Shared Experiences

One event with multiple people can produce countless views and very different opinions. A sporting event, a concert, or an annual community picnic can elicit the same amount of complaints as praise.

A family wedding can stir up gossip, hearsay and a few drunk relatives who somehow believe their loud words can’t be heard.

Unfortunately, the bigger the crowd, the greater the chance the overall experience is described more with grievances than appreciation.

How can such a beautiful wedding, with delicious food and gorgeous decorations become a toxic environment?

Recalling events I try to remember more of the good than the bad, because I would rather remember the occasion as beautiful and not ugly. During my recollections I began thinking of all my one-on-one experiences I have shared with total strangers. Like the time I stepped out from the mall and found my car was covered with a blanket of snow!

As I began clearing my windows with my jacket sleeve a few other surprised shoppers arrived at their cars that were parked close to mine. We all chuckled as we tried our best to clean off our cars. One remarked, “Who ordered this? It’s only November.” The other replied, “Ya, it’s not supposed to snow yet! Who the hell’s been praying for snow?”

These words the others spoke clearly sound disgruntled, but I can assure you, they were said with a playful tone, a pleasant attitude and were accompanied with infectious laughter.

Before any of us left the parking lot we checked with one another to see if anyone needed a hand, then we bid our farewells and wished one another a safe trip home. This was a ‘shared experience’ I will never forget, yet I have no idea who these people were.

We had plenty of reason to complain. None of us were prepared. We were all under dressed and were wearing inadequate footwear. We were cold, wet, and caught off guard – yet together, we made it an enjoyable moment.

I hope you get the chance to share joyful and memorable experiences that you too can cherish forever.

The Vaccine So-Called Tracking Device

There is a lot of information out there and it can get confusing. I know a lot of people don’t like vaccines in general, and I would never want to push anyone into doing anything that made them feel uncomfortable.

I got it, my choice, and yes I was hesitant at first – I felt it was rushed. Then I learned that this virus had been on scientists minds and lab tables for decades. Around the world thousands of scientists were studying its make-up.

When Covid-19 began to spread, scientists from all over the world quickly collaborated by sharing their data. It was years of research, not just a few days worth. This was not a mad-scientists-around-the-world-evil-comic-book-style-master-plan to infect the world. It was a way to find the cure for a virus that caused a pandemic.

When the vaccines were ready to be shipped out a special barcode tracking label was put on every box. Why? The vaccines needed to be stored at a specific temperature. Similar to, but more sophisticated than, the packages you are able to track as the products you ordered online are on route to your home.

The boxed up vaccines were shipped in freezer-style containers and went by land, by sea, and by air. And sometimes they took all three of these routes in order to reach their destination. The delivery driver could easily scan the box barcode and know the temperature of the package to assure it’s safety.

So, if my suspicions about the vaccine being rushed, was wrong. And others’ suspicions of a tracking device were misunderstood. Maybe there are other suspicious ideas floating around in cyberspace.

Flexing My Muscles

Trying new things seems to get harder with age, especially when it comes to high-tech gadgets and gizmos. But I knew I had to bite the bullet sometime. And late, is better than never.

Since March 2020, Covid has prevented me [understandably] from going into the schools to promote my books. I patiently waited over a year for an opportunity to do Author Reads of my children’s book; Did You Call For Me?

Not knowing when that day may arrive, I knew I had to look at other avenues. And today I can say that I have achieved success! [Well, that’s what the website told me, so I am taking their word for it]

I managed to create an e-book and uploaded it onto the kobo online bookstore.

After uploading my children’s book, I went straight to work creating an ebook of my short story; Forever Green. Forever Green should be available on August 12th.

So if I can manage to do that – then You too can step out of your comfort zone and try something new!!

~ I hope this inspires you

Heads Up!

“Chin up.” Is an old expression adults would say to kids who were feeling sad or disappointed. It was an attempt to lift the child’s spirit out from their misery.

Likewise, “Put your head down!” teachers would say when they wanted a child to focus on their work.

Heads up vs heads down. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Lately I find myself having to tell myself to, “Get to work! Focus! The job won’t finish itself.” [ I sound like my old cranky teacher. ]

I am easily distracted. Always have been. I like to look around and observe things. And I have noticed, I really enjoy thinking about what I have observed and am eager to comment on it. This is great for starting a conversation, but having my head up looking around all the time is not so good when I have projects that need my attention.

I know when I do put my head down and focus solely on the work at hand, I can accomplish things and feel a sense of satisfaction.

I also know, having our heads down all the time can narrow our vision. We don’t see much beyond our own work, or our own thoughts. Constantly keeping our heads down while sitting at our desk can lead to a dissatisfied humdrum state of existence.

I spent an entire year with my head down. My father passed away when I was a teenager. I recall the ‘woe is me’ feelings. Most of those days I was in my room with my head down having no interest in anyone or anything – it was a dark time. “Chin up!” was not what I wanted to hear.

It took some time, but I eventually started to live a normal life again. I grew tired of that closed off feeling of sadness – I was eager to feel joy and appreciation.

The isolation of Covid has reminded me of those dark days.

I think we all need a little time with our heads down to feel and acknowledge our pain, sorrow, and sadness, so we can take the time we need to heal before we can focus on the things we want to accomplish.

And we all need a little time with our heads up optimistically looking around to refresh our stale point of view so we can leisurely enjoy and appreciate the newness of the day and the people around us before getting back to work.

Here’s hoping your days allow you to see amazing sights when you look up, and I hope your work brings you satisfaction when you look down [or possibly up] at what you have accomplished.

~ Cheers

A Penny For Your Thoughts

After we joyfully make a wish and playfully toss a penny in a wishing well we curiously watch where it lands before we walk away feeling satisfied.

It isn’t long before distractions consume our thoughts. Long line-ups at the check-outs, noisy traffic, the neighbour’s cat clawing at your garden, etc.

As days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into years we wonder where the time went and worse, we question what we accomplished in all that time.

A feeling of dissatisfaction looms overhead urging us to want more out of life. We focus our attention on strategies and plans. How can I get ahead? Where can I find the career I want? When will I be able to enjoy my life?

Then we remember that wish we made years before. We can still picture that penny resting on the bottom. We put so much hope, enthusiasm and excitement into that penny – then we walked away.

Just remembering the moment stirs joyful memories and boosts our spirit. Oh the satisfaction we could feel if that wish were to come true.

If we truly want to thrive, then we need to put our attention and energy on the things that we already know will bring us joy and satisfaction.

Make a wish, toss a penny and then work toward making that wish come true.

~ I hope this inspires you

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.