Siobhan Kukolic

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

Month: September 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Dream as if you’ll live forever

Sixty-one years ago today, on September 30th, 1955, James Dean died in a car crash at the age of 24. Most of us have heard of him and have watched at least one of the three movies he made.  Rebel Without A Cause, East of Eden and Giant.

Three movies.  But the mark he made with his stay and his exit is seared in our brains.

He moved us.

Most people aren’t actors on a screen, but they are telling their own story.  They are making choices with their time that define the life they want to live.

What kind of life do we want to live?  Do we want to inspire?  Do we want to love the work we do? Do we want to enrich the lives of those around us?

James Dean once said, “Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live as if you’ll die today.”

Anything is possible.  Start with a dream and take small bits of action to get closer to it.

Each day we live is like the final scene in a movie.  We can’t get it back once it’s gone.  So live in a way that moves people.  Make a difference.  Be a rebel with a cause.

No vote, no voice

Over 80 million people watched the U.S. presidential debate the other night between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  It had the biggest television ratings of any presidential debate ever held.

It was a great opportunity for voters to hear what each candidate had to say about trade, taxes, race-relations, crime, terrorism and the environment.

Voters have to decide between two people with very different personalities and views on how things should be run in government.

Both presidential hopefuls have defeated many other candidates within their own parties to get to this point and a lot is at stake.  Not just for the United States but globally.

The United States is a super power and decisions made at their head table send waves around the world.

It’s good that so many eyes were watching during the debate.  Hopefully that engagement carries on into the voting booth.

As Louis L’Amour once said, “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers.  One who does not vote has no right to complain.”

The election is six short weeks away.  As Rick Mercer once said, “Do the unexpected.  Take 20 minutes out of your day, do what young people all over the world are dying to do: vote.”

Gone too soon

I’m not a big baseball fan, but a story I heard yesterday made me stop and think.

I heard about a young 24-year-old pitcher for the Miami Marlins, Jose Fernandez, dying in a boating accident.  He leaves behind a loving family and an unborn child.

One of the news columns about his life said that he tried multiple times to defect to the United States from Cuba.  The first three attempts did not work out and he found himself in jail.  On the fourth attempt, someone fell out of the boat and not knowing who it was, Jose jumped in to save them.  The person he saved was his own mother.  He ended up in Mexico with his mother and sister and they made their way to the United States. They fought hard to get to a country where they felt they could make their dreams come true. Jose was 15 years old.

He joined the major leagues at age 20 and was the 2013 MLB Rookie of the Year.  A star on and off the field, he helped his team win games and he used his public profile to fight childhood cancer.

And now he is gone.

Jose did a lot in his short life and everyone who knew him seemed to love him.  He chased his dreams and he made them come true.

As Anais Nin once 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.”

May we all have the strength to follow our dreams, no matter how hard the journey.  And may the family of Jose Fernandez find peace.  RIP Jose.

A dealer in hope

We’re finally in the swing of the new school year and as wild as the schedules are, families are starting to get in the groove.

The kids are talking about what they are learning and, of course, parents are happy when their children do well on tests, projects and report cards.
But I saw an anonymous meme on Facebook last week that made me stop and think.  It said, “We need to care less about whether our children are academically gifted and more about whether they sit with the lonely kid in the cafeteria.”
Such a powerful statement.  
Whether it’s the new kid at elementary school, someone with special needs, or those first few weeks in high school when the Grade 9 students are trying to find their way.  It takes a strong, confident, empathetic person to walk over and sit with someone who is on their own.  Someone they might not know.  But don’t we all want our kids to be that person who would make a difference?
How often do we talk about accepting others with our kids?  As often as we discuss math or science?
We all want our kids to learn and grow at school.  We hope they’ll be successful members of society one day.  But we have to remember that sometimes the skills that don’t get mentioned on a resume are the ones that will make them stand out.  That will make them a leader.

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.”  And there is nothing more valuable than giving hope to someone who may have lost it.  You can’t put a price on being brave and kind.

As Anne Frank once said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  One new friend at a time.

The days are long but the years are short

I read the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin a few years back and the one line that really stood out for me was, “The days are long but the years are short.”

As a mom of three, I have never heard a line more true.

When the kids were young, I was dripping in babies and mashed bananas, bouncy swings and diapers.  But we didn’t have too many places to go.  The kids didn’t have friends and schedules, team practices and homework.

Now that they are teens and tweens, it is almost a full-time job to keep them dressed, fed and driven to their commitments.  My calendar looks like a graffiti-filled tunnel under a subway.  The dish rack is always full and the washing machine is always running.

I find myself wondering what day it is.  Or even what month it is when I go to Costco and see decorations for a holiday that I thought we just celebrated a few minutes ago.

But when I stop and take a breath, and listen to the musings of the day, I usually smile or laugh and think, “When did they become my peers?  When did they get such strong opinions?  How much longer will they want to spend time with me?”

Every day is a struggle to get this parenting thing half right.  I am full of flaws and second guesses, but I know my heart is in the right place.  I remind myself daily that we’re all doing the best we can.

As the years fly by, I remember what Charles R. Swindoll once said, “Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.”

It’s the only bank that really matters in the end.

There is no one like grandma

Every other year from when I was two until I was 16 we went home to Ireland to visit relatives during the summer.  The drive from the airport to my grandma’s farmhouse took a few hours.  I always remember the crackle of the car tires hitting the small stones in her driveway when we arrived.  And then around the corner she would come beaming towards us, arms outstretched.  That feeling of welcome and love is something I will never forget.

Although we only had ten visits, at a month-long each, I felt so close to her.  She didn’t have much schooling, but she always had a dictionary in the house when her kids were young.  They didn’t have many belongings, but they all knew they were loved.  She instilled the pillars of strength, faith, and acceptance into my mom and her siblings.  When they all grew up and left to find work in other countries, she prayed for them and waited for the visits home.

And home we came.  My grandma taught me to believe in yourself, to respect others and to always do the right thing.  I still wear the Claddagh ring I bought at Shannon Airport with money my grandma gave me when I was 16.  It reminds me of the love, family and loyalty she represented.

As my mom played dolls with my young daughter yesterday, and then brought her out for a walk by the lake and for a bite to eat, it reminded me of all the gifts women pass down from generation to generation.  And the fact that there is no one like a grandma to show you the way.

Strong is the new pretty

The other day I heard someone say, “Strong is the new pretty.”  I really hope my young daughter’s generation embraces that thought.  That beauty is so much more than a photoshopped image, a dress size, a name brand or a number on a scale.

Beauty is confidence.  Passion.  Empathy.  Kindness.  Bravery.  Strength.

Beauty is being someone who lifts others up.  Who validates the unique journey of each person they meet.  All while letting their own true self shine through.

As Coco Chanel once said, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”  Because there is only one you.  And you have so much to offer the world.

May our young girls always remember that their strength is their beauty.  Their strength in standing up for what they believe in.  In helping those in need.  In persevering to make a difference.  In getting up when they fall.  And although life can be tough, the strength they have inside will get them through.  As Ernest Hemingway once said, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

Embrace that strength.  It is what makes you beautiful.

Sifting through crisis

The other day I heard blogger and author Glennon Doyle Melton explain that the root meaning of the word crisis is “to sift.”  And like a child sifting through sand at the beach for seashells, during a crisis everything unnecessary falls away and you are left with the treasures.  All that you need can’t be taken from you.

I thought that was so powerful.  During a crisis, whether it’s about health, finances, relationships or something else, it can seem like the end of the world.  Like nothing is right and life will never be the same again.

It probably won’t be the same again, but it will be a new normal.  And those challenges are what make us grow.  Make us do things we never thought we could.  Make us become more of ourselves.

John F. Kennedy once said, “When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”

We will all face hard times in life.  Many of us will spend moments at our own personal rock bottom. But that will be where we learn some of our most valuable lessons.  If we remember to sift through the chaos and find the person we were meant to be.

The day that changed us forever

It was my first day of work on a four-month contract in the communications department of one of Canada’s biggest cities.  The entire staff was doing an off-site training on what to do during a communications emergency.  They left me and the receptionist back at the office.  It was Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.

I was on the phone with a client when the first plane hit.  We both assumed it was a two-seater.  An accident.  Then we heard about the second plane.

I thought of Osama bin Laden right away as I remembered the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.  Fear gripped my heart even though I didn’t know how awful it would be.  That the buildings would fall.  That so many people would lose their lives.

I remember being glued to the television and feeling like nothing would ever be the same. How could we as a global community move past this day?  How could evil have that kind of access to innocent people?

But then I also saw the heroes.  The people who ran in when others were running out.  The love shared between those who spoke to each other for the last time.  The people who came to Ground Zero to search for survivors.  Or for the belongings that might bring a shred of peace to those left behind.  I saw the air traffic controllers who safely landed thousands of planes.  And the people in small towns who took in diverted passengers and gave them comfort.

We all stood together on that day.  We felt the pain.  We cried in disbelief.  So many lives were changed.  And our hearts broke for those who were suffering.

May all the people affected by that terrible day find peace.  And may we work towards solutions to build a world that has no place for hatred.

Travel light

Glennon Doyle Melton is a blogger who recently wrote a book called Love Warrior.  Oprah was so impressed after reading it that she picked it for her book club.

Glennon calls herself a truth teller and she says that the truth splits us in two.  This really resonated with me.

She said there is the side of us that smiles and says everything is fine.  But often a different story is playing out inside.

And if we don’t live our truth, the truth will be told through addiction or bulimia or violence or betrayal or breakdowns.  Our actions will share the words we aren’t saying.

Robin Williams once said, “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

We’ve been trained to go through life carrying our burdens, second-guessing our actions and judging ourselves.  We don’t tell our truth because everyone else seems so put together.  We don’t want to look like the odd one out.

The thing is, we’re all more alike than different.  George Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

As hard as it is, we should try and let what’s inside out.  What people share on social media are the best of times.  But the worst of times are lurking just out of view.

Glennon Doyle Melton said, “I don’t want to take anything to the grave.  I want to die used up and emptied out.  I don’t want to carry around anything I don’t have to.  I want to travel light.”

May we embrace our authentic selves today and remember to always travel light.

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