Ki Moments Blog

Support for life\‘s \“key\” moments.

  • July 28, 2020

    Beyond words

    Beyond words

    My friend and colleague Amanda Ridings recently wrote a new book, Weekly Leadership Contemplations. I'm really enjoying it and wanted to share one of her pieces with you called "Beyond words".

    As the book title suggests, Weekly Leadership Contemplations offers 52 short pieces, each one ending with questions for contemplation. The book is designed for leaders, and I find it can work its wonders on anyone. I appreciate that Amanda understands the tight schedule most leaders have, and so gives us short pieces with thoughtful questions to reflect on each week.

  • July 14, 2020

    That Is Their Story. This Is Mine.

    That Is Their Story. This Is Mine.

    Perhaps others who shared these events with me, whose lives crossed mine, would recount the events differently, But that is their story. This is mine, my life as I recall having lived it, my life as I recall having loved it. --Michael C. Metskas

    My grandfather, Mike Metskas, was a brave young man when he left his native Macedonia as a 16-year-old to come to America and find his way in the world. In short order “Gramps” found work, founded a business and in time returned to Greece to marry my grandmother and bring her back to raise a family of five in Oak Park, Illinois.

    With a third grade education, Gramps eventually wrote and published his autobiography, Journey to Eternity, an amazing story, and a treasure for our family. I began reading it again recently, knowing it is my story, too....

  • June 30, 2020

    Making Assumptions: Why Should You Catch Yourself?

    Making Assumptions: Why Should You Catch Yourself?

    In my last post, I posed a question about whether you can catch yourself when you're about to make an assumption about another person's thoughts or actions, and whether you can choose to move toward curiosity instead of judgment--a crucial awareness if you want to have more skilled conversations.

    I think now a more important question than "whether" you can catch yourself is "why you might want to".

    As I read and re-read the post, I came to see it as naive. Those of us who want to catch ourselves making assumptions will do it and get better at it. And there are some who don't want to get better and maybe don't care. If you just want to be right--or know someone who does--read on....

  • June 16, 2020

    Making Assumptions: Can You Catch Yourself?

    Making Assumptions: Can You Catch Yourself?

    Have you ever wondered what was going on in another person's mind when they spoke or acted in a way that for you was unimaginable? Did you leap into curiosity or judgment? 

    When our indoor pool was still open, I was enjoying the hot tub after my daily swim when I was joined by a fellow early morning swimmer. We know each other by name but otherwise not well. Without preamble, he began talking about the news of the day as if I was in his brain, knew exactly where he was coming from, and agreed with his views on the politics involved.

    He was really upset with what was going on in the primary race (COVID-19 wasn't yet a common topic of discussion) and he assumed I was also upset. I couldn't tell if he expected me to engage in the conversation or if he just needed to be heard. I didn't engage. I was enjoying my quiet time in the tub, and didn't want to encourage his strong emotions. I also felt differently about some of things he was angry about. 

    Regardless, he kept up a one-sided conversation, with increasing anger and frustration....

  • June 2, 2020

    Not Too Close! New Normal, New World

    Not Too Close! New Normal, New World

    Friend and colleague, Susan Poulin, produced a sweet video--The Coronavirus Shuffle--when the C-Virus first started making itself known here in NH and Maine. Susan's an author, playwright, and performance artist aka her wise and funny alter ego, Ida LeClair from Mahoosuc Mills, ME. In the video Susan/Ida reminds us what we should do to stay safe, while singing, dancing, and gesturing phrases like: "Wash your hands!" and "Wave to your neighbor!", and "Not too close! Not too close!" 

    Ida would be happy to know how often I think of her when I'm washing my hands, waving at a neighbor, or when I've wanted to respond to a close shopper or runner the way she does: "Not too close! Not too close!" Instead, I laugh at myself and regain my center.

    There is plenty about this new virus that doesn't make me smile, of course, at least not at first. One of the changes I've had to make, for example, is moving most of my in-person training (workshops, presentations, one-on-one coaching) to an online format. What?! Aikido movements on Zoom? How could that possibly work?

  • May 19, 2020

    The Tao of Tea

    The Tao of Tea

    My Ki Moments post today, The Tao of Tea, is by Jonathan Blakeslee, who writes about someone from his past, a role model who used aikido principles to disarm and redirect a difficult customer. As Jonathan puts it, I learned a lot from Veerinder, who in many ways inspired me to walk the path I am on now work-wise.

    If you live anywhere in or near the seacoast of New Hampshire, you probably know Jonathan and his work. He and his restaurant--White Heron Tea--are a wonderful feature of life here. Even in the shutdown, White Heron Tea continues to offer healthy and organic signature teas (and delicious muffins, cookies, and sandwiches). Knowing this, I think you'll appreciate Jonathan's essay even more.

    Whether Veerinder knew of aikido, he certaily understood how to turn an enemy into an ally, and how to advocate without attacking. Thank you, Jonathan, for the wonderful story....

  • May 5, 2020

    How Is Aikido Relevant Today?

    How Is Aikido Relevant Today?

    by Brian Maguire

    I’m sitting at my desk, practicing the social distancing advised by the CDC. The kids are off in cyberspace and I’m awaiting news about a friend who is getting tested for Covid-19 exposure. Like many, I’m anxious about this situation. I’ve never lived through a pandemic and I’m trying to cope. Aikido has been helping with that.

    Aikido training does much for a person. It teaches that through practice with scary situations, you can learn to control your emotional response. In aikido, this starts with the initial attack. You cannot stop the attack, just respond to it. You cannot control your attacker, just yourself. The attacker doesn’t have to be a smiling partner that says "onegai shimasu".* It can just as easily be a faceless virus. Maintain your center and calmly meet the attack....

  • April 21, 2020

    Human Kindness: Passing it Along

    Human Kindness: Passing it Along

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about kindness. Not in any big, universal way. Just in the small, day-to-day way. I think the impetus was an email I received from a good friend, Pam McPhee, who sent along a poem as well. The email and poem are printed below.

    Pam is a special spirit in the world who teaches by example. She doesn't know she's doing it most of the time, but she just is kindness, compassion, resilience, and good, and I'm grateful for her presence in my life.

    Maybe the email started my reflections or maybe there’s just something in the air these days. A pressing need to be nicer, to notice the good, and to pass it along. And I've been making a conscious effort to notice what is already good everywhere around me, if I choose to look....

  • April 7, 2020

    Centering in the Time of Corona: The Work of Optimism

    Centering in the Time of Corona: The Work of Optimism

    Life itself is always a trial. In training, you must test and polish yourself in order to face the greatest challenges of life.

    ~Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido

    *********************************************************

    In this time of uncertainty and unsettledness, but also of surprising kindness, generosity, and creativity, I’m reminded about the importance of centering and true power. 

    Centering—the ability to access our clarity, flexibility, stability, and compassion. A mind-body state of calm at the center of the storm.

    *********************************************************

    True power—the ability to achiever purpose, to turn obstacles into energy and resistance into connection.

    In my work, I teach these concepts through aikido activities I learned from my teacher, Thomas Crum, many years ago. They offer a physical grounding in these concepts and a path to presence and personal power, which are especially important in difficult moments.

    Just like you probably, I've had some amazing ki moments in the past month, and my emotional energy has gone through its ups and downs. Below are links that I hope will help you return to center, and to see the opportunities available to you every day.

  • March 24, 2020

    Not Cancelled: Love

    Not Cancelled: Love

    It's good to do uncomfortable things. It's weight training for life.

    --Anne Lamott

    Things have changed. The world is not the way it was a month ago. 

    • The pool is closed, swim teams canceled, my daily swim on hold.
    • Aikido classes canceled.
    • Public Library closed.
    • Workshops canceled.
    • Church canceled.
    • Grocery store shelves with holes where canned goods and paper products used to be.
    • Many losing jobs and worried about the next meal.

    And yet....

    • Calls with family increase exponentially, making sure we're all healthy and that Mom is safe.
    • Daily routine more relaxed, less stressed.
    • Learning to work virtually, be more creative.
    • Long walks, hikes, and rambles in the warming weather, strangers smiling and waving at me.
    • Families playing outside together.
    • Restaurants, businesses and residents pitching in to help neighbors and others who need food and assistance.
    • Reading a lot, my pile of "someday" books dwindling.
    • Quiet time-yes!
    • My suitcase unpacked!
    • Church on Facebook Live!

    An inspiring graphic from WeAreUnsinkable.com appeared by way of my sister, Paula, on Facebook last week, and it helped me regain some perspective....

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