it happen by way of goals/action steps. The rest of the lists can be divided and worked into your week. Selecting the difficult items to get done first thing, or the 3 most important to get done each day helps. Some things will get postponed because usually our list is longer than the day or week affords.

The action steps keep us focused. Adding an accountability partner will help propel the desire to get it done, if accountability works for you. I tend to be a gold sticker person so accountability works well for me. There was a time last week not too long ago, that I would do just about anything to get my goals done before talking to my accountability partners. I have been giving myself grace with some things the last few weeks and not sure it is in my best interest. There is something to be said on being a little bit tough on yourself.

To get the important things done, the weekly action steps you need some game strategy. Sure you can win the game if you fall behind in the week, but if you front load the week success come easier. Whatever day you begin your week on, make sure you start your goals and/or get as much done toward them as possible. I try to do most of my things on Monday and Tuesday. If you have done all the heavy lifting at the beginning of the week you are sure to get more done than if you push the accomplishments until later.

Here are 3 ways results of front loading your week.

  1. You get your goals done. Leaving them to later increases the chance your efforts will be derailed later in the week by something that pops up.
  2. You will be fresher when tackling your action steps. So often as the week wears on, it wears on us. We become more tired and less motivated to get something done especially if it is an ‘extra’ as our action steps often are.
  3. We get momentum. You know that excitement when you can cross something off the list or when you accomplish a bunch of things. When you get a lot done in the first couple days of the week, you have momentum to keep knocking things down. Be wary of the complacency that can pop up with the feeling of a job finished. There are always more things to do; stopping before the week is done will have you feeling just as unsatisfied as if you didn’t do the goals.

A win is a game well-played from beginning to the very end, doing easier things as you are wearing down in energy. Just like in a game, you want to front load your schedule, keep the momentum and finish strong.

6 Tips in Dealing With an Overgrown Schedule

As September approaches with the early morning crisp air scented with earthy notes of dead damp foliage, thoughts of school and schedules begin to occupy the minds of students, parents of students. Those who were one or the other for most of their lives, but are no longer driven by the schedule are pulled into it through memories evoked from the turning of the leaves, the cool mornings, and the aromas of fall.

Summer is not over just yet, but it has been slightly cooler and the leaves are beginning to fade into the yellows and browns, but continue to hang on. We have enjoyed some produce from the garden as well.

The following is the editorial portion of our newsletter for our business Abundant Homes. The newsletter Abundanthood comes out monthly. We have been growing it since January. I have a link for it below so you can check out the rest of the newsletter.

With all the rain, and a couple of hot weather weeks, my garden is overgrown; I struggle to walk in it to get the items I want to harvest, trying to avoid the tender outgrowths of plants. The pumpkin and squash have enveloped every space possible and have grown up and through the fences. It seems in spring when I plant the garden it looks rather barren and perhaps I position items too close together. Then the growth begins and suddenly it is all so overwhelming.

Has that ever happened with your schedule. As the school year is about to begin for many, I clearly remember giving myself margin in my schedule each year. As a home school parent, I scheduled our ‘out of house activities’ together on the same day and left ‘home’ days intact. It all looked so pretty on paper. But then life happened and field trips and doctors appointments and vet visits and dentists and eye exams and oh, we can fit that in because it was a good thing to do. Pretty soon my schedule looked much like my overgrown garden. 

Growth and knowledge happened. Perhaps not to the extent of having more margin, or pruning back a few things in the moments of excess. It is often so difficult to choose from all the great things, from the things that will help us get better, faster, smarter, and move us toward our goals. It is difficult to wade through the minutia of daily life while elevating the items that will propel us forward personally and perhaps toward some external goal. 

Since covid had us locked down, the zoom opportunities have been boundless. We had been on zoom a couple hours a week for the past year with our mastermind, which is coming to an end. I have connected with other groups and there have been so many opportunities to learn via fb lives and zoom. 

It became overwhelming and just when I felt overtaken and over-baked, our world opened a bit and I started playing pickle ball outside and doing some more activities and my schedule seemed to close in on me and my writing slowed a bit. 

The learning continues, and we hope that our seasons of growth and overgrowth bring us a great harvest, a time when we get some reward for the efforts we afforded. For my garden, we have been enjoying some produce already. 

As for the growth in knowledge, and moving toward goals, time will grow the results of the past efforts. It is important to keep growing daily, to keep moving forward in each season, and the harvest will come. 

Thank you for joining us on our journey. (This is where the editorial ends in the newsletter)

Check out the rest of the newsletter here: Abundanthood (Where Abundant Homes meets neighbourhood)

Now here are 4 tips in dealing with the overgrown schedule:

  1. Leave a lot of margin when scheduling things. There will always be a lot of extras that pop up. If your schedule is too full you will need to miss a spontaneous activity.
  2. Try to spread out and reduce the spontaneous things. Of course having an emergency pet to the vet trip isn’t something you can schedule so keeping the spontaneous and open spaces flexible and spread out helps.
  3. You may consider putting a couple things around the same time; perhaps music lessons followed by soccer practice so that you are out one evening and not two. This will depend on the age of your child and their ability to manage the time as well. Sometimes having a little something each day is better. It depends on you and your family. Remember commute time, getting organized, into and out of the vehicle at all places and potential stops along the way (like to pick up milk) will all impact the time out so if there is one day you don’t go out you could save more time even if it seems doubled up one day.
  4. Prioritize: What is most important? What opportunity can be missed and picked up another time. What gets you closer to your goal (if it is your business/work schedule).
  5. Try some time saving measures like going to the store fewer times, meal planning, meal prepping, getting other family members to do things.
  6. If you do have a period of time when things are so very over scheduled, just know it will pass. Take a breath, blinders on, stay in the lane. Absorb as much as possible, be in the moment rather than worry about the next thing and realize it will all turn out in the end.

Don’t forget to read the rest of the newsletter here: Abundanthood (Where Abundant Homes meets neighbourhood). Get the next newsletter to your in-box here.

How do you avoid over scheduling? What do you do if/when your schedule gets overgrown for a season? Comment below with some tips you have learned.

What If I Could See Myself Like That?

I remember annoying my mom when I was five. I am thinking of a particular situation because that’s the one I remember; there were likely many other ways I found to annoy her. I wasn’t the most annoying of my siblings. I was the first born so was pretty compliant to the rules and regulations set out for a child. I was almost an angel haha.

The situation was at my grandparents farm. I knew some letters of the alphabet and I was putting them together in three letter combinations on a scrap of paper. I would make a combination then go to my mom who was visiting with my grandmother who could not read or write, and had broken English, and I would ask my mom, “Is this a word?” She would usually say no. But one time, she said yes and I asked what it was and what it meant and her answer went over my head, but my five year old self was very satisfied that I had come up with that word all on my own.

It didn’t matter that I had tried so many other combinations before, to the frustration of my mom who tired of my constant asking. It only mattered that I had finally succeeded. What if I could see my many tries without accomplishment, the way I did when I was five? I didn’t really see them as anything at all, just not a word.

This image was taken using the periscope mirrors at the Legislature Grounds. There are 4 angled mirrors over a ceiling window in the underground tunnel.

Yesterday I was interviewed on a live (then saved) video about home schooling. Having home schooled for many years, I was asked a number of questions about the journey and for any advice to those starting out. I was very comfortable in the interview. I have been on zoom so much it isn’t so weird talking to someone on a screen and I have even become accustomed to talking to a screen while doing live videos.

But here’s a little secret. I don’t watch those videos. This morning as I was doing my morning pages, I contemplated watching the video interview. I felt I gave some good advice and likely added value to someone who might watch it. But I haven’t watched it and not sure if I will. I then began to think of some questions. What if I could watch a video of myself and see me the way a stranger sees me? What if I could see myself as people who know me see me?

What if I could see me as the five year old who was eager to learn and eager to share what she learned? The child who wanted to be a teacher so she could impart cool information she knew to others? Guess what? I was a teacher for so many years. During that time, I also had a job as a tour guide for five years. I also never watched myself do those things but I felt like I did a good job, and got really good feedback from the tour guide job. Don’t ask my kids haha.

What if I could see me the way my friends see me? Not the person who seems to have an answer for everything or the person who has it all together. What if I could see me as they see me, with sound advice, with wisdom, with the heart of gold who will walk beside them if that’s what they need. What if I could see her?

What if I could see me as my kids see me? Not the annoying mom who may not know how the world turns, in this day and age; not the annoying mom who may tell them something they already know. But the mom who loved them and nurtured them, the mom who is there for them, when they need a shoulder to cry on or have some great news to share. What if I could see that person?

What if I could see me the way my husband sees me? Not the wife who he doesn’t always almost never understands. Not the wife who makes mistakes like getting a ticket or driving through the gate. Not the wife who is sometimes too often moody. What if I could see myself with the love my husband has for me?

What if I could see me the way my parents see me? What if I could see me how they saw me when I was little, how they saw me as I grew up and how they see me now? The me who tried things that didn’t always work but did it anyway. The me they are so very proud of.

What if I could see me as others see me, despite my imperfections and mistakes and flaws and annoying little things? What if I could see me past my imperfections, flaws, and my physical shell, and see my heart? What if I could look past the things that I don’t like and that annoy me, and hear my wisdom and know my value?

That is a lot of what if’s. It’s interesting how we can learn to not worry about what others think of us, we work on it through life from the time we are young, when someone says something mean to us. We often succeed, not to the point of being cold or unfeeling, but to where we are confident in ourselves. As long as we don’t watch a video of ourselves, or is that just me?

Because when it comes to that, I am that person who says something mean about me to me. I am that person who is unkind. Or maybe I am not very mean? I have watched the occasional video of me and have not been too appalled by it. It is watching myself from the outside and I have seen a glimmer of what others see. I have seen my smile, heard a well worded sentence, and thought, hmmm….that wasn’t so bad. Perhaps, like being in the video, watching it just takes practice.

When I am ready for that, I will try it. For those of you who don’t do videos like fb lives, why don’t you? For those who are doing regular videos or interviews, do you go back and watch them? How do you see you? Do you see you how others see you or do you have an inner ogre who judges your every syllable and facial expression?

What if you could see yourself the way those who love you see you? Leave a comment and tell me your experience with doing and watching videos.