It’s been awhile since I’ve written an article or blog entry - almost 4 months in fact.
So, where did I go over the last 4 months? Well, I have been in survival mode. My dad died in ICU on August 28.
His death - after a summer where I became more of a full-time caregiver - brought me to my knees. He was a GGG - a Genuinely Great Guy, so losing him is devastating and leaves a huge hole in our household.
I know you are likely feeling deep sympathy for me right now. Thank you. I also know that many of you have dealt with enormous anxiety and loss this year as well. 2020 has been a challenging year, and it’s ok to admit that, to feel it. My heart goes out to you.
My mantra since the pandemic began has been “Grit and Grace.” I have a post-it on my monitor to remind me.
Grit signifies for me a curious and powerful blend of resilience and...
I’ve been thinking a lot about how the world of work has changed. No matter where you work or what you do, there’s no denying that things look different up ahead.
For leaders, the way you used to lead is changing.
The employee experience has shifted.
After the intense and panicky early days of the pandemic, things gradually began to fall into a new rhythm. Even if the stress of working from home with the kids, or being an essential worker who relies on transit is still stressful, there is a new sense of “the way it is.”
There’s a bit of boredom at play, a restlessness, a sense of malaise for many. I see it in several clients I’m working with.
One client, a senior HR leader, is really struggling with this underlying anxiety. The kids are out of school and there’s no camp to keep them busy while she works. The meetings keep getting booked. She...
I'm describing my reaction today as I opened my wallet to put some change away and noticed a bunch of receipts inside.
Usually I clean these out every week or so. I pulled them out and all 5 were dated around March 14. Right before I stopped going out anywhere.
It felt like I’d discovered a time capsule.
During that long-ago week, I facilitated a workshop downtown on Monday and Tuesday - taking the GO train, picking up coffee in a crowded food court, spending hours in a small training room with 8 corporate leaders. I hosted a webinar on Thursday, had lunch in a (nearly empty) restaurant with a friend on Friday. And, as the photo will attest, put gas in my car on Saturday.
And here we are, eleven weeks later.
Eleven weeks of Zoom meetings, countless walks around our neighbourhood, deferring all errands to my husband given my immune condition, and alternating between worry and...
Anxiety mounts, almost unbearable.
Thousands dead, countries comparing.
Grocery store panic, record alcohol sales.
Who knew banana bread could blunt the fear?
Debt soars, almost unbearable.
Savings cashed, deficits bloated.
People suddenly know the word ‘furloughed.’
Who’s thinking about balloon payments to come?
Gratitude rolls in, almost unbearable.
Kids can still learn, we find food at the end of the lines.
People risk their essential lives for others.
Who would have thought that ‘breath’ would top the list?
Hope pokes through, almost unbearable.
Curves flattening, humans compassionate.
Spring promises hope.
Who knew that tender green buds in a pile of old leaves could make me cry?
It’s all, almost unbearable.
- Lisa Mitchell, April 21, 2020
Jessie is 9.5 years old now. She’s the most gentle, soulful and sweet dog you could ever want to meet. I love her so much I can’t even express it properly. The irony is that I spent the first 7 years (!!) of her life with us without fully appreciating her awesomeness!
We adopted Jessie from a rescue agency when she was not quite a year old. She was incredibly shy and completely mute. Totally submissive to all other dogs and humans. She cringed when people raised their voices. She didn’t know how to climb stairs. Wide-plank floors made her stop in her tracks, not wanting to walk on them. Clearly, she had been somehow traumatized or abused. Plus, she had fleas. :(
The whole idea of getting a dog was mine at the time. Our son was only 4 and seemed scared of dogs, and my dad was lonely at home waiting for us to come home from work and school every day. Plus, I grew up with two very special dogs and cherish my memories of...
Today I’m literally vibrating with the to-do list antsies. So much to dive into and check off! Big tasks, little tasks! Boring tasks, fun tasks! And yet this list is a potential (huge) source of overwhelm.
So what does a coach who specializes in helping people overcome overwhelm do when she’s dancing with overwhelm herself? Two things.
A new journal. Lovely!
Full of promise. Self-coaching and reflection magnet. Trusty companion. Overwhelm-overcomer. Clarity Catalyst. Mind-map container.
My last journal was about this size too. Not so huge that it won’t fit in my purse and not so tiny that I get a cramp in my hand from trying to write in it. It took me 18 months to use up every last page! Sometimes, I wrote every day. Other times, once a week for a bit. It saw me through times of both incredible growth and momentum AND times of deep stuckness and confusion.
Sounds silly, but my journal was there for me! Always helping me combat my mouthy inner critic. At my side when I couldn’t figure out where to start because I was brimming with so many ideas - and potential distractions! Providing a safe space to break down the pros and cons of various decisions. To mindmap new business and program ideas. To dream big!
Yesterday I had a networking coffee with an acquaintance who was recently restructured out of her organization. She didn’t see it coming, and is feeling a bit lost and uncertain.
I asked her what she wanted next for her career and what her ideal role would look like. She is a graphic designer and has significant experience in Marketing project management. She started talking about how she’d love a role in Marketing strategy and client relationship management. Almost as soon as she put this out there, she quickly dismissed her own idea! She said it wasn’t realistic because she didn’t have the actual experience and job title history to successfully target roles in this area.
As she started to describe advertised roles similar to the ones she’d held before and was thinking of applying to, her energy clearly dropped. She was talking like someone on death row. Zero enthusiasm. An air of resignation and...
I’ve been musing today about kindness and gratitude and how we often miss what is right in front of us. The first couple hours of my work day today were really...irritating. I don’t know if there's a full moon or what, but it felt like I was attracting all sorts of annoying people and tasks! You know those days.
I went for a brisk walk in the sunny cold with my husband. The air and exercise - and a wee bit of venting - helped me start to rebound from this funk. But I wasn’t all the way out of my crappy mood.
I grabbed my journal and started to write out some self-coaching questions. Specifically: What’s bugging me? What’s really bugging me? (there’s always stuff below the obvious) What do I want? What do I need? What am I grateful for?
And there it was. The SWITCH that literally moved me out of grumpy and into joyful. Here’s what I realized I am grateful for…
Today I woke up tired. That kind of head-in-a-cotton-ball, enveloping, bone-weary tired that sometimes strikes out of nowhere.
All I wanted to do was go back to bed and huddle under the covers for another hour. And yet my to-do list was screaming at me from my office down the hall. “Oh no you don’t! No rest for you, wicked one! This is ridiculous - just because you had a major event yesterday doesn’t mean you get to take it easy all of a sudden. Suck it up!”
I felt the familiar rise of guilt, impatience and frustration as I realized my body and foggy head had other plans and were just not responding the way I needed them to. My legs and back ached as I dragged myself down the stairs to the coffee pot.
And there she was. Jessie. Our sweet, furry, floppy-eared rescue dog. Looking at me expectantly with bright brown eyes. And suddenly I was immune to the screams from my office and the...