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

Month: June 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Enjoy the summer from sunrise to starlight

As the summer break has started for some and is hours away for others, I hope we all stop for a moment and feel the sunshine on our faces.  As Darell Hammond once said, “Aaah, summer — that long anticipated stretch of lazy, lingering days, free of responsibility and rife with possibility.  It’s a time to hunt for insects, master handstands, practice swimming strokes, conquer trees, explore nooks and crannies, and make new friends.”

As a child I remember swimming lessons and escaping to the cool basement to watch summer shows on TV. I remember jumping in my neighbour’s pool and going to the beach.  I remember fireworks and reading lots of library books.  But most of all, I remember the sunrises stretching into starlight without structure.  Each day was a new, unplanned adventure.

There is a bit more scheduling these days of course.  But as we plan our trips and dance competitions, cabin rentals and pool side games, I hope we all keep adventure at the top of our list.  When we move outside our comfort zone we end up learning more than we could ever imagine.

As Jawaharlal Nehru once said, “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure.  There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

Our family is off on our own adventure and I’ll be back to chat with you all shortly.  In the meantime, eat the foods you like, spend time with the people you love, read books that will take you away to another world, and try something new every chance you get.  As Omar Khayyam once said, “Be happy for this moment.  This moment is your life.”

If you found out you were dying

I saw an anonymous meme on Facebook this weekend that stopped me in my tracks.  It said, “If you found out you were dying, would you be nicer, love more, try something new? Well, you are.  We all are.”

Death is the one guarantee in life, but obviously we don’t focus on that.  However, when people get a finite answer on their final days, they change.  As Tim McGraw’s song lyrics say, “I went skydiving, I went Rocky Mountain climbing, I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu.  And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and I gave forgiveness I’d been denyin’.  And he said, someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dyin’.”

We all have that chance.  To live each day like it’s our last.  To put love first.  To forgive.  To do the things on our “bucket list.”

If you want to travel, book the trip.  If you want to change careers, check out the programs at college or university.  If you want to change cities, call the realtor.  Just start taking steps, no matter how small.  Do what makes your heart sing.

Aristotle once said, “We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; in feelings, not in figures on a dial.  We should count time by heart throbs.  He most lives who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.”

And Henry David Thoreau said, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

The time is now.  Don’t wait another day to start living.

Irish soccer fans play nice #COYBIG

Sometimes when it comes to major sporting events, fans can get a little out of hand.  But I must say I am proud of my Irish roots when I see how the Irish soccer fans are behaving in France during the Euro Cup. There are video clips showing them singing lullabies to a baby on a train, picking up garbage in a park, serenading a nun with a musical rendition of the Our Father prayer and cheering up a storm alongside fans from countries throughout Europe.

It’s a great example of people celebrating life which made Ireland’s advance into the knockout rounds this week all the more memorable.

Big sporting events like this one bring people of all ages together as they support their country of origin or their family history.

And there are so many parallels between sports and the game of life.  Keep your eye on the goal.  Play hard.  Be respectful to your teammates and to your competitors.  Stay humble when you win and graceful when you lose.

And as Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

So cheer for the players, never forget to take chances and always get up when you fall.

The gift of life

When you are waiting outside an operating room for a loved one having surgery, so much goes through your mind.  You think about how fragile life is.  And how valuable those are who can save it.

When a doctor shakes your hand and says, “The surgery went perfectly.  Everything looks good.” It feels like a physical weight is floating up off your shoulders and you can fly.

My mom had her second colon cancer surgery in four years yesterday.   Although she was scared as she prepared for the journey, she packed the positive attitude that has been her partner throughout her life.

I received emails from all over North America and Ireland throughout the day from people who were thinking of her and praying for her.

The hospital said there was no way she would be able to get a private room, and then just before she arrived on the floor, the nurse said, “This never happens, but a private room just opened up.”

My mom is a retired nurse who took care of so many people during her 40-year career. She often came home from work with her brown-bag lunch in her purse because she didn’t get a chance to take a break. Now it is her turn to be taken care of by others.  Her first nurse after the operation was lovely and told us that the doctor who did my mom’s surgery was named surgeon of the year in the three hospitals in our district.  One of many blessings of the day.

As we rally around my mom to help her heal, it makes me think of what Henry David Thoreau once said, “There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before.”

And what Arthur Golden once said, “Adversity is like a strong wind.  It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.”

May we all relish in our health when we have it, face life’s challenges with a positive outlook, and celebrate the gift of life by living it to the fullest each and every day.

LeBron brings the title home

Last night the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA finals.  Not only was it a close game, but Cleveland made history by coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the series to take the prize.

The Most Valuable Player of the finals was LeBron James.  And the decision was unanimous.

When LeBron was born his mom was 16 years old.  She raised him on her own.  They moved around a lot in Akron, Ohio as she struggled to find work and take care of a child.

In fourth grade, after moving many times and LeBron missing about 100 days of school, his mom allowed him to move in with a local youth football coach who introduced him to sports.

This was the beginning of his rise.

He played basketball during high school and was named USA Today All-USA First Team for three years in a row.  He also appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  His high school’s home games were moved to the University of Akron arena to keep up with the amount of people who wanted to come and watch James play.

He was the first overall pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA draft.  He set an NBA record for the points he scored in his first professional game.  And he was named NBA Rookie of the Year.

After a number of years with Cleveland, he made the decision to move to Miami Heat. This drew fire from many Cleveland fans who felt he had turned his back on his roots.  He won two finals with Miami and then re-joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014.

And then last night, he led the Cavaliers to win the NBA finals.  James said, “I came back for a reason.  I came back to bring a championship to our city.”

The last time the city of Cleveland won a major sports title was when the Cleveland Browns football team won the Superbowl in 1964.

This is a story of struggle, opportunity, hard work and perseverance.  A young boy with dreams who was given a chance and took it.

As William Shakespeare once said, “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.”

Whether it’s winning NBA titles or winning at the game of life, we can all learn from LeBron’s journey.  Anything is possible if you keep your eye on the goal.

Grief falls upon human beings as the rain

I have had a number of jobs in my lifetime.  I was a lifeguard at an outdoor wave pool.  I worked midnights on the line at Labatt Brewery.  I was a writer in an advertising agency where everything was due yesterday.  But the hardest, and most rewarding, job to date for me is being a parent.

Before I had children, I had many parenting theories.  Now I have none.  Even siblings have vastly different personalities, energy levels, talents, food preferences, sleep patterns and behaviours.  There is no how-to manual.  There are many successes despite not knowing what you’re doing and many misfortunes that happen even with the best intentions in mind.

This is why my heart breaks when I think of the young family who lost their two-year-old son to a tragic alligator attack at Walt Disney World in Florida.

They were on holiday at the most magical place on earth.  They were relaxing on the beach after a movie night.  They were right beside him.  They will second-guess themselves for the rest of their lives because that’s what parents do.  I hope they find peace and I pray they only listen to those who have love and support to send their way.  It’s shocking to see judgment arise during a tragedy. But it always seems to creep its way in.

Richard Jefferies said, “Grief falls upon human beings as the rain, not selecting good or evil, visiting the innocent, condemning those who have done no wrong.”

May we stop and hug our children a little more in the eye of the storm that is everyday life. May we remember those who have suffered the unbearable loss of losing a child.  May we judge less and empathize more.  And may we never forget that we’re all doing the best that we can.

Look for the helpers

This week 148 years ago, an immunologist named Karl Landsteiner figured out the different human blood types and named them.  Types A, B and O.  This won him the Nobel Prize in 1930 and has allowed us to save lives using blood transfusions ever since.

This made me think of the hundreds of residents in Orlando who lined up last weekend to donate blood after the horrific massacre at a local nightclub where 49 people were killed and more than 50 people were wounded.

Those giving a piece of themselves to the victims turned their feelings of helplessness into hopefulness.

I grew up watching Mr. Rogers on television.  I remember he once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.'”

Helping brings hope.  And hope is the fuel that gets us through the tough times.  It allows us to picture a brighter day.

May we all continue to help in our own way.  By talking to our children.  Looking out for our neighbours.  And asking lawmakers to keep open minds.

James M. Barrie once said, “We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it.”  Blood in our veins.  Hope in our hearts.  And love in our lives.

Where there is love there is life

What do we tell our children about senseless tragedies where innocent people are killed by those who are troubled?  This past weekend the city of Orlando was bathed in tragedy. First a beautiful young singer was gunned down as she signed autographs after her concert.  Then 50 people were killed and more than 50 people were injured when a gunman opened fire at a night club.

So many lives changed forever.

Devastating for the families.  Heart-breaking for the community.

And what can we do?

We can remind our young people that love is love.  And that hate can be deadly.

We can foster acceptance and we can ask the question, “How can we make things better?”

Albert Einstein once said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

Can we start discussions with change-makers?  With educators?  With people in social services?

We have to keep the conversation going.  For those who lost their lives and for those left behind.

We must come together.  In love.  Against hate.  Because as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Where there is love there is life.”

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are

Joseph Campbell once said, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

I was reminded of this quote as I drove my kids to school yesterday.  They were talking about what they might want to be when they grow up.  Animators.  YouTubers.  Computer Scientists.  Coast Guards.  Artists.

Remember those days when the world was your oyster and anything was possible?

The world actually never changes, but as we get older we think it does.  We lose a little bit of that magic.  We start to listen to the voices that ask us, “Who do you think you are?”

We take the job we are trained for.  We accept responsibilities and pay bills.  We start to think we missed our chance.

But we didn’t.

You can’t change the past, but you can change the ending.  You can still make that dream come true.

Because thoughts become things.  You become what you believe.

Kahlil Gibran said, “Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.”

What is your dream for tomorrow?  And what plan will you put in place to turn your dream into a reality?  How can you change your thoughts to turn challenges into opportunities and darkness into light?

Remember, anything is possible.  Just be who you are.  It’s the privilege of a lifetime.

Sting like a bee

Muhammad Ali was known for his boxing successes, but he also motivated many of us with his ideas about life and how to live it.  
He believed in persevering and standing up for what he felt was right. He didn’t agree with the Vietnam War so vehemently that he refused to fight in it and ultimately was charged and stripped of all the boxing titles he had earned because he wouldn’t back down.  It took four years to win an appeal during which time he was unable to box.  
But he came back to fight and win again.  He said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” 
Do we take the risks we need to take to make our dreams come true?  Do we do the work day in and day out to get there?
Ali said, “I hated every minute of training but I said, ‘Don’t quit.  Suffer now and live the rest of your life like a champion.'”
The seeds you sow today will become the oak trees of tomorrow.  And the best time to plant a tree is now.
Everyone has the ability to be a champion in their own life.  But often we don’t see it. Notice your gifts now.  Focus on them and make them grow.  Victory is within your grasp.
Ali said, “People don’t realize what they had ’till it’s gone.  Like President Kennedy, there was no one like him, the Beatles, and my man Elvis Presley.  I was the Elvis of boxing.”  Yes he was.  But Kennedy battled poor health through his entire political career.  The Beatles worked gigs in unknown bars in Germany for years before they ‘made it’ and Elvis worked as a truck driver while paying to cut his own records before he became an icon.  But they never gave up.  And neither should you.
May we all be inspired to say what we mean and never stop trying to fight the good fight.  RIP Muhammad Ali.  Float like a butterfly.
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