authenticity 101


When The Vision Becomes Reality Part 1

Family in London

I call myself a Vision Coach, which is not always easy to explain. Basically, I support people to explore and connect to their values in order to create a vision for their life. Although I have actual coaching credentials, my true qualifications lie in the fact that I practice what I preach and am passionate about visioning.

I struggle with the idea of blogging, wanting to protect my personal life and the life of my family from public scrutiny. However, in order to practice authenticity, I want to share how having a vision in my own life has led to incredible moments of vulnerability, self-awareness and complete happiness. The photo you see here is one such moment of happiness. Chris and I had been separated for over 2 years when this photo was taken. I was dating a lovely English fellow and he and I took my girls to visit his family in England. Chris flew to London to meet us there after a week, spent the weekend with us and then returned to Toronto with the girls so I could spend an extra week travelling with my new partner. This photo was taken one evening in a pub and I remember how thrilled I was to have Chris there with us so that we could enjoy the experience as a family.

So how did we get to a place where my ex would fly to England to spend a weekend with me and our girls? By having a vision for a healthy relationship and putting our kids first, then taking the steps to make it a reality.

When Chris left in 2006, I was devastated. I truly believe he was too. I knew he had been unhappy for a while, but was completely unaware of the depth of his despair over the state of our relationship. He had not voiced it in a way that reached me, and it wasn’t until he said he needed to leave that I realized there was something seriously wrong. In hindsight, I had disconnected from my own feelings and was living on auto-pilot. Neither one of us had found a way to say to each other what we were really feeling and our intimacy and authenticity had become non-existent. In having the courage to leave (I say this knowing how incredibly difficult it was for him to come to the decision) he forced me to look at what wasn’t working anymore and why. I had to self-reflect and take a long look at my own behaviour in the breakdown of our marriage. In that moment of feeling hurt, angry and rejected it would have been easy to be a victim by blaming, punishing and speaking ill of the man who left me. But I didn’t, despite being in a tremendously painful period in our relationship, because it went against all of my values of trust, honesty, love and commitment. Thankfully, he had those same values which we could re-build on. We found a way to love and honour, respect and commit to our family and our children even if we weren’t husband and wife through therapy, long conversations and loads of patience ... with each other!

Our vision for the future was to create a new relationship that included healthy, happy parents raising beautiful daughters together. This would be a very long blog if I described how many times we took one step forward and two steps back to create the relationship we have today. But in the end, being honest with each other, saying the difficult things with love and having healthy boundaries all contribute to an amazing relationship that we are grateful for every day. I no longer have a husband in Chris, but I have a loving and dedicated partner who shares in the challenges and blessings of raising our girls together. We truly have attained the vision we had for our family, despite its non-traditional appearance. It doesn’t get any better than that.

The Power of Being Intentional

Zip Line Family

Having a vision and being intentional about staying true to the vision can be incredibly rewarding in ways that we don’t always anticipate.

When Phil and I decided to blend our two families (my three girls and his three boys) into the Bertmount Bunch, we very deliberately discussed how to best serve the needs of our kids. As we settled into the first year of living together we realized how very rarely we spent actual time as a full family of eight. There’s always a dance class here, a sleepover there, age and gender differences and various other commitments that pull us all in different directions. We thought that a family trip was in order to get to know each other as a blended family with no outside distractions.

During one of our family meetings we asked the kids what their preference was: a family trip or a big, fancy wedding. Ha! Guess what they picked. (The wedding ended up casual and in the backyard) I had recently heard about and thought it would be the best way to travel with our large group and minimize the cost of accommodations. So we discussed the pros and cons of various destinations and picked Costa Rica. We found an exchange partner on the website and started the process of relationship building with a lovely couple who would trade houses with us for 3 weeks in July.

Our vision was to spend time together as a family in a new environment, creating memories and getting to know each other. We did that and more. We learned all sorts of things about each other, saw gorgeous flora and fauna and experienced a new culture and language. We had a great time and have fantastic memories. Was it perfect? Of course not. Even with a pool and pets, boredom set in after a few weeks of being away from their friends. Regardless of how beautiful the scenery is or how many sloths you see, at 15 and 16 you want to be with your peers. It was lovely though to see that by the end of our trip, the kids were behaving like real brothers and sisters. Annoying each other, but also supporting each other in subtle ways.

Every day that we spend in Costa Rica, Phil and I did our best to remind each other of why we were there. I worked hard to relax (yes, I know that sounds ridiculous) and just let the experience be what we intended it to be. A family getting to know each other better. I think we accomplished that. And we did it in a really awesome environment while zip-lining and playing with monkeys.

Whether you have a vision for your whole life, or simply for one event, stay the course and be intentional about it. It’s worth it.

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