Mistakes Will Be Made

Day 5 at Yasodhara and time seems to be flying by even though in reality it’s moving the slowest it has ever done for me.

Started the day in meditation, then a good yoga stretch and some homemade yogurt with granola, nuts and fruit. I have never ate so healthy and clean. My body isn’t sure what to do with all that fibre. You can draw your own conclusions as to the outcome there…lol.

As I was eating breakfast I got a message “meet at the Mandala building at 9:00 am for some more Karma Yoga”. It’s a bit colder today so there was an option to stay in if I wanted to. Ah nope, bundle up and let’s go! We got to see a new face today, well half a face, under a mask. Mike has been at the Ashram for 3 weeks and just newly out of quarantine. He has been tasked with showing the newbies what paths to sand and where to fill it back up in the wooden boxes along the paths.

We go on a bit more of a tour first and Mike showed us some of the things we could potentially be doing as we progress. Manual labour is available at every corner when you are in a compound this size. We trudge up a hill and walk towards some stuff covered up with tarps. It turns out to be a wood splitter. Mike is confident that my companion who is 5 foot nothing and about 100 pounds and myself can operate the wood splitter. We don’t test that theory but I do have a private chuckle. At home, I am not allowed to operate the power tools probably for good reasons. Here? We shall see…oh boy this could be fun or this could be a disaster.

We continue on our tour until we get to the back of the property close to the gardens and orchard. Here is where they keep the dirt pile. There is an inside joke to how all instructions are given here. I remember it from before and I have travelled a lot since 2013. The method is to be vague about how to do things or what to exactly be doing. You may get a bit of information, for instance, put sand on the ice. Mike, being a week 3 veteran, volunteers that instructions are ambiguous. He hauled wheelbarrows of sand all around and put it on as many as trail as he could find. At the end he was exhausted and thought he would for sure get all sorts of recognition for his thoroughness. Oh dear, I suspected as he was telling us this that wasn’t the case. Here’s the thing, you can put sand on all of the trails or you can observe where the main arteries are and make sure those ones are covered first. Then if you have time and still lots of energy to burn do more. We chuckled over him sharing this vital piece of his learning with us.

In the afternoon we had a Zoom meeting to be introduced to Satsang and some things to expect in the coming weeks. It was good to see the small but mighty group and to meet more of the yogis and swamis who are in residence. What was unexpected was that one of the swamis recognized my address where I live. She said that her family had rented that very home in the 1960’s. That is crazy. Such a small world. One of the questions they had us ponder was “What makes for a good learning environment?” I have pondered this question many times in my professional career as a learning developer. So I had the corporate answer. I tried very hard to push that response down to the bottom of the pail and then allow something different to surface. I wrote down: trust, open heart, perceptive mind, mutual communication with teacher and student. I also thought about the connection between the exchange that occurs. You observe, listen, understand intent, ask questions, get feedback, then perhaps offer suggestions or introduce new ideas or ways of doing the task that take the learning to the next level.

The girls I have arrived with (I do say girls as they are both early twenties if not younger) have such amazing insight and self awareness. This generation will be the saviors of this world I am convinced. They join the conversation with such wisdom, kindness and care. They hold back just a bit and yet when they do speak up it’s profound. One spoke of “the space to make mistakes” and the other the value of asking questions and experimenting with changes to the method being shown. There is hope for this universe through these wise souls.

Another conversation lead to talk about mantras and meditation ideas. There was some discussion about “non-violence” towards negative thoughts. The practice is known as Ahimsa. The gist is that when you are aware of toxic thoughts revert to active thoughts or movement of compassion. There is more to it than that but I am sure if you are interested you will explore it further.

Final thoughts of the day? I am very ok with making mistakes, I have made many and will probably make many more. What I have started to put into practice is to change my approach after they occur. Today I was very focused on learning the songs in the songbook to have a pretty good idea of the melodies before I come out of quarantine. As I sat inside and played my piano I kept looking out at the lake and the sun moving across the sky trying to entice me to come and enjoy it. My rationale was that I had spent the morning outside shoveling sand so I was good for today. When was there ever a quota to spending time in nature. I am sure I made the mistake of missing a key insights if I would have got out on the trails. I am confident though, since I have made space for mistakes and the universe loves to give me ample “do overs” that I will spot the learning as I venture out tomorrow.


The ice along the creek and Kootenay Lake have been breathtaking. It looks like a fairy garden made out of glass.

Virtual “Drive-bys”

Today, I had the most interesting virtual experience. We were having our weekly team update meeting. However, instead of updates, our leaders decided we’d do “drive by visits” to other people in our department. Since COVID has all corporate employees working from home, there are no spontaneous chats in the kitchen, by the elevators, or when passing desks. So, to recreate the experience virtually, they sent out invitations for people join our meeting after it started.

It was fun to see our other HR partners join us. They didn’t really know what was going on, but quickly realized we simply invited them to chat and check in. As a new employee, it amazed me to see how close this team is. They have clearly worked together for a while and know each other very well.

This type of activity may not be as effective in every work environment, but it has for the environments in which I’ve found myself. I’ve worked on teams where we were dispersed across the province, so scheduled a meeting every two weeks to simply chat and catch up with each other. We’ve used apps to match ourselves with others in the department to set up “coffee chats” and get to know someone we don’t work with everyday. Some people got together for book chats, and others met to talk about articles or podcasts they’ve discovered.

This is the first time I’ve been onboarded into a new position in a 100% virtual environment. I have to say, it’s going very well. I’m starting Week 5, and I feel just as involved with my team as when I started jobs in person. My leader gave me a list of people with whom to set up “meet and greets” and everyone has been extremely welcoming. Our department gets together every Friday – either for an 8:00 a.m. breakfast together (yes, virtually), or an “It’s 5:00 somewhere” gathering at 3:30 – where we bring our beverage of choice.

I think, in some ways, working virtually creates deeper connections. We see each other in our home environments. We get to ask questions about what we see in the background, meet each other’s children/partners/pets, and get a glimpse into the lives of our colleagues. It sparks discussions we may not otherwise have in an office setting. Since it’s not possible to have “drive-by” discussions in an office, we are intentional when we reach out to people. We realize everyone’s time is valuable, so if someone is willing to share theirs with us, it means something.

I’m interested to hear what others are doing to form connections in our virtual world.

I Do…For Now

Here I sit, a week before Valentine’s Day, thinking about the “connection” theme Vanessa and I chose for this month. One of the most significant connections we make is with a life partner…or in my case…partners.

You see, I never did find my “one and only” life connection. Unlike my parents who were married for 53 years, I have a history of “I do…for now” marriages.

My first marriage happened two months before my 21st birthday. We met at university, dated for two years, and got married the same week I wrote the last five finals of my Bachelor’s degree. At the time, I made vows to love and cherish for the rest of my life – and meant it. What do we know when we’re in our early twenties? That marriage lasted 5 years, though it was over shortly after the first two years. My husband decided to devote himself to piano studies at the detriment of our marriage. I now tell friends, “When your husband buys you a dog to keep you company, go directly to your lawyer.” A dog can’t fill the void created by an inattentive spouse. However, it did spawn a life-long passion with dog training and competition, and for that I am grateful.

I met Husband #2 online. We chatted for a while, started to call, and eventually met in person. We clicked. Within a year, we had bought a house and moved in together. A year after that, we were married. Again, I said “I do” in front of a (much smaller) group of friends and family – and meant it.

There was a twelve year age difference between us. It wasn’t an issue when I was in my early 30’s and he in his mid-40’s. It became an issue when we adopted our son a few years later. While we had many similarities that grew and developed our relationship early on, our ideas about how we wanted to raise our son were different. I wanted to be outdoors, active, and experience new things. He was content to sit at home, watch TV, and read. I wanted us to provide a life of experiences for our son. He was happy to have me do it on my own.

That marriage lasted 12 years. Once more, I hadn’t found my life-long connection.

After the second marriage, I didn’t want a relationship. I started to online date again and developed “friends with benefits” connections. This worked for me. I was happy on my own. I had my home, my son, and companionship when I wanted it. Over time, one of the FWBs turned into a dating relationship, which turned into co-habitation. This time, I didn’t want to get married. I was happy living together. However, he’d had a common-law relationship and wanted a marriage. In the end, I acquiesced.

The cracks started to form after a couple of years. I was determined to make this marriage work. After all, it was my THIRD marriage – I HAD to get this one right! We’ve discovered we were together more for my son than for us. He wanted to be a dad, and I was (subconsciously) looking for a dad for my son, as his had moved away and wasn’t a daily part of his life. Despite my best efforts, we weren’t able to function as a married couple. At some point, we will divorce, sell the house, and go our separate ways. For now, we are fortunate to have the space to have distinct living quarters so we can continue to enjoy our home, yard, and neighbourhood.

Which brings me to my current relationship. Have I finally found my life-long connection? Who knows? What does “forever” mean after three failed marriages? The series of “I do….for now” is done. There will be no marriage for us. We love each other too much to ever want to feel beholden or trapped. Our relationship is based on what we feel for each other in the present. As much as we’d like to think what we have will continue to grow and sustain, we can’t be certain. All we have is “…for now”, and for now, that’s enough.

The Spirit Moves Me

It’s February, and as my Facebook memories are reminding me, I’m supposed to be in Hawai’i right now, or at least counting down the days until I’m there. For the past 12 years, I have spent 2-3 weeks on either Maui or the Big Island every winter. It’s not just the warm weather and beaches that draw me there; it’s an indescribable ‘something’ that makes me feel connected to myself and the surroundings.

Hawaiians talk about, and demonstrate, “Aloha Spirit”. “Aloha”, while often associated with being the word for “Hello”, actually refers to “the presence of breath”. It is the “coordination of mind and heart within each person.” (Chapter 5, Hawai’i Revised Statutes) It is a way of life on the islands, where goodwill and kindness are extended to others.

I felt it on my first trip. As soon as the aircraft door opened and I could smell the air, I felt at home. It doesn’t matter which island I’m on, it’s the same. There is something about being there that makes me feel completely connected – physically, mentally, emotionally.

At first, I thought it was being near water. I can sit near the ocean for hours – watching and listening to the waves crash on shore. I get a similar feeling sitting near the lake at home, so I knew it was more than that. Is it the humidity in the air? The scent of the plumeria flowers wafting on the breezes? Being surrounded by so much natural beauty?

I remember the feeling I had when hiking into “The Bamboo Forest” (Pipiwai Trail) on Maui on the way to Waimoku Falls. As far, and tall, as the eye could see – it was bamboo. Greenery everywhere. A slight breeze added subtle percussion sounds as the bamboo swayed. A gentle rain started to fall. All I wanted to do was sit on the forest floor and experience it.

Whenever I am on the islands, the urge to be creative is overpowering. I want to write, draw, paint (and I’m not a visual artist!). Something about the Aloha spirit connects me in a primal way to myself. I feel things more deeply. I feel a profound sense of peace. I feel whole in a way that’s completely different from how I feel anywhere else.

Connections are interesting things. It’s not just the connections between people, but also things, feelings, places, experiences – everything it means to be human. Some connections can be explained, others cannot – yet they exist for a reason. How a girl who grew up in a land-locked Canadian province found such a profound connection to her being on the tiny islands in the Pacific, I’ll never know. But, I’m grateful.

Since that first trip (and there have been seventeen, to date, in total), I feel I leave a small piece of my soul behind when I leave the islands. Maybe I’m called to return in order to connect all the parts of my being.

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