Siobhan Kukolic

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

Month: August 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Queen of hearts

I still remember exactly where I was standing.  We were camping and we were gathered around the fire pit.  Someone put a radio on and there was breaking news.  Lady Diana had died in a car crash in Paris.

I actually felt like I knew her personally even though we had never met.  I woke up early as a 9-year-old girl to watch her televised wedding to Charles.  Her flowing dress.  The massive cathedral. The carriage ride.  It was magical.

And as I followed her life, I saw that she always led from her heart in a royal world of pomp and circumstance.  She shook hands with an AIDS patient when other people would not. She snuggled with orphans in foreign countries making sure they felt her love.  She walked in mine fields to bring attention to those losing lives and limbs.  She snuck out of the castle at night to talk with homeless people on the street.  And I will never forget when she brought her two young sons to Disney World and they lined up for rides just like everyone else.  No special treatment. Because she wanted them to know that they were human before they were royal.  After watching William and Harry grow up, I think she did an outstanding job as a mother.

I cannot believe it’s been 19 years since she passed on.  Some would say she was lucky to live such a gifted life.  But she always struggled to feel the love she so graciously gave.  And she was hunted by the Paparazzi until the day she died.

Diana said, “I think the biggest disease the world suffers from in this day and age is the disease of people feeling unloved.  I know that I can give love for a minute, for a half an hour, for a day, for a month, but I can give.  I am very happy to do that.  I want to do that.”

Let us remember Diana by following in her footsteps and making others feel validated, worthy and loved.

Diana said, “I’d like to be queen in people’s hearts but I don’t see myself being queen of this country.” She definitely succeeded in being queen of our hearts and may she rest in peace.

The present moment is so underrated

I heard someone speaking on the radio last night who said that the present moment is so underrated. That is very true.  Especially when that moment is not what you want it to be. If the frame isn’t what you pictured, you barely notice the beautiful scene in front of you. You are focused on all the reasons it’s not looking like you thought it should.

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, once said, “I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I still had a daughter who I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

Her mom had passed away, she was raising a child on her own without work, and she was trying to write a story. Not knowing if it would ever see the light of day.

The one thing she knew for sure is what she had in that moment.  And she used that knowledge to rise up from the ashes.

We all have moments like that.  Where we can make a choice to see all the things that are wrong or focus on all the things that are right.  And that one decision will make all the difference.

As Voltaire once said, “Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.”

Are you ready to be free?  The choice is yours.  No one owns your thoughts but you.

The same cancer as Terry Fox

A friend of mine is helping run our local Terry Fox Run/Walk/Wheel.  I met her last night to give her a donation for the silent auction and she told me a story.

Each year, they have someone speak at their event who has been helped by cancer research.  For many years, the speaker for their event has been a girl named Erica Scarff. She was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, the same cancer as Terry Fox, at the age of 12.  She underwent chemotherapy and had to have her leg amputated.  She has now been in remission for seven years and is a 19-year-old university student studying Kinesiology.  
The first time she spoke at the walk she was in a wheelchair.  The next time she was on crutches. And this year she won’t be able to make the event.
Because she is competing at the Paralympic Games in Rio in the Paracanoe competition!
She is alive because of the run that Terry Fox started.
Terry Fox is one of my all-time heroes.  He started a journey when no one was watching. Sleeping at the side of the road in a van.  Now he has been gone longer than he was here and people are still walking and running in his name.  In countries around the globe.
He turned his tragedy into hope and he changed the world.
Terry said, “When I started this run, I said that if we all gave one dollar, we’d have $22 million for cancer research, and I don’t care man, there’s no reason that isn’t possible.  No reason!”
To date, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $650 million.
Thank you Terry, for showing us that everyday folks can be heroes.  And good luck to Erica as she represents Canada at the Paralympic Games.

Where does fear come from?

Where does fear come from?  Expectations?  Feelings of inadequacy?  Comparison to others?

Societal norms are set because a lot of people act the same way.  And then if you act differently, you are judged which leads you to judge yourself.  You fear you are not doing things correctly.  You second guess.

But as Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Because fear can paralyze you.  It can cause you to think so much about what could go wrong, that you don’t spend time taking action on things that could make it go right.

You let issues pass without making decisions and then time passes, too.

Being different than the pack is not something to fear.  It is something to embrace. Because as Steve Jobs once said, “People who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones that do.”

They walk through the fear.  And find solutions.  Make peace.  Blaze a trail.

So what are you scared of today?  And what can you do to walk through that fear and make the world a better place?

No dress rehearsal, this is our life.

The Tragically Hip is a Canadian band that has written the soundtrack of a nation for 30 years.  The front man, Gord Downie, is a poet who through words conjures up memories of cottage life, first loves, Canadian histories, mysteries and grace.

A few months ago, Gord announced that he had been diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. And he would say good-bye to his fans with a 15-date final tour.

This past weekend, the country stopped in its tracks.  The national television network, CBC, aired the final concert in the band’s hometown live and commercial-free.  The country’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was among the thousands of fans inside and outside the venue, along with countless others watching from coast to coast.  In pubs and on backyard decks.  In stadiums and in parks.  All for one tragically hip man.

It was a flashbulb memory for a country.  The answer to the question, “Where were you when?” will be shared for years to come.

And the reason it touched so many?  It’s the bravery.  The authenticity.  The lyrics.

Gord sings, “I saw the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time.”

“No dress rehearsal, this is our life.”

“I’ve got to go.  It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.”

He was Canada’s Shakespeare.  He lived his dream.

At the final concert he shared that thirteen people attended the band’s first concert.

Well, a nation attended its last.

Gord once said, “I have no illusions of the future.  Or maybe it’s all illusion.  I don’t know.  I’ve always been ready for it.”

God bless you Gord Downie.  For your courage, your grace and your unbelievable storytelling.  We will never forget The Tragically Hip. #InGordWeTrust

https://donate.sunnybrook.ca/braincancerresearch

No one is you and that is your power

Today I saw a quote that touched me.  Dave Grohl once said, “No one is you and that is your power.”

Very true.  The strongest aspect of your résumé is you.  Your thoughts.  Your experiences. Your imagination.

You are the only person who has travelled your specific journey.  And on the way, you saw things and heard things and learned things.  You met people who helped you grow.  Who challenged you.  Who questioned you.  Who loved you.  And all those experiences made you see life a certain way.

Your viewpoint, when partnered with creativity, could find answers. Create inventions. Cultivate solutions.  Inspire others.

So the moment you feel lost, and wonder what your purpose is, just look in the mirror. Your purpose is you.

As John W. Gardner once said, “True happiness involves the full use of one’s power and talents.”

Use your power.  The world is waiting for all the epic things you will do with it.

Where there’s tea there’s hope

For me, turning on the kettle has a relaxing quality about it.  The sound of the water boiling.  The teabag resting in the ceramic cup.  The clanging of the spoon as it stirs the milk and sugar.  Maybe it’s because tea was the drink of choice in my house growing up.

As Roma Downey once said, “Growing up in Ireland, when my family received important news, good or bad, we would boil water and make tea.  It was the first thing I did when my father died in 1984.  This ritual allowed me a moment to take in the enormity of what had happened.”

For others it’s a walk around the block.  Or a snuggle with a four-legged friend.  It could be turning the pages of a great book.  Or a long, hot bath.

These are all ways to reset ourselves.  To symbolically “count to ten” before we react to the world around us.

Refueling our mind is an imperative step that we owe ourselves as we move through life. It’s the path to clarity and perspective.  Acceptance and peace.

And it’s the only way to live our best life and offer our gift to the world.  As Wynonna Judd once said, “You have to fill your cup.  You then give away the overflowing, but you keep a cupful for yourself.”

As you face the struggles and challenges that are inevitably part of life, always remember to take a moment for yourself.  And put the kettle on.  Because as Arthur Wing Pinero said, “Where there’s tea there’s hope.”

Not getting what you want could be the best thing that ever happened

How many times in life are we disappointed?  Upset that things didn’t go the way we had planned? And then as time passes, we realize that not getting what we wanted might have been the best thing that ever happened to us?

Life is full of twists and turns, ups and downs.  If we can temper our expectations and go with the flow, it is a lot easier to handle.

Know that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.  And while you are waiting to catch a glimpse of that light, remember what Don Miguel Ruiz said, “Always do your best.  Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.”

And one of the things you can always control is your attitude.  As Allen Klein once said, “Your attitude is like a box of crayons that colour your world.  Constantly colour your picture gray, and your picture will always be bleak.  Try adding some bright colours to the picture by including humour, and your picture begins to lighten up.”

Here’s to accepting what is and hoping for the best.  And never forgetting that life is what happens while we are making other plans.  The only thing we can do is live in the moment, continue to work hard to make our dreams come true, and always reach for the brightest coloured crayons in the box.


You are the champion of your life

I had not heard the name Penny Oleksiak before this week.  A 16-year-old swimmer from Toronto competing at the Olympics.

Her mom said in an earlier interview that Penny always goes for it right until the end of a race.  Even when she is behind.  And Penny said that no matter how she placed at the Olympics, if she tried her best, she would be happy.

Wise words from someone so young.  Then she started competing in Rio.

She won two individual and two team Olympic medals.

She also made history.  The youngest Canadian to win Olympic gold.  The first Canadian woman to win gold in the 100 metre freestyle swimming race. The first Canadian to win four medals at a single summer Olympic games.  The first Canadian to win an Olympic swimming gold since Mark Tewksbury won it 24 years ago.

And the best part?  She was in 7th place at the half way mark for her gold medal-winning race.  That is second last.  But it didn’t stop her.  Because the only person she swims against is herself.

Most people don’t end up at the Olympics.  But we can all be champions in our own lives.

Simon Sinek said, “Champions are not the ones who always win races – champions are the ones who get out there and try.  And try harder the next time.  And even harder the next time.  ‘Champion’ is a state of mind.  They are devoted.  They compete to best themselves as much if not more than they compete to best others.  Champions are not just athletes.”

You might feel like you are last in the race of life right now.  You might be doubting whether you have it in you.  But know this… you have everything you need right now to win.  Just get in the pool. And swim like no one is watching.

Congratulations Penny.  You are a golden inspiration for us all.

The simple life

I noticed while packing up to move that you put a lot of stuff into boxes that go “into the basement” or “into storage.”  And to be honest, I don’t know if we would notice if we never saw those things again.

That’s a lot of unimportant stuff.
We all accumulate things over the years but it truly made me realize that you don’t need much to be happy.
If I could go back and talk to my younger self, I wouldn’t have bothered with the fancy silverware or the crystal glasses on my wedding registry.  I would have focused on the everyday things.  Because those everyday moments are what make up our lives.  Those Tuesday night dinners or those drinks on the porch.  But we sometimes think that life is about those “special” moments we are striving for. The vacation or the promotion or the new car.
Joseph B. Wirthlin once said, “The more often we see the things around us – even the beautiful and wonderful things – the more they become invisible to us.  That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds – even those we love.  Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.”
As I continue on this journey, I hope to have less “in storage” and focus more on living life simply. Noticing all the beauty and love right in front of me.
Steve Jobs once said, “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity.  Simple can be harder than complex.  You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.  But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
Let’s focus on what’s important and move mountains together.
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