It was probably 1991, I was very young sitting in front of a computer monitor in my parents’ basement office. The same one I would eventually study in and complete my master’s degree in, but I did not know that then. My father was showing me the basics of the Microsoft world and one of the first cool tricks he showed me was: CTRL+ALT+DELETE “when you're stuck, you can press all three, the computer shuts down and reboots” said my father.
“cool!” I responded.
MAN did I abuse of that feature whenever a program would no longer respond. It served me well to restart quickly.
Back to today. March 2020.
Our worlds have been saturated by the repeated following words: quarantine…voluntary isolation…hand sanitizer…cleaning wipes….coronavirus…COVID-19…pandemic…fear…lowering the curve….and last BUTT not least: toilet paper.
In one single day, Friday the 13th to be precise, we all saw our city shutting down. One event at a time, one school after another, all arenas, gyms, parcs, bars, coffeeshops, one after another…until almost complete shutdown of the city. Apart from the ice storm back in 1998, this is a completely new and unusual time.
A time that forces into our homes and out of our daily routine. A time when social gatherings of any size are forbidden. And if there is something human beings thrive on, it is definitely the predictability of their schedules and goals, however little or futile we think they are. Psychology 101: knowing what is coming, gives us a perception of control and COVID-19 did a nice job at destroying that perception, erasing all existing benchmarks and leaving us no choice but to cancel our plans and rituals.
I can still hear COVID-19 laughing...
Quite the creature of habit I am and my daily interactions with my colleagues fuels my stamina, motivation and creativity. Far from being alone in these strange circumstances, the workforces rapid moved into slow-motion pushed all businesses to their limits. Having now been in this isolating situation for a little over a week, I find myself asking:
What have we done? How blind have we been to our existing? It seems the planet needs to reboot and stop us from what we were doing to gain perspective. Surely, the world we will return to will not be the same as the one we left behind B.C. (Before COVID-19). What are we learning from this?
It turns out that being confined to your home leaves you dealing with…well….yourself. and your home too.
That is when all those awesome hobbies and self-actualization activities come in handy! If you don’t keep tabs on yourself, you’re probably in for a big reality check.
Who am I without my going out? Do I know myself without my daily rituals? Lucky me, I do J That’s pretty much my life moto. While employment is VERY important and defines much of who I am, I also invest a lot of time in other artistic and cultural interest: music, dance, work outs, reading and writing (my current read: REBEL TALENT by Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School professor, I highly recommended especially in these times) What about you? This confinement is the perfect time to:
READ THAT BOOK or
WRITE THAT BOOK
TAKE AN ONLINE CLASS
PRACTICE THAT SONG ON THE PIANO/GUITAR/TRUMPET
COOK UP A STORM
PLAY BOARD GAMES
The world is rebooting and updating by giving you time to re-center and up-skill yourself.
LOVE YOUR HOME
The second and important element is your home. Household. Personal environment. Call it what you will, the place where you live is a representation of who you are. No matter how big or small, rental or owner, uptown or downtown. If you are stuck staying there for weeks or even months, you need to feel a high connection to your surroundings. Setting up shop at home so that you feel happy to be there is, for me, of the essence. Every piece of furniture, art and photo is carefully selected and placed. Every room has its purpose. How about yours? If not, now is the perfect time to take care of things:
FIX THE BROKEN
The world is resetting and updating by giving you time for manual labor. The freedom of immediate and tangible results to honour your home.
If there is something that was tested from the beginning, it can definitely be said that it is everyone’s capacity to work from home. When employees are called upon by their prime minister to stay home to protect their own lives and that of others, any technological deficiencies an organization has will surface, and fast. The ability to continue running a business away from the office is imperative, like the lifeboats on the Titanic. Unfortunately, the same goes for individuals being ill-equipped at home. By the time some realized they couldn’t go back into the office, they rushed out to buy monitors and laptops, but some suppliers were out of stock. Nightmare.
Lucky me, I cannot remember a time when our home did not have a space solely dedicated for work with a computer and a printer (loud and gigantic back in those days). My parents (yes, they are quite amazing) have always taught me to be self-sufficient in that sense. While For some task silence is best, I sometimes miss the noise and buzz of the city. To quench this neurotic social need, I have a few youtube background tracks to suggest. I often play these as I work, depending on my mood and the actual task, they inspire me to focus:
Rainy Coffee shop/ fairly quiet lovely visual: https://youtu.be/dx3GxpitvbY
Rainy coffee shop/jazzy ambiance : https://youtu.be/iD4dMdpNe_I
Jazzy bar ambiance: https://youtu.be/lzQ3IS1Xq2s
Fan of Hobbits? Enjoy this Spring time and visit a hobbit’s home: https://youtu.be/izJCnRS7yqU
A cozy lounge with lovely snow falling and the sound of a fire’s crackle? https://youtu.be/2Rfcp3c0WNo
The world is restarting and updating by giving you time to create a workspace at home and develop new reflexes.
BREAK THE OLD CYCLE
Sometimes I don’t get us humans. We are in 2020 not 1920. While we ARE called to distance ourselves, we could not be more socially equipped to do so.
All week long we work hard and look up to the weekend to do those things that we “never have time” to do. To go on vacation and break our routine. This generation is fighting to balance work goals and personal goals and we have been blessed with this disguised opportunity to stay home for an undetermined period of time. We literally have to STAY home and limit all travels, errands and gatherings in order to eliminate a pandemic. This is THE ultimate excuse to cancel ALL plans and shift our focus to what we want and... we still find ways to complain?
The universe is stopping us. Breaking our cycle. Pulling us out of our traditional course. The way I see it? There’s a nice white canvas for us all to take and start rewriting our goals for 2020.
Counting out of course those who truly are in a dire financial situation or stuck in another country trying to come home (there’s hope guys, hang tight), you will suffer the consequences of your state of mind if you cannot cope adaptively. To quote Darwin, those who adapt develop characteristics that increase our chances of survival. If you cannot be your own sunshine at this time, it’s back to KNOW YOURSELF. Let’s show the world what we are made of.
How many of us have reached out to help? Numerous individuals and organizations have donated in either time, expertise or financially to help alleviate the stress that this unprecedented situation is imposing on everyone.
If your business is hit, hang on: you’re not alone in this boat and help is coming. Besides, the people working in it should come first, before corporations. The world is resetting, rebooting and cleaning its slate once again. It is throwing us back into basics to appreciate the little things, as there is nothing bigger than the little things in life. If you have your health and your freedom, you’re already rich! The rest is gravy. Unfortunately, some aren’t as lucky and have been affected by the COVID-19 and fighting for their life. If that is not the case for you, rejoice and continue to actively kill the virus by staying inside and not spreading germs of any kind.
Italians singing and playing music from balconies. Spanish trainers hosting exercise sessions from rooftops. Uber Eats now removing delivery fees if you buy local. Couche-Tard and Tim Hortons offering free coffees to all front-line workers. Comedians and musicians streaming entertainment online for free to keep morale up. People creating hilarious home confinement jokes to laugh at ourselves in all this. We, humans, are being connected in a way that’s never seen before.
The world rewriting personal and work lifestyle.
We are being pushed to certain limits we had not anticipated; it is only normal to have to accept a new reality and to readjust our expectations. I’m thinking of parents working from home while maintaining their children’s education or mental stimulation in line. The workforce is adapting and demonstrating more flexibility, as it should. Parents hear me: if your children are fed, happy and you are still getting your job done? All hail! You’re doing great.
I am currently working from home full time, keeping regular contact with my friends, seeing my parents in limited increments of time and Zoom with my colleagues, even just for 30 mins to chat and have a coffee so as to keep my social sanity in check. The extra time I don’t spend traveling to work, I invest in other activities. So far, so good. Even pollution and smog levels have significantly reduced since the worldly shut down or deceleration.
We have it all to make it through.
This is just the beginning, as the new habits and reality we are creating are sure to leave their marks on both households and the workforce. Now that businesses had no choice but to allow for more flexibility, the workforce is greatly changing as we are developing new muscles and realizing that working from home can be just as productive, if you trust your employees. How will companies adjust A.C. (After COVID-19) has yet to be seen.
Until then, let us, humanity, adapt. Reset. Reboot.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath and CTRL+ALT+DEL…
P.S. If anyone reading me is struggling at this time, needs to talk or a good laugh, please reach out to me.
Hello good old bee-readers,
There was no way I was ending the year without one last post. I have been longing to write since my last post this summer, however, as you know, life happens. As 2019 wraps up, I look back on it and cannot help but see a dominant theme: endings, departures and finalities.
Certainly, endings and beginnings are part of life and to be expected. It seems however, as I had noted in a past blog post, in my case events or moves come in extremes: strong stability and calm waters or back to back waves of madness and sadness…the latter is what 2019 brought me. It’s as though the universe knows how bad I am at letting go of the past and saying goodbye and decided to throw a bunch of events that forced me to do so, back to back. I really started to feel like a ship riding through a storm, crashing into wave after wave.
While some endings I expected and saw coming from far away, others were much more violent and plunged my head back under water, just when I was starting to catch my breath. Read me well though: ALL of these endings were significant. All of them tested my entire toolbox of coping mechanisms without exception.
Without wanting to make this post a negative or depressing one, I simply want to share what I learnt from this and express gratitude for many friends and family members who offered their support. I also want to share a more vulnerable side of me and that yes, I absolutely do feel down sometimes, scraping the bottom this year apparently.
Before I start rambling on forever, I will limit myself to the three life changing events that truly marked my year, and these were the passings of three individuals:
In between of course, there’s the regular crap that continues to pile up: colleagues leaving, a friend battling cancer, career shenanigans, my father losing his childhood friend a few weeks after losing his own sister, and the list goes on. And we all know that even when you think shit has royally hit the fan, it can always get worse… so with every bit of bad news, I tried my best to go back to basics: I can eat, walk, talk and do my job daily, shut up and don’t complain Ivana.
I was just starting to slowly sew up the La Zia wound when I learn on a Monday night that one of my best friends had put an end to her own life. I literally screamed when reading the message that her sister sent to me as my heart shattered and played back our childhood and teenage years like a film without sound. I truly did not see this one coming.
It was tough.
Another strong punch in the heart. Another final departure I can do nothing about. I was starting to lose hope, my energy tank was already on its reserve as it was. Even Phil, my stable force of truth and of calmness, poured me a Scotch, before I was even able to ask for one that night. Something I rarely do.
How the hell was I going to get through this?
Well, in my daily activities as a career counsellor, when supporting my clients, I often present the “Stress is N.U.T.S.” concept, a tool developed by Dr. Sonia Lupien, director of the Center for Studies on Human Stress, to help us grasp the triggers that activate our innate fight or flight response in this day and age. We are more likely to stress when a situation has:
N - novelty; something new
U - unpredictability; no way of knowing it could occur
T - threat to the ego; feeling your competence is questioned
S - sense of control; feeling you have little or no control in a situation
While some situations have one or a few of these, some, like a job loss, gather them all and pressure you to the max. I can easily say that Véronique’s departure encompassed them all: novelty, unpredictability, threat to my ego (how was I not there? How did I not know?) and complete loss of control – I was definitely not behind the wheel here, this happened and I had to deal with the repercussions. Unlike my auntie and grandfather, I could never have imagined that Véronique was battling demons and that she had been doing so for many years. So much so, that life had become unbearable. Lucky me, the concept of life coming to an end through my own decision is unknown territory; my brain and heart never venture there. Consequently, her decision, though it deserves to be respected, is all the more difficult to comprehend.
To adaptively cope, I focused on...
WORK AND DAILY ROUTINE
For each one of these losses, my work routine saved me. I got up the next day and clung to my morning ritual, business as usual. Instead of taking a bereavement day for any of these losses actually, I kept my schedule and daily appointments on, which helped me focus on those things in my life that I do control. I shed many tears on my train ride to work that Tuesday morning following Véronique’s sad news. However, seeing my clients and my colleagues at the office helped me cope. In these cases, I don’t think staying at home would have been a good idea for me. Doing my job reminded me of my sense of purpose and unconsciously so, my clients were the ones keeping my head out of the water. (I did obviously take bereavement days but for the actual day of the service and ceremony)
LAUGHING AND POSITIVE PROJECTS
Work definitely helped keep my mind off of the haunting reality that was surrounding me. Fortunately, I had just launched ideas that required me to create video montages for our Christmas cocktails, both of which were meant to be funny. I plunged myself into these projects full force. They made me laugh as I was capturing comedy like scenes and was essentially forced to goof around for the sake of the mini film we were creating. As we were filming though, I’d often stop and think, these are the moments I live for. Working hard but also being able to take a step back and laugh at our silliness, at ourselves in this life. If we don’t stop and do it, what is life about then?
The projects turned out to be a success and most importantly, increased the sense of belonging with everyone which filled my heart with joy and gratitude.
We all know people in our life who are energy providers and others who deplete us from it. And then there are some who belong to both categories. I also noticed during my whirlwind of emotions, that I was very unstable with my energy and mood. I felt like during the same day, I could reach peaks of happiness and then crash into sadness and anger. I realized I was probably tapping into adrenaline at times to keep going.
At this point, I cut off all activities that I just didn’t feel were providing me with joy or energy. Including people who tax me of energy. As much as I love them, if they can’t understand that even Ivana has a limited amount of time and generosity, it is no longer my problem. I think I am kind and very giving, but I can’t pour from an empty cup can I? I need to regroup and focus on what I’m going through before I can help someone else. Oldest rule in the psych 101 book.
With that cleared, I was able to just say no without giving a reason and set boundaries. Something I have a hard time with but that I will keep practicing. If people really care, they will understand and not judge you.
Most of all, my friends, colleagues and family members have thrown me countless life jackets and helping hands to keep me from drowning, and I thank you all for that. Those who wrote me cards, who called, who hugged me, who shared even just a glance and a nod…thank you. Without you, this would have been even more difficult. Without Phil anchoring me, it would have been an even rockier ride...
IN THE END
In the end though, it is mainly up to me and how I perceive all of these events and this entire year. I see now that 2019 was one of gigantic life chapters coming to an end and closing, forever. With these three big ones coming to an end, I welcome new ones and can’t wait to see what is in store for me! If change is the only constance, then surely crappy news has to stop too.
I am switching gears to see that I want to attract in the new chapters and projects? How am I seeing this next year unfolding? À suivre!
Given I have already dedicated posts and poems to La Zia and Alfredo, I would like to leave with a word to Véronique Ledoux:
Ma très chère amie Véronique,
Comme je suis heureuse de t’avoir retrouvée ce jour-là, au Carrefour Laval tandis que tu travaillais au comptoir MAC. J'avais rêvé à toi deux jours auparavant et je cherchais à reprendre contact avec toi après tant d’années et te voilà devant moi en train de maquiller une cliente. Quel miracle que nous avons eu la chance de se revoir et quelle belle manifestation de l’univers! Ce que je cherchais me cherchait aussi.
J’aimerais tellement de serrer et te dire que je ne savais pas pour ton mal de vivre…je vivais ma vie pensant que de ton côté, tu faisais la même chose. Clairement, il y avait des combats qui t’habitaient depuis longtemps et j’aurais aimé pouvoir t’aider (comme plein d’autres personnes l’ont très bien fait et ce pendant longtemps). J’espère que tu sais l’importance que tu as eu et que tu as toujours dans ma vie.
Avec qui aurais-je partagé mon casier au secondaire?
Qui d’autre m’aurait laissée tapisser ce casier de photos des Beatles (et de Bush)?
Avec qui aurais-je partagé mes secrets d’adolescente les plus précieux?
Avec qui aurais-je, sans trop le vouloir, forcé mes parents à payer des factures de frais interurbains sans cesse suite à nos heures de conversations téléphoniques? Car il ne suffisait pas de se parler toute la journée à l’école et de s'écrire des lettres
Avec qui aurais-je ri aux larmes toutes ces fois? Et que dire de la fois ou je suis venue vous voir à l’AMP, après avoir changé d’école, et nous nous sommes pris dans nos bras en plein milieu de la cafétéria alors que tout le monde s’est mis à applaudir? Ces camarades connaissaient la profondeur de notre amitié et ont partagé nos émotions en même temps que nous!
…Et si je n’avais pas changé d’école à mes 15 ans? J’avoue que c’est une pensée qui revient très souvent.
Nous avons fait des choix. Nous avons vécu notre vie selon nos convictions…je dois te laisser partir et je continuerai à vivre ma vie selon les miennes. Tu as quitté avec une partie de moi, mais je t’emmène avec moi de mon côté aussi : dans mon cœur, et là, tu y vivras aimée avec tous nos souvenirs qui continuent, eux aussi, de vivre avec une force plus grande que jamais.
Je vous souhaite à tous une SUPER année 2020, remplie de bonheur, de bonnes nouvelles et d’une énergie positive!
May all your wishes comes true and celebrate life until further notice!!
As always, thank you for reading me and don't be shy to comment and offer me some feedback, it means the world to me.
Hello there blog. I have missed writing you.
While some of you may know me personally and know perhaps why I have been away, I will inform those who do not. I have lost one of my loyal readers, my precious Zia (auntie in Italian). Some people are close to their aunts others not. I am one of those who are close. Extremely close. My direct family is a small circle of six and we just lost one of our main pillars.
I won’t embellish…it’s tough.
First, I want to thank everyone who has kindly shown their support. Whether it be a phone call, a text, a card, a facebook like or comment, your thoughts were all received and helped me during this difficult time. The presence of all of you at the St-Joachim church was overwhelming : every single bench filled with family, friends, members of the Italian community, colleagues, neighbours and more. While overwhelmed, I was not surprised to see the herds of people paying their respects as my aunt was (is) a breath-taking person. An individual who went out of her way to make you feel special.
To put it simply: if you are a friend of mine, you automatically inherited La Zia.
La Zia who would spoil everyone with thoughtful touches and gifts. La Zia who was a strong presence in my life since I was born and who became my godmother through baptism, and a precious soulmate through life.
La Zia who saw me in another light, as aunts usually do. The one who came to my dance shows, sent me a clown for my 5th birthday (who scared me at first but then I liked it), laughed at my silly interpretations and sounds effects. The auntie who tried new recipes, kick boxing classes and flax seeds and make those things cool before everyone else got to them. The person who listens without judgement and offers advice that gently challenges your preconceived beliefs and makes you a better person for it. The one who came along with my mother and I to Cuba for 7 gajillion times. She was always there with a smile. She was always thinking of us, of me. She was….
No amount of words, I know, will give her enough credit or enough honour.
I will later share the poem I wrote and read to everyone.
She had been fighting cancer and, while bravely winning a few battles, they just kept getting more uphill. Grateful for life until the end, she left us June 25th and my life as I knew it changed forever.
She did not want to inform everyone of her illness and so, we respected her wishes and kept quiet. Consequently, the news of her passing came as a much deeper shock to everyone who did not know the struggle and nightmare we, the smaller circle, had been living. How can La Zia Emilia, the beautiful, funny and life of the party be the one leaving the party early?
A question I try to rationalize with spirituality every day.
In preparation for her ceremony and life celebration, I have scanned her photos, created a video montage (two of them actually), wrote a poem that I read at the ceremony, wrote another text for a little pamphlet we were handing out and still…I can’t call her up for apéro. I have days where all is fine and I blissfully live in denial. And there are other days where I violently crash down the roller coaster with a frail safety belt and I am struggling to stay on.
Those days, everything gets into turmoil and the emptiness she has left is all too real.
I already am one to live by the philosophy of « life is now », I am familiar about not settling for situations that are not honouring my desires or what I want in life. It seems though that my aunt’s passing has heightened all of the things in my life I am putting up with that I don’t quite need anymore. Even if there aren't very many, there are no reasons left for me to tolerate them.
Energy that I give to situations that simply will not resolve into what I want, even after years of investment for example. And so, I am examining certain situations to validate if they still provide me with joy and good energy. These come under the form of a variety of things : relationships, hobbies, projects, etc.
This is particularly hard to do for me as I am one to feel a lot of guilt.
Yet guilt is not a good place to manœuvre from. It prevents me from acting freely and only taxes my energy in the hopes of pleasing others. Others who more often than not will not bother to worry if I was pleased with their actions, rightfully so (of if they do feel guilt, they conceal it well).
But I’m working on that.
Aside from feeling guilty, I am also very loyal individual. Should I not be loyal to myself first?
Yes. Because in the end, I am living my life for myself.
What do I want?
What to I believe in?
What is MY style?
It seems as though the world judges us from not following social constructs, but never bothers to ask us : “Hey, are you happy?”
And so, I take it upon myself to ask myself, and if I cannot answer yes, it is I who needs to find a solution. No one else.
La responsabilité est indissociable du pouvoir d’agir.
So while this is a far more serious blog post, I know, this is where I am at in this journey we call life. I will return with my regular pop psychology every day material. But in the meantime, it would not have been authentic of me to share anything else. I think that what some of you seem to appreciate the most is authenticity and the author’s ability to be transparent.
La Zia, if you somehow can read me, know this : I have loved you. I love you still.
I will end my post with one of many moments I shared with my aunt many many moons ago. I must have been nine years old, sitting on the booth side of the restaurant table for a family gathering. While my cousins and other kids were all hanging and playing together at one end while I was somehow on my own drawing on my placemat, quite taken with what I was doing. Suddenly, I look up to see the kids closer in age having a good time while I, the younger one, sat alone drawing. While I was looking at them, La Zia must have seen my thought process of “I want to be with the cool kids” and without a blink said :
“Tu sais Ivana, les artistes sont souvent solitaires”
Which makes complete sense to me now as a 36 year old more than ever. While my super social personality needs people at a high level, there is a side of me that requires alone time to let my mind drift into creative thoughts. Without which, I would not be able to do most of the things I love, like writing.
I get that now.
For that and things you don’t even know you have done to love me La Zia, I love you forever.
Ever Bee your Goddaughter,
Ivana AKA Lunella
poem for la zia
À ma tante préférée
Someone once told me, if you want to make god laugh, tell him you have plans...
I had plans...
Plans of you and me
Taking another trip to the sea
Laughing with our feet in the sand
You and I with our similar hands
Everyone has a crazy laughing auntie
The one with style and too much creativity
The life of the party who takes the chance
Leading you on the floor for one more dance
Je me souviens de ta forte présence
Une qui influença l’évolution de mon enfance
Ton regard absorbé quand je jouais de la musique
Ton support encourageant pour mon côté artistique
Une femme qui afflue de générosité
Tu donnais de ton cœur sans jamais hésiter
Tes gestes affectueux et tes tendres câlins
Les biscuits, le prosecco et toujours le vin
La tante plus que cool, à l’affût des derniers cris
La seule qui comprenait mon amour des pantalons hippie
Ta chevelure abondante mais toujours à refaire
Ton talent pour trouver le beau, pratique et pas cher
Les follies de tous nos voyages de plage
« Ivana tu es rouge » quand tu surveillais mon bronzage
Celle qui allait se baigner à la mer vite car il faisait trop chaud
À cause de toi, je vais maintenant un peu plus souvent à l’eau...
J’avais des plans mais je n’ai pas validé
Avec ce que l’univers avait de planifié
Il m’est difficile de comprendre pourquoi
Il y avait ce rendez-vous pour quelqu’un comme toi
Non sono daccordo e mi lamento
Perche forse adesso capisco l’appuntamento
Tua canzone preferita Di Ornella
Troppo triste ma sempre bella
N’ayant pas connu un monde sans toi
Il m’est étrange de savoir que tu n’y es pas
Et qui rira de mes imitations et de mes effets sonores?
Comme toi, je n’ai pas peur du ridicule, je l’adore
Mon cerveau devra se défaire de certains réflexes
Comme de vouloir t’écrire un texte
Ou de t’inviter pour l’apéro
Sans toi, qu’est-ce vraiment le prosecco ?
Merci pour ta présence dans ma vie
Sans laquelle je ne serais qui je suis
Tous les anniversaires, les voyages et les soupers
On ne peut pas dire qu’on n’a pas fêté!
I had plans...
But It has been a privilege to have you as my aunt
And another, to be your god daughter
Don’t worry, I’ll remember everything
Love this strong is a forever thing
Mais pourquoi ce poëm ne veut-il pas se terminer...?
Pour les adieux je n’ai jamais été très douée...
Je préfère savoir qu’ensemble nous allons continuer
Car de ton amour inconditionnel je vivrai comblée
Il n’est donc pas surprenant que le nom Emilia
Rhyme si bien avec le mot famiglia
Et qu’il sera toujours l’équivalent de La Zia
By : Ivana Lemme June 2019
As we roll into our third and finally winter month (yaaaaaay), us Montrealers are thriving through to reach the promise of springtime. The promise of days in which the glacial wind doesn’t tear off your face or make your skin crack. The promise of days when you aren’t wearing 10 pounds worth of gear to confront the cold weather but then die of heat in the trenches of the metro lines. Finally, the promise of sunshine, terraces and sandals. Until then though…we grunt and humph at the weather forecast, hopelessly trapped in a giant snow globe. Yet, some of us still find motivation to focus on what’s coming ahead: the promised land or springtime!
It is true that, by nature, I have always been one to have stamina. Don’t get me wrong though, I am definitely not invincible. While I do think part of my motivation is innate, I realize that there are also behavioural preferences that I have that encourage me on a daily basis. In the hopes of wanting to inspire (and not dictate or pretend I am a life coach), here are a few things that I do every day that I am convinced help me focus on the positive and to just GSD.
I wake up early everyday
(Amendment: I sometimes skip on weekends)
5AM to be precise. You might think I set my alarm on at an ungodly hour because I now live in the suburbs. Sure, part of it is true. However, if I’m going to get up early, I may as well do it and truly profit from the early hours of the day. In early January, I started a beachbody workout program that I could do from home (Transform:20). I wanted a physical activity routine that I could do from home, as I was used to having a gym in my building and going to ballet class close to work. While I could still go to ballet class if I wanted to, the truth is, my motivation is NOT at an all-time high after a day of work. No matter how much I love ballet, I did find it challenging to wait around at work, change, go to class and arrive home very late. I often lost my momentum. That's the problem right there: when you have time between you and a task, you have time to change your mind. I need something I can do as soon as I decide so as to not delay and potentially kill my motivation. So, beachbody with Shaun T it was and man...am I not disappointed!
For me to be able to take my time in the morning, I wake up around 5:30AM, put on my workout clothes and head down to the basement to train for 20 non-stop minutes. The feeling of validation that comes after this is priceless. Working out first thing in the morning, as I used to do back a few years ago, truly is what works best for me. After that, I can tackle anything the day brings. The fact that I took care of myself first allows me to better focus on the rest of my day and not think "oh yeah, I have to work out after work"....nope! It's DONE.
There is something secretive about waking up at the crack of dawn as well. The sense of power that I feel when I rise is what keeps me coming back. It is as though I am alone in the world, possessing all the freedom and time to do as I please. Key trick: preparing my workout gear the night before. and I mean down to the socks and shoes. This sets my mind to it before going to bed and when I wake up, it’s right there waiting for me, inciting me to go. By doing so, I eliminate all decision making in the morning and I just go train.
So, when I arrive at work for 9AM, no one really knows that I already worked out, responded to emails and basically, already GSD.
I listen to music everyday
I still believe that the best invention to date is portable music. The Walkman, the ipod, now the smartphone, which allows me to store all my favourite and new music as I travel between places. If you know me, you know that music is an incredible source of inspiration and energy for me. It takes me places, it makes me dream, it's a time traveling machine. Though I do add new music regularly, I don’t tire of the same songs. I rediscover them. I’ll hear the instruments in a different way, I’ll experiment the movement of the emotions again and get goosebumps, and then sometimes, exactly the right song will start playing as I get off the train to start my march to the office and it will be just the song I needed to hear. I swear it’s like my life has its own soundtrack! I once had the 435 express bus pass right in front of me and as it was stopped at a red light, the song “Pray for me” by the weeknd started playing in my earphone…you know it. The fire inside me ignited and I ran like someone was chasing me, caught up to that bus and the driver opened the doors for me with a wink. My daily dose of music keeps me sane and charged with positive vibes, simple as that.
Yes. Another small victory...
So when I put those earphones in and start walking, my heart and soul are getting replenished by music. Which leads me to my next point.
I walk everyday
I have become a pedestrian since I moved to the city over ten years ago and since I left, that hasn’t changed. I refuse to get a second car until I really need to get one. In fact, I walk more now than I used to. Why? Well, first of all, I can’t rely on the buses in wintertime nor do I want to feel the pressure to. So I often walk from the train station to the office (ok, except in minus 30 weather, when I take the metro) and then back again from the office to the train station. As I walk, I am in charge. I have my music and march to my own beat. I am often reminded of the freedom that comes with the ability to walk. Not something all of us have.
I take in the scenery, I let my mind drift to what’s in front of me: people passing me by, bright and inviting shops, confusing construction signs, the smell of waffles mixed with tar?? yep, that's Montreal! A perfect mix that creates the vibrations of the city I love. What a privilege it is to be able to feel energy so palpable simply by walking through it and letting my nervous system absorb it all. I then hop on the train and unwind with a book or...more music.
I am silly everyday
One of the things I do on the regular too is share silly moments with everyone around me. Either in person, by phone or by ping, you may be receiving something from me like a text, a recording, a meme that will make you laugh. I love to laugh and enjoy the camaraderie that comes in building long-term friendships. Those little in-between moments help us know each other better and build trusting relationships. There are moments when I obviously need to be serious and focused while others welcome sarcastic remarks and the healthy banter between friends and colleagues. Unlike some, I am not afraid to be a goofball and appear ridiculous. Je n’ai pas peur du ridicule, je suis le ridicule.
I sweat the small stuff enough as it is that when I do laugh, I laugh hard and let go. I take a step back and remember that whatever pressure I feel is usually not all that unbearable; I have the means to get through it. It reminds me not to take life so seriously after all. I have inside jokes with just about everyone I know. Every friendship or colleagueship has its personality and special characteristics. To me, that is what makes life meaningful. How grateful I am to be surrounded by phenomenal people, people I believe in. Individuals possessing incredible knowledge as well as in-depth desires to achieve their goals and demonstrate tremendous kindness and respect to everyone. At work especially, we all joke around, nerds that we are, and make work a true fun place to be. This is also why I would not want to work from home more than once or twice a week. I’d be missing out on the city and on those small moments that make us grow together.
I listen to paul arcand every day
So I have a confession to make...I am totally addicted to the radio in the morning. The moment I rise, I march right over to the bathroom and before anything else, I turn on my super old yet immortal Sony radio to 98.5. It's really early and while the entire world seems to still be sleeping, I like to have the company of a rational voice with me, even if it's just 10 minutes before my workout. The voice I long to hear though is that of Paul Arcand and his fabulous team Puisqu’il faut se lever #PQFSL. They go on at 5:30AM and I love listening to Paul and the way he shares the news and point of view to the city. His voice is on my little radio and also on in the kitchen as I do my smoothie and all the way on the train as I sip my coffee. I don’t want to miss anything! I feel like I know everything that’s important as my day begins. I also love how Paul isn’t afraid to challenge his guests when he interviews them and speaks for us citizens. He is VERY knowledgeable and so is his amazing team.
I remember when my parents would listen to him when I was younger; I wanted nothing to do with news. All I wanted was music. Now though, I really love the conversations and being in the know. I am part of that second generation who was originally forced to listen and who now wants to listen. I don’t know what I would do without them in the morning. It's one of those things I know I can always count on every day. I love how organized they are and the flawless chemistry that connects them. Not only do they deliver top stories and important commute information in a timely fashion, their sense of humour, hilarious sound effects and natural way of caring for Montrealers and surrounding regions keep up listeners hooked. #PQFSL je vous AIME!
Walk with purpose everyday
I often get the “You’re tiny but we can hear you coming from so far!” comment. Perhaps it’s the dance, perhaps it’s the tempo I need to feel, but all I know is that if you are a slow walker, please be kind and…get out of my way. I like to walk with conviction. I cannot walk without a beat. My steps have a bounce because I know where I am going and most likely, I am enthusiastic to get there.
While I get that not all of us are fast walkers, walking rapidly is more efficient. Sorry to say but slow-walkers intentionally or unintentionally impose their speed, or lack thereof, on fast-walkers. Meanwhile, the fast-walkers don’t disturb you: you see them and then they’re gone. I walk from the heels of my feet, it’s loud, and it gives meaning to my direction. The energy I send throughout my walk usually comes back to me.
I enjoy coffee everyday
If there’s something I can’t go without it truly is my coffee. It’s quite simple: I like the hotness, the taste and the cosy feeling it brings me. I enjoy every single sip and it makes my morning awesome. Lucky for me, ever since the move, Phil and I splurged on a top of the line filter coffee machine that is programmable. So every morning, I get a fresh brew and my awesome husband preps my little thermos for me. As the train pulls me into town, I combine glorious coffee sips to Paul Arcand’s awesomeness and those are little moments of gratitude and yes, another small victory!
So, by 8AM, I already engaged in three or four of my preferred behaviours: my workout, my fave radio show, my coffee, which will then be followed by walking, music and most certainly, silliness! You see...everything is connected and each of those little rituals have a purpose and thus, a positive psychological impact on me.
Do you have favorite activities, hobbies, rituals that keep you engaged and enthused?
Bee motivated xx
What the past 6 weeks have been like, waking up at 5AM and training 6 days a week :)
UT TENSIO SIC VIS : "La déformation est proportionnelle à la contrainte" Traduit en langage polytechnicien : plus tu forces, plus la matière entre… (Crédit: Mathieu Cloutier, le Polyscope, 2002)
À Montréal, ce mot a plusieurs significations, surtout cette semaine.
Toute personne ayant déjà fréquenté l’université sait à quel point le campus universitaire est sanctuaire. L’école en question devient presque une seconde maison tellement nous y passons du temps. Des heures à écouter les profs, à finir des travaux sur des ordis un peu moche (en tout cas, dans mon temps!), à tenter d’entrer dans la bibliothèque avec de la nourriture en cachette (café, hamburgers, soupes, j’étais l’experte) pour étudier encore des heures et des heures, à rencontrer des camarades dans les corridors et se questionner sur la matière, à travailler avec un groupe de gens étrangers car c’est la prof qui a choisi les membres de ton équipe et non toi (bon…encore moi qui fera la présentation au podium car tout le monde a peur de parler), et bien plus encore.
En tant qu'étudiant, nous connaissons tous les coins. Tout le personnel de la cafétéria, la petite madame du café, les salles de bains des années 70s qui sont trop froides, les corridors ornés des cadres de bacheliers, bachelières remontant aux années 1900s, l’auditorium remplie d’étudiants et un peu de musique, et la fameuse porte d’entrée…
Difficile de penser que certaines personnes ont l’intention d’y entrer pour tout saccager et briser l’aura de protection qui règne dans ces établissements. Pourtant, le 6 décembre 1989, c’est ce qui s’est passé et ce, basé sur le genre des personnes.
POLYTECHNIQUE, LA LÉGENDAIRE
Je fais partie d’une famille pour qui les études et la réussite académique sont très valorisées. Mes parents, mes oncles et mes tantes ont tous un parcours d’études universitaire, même mes ancêtres portaient un nom de famille dérivé du mot ‘’scolaire’’…il va de soi que je suis tombée dans la marmite quand j’étais petite et que naturellement, j’ai toujours aimé l’environnement scolaire de mon côté aussi. À vrai dire, le monde académique, celui du savoir, m’a toujours impressionné et m’a toujours fait un peu peur en même temps.
Depuis un très jeune âge, j’admirais souvent la photo de graduation de mon père dans le salon. C’est une photo assez grande, qui remplit tout le cadre. Mon père, relativement jeune dans cette photo, est vêtu d’une toge et d’une ceinture un peu poilue qui attirait toujours mon attention. Ensuite, je portais mes yeux sur le regard rêveur qu’avait mon père…wow.
Plus tard, en grandissant et que j’étais au primaire, c’est là que les histoires et anecdotes inspirantes de mon père lors de ses études ont commencé à parsemer ma vie. C’était toujours au bon moment, soit quand j’éprouvais des difficultés avec certaines mise en situation mathématiques, que le père tout puissant (je parle bien du mien!) m’arrivait avec des explications pour m’aider; suivi par une anecdote qui me ne me lassait jamais indifférente :
« Pour accéder à l’université à l'école Polytechnique, j’ai dû faire une année de spécialisation en mathématique étant donné que j'avais gradué en tant que technologue en génie civil. »
Moi à voix haute : silence.
Moi dans ma tête : QUOI?!? Oh wow! Il a dû travailler sans relâche pour faire un an juste de maths! Et surtout, pour se rendre au but ultime de devenir ingénieur.
« Lors d’un de mes premiers cour à Polytechnique, le professeur nous adressa la parole : ‘regardez votre voisin de gauche et de droite, ils ne seront peut-être plus là avant la fin du trimestre' j'avais initialement éclaté de rire en classe, j’ai rapidement compris que j’étais moi aussi le voisin de gauche et de droite de mes camarades! Il fallait s'y mettre! »
« Un de mes professeurs qui nous enseignait au CEGEP Ahuntsic, enseignait aussi à Polytechnique, c’est lui qui nous avais dit que, tout dépendant de ce que nous ciblons comme carrière, une technique au niveau collégiale seule ne nous ouvrent pas certaines portes…cela m'a fait réfléchir. Je me suis donc investi dans un parcours plus long, mais qui menait à beaucoup plus d’opportunités. »
Ces tranches de vie cheminaient dans mon esprit et me motivait à vaincre mes peurs et à constater que de travailler fort, clairement, porte fruit. Mon père connaissait toujours toutes les formules géométriques quand je faisais mes devoirs. À chaque fois que je lui posais une question pour n’importe quel niveau de mathématique, il avait toujours la réponse ou alors, les bons réflexes pour résoudre la problématique. Un vrai dieu des chiffres et d’un raisonnement théorique inégalé, je me demandais toujours comment il faisait pour se souvenir de tout cela? Il avait terminé ses études depuis un bon moment non?
Tranquillement, je comprenais que mon père avait étudié à la légendaire université de Polytechnique et la vraie signification de la ceinture qu'il portait. Effectivement, ‘’seuls des champions sortent de la Poly’’ m’a déjà confirmé un des mes jeunes clients en counselling il n’y a pas si longtemps.
ENRICHIR UN PROCESSUS DE RÉFLEXION COMPLEXIFIé
Il n’est donc pas surprenant que je portais dans mon balluchon cérébral toutes les fameuses histoires que mes parents (ma mère était aussi très impliquée dans les activités universitaires de mon père) m’ont racontées à travers le temps. Cela a toujours été une source d’inspiration pour moi.
Je me souviens- jadis, il fut un temps…en 2001 (ha-ha), je prenais mon rôle d’étudiante tel un emploi. Je sentais avoir eu ma place auprès ‘’des grands’’ pour y étudier la psy. Maintenant, à moi de jouer…et à cet instant commença ma propre aventure, et ce fut huit années de ma vie que je n’oublierai jamais.
Ce que l’université m’a apporté de plus précieux, est la relation que j’ai développé avec moi-même et la discipline pour atteinte de mes objectifs. Je crois que cela a été un des plus beaux cadeaux de la vie car c’est réellement durant cette période que j’ai découvert ma persévérance et à quel point j’étais prête à faire les sacrifices nécessaires pour ouvrir ces fameuses portes.
J’ai appris que ce qui fonctionnait pour les autres, ne s’appliquait pas forcément à moi J’ai découvert qu’il me fallait plus de temps d’études et que l’écoute en classe ne suffisait pas (j’ai besoin de pratiquer ce que je viens d’apprendre pour bien le comprendre). J’ai appris qu’il fallait parfois challenger l’autorité lorsque nécessaire (une certaine prof qui a fait une ‘erreur de calcul’ pour ma note finale). J’ai vaincu ma relation tendue avec les maths et stats pour accéder aux études de cycle supérieur (parce que tant qu’a accéder au cycle supérieur, pourquoi ne pas y parvenir en détruisant la porte d’entrée la plus dure?). J’ai surtout rapidement réalisé qu’il n’en revenait qu’à moi pour réussir et à personne d’autre et que la passion pour ce qu’on pratique vient avec le temps…
J’ai posé la question à mon père. Qu’est-ce que son passage à Polytechnique lui a appris de plus important?
Et le père répondit (héhé) : « Surtout la manière de réfléchir. Comme ingénieur (génie civil), il faut toujours penser en terme de prévoyance. L’impact sur la société, la sécurité, l’environnement et la durabilité.
…la discipline pour y arriver. Nous travaillions pendant des heures et des heures. Une fois l’université terminée, le travail était presque comme une pause à comparer.
Les professeurs qui encouragent ont un grand impact, ce qui était le cas des professeurs de Poly, tout particulièrement pour moi, Dr. André Bazergui qui était très présent. »
LES ÉTUDES, UN PRIVILÈGE…
Dans le fonds, les études universitaires sont comme une série d’obstacles qui nous forcent à sortir de notre zone de confort pour développer les bons outils intellectuels pour s’en sortir. C’est la démonstration que nous avons le désir de commencer et de terminer un projet de longue haleine. Je voulais absolument voir cet établissement dont j’ai toujours entendu parler et marcher les corridors de cette université avec mon père.
Des corridors qu’avaient aussi connus 14 femmes.
Des femmes, comme moi, qui avaient pris leur place sur les bancs universitaires. Plus que prêtes à s’investir et à être ingénieures mais qui ont perdu la vie lorsqu’elles étaient en train de le devenir. Des êtres humains qui méritaient, elles aussi, d’avoir ce regard rêveur dans leur photo de graduation et ce sentiment d’invincibilité que tout jeune étudiant connait.
C’est aussi pour cela que je tenais à visiter le campus de Polytechnique avec mes parents. Le weekend dernier, nous y sommes allés et ce ne fut pas sans frissons pour moi en entrant les anciennes portes de cette légendaire université.
Je dédie ce texte à :
It’s thinking Tuesday and mid November and you know that that means…
November and March, I have noticed, always come with the end and the beginning of something important in our life. Ya?
November can feel particularly harsh however as we have just rolled back our clocks and the sun essentially sets at 4PM. Thankfully, Christmas lights have already made their appearance in the busy city and tranquil suburbs, brightening the remainder of our day.
Since November isn’t always an easy month, I thought of making this post about the small moments.
Moments we take for granted as they seem insignificant or simply the transition from one bigger moment to another. Yet, it is in those in between instants that we can witness sweet innocence and blind vulnerability, even just for a second. And I come across them in the train a lot. Since I take the train almost every day now, it has given me time to sit back, enjoy my thermos coffee and read my book....while witnessing lots of these good old human moments. The ones that remind us that we are beings, simply going about our day in the best way we can. I want to share these with you. In hopes of restoring a bit of « faith in humanity » as the popular saying goes, distract you from your daily grind or just to let you know that, hey…you’re ok.
Without further ado, the list of sweet and innocent human instants or gestures I have witnessed in the past month :
It just feels as though, for those two minutes or seconds, we stand still while the world continues to run. And then before we know it, we’re off again. Yet many small moments of peacefulness, kindness and laughter add up to a pretty good day.
Have a great one!
Bee tiny moment appreciative!
Hey there bee readers! After a super busy summer, I am happy to announce that we have hit quite a few home goals, decoratively speaking, and that I am slowly growing roots to the suburban life. Phil and I make quite the team as homeowners and though running a household differs in a million ways to living in a condo, I am loving it. I am also very glad to be in the city every day to get my fix, my Montreal!
Quizzing you on The Gram this week, I asked you guys if you would like to read about how to deal with a patronizing person and pretty much everyone answered yes (ok full disclosure, one person said no. Tough.). This is something that I feel is an interesting topic as we most likely all come across individuals who feel they have the right to tell us how to live our life or just plant us with unsolicited advice that makes us feel we didn’t know what we were doing in the first place. While it’s fine to deal with it on occasions, it can be quite a different story if you have to see this person at work or almost every day.
Personally, I have a hard time handling criticism, so when someone does make a remark on how I’m cooking or the way I do my work, it had better be a credible source and the message better be constructive (and not destructive) i.e. someone who knows me well and who truly does have good intentions at heart. If not, I will process this as an insult and my brain will let it go straight to my heart and I got emotions behind the wheel again. But that’s me and I have come to know when this is triggered. Don’t catch me when I’m tired though, it won’t be pretty ;)
So rather than shoot you some tips, I will take you through some of the thought process I sometimes go through to try and better understand where this “better than thou” approach comes from and consequently depersonalize it when I am faced with it.
First, as always, let us define what constitutes a patronizing individual. According to the online Merriam-Webster the patronizing adjective is:
characterized by a superior attitude towards others : marked by condescension
So this means the individual feels he or she is clearly superior to you and uses a tone that belittles others. Let’s take a step back and see how they got to behave that way (and of course, we have all used a patronizing tone dare I say a few times in our lives but I am referring to the permanent patronizing kind of course).
Beliefs and nurturing
Psychology 101 for the patronizing will always look at nature and nurture within childhood experiences. That is, what has this person known as a child to be rewarding? What was this person praised for? Whatever the answer is has most likely forged the set of beliefs for this person.
If, for example, little Paul was particularly rewarded for academic performance by his parents, he will most likely seek to repeat this in adulthood within the workplace, dismissing others who can’t keep up with his over-achieving manners. In fact, Harry Levinson from Harvard Business Review in the « The Abrasive Personality » piece mentions that
such a person is most usually extremely intelligent. With a passion for perfection, accuracy, and completeness, he pushes (himself) very hard and can be counted on to do a job well, often spectacularly
I find this to be true as well. The trouble is, people with such behavioural preferences tend to forget individual differences and will perhaps omit empathy (sensitivity, what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes) when interacting and that is the part that will be abrasive and condescending.
What has this person known (aside from the parenting style they received) that has fostered the perfect environment for this hard “I am in charge” attitude? Have they taken care of an ill loved one? Were they the first born of three or more children and continuously responsible for them? Could they rely on trusted adults, a support system or did they always have to fend for themselves all the time?
If this person has essentially be trained to always be the “manager” of a team at a critically young age, it comes to no surprise that their natural behavioural preference be to patronize or cut you off and tell you how to do it. This is what has enabled them to succeed in most situations. This is how they survived when no one else was there to throw them a life line.
Harry Levinson mentions of the example he describes as abrasive that:
He (the abrasive character in the article) tends to want to do the job himself, however, finding it difficult to lean on others who he feels will not do it to his standards, on time, or with the required finesse.
My name is Ivana. I love photography and meeting people. I hold a Master's in counselling psychology and work as a career consultant. Music is my fuel and an important source of energy in my life. I drive my vespa around the city and I love what I do! :) About this blog: me on my artistic soap box!
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