Saturday, November 17, 2018

My lemon tree - started from a tiny seed!  
I am thrilled that my lemon tree plant, which I started from a seed from an organic lemon I bought at the grocery store, is doing well and producing fruit.

It reminds me that we can start things that are tiny and with the proper care it will grow and produce  fruit.  Next thing you know, there is a grove of lemon trees!

A week ago,  I created a virtual community.  First,  thank you for accepting my invitation to join this community.   The fact that you have said YES,  tells me I made the right choice.  The idea  for this community came to me after listening to a podcast on social  connectedness.   We have an innate desire to be connected to other humans.  Do you ever feel lonely within  a group of people?   Do you ever feel that your contribution does not matter?  For some time I have been feeling disconnected on social media platforms.   I really didn't feel a connection with people who were my "friends" and I decided to change that,  and in order to do that,  it was clear I had to change myself first.   I had to be more open and engage other like-minded people.  I  considered the friends I had and chose specific individuals who I felt had the characteristics and personality to grow my community.   I then carefully considered the first group of people to invite.   Each person in the first group in my mind is a game changer and has a unique ability to show up in life for others. 

I  knew it would be a challenge, and I do like a challenge.   The challenge is that people have long established ways of behaving on social media.  Some people don't like change; however for this new community to be different and engage its members on an authentic  level people must want it to be involved not just passive observers.    This is an exciting experiment.

Like my lemon plant, it was started by a single seed, and the fact that you have accepted my invitation to be part of this community tells me that you do want a new experience, an engaging experience, a deeper understanding of the members in this community.  Where this will lead I am not sure.  Where I hope it will lead is a satisfaction that you matter to a community and that your input is valued.   You may not know this  but you are in the company among some pretty awesome people.   I trust them implicitly.   They are of the highest integrity and authenticity and come from many different  backgrounds and interest.   If I was shipwrecked and landed on an island I would want them there with me to build a new community.


The first thing I did was to create this online virtual community.   I wrote a note explaining my intention for the community, including what I hoped and expected from the people I invited into the community

1.  Introduce yourself to the community.

2.  If you invite others to join the community, really think about who they are.  Do they have the  characteristics and personality to add to the community?   Will they be active participants?  Introduce them like you would in "real life" to your friends. Let them know why you think they would be good community members. 

3.  Be an active participant  in discussions.

4.  Commit to the group, and give it the time to develop into a healthy community. The more you give, the more you will get out of it.  The more satisfaction you will feel, and the more connected you will feel.   I also gave a promise of what they could expect from me.

5.  Be yourself, be authentic.

6.  Have fun! 

My observation a week into this experiment is that I am going to have to give it some time because old habits are difficult to change.  On Facebook we are used to watching posts go by as we live our busy lives.

It is also a lot to expect of people to open up themselves to a group of strangers, even if they have been connected by someone they all know.  Community member are still in the observation stage. But I am encouraged because the calibre of people in the community is there.  And some good content has been posted.  I will give people time to observe and  get comfortable and to see if this is a community they would be proud to be part of.   

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Creating My Tribe


A social experiment to awaken

A few days ago, I created this group on facebook "We Belong".  Some of you may be wondering what is this group  about, what is the purpose of this group?
first, I thank  those who have joined me after I invited you. trusting me and accepting my invitation to join this group even when my intention for the group was less than clear. 

The idea of this group came to me after listening to Author Radha Agrawal's podcast about social connections, essentially, we as humans seek authentic social connections with others. Like you. We not only seek these connections it is important for our mental and physical health to have healthy relationships. Facebook we have been led to believe would facilitate this connection. However, we started using it more artificially. Moreover, I have found that  Facebook does not meet my need FOR THIS CONNECTION AND A FEELING OF BELONGING. It appears to be designed for more superficial entertainment use. Instead of connecting us it has created more isolation and dissatisfaction in our lives.  And more generally other social platforms have not found a way to engage each other instead we are having parallel conversations. Like  ships passing each other in the night.  I had a look at my friends and realized I have some pretty awesome friends and that began me to thinking I have a tribe.   I have a community and decided to bring them altogether in one place where we can  design a community that works for us.  it is a social experiment.   my rational  for creating a virtual community is due to my frustration of social media.  

 I have a number of groups I am the administer of. And I use other platforms like twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. None of the platforms satisfy my need to connect.   I find them pretty superficial.   Each of them ends up being pretty much the same as my personal Facebook page, in that people are not engaging with me on an authentic level.  Perhaps they like a certain post but often will not contribute any more than a thumbs up. People post pictures, recap travel where they've gone, where they ate, and that is all good, But I'm looking for something more I am looking for serious conversations that are inspiring and thought-provoking.  Something more you. 

Last evening, we went for dinner with a couple of friends our dinner conversation was electrifying and engaging. We discussed youth incarceration, restorative justice, the judicial system, and whether it was helpful in reforming criminals? The overcrowded penitentiaries and the impact of those on reforming criminals. We discussed healing lodge as a mechanism for reforming criminals who committed serious offenses.   We discussed the cycle of alcohol on generations, in particular how the youth are impacted by this trend. We discussed how youth are place in same prisons as harden adult criminals. Because once you were over the age of 18 you are treated as an adult and therefore will be placed with other adults.  one of the examples discussed was how a stupid action while under the influence can change the trajectory of one's life.  We discussed how incarceration does very little to reform a person or even deter repeat offenders. The subject is serious and impacts our society. Of course, our conversation really didn't resolve the questions, however you never know where such conversation will lead in the future as  it percolates in the mind. 

Before we went to dinner, we had conversations on meditation, and the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. We discussed the possibility of How we can  involve and include Algonquins since the symposium will be held on unseeded Algonquin territory,  in the activities next spring.  the schedule of specific topics would be educational and at the same time identify common ground that would engage that participants to move forward as they remember the atrocities that were committed 25 years ago.  A look at colonialism and its impact on peoples. 

The invitation Letter I sent to a few friends.

I mentioned when I first started this group that each of you was carefully considered before I added you. I was looking for a compassionate person, an intellectual, a person with varied interest, a well-read person. I was looking for people who will make this group engaging, who would be authentic and have the highest integrity in their word and ensure that whatever they post will be inclusive and respectful.   I believe each of you have some of these qualities. If I am correct in my assumption that you too are dissatisfied with your experience on social media, then I made the right choice to add you to this founding group. 

What I would need from you is your word that you would be an active participant in the group. That you would be respectful, and kind in your responses. My promise to you is that I will facilitate and moderate the conversations and ensure that participants remain authentic, respectful, and helpful.  I will ensure to keep this a safe place for sharing of ideas. Like the conversation over dinner last evening we were able to discuss some very serious topic without it degrading to personal attacks but instead added value to the overall conversation.

Is this something you are interested and being part of? if yes, I am pleased to provide this forum for you. If not, - if this is too serious of a group, too intellectual, you can leave the group and I will not be offended. This is not for everyone. Because Sometimes all we really want is to be entertained  and there is nothing wrong with that. 

My promise to you is that  I will facilitate, monitor conversations to ensure  participants remain authentic and keep this a safe place for everyone. 

How I see this working,  this will only succeed if you join me with the intention to make this experience one you want and one that will satisfy your need to belong. The key to it succeeding will be directly correlated to your participation! Which is why I carefully picked the first group of people keeping in mind how each of you will respond and to set the tone for the group. I value each and every one of you in the group and your opinion matters.  I want to learn from you.  I want this form to facilitate learning from each other. 

TOPICS can be introduced by anyone, provide a short synopsis with the question. Subject areas can be identified like health, books, neurology, philosophy, spiritual, psychology, relationships, food, medicine, culture, politics, religion you can introduce any subject as long as it is respectful and not offensive to anyone. Racism and inciting hate will not be tolerated, and you will be requested to leave the group.  I will make every effort to not control the dialogue, only facilitate and moderate.

I, honestly I have not thought of specific details of how this will work. I do know that I want to continue my daily meditation insights which I post on Instagram, twitter and sometimes my personal Facebook page. I have received feedback from many of you who have indicated you enjoy reading them. I see the insights as setting a tone for the group daily. Having said the above, if you have any ideas of how this could work, how you want it to work, I welcome your remarks and we can design this with your input.   

My intention is to create a community of like-minded people who are interested in having a real connection with each other. The goal is to meet our need for real social connections. We can work out the details as we go along. At the moment there are no hard and fast rules.  The experiment is to see if we can override our automatic reactions and default reactions in response to what others post.  Like distrusting others, or being too shy to comment. Essentially, it is to create a new paradigm, a shift in how we relate on social media.  This is a social experiment and I have no idea if it will work, or if this is the right platform, And, I am interested to see where it will go.  If I find it is not working, I will let you know before I delete the group. 

In my tribe we have CEO’s, lawyers, doctors. Artist, Indigenous elders, professors of law, and social work.  indigenous leaders, authors, people who participate at the UN on human rights. Students, Environmentalists, people who are concerned about the impact of our actions on the environment.  And, in a word, game changers, innovators, thought provoker's, some of you I known personally, and we connect on many levels, we have shared a meal, tea, and pleasant conversations. I like the idea of having you all meet each other for this experiment, and we will see where this leads us. Welcome to my tribe!

The first questions for the group is if you were in charge of the world what type of community you would create, keep in mind that this is a virtual community and at the moment we have members from all over the globe. In this group, I would hope that members would feel comfortable meeting each other in the real world. what would your values and goals be? Who would you invite?

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

26 years

 What is love?  There are many ways to define it.   There is romantic love, family love, lust, friendship; what do all the different definition of love have in common? Respect, honor, loyalty, friendship, compromise, trust, honesty.   It is a strong attraction and an emotional attachment to another person. That warm fuzzy feeling!

26 years ago, November 11, at 11 am 1992, I married my friend.  We had only been dating for a couple  months.  But I felt he knew me better than most people I had known my entire life.  I actually proposed to him over the phone after a friend who knew us both jokingly encouraged me to ask him because, as she put it “we were made for each other”.   Since I was in a playful mood, I called him and asked him to marry me as soon as we hung up before I lost my nerve.    I actually was using it as an opening for a date. He didn’t accept then, but he got the message that I was interested in him. And we had our first date on September 10th, 1992, A couple weeks later.   I tried to take my proposal back because it was meant as a lighthearted joke and I didn’t want him to be obligated to respond. But Alan would not have it, saying the proposal had to stand.   He later proposed to me the morning of October 25, after the Blue Jays won the World Series against the Braves Because he saw a blue Jay on a tree that morning and took it as a good sign that he should propose.  I don’t think that was an any crazier reason to propose than me phoning him out of the blue and proposing.   I guess, we are made for each other after all. Lol

    As we approach our 26th anniversary I feel immense satisfaction that getting married to my best friend was the right decision in spite of the opinion from friends who thought we were rushing into it.   I recall vividly how I was feeling a couple of weeks prior to getting married.   It was an exciting period in our life. We were in love.  Our courtship although brief was filled with tenderness and romance. Chinese takeout from the Wokker, watching taped episodes of Twin Peaks in front of a wood burning fireplace. Listening to Keith Richards The first CD Alan gifted me, it was a new release and  Really good music, which I never herd before!  

And, of course watching the World Series, train rides to see each other. The world was beautiful and romantic.  We chose to have a small intimate ceremony at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, Ontario.  I remember not wanting a huge fancy wedding.   I am hesitant to be the centre of attention.   The intimacy of a small wedding perfectly suited my personality.  

The night before our wedding we drafted our vows together after dinner.   The vows were directly from our heart and soul.  The morning of our wedding we woke up early and had a leisurely breakfast and got ready to go to Osgoode Hall.   It was a cool brisk morning cloudy and overcast.  There was no stress or fuss.    Since it was Remembrance Day the traffic was light. When we got to Osgoode Hall, we were the only ones there because it the courts were closed for Remembrance Day.  I remember the sound of our shoes echoing in the empty hallway as we made our way to the chambers of the Honourable Justice Roy McMurtry, who would go on to be the Chief Justice of Ontario and a friend of Alan’s, officiated.   After the ceremony we went to lovely nearby restaurant for lunch.   It was exciting, and some lawyers from Alan’s firm stopped at our table to congratulate us having heard we got married earlier that morning. Someone sent over some wine.

After lunch we drove to Montebello Hotel in Québec for our honeymoon.   When we arrived, it was snowing lightly and our room was not ready.   We had to wait in the lounge for it.  We were too late for dinner and all they had were some sandwiches.   I remember that we were both a little grumpy.   However, in the morning I realized what a beautiful log cabin hotel we were at.  We stayed four days before going back to work. 

 Alan drove back to Toronto and I stayed in Ottawa at my condo.   However, we didn’t actually live together until February when Alan decided  to leave his law firm and practice law as a sole practitioner and moved in with me.  That was the beginning of our 26 years of marriage.    Our first five years of marriage we did a lot of traveling combining personal with business as I spoke at conferences in Sidney Australia, Melbourne Australia, Adelaide Australia, Hamilton New Zealand, Hawaii, New Mexico.   We took trips to  Venezuela, Barbados, Mexico, Fiji, Hawaii, Paris, and I traveled on my own to speak at workshops and conferences in Bogotá Columbia Lima, Peru. Alberta,  Saskatchewan. B.C.  We referred to all of our trips as honeymoons, and they all felt like it.

I admit there has been some occasional miscommunications over the years.  But thankfully never anything lasting or damaging.  We always manage to overcome those obstacles by talking through them. 

Communication is vital for a healthy relationship. Never stop talking.     When you are ready to talk have your intention be to really listen to your partner.   When your partner gets that you are really listening it breaks down barriers and opens up the heart. Don’t be afraid to admit you are wrong, or to admit you don’t know the answers. Be honest. Be real. Have integrity in all parts of your marriage. 

 Lessons over 26 years, that helped me

 In a marriage, you know your partner’s strength, weaknesses and innermost fears better than anyone. Don’t abuse that knowledge to hurt or embarrass the other.  Be an advocate for each other.  

I adore hubby.  He is attentive, supportive and fun to be around.  26 years together so far and I hope we have many, many, more wonderful years together.

 I enjoy being part of his life because he is passionate about so many things like his collection of fountain pens, music, books and cars. He often recommends things to me which I undoubtedly would also enjoy.    I trust his taste in music, movies and books.  We have a number of common interest as well as separate and independent interests.   

I admire his impeccable integrity and his authenticity.    What attracted me to him before we even met was his intelligence. I read a number of his legal opinions because we were in the same area of work, the field of aboriginal and treaty rights.  I also read speeches he drafted for others and papers he had published or delivered at conferences.   I discovered that I liked how his mind worked and how he reduced complicated legal issues to their foundation and first principles.   His style of writing was easy to read, logical and had sound reasoning.  To me this demonstrated clarity in his thinking and processing.    

We met at a Canadian bar association (CBA) conference in Ottawa where he was delivering a paper.  I had just moved to Ottawa earlier that year where he was scheduled to speak first thing in the morning at the conference.   Actually, I was there with my team, and the lawyer who incidentally encouraged me to call him months later. We all went out that evening for a lovely Indian dinner. Including my boss, Bill who was an associate of his, from his former law firm.   As it turned out I was attracted to more than his intelligence in the end. We actually had chemistry and similar interests!  And, I really liked him as a person, 26 years later and one almost 21-year-old son, it is as true today as when we first met.  I am a lucky woman to have found real love.
 On an interesting note, we should have met much earlier, because we had a number of friends in common and had actually been at the same conferences at the same time in previous years.   specifically, One such conference in Montréal where we remember being part of a group conversation but evidently we were not introduced to each other then.   

The following are points that I believe makes our marriage strong.

1.      Like being with each other. Love him even at their worst moods. Be respectful, even when you disagree.  
2.     Respond to conflict, Don’t react
3.     Don’t try to change each other
4.     Always say what you mean, and mean what you say.  Don’t shut down emotionally from each other
5.     Don’t intentionally say hurtful things about the other
6.     Don't bring up past mistakes.    
7.     Ask for clarification when you don’t understand one another 
8.     Never make assumptions about the other person.
9.      Keep perspective and don’t blow things out of proportion
10.   Build each other up, be supportive
11.   Have empathy, try to see things from their point of view
12.   When you do things for each other, do it with love not out of obligation
13.   Be the first to apologize after a disagreement
14.     Never walk away during an argument without first hugging.
15.   compromise  make sure your partner understands that you value their opinion
16.     Don’t be so serious, make room for laughter
17.   Keep your word
   18.   Anticipate your partner’s needs
   19.  Always chose to see the best in each other
20.  Keep it simple, fun and uncomplicated
21.  Remember we are human, and mistakes happen
22.  Be willing to forgive

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