Tag Archives: cancer

May 04

I was recently featured in a video produced by the Omni Group. I feel honoured to have had a starring role in the Omni Group’s first “Customer Story” video. I appreciated being able to share my journey through cancer and the profoundly positive impact that the Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology and OmniFocus™ has had on all aspects of my life.

Despite all the challenges, my journey through cancer was rich in rewards. It was a wake-up call that allowed me to become very clear on my life path and how I can best serve people, organizations and communities. All of the work that I do is embodied in the concept of “Holistic Productivity” — a topic I’ll be presenting in more detail shortly. My work as a Productivity Coach and Consultant at Technically Simple is very much aligned with my life work and I feel blessed to be engaged in work that is both fulfilling and impactful.

If you’re curious to read more about GTD and OmniFocus…check out the GTD® “The Art of Stress Free Productivity” and How I Use OmniFocus articles.

I work with people, both individually and in groups, to help them get up and running with OmniFocus and to fine tune their OmniFocus setups — ultimately supporting them in leading lives that are healthy, productive and aligned with their values. The process I go through when working with people draws upon my professional coaching training and goes beyond OmniFocus and technology. Through the consulting and training work that I do, individuals have an opportunity to look at the big picture of their lives and to reconnect with their dreams and passions. As part of this process they also have opportunity to take a close look at all of the incompletions and indecisions in their life that are holding them back and to put a plan in place to tie up loose ends. For more information visit the Technically Simple website.

Sep 06

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and TomorrowProcrastination is one of those words that, for many, elicits feelings of guilt and powerlessness. I love tearing apart scary words and looking at what they really mean. This word has reportedly been part of our English vanacular since Shakespeare’s time and, roughly translated from its Latin roots, means “push it forward…because this belongs to tomorrow”.

Consider that there’s nothing inherently wrong with procrastinating and that sometimes it’s very much appropriate to push something forward to tomorrow. On the flipside, it’s important to remember that our human existence only affords us so many tomorrows and that by putting important things off indefinitely we’re depriving ourselves of the joy and fulfillment that accomplishments can bring. Issues that we face on a global scale, notably the health of our planet, have a very timely component and there’s a real cost to inaction.

My deepest learning around procrastination came in a less than subtle form. In the summer of 2008 I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and there were times when I wondered if I would live to see Christmas. A wave of sadness fell over me as I faced the possibility of not having many more tomorrows and I became mindful of all the things that I wished that I’d done over the past forty years. Fortunately I ended the year with a clean bill of health…and a new lease on life.

All of this begs the question. Why do we procrastinate? Fear is often a key component. There’s the fear of failure and the embarrassment that that might follow, and the lesser recognized fear of success – hiding out in the shadows might be more of a challenge once the world witnesses how amazing you are. Procrastination is also a common reaction when something feels too big or when the path to our dreams is unclear. And sometimes the things we put off are just not that important.

The first step to overcoming procrastination is to look your reasons square in the eye. Sometimes the source of the resistance is not obvious and it helps to talk with a friend or work with a life coach to clearly see your patterns. Bringing awareness to your reasons puts you in a place of choice.

Taking things on in life can be scary and uncomfortable and I invite you to move boldly forward, staying mindful of what’s at stake. If something seems too big, consider taking one small step, even if the rest of the path is unclear, and invite others to share your journey. Let go of things that aren’t important, be kind to yourself and be weary of that deamon called “perfection”.

In the words of Mark Twain – “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Originally printed in Winds of Change Newsletter, Summer 2010
Photo by Andreanna Moya Photography

Jun 14

I’m excited to announce that I’ve invited to be a guest on Drishti Point, “Vancouver’s Yoga Radio Talk Show”, on Monday, June 21 from 5-6pm. This will be my first live radio experience! I’m very much looking forward to hitting the air waves and feel honoured to have been asked.

I’ll be talking about my journey through cancer from the perspective of a yoga teacher and student. Specifically I’ll share the profoundly positive impact that my training as a yogi had a on my healing process and the role that my yoga communities, or sangats as they’re sometimes called, played in my miraculous recovery. I’ll also share some of the many lessons and insights that my bout with cancer has taught me.

If you’re in the Vancouver area, tune your radio to 102.7 FM to listen in. You can also listen to the show live at www.coopradio.org. Thanks in advance for tuning in and I welcome any feedback you have!

Feb 28

Something from my training with Landmark Education that has stuck with me over the years is the power of being unreasonable. What do I mean by being unreasonable? It’s very simple – it’s all about having reasons not to do something…and then doing it anyway.

Sometimes there are perfectly valid reasons for not taking something on. For example, if I were about to set out on a road trip and learned that there’s freezing rain in the short-term forecast I’d likely choose to change my travel plans. I’ve driven in freezing rain before and know how hazardous this condition can be. In this case my reason for staying put is based on valuable experiences from the past.

I’m going to focus on the other type of reasons that keep us from cruising down the highway of life – those reasons that are born out of ingrained patterns stemming from events in our pasts and cultural conditioning. Sometimes these patterns are so subtle that we’re not even aware of the reasons that are holding us back. By bringing a heightened level of awareness to our actions and inactions there’s an opportunity to experience life at a whole new level and to serve as a role model for others.

When I think about being unreasonable in my own life one example that comes to mind is my decision to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2009, a 260km (160 mile) cycling trip from Vancouver to Seattle to raise money for the BC Cancer Foundation. What made this decision particularly unreasonable is that at the time I was going through an aggressive course of chemotherapy and was facing a major surgery. Some days I barely had enough energy to walk more than a few steps and wasn’t even completely sure that I was going to survive long enough to even attempt this athletic challenge. I had a laundry list of reasons not to register and went ahead and registered anyway. Having the boldness to register induced feelings of optimism and excitement. I committed to training for this challenge and to honouring my health throughout the process. All that I really had to lose was the registration fee and perhaps an ounce of pride.

Within weeks of completing my cancer treatments I enlisted the services of a personal trainer and began the process of getting back into shape. It was slow going at first, but I gradually started to feel my strength come back and continued to focus on my goal. After being given the thumbs up from my oncologist I set out on my cycling journey with 1,700 other unreasonable people. I’ll never forget the feeling of exhilaration that I experienced as I crossed the finish line and hope that my personal victory served to inspire others who come face-to-face with cancer.

I continue to practice being unreasonable and continue to reap the rewards. Sometimes it’s something as simple as having a conversation with someone that I had reasons not to have and saying “yes” to something that takes me outside my comfort zone. I’m inspired to create positive change in the world and realize that this is an inherently unreasonable ambition. All the more reason to continue practicing being unreasonable.

The next time you notice yourself feeling stuck I invite you to take a good look at the reasons that are holding you back. Assuming there’s no freezing rain in the forecast, why not set aside your reasons and notice what’s possible once they’re out of the way? And then boldly move forward and experience the freedom and fulfilment of life on the open road.

Aug 07

Fountain in Zen Garden MauiThe Getting Things Done® methodology, commonly abbreviated as GTD®, was created by renowned coach and author, David Allen who went on to form the highly successful David Allen Company.

David Allen asserts that our minds are a great place to create thoughts, but a lousy place to store them. The GTD methodology involves taking all the “stuff” that’s stored in our minds, which often commands our attention at inopportune times, such as when we’re trying to sleep, and putting it all into a trusted system. Ultimately this creates what David Allen describes as a “mind like water” mental state where there’s literally nothing on our mind. This is a highly creative space – one that allows us to be productive without feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

I have tried using traditional task management approaches over the years and always found that my to-do lists quickly got out of control and even contributed to my feelings of overwhelm rather than helping me maintain a sense of control. In my experience, the GTD methodology is much better suited to our modern world where we tend to have a lot of demands on our time and attention and a vast amount of information to deal with. It provides a structured, but not too structured, approach to managing all of the actions that ultimately move us forward towards our dreams and in the process helps bring clarity to both short-term and long-term aspirations.

I first put GTD through its paces when I was going through cancer treatments last year. Having this methodology at my disposal had such a profoundly positive impact that I wrote an account of my journey and sent it to the David Allen Company. I received a very positive response and my article was published on their blog. David Allen will also be interviewing me in the near future as part of the In Conversation series.

If you’re interested in learning more about GTD, a good first step is to pick up a copy of David Allen’s inaugural Gettings Things Done book, which is available through Amazon.ca and at most bookstores. There are also many resources on-line, such as GTD Times and GTD Connect, that provide a wealth of information, including real world examples of how people are “Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life”, as David Allen puts it.

I will also continue to report on more of my own experiences with GTD through this blog and frequently share this methodology with clients through my work as a coach, consultant and workshop leader. Stay tuned!

Aug 07

Tim Stringer in MauiOne of the exercises during my coaching training with the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) was to identify something that I couldn’t be with and then create opportunities to come face to face with this thing that I try to avoid at all costs. The idea is that, as a coach, we need to be able to be with those things that make us most uncomfortable in order to create a space where our clients can do the same.

We went around the circle and each person received some coaching from the group and course leaders to help them get crystal clear on that one thing they really couldn’t be with. Once identified, that most scary thing was written on a name tag that we wore for the rest of the day as we were challenged and called forth by the rest of the group. Sounds like fun, eh?

My name tag read “Uncertainty”. I discovered that I liked having assurance about how things were going to go in life and not knowing was a source of stress. It was quite a relief to take off my “Uncertainty” name tag at the end of the day. Little did I know that this lesson was far from complete.

Several months later I started to develop pain in my lower back and chest, which came and went in an unpredictable way. I saw four different doctors on five different occasions, but none seemed very certain about the cause of my grief. I had a number of sessions with a chiropractor who though that a spinal adjustment would help, but the pain continued to worsen and the uncertainty around my health continued to grow.

Eventually the pain got so intense that my wife, Christa took me into the emergency room of our local hospital. Despite having two teams of talented doctors assigned to my case the prognosis was far from clear – one was confident that it was a kidney stone and another mentioned the possibility of cancer. Many days and countless tests later it became increasingly evident that cancer was the source of my pain. Though, it wasn’t clear what kind of cancer it was and there was no sign of a tumour, which didn’t help. Eventually the doctors got to a point where they were reasonably certain they had an accurate diagnosis and recommended that I begin chemotherapy immediately so that the cancer didn’t have a chance to spread further.

The uncertainty continued. I didn’t know for sure if this was the right course of treatment, if I’d respond to the chemo and if I’d require surgery once the treatments were finished. There were even fleeting moments when I wondered if I’d live to see Christmas. Fortunately the year ended on a very positive note. After four intensive rounds of chemo and a major surgery I was given the gift of a clean bill of health, just in time for Christmas.

Through the process, I discovered that I could face major uncertainties in my life and live to tell the tale. Not knowing exactly how things were going to go created a state where I was very present and granted me a new appreciation for the gift of my life and for all the love that surrounds me. When faced with all this uncertainty my priorities in life became crystal clear – it’s amazing how certainty is born out of a state of uncertainty. But, I guess that’s how life works. Light can’t exist unless there’s darkness to be illuminated.

I welcomed in 2009 brimming with enthusiasm and gratitude. I still like having some certainty in my life, which must mean I’m human. At the same time I’ve come to see uncertainty as a gift. Deepak Chopra talks about uncertainty as the seed of creativity and ultimately it’s not knowing how things are going to go that makes life’s journey such a magical one. Uncertainty creates a space where anything is possible. I’m learning to trust myself and my intuition when the path ahead isn’t clear and know that whatever shows up there are always opportunities to learn and grow.

If you find you’re struggling when it comes to uncertainties in your life I invite you to try on a different perspective. Celebrate life’s uncertainty. Take it as a reminder that each moment in life is a sacred gift and bow to the teacher in all things.

Originally posted on CoachingLife.ca on February 4, 2009.

Jul 04

ride-to-conquer-cancer-media-coverageOne of my motivations for participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer was to serve as an inspiration to others who are going through cancer treatments and to demonstrate that it is possible to not only survive, but thrive after coming face-to-face with cancer.

To help share my message with the largest possible audience I contacted media sources before setting out on my 262 km cycling trip from Vancouver to Seattle. The Friday before I left on my journey I had a phone interview with CBC, a portion of which was included in a story entitled Hundreds ride to conquer cancer that appeared on their website the next day.

CTV News also captured my triumphant arrival at the University of Washington, a moment I’ll never forget. Moments after disembarking from my bike my wife Christa and I were interviewed by Perry Solkowski. A portion of this interview was included in the Sunday evening CTV News broadcast. The news story can be viewed on a special Ride to Conquer Cancer page on CTV’s website. It’s the second link under the video player.

I welcome any other opportunities to share my story and am available to be interviewed and to write articles on a variety of topics:

  • Integrative Healing :: I attribute my healing to a combination of Western and Eastern treatments and practices and believe in the power of combining multiple approaches to healing. I was fortunate to have convenient access to InspireHealth, the only integrative cancer care centre of its kind in Canada and to have a wife who’s a talented holistic healer.
  • The Power of the Mind :: I have been practising and teaching yoga and meditation for 15 years and practising martial arts (Shotokan Karate) for 20 years and the mental discipline that I developed through these practices allowed me to maintain an overall positive outlook on life, even on my darkest days.
  • Life Coaching and Healing :: I worked with a life coach, Joni Mar throughout my treatment process to create a future in spite of my circumstances (i.e. being sick with cancer). Having ambitions and dreams gave me a strong motivation to live and helped carry me through the process. Working with a life coach also gave me an opportunity to learn the valuable lessons that going through a major life experience such as this provides. I have developed a workshop called It’s About Time, that launched in Vancouver on May 30, based on these experiences.

Please forward my contact information along to anyone in the media who may be interested. I also look forward to presenting each of these areas in more detail in future blog posts and to sharing the many lessons that I’ve learned through my bout with cancer.

Jul 04
A couple of weekends ago I was one of 1701 people who participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 260 km cycling trip from Surrey to Seattle to raise funds for the BC Cancer Federation. Crossing the finish line marked a profound personal victory. Last year at this time I was in so much pain that I could barely walk a block. In July I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent aggressive chemotherapy treatments and a major surgery in the months that followed. I can remember wondering if Iʼd live to see 2009.
Just before Christmas I received the best present I could have asked for, a clean bill of health. I started training for the ride in January, motivated to give back to the medical system that had helped save my life and inspired to be a living example that cancer is something that can be overcome.
I attribute my own healing to more than just medicine. I received an outpouring of love, prayers and support from family and friends near and far and included Eastern approaches, including hours of Reiki from my beautiful wife Christa, in my healing regime. I also worked with my life coach, Joni throughout the experience to create an inspiring future in spite of my circumstances.
Today I feel a newfound gratitude for my life and for all the wonderful people with whom Iʼm privileged to share my human journey. One person in particular who was on my mind and in my heart as I rode was Dan Northcott. He was diagnosed with Leukaemia around the same time I received my diagnosis and passed away at age 29, minutes after I set out on my bike Saturday morning. Through his spirit and courage he demonstrated what it means to live life fully and, inspired by the example he set, Iʼm committed to a life that is fulfilling and of service to others.

Ride to Conquer Cancer - VictoryA couple of weekends ago I was one of 1701 people who participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 260 km cycling trip from Surrey to Seattle to raise funds for the BC Cancer Federation. Crossing the finish line marked a profound personal victory. Last year at this time I was in so much pain that I could barely walk a block. In July I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent aggressive chemotherapy treatments and a major surgery in the months that followed. I can remember wondering if Iʼd live to see 2009.

Just before Christmas I received the best present I could have asked for, a clean bill of health. I started training for the ride in January, motivated to give back to the medical system that had helped save my life and inspired to be a living example that cancer is something that can be overcome.

I attribute my own healing to more than just medicine. I received an outpouring of love, prayers and support from family and friends near and far and included Eastern approaches, including hours of Reiki from my beautiful wife Christa, in my healing regime. I also worked with my life coach, Joni throughout the experience to create an inspiring future in spite of my circumstances.

Today I feel a newfound gratitude for my life and for all the wonderful people with whom Iʼm privileged to share my human journey. One person in particular who was on my mind and in my heart as I rode was Dan Northcott. He was diagnosed with Leukaemia around the same time I received my diagnosis and passed away at age 29, minutes after I set out on my bike Saturday morning. Through his spirit and courage he demonstrated what it means to live life fully and, inspired by the example he set, Iʼm committed to a life that is fulfilling and of service to others.