“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
Anais Nin



“Leadership is not an accomplishment you check off your daily to-dos. At the heart of leadership is the omnipresent, bold belief that influence, relationships, dialogue and faith in people call forward our best leadership abilities.” -Ted Coiné via Anita Stout

A Coffee Shop, Being ‘Stood Up’, and Mindfulness

Sitting in my favourite coffee shop in town, Coffee Matters, waiting for a potential new business associate to arrive. Sipping on my delicious specialty coffee. A steady buzz of conversations surrounded me.  The delicious aromas of home cooked food floated through the air.  I faced the window to welcome the gentle caress of the fresh, warm breeze and I was drawn to the colours of the heritage homes located across the street;  a palette of brilliant colours.

I am tossed back to a time when a certain young Anglican Minister (my dad), his bride (my mom) and family lived on Ordinance Street, located across from the old CN Hotel http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_Newfoundland (later known as the Newfoundland Hotel and Hotel Newfoundland). The Sheraton Hotel currently sits on this site. Memories of this charming, historical neighbourhood which was once home and a playground of intrigue for four little girls; brought a smile to my lips.

As I reflected upon our childhood (our ages ranged from 3-7 years); I recalled the activities and hot spots which formed lasting impressions upon each one of us little girls, these included:

  • walking over to the hotel entrance to play in the ever so popular revolving  doors; the staff greeted us with  friendliness, patience and kindness
  • chatting with the men who frequented the local pub (on Duckworth Street); as they were known to congregate out on the sidewalk on good weather days. Of course Mom would be mortified when she would discover we had ventured beyond the boundaries of our tiny front yard
  • spending quality time with the friendly firemen at the local Fire Hall (Is there a child out there who does not like firemen?)
  • Attending “Dad’s church” (St. Thomas’ Church ~ http://www.heritage.nf.ca/society/rhs/rs_listing/134.html, http://ngb.chebucto.org/Hr_Main/Church/Anglican/st_thomas_an.shtml 1966-68) and church hall activities
  • visiting Rev. Rhodes Cooper and family who called the Anglican Rectory home (the Commissariat House ~ http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=15612)
  • our neighbours, the “Morris” family
  • the neighbourhood playground, Bannerman Park (http://www.bannermanpark.ca )
  • Government House; ‘the’ hot spot for young ‘Trick or Treaters’ (http://www.heritage.nf.ca/govhouse/introduction.html)
  • attending Bishop Spencer Girl’s School (http://www.bishopspencercollege.ca/pf1.htm) – the field day was a highlight
  • enjoying Kentucky Fried Chicken (“finger lickin’ good”) as a special treat every now and then
  • visiting relatives who lived around the greater St. John’s area
  • the steady flow of people in and about our house; many of whom were known to stay for a number of reasons including health, accommodations, waiting for the next boat or train ride home or to enjoy a short vacation with the family

Suddenly, I tuned into the sound of a familiar voice, a public voice. I looked up and into the eyes of Bill Rowe QC, lawyer, past politician, broadcaster and writer who is also a Memorial Graduate and an Oxford University, Rhodes Scholar. While I had never previously met the man, he left me feeling that he was as intrigued with me as I was with him.  We greeted one another with a smile and a quick “hello, how are you doing?” I love this city and province as you never know who you are going to meet up with at any given moment.

I glanced at my watch and thought the lady who scheduled the meeting was obviously yet another’no show.’ The voice in my head attempted to hijack my peace of mind and my sense of joy. It sounded something like this, “Well I guess someone more important than you showed up in her day,” …”Interesting, this happens quite often to you.”  I started to feel like I was about to take that slippery slide down towards a space where I would be left feeling, not all that great, about the chain of events.  I took a slow calming breath and quickly realized I had a choice to make:

  1. either allow the voice in my head to burst my bubble and send me on my sorry little way, spiralling down to that low energy place or
  2. choose to reconnect with the higher vibration of the joy filled journey I had previously experienced.

I am happy to report I chose joy!  Mindfulness teaches us to bring awareness to our thoughts (ego’s chatter) and when we do we realize the mind does a fabulous job conjuring up negative, de-energizing self-talk. Once I became aware of my negative thoughts, I recall thinking, “hello ‘little’ thoughts…good-bye ‘little’ thoughts,” as I imagine them floating by like leaves on a river. I returned to the ‘present moment’ realizing I had free time on my hands, no boss to check in with and a gorgeous neighbourhood to explore!

I left the coffee shop and began walking in the footsteps of my younger self. I captured a few photos of picturesque St. John’s which I have since shared my mother.  She informed me that my great grandfather (her grandfather) had stayed at the Anglican Rectory (the Commissariat House) when he was stricken with appendicitis.  In those days he had to travel by boat from Herring Neck, Notre Dame Bay to St. John’s in order to have his appendix removed.

I offer these full circle moments as I reflected upon that afternoon. I was reminded that:

  • By being present in the moment, I had successfully created space for me to enjoy the deliciousness of my coffee (a hug in a mug), to experience the lovely ambiance of the coffee shop and the picturesque surroundings
  • Being stood up triggered negative thoughts for me.  This event provided an opportunity for me to reflect upon my reaction and to practice mindfulness. The benefit – enjoying a walk down memory lane
  • By sharing my story and pictures with my mother,  it provided her with an opportunity to reflect upon and share one of her family stories

Just for the record, it turned out that the lady whom I thought ‘stood me up’ never received my final e-mail message via Linked-in, in which I had confirmed our meeting time and location. This type of thing had happened to me and others before.  Since then, I have been asking for additional contact information (in particular their regular e-mail address) to ensure all parties receive, read and respond to all messages; minimizing the risk of this type of thing happening again in the future.

My favourite coffee shop


Coffee Matters
Old Victorian Homes
St. Thomas’ Anglican Church (the Old Garrison)
Welcome to the Commissariat House
The Commissariat House (the Anglican Rectory)
Entrance to Government House
Government House – the grounds
Government House and the garden
The garden at Government House
Government House
Government House
Government House
View across the garden – Government House
Government House – Green House
Government House – Beautiful Grounds



Government House – Beautiful grounds
The view from Government House
A second entrance/exit –  Government House
St. Thomas’ welcomes you
The place we once called home
The original site of the CN Hotel