Compassionate Grit [The Twelve Days of #QUEST2015 Day 1]


Jeffrey Davis at Tracking Wonder put together a program to help business artists plan for 2015 in an unusual way. Quest 2015 consists of a community of people and a prompt that is sent out for people to respond to every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday during the month of December.

I signed up in November, but the illness I have been battling in December kept me from diving in earlier. I am starting late, but this is the sort of thing where there really is no late. Yes, I have missed out on some of the community building, but the reflection is always appropriate.

Part of the community building is through sharing blog posts, so I will be posting more frequently between now and the end of my reflections. After the 12 reflection posts, I’ll be back to my regular, irregular posting schedule.

Prompt One
Grit without compassion is just grind.
What would be most fun to create this year?
How can self-compassionate grit support you in that creating?

My life over the past decade has included a lot of grind. Too much getting through things; not enough ease in the perserverence. And when the ease goes, the grit leads to burnout, not success. I burned out in 2014.

When I say ease, I refer to the feeling of flow, the deep connectedness to doing the work that leads to focus and progress. I am not suggesting easy tasks. In fact, the tasks I have in mind are all difficult: raising kids, finishing two novels, and building a business.

Grit got me a long way – 11 years with a twice-exceptional kid and almost 8 after adding triplets, including another twice-exceptional kid, to the family, two novels in process, and a beginning to the business. But, I have been hard on myself, pushing myself to always do more, because there is always more that could be done.

I had forgotten to take care of myself to maintain the motivation for the truly long haul.

In 2014, I have remembered to take care of myself more, seeking out the friends who nurture me, who show me my strengths, who remind me to dance and play, and who tell me to take it easy on myself.

I am slowly building new habits: sitting quietly in the evening not working for a few minutes at the end of the day; reading fewer novels to study my genre and more novels I want to read; asking for help instead of doing everything myself.

The things I want to create aren’t changing over time. I still want to tell stories with depth and heart. I still want to help other people create lives that feel meaningful and worthy through my coaching business. I still want to raise emotionally aware, kind, and productive children who choose lives that are meaningful to them over thoughtless conformity.

When I create these things from a place of playfulness, inventiveness, and fun, I am more successful and more satisfied, and my whole life is enriched. When I create from a place of anxiety and a sense that time is short, I suffer and eventually collapse under the pressure.

It is time to remind myself that small steps forward are progress, that I can only do so much in a day, and that I must nurture myself to sustain myself for the duration.

Because the truth is, I do an astounding amount of work, and all of it is good enough – and much of it is a whole lot better than that.

This first prompt came from Jen Louden. According to her bio, she is a writer, pioneer in the personal growth field, author of several popular books, and guide for navigating your life with authenticity. She is founder of the TeachNow program, which has served thousands of teachers, service providers, and entrepreneurs.

Ease: A Look Back on a 2012

In the last few days of the year, I am reflecting on my journey through 2012.

At the beginning of the year, I chose “Ease” as my guiding word for the year. I also decided to “hang on and pretend it’s a plan” rather than making specific plans. Too much was in flux for me to commit to any specific goals.

How did I do?

Well, I hung on and improvised. And things moved forward.

And, I searched for ease where I could find it. Which wasn’t easy in the midst of all my life fluctuations. But, by having brought attention to the issue of ease in my life, I was able to choose ease in some very stressful situations. Not always, but often enough to feel like things were shifting. And, given that the hardest part of adult learning is often catching yourself doing something the old way with enough time to choose a different action, I would say that progress has been made.

I think of 2012 as a transitional year.

We moved. The new house is, as expected, proving to be a lot of work and fabulous at the same time. After spending the spring and summer focused on safety issues, learning how to maintain a pool, and making the backyard fun for the kids, we moved our work inside for the fall and winter. We are in the midst of the winter of wallpaper removal and room reallocation. By spring, the kids will all have new rooms and we will have moved on to the walls and floors of the bathrooms and laundry rooms. After that, there will be the master bedroom to redo completely and the rest of the interior of the house should get a new coat of paint. By 2014, we hope to have put our stamp on every room in the house. And despite the required work, I love the place.

The kids all changed schools. The two who find school fun and easily manageable moved from a private Montessori school to the local public school, and the two who were home-schooling also moved into the public school system. It would not be an exaggeration to say I spent the entire summer worrying about how things would go. And, it hasn’t been perfect, but some time in November, I realized it was working and I could start thinking about how to build my life on the assumption that public school would continue to be the organizing structure of our family life.

It has been a wild ride. We have new neighbours, new school friends, new commitments, and a new schedule. And it mostly works now. Still have some tweaking to do, but life with growing kids means there is always something in flux.

All I really planned to do this year was move and try school for the kids. I did those things.

In addition, I joined the board of a local community theatre, directed a play, blogged every day for a month in March, pushed my writing to a new level, and reminded myself to breathe deeply several times a day.

To wrap up this year, I intend to reflect on how my writing has progressed and what I want to grow into next year and how next year might shape up, including my guiding word for 2013, Courage.

How are you winding up the year? Are you taking time to review the past year and plan for the next, or are you just moving forward, taking life as it comes?

InterPlay is Coming to Oshawa

Want less stress in your life and more ease?

Want to excavate your buried creativity?

All while having fun in an affirming community?

 Try InterPlay!

Starting in January, I am offering two InterPlay classes a month. These are drop-in classes. No need to preregister. Newcomers and experienced players welcome.

InterPlay is a practice and philosophy rooted in the power of play. It’s an easy to learn, creative process that uses movement, storytelling, and voice —but does it in ways that don’t require particular skill or even nerve. The forms of InterPlay help create a life of greater ease, connection, and health. InterPlay celebrates and creates connection and community. Through this simple form of play, we learn more about ourselves and each other. It is incremental, affirming, and anyone can do it!

The Details

TGIF InterPlay: 2nd Fridays 7:15pm – 9:00pm

Friday Morning InterPlay: 4th Fridays 10:15am – 12:00pm

Location: Both Playgroups will meet at Durham Improv’s Oshawa location: 1115 Wentworth Street West, Oshawa. The space is on the 2nd Floor (above “Medigas”) and is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible

Cost: $15 per class or $50 for a 4 class pass (save $10)

For more information, contact Kate Arms-Roberts at 647-408-6133 or

Hang On and Pretend It’s a Plan

Last year, I didn’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I chose to take incremental steps to change my practices. I set out to play more, write more, and move more. In retrospect, I made progress in all three areas.

This year, I know better than to make resolutions, or even to make much in the way of plans.

By choosing to move, I have invited a world of change and I do not know how things will shape up. The new house will inevitably take more work than I have estimated. The new environment will surely require modification of my routines. I cannot predict how much the transition will upset the children or the cats, but I will have to deal with whatever arises. And then, once we have adjusted to the new house somewhat, most, if not all, of the kids will change schools after the summer.

TARDIS and keys

I can go anywhere I want in time or space. Can you?

Watching this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe, I was struck by a single line of dialogue. When asked by his companion what to do next as they whooshed through the time vortex in an alien escape pod, the Doctor advised, “Do what I do: hang on and pretend it’s a plan.”

And it struck me.

That is exactly what I need to do in 2012: hang on and pretend it’s a plan.

Last year taught me that I can make all the plans I want, but without the flexibility to drop or modify them, I will be courting trouble. This year, although I have directions I would like to go, setting specific goals feels like setting myself up to fail. But, and this is a big issue, I like to feel in control – and that’s where the “pretend it’s a plan” part is so brilliant. If I pretend it’s a plan, I might not freak out so much when I feel out of control.

Or maybe not. I won’t know until I get through the time vortex.

What star is this? From whence?

In the meantime, I found a guiding star.

Inspired by Christine Kane’s Resolution Revolution post (December, 2007), I have chosen a word to be a touchstone for the coming year, a word that will serve as grounding image, inspirational guide, and ongoing challenge, a word I hope will give me a stable focus and flexibility in the face of changing external environments.

My word for 2012 is ease.

I am aiming to ease my way through 2012, hanging on through the changes that are coming my way, and pretending it’s a plan if I start freaking out about my lack of control of outcomes.

Or at least, that’s the plan intention…

I’m heading into 2012 with a motto and a word.

Check back here in a year and we’ll see how it went.