All Roads Lead To Here

So many young adults are struggling at the fork in the road. Which way should they go? They feel an urgency to decide today what their destiny will be. I had a discussion recently with someone and it seemed to alleviate some of this pressure.

I told them I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school either. So I got a job as a cashier in a pharmacy. I was hoping I could save money for art college. I learned some skills [through lots of trials and plenty of errors] and they learned a few things about me. They saw I had the ability to draw. Within a year I was offered a job in head office illustrating products for their monthly flyers!

Computers were brought in to the art department. We were stunned. How on earth are we supposed to use these to create flyers? If you are familiar with type-setting machines and cutting red ruby you could imagine my concern. I find it amazing how quickly you can move past your own resistance to change when you start to see all the advantages of using new methods, new techniques and new technology. A willingness to consider and try something new is a key to expanding your horizon.

A night course in graphic design earned me a diploma. However, when I had reached the cap to my salary – meaning they were not willing to increase my pay. I had to decide, do I stay here knowing I will never again get a raise, or do I move on?

I got a job at a print shop. Again, a lot of trials and plenty of errors – but I learned, and I was good at it. A “Temp” began working with us. He was a student who needed to work in the print shop to complete his degree. He was also taking a night class in classical animation – it wasn’t long before I signed up as well.

Before I had completed the course I was offered a job in their studio! Yup, I leaped at the chance. Fast forward to being married and with a child on the way I had to make a decision. Do I stay home to raise my child, or do I go back to work to make money to pay a stranger to raise my child? It was a no-brainer for me.

As a stay-at-home-mom, I began doing editorial cartoons for local newspapers. I volunteered at my children’s schools. I got involved in dinner theatre. I joined a writers’ group and before long, I started writing my own plays.

Looking back at my timeline it is easy to see that the skills I have learned over the years have all been pointing toward my destiny. But I didn’t get here on my own. I didn’t decide this would all happen. There were plenty of people along the way who deserve the credit. They were the ones who offered the jobs, taught me the skills and told me about opportunities I never would have known about.

We can’t decide our future until we step out into the world and explore what it has to offer. The preferences we have help us to choose what we like and don’t like. Dentistry? Veterinarian school? Art college? Our own interests can lead us to open doors where we meet people who will guide us to new places.

Today I write and illustrate children’s books. It is easy to see how all roads lead to here. But I know there are more roads that lay ahead.

I don’t think everyone needs to make a weighty and permanent decision today of what their future will be. Who knows what tomorrow may bring? I truly believe small daily choices will help lead you to your destiny … and beyond!

~ I hope this inspires you

A Sense of Self

We are all aware of the five senses we humans have, and some believe there is a sixth sense that we possess, but I think I found another – a seventh sense!

We feel, we taste, we smell, we see, we hear, and sometimes we know we know something without really knowing why we know it. We don’t always make a comment about these things we feel, taste, smell, see, hear or know. We may notice them with a smile, or a frown but they seem to come and go like a gentle breeze. I wonder if that’s because another sense takes over – the sense of self.

I could be wrong, but I started to wonder if the sense of self, and how it interprets the sights and sounds, overpowers the other senses.

I think therefore I . . . lose the beauty of the rose and it’s amazing fragrance because I thought about it more than I simply enjoyed it.

If we put our sense of self aside and placed our whole attention and appreciation on the rose, would it look more beautiful, would it smell more amazing?

I believe it would.

The next time I am out in nature I am going to try to see, feel and hear more of my surroundings, by accepting and appreciating things as they are, and try to think and interpret less.

~ I hope this inspires you

A New Beginning

I discovered my method of doing things has not been working out too well.

I procrastinate when I don’t want to do something. And I stubbornly forge ahead when I do. This only leaves me dissatisfied. And what do grumpy dissatisfied people naturally do? They complain and blame. “Well if it wasn’t for …” “If I had more time I could have …”

I started listening to my complaints – trying to find out where I felt the most disadvantaged, or unable to accomplish what I wanted to do.

And in my pondering, I recalled reading something about a Greek God, referred as the Wounded Healer. He had the ability to heal others, but was unable to heal his own broken leg. This left him both physically damaged and spiritually broken. He lost faith in his own abilities.

But his story didn’t end there. He, in his brokenness, had decided to heal others. He had a tremendous amount of compassion for others who were suffering similar physical and spiritual injuries and this drove him to help where ever he could. And in helping others, he helped to heal himself.

I can’t tell you if this story of the Wounded Healer is a myth, but I find the lesson it offers life-changing.

If you need a job and can’t seem to find one, try helping someone else find one. If you are unable to write your novel, try helping someone else get started on theirs. Whatever it is that you are struggling with, help someone else who is experiencing the same.

The results are always the same; when we take the focus off our own pain and suffering and we reach out to help someone else, our attitude changes from negative to positive, our thoughts turn to helping someone get out of their misery rather than re-living our own misery, and lastly, going to someone else’s aide gives us a sense of purpose.

~ I hope this inspires you

Exploring the Superhero’s Story

Recently, while working on a comic-book, I completely zoned out while drawing and found my mind drifting toward the ‘average’ person in a story, and began relating them to ‘everyday people’ of today.

Their identity was my main focus. Prior to becoming a Superhero most of these super-heroes-to-be have an identity that is flawed and not very appealing.

The best stories make us root for the ‘reluctant hero’ – the main character who is forced into a situation where they are obviously uncomfortable. The audience is on the edge of their seat hoping they will succeed – but they can’t – not quite yet – it can’t happen until they change their identity. They have to become the Superhero. This is their journey – their ultimate quest – to discover what they are capable of, and to find out who they really are.

That’s when I had one of those eureka moments. I was considering anyone out there who is struggling, feeling like an underdog, feeling frustrated and under-appreciated. Can the outline of a typical superhero story inspire them to discover themselves and become their own superhero?

We all have an identity; a mom, a dad, a sibling, a student, a clerk, a taxi driver, etc. And with this identity [label] are habitual routines – we get up at a certain hour, we repeat our day [for the most part] and go to bed knowing the next day will be more of the same. This, although can be boring, it is also familiar. Anything that is familiar brings a sense of comfort and security because we know what to expect.

But a routine is how we get caught up in a robotic and dissatisfying style of life. It’s not living. It’s getting by, or in some cases it’s merely existing. In many situations, we aren’t even trying to become more – we’re just hoping more will come to us.

To add to the dreariness of hum-drum, our days are often layered with a hidden, or rather, a not fully acknowledged, frustration. This frustration stirs a deep-seated irritation or a secret desire for more – but we feel stuck, trapped, unable to move out of, or overcome our current situation.

Believe it or not, it’s our identity that can be our own worst enemy, or nemesis. It keeps us stuck. We are attached to it. The more we come to resent our circumstance, the more we search for a reason or another person to blame. “They won’t let me, he won’t help me, she took that from me …” We feel helpless and alone which makes us cling more to the one thing we have that we think we can rely on – our identity.

This is the spot where almost every superhero movie begins. It’s the point of frustration – where the hero-to-be just can’t take any more bad news. They have had such a stream of bad luck and we seem to meet them for the first time when they are most vulnerable or at their worst. Their situations vary, maybe they discover they are being sued, or they are suddenly jobless, or homeless. These unexpected situations forces them to act, to do something. As much as they may feel inadequate or incapable, their desire for more is stronger than their willingness to surrender.

But you and I don’t have to wait for that ‘unexpected situation’ to happen, we can begin to make improvements now. We can start re-directing our own movie now.

Moving into a new situation can be scary. We are not familiar with anyone or anything. We know we’re going to stumble. We will make a few mistakes – that is the natural process of learning. But once we learn the ropes, and get a grip on our new situation, we will slowly start to feel a bit more comfortable and a lot more confident. But this is usually the time when our identity can sneak up on us and get in our way.

Just like the heroes in the movies, we too arrive at a new location or situation with our Old Identity. These old habits, attitudes, and preferences can be our downfall. They can do more damage than any villain out there. We can’t be the hero to our own movie if we are out all night getting plastered, or gossip all day about our co-workers, or spend all our money on foolish things rather than be responsible and pay the rent.

Reflection period; like in the movies when the hero finds themselves still struggling with old issues, they go off on their own; to drink; or to go back to their childhood home; or visit a grave site to reconnect with their past before deciding how they want to move forward.

We also need to examine our identities. We need to see what is working for us and what no longer helps us. We need to be clear about what we want to do and where we want to go. What matters to us? What is our deepest desire? That desire is the key to our happiness – it’s the cape – it’s the superhero’s secret identity. We need to figuratively don our invisible superhero cape and become the person we want to be.

But wait. We can’t simply buy a new wardrobe and show up at our new job trying to be someone we don’t identify with. The disconnection between our real identity and the wanted identity will prevent us from gaining any ground. We can’t become what we want to be until we explore who we truly are, and take responsibility for our current situation.

Half way through the movie the real journey begins when the hero decides to overcome their current situation. They confront their ‘demons’ and they use all the lessons they learned from their mistakes and mis-steps to their advantage. They make a conscious effort to move forward and they willingly accept the task / the mission, knowing there will be a few risks involved.

The old identity never disappears completely, there are benefits to every experience the hero has lived through – but the new identity has new attitudes, new experiences and new perspectives that serves the superhero’s new situation much better and the chances for success are much greater.

You don’t need a new wardrobe, a new car or a new home to become a superhero – all you need is a good attitude and the willingness to become more than your old identity.

~ I hope this inspires you

March on Washington

Imagine the soothing voice of Morgan Freeman reciting this to you. [I have to ask you to imagine his voice because I wouldn’t know how to contact him – lol]

May the words of both Martin Luther King Jr., and Congressman John Lewis, echo in our minds and remain written in our hearts.

Recent news has been filled with doom and gloom. And for this reason, I will continue to pray for peace and ask that we celebrate the lives of black men and women all around the world who have shared their gifts of oral speech, teaching, music, literary, sports, poetry, philosophy, dance, art, architecture, journalism, fashion, cooking, interior design, glass-making, pottery, radio broadcasting, medicine, judiciary, film, photography, and so much more. Let’s honour those and show our respect for every black hero who has served their country in the various departments of police, fire, military, first aide and rescue.

There is one bad story to every ten thousand good stories. One bad apple does not taint the whole tree. If you live outside the big cities and have very little contact with people of other races do not believe the few news segments is representative of daily life. Instead, consider all the people of colour you have invited into your living rooms over the years. These are people we all admire, appreciate and thoroughly enjoy. And if given the chance – would want to meet. Don’t let ‘the great divide’ taint your heart.

Regardless of the various fields people specialize in, ie; entertainment industry or sports; morals, values, principals and standards are at the core of us all. We all speak out when we are hurting inside. Out-spoken-ness about what one believes in, should not be silenced because others feel it is outside their specific field of expertise.

LIFE, is the one thing we all have to live through. And, in this field, in which we play, we are all amateurs.

Still No Mail

I don’t understand how a lack of money can be the reasoning behind the mail’s delay. I, and everyone else, have already paid for a service I/we did not receive. We all have to pay for postage before our mail will be delivered. If there is a back log of mail – there is also a back log of money stashed somewhere. If the issue is because Amazon and other businesses alike, haven’t paid the post office – again, I have to say, we have to pay Amazon before they will send our products. So Amazon and other businesses alike need to forward our prepaid fees to the post office so I/we can get my mail.

Where’s My Mail?

Typically, I receive my products in the mail within 5 business days. My order was shipped out [via mail] from the United States four weeks ago and it still hasn’t arrived. I can’t sell what I don’t have. And I am growing impatient.

I can’t help but consider if there may be some truth behind the new U.S. Postmaster collaborating with Trump to stall the mail. Slow it down so mail-in ballots will get lost in the mail. And, if the mail is too slow, people will eventually turn to other forms of delivery. And, coincidentally, this new Postmaster happens to own [or is connected to] more than one delivery service that could replace the US postal service. How convenient.

More vetting is necessary to assure there aren’t personal goals behind a businessman’s interest in the Postmaster position. Common sense causes me to consider this simple thought; if a businessman, who is invested in multiple businesses that involves delivery services, makes a trade deal – oops – I mean, donates excessive money to a campaign no doubt in the hopes of one day receiving a favour, such as, the position of Postmaster – wouldn’t it be to his benefit to slow down the mail delivery.

This slower than snail mail is affecting businesses who are already facing difficulties. Bills are not being delivered. Prescription medication is not being delivered. Products are not being delivered. Birthday cards, personal letters, legal documents, everyone is waiting for mail. Who is going to step in to assure the U.S. Postal Service hasn’t been secretly hi-jacked by a businessman whose own personal business competes with the Post Office?

Who Dun Its

I love a good conspiracy theory. JFK has to be my favourite. So many questions – so many layers – so many possibilities. Every angle has been explored – every theory put to the test – but still no definitive answer has been accepted. But then again, accepting an answer would put an end to the conspiracy theorists’ search.

Pondering is good – it allows us to explore the recesses of our minds. It helps us to delve deep into a topic – and if we are able to achieve the impossible; make 2 + 2 = 5; we experience an euphoric AH-HA moment that instantaneously empowers us. It’s the exhilarating affect that comes from breaking the code – unlocking the door and discovering the secrets!

There are many conspiracy theories out there. And though they are fun to explore, ponder and discuss – they can also create division among friends and family. Many people obsess over puzzles, spend fortunes searching for treasure and worse – lose themselves in the search.

If I told you a purple elephant was spotted in India, and I assured you it wasn’t hand-painted, and that it’s actually purple. And that it is the last of its kind and it is being protected in an undisclosed location. The search would soon begin. You would tell a friend, and then they would tell a friend. Questions would arise. What? When? Where? How? WHY? Someone would find a person who is familiar with this purple elephant, and they would claim to know where the purple elephant is being kept. And, like every conspiracy theory, during the initial search more information would be discovered, and before long this spider will grow more legs and suddenly it will become known to all that several unique animals – never known to us before – are being kept in a secret enclosure in a remote location.

If, in a years time from now, you were to come to me and tell me about a purple elephant that is being held in captivity, I would in-turn tell you it’s not true. My rejection may cause you to become defiant and hostile. And in protecting what you believe to be true, say something that could possibly end our friendship.

This is what some conspiracy theories do to people. The true believers are all in. Nothing can change their mind.

Experience – actual first-hand experience – is what we need to base our beliefs on. Information off the internet can be collected, gathered and recorded – but it is only information. Some of it may be true and a lot of it may be false.

To truly know something – we have to experience it first-hand. Otherwise, it is just a lot of information we learned from other people. A good example to use is the conspiracy theory around JFK’s assassination; unless we were there, on the grassy knoll in Dallas, when the shots were fired, any information we may have is just that – information. Some true, and some false. Everything else is based in suspicion and speculation.

Pondering is good. Exploring ideas is good. Investigating theories is good. Searching for information is good. Being concerned about something and deciding to look in to it is good. … But obsessively believing in something we don’t truly know whether it is fact or fiction just doesn’t seem practical or logical.

Some conspiracy theory believers have turned their backs on family and friends. Some will protect their beliefs with such passion that they make everyone around them feel uncomfortable and fearful of the erratic and unpredictable behaviour being displayed. They have chosen to believe in an unproven topic rather than those to which they are most familiar; their family. When clinging to an idea is more precious and valuable than holding on to loved ones – it’s time someone intervenes.

It is sad that a theory; an unproven thought – something we can’t see, hear or touch, can take the place of – or preference over – family and friends. This is the damaging affect some conspiracy theories can cause. Safely guard your beliefs. Our beliefs represent our morals, our values and our standards. They are precious and are all based in love. Any other form of belief is a falsehood – it is based on suspicion, judgement and fear.

Paddling Upstream

Paddling against the current gets you Nowhere, fast.

When the desire is strong, tunnel vision strengthens the will to over-power the ‘current’ situation. Determined to overcome the challenge, beat the odds, and win the battle, only exerts excessive energy that is no match to the force that resists all efforts. And the longer the struggle, the greater the chance of capsizing the canoe. [Hope you’re wearing a life-jacket.]

Paddling upstream seems to be the preferred choice for most leaders. They continue to stubbornly aim for their own personal goals that dramatically affects the masses. This is not an effective way to govern.

We are in a pandemic – a global pandemic – this is a time to stop and think effectively – not strive against the natural force of a virus. Or worse, deny it exists. This is a time to work together – it has to be a team effort. We all have to be on the same page in pursuit of the same goal; to eradicate the virus, not pursue personal goals. Being bored; sitting at home wishing you could travel, party, or gather with friends, is better than being in the hospital on a ventilator, or worse, dead.

What good is an economy if no one has a job? What good is a school if there aren’t any teachers who want to teach? What good is a hospital if we don’t have doctors or the proper medical equipment that is required during a pandemic?

If you own a business, find a way to operate without having multitudes of people walking through your doors. Give your employees incentive – allow them to be creative with new ways of doing business. Offer commissions. Offer bonuses. A business can’t run itself. Your staff is relying on you as much as you rely on them.

And if you are a CEO of restaurant chain and have stopped buying the products from the farmers you contracted to provide your meat, vegetables and dairy products – break the contract – allow those farmers to sell their beef, their grains and their milk to local vendors instead of forcing them to dispose of it because they are not allowed to sell to anyone but You. You didn’t buy it – let them sell it. There are people who are hungry and you are forcing farmers to pour out their milk!! Shame on you.

If you are a Principal of a school, or a Dean of a college or university, consider this; School Concerts – School Plays / Recitals – Code Red – Fire Drills – Schools have effectively coordinated programs before – it’s time to prepare another. Teachers lead students single file from the classroom to the auditorium during performances. And Teachers lead students single file outdoors during a fire drill. START TREATING THIS VIRUS LIKE A FIRE DRILL! Stay alert at all times and be prepared to act. Any school who opens their doors during a pandemic is inviting the virus to spread.

If you are a political leader, Health Care is not your forté. Get out of the canoe because you don’t know how to paddle in these waters. Your efforts have placed a greater burden on the struggle. And it is affecting all of us. Know when to give the paddle to someone who is actually qualified to get you safely to the shore.

What you do affects me. What I do affects you. Paddling upstream is getting us Nowhere, fast. We have to work together before we all tip the canoe. And if we refuse to wear a life-jacket [mask] because we feel it is a hindrance in our struggle to get upstream, we are all sure to drown.