Category Archives: this. is. it.

your 3,000 weeks

This past Saturday evening, I had a brainstorming session with my lovely friend Jenn. One thing led to another (as storms of the brain are wont to do) and it led us to calculate how many weeks we have until we turn 90 years old.

90 years old: what does that look like for you? What have you accomplished by then? Who is that person with all of those years under their belt?

Think about it for a second.

Likely you have thought of it before: the 90-year-old version of yourself. Perhaps you have tapped into that wisdom by asking: “What would 90-year-old me say/think/feel/do about this?” It’s a great perspective shifter.

But back to the weeks. I don’t know about you, but I have pissed away days. I have pissed away whole weeks, caught up in one thing or another that did not contribute to the wine drinking, painting, wise + wild, ass pinching, sass-fuelled Cynthia that I want to be at 90.

Like it or not, our time is not infinite. In fact, if you are 30-ish and hope to live ’til 90, you have about 3000 weeks.

To see what you want to see. To do what you want to do. To make the impact you want to make.

Suddenly, this week has a weight to it.

No time for wasting.

Time for being in the moment, enjoying myself, and doing great work, but no time for wasting.

How might this week change knowing next week will be number 2,999?



on ostriching: get your head out of your ass

I was working a heavy ostriches metaphor into this post: how in cartoons they bury their heads in the sand but how in reality they are super fast and lay the largest egg of any living bird. But that really is what wikipedia is for. Read to your heart’s delight about ostriches there.

Hiding behind that metaphor was the real message: that we all bury our heads in the sand at times. Especially change-makers, leaders and creators, who face big choices and scary turns on their un-blazened trails. It’s comforting, muffled and quiet in the sand, so who can blame us?

But here’s the problem: refusing to think about an unpleasant situation, hoping that it will improve so that you will not have to deal with it rarely works in the way you want it to AND it burns as much energy as actually making a decision and taking action.

It leads to burnout all of its own. Anxiety. Guilt. Ultimately: giving into perfectionism, procrastination, and really, fear, does not a trail-blazer make: you know this.

So here’s what I suggest:

  • Identify areas of your life and work where your head is in *ahem* the sand.
  • Pull it out.
  • Brush your little peepers clean, take a few deep breaths.
  • Look around and really see what’s around you.

There might be a whole landscape, big puzzle pieces, or oncoming vehicles coming at you. Look for those things and feel your feet in your shoes and take action. A micromovement. Start a conversation. Write yourself a note. Do Something. Do your thing.

What is the thing that you are burying your head in the sand about right now? Pulling it out just might be the just thing that clears the next few yards of your trail.



you vs the machine


As a single cog, the mandate is clear: follow the objectives, leadership, and direction of the machine. Work hard to do your job well. Your job is a small part of the overall machine’s work, but every cog counts. Don’t worry, little cog, the machine will take care of you: just keep turning. You can slip into auto-pilot, little cog, and everything will be fine. You don’t need to think about it: the machine will tell you what you need to do. And it will remind you and evaluate you on that too!

Not a bad gig, little cog. Not bad at all.

But…what if you stopped turning with the gear?

If you jumped off and out. Stood in your shoes. Decided what is important. Thought about your visions for your life and your work. Saw the opportunities all around you, even the ones that have been drowned out by the soundtrack of the machine. What if you really made choices and took action?

Your relationship to the machine changes.

It is so easy, to slip on a little cog-hat and disappear: head down, eyes averted, drifting along. But you have already felt the rumblings, haven’t you? The little-cog-that-could has questions percolating and aches for a deep stretch of long-forgotten muscles.

Today, will you open up to those questions? Will you create a space where the answers can form?

Will you choose to hold yourself as separate from the machine?

your ultra marathon

Now, I was not an athletic kid by any stretch of the imagination (all knees and elbows and general lack of co-ordination), but in the last few years I have learned to love running. My iphone has made it significantly more enjoyable with Nike + GPS and some great playlists, and now living in the mountains with a lake nearby helps too.

But I remain stunned by the intensity of athletes who run ultra marathons: the idea of running for those distances and that amount of time is whoa-inducing.

Love this video (sent to me by one of my fabulous clients) and the direct comparison between committing to something like a (whoa!) ultra marathon to committing to your ultra-mara-LIFE. Specifically:

  • Leaving it ALL out there or not going out there at all.
  • Every time you hit a wall, you have a decision to make: find away to go around it, find a door, or quit. And the thing is, once you get through a wall: everything resets.

Those runners sure are something, don’t you think?

in this very moment: there is sparkle.

We take photos, create art, and tell stories to capture and share experiences, but what about being in experience while it’s unfolding? The most powerful moments in my life have been ones which don’t always translate in words or images, but by jiminy, I am so glad for whatever made me stop to breathe those moments in deeply.

I carry them in my heart:

The shared cheese plate and wine flights with my dear zia while local musicians try to class-ify (but butcher) hits of the 90’s in the background.

Feeling of my keister on a cold stone fence, crickets chirping in the fields surrounding me, undisturbed by my presence and my heart bursting with wonder and fear.

A favourite, but relatively unknown, album coming over the speakers in a dirty little bar in Ottawa, bringing with it a flood of sweet and dirty memories from years ago.

I am hungry for more of these treasured moments, and i think: you probably are too.

The summer after teacher’s college, I worked at an outdoor centre and was the “Nature Specialist”. The lesson that I remember most was called “Tree Friends” and was one that was taught to every age range: from wee children to my colleagues. The lesson was pure, experiential fun. The stage was set for an elaborate reunion montage between the nature specialist and her best “tree friend”, Henry. [Imagine: bounding through the forest with a dozen kids and adults in tow, towards a giant tree to hug.]

After explaining why Henry was so important to me and all of the great things that Henry does, each participant was encouraged to find their own tree friend, get to know them, share some time with them and take away a special memento: a bark rubbing, a fallen leaf, etc. I was astounded that, throughout the summer, participants came back again and again to visit not only their tree friends, but Henry as well.

This taught me about the wide-eyed wonder of seeing and revelling in the present moment and how it transcends powerfully beyond just that moment.

How might you create sacred space in your experience right now?

Just stop. Whether you are in a hurricane of misadventure, stuck in traffic, or under the gun on a deadline: breathe. Take thirty seconds to check in with your heart and body and look around your space. What do you see or experience that deserves a second of eye-crinkling love sent it’s way? For example: during a crisis in the office, notice how your trusted colleagues tuck their heads down and get ‘er done for their clients. And, maybe, how the burger-fairy magically appeared to fuel that effort.

What’s important? You know what is important to you, so shuffle those things up the list for a minute or two. Like in the panic of getting dinner for ten guests ready, and the door bell rings to announce their arrival, shout “come on in” and use those three minutes to pour glasses of that wine that you want to roll around in. While they shuffle in, take a sip and hand them theirs with a smile.

Gratitude, baby. Under the swell of things-that-must-be-done, and on the achievement trail, it is easy to see what you aren’t, don’t have, and are lacking. Peek out from under that pressure trap and check in on a couple of things that you have to be grateful for. Even in the wildest storm, this moment of gratefulness creates a strong ray of light when you let it into your heart. For example, right this second,  I am grateful for my bunny-suit (stop laughing). My bunny suit was made by my gorgeous cousin, is pink and made of the cuddliest fleece. It’s like wearing a hug, and it makes me feel cute and safe.

Finally, don’t step over the small stuff. It is often the smallest things that sparkle the most. If you are feeling drawn to step more fully into being in the sparkling experience of your life, I recommend that you read Christine Mason Miller’s beautiful work “Ordinary Sparkling Moments” and check out the magical moments that Jamie Ridler and pals are creating through her Sparkles ecourse.

Wishing you a day of fulling breathing in your powerful life.

Quarterly Reporting Without the Zzzzz’s…

To be completely honest, the things I miss about daily corporate life are largely social: the three o’clock coffee-over-cubicles laughs, discussing current events and after-hours pints on Thursdays.

I know it’s a bit nerdy, but one thing that I love and miss is the frequency and depth of status reports. There were SOAP’s in my first management role (Summary On A Page: one page executive summary of what’s happening, reported into my bosses) and later in project management a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat: an evaluation done during project scope and revisited throughout the project life cycle).

Having to report on progress of initiatives meant that I was sitting down with my team to get clearer than clear on state-of-the-union, these check-points were broken down into nice n’ neat little chunks of time, and then analyzed. Bi-weekly meetings, monthly conference calls, and quarterly reports [*geeky yum-filled sigh*] meant we were all on the same page about where we are today and where we were about to go.

At the end of the first (calendar) quarter of 2011, at just about the time when Q1 results are being analyzed and the next three, six and nine months are being evaluated and planned, Gunsinger Coaching has been working diligently on it’s quarterly reports for the business, and also for life spaces.

Sounds fancy, but it’s easy. We started by checking in on:

  • Where are we on key initiatives?
  • What are the hard and fast numbers?
  • What are our next level goals?
  • What opportunities do we see?
  • What are the challenges, blockages, risks?
  • Who are the team members? Are there new teammates that we can include?

Six questions: data collected and results analyzed, and suddenly planning becomes easier with a clear view of the landscape.

Could “quarterly reporting” clear up where you are and where you choose to go?

You are More Than a Start Up

I was re-reading Business Stripped Bare last week, and in it Richard Branson says (describing Virgin Mobile): “From the off, the business acted like a listed company – and that’s how all start-ups should try to behave.”

What if you thought of your (big ‘L’) Life as a start-up?  One based on a really great idea, with good team members, a forming vision and a clear impact?

And now treat your start-up like a listed company. What responsibilities would you have to your shareholders? How would your management team function? Where would you position your company in the market? What do customers say about you? Are there opportunities that you need to take advantage of?

How does looking at your life through this lens change the perspective about your life?

As the saying goes: it’s not personal; it’s business.

It’s the business of owning your life.

Your Big ‘L’ Life

What if you started taking it more seriously, this business of your Life?

Not, drifting sadly along, taking what is offered to you and not daring to ask for a second helping, or a side order of coleslaw, with a pint of beer, please.

What would you create room for if this was it? How would you show up differently? What would you be willing to risk? Where would your two feet choose to stand?

End the autopilot. Be as big as you want.

Stick a capital L on that life of yours.

Inspiration: One Week and the Flaming Lips