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Lila-Mae White, MBA, CHE, PMP


The Words we Love to Hate 2023

Posted 4/10/2023

Lake Superior State University published 10 words that should be banished in 2023 but the word I was hoping was on the list is not.

The list from LSSU includes: GOAT, inflection point, quiet quitting, gaslighting, moving forward, amazing, “does that make sense?”, irregardless, absolutely, and “it is what it is”. As it turns out there are many annual lists of words that are overused or should be banished.

From the above list I would give runner up status to “it is what it is”, although I have been known to use it when I have nothing positive to say about the situation but feel I must say something. I suppose honorable mention would go to irregardless. I was under the impression that it is not even a word but when I checked it is being listed as a synonym of regardless.

The word I really, really want banished is unprecedented. It was a word that you hardly ever heard before the pandemic and now everything from weather patterns to market conditions and political events are unprecedented. I am trying to decide if we are hyping something up using this word or if we have just become lazy in using our vocabulary to describe extraordinary, never before seen, miraculous, unparalleled, uncommon, and anomalous things we are seeing in the world.

Do you have a word that should be banished?

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The Downside of Workaholism and the Upside of Weekend Vacations

Posted 3/5/2023

I was reading an article this week that looked at workaholism. Workaholism has a fascinating place in our culture. Working excessive hours is often revered in our culture – the self-made individual who puts in 16 hour days, is tied to their devices and who never take a vacation show up a lot in the media, in film and in legend.  The article I read outlined that workaholism is actually an addictive behaviour and like drugs, alcohol, sex and shopping can be used as a distraction from hard to face life challenges or to self-medicate to dampen the impacts of a larger mental health issue (depression, anxiety etc.). In the past it was often thought that extreme work hours was the cause of many mental health problems – something the article turned upside down with the notion it was a salve to and not the cause of this mental distress.

I also read an article this week that studied the impacts of treating a regular weekend like a vacation. This study looked at two groups – 1 which treated their weekend as they normally do with chores and obligations along side a group who were purposeful in carving out the weekend to be a vacation/staycation. The vacation group spent slightly more money than the other group but even accounting for this the positive impacts felt by the vacationing group, both mentally and physically were statistically significant. The article was clear that these weekend respites were not a replacement for a long vacation away from work but rather an opportunity for an interim pick-me-up. These vacation weekends could be as simple as strolling through a downtown area to window-shop or grabbing a cappuccino on the patio of waterfront restaurant.

Note to self – STOP hiding behind work and START planning a vacation weekend!

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What am I missing?

Posted 2/18/2023

I was listening to one of Simon Sinek’s podcasts this week and he mentioned that when you used to get your news and updates from newspapers or magazines you would cruise through the headlines and read in detail what caught your eye. In today’s world most of your information is curated through the mysterious algorithm of the internet. It is so obvious and yet so subtle you can easily be lulled into not seeking that other perspective or topics mysterious and unknown to  you – yet. Of course, I have my favourite go to topics – mostly health, finance, business, and science – I wonder what I am missing and how I can curate more curiosity in my newsfeeds.

The Toad and I had a conversation about curated new feeds this week as well. He has started to contemplate future education and career choices. I researched and subscribed/followed some of the companies and leaders in the fields he is looking at, and I am now sharing with him news from that newly curated feed. I am grateful his differing interests and fresh eyes on the world help me to expand my learning and my world view.

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Gratitude takes practice but it isn't difficult!

Posted 1/29/2023

The Toad and I have started the new year with a daily gratitude practice that takes less than 10 seconds in the morning. Everyday in January we have answered a gratitude question that is posted on the fridge.  The questions are simple but draw our attention to something we are thankful for. Sometimes we answer the question the same and sometimes our different answers create a conversation or a shared laugh.


Examples of the questions we have answered include:

What song are you most grateful for?

What place are you most grateful for?

What about your body are you most thankful for?

What small thing do you use daily that you are grateful for?

These questions have brought a bit of lightness in a month that can often be dark and difficult.  As the month draws to a close, I am contemplating what our shared gratitude practice will look like in February!  All suggestions welcomed.

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Welcome 2023!

Posted 12/31/2022

Welcome 2023!

In all honesty that may be a more exuberant greeting to the New Year than I am actually feeling. Perhaps just a nod of the head to acknowledge 2022 and 2023 passing at midnight is more in order. To be clear I am not feeling pessimistic about the year ahead – in fact there are several things I am looking forward to in the coming months and I recognize every day the great blessings in my life even on the hardest of days. But still there is a sense of flat. Flatness comes not from my life but from watching people throughout the world and here at home struggle with so many hard hard things and also watching people I love also struggle. Watching someone you love struggle or suffer is far harder than to endure a hardship yourself. To watch and know there is nothing you can do dampens your own spirits. The countermeasure to my flatness is to choose a “Word of the Year” that speaks into the possibility of 2023 exceeding my current assessment.

My 2023 Word of the Year is FLOURISH! Flourish is defined as (of a person, animal, or other living organism) grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment. This is what I want for myself, my loved ones, my community and the world.

Succeed – Thrive – Grow – Prosper – Blossom

So I say to you 2023 – Bring it!

Happy New Year!

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Our Family Mantra

Posted 11/29/2022

A mantra is a repeated motivational word or phrase. An example is the Little Engine that Could saying “I think I can, I think I can” in the children’s story.

Ever since the Toad was wee, we have used the family mantra of “Don’t panic – think it through!” It started when his blankie or a favourite toy was not immediately found, and frantic panic and upset was setting in. I knew the mantra had stuck for him when I was driving around a bit lost in a different city and from the back of the vehicle, I heard him calmly repeat my words back to me. “Momma, don’t panic – just think it through.”

When the Toad got a bit older and was more articulate with his inner thoughts and feelings our conversation would sometimes turn to uncomfortable feelings like sadness, grief and worry. He has definitely inherited my predilection to duck, cover and shove those challenging feelings away. There are many benefits of being an older mom and wisdom from lived experience is one of them. So, I fessed up to trying that avoidance tactic and that it really did not work. This conversation and our shared commitment to trying to do it differently led to another family mantra – “Name it – Claim it – Reframe it!”. So now when discomfort comes along, we say those words and most times it takes some of the power and sting away from the experience. This can sound like “I am feeling sad. I will sit with sad for a while. Sad is reminding me of something important.”

Does your family use any mantras?

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Speed Bumps

Posted 11/4/2022

"Your net productivity is the balance of the productive and unproductive forces in your life. A great deal of time and energy is spent thinking about how to increase effort, but there is a lot to be gained by reducing friction. A car will travel faster not only if you press the accelerator, but also if you remove the speed bumps." James Clear

I am always fascinated when I am pondering a challenge or situation and a clarifying lightening bolt idea shows up in front of me. These bolts come when I am watching the news, when I am skimming the headlines and when I am surfing the net. This week I was thinking about how to get through a backlog of work and how to develop a prioritization tool and a capacity dashboard and BOOM – the above quote showed up in my inbox! I changed the lens I was using, and I am now scouring the landscape for speed bumps!

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The Curves of Intelligence

Posted 10/23/2022

Fluid intelligence, the brilliant flash and ability to grasp novel and new is the first curve of intelligence. When you look at its curve it peaks somewhere in the 30’s or 40’s and then has a steep decline. The second intelligence curve peaks much later and shows limited decline, even into later life. This curve is crystallized intelligence, the integration of knowledge, the solving of complex challenges, the wisdom of experience.

According to the book “From Strength to Strength” finding a way to migrate from the first curve to the second can bring greater life satisfaction, happiness and health. This book has helped me recognize I am mid-migration, and I am grateful to now have the concepts to ground me. These concepts are giving me confidence in my skills and surety in the value I bring. Having the constructs from the book is also opening my thinking to what the path forward looks like and how to optimize the second curve.

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It is not what you know that is important..

Posted 3/12/2022

As a consultant both inside my organization and for Tree Toad I often have very shaky sponsorship and limited or no publicly sanctioned mandate. I usually have however been given expectations and deliverables - either explicit or implicit that I am held accountable for. A good portion of my career has been about finding/creating the leverage to move forward projects, to introduce change and to facilitate large system improvements. My 20-year tenure in my organization has allowed me to develop relationships across functional areas which help me in getting information and support. There isn’t a week that goes by that I am not contacting someone from a past role or project for help on something new I am working on.

In a complex world with fast paced change and ubiquitous technology, the fundamentals of personal connection and relationship have become invaluable.

Equally invaluable is to be aware and comfortable not knowing everything. This insight and humility can create an environment for others to feel comfortable to contribute ideas and expertise and also admit to being a novice in a situation.

I think one of my superpowers is not knowing everything but in having the capability of connecting people and synthesizing the information from the subject matter experts into an actionable plan to solve issues and move projects forward.

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2022 - Building our Future

Posted 2/12/2022

Many years ago, my dear Gran told me that “time moves more quickly as you get older.” I remember thinking that it could not be possible. Gran of course was right.

Much has been said about the last two years – and someday I too might want to add my perspective to the narrative but right now I want to face forward and take my learning and rethink, rejuvenate, restart, and rebuild. I am in a new role in my day job, I am back at school, and I want to refocus and reinvestment my time and energy in Tree Toad.

Firstly, I want to recommit to my blog. Although I was writing weekly for a couple of years, I am feeling like those writing muscles have atrophied a bit and therefore my goal is to post a monthly blog with a relevant share or two each week on my social media accounts.

My second focus will be to update my website. Unbelievably it has been 6 years since I launched my website, so it is long overdue for a fresh look. I have to confess that I can really psych myself out when it comes to creative projects that others will see. I would love any feedback or suggestions about the new website – in fact I will buy you a coffee if you would be willing to chat with me about your ideas. Just shoot me a message and we can set something up.

Finally, I would like to refocus on increasing my client base. I have been blessed to have regular clients throughout the pandemic and because my day job was more than full-time for a lot of the last two-years I had no capacity to manage any additional work. As Tree Toad is my side hustle and my first priority is always the Toad, and I have an obligation to my employer, so I have to be very mindful of the clients and work I commit to through Tree Toad. This will not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, but I am not a fan of putting myself out there or of showcasing my work so this last focus will be the hardest for me. I will have to set small goals for myself to move the dial on this one.

Stay tuned and reach out! The Toad was born on the 12th day so I will aim to post my monthly blog around that day every month!

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