Siobhan Kukolic

Words to inspire the belief that we have all we need to be the change we wish to see.

Month: April 2016 (page 1 of 2)

You are enough

The one thing that every human being needs, besides food, water and love, is acceptance.

Feeling heard.  Knowing that you are enough.
Oprah once said in a speech to Harvard grads, “The common denominator that I’ve found in every single interview is that we want to be validated.  We want to be understood.  I’ve done over 35,000 interviews in my career.   And, as soon as that camera shuts off, everyone always turns to me and, inevitably, in their own way, asks this question: “Was that okay?” I heard it from President Bush. I heard it from President Obama. I’ve heard it from heroes and from housewives.”
We all want to feel that we have something to offer.  That we matter.  That we are here for a reason. That we are doing a good job.
The thing is, the only way to get this validation is to take a chance.  To use your gifts. To say what you mean. To find others who “get you” and let that ignite your passion.
However, there will always be people who try to bring you down.  This is where selective listening is imperative.  They don’t know you.  They can’t define you.  They see you as they see themselves.  But you’re not them.

You are perfectly imperfect and you have something unique to offer the world.  There is only one you.

So start by accepting yourself.  And believing in yourself enough to let the authentic you shine through.

The universe will validate you by saying you are enough.  More than enough.

As Lao Tzu once said, “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

The wisdom in wonder

The other day my 10-year-old son said, “You know, my favourite people are babies and seniors.” “Why is that,” I asked?

“Well, babies just joined the world, they are excited to learn new things, and they laugh a lot.  And seniors have seen a lot of the world and they are wise.  They know things, like how to make your bed properly,” he said.

I couldn’t agree more.  But somewhere between those two ages, we get a little lost.  Our curiosity wanes and sometimes we forget to laugh.  We are focused on getting to the next stage in life and we forget to enjoy the stage we’re in.

Omar Khayyam, a mathematician, scientist and poet from the Middle Ages, once said, “Be happy for this moment.  This moment is your life.”  Babies and seniors understand that.

However, life is hard.  There are bills to pay and little ones to take care of.  Health issues and parents growing older. There are decisions to make and anxiety over making the right one.  But as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

And remember to be curious.  Don’t let that spark get stamped out as life happens.  Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talent.  I am only passionately curious.”  And Walt Whitman said, “Be curious, not judgmental.”  Look at the world with the wonder of a baby and you will become wise. In fact, maybe the wisdom was there all along, but we don’t recognize it until we’re older.

Socrates said, “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”  He also said, “Wisdom begins in wonder.”

So let’s act like we just got here and live with the wisdom of knowing we know nothing at all.

Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was born 400 years ago this past weekend.  He is the most prolific playwright of all time.  During a period when most people were illiterate, a man with just a grammar school education wrote plays about politics and crime and love and hate. He spun stories that make us cry and laugh and feel something centuries later.

But I wonder if he realized the strength in his words as he wrote them down all those years ago?

Shakespeare once said, “We know what we are but know not what we may be.”

Our younger years were filled with English classes that shared Shakespearean plots and our children will turn those same pages.

The Tempest, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew… and the list goes on.

Robin Williams once said, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

Shakespeare’s words changed how people were entertained.  What people thought.  What people felt. And they continue to do so today.

There is no way Shakespeare could have known the reach of his work.  He had a passion for writing and storytelling and he followed his heart.  He said, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

What do we have inside us that we can offer the world?  There is no right answer in life.  As Shakespeare said, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

You are the main character in your life’s play.  As Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

What is your next scene? What are your lines? And how will you make it a moment to remember?

“This above all; to thine own self be true.” William Shakespeare

The People’s Prince

Most people I know have a memory of what they were doing when the song Purple Rain was playing. “I never meant to cause you any sorrow.  I never meant to cause you any pain.”

Or When Doves Cry.  “How can you just leave me standing? Alone in a world that’s so cold?”
There’s a feeling you get when you hear those lyrics and notes. They resonate deep inside. Make you stop and take notice.  Prince’s songs were the soundtrack to our lives.  We became more of ourselves as we listened.
Prince said in a 1999 Notorious Magazine interview, “Music is real. It affects people, it’s real.  The other night I went to a club and I watched a DJ control an entire room.  Even politicians can’t do that.”
I hear that people from every walk of life, who listen to every type of music, had a place for Prince. He was both eclectic and talented beyond measure.  
Launching 39 albums, winning seven Grammys and making multiple lists of top guitarists of all time. Writing hits for himself and for others.  He penned Manic Monday for The Bangles and Nothing Compares 2 U which was sung by Sinead O’Connor.
Elton John said Prince was, “The greatest performer I have ever seen. A true genius. Musically way ahead of any of us.”
Yet Prince’s music didn’t fit into one envelope.  He took what he wanted from different genres and he did things his way.  He rarely talked to the media but he was often talked about.  He showed us that you succeed in life by being authentic.  By doing you like only you know how.
Prince was a legend because he made so many people feel something.  He didn’t just play an instrument, he played our heartstrings.  He sang, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.”  We are all getting through it and he gave us the words to say.
Rest in peace Prince.  You were gone long before your time.  But as you said in your 1999 lyrics, “Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb, we could all die any day.  But before I’ll let that happen, I’ll dance my life away.”  Thanks for giving us all a reason to dance.  We’ll never forget you. The people’s Prince.

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper was born in New York City in 1967.  His dad was writer Wyatt Emory Cooper and his mom is designer Gloria Vanderbilt.  Her great-great grandfather was Cornelius Vanderbilt who became very wealthy building businesses in railroads and shipping in America.

Anderson went to Yale University and got a political science degree.  He hadn’t taken journalism but he loved the news and telling stories, so he decided to pursue his passion.

He tried to get a job answering phones at ABC News but didn’t get hired.  He got a behind-the-scenes job at a small news agency that shared stories with high school students but he wanted to be in front of the camera.  So he got a video camera, made a press pass, and travelled by himself to places like Vietnam, Bosnia, Rwanda and Somalia.  Many times he was in danger and right in the middle of wars as they happened.  He would capture what was going on, send the footage back and it was put on the air.  This was the start of his journey as a broadcaster.

You would think that someone with his family connections would have used them.  But he didn’t.  He went out and made his own path.  His own mistakes and his own successes.

He said, “When I was younger, I talked to the adults around me that I respected most about how they got where they were, and none of them plotted a course they could have predicted, so it seemed like a waste of time to plan too long-term.  Since then, I’ve always gone on my instincts.”

After several years he became a reporter for ABC News and eventually ended up on CNN. He was often the face we would see on the ground in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, in Haiti after the earthquake and in Sri Lanka after the tsunami.  His authenticity and empathy bring in viewers and people who wish to share their heartbreak.

Anderson said, “You can’t stop the suffering, you can’t stop terrible things from happening, but you can bear witness.  The least us reporters can do is go there and tell their stories.”

Before he became a household name, he didn’t know where he would end up or how he would get there.  But he knew what he liked to spend his time doing.  And he went out and found a way to do it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

This is what Anderson did and what we should all strive to do. Blaze a trail rather than follow a path left behind from someone else’s journey.

Anais Nin

Anais Nin was a writer who said so many epic things.

She spoke about taking chances when she said, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  Many of us can relate to this sentiment. It’s so much easier to keep on keeping on.  To do what we need to do day in and day out.

But once remaining there becomes more painful than stepping off the cliff into the unknown, that’s when the real growth and change takes place.  That’s the game-changer.

Anais Nin said, “Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”

You don’t have to make the first day of following your dream about quitting your full-time career.  But you can throw those kites into the air.  You can start an evening art class.  Or join a healthy living movement.  You can begin writing a daily journal.  Or making a vision board about places where you want to travel.  These steps alone can fuel your fire and get you moving in the right direction.

As Paulo Coelho once said, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”  What you focus on gets bigger.  You’ll talk about it more.  People will connect your name to that industry.  And they will think of you when opportunities come up. If you don’t put a voice to your dreams, no one outside your head will ever know they exist.

Is your life where you want it to be?  You are never too old to change directions.  Colonel Sanders, the creator of Kentucky Fried Chicken, didn’t hit it big until age 65.  Laura Ingalls Wilder, of Little House on the Prairie fame, didn’t publish her first book until she was 65. Ronald Reagan didn’t get into politics until he was 55 and he ended up in the White House.

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

How courageous are you willing to be?  Your dream coming true depends on how you answer that question.

Dance like there’s nobody watching

All three of my kids, two sons and a daughter, take part in competitive Irish dance.  I don’t have them in dance to become professional dancers, however if that was the path they chose I would support it.

I have them in dance for the life skills it teaches.  Skills that can be learned in soccer, hockey, skating, gymnastics and many extra-curricular endeavours.

They have learned how to practice when they don’t feel like it.  How to lose gracefully. How much work it takes to reach a goal.  How when you are standing up in front of seven international judges, you have to leave your nerves at the door and perform like your life depends on it.

Not to mention gaining an appreciation for the arts and learning how to colour outside the lines.

My hope is that they can bring those skills with them to high school, to university, to scholarship application processes, to job interviews and to professional networking.

And most of all, I hope they remember what dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov said:  “I do not try to dance better than anyone else.  I only try to dance better than myself.”

That is a life lesson that is a priceless game-changer.

Dancing is a metaphor for living.  Do you do it with abandon? Do you choreograph your own steps? Do you worry that you will look foolish?

As Albert Einstein once said, “We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams.”

Expressing your unique self, and dancing like there is no one watching, is the only way to live.  May you never stop hearing the music.  And make all your dreams come true.

Amy Poehler

I am reading Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please at the moment and it’s very funny.  She is a writer and producer and actor and she reminds us that although we sometimes think we are not enough, we actually are.

She once said, “I’ve always dreamed of growing up to be Amy Poehler.”  I just love that.

She joined an improv group at Boston College when she was a student there, moved on to Comedy Central years later and ended up at Saturday Night Live.  She was there during some of the most epic sketches, including those highlighting the 2008 election campaign with Sarah Palin.  And she helped write and present some truly funny, smart jokes when she co-hosted the Golden Globes with Tina Fey.

But aside from all her professional success, she has done a lot for the esteem of young girls by co-founding a movement called Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls.  Their mission for girls is to Change The World By Being Yourself.

Their Web site says their organization is “dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves.  We emphasize intelligence and imagination over ‘fitting in.’  We celebrate curiosity over gossip.  We are a place where people can truly be their weird and wonderful selves.”

In a day and age when Photoshop and Hollywood are telling girls they will never be enough, I think Amy’s organization is a big step for girl-kind.

Amy said, “Great people do things before they’re ready.  They do things before they know they can do it.”

She also said, “I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do.  I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.”

I think that’s what we all want Amy.  Thanks for reminding us.

Socrates

All little kids like to ask questions.  They are curious about the world.  The problem is, as kids grow into adults, they start to think that asking a question will make them look like they don’t know an answer they should know.

But asking questions is what keeps us interested, what helps us grow, what changes the world.
Socrates was a Greek philosopher who lived from 469 to 399 BC.  His big thing was asking questions.  He once said that “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”
Aristotle said that this Socratic way of thinking is what led to the discovery of the scientific method that our children use in classrooms around the world.
Plato, who taught that we all crave a higher purpose in life was a student of Socrates.  And Aristotle, who taught that we all need to discover how to make our way in the world by exchanging our gifts was taught by Plato.  A connected line of thinkers from Greece who changed the way we all move through the world today.
Socrates said, “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”  This is the foundation of any great teacher… showing you where to look and pushing you to think outside the box to find answers.
Have we stopped asking questions in our life?  Are we embarrassed to look like we “don’t know?”
The only way to get to something bigger is to question where we are now.  How to make it different or better.  Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Socrates was put to death for corrupting the youth.  It is the first recorded case in history where a democratic country tried a man and put him to death for his beliefs.
He stood up for what he believed and changed the course of history.  The least we can do is continue to ask questions in our lives and try to improve the world one answer at a time.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney, son of an Irish-Canadian, was fired from his first job for a lack of imagination.  Can you imagine?

He was an animator and innovator and started a company with his brother and another partner. They had created a rabbit character and used a distributor in another state.  When Walt travelled there for a meeting, he found out that the distributor had stolen the rights to the rabbit character and had taken all of Walt’s illustrators as well.  It looked like he would be ruined.

Before he got on the train to come home that night, he messaged his family and brother and said everything would be all right.  Even though he himself didn’t know if that was true.  Then he sat down and started sketching.

He said, “Mickey Mouse popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb and disaster seemed right around the corner.”

And that was the beginning of an empire.

Walt said, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

One of his first big movies was Snow White which was released during the Depression.  It was the first animated movie made in colour in America.  It brought in a massive $1.5 million dollars and won eight Oscars.  He went on to create the movies Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians. And he created the world-renowned theme parks Disneyland and Disney World.

Walt Disney reminds us that, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”  He had many road blocks and failures in his life.  But he never gave up.

He said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”  What are the things that make you curious and light your fire?  Do you think they are impossible?  You won’t know unless you try.

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