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Archive for August, 2012

Change is inevitable

 

 

Woohoo, I’m working on my final edits for In The Spirit Of Love! It’s a ton of work, and at first glance, I felt a little overwhelmed with all the little red marks and comments my publisher attached to the manuscript. On second thought though, I realized it was my opportunity to clean up areas that needed cleaning, tighten sentences that were sloppier than they should be, and review – again, my finished product before sending it out into the big wide world.

It’s not often we get a chance for this kind of do-over. Or is it? As I sit, hour after hour going through the manuscript line by line, I couldn’t help but think about the parallels to life. How many times have we wished we could just go back and erase something we said or did? I don’t know about you, but for me, lots.

Just about everyone I know has regrets; things they’ve said, or didn’t say, missed opportunities, or things they’ve done that have hurt others (intentionally or unintentionally), but wish they could change.

With life, we hopefully learn, and as Oprah Winfrey says, “When you know better, you do better”. Well, I’ve learned a hell of a lot, and I know I could have done better in a lot of areas. As parents we’re always second guessing ourselves. There are always ten thousand things we wish we’d done differently or better. Being a parent means learning to live with guilt and regret, but most of us get enough right to raise reasonably sane and productive adults who contribute to society, love themselves and value the importance of family, religion and doing the right thing.

But what about actually making a change? What about do-overs in life? Well, we may not be able to go back in time and change the past, but we have full control of changing the present and the future. We can make amends to those we’ve hurt, we can apologise for hurtful words or deeds, we can choose to make different decisions and thereby change the future. We can even choose to change the world if we want.

I recently attended a large incentive and rewards trade show in Toronto and was fortunate enough to attend a seminar by keynote speaker, Scott Harrison, Founder & CEO of charity: water. I really hadn’t paid any attention to who was speaking, I just went to the seminar because my boss asked me to. I came away with a deep appreciation and respect for this young man who was able to pull off one of the greatest do-overs I’ve heard of. Going from popular event promoter in New York City living a carefree life of parties, booze, drugs, and irresponsibility, Scott made a decision to change his life, and thereby changed the course of many lives. I sat in that packed amphitheatre and listened to his story and was amazed at what one man could, and has, done to make a difference in his own life and for so many others. Wow. Very cool. I encourage everyone to check out Scott and his organization to learn more about this 100% fixable global problem of insufficient clean water.

I think too often we think we can’t change things, we can’t change ourselves or our direction in life, or that our efforts and deeds don’t matter. We can, and they do. Every day we make decisions on how we want to present ourselves to the world, how we want to interact with our fellow human beings, and how we contribute to this life and planet.

It’s true we can’t change our past – it’s done and over, but we can change our outlook, our direction, and our future. For sure not as easily as I edit my manuscript, but in editing the words on a screen, I’m reminded of the bright possibility of tomorrow, and of the do-overs yet to come.

 

 

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Dream Big

Never stop learning, dreaming, believing

I am continually amazed at the learning possibilities of life. A well-written book holds clues and insights never imagined before. A new place holds beauty and experiences never imagined before, and new people hold friendships and stories never encountered before.

On a recent business trip I was fortunate to travel to Clearwater/St.Petersburg, Florida. I thought it would hold little surprises for me. I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. While there I was introduced to people who met us with warmth and laughter, while fulfilling their roles as guides to the locale and places I was there to become more familiar with. Each of these people revealed expertise in their chosen fields of work and the properties they were proud to showcase, while making me and my team mates feel welcome and treated as honoured guests. Over the course of that three day trip, I learned I knew nothing of the area I was there to see. I had come with pre-conceived notions. I was wrong. Clearwater, St. Petersburg proved to be an incredibly beautiful destination with fabulous hotels, warm clear waters, wide sandy beaches and friendly, welcoming people.

While there we were introduced to Winter, the dolphin who lost her tail after being ensnared in a fishing trap. The movie, Dolphin Tale, is based on the remarkable story of Winter’s fight for survival and subsequent rise to dolphin stardom at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. After hearing the story and seeing Winter myself, I couldn’t help but reflect how much all of us can learn from animals like Winter and their tenacity for life. Even more fascinating to me though, is the story of the humans who went out of their way to help Winter and make a difference. The resulting rescue and ripple effect of the publication of Winter’s story continues to expand, changing both human and animal lives on a daily basis. In a society hell bent on consumerism and the attainment of surface beauty, the story of Winter, her caretakers, and those who stepped beyond their everyday lives to save a life, this is a much needed reminder of what can be accomplished – if we don’t give up believing in possibilities.

Writing a book is a little like Winter’s story. When a writer sits down to pen a new story, it feels a little like being wrapped up in that fishing trap. The heart of the story is there, it’s just all tangled up in a bunch of other stuff, and if left like that, it’ll die a slow and painful death. But unwrap it, rescue it, breathe life into it, work with it, and rehabilitate it to get it to where it’s whole and shiny, and you’ve accomplished a significant feat of faith and perseverance.

Oh, but then you have to sell it, market it to the world so others can share in the vision, and perhaps impart some value and entertainment. If you are really, really fortunate, your story will resonate with even one reader who will enjoy it enough to recommend it to someone else. If you are fantastically lucky, your story will sell enough to actually help you pay some of your never-ending stream of bills. Kinda like the movie they made of Winter’s story, Dolphin Tale. Because of the movie, the dedication of the entire crew, staff at the aquarium, and the unstinting backing of the people of Clearwater/St. Pete’s, this incredible story has a happy ending. Not only did Winter get her tail, but many other marine wildlife have also been rescued. Not only that, but public awareness of marine rescue and rehabilitation has increased exponentially, and continues to grow daily. On my recent trip our guide, John (an amputee himself), pointed proudly to the beginnings of a new building being constructed directly as a result of the revenue from the movie. The tremendous success of the film, along with the publicity generated, has resulted in enough funds to build a second, larger building to house and care for even more marine life.

This brings me back to the beginning of this post; because of a business trip, I learned more about an area than I ever dreamed I would, I learned that dreaming big and working hard result in outstanding accomplishments (look for my upcoming posts on a new blog site I’m developing with Strategic Incentive Solutions, about the people and places I am fortunate to visit), and that faith, tenacity, and gritty determination really can transform a dream into a reality.

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Books I’ve Reviewed.

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Books I’ve Reviewed.

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Start the car! Start the car!.

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Ikea got me with this one – I love this commercial. Recently I attended a production of 9 to 5 (musical) at the Huron County Playhouse and one of the lead actors is Lisa Horner, the star of that Ikea commercial. As I laughed and mentally snapped my fingers along to the upbeat songs of the production, I couldn’t help but be impressed with Lisa. It occurred to me that she had to have rehearsed and performed this play numerous times, yet for those of us in the audience, she brought it to life and played her character full out. I wondered how she could do that, night after night, no matter what might be going on in her personal life, or how tiring it might get. But then, she’s a professional – a master of her craft, so she goes out there and gives it her all every single time, and makes sure her audience gets their money’s worth. In an article written by theatre critic, Richard Ouzounian, Lisa comments, “Once the curtain’s up, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other when you’re out there.”  Well doesn’t that just sum up so much of life?

I couldn’t help but admire her enthusiasm and professionalism during the play, and afterwards I began to reflect on that comment. Every single day, each of us has a choice. We can either lay in bed and bemoan our fate and current woes, or we can swing our legs out of the bed and get on with it – whatever “it” is. There’s another well known theatre quote that says, “Life is not a dress rehearsal”, and again I say, “hear, hear!”.

You see, things aren’t always easy in my life. I’ve been the single parent living at or near the poverty line while raising two children; I’ve been let go from a job I desperately needed to support myself and my family; I’ve dealth with loneliness, disappointment, blended families (just try bringing five teens together into something resembling a family), horrible family betrayal, and more financial stress than I feel I deserve; but it’s my choice how I deal with life and it’s bumps (or roller coaster rides). I could choose to sink into the morass of depression and “woe is me”, but that really won’t serve any purpose. I have my days, mind you, but they don’t last long. I choose to look for the positive and revel in the loving relationships I’m fortunate to have in my life. If a day is really a downer, I can always find at least 5 things to be thankful for – that first cup of coffee, the sunshine, the sound of birds in the trees, the love of my husband, my children and grandchildren…

Then about three years ago, I decided to write a romance novel. I’d always wanted to, but wasn’t up for the commitment of time and energy (it takes a ton of both), or had the confidence. But then I stopped worrying whether or not I was a good enough writer, or whether or not anyone would want to read it, I just sat down and started writing. I’ve researched and Googled my way through the process to better understanding of the business of writing and book publishing. I’m no expert, but I’m definitely learning, and as a result, I’m gaining confidence. I’ve met (on-line) some fabulous authors who inspire and excite me, and I begin to feel a part of this new family called “writers”. I am more confident claiming that title and using my learned abilities in my day to day work. I am evolving – again, and I’ve discovered it’s okay be uncomfortable and grow.

So, as Lisa says in her Ikea commercial, “Start the car! Start the car!”.

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The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

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