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  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.

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-planningChandler-Coaches-Les-fleurs-de-Lali-plantingWe 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.

Chandler-Coaches-Les-fleurs-de-Lali-vasesWe’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!

Chandler-Coaches-Les-fleurs-de-Lali-bouquet-2And 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!

Most of us live our lives in the “ordinary world”, living largely ordinary lives if we choose the safety of ordinary.  Others hear a call to adventure and embark on a hero’s journey¹ to find their treasure. 

Of course, the journey from ordinary/ safe to purpose/adventure is not easy or certain.  Crossing the threshold into the “special world” requires courage and faith. Many refuse the call for a while, daunted by fears of the unknown. They eventually meet a mentor or circumstance that guides them to cross into the special world for a while.

Once there, they are tested mightily, forced to look inward, and challenged with ordeal after ordeal. Ultimately, if they persevere, they are rewarded and sent back to the “ordinary world”.

Our hero is not the same though. S/he is somehow transformed, more skilled and wise. And when the next call comes, our hero may face an even more daunting challenge.

Our lives are defined by the journeys we choose. Ray Dalio’s has been. Despite Bridgewater Associates now being the largest hedge fund in the world and Ray being one of the wealthiest billionaires on the planet, the future looked bleak in the 1980s.  Back then, Ray arrogantly and publicly predicted a worldwide depression that not only didn’t happen but was a boom instead.

Ray’s extraordinary success, by conventional measures, can be attributed to him answering the call to adventure over and over in his life.  His company is no different. Working for Bridgewater must be like a daily hero’s journey. While staff use principles to predict markets, they use radical candor with each other to continually expose their egos and blind spots.

Ray, in the sunset of his career, has gifted us with an animated series called Principles for Success: An Ultra Mini-Series Adventure in 30 Minutes.  I’ve taken the time to capture key notes from each segment for myself and for you. Watch, read or do both. You’ll be richer for it.

E1 The Call to Adventure

Time is like a river that carries us into encounters with reality that require us to make decisions…the quality [and courage] of our decisions will determine the quality of our lives. We need to think for ourselves about what is true and know how to deal with all we don’t know.

E2 Embrace Reality and Deal with It

Dreams + Reality + Determination is the universal formula for a successful life. And Pain + Reflection = Progress. We must embrace all our realities including problems, mistakes and weaknesses. This can be painful. But pain can be a cue that a great learning opportunity is coming.

E3 The Five Step Process

Only by reflecting carefully after pain can we prevent some future pain. Dalio’s 5-Step Process:

  1. Know your goals and run after them;
  2. Identify what stands in your way
  3. Find the root cause vs. jumping to solution;
  4. Design a plan to eliminate the problems;
  5. Execute your plan. Repeat over and over. Adapt or die!  

Know that as the challenges become bigger and bigger, we are more likely to fall.

E4 The Abyss

Even when we don’t accept a huge call to adventure, severe losses can happen to us. How we handle our inevitable losses/ falls define us. Can we objectively face our failures, make the right decisions and spiral up or will we sink into our setbacks and not recover?

E5 Everything is a Machine

While we feel our lives are unique (they are to an extent), most problems we encounter are “another one of those”. We are biased to recent history. Events we’ve not experienced in our lifetime can happen to us. We need to develop or draw on principles to help us see everything as a system.

E6 Your Two Biggest Barriers

Our ego and our blind spots WILL get in our way. When our (ego) need to be right is more important to us than our need to find out what is true, we will make poor decisions, learn less and fall short of our potential.  We all have blind spots that prevent us from seeing a complete picture of reality. Opening to feedback and other perspectives can turn our blind spot fatal flaw into wonderful outcomes.

E7 Be Radically Open Minded

Replace the joy of being right with the joy of learning and the world will light up!  The best way to go through the “jungle of life” is with people who see things differently. Encourage radical candor and the distortions of your ego and blind spots will be more easily dealt with. Radical open-mindedness will radically change the unfolding of your life.

E8 Struggle Well

Our greatest strengths are closely connected to our greatest weaknesses. “Successful” people struggle.  They also think hard about what caused their setbacks, learn lessons and continue toward their goal. Bigger goals lead to bigger falls. It is just part of the process.

What Ray has learned, and I am learning too, is that the things we struggle for—our goals– are just the bait. This is the real equation:

Great People to Journey With + a Great Journey + Our Own Evolution = Our Reward

Ray and I both want to raise consciousness in the world.

“My only hope for you is that you have the courage to struggle and evolve well to make your life as great as it can be.”  

  • Ray Dalio, 2018

May you journey well, Ray and all.


¹ In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero’s journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed. hero myth pattern studies were popularized by Joseph Campbell, who was influenced by Carl Jung’s view of myth. Wikipedia

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