Siobhan Kukolic

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

Month: July 2016

Inclusion over division

Inclusion or division.  It’s in the school playground.  The workplace.  Our neighbourhoods. And in election campaigns.  It’s either “we” or it’s “us versus them.”

Inclusion involves seeing everyone more alike than different.  Realizing that no matter what your race, religion, ethnicity, weight, sexual orientation or bank account is most people want the same thing. Health, happiness and someone to love.
There is no doubt that parts of society must change.  There are people who are not being treated equally.  There are people who are abusing authority.  We must find solutions that allow everyone to be heard.  Everyone to feel safe.  But if we assign blame it incites more division.  We need to start small, where we are.  Do good things for those around us.  Don’t be a bystander when you see something unfair.  And use your voice to raise the bar.
Max de Pree once said, “We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity.  We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”
Lead with love and acceptance.  Champion solutions over blame.  As Roy Barnes once said, “We are all one — or at least we should be — and it is our job, our duty, and our great challenge to fight the voices of division and seek the salve of reconciliation.”
In most cases the issue is the system.  But the system doesn’t have a beating heart or a thinking brain. We do.  And it’s our responsibility to make a difference.  As Ryunosuke Satoro once said, “Individually, we are one drop.  Together, we are an ocean.”  Let’s make waves.

You become what you believe

Your mind is so powerful.  It is your key to health, success, and happiness.  As Oprah once said, “You don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.”
I was recently talking to my mother who is battling colon cancer for the second time in four years. We talked about how mindset goes hand-in-hand with medication and surgery. Being in good spirits can go a long way on the path to healing.  If you see the positive side of a situation, you don’t waste any time or energy dwelling on why things aren’t happening another way.  You just move forward.
Our thoughts decide if we will have a good day, a successful presentation or an enjoyable trip.  The window through which we see life frames everything.  Our perspective is so powerful and we control it.
As Henry David Thoreau once said, “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.  To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.  To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
My family has sold our house and the home we are moving to is not ready yet.  So we had to make interim plans.  It can be seen as an inconvenience or an adventure.  An issue or life unfolding just the way it was meant to.  A journey that will teach us things we didn’t know we needed to learn.
As Oprah once said, “Breathe.  Let go.  And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”  You are in control of your thoughts.  What do you want to think about today?

The most magical place on earth

We just returned from a trip to Disney and a few people have asked me for some tips.  So I thought I would share them here.  My kids are ages 13, 11 and 8.

I book months in advance and pay the $200 deposit that can be refunded if you don’t go. That allows you to get the cheapest room in a higher-end hotel while openings exist, and then you can apply the promotional deals that come up to get a lower price as you get closer to your trip.  You don’t have to pay in full until one month before you plan to arrive.
We always get our rain ponchos, pens and autograph books at the Dollar Store before we leave to save money.
The Disney Dining Plan is great if you plan ahead.  I booked our dinners about three months in advance and tried to choose locations near the parks we would be visiting each day.  We had a few meals at double swipe fine dining restaurants which are worth two meal points each.  In those cases I had our boys share an adult meal which saved us two meals for another night.  (Adults are anyone aged 10 and older for the meal plan.)  You can also use two counter service points for a full pizza, two side salads, two drinks and two desserts which is a meal for our family of five and saves us three points for another lunch. And we discovered that snack points can be for a banana or an ice cream but can also be for a Venti Vanilla Bean Frappuccino at Starbucks which is a big treat for our kids.
Our favourite restaurants are Narcoossee’s at The Grand Floridian (if you book a 9pm meal you can watch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom from your table or by the dock), California Grill on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Hotel which gives you an amazing view of Magic Kingdom, ‘Ohana at the Polynesian which is family-style endless skewers of chicken, steak and shrimp along with some luau training, and Teppan Edo at Epcot where Japanese food is prepared table-side.
We do visit the park that has Magic Hours each day so that we can get into the park one hour earlier since we are staying onsite.  For Magic Kingdom we ran straight to The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. For Epcot we ran to Soarin’.  For Hollywood we ran to Toy Story. And for Animal Kingdom we ran to Mount Everest.  Those attractions were well over an hour wait if you didn’t ride them first thing or didn’t have a Fast Pass.
We booked Fast Passes for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood, Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain at Magic Kingdom, and Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal.  Some other things we enjoyed as a family were Peter Pan’s Flight, Mickey’s PhilharMagic and It’s a Small World at Magic Kingdom, Kali River Rapids and Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom, Living with the Land at Epcot, and Star Wars and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular at Hollywood.  The boys and my husband enjoyed the Tower of Terror at Hollywood and Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom.
The phone app is amazing as you can book your Fast Passes in advance or onsite because there is free Wi-Fi everywhere.  This allows you to view your pictures, check your reservations, see your Fast Passes and follow ride wait times during your adventure.
The fireworks at Magic Kingdom and the Fantasmic light show at Hollywood are a must.  
We love the Boardwalk Hotel as it’s a 15-minute boat ride to Epcot or Hollywood, a 15-minute walk to Hollywood, and buses out front take you to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.  Lovely rooms with lots of space for a family of five.
As an adult I am always so inspired that Walt was fired from his first job for having no imagination, lost everything right before he dreamed up a mouse cartoon, and never gave up on his dream to build a special place that would bring families together.  May we all find magic in our own everyday lives and remember what Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Dream on!

Peace for Nice

People young and old were relaxing on the streets after celebrating France’s national holiday.  Full of joy from fireworks shows celebrating peace and unity.  And then a massive white truck barrels down the main road killing 84 people.  Including ten children. Leaving hundreds in hospital.  Many fighting for their lives.

Such hatred for humanity.  For innocent, happy people.

And what can we do?  How many times can we say our thoughts and prayers are with you?

The Dalai Lama once said, “I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying.  But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it.  It is illogical.  God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.  We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony.  If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one.  It is in everybody’s interest.  So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments.”

Although our hearts break for those who lost their lives in Nice, we must continue to lead with love. And do our best in our own communities and neighbourhoods to foster peace and acceptance.

As John Lennon once sang, “Imagine all the people living life in peace.  You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.  I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”

Take a chance and dance

We just got back from the North American Irish Dance Championships in Orlando.  It really taught me a lesson about courage.

I was very proud of both my sons, aged 13 and 11, who competed.  But my 11-year-old gave me a new understanding of how to approach a challenge.  
He was invited to be the 8th teammate in an 8-member-team of more advanced dancers including his older brother. He had never done teams before so his first team experience would be on the North American stage.  Not only would he have to learn the dance, but he would be with championship team dancers who had competed on international stages numerous times. People would be counting on him.
He accepted the opportunity and dove in.  He had a great teacher and the other teammates welcomed him with open arms.  He took feedback at practices and tried his best to implement it.
I knew he was nervous the morning of the competition because he is a man of many words.  And he was very quiet.  
I have competed with the adult teams before and I know how nerve-wracking it can be. One small error can throw the whole team into a downward spiral with three international judges watching.
They got up on stage and I held my breath.  Nervous tears rolling down my cheeks by the end of the dance.  I was so relieved that it was over.  Next we had to see if we would be called to the podium.
We were one of six teams who recalled for a medal.  Then at awards they called another team for sixth place.  And fifth place.  And fourth place.  And finally it came down to two teams including us.  And they called another team for second place.  We were first.  In North America.
The teacher took a chance on him.  He took a chance on himself.  And together with a team of amazing dancers, they reached the top of the mountain.  With hard work and dedication, they did it.
It really reminded me of what Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” 
May we all move outside our comfort zones and embrace the possibility of failure.  It could end up bringing us to places we never dreamed we would see.

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