By Lisa Chandler, 16 January, 2022

I did recently. I didn't mean to. I was trying to do my best. But my initial results certainly did not reflect this.

Before I tell you about it, let’s flash back to last summer when I impulsively bought a camper and realized “wherever you go, there you are”. And instead of having the fun-loving summer I hoped for, I suffered. I was faced with my deep longing to find a loving partner and my fear about doing so. Happily, on this front, I have some joyful news to report. Through the fall, I found courage. I opened my heart (and a profile on Bumble). Miraculously, I have met a soulful man. Truly. I feel such joy. I could go on and on.

But I am going to tell you instead about how I screwed up.

I made some decisions over the holidays to keep my circle very small from Boxing Day on. COVID rates were increasing quickly and with a partially vaccinated daughter and parents waiting for their booster, it felt necessary. The broader truth though, is that, at the age of 52, I justified to myself that I deserved to have what I wanted most leading into the new year —a new beau to spend time with. 

I was single-minded and not very thoughtful about the rest. 

Sadly, I hurt people I love. 

My life’s work is about helping leaders live and lead in integrity. Integrity is all about taking 100 percent responsibility, feeling feelings, speaking candidly, and making clear agreements.

I spent a couple of weeks convincing myself I was doing all of this.  But, the hard truth is that what I was actually doing was draining myself overthinking the situation, coming up with justifications for my decisions, and apologizing in misguided ways. Essentially, I was making being “right” more important than my relationships. 

My best friend courageously pierced through my delusion with her loving candour. “These relationships matter a lot. You’re being really selfish, and you cannot pretend you’re not.” Ouch. It hurt at the time.

Despite the sting, her feedback was a great gift.

It helped me see how much these relationships matter to me. And I didn't like what I saw in the mirror on this one. I moved swiftly to make real apologies, apologies that didn’t require anything of the other people. A podcast on how to apologize and why it matters, helped me a lot (Part 1 + Part 2...both parts are important).

The people I had hurt received me with a grace I didn’t expect. I am grateful. I will do better. 

Covid, bubbles, holidays, fatigue. None of us are immune to the swirl.

But you might wonder why, as someone who sings the praises of conscious leadership, I’d reveal how messy and imperfect I sometimes am in applying these principles. I questioned myself too. Why share that I fucked up at the risk of deterring leaders interested in working with me?  I think it’s this acknowledgement that makes it worth it: 

I’m living and breathing proof that joy and pain are just the range of what it’s like to be human. Fumbling (and Bumbling) is what living is about. There are no safeguards. We are all just practicing how to love and be loved, how to fail and learn, how to lead and be led. 

I'm always learning. Sometimes painfully, sometimes delightfully. I wouldn’t want it any other way. How about you?

By Lisa Chandler, 22 December, 2021

A very open-hearted friend sent me Peter Bevan-Baker’s winter solstice post “Tried, tested, and tired but not defeated”.

It brought up two contrasting sets of feelings in me:

Joy and gratitude:

I admire leaders who invest themselves so fully and care so deeply.

Sadness and Shame:

What kind of leader am I if I pass on sending a year-end message when we all seem to need so much guidance and support right now?

And then it hit me.

I can go around feeling down or I can accept myself for feeling this way and see if I can shift.

Turns out, I do want to be generous, open-hearted and hopeful right now.

And I can do it simply by sharing some things that help me cope and even thrive.

I hope they help you.

On the paradoxical nature of generosity

It would be rare to find someone these days who doesn’t wish they could give or get more support.

What do you want to give of your time? Of your money? Of your things? Of your love? Get crystal clear and ONLY give those things.

Say no to giving things when you don’t have a full yes. Say no to giving because it’s what you “should” do. Say no to giving because you’re looking for others’ approval. Say no to giving what you don’t have to give. Say no to what you aren’t willing to give to yourself first.

Then watch what happens. My bet is that you’ll be able to be more generous than you ever have before.

On the gifts of being open-hearted

A simple practice has brought me some profound open-hearted connections. I ask myself these questions:

  • In this moment, am I in trust or fear? (Above/below the line for those who know)
  • What feelings are here now? Joy, creative, sadness, fear, anger or any combo?
  • Can I accept myself for feeling x?
  • Am I willing to reveal my feelings to another (even if it feels risky) as a way to connect?

Sometimes I can. Sometimes I can’t. When I can, 9 times out of 10, the rewards amaze me. 

On practicing hope

Lots of times between 2008-2010, I lost hope. Fertility treatments weren’t working, and I had to face that I might not become a mother.  My then therapist said many times, “It’s not because you hope more that you will be more disappointed if it doesn’t work. Go ahead and hope. In fact, you need to hope so that you can keep going.”

Hope is really a form of imagination and it’s critical to the quality of our lives. A friend sent me this excerpt from The Body Keeps Score.

Our imagination enables us to leave our routine everyday existence by fantasizing about travel, food, sex, falling in love, or having the last word—all the things that make life interesting. Imagination gives us the opportunity to envision new possibilities—it is an essential launchpad for making our hopes come true. It fires our creativity, relieves our boredom, alleviates our pain, enhances our pleasure, and enriches our most intimate relationships. When people are compulsively and constantly pulled back into the past, to the last time they felt intense involvement and deep emotions, they suffer from a failure of imagination, a loss of the mental flexibility. Without imagination there is no hope, no chance to envision a better future, no place to go, no goal to reach.

Many of you know I practice returning to the present moment repeatedly to survive and ideally thrive.  At the same time, I want to remind you to dream, to hope, to envision a beautiful future. Let's make this really practical too:

  • What’s something you hope for?
  • What’s not in your control? Let that go.
  • What is in your control right now? Take one small step toward what you want.
  • Every time you lose hope, repeat!

I’ll end where I started and share Peter Bevan-Baker’s words:

"There is no end of broken dreams in our midst, with many recent reveries shattered by COVID, but it is indeed still a beautiful world. And PEI is a particularly special part of this beautiful world."

It’s one day post winter solstice and already we are returning to more light.

May you be generous, open-hearted and hopeful even now. And may it return to you manyfold this holiday time and all year.

By Lisa Chandler, 20 September, 2021

I had high hopes for the summer of 2021. At Chandler Coaches, we’d made a promise to each other that we’d largely take the summer off. We had planned our business year accordingly, knowing how privileged we were that we could even contemplate taking a break. And despite that business wasn’t as nicely tied up in a bow in June as I had hoped, I put it down and ran toward my summer plans1.  

Let me back up for a moment. In March, in a moment of inspiration or impulse, I bought a camper (now known as “The Glamper”) to put on a cottage lot I had purchased way back in 1999. I was feeling depleted and looking for a way to get replenished. I thought that a summer away from business, with slower morning coffees, daily beach walks, and friends visiting, would be just what I needed to get inspired. 

Me, in front of the "glamper" in 2021.

Rest and play is a commitment conscious leaders make. I decided that I was making it. I wanted to slow down and give myself space.  I wanted to refresh in order to bring the best to my family, friends, and you, our courageous clients. 

Inside the "glamper" living room.

There were some slower mornings, some laughs with friends and some gorgeous pink sunsets. There was also a blocked sewer tank, boredom and lots of bug bites.  But this post is not meant as a chronicle of our summer, it’s the reminder that: 

Wherever you go, there you are!2 

The "glamper" kitchen table.

There I was in my field of clover with my same tendencies: Plunging into challenging projects vs. sitting still and feeling lonely.  Deep down, I knew back in March that the glamper was yet another distraction. But I did it anyway. And you know what? It didn’t deliver. How could it? There is no camper in this world, however glampy, that can give me what I really want.  

Instead of fun and inspiration, I got the “gift” of seeing how I keep repeating patterns that don’t really serve me (This post from summer 2018 reminded me). Initially, that felt like a big ouch! But from that pain, some clarity and courage are emerging.  What I really want is a deep connection with a loving partner, lots and lots of silliness, and a thriving coaching team who boldly invite transformations in our clients so we create positive impacts that go way beyond our Island.

To create what I want most, the teacher must become the student! Last week I joined an intensive coaching program as the client. I have already made a few important changes in my life/leadership.  

I firmly believe we cannot do this transformational work alone. Living and leading with courage and integrity requires that we surround ourselves with the loving pressure of a conscious leader community who will help us get there.  

At Chandler Coaches, our Conscious Leader Forum is this community. When you get tired of “buying campers” to avoid taking a stand for the life and leadership impact you really want, we can talk.

Until then, keep glamping.  

1. I am very grateful to Julie Ann who chose to coach some clients during the summer and to Lisa D-M who handled various things in my absence.    

2. This statement was popularized after the 1994 book Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn. 

By Lisa Chandler, 12 September, 2018
  1. Don’t wait.
  2. Welcome everything. Push nothing away.
  3. Bring your whole self to the experience.
  4. Find a place to rest in the middle of things.
  5. Cultivate “don’t know” mind [sometimes called “beginners’ mind”]

Five invitations to live fully.

Five invitations to make friends with everything.

Five invitations to get up close and personal with your own demise.

When I mentioned to friends that I planned to read The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully while touring La Gaspésie, I later learned they were worried about me. They watched me whirl around all summer, at times looking strained, and they worried why I would choose the topic of death over a mindless summer novel. I admit that I did overwhelm myself all summer. 

Looking back, I spent a good portion of the summer acting like a “victim”. Ironically, I was being the victim of too many good things. Too many business prospects coming out of the woodwork. Too many fun summer things on our bucket list. And that endless string of hot summer days. And all those beautiful flowers to grow and sell for Les fleurs de Lali. Poor me, right? In truth, I regularly make myself a victim of my own ambition through my attachment to being productive all the time.  I was fearing what would happen if I slowed down or stopped for a while. I desperately needed a break, a pause, a rest but I wouldn’t give it to myself. I do feel sad about that. 

What am I trying to outrun or outsmart anyway?  Death? We all know how that will go! So that brings me full circle.  The book reminded me of many beliefs I support and of the five invitations that I welcome. When I am conscious, I clumsily practice living in the moment. I remind myself often to welcome everything, even if ‘a crowd of sorrows robbing me of my furniture’, as Rumi speaks about in his poem The Guesthouse. I sometimes show up bravely and with vulnerability. And when I am my most conscious self, I bring curiosity and wonder. Resting in the middle of things…ahem…we’ve already talked about resting ☹.  

I assured my caring friends and can assure you, that my curiosity, fascination even, with death and dying comes from my desire to live my life fully.  

I want to live a long, loving and abundant life. However my life unfolds, I believe my path is in the practice of these invitations. And I’d add a sixth: Play and laugh in almost every situation. Will you accept these invitations? Please RSVP… at least to yourself.

By Lisa Chandler, 16 July, 2018

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer Those days of soda and pretzels and beer Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer You'll wish that summer could always be here   - Nat King Cole Our lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are filled with camping adventures, summer day camps, a little beach, a bit too much client work, and our summer side hustle: Les fleurs de Lali. 

Chandler Coaches Les-fleurs-de-Lali-planning
Planting Flowers
Planting Flowers

We launched in late spring with a few main objectives: 

  • Raise money for Ronald MacDonald House (RMH); Lali picked the charity after the PJ Walk in June. 50 percent of our proceeds will go to RMH to help Island families with sick children to stay together and near the medical care they need in Halifax.
  • Have fun together growing and arranging beautiful flowers to sell as cut bouquets
  • Teach Lali about business and help her make her some money to spend/ save.
Flowers ready for arranging.
So. Many. Vases.

We’re off to a great start! We’ve already sold over $200 worth in bouquets and it’s been a lot of fun. A few things I am noticing/ learning:

  • Our morning garden ritual offers so much:
    • We get outside first thing
    • We slow down and get off technology
    • We get our creative juices flowing as we arrange gorgeous flowers
  • We have an incredibly supportive village. We’ve been delighted by a big donation of flower bulbs (Thank you, Vesey’s) and some plants (Thank you, Susie of Earthform), and vases from several friends.  Two close friends—Alana and Barbie—are even growing flowers for us in their own gardens. Yep. We’ve already got multiple sites!
  • Social media is a powerful machine. We post a photo of a bouquet on our Facebook page (Les fleurs de Lali) and it sells every time. Being able to sell as soon as we have a bouquet IS what is making this enterprise work. We (read: I) would be doing a heck of a lot of hustling were it not for Facebook.
  • Pop up markets are fun and work. Our morning started early in order to harvest enough flowers and create the bouquets and set up for the sale. When our own peonies didn’t open up on time, three of our neighbours rescued us with beautiful blooms to sell. Lali and friends were excellent at making change, keeping track of sales, and adding value to the customer experience by carrying bouquets to cars☺  If all of our plantings work out, we’ll have LOTS of blooms for pop up markets in August and September.
  • It’s obvious why scale is needed for farmers/ producers. We sure could not live on the average $10 per day we are generating but it sure is fun!
  • Mother Nature is our real CEO. She can giveth abundantly in the form of sun and rain, and she can taketh away with a vengeance in the form of slugs who enjoy dahlia leaves.
  • Business ownership and success brings satisfaction. Lali is proud that she “owns” a business and is excited that she already deposited $100 in the bank. (She’s told me she’s willing to buy us a camper☺)
  • Wherever you go, there you are. My reactive tendencies of ambition and perfectionism show up just as much in this business as in my own. Go figure! I find it hard to leave flowers on the vine if they could be sold. I dream of all the marketing we could do and many cool creative things we could do. I get excited when we get advance and “corporate” orders. And I am already dreaming of the beautiful and abundant bouquets when the gladiolus bloom!

And with all these learnings, I remind myself that this endeavour is for fun, connection, creativity, learning, and giving. So far, it’s ticking all the boxes!

The flowers!