Taking back time

Busy professionals are sometimes too busy. Unconscious workaholics, on a mission to get from A to Z in the quest of achieving a dream or mission, plod on in a state.

They may think they are self empowered, driven, strong and made of iron. In fact, their hearts palpitate and their tempers flare. The most caring and well-intentioned people fail to sleep at night. They are so overburdened they do not see what is going on. They sense and intuit that something is moving at the pace of a disaster waiting to happen, yet it’s not until either an accident, illness or exhaustion that life’s mechanisms take the gravity of the situation to heart and slow it all down. What makes us think we can do it all, today?

At a recent seminar I attended, life-work balance was discussed, and if there was one point I will take away with me and use in my own practice of living better (happy), forever, it is this: know where your recovery points are. In the day, week, term and year, busy professionals need to know when these moments exist or are necessary, and then plan for these times when things can slow down. Or else.

But let me sneak in another little big thing: time management. Busy people need to chunk down major commitments and priorities into many more smaller ones, for this makes tasks more manageable, and completion is key. But why?

Because when life becomes about work and work only, the joy of living sours. Human beings are animals not machines. We weren’t born to work all of the time, 60-80 hours a a week, no matter how enjoyable the work may be. Arguably, we were born to fulfil our potential – too – as humans ‘being’, and self-actualisation in this regard is multifaceted. Among a myriad of priorities, relationships are critical. If you don’t have time for relationships – lover, family, friends, colleagues, God or Spirit (if you believe), community and most of all with yourself – then what is the point? What’s it all for? What is the point to this work that is so ‘important’?

Pomodoro is your friend. logoOnly, you may not own a tomato shaped timer, and you don’t necessarily like to work to a timer, either. The complexities of managing a super-charged work life with an equally full personal life is a real challenge and one not to be taken lightly. For your own inner life’s sake, for peace’s sake, for balance’s sake, give yourself space to breathe. Look at this question of self discipline and life-work balance, but do give yourself time to breathe.

For we can, at times, all ‘undo’ what has been done, backtrack if necessary and divest ourselves of commitments that no longer matter. With a little self reflection and some shifts in priorities, one can choose what is most essential and take care of body, mind and spirit. It is the essence of good living.

More in future posts.

Peace. Out.

Courage to Love

Yesterday, I sat in an assembly for Year 9 students. The school where I teach has decided to institute something called a ‘Culture for Learning’. The first step is to have the ‘Courage to Learn in Silence’. I like it. Twenty minutes of silent, independent thinking and effort – with teacher assistance nearby, as needed. Students find it hard. But they have been told to expect this in every class, every day. They’re improving, day by day. It reminds me of something…

This arrived on my Facebook page today. I love it. The courage to learn. The courage to kiss…and hug. Way to develop a ‘Culture for Love’. 

Do you need courage to love?

What Matters Gets Done

I’m an English teacher. I taught English in the Middle East for thirteen years, eleven of them in Saudi Arabia and two in Qatar. I have travelled all over the region, barring Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Palestine/Israel. Sadly, circumstances have prevented me from crossing over the borders to reach the people of these countries within their own native lands, though I’ve met many of these fine, impassioned, complex, simple, highly interesting people in Saudi Arabia and Qatar especially, as well as in the UK and elsewhere while travelling, of course.

I have been to Syria in peacetimes, and realise it is a lost world – that. It’s heartbreaking. Today I find myself the English teacher of a British-Syrian young man who is proudly Syrian but equally British in that he has been affected by peers around him. He straddles that line that isn’t quite what some insinuate is ‘Half Caste’ in one of the modern English poems I have studied and taught in this country about the plight of a poet coming from ‘mixed bloodlines’; both of this lad’s parents are Arab. So, he’s not fully Arab anymore, and he’s not a native British son. He has adopted the norms (good and bad) of his homeland with a similar passion he contains for the place of his upbringing, which is now in shambles today. The joy this boy, this young man, exudes (probably because of the appreciation for what he now has) saves him from Continue reading What Matters Gets Done


Driving home from a long day today, in a foreign country, in a ‘new-ish’ job, five thousand miles away from where I was born and grew up, I felt numb. It was a long day. Difficulties had come from all directions. People were my primary source of stress and, internally, I was boiling.

I learned first thing in the morning, from a former colleague I’m connected to on Facebook, that a former student of mine died in a car accident…in Qatar. Continue reading Changed

Failure…or is it?

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Ever failed to land a job, keep a lover, secure your future, grow your finances, please others who are dependent upon you? Ever failed to keep the house clean, get rid of the clutter, cancel the unnecessary incomings? Ever failed to show up for a friend’s wedding shower, baby shower, moving day, invitation to a party? Ever failed to take the garbage out on time, walk the dog before an ‘accident’, pay the bills and avoid the alarm bells that ring when things are not tended to? Ever failed to sleep enough, dress right, keep your cool, smile under pressure, leave when you should have, stay when you should have, sort out the sortings that need sorting? Failure is a funny, funny notion. Ever fail to lose weight, exercise, cook a soup when you said you would, mail the post on time? Ever fail to reciprocate to the neighbours? Ever fail to call home and write to your best friend? Failure is all around us.

But is it failure? Continue reading Failure…or is it?

In your heart, in your soul…

When I taught five classes of drama per day in Canada, I found my body and voice tired and in need of a break between sessions. A great deal of energy that goes into the facilitation of ‘structured play’, as it is called. So, I quickly found a solution.

I told my students at the start of each class, “This is the only class you will ever get to lie down on the floor (carpeted, of course) and close your eyes.” They loved it, dropped their bags and ran to lie down and get comfortable. Win-win situation. They never knew that it was their introduction to guided meditation. It settled them and gave us all that ‘pause’ for re-focusing on the moment, the class to come.

I played my students one of my favourite songs about peace, written by one of Canada’s legendary artists, Loreena McKennitt. The key to life, I believe, lies in the koan of the chorus. It is a good for waking in the morning, resting in the day and sleeping at night. Enjoy.

“In your heart, in your soul, did you find peace there?”


Why I love to sit in the front row

Why I love to sit in the front row…

The view is spectacular. The sound is best. You feel the energy. There is no distraction. The message is direct – you receive it. If you’re lucky, you get picked.

What do I mean by this?

Why do some people run for the front row at a concert but sit at the back in class?

Once, I walked into a songwriting class at Berklee College of Music, arguably one of the best music schools in the world Continue reading Why I love to sit in the front row


I decided to personalise my Google+ ‘About’ section and talk about what it was like for me to grow up in the country…and how that influenced my pursuit of an international lifestyle.

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Everything you want is on the other side of fear. JFDI.

I grew up in the country, the daughter of two Canadian farm kids whose parents immigrated from Europe (England/Holland and Hungary/Ukraine). My parents built the house I grew up in. My dad worked on the oil rigs of Northern Canada for some of my life. My mother grew beautiful gardens and, with my father, raised my sister and me.  Continue reading Google+

Delight in the Innocence

This is a gift worth saving and sharing on with a friend. So, I’m doing it here and now for you. Will you share it with someone you love? 

Kayden + Rain from Nicole Byon on Vimeo.

There is sadness in the world today. There is never enough money, time, love, joy…and the examples are many.

I know a sensitive boy who misses his home and his friends. There is nothing his parents can do. They do what they can and this doesn’t change the fact that this boy, now a teen, soon to be a young man, misses his best friends and the sense that he belongs somewhere. His home is where he is not. It is anywhere but where he is. As a long-time traveller, expatriate and now migrant, I understand the feeling. You feel trapped, and you are, in your mind and for real.

Without money, Continue reading Delight in the Innocence

everything you want is on the other side of fear. jfdi. live to love. lead as you would follow. shoot for the stars.