Siobhan Kukolic

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

Month: November 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Growth or fixed

I read an article the other day about fixed versus growth mindset and the way we raise our children. It basically explained that if you believe your mindset is fixed, you are as ‘smart’ or as ‘creative’ or as ‘ethical’ as you are ever going to be.  You are born with a set amount of intelligence and character and you have to work with the hand you are dealt.  The growth mindset is the idea that your brain is flexible and can change with experience and mistakes and lessons.  That you can increase the amount of connections in your brain and grow your potential.

If you believe in the fixed stream, then you might be afraid to ask a question you don’t know the answer to because your goal would be to prove your ‘smarts’ not show your weakness.  If you believe in the growth concept, you want to find answers and fail because that is how you will increase your knowledge and your life intelligence.

Thomas Watson once said, “Would you like me to give you a formula for success?  It’s quite simple, really.  Double your rate of failure.”

Are we comfortable with failure?  Do we ask our children what challenges they face and how they deal with them or are we just concerned with marks?  Do we want them to memorize or think critically?

And as parents and adults are we willing to try something new?  Something we might not be comfortable with?  Are we living on the edge or are we sitting in our comfort zone?

Gilbert Keith Chesterton said, “How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win.”

Do we see failure as a stain on our character or a step towards success?  If we are open to growth and willing to lose, anything is possible.

Going with the flow

I saw something the other day that made me stop and think.  It said anxiety is a result of not accepting that where you are is where you are supposed to be.

It’s like swimming against the current in a river.  You’re working so hard and getting nowhere.  But if you just relaxed and went with the flow, you would get to the same destination with much less stress.

So many times we second guess ourselves.  Why are we doing this job?  Why are we with this person?  Why did we get this illness?  What did we do wrong?  Maybe we did nothing wrong and we are in the exact right place to learn the lessons we need to learn to prepare us for the next chapter.

Once we make that decision, everything can be seen through a new light.

Charles Spurgeon said, “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”

Our thoughts rule our life.  They decide whether we see the glass as half full or half empty. They frame our outlook.

Wayne Dyer said, “The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs.  You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it. There are only people engaged in stressful thinking.”

As we enter a season that many find stressful, how can we stop and breathe and decide that all is as it should be?  As Aesop once said, “A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.” The most valuable gift you can give to yourself and to others is peace of mind.

All love begins and ends there

Nine years ago today, at 6:05am, I became a mother for the last time.  A little sister to her two older brothers, she was a beautiful, pink, squealing delight.

I didn’t know it at the time, but she would change everything. The family dynamic, the energy and the love.

Becoming a mom transforms you forever.  Your heart walks around outside your body.  You cry when they have no one to play with in the school yard.  And you burst with joy when they share their gifts with the world.

My mom is the single most transformative figure in my life.  Her eyes always light up when I walk into the room.  She loves me unconditionally.  She supports every decision I make.  And she reminds me that I have something unique to offer the world and I can never give up.

I hope I can be half the mother my mother is to me.

Robert Browning once said, “Motherhood:  All love begins and ends there.”

As my children grow and face new challenges and opportunities, I hope they know how much I love them.  How I’ll never forget the gift they gave to me when they chose me to be their mom.  And how I’ll be thankful for the rest of my life.

Find out who you are and be that person

Yesterday President Barack Obama gave out the Presidential Medal of Honour, the highest civilian medal, to a number of people who have made a big impact on our culture.  People like Bill Gates, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jordan, Robert De Niro, and Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live to name a few.

Actors, athletes, artists, leaders and game-changers.  The recipient who stood out the most for me was Ellen DeGeneres.

A big hearted comedian who entertains millions daily with her talk show.  Ellen blazed a trail for so many years ago when she shared who she loved on Oprah and on her sitcom Ellen.

She was at the pinnacle of her career, but shortly after she shared her truth her show was cancelled.

Ellen said, “I had everything I’d hoped for, but I wasn’t being myself.  So I decided to be honest about who I was.  It was strange:  The people who loved me for being funny suddenly didn’t like me for being… me.”

She was heartbroken and devastated but she marched on.  Her actions changed the world and started a discussion that is still going on today.

Ellen said, “Find out who you are and be that person.  That’s what your soul was put on this Earth to be.  Find that truth and everything else will come.”

How many times have we kept our own truth inside and felt like an imposter?  How many times have we opened up and been shut down?  How many times have we got up and kept going, hoping that the light at the end of the tunnel would be visible soon?

Ellen makes people smile and laugh on a daily basis.  She earned a well-deserved medal of honour from President Obama yesterday and she shows us that being true to yourself is the only way to live. Thank you Ellen.

Roots and wings

When I became a mother almost 14 years ago, I didn’t think about high school.  I was so focused on feeding and bathing and figuring out how to raise this little bundle of boy. Now, he is picking his courses for Grade Nine.

I have no idea where those years went.  Two siblings joined him and I became a whirling dervish of laundry and groceries and swimming lessons and hockey and dance.

I have some flashbulb memories.  Like my middle guy and I having the stomach flu on Christmas day.  Our first trip to Disney.  My oldest guy singing at an Open Mic at age 7.  My daughter starting Grade One.  The boys’ Irish dance team winning the North American Championships.

But I also remember the routine of homework and dance after school.  The weeknight dinners.  The conversations in the van.  The excited sharing of report cards and projects and birthday invitations.

I hear that the high school years go by really, really fast.  So I have to brace myself now because I know that driving cars and moving out comes next.

My only hope is that they always remember to be brave and kind.  That they follow their heart and their moral compass.

As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children.  One of these is roots, the other, wings.”

May all our children soar to the highest heights and remember that they are always welcome home.

It takes a long time to become young

A gaggle of Grade 4 girls celebrated with my daughter for her 9th birthday last night at a trampoline park.  The squeals of delight, the contagious laughter and the boundless energy filled the night with happiness.  To be nine.  When opportunities are endless, there is always a game to play, and imaginations soar.
There is something to be said about living life as an adventure.  Of squeezing every drop out of every moment.  Of finding joy in a game of tag or a make-believe world.
Somewhere along the way the game of life makes us too busy for games.  We may still be running, but we’re running to keep up.
We might find ourselves back in a place where we can see that daily joy again, but it’s often in the sunset of our lives.  As Pablo Picasso once said, “It takes a long time to become young.”
But why not start sooner?  Why not start today?
Sharon Draper once said, “Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall.  It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events.  Joy comes in sips, not gulps.”
May we take in sips of joy each and every day.  And as Greg Anderson once said, “Focus on the journey, not the destination.  Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
Live each day like it’s your 9th birthday party and be young for the rest of your life.

Good days and bad days

There will be days when you think that everything is going the way you had planned.  You feel successful.  And there will be days when you feel like you can’t do one single thing right.  You can choose to embrace both kinds of days, but whatever you focus on will grow.

Oprah once said, “What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it.  Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.”

If we are thankful for the lessons we learn on the days we fall down, and grateful for the people who love us even when they don’t agree with our point of view, the goodness in life will grow.

People who “make it” in life almost always share that they didn’t know what they were doing when they started.  And they didn’t know what to do next many times along the way.

Gilda Radner said, “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”

What do we know for sure?  The sun will rise and life will go on.  There will be good days and bad days.  But no matter what, the goodness in us is always there.  We just have to remember to see it.

I only try to dance better than myself

We just got back from the Eastern Canadian Irish Dance Championships where my three kids competed in solos and teams.  A whirlwind weekend of costumes, warm-ups, performances and awards.

Some people have asked me how I can spend so much time and money on dance and I explain that I’m not paying for dance.  I’m paying for the life skills that come with it. Dedication, perseverance, getting up when you fall, winning and losing with grace.

There were so many beautiful stories that came out of this weekend, including a few girls that we know well who qualified for Worlds for the first time after many years of trying. Talk about a flashbulb memory.

How many times in life have we felt the load was too heavy and the finish line was too far? How many times have we thought we weren’t good enough?  How many times have we heard others tell us we were crazy because we weren’t doing what they felt was the right thing to do?

In dance and in life, you have to move to your own beat and realize that your only competition is yourself.

As Mikhail Baryshnikov once said, “I do not try to dance better than anyone else.  I only try to dance better than myself.”

And that is the only way to win the championship.

We build too many walls

On this day in 1989 history was made when the Berlin Wall fell.  Twenty seven years later we start the day learning that the United States has elected a president who spoke of building a new wall.

The ‘experts’ said it couldn’t happen.  But it did.  Millions voted for the winner.  And millions of others did not.  The only thing we can hope for now is unity.  As Isaac Newton said, “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”

No matter who is leading the most powerful country in the world, we each have a choice to be kind. We can all treat those around us with acceptance, love and respect.  That will never change.

We must lead with hope and not fear.  Because we are all in this together.

As Jens Stoltenberg once said, “When autumn darkness falls, what we will remember are the small acts of kindness: a cake, a hug, an invitation to talk, and every single rose.  These are all expressions of a nation coming together and caring about its people.”

Let’s build a bridge to a new day paved in kindness and respect for others.  And then cross it together.

Learning it firsthand

The other day on the drive to school, my 13-year-old talked about something he was working on.  He said he had to explain whether it was firsthand or secondhand learning.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

He said, “Well, secondhand learning would be when someone teaches you a math formula. They have figured it out and are explaining it to you.  Firsthand learning would be when you have to learn it yourself.  Like riding a bike.”

That made me think about life.  How many times do we learn things firsthand?  Do we try skydiving or mountain climbing or a new style of dance?  How many times do we go for it even though we might fail?  Embracing the thrill of ‘getting it’ all on our own?

And how many times do we ‘take someone else’s word for it’?  Whether it’s the way things go at work or at school or on a committee?  How many times do we assume that the person who has the microphone is right and has more to offer than we might?

To squeeze the most out of life, we need to tip the scales towards firsthand learning.  Give things a chance, try something new, and get up when we fall.  It’s the only way to grow.  As Heraclitus once said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

Remember that feeling the first time you got the pedals working and flew down the street on your bike, wind whipping through your hair?  Me too.  Now what new thing can you learn firsthand today?

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