Siobhan Kukolic

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

Month: May 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Turn your wounds into wisdom

Gabrielle Bernstein, a motivational speaker, said, “What makes us most uncomfortable reminds us that there is an unhealed wound.”  And Oprah Winfrey once said, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

We all have unhealed wounds.  They could be from traumatic experiences, family troubles, loss of money or work, relationship issues, sickness, or death of a loved one.  So what can we learn from these wounds?

What part of your wound scares you the most?  And if that fear became a reality, what would be the worst thing that could happen?

They say that fear is a compass for heading in the right direction.  That is where you will grow.

And Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.”

Look your fears in the eye and don’t see your wounds as imperfections.  Remember what Leonard Cohen once said, “There is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.” Your wounds and your experiences make you who you are.  And only you can offer your unique gifts to the world.

So go where you can grow.  Let the light in.  And never look back.

Your heart brain

I recently heard Gregg Braden speak and he said some truly interesting things.  He spoke about a discovery made in 1991 where 40,000 neurons were found in the heart.  They called it the heart brain.

From what I understand, the heart brain sends messages to the head brain with regards to what hormones to release.  So if you feel guilt, shame, fear or anger in your heart, it will direct your brain to release chemicals that are not good for your body over long periods.  If you feel peace, love, joy, hope and happiness, it will direct your brain to release chemicals that are good for your body, especially when it comes to healing.
Gregg also explained through time-lapse photography, that it takes three days for two neurons to attach and create a connection.  So you need to foster that bridge between your heart and good emotions for at least three days for a connection to appear.
He mentioned that in western society, when someone makes a mistake we often ostracize them or punish them.  Whereas in some indigenous societies, when someone does something wrong, the entire village meets in the centre of town and puts the ‘wrong-doer’ in the middle of the group.  Then, for three days, they shout at the person, telling them all the good things about them.  All the good things.  How appropriate that the science I previously mentioned talks about heart brain neural connections taking three days to form.  Three days to realize that you are enough.  That you are extraordinary.
This idea really got me thinking.  About how your emotions affect your well-being.  How you become what you believe.
And it gives a whole new meaning to Helen Keller saying, “The best and the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”
So focus your mind on the brain in your heart.  Tell it good things about yourself.  Create those invaluable connections.  And as Confucius once said, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

How can you generate the life you want?

I heard Brendon Burchard speak a few days ago and he lit a fire in me.  He showed us pictures of the tiny apartment he shared with his girlfriend who supported him as he chased his dreams of publishing a book and becoming a motivational coach.  He was typing away on a TV dinner table, surrounded by bills, but he never gave up.  Since then he has become a New York Times best-selling author, worked with Oprah and been named by Success Magazine as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Leaders in Personal Growth and Achievement alongside Oprah, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington, Joel Osteen and Sheryl Sandberg.

He said the first time he held an event, 22 people attended including his mother and the person at the hotel delivering the water pitchers.  And now, he speaks in front of thousands.

He said the three questions that everyone asks at the end of their life are, “Did I live?  Did I love? Did I matter?”

So why not start asking them now?  And start living a life that gives us answers we’d be proud of.

He talked about how a power plant doesn’t house energy, it generates it.  And people are the same. We generate happiness, joy and change.  We can’t get it somewhere else.  It has to come from within.

How can you generate the life you want?  What do you dream of?

Brendon says, “No matter how small you start, start something that matters.”

So why not start today?  As Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Walk through the fear

I went to a conference yesterday full of inspirational speakers.  So many golden nuggets.  I heard a man named Mastin Kipp speak.  He lived on friends’ couches for a few years while he tried to get his writing out there.  His book cover says, “He went from a hard-partying, 21-year-old vice president at a Hollywood record company to an unemployed, drug-addicted college dropout living in the tiny pool house of his ex-girlfriend’s parents.”  The pool house was 8 foot by 8 foot in size.  He had drawn a line in the sand and decided he would not take another soul-sucking job.  He had to try and follow his passion which was to help reconnect people with what makes them happy.  And he never gave up.

Now he is a best-selling author and was on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday where she called him an “up-and-coming thought leader of the next generation of spiritual thinkers.”

He talked about two kinds of fear.  Irrational fear and necessary fear.  And how most of our fears are irrational.  He said if a lion is running towards you, you should feel fear and get yourself to safety. That is necessary fear.  But he explained that irrational fears stem from survival patterns that we have ingrained in our daily lives.  Patterns like putting yourself last, trying to control everything, perfectionism, playing small, assuming the worst, doubting higher wisdom, addiction, procrastination, toxic relationships or always needing approval.  Mastin said these patterns create irrational fears that stop us in our tracks. They don’t allow us to get to where we want to go.

And where do we want to go?  If you don’t know, Mastin says you should consider what you daydream about and who you are jealous of.  Those are clues that will help point you in the right direction.  He says if you are scared, you are on the right track.  Fear is leading you to your purpose. So walk through the fear.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Don’t let your fear of what might go wrong stop you from making things right.  Most of the times you are scared, there are no lions running towards you.  So follow your heart.

She was waiting for something to happen

In Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert writes, “Deep in her soul, however, she was waiting for something to happen.  Like a sailor in distress, she would gaze out over the solitude of her life with desperate eyes, seeking some white sail in the mists of the far-off horizon.  She did not know what this chance event would be, what wind would drive it to her, what shore it would carry her to, whether it was a longboat or a three-decked vessel, loaded with anguish or filled with happiness up to the portholes.  But each morning, when she awoke, she hoped it would arrive that day, and she would listen to every sound, spring to her feet, feel surprised that it had not come; then at sunset, always more sorrowful, she would wish the next day were already there.”

Are we all waiting like Madame Bovary?  And what are we waiting for?

Are we waiting until we finish the course, get the promotion, fall in love, have a child, buy a house, or lose some weight?

And what happens with our life while we are waiting for the perfect time or opportunity? The days pass and they are non-refundable.  Each moment will never come around again.

As Barack Obama once said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.  We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek.”

We have to play the cards we are dealt and make a winning hand out of them.  Joseph Campbell said, “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”

So instead of looking off into the horizon, look into the mirror.  What you see there is all you need. Don’t wait another minute.

One small step

For the last ten years, my friends Keegan and Tanya Johnson have been fighting tirelessly to raise funds for and awareness about Prader-Willi Syndrome.  Their firstborn son Dante was diagnosed with this rare genetic disorder as a baby.  One of the many issues that goes along with this disorder is never-ending hunger.  Never-ending.

They were told they would never raise any money for the cause because it wasn’t well-known like cancer. But they didn’t listen.  They raised $50,000 at their first One Small Step walk-a-thon, together with their PWS network they have raised more than $5 million, and they were even invited to the White House by Michelle Obama when they won a video contest.

Beyond inspiring.  Then recently, some of the geneticists they work with came up with the idea to try and reactivate the maternal genes in people with Prader-Willi Syndrome.  This breakthrough could be life-changing.  But the researchers needed a million dollars to continue their quest.

At the 10th annual PWS gala last week, hosted for a decade by Michelle and Manny Cordeiro, Keegan shared their story.  Right down to the current need for a million dollars.

And guess what happened?  An anonymous donor came out of the audience and said he was so impressed with the energy in the room and what the community had accomplished so far, that he would be willing to donate the million dollars needed to keep moving forward.

The specific ask was answered.  It took years of hard work and perseverance by many people to arrive at that moment. But the moment would not have happened if the question wasn’t asked.

As Paulo Coelho said, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Have you decided what you want and have you said it out loud?  Have you committed to taking action?  Even if it’s just one small step at a time?

As Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a million miles begins with one step.”  It’s time to start walking.

Two roads diverged in a wood

It was the Friday before Labour Day weekend.  I was 14 years old.  My parents were working and I was home alone.  The phone rang.  It was an all-girls high school that I was on the waiting list to attend. The woman on the other end of the line said, “You’ve been accepted to start here on Tuesday. But you have to decide right now.”

My heart started beating fast.  I would know no one.  But I heard the school had a lot to offer.  And there was no cost.  So I said yes.

That decision was a trajectory for my life.  I started climbing a staircase even though I couldn’t see where it led.  I could only see the first step.  But because it ended up being such an amazing experience, it gave me courage to continue to take chances.

Five years later when I was MC at our high school graduation I quoted Robert Frost and said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Are you standing at a fork in a road, wondering which way to go?  There is no wrong answer.  The only mistake would be standing still and not starting the journey.

As Khalil Gibran once said, “March on.  Do not tarry.  To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life’s path.”

And Ralph Marston said, “There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path.  Don’t allow yourself to become one of them.”

You have to make decisions every day of your life.  And those decisions help direct you on your journey.  What paths are in front of you now?  And which one will you choose to follow?

Remember what Anatole France said, “If the path is beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.”

Hold fast to dreams

Seventeen years ago, on May 12th, 1999, my then-boyfriend followed me on a family trip to Ireland and proposed at Ross Castle in Killarney.  My cheeks were sore from smiling and I couldn’t wait to begin the next chapter of my life.  It was like a dream come true.

Since then I’ve learned that the marriage is so much more important than the wedding day, that you fall in and out of like and love on a daily basis, and that having kids challenges you to the breaking point and rewards you with epic joy.

Becoming a mother made me more aware of how my attitude and choices might steer those whose ears were listening and eyes were watching.

One day my 10-year-old son said to me, “In my opinion, you are a dreamer and dad is a realist.  But you need both, you know?” “Why is that,” I asked?  “Well because without the dreamer, the realist would never get off the ground.  And without the realist, the dreamer might go too far.”

I think he’s right.  But many of us have too much realism and not enough dream. Dreaming is the first thing to go when life gets tough.  When the focus needs to be on the bills and the meals and the list of things that must get done.

However, dreaming is also what helps raise us up to a better place.  Where we can follow our heart and make a difference.

As Harriet Tubman said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

And Langston Hughes said, “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

The journey I began seventeen years ago has been filled with many different dreams.  Dreams of being a mother, a writer, and an agent of change.  Dreams of becoming more of myself. Every day I try to take one more step in that direction.

What do you dream of?  How are you bringing those dreams to life?  Because as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

The decision to envision

We’re in the process of selling our house right now and as anyone who has moved homes knows, it’s that time when you have to take the story out of your home so that those shopping can envision what their lives might be like under that roof.

Because it’s often a challenge to see yourself living in a space that’s not your own.

In the same way, it can be hard for us to see ourselves living a life other than the one we’re living now.  There are so many things we might love about it, but there could also be things we wish to change.  And it’s hard to see how things might be different if we are immersed in our own story.

For this we need a vision of what the future might hold for us.  Jonathan Swift said, “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”  Do you see yourself earning money another way in the future? Living somewhere else?  Taking part in a hobby or athletic endeavor that you are not doing now?

Picturing what it might look like can really fuel the fire of action.  And action is key. Because as Vance Havner once said, “The vision must be followed by the venture.  It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.”

We think we have so much time.  But the years fly by.  Robin Sharma reminds us, “Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.”  If there is something you want to do, start today.  Start small. But don’t put off starting.

Woodrow Wilson said, “You are not here merely to make a living.  You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.  You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

If you are having trouble seeing your life differently, and wondering how you can enrich the world, remember what Neil Gaiman once said, “The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.  So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”

Slaves of the ordinary

What is the definition of ordinary?  Normal.  Standard.  No special features.

Doesn’t really sound like a goal to me.

Yet many of us accept it as a way of life.  We don’t recognize our special features and we just shoot for run-of-the-mill.

But how can you become extraordinary?  To start with you can be your authentic self. Because there is only one you.  Then you can start connecting the dots in your life and getting creative.  What do you love to do? What is your passion? What problems can you solve using your gift?

As Ken Robinson said, “Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.”

We all have flaws that make us doubt our worth, but those flaws also make us unique.  As Walt Whitman said, “I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am as good as the best.”

And Cecil Beaton said, “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.”

What can you do today that is bold and outside your comfort zone?  What have you got to lose?  You might just add a little extra to the ordinary.

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