Last week I cohosted a learning event, Conversational Leadership — Builiding Relationships that Matter, with colleagues and friends, Lauri Prest, Anne Symes, and others. When complete, I needed a ride from Kingston, Ontario to Ottawa so that I could catch a flight. Murray Hillier, a participant, was headed that way and offered a lift. Together we were delighted to have the two hour ride for some bonus time together. Murray works in the area of mental health. He is a clinical nurse practitioner, an educator, and a former paramedic. I loved Murray immediately in the workshop because of his love of questions and stories. In our ride, I felt the gift of building on the time together in our workshop, and the gift of sharing stories from our lives and work. A few of those gifts are below.
“If you take the breath away, you die.” A model that Lauri and I shared at the workshop was around divergence and convergence. It is a model that invites the need to slow down. To breath into our work. It is a challenge to the pattern that many of us live in that is primarily focused on efficiency. That efficiency, though a good intention and good practice, often has us unintentionally feeling out of breath. “Breath is life’s blood. When we are in fear, or panic, often we hyperventilate,” Murray shared. “In this, we lose breath, the very thing we need to feed our brain and other parts of our body to be well.” The breath that we need to expand what we can see as choices isn’t there. “Shallow breath. Shallow thoughts.” This reminds me further of what good friend and hosting colleague, Janice Stieber Rous, has taught me — most people aren’t breathing. She is very experienced in integrating energetic and physical wellness.
Mental Wellness Days — Murray shared another story about mental wellness days that links to overall wellness. In an organization he was a part of, a new program began with gave employees six mental wellness days per year. There was no particular need that had to be named. No illness. No justification. Just six days for mental wellness. The days couldn’t be banked. Murray shared how at the end of the year only 1/2 of the days were actually used. However, sickness had decreased substantially — I think he said 66%. Yes, there is a relationship between our physical wellness and our mental wellness, and I would add, our spiritual wellness, our intellectual wellness, and, and, and…. I’m grateful to Murray for the stories of wholeness and wellness — it is really what I feel my work is, all of us, who are working as group process artists and faciltators.
Murray had more — stories of brutal honesty that he had to share as a paramedic with people who were facing death. People who he was treating, asking if this was it — was this the end, and have to tell them yes. If I were to name a common thread in all of it, they were stories of meeting in our humanity.
A good car ride. Good friendship. Good learning. And a few great tips on supporting our shared love of our daughters :). All about wellness.