Featured post

The Two Engineers

Connecting, Engaging and Communicating I was about six years old. Dad came in through the door after a day of work with a spring in his s...

Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Power of Choice!

Here I am about 24/30 months after my final cancer surgery.
I was still working on gaining weight and strength back.
I'd gone done to 137 lbs (62 Kg.) and was slowly working my
way back up to me fitness weight of 179 lbs (81 Kg)
"I'm sorry to tell you Michael that your cancer has spread." That sentence hit me like a bolt of lightening!  Dr. Konok continued on: "The lab tests confirms what we suspected during surgery that you had cancer in four locations. One in your large digestive tract near your hepatic flexure (Beside the Liver) and three in the surrounding (lymph) nodes. The large apple core tumour in your colon and one in the nodes was stage three and two in the nodes was stage two cancers. The good news is we think your lymph nodes did their job so well,  so the cancer has not spread beyond these three secondary sites. The other news will take time and much patience, is we have to take a wait and see approach to see if a few cancer cells escaped. To help you win on that front we will start a 10 day 7/24 treatment of chemo therapy direct to the site via intravenous.

Wow: Talk about stress!!  What to do, what to think, attempt to understand and manage emotions. Yet I'd been given a very unique set of lessons to help prepare me for this type of high impact BIGStuff outcome stress. So I had to very quickly "Hit the ground running" get focused, get a team assembled, sort through the skills I had should use to cope, set some goals, build a plan and start to move forward. Not an easy time for me or loved ones. Yet I knew if I didn't dig deep and use all I knew, and ask for help then both the quality of the journey and the outcome was at a higher risk.

A very wise person once told me to "Start with the end in mind." It was time to make some choices! So that is what I did when I started my urgent quest to discover the most effective ways to help myself at first just survive, offer me a sense of control over this very tough situation, and in time thrive and in time again share with my family and all of us what we can do to become more resilient.


First thing I did was an inventory of what was vital to do for my spouse. That saw me leave the surgeon's offices sit in the parking lot have a great sobbing mind cry. Then action mode. Off to the lawyers and update my will. We'd moved due to my work. That meant we'd changed city's and provinces (some call them states, in Canada they're provinces), so I wanted to ensure that this was not an issue for her should I pass. I had no plans to die. However having up to date paper work freed me to focus on the urgent upfront issues of my health. Then once the will was up to date I went and visited our real estate agent. Having just purchased the home only nine months previous I wanted Peter our agent to know exactly what was going on. Shared names and numbers of spouse, both sets of parents for home and work. In the event of my untimely demise I wanted him on the team to assist my spouse. I had one last call to make once I got to the home office.I called the moving company that had moved us. I talked to the VP of Sales and shared same contact information. Once I had that sewed up I then drove to pick my spouse up from her job in the financial district. Then came the adventure of a life time.

That was one of the most intense days of my life. My daughters brain tumour surgery is also up there, and my Dad's last few days while he fought cancer, but not much else had the intensity or duration of this very personal battle.

One lesson I've had to repeatedly live through during my challenges with my health to that point is that intense living can cause some serious disruptions to our sleep, our mental clarity and our digestive tract. I don't know about you but not being able to sleep, having an upset digestive tract, and feeling mentally off kilter and fuzzy due to lack of sleep and poor digestion is not a state I wish on anyone.

So to quote a very wise one from years ago "Start with the end in mind" I started on a plan of seeing what I could to to assist myself quiet and calm my mind and body despite the BIGStuff I was starting to face.

So that quest lead me back in time to some very powerful skills that have helped me deal with much of what life has dealt until this diagnosis. During my chronic health challenges I'd managed to have zero symptoms for three years. NOT because my illness went away, that was closely monitored but because I'd practised some key skills. Now would come the ultimate challenge for me as I battled cancer.

So went back to what I'd learnt through my parents, grandparents, physical education, teacher,  martial arts master, piano, choir, trumpet teachers and several others. One set of skills stuck out as   having helped me have a great sense of control and improve my sleep. So I set out to start to practise each of them as often as I could each and every day.

The first one up was the Relaxation Response. There are dozens of variations of this skill. Depending upon where you live and who you connect with it goes by many names and can be accomplished in various ways. One of my favourites is the progressive muscle relaxation response technique.

It works wonders for me. It has helped me with sleep, calming my mind, pain management for both chronic illness and post surgery pain. It's not a cure. However it is a very valuable life skill to help you mentally and physically.  I trust you'll enjoy it as much as I have. It's below.


You can get a audio copy this exercise on iTunes, or Google music and on my store to download at:
http://michaelhballard.ca/store-2/

Enjoy it! Remember the more you practise it the more the benefits start over time to accumulate.
I've found that each of these types of exercises build my capacity to be calmer and more focused. However that does not happen instantly. For best results I highly recommend you practise this six or 7 times a week.

So until next time, Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for Life.



Michael

Michael Ballard specializes in helping people, schools, organizations and communities learn how to become more resilient.


Hiring and Contacting Michael
To interview Michael, book him for your 
next event or to contact him you can do that at:
Inquiry@MichaelHBallard.com

You can purchase Michael's programming on:
Udemy.com video programs at:

 iTunes.com audio programs at:


Michael’s Social Media includes:


Do read the note below before you practise this very helpful exercise.
You can purchase it here on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id997763796?ls=1&app=itunes

Please Note:

Always check with your medical professional before you start or take on a new exercise.
NEVER do this while operating  any type of vechile!

  What does the research say: 

Safety and Side Effects of Relaxation Techniques

  • Relaxation techniques are generally considered safe for healthy people. However, occasionally, people report unpleasant experiences such as increased anxiety, intrusive thoughts, or fear of losing control. Why? Well relaxation helps us calm our mind. We then have the potential for "Unfinished or unresolved issues" come back for a visit and a rethink. Not always pleasant. Yet with proper training and guidance most can deal with this.
  • There have been rare reports that certain relaxation techniques might cause or worsen symptoms in people with epilepsy or certain psychiatric conditions, or with a history of abuse or trauma. People with heart disease should talk to their health care provider before doing progressive muscle relaxation.
  • So there are many  types of Relaxation Technique you use. Each can make a big difference in your life.



The Chair
A Progressive Relaxation Exercise
The Chair Art work is courtesy of Artist Michelle Basic Hendry
Canadian Fine Artist of landscapes and ruins.
View her captivating art at: http://www.artscapes.ca
with Michael H Ballad

Well, lets get seated in our chairs or sitting up in bed up against the headboard or
wall or sitting on the floor and focus on getting settled, comfortable and getting
started.
First however lets take a few relaxing breathes get into the right frame of mind and
body to gain the most benefits from our time here together.
Enjoy feeling that deep relaxation. In your minds eye imagine that you are in a safe,
relaxing place with out a care in the world Imagine the scene as you hear the sounds
(heart beat – very gently), inhale the fragrances and aromas and, feel the rhythm of
life, and even tasting for what to you is a very special place.
Now, take your hands and rising them up in front of our face gently touch your
thumbs inner pad together and gently wiggle your fingers together. Interweaving or
linking your fingers together signifies that our thinking, feeling and bodies are all
interlinked. In other words what ever we are doing with one part of ourselves it will
always involve the rest of us.
Now slowly move your thumbs down to your belly button. Gently place them on
top of your belly button. Then rest your hands with fingers still interwoven to rest
on your self just below your belly button.
During this exercise breath in and out remembering that as we inhale we should feel
our abdomen expand down and out.
Now as we prepare for the next phase please pay attention to your posture and
make certain you are seated to help you get the best enjoyment out of this journey.
We need to start with our backs and bottoms gently place to the back of the chair
comfortably and yet firmly. Check to make certain that your feet are flat on the
ground and your knees are bent at about a 90 degree angle.
Now slowly breath in on the count of four.
One... two... three... four... breathing in calmness and relaxation
Now gently hold that breath to the count of four.
One... two... three... four...
Now slowly breath out on the count of four.
One... two... three... four... breathing out stress and tension

Now slowly breath in on the count of four.
One... two... three... four... breathing in calmness and relaxation
Now gently hold that breath to the count of four.
One... two... three... four...
Now slowly breath out on the count of four.
One... two... three... four.... breathing out stress and tension
Now slowly breath in on the count of four.
One... two... three... four... breathing in calmness and peace
Now gently hold that breath to the count of four.
One... two... three... four...
Now slowly breath out on the count of four.
One... two... three... four.... breathing out stress and tension
Now don't forget to pay some gentle attention to your posture while you're seated
to help you get the most positive experience out of this time we’re spending
together.
Just check that your back and bottom is gently yet firmly placed to the back of the
chair, against the head board or wall comfortably.
Now lets move our attention to our arms and hand placement
Our arms should be relaxed and hung at our sides with the elbows at our waist and
our hands facing palms up on our legs near to our knees feeling relaxed
Now lets go back again to pay attention to your breathing
During this exercise I’ll asked you to breath out and in remembering that we should
inhale we should feel our stomach from the belly button down expand out and
down
When we exhale we should feel our stomach from the belly button down move
gently in and up
To assist us use our imagination and
Now then lets move our attention to our feet.


Feet
So lets gets start, with our feet.
First with your feet at right angles to your ankles squeeze your toes together and tilt
them in a downward manner.
Don’t forget to breath in.
Now gently Hold it: Hold it: Hold it: Okay
Now gently and slowly exhale while relaxing your Feet and Toes as you feel the
releasing of stress as you exhale. Breathing out tension and stress.
Now gently curl up your toes towards your nose and spread your toes outward and
feel the stretch and now,
Gently Hold it: Hold it: Hold it: Okay
Now relax them as you turn your feet down towards the floor and relax
And feel the tension flowing away out of your feet out through the bottoms of your
feet. Notice how your toes and feet are now feeling
Heavy and warm,
Heavy and warm,
Heavy and warm and relaxed and feel the difference before and after.
Now slowly bring your awareness to just above your ankle to your calves.
Gently and firmly tense up your calf muscles...
Now gently Hold it: Hold it: Hold it: Okay.
Now gently and slowly exhale while relaxing your calf muscles as you feel the
releasing of stress as you exhale.
Now as you relax your calves feel the tension flowing away out of your calves, past
your ankles out through the bottoms of your feet. Notice how your calves are now
feeling
Heavy and warm,
Heavy and warm
Heavy and warm and relaxed and feel the difference before and after.


Now bring your awareness to your Thighs
Gently and firmly tense up your thigh muscles...
Now gently Hold it: Hold it: Hold it: Okay.
Now gently and slowly exhale while relaxing your thigh muscles as you feel the
releasing of stress as you exhale.
Now feel the tension flowing away and out of your thighs through you calves
through your feet out through the bottoms of your feet.t
Notice thighs, your calf’s, your toes and feet are now feeling
Heavy and warm,
Heavy and warm, Heavy and warm.
Don't forget to breath.
Now bring your awareness to your Buttocks or Bottom
So lets gets started and gently squeeze your buttocks together
Don’t forget to breath in.
Now gently Hold it: Hold it: Hold it: Okay
Now gently and slowly exhale while relaxing your F buttocks as you feel the
releasing of stress as you exhale.
Gently Hold it: Hold it: Hold it: Okay
Now relax as you feel the tension flowing away out of your buttocks out through
your thighs, your calves, your feet and flowing out through the bottoms of your
feet. Notice how your buttocks now feeling
Heavy and warm,
Heavy and warm
Heavy and warm and relaxed.
Notice the difference before and after..
Now before we move forward lets bring our awareness to our breathing
Now slowly breath in on the count of four.
One... two... three... four... breathing in calmness and relaxation
Now gently hold that breath to the count of four.


One... two... three... four...
Now slowly breath out on the count of four.
One... two... three... four... breathing out stress and tension
Now slowly breath in on the count of four.
One... two... three... four... breathing in calmness and relaxation
Now gently hold that breath to the count of four.
One... two... three... four...
Now slowly breath out on the count of four.
One... two... three... four.... breathing out stress and tension
Now bring your awareness to your shoulders
Gently lift your shoulders up as if you where about to touch your ears with them. A
little higher, just a little bit higher, Okay.
Now hold it.
Hold it
Hold it
Hold it
Then while holding them up high gently move them forward and keep the tension
there.
Hold it
Hold it
Now relax as you feel the tension flowing away out of your shoulders though your
back, your buttocks out through your thighs, your calves, and your feet and flowing
out through the bottoms of your feet. Notice how your shoulders are now feeling
Heavy and warm,
Heavy and warm
Heavy and warm and relaxed.

Now bring your awareness to your Hands.
Gently tense up your hands and fingers into a ball with your thumbs on the outside.
A little tighter, just a little bit more. Okay.
Now hold it.
Hold it
Hold it
Hold it
Now relax them as give them a very slow and gentle relaxed wave with a loose
wrist. Notice how you can feel the tension flowing away out of your hands though
your arms into your shoulders though your back, your buttocks out through your
thighs, your calves, your feet and flowing out through the bottoms of your
feet. Notice how your hands are now feeling
Heavy and warm,
Heavy and warm
Heavy and warm and relaxed .
Now bring your awareness to your forearms just above your wrist
and your biceps and triceps.
Gently tense up your forearms, biceps and triceps.
A little tighter, just a little bit more. Okay.
Now hold it.
Hold it
Hold it
Hold it
Now relax your arms as give them and let them hang beside you and very slow and
gentling give yourself a relaxed shrug as your arms hang by your side. Notice how
you can feel the tension flowing away out of your arms out through your shoulders
though your back, your buttocks out through your thighs, your calves, your feet and
flowing out through the bottoms of your feet. Notice how your arms are now
feeling
Heavy and warm,
Heavy and warm
Heavy and warm and relaxed .
Face and Jaw Stretch & scrunch.
Gentle scrunch up your face as gently squeeze your face and then stretch
Now bring your awareness to your forearms just above your wrist
and your biceps and triceps.
Gently tense up your forearms, biceps and triceps.
A little tighter, just a little bit more. Okay.


Now hold it.
Hold it
Hold it
Hold it
Now relax your arms as give them and let them hang beside you and very slow and
gentling give yourself a relaxed shrug as your arms hang by your side. Notice how
you can feel the tension flowing away out of your arms out through your shoulders
though your back, your buttocks out through your thighs, your calves, your feet and
flowing out through the bottoms of your feet. Notice how your arms are now
feeling
Heavy and warm,
Heavy and warm
Heavy and warm and relaxed.
Now don't forget to breath
Now move your focus to your Scalp
How lets gentle tense up your scalp
A little tighter, just a little bit more. Okay.
Now hold it.
Hold it
Hold it
Hold it
Don't forget to breath
Now relax your scalp and very slow and gentling move your head first back and
forth and the from side to side. Notice how you can feel the tension flowing away
out of your scalp and face, through your shoulders your back, your buttocks,
through your thighs, your calves, your feet and flowing out through the bottoms of
your feet. Notice how your arms are now feeling
Heavy and warm,
Heavy and warm
Heavy and warm and relaxed .
Now slowly breath in on the count of four.
One... two... three... four... breathing in calmness and relaxation
Now gently hold that breath to the count of four.
One... two... three... four...
Now slowly breath out on the count of four.
One... two... three... four... breathing out stress and tension


Now slowly breath in on the count of four.
One... two... three... four... breathing in calmness and relaxation
Now gently hold that breath to the count of four.
One... two... three... four...
Now slowly breath out on the count of four.
One... two... three... four.... breathing out stress and tension
Now slowly breath in on the count of four.
One... two... three... four... breathing in calmness and peace
Now gently hold that breath to the count of four.
One... two... three... four...
Now slowly breath out on the count of four.
One... two... three... four.... breathing out stress and tension
Enjoy the feeling this state of relaxation. In your minds eye imagine that you are in a
safe, relaxing place with out a care in the world Imagine the scene as you hear the
sounds, smell the smells and feel the rhythm of life, and perhaps even sensing your
favourite food tastes in the air in what for what to you is a very special time and
place.
You know you can visit this place any time you want. Feel free to come back for a
visit and give your mind and body some time for rejuvenation and rest.
Now we've been on this journey for while now. As we come back to our everyday
life do remember to move slowly and carefully. Gently oh so gently and slowly
stretch your arms upwards and slowly stretch. Feels good does it not?
Then gently and oh so slowly stretch you back and your legs. Then stretch out your
feet.

Now before you move any further do check in with yourself. Quite a wonderful gift
you’ve just given yourself. How do you feel? Heavy and warm? How is your heart
rate…. Slow and steady? How is your breathing? Slow and steady?
Now, before you move your body remember to start slowly it slowly … this
exercise can slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and slow your mind
and body down. All very valuable, however do move slowly to give yourself time to
adjust getting on with the next phase of your day. Remember you can gain this
feeling anytime you want.


So until next time, Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for Life.



Michael

Michael Ballard specializes in helping people, schools, organizations and communities learn how to become more resilient.


Hiring and Contacting Michael
To interview Michael, book him for your 
next event or to contact him you can do that at:
Inquiry@MichaelHBallard.com

You can purchase Michael's programming on:
Udemy.com video programs at:

 iTunes.com audio programs at:


Michael’s Social Media includes:


Thursday, 21 May 2015

What is Resilience?

What Can It Do For You? 
Consider having a set of skills that could enhance your quality of life. Imagine the ability to be happier, healthier and safer. Having been challenges by a concussion, chronic illness, 2 bouts of cancer and a life threatening medical procedure that failed I am very invested in being as resilient as I can. I figure I have to be prepared for what ever might happen next.
Interested? 
Research on resiliency at several leading institutions shows that it can make a significant difference in our lives. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from life’s everyday obstacles and overwhelming adversities. The purpose of this article is to introduce you to the topic, and some key components. Researchers are concluding that each person has an innate capacity for resiliency,” a self-righting tendency” that operates best when people of all ages have resiliency-building conditions in their lives.
How do we develop resiliency skills? 
In the first part of our lives it is how we have been parented, our personalities, belief systems, our faith our teachers and our community. As we mature take courses, read books, watch videos, and model the behaviour of those that have gone before us that have shown resiliency. Finally, ask for help. No one, I mean no one is an island. Get a coach, a mentor or talk to a favourite manager or leader. Most people in our lives want us to succeed. Make a plan to support and nurture yourself.
 
What types of things build resiliency?
1. Making connections and being mentored. For example, resilient adults remember one or two people who made a difference in their lives when they were a teen. These adults acted as role models and mentors. “Werner’s nearly 40-year research journey shows that being emotionally connected with people in our communities is a significant part of what allows nearly 70 percent of people, in even the worst conditions, to thrive despite adversity.” (Brown, D’Emidio-Caston, and Bernard 16). Who are you feeling connected with?
2. Reading. Resilient people read. Werner and Smith found that “effective reading skills by grade four were one of the most potent predictors of successful adult adaptation.” This one reminds us to keep reading as adults. One of my all time favourite books to read is Mastery by George Lenard. It is all about the process and key steps of what it takes to master a skill. Something modern day society does not often acknowledge with our sense of entitlement.
3. Problem-solving, information and innovation skills. Resilient people know how to find and use information to solve problems. When faced with adversity, they will use a variety of problem-solving models to determine options for dealing with their problems. When was the last time you read a book or took a course on problem-solving or innovation? One of my favourites is Six Thing Hats. Six ways to approach life’s issues to solve them.  Mind maps are a great brainstorming and problem solving tool.
4. Social skills. The chief determinant of success for people in their social skills. Resilient people tend to have more friends and are more confident. They tend to be friendly, cheerful, good-natured, humorous and practice their intelligence. What are you doing to build and nurture your social skills? Emotional intelligence research tells us that those that build these skills can be over 100% more productive in the work place.
5. Life skills. Through fostering personal awareness, responsibility and decision-making capabilities and through focusing on each person’s healthy overall development, we know that this helps people to see possibilities and potentials in their lives and to reduce each person’s risk and increase their positive outcomes.
6. Hobbies and Interests. People who participate in hobbies and activities feel more confident, competent and positive about themselves. For example, hobbies and activities bring us into contact with more people and can provide solace during times of stress and turmoil.

7. Direction. Resilient people have a sense of direction and goals. What goals have you set recently? It increases our chances of positive outcomes. I believe in setting hard goals (dates, times, places, resources, outcomes) and soft goals – How do I want to feel, what do I want to feel and with whom do I wish to share the experience?
8. Taking care of others and volunteering. People engaged in “required helpfulness” are more resilient. People who believe they have something to contribute feel more empowered and confident about themselves. Mentoring, tutoring, being a peer helper, or volunteering promotes self-esteem and competency.
9. Participation at school, religious group, and in the community. Active participation provides opportunities to make friends and develop skills. People who have faith in a higher power believe their lives have meaning and they control their own fate.
Resiliency is in large part a choice once we become adults. Then again we need to know we have the choice. What will you do to day to enrich your life to be more resilient?




So until next time, Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for Life.



Michael

Michael Ballard specializes in helping people, schools, teams
organizations and communities learn how to become more resilient.


Hiring and Contacting Michael
To interview Michael, book him for your 
next event or to contact him you can do that at:
Inquiry@MichaelHBallard.com

You can purchase Michael's programming on:
Udemy.com video programs at:

 iTunes.com audio programs at:


Michael’s Social Media includes:
https://soundcloud.com/michael-h-ballard

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Why are you Happy?

It’s all about choice 
Michael H Ballard of Resiliency for Life

It was a question I got several times during my often frightening challenges with two bouts of cancer, multiple treatments and life saving midnight surgery. Those where very intense times. I still have the gift of 77 medical clip and several big scars that help remind me of that time and those years of treatment.


After attending yet another doctors appointment at a clinic for a check up I was pulled aside and asked by one of the administrators “Why are you Happy?” Seems out of the 2650+ people the clinic served I was one of six or seven they noted where for the most part happy.  It also turns out that morale at the clinic and keeping staff turnover down was an ongoing challenge. So many of the patients took their frustrations out on staff or where “sour grapes” to deal with for the staff. Staff were doing their best to help the patients and often the family cope and manage a very unpleasant illness. Yet some patients where out and out nasty to deal with.

So back to the question “Why are you Happy? Well mostly it is a choice. Don’t get me wrong a chronic illness that was very painful is not an easy to deal with issue. However I decided after the diagnosis and reflecting on choices that it was better to be happy in life than bitter. That choice made fighting cancer easier as by then I'd had several years to practise. So, I do understand the downside from illness and life's BIGSTuff issues. However I chose to frame and reframe each issue, ask for help and learn from it what I can. So bitter... yes visited that place a few times. I however refuse to live there. 

I didn't and don’t like having to fight cancer. Yet if you don’t fight how you going to live with the circumstances if things don’t work out?  So, the old expression my grandparents used from England “In for a penny in for a pound” came to mind. In other words if I was going to fight a little why not fight a lot. So I decided to jump into the deep end of the pond and develop several teams of care professionals to help me fight for my life.


Note I said care professionals. Not health care professionals. I had several types of care teams in place. That is another column for another time. Let me leave you with the thought “how have you allowed your present circumstances to define you? What are you doing to define your current circumstances?

So, until next time, Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency forLife. Wishing you the very best.

Michael

To interview Michael, book him for your 
next event or to contact him you can do that at:
Inquiry@MichaelHBallard.com
www.MichaelHBallard.com

You can purchase Michael's programming on:
Udemy.com video programs at:
https://www.udemy.com/u/michaelhballard/

 iTunes.com audio programs at:
https://itunes.apple.com/album/id997763796?ls=1&app=itunes

Michael’s Social Media includes: