Aha! Moments Spotlight

The Malady of “Otherness”

“It’s impossible not to love someone whose story you have heard.” The beloved children’s TV host Mister Rogers carried that quote in his wallet, to remind him of the importance of listening.

“Storytelling + listening can connect residents of a divided city.”

I love the spirit of this! I’d love to cultivate something similar here in Windsor. The very first thing that came to mind is a homeless friend who has been working to organize his colleagues to keep them safer, and to create more respectful bonds and discourse with the businesses downtown who are affected by their presence. “Gramps” and I have coffee when I’m downtown. He’s shared many stories of not only his own experiences (some of them truly devastating), but those of the others on the street. The one that absolutely broke my heart was of a city Councillor who treated a very young panhandler with horrific disdain. I won’t relate the story here, but it made my blood boil, and then got me thinking about how much of this rift continues to exist because of this sense of “otherness”. It’s so easy to look past someone who is different, particularly when their circumstances make you uncomfortable. Poverty isn’t “their” problem; it’s OUR problem. Suffering flourishes when communication fails. This group in Chicago has such an interesting perspective on how to dismantle the malady of “otherness”.

Have a peek at this bit from their project, and then please tap me on the shoulder if you are someone who is interested in finding a way to cultivate something like this in the Windsor area?

Aha! Moments Stories

Unearthing a Vonnegut treasure during National Volunteer Week.

Hey, it’s National Volunteer Week! Thought I’d share one of my favourite examples of servant leadership (and then a handful more below). While it seems Kurt never received a reply, his heart was in the right place, and he sure was humble 🙂 “On occasion, I write pretty well.” (And yes, he actually did write this letter. Archivist Stacey Chandler stumbled across it when she was combing through files at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Vonnegut was 38 at the time, and still a struggling writer.)

You don’t have to be big to make a difference. You don’t need a lot of money, or time, or any special skills. And believe me when I tell you that you get a whole lot more back than you ever really give!

I love volunteering for a bunch of reasons. It gets me out there meeting new people (especially people who share my interests and values). I’ve learned some cool new skills. It lets me pay it forward for the countless things people have generously invested in me. My mum and dad were living examples of how easy it was to get out there and do something that made a difference in the community and how you really were helping yourself along the way.

Some folks may feel inspired to help, but are crazy busy. The great thing is you can do it even if you don’t have a lot of time! Shovel snow for an older neighbour when you’re doing your own (though I hope we’re done with the snow for this year!). Donate some plants to a community garden project when you’re putting in your own, and maybe even get out there and get your hands dirty with the folks doing the same. You don’t need any special skills to help, and there’s something each of us has that we love to do, that can be of use to others.

Want to see just how easy it is, and how much fun it can be? Read on …

Soul Pepper

First I was Afraid …

You’re welcome …

In my defense, one of my favourite tech gurus posted a note in her blog this morning with nothing but the title “First I Was Afraid” … and I instantly had Gloria Gaynor in my heading belting it out. I thought surely she can’t be posting about THAT. She was. This video was the post.

Epic morning kickstart. Now it’s gonna be stuck in my head all day (and yours too), along with this stupid grin that’s plastered on my face. (Admit it: your toes are tapping under the desk right now, aren’t they? You’re having a hard time restraining yourself from getting up and flinging yourself across the room with an air mic. It happens …)

Me thinks a rewatch is in order. Hugo Weaving is brilliant. You just never see Elrond or Agent Smith the same way again. Best. Adventure Diva. Anthem. Evah …

Aha! Moments Stories

Rockstar moment: finding your kindergarten teacher on Facebook.

Just stumbled across my kindergarten teacher on Facebook. It was a rock star moment. Isn’t it incredible the influence they have on our lives? 48 years later, I can still vividly remember so much of what went on in her class, right down to the day she gave us index cards on a steel loop, and told us we could choose a new word to learn to spell each day — whatever word we wanted — and she would write it on one of our cards. I should have known then I was destined to be a writer, because you’d think she’d have given me the winning lottery ticket that day 😀

Confessional

Kitchen Confessional

Kitchen Confessional: an open can of Eagle Brand Condensed Milk is darn near impossible not to eat straight up with a spoon. Am I right? I’m right. (My dad will back me up on this.) Afterall, it’s just a burner and a pot away from Dulce de Leché. True story.

Note the untouched can and clean spoon, a subtle inference that I am actually behaving. (I am not). The Neapolitan Squares will be just fine. Must. Fight. Devil.

Spotlight Tools for Writers

The Clues to a Great Story

So I’m writing a novel. It only took me the first 52 years to make good on the promise I made myself when I was 7 (okay, so technically 45 after that, but who’s counting?), but I’m doing it, and I’m loving it. Along the way, I’ve been gathering the wisdom of elders. The nice thing about the internet is that it makes this really easy to do, picking up advice here, a tool there.

I’m about half way through my journey now, and found that while I still had the fire burning in my belly, more than when I started, I was finding it tougher to know how to move forward in a meaningful way. So I went back to the toolbox I’d been tossing things into on Pinterest, and found a few things to help me get back to the business of falling in love with the story all over again.

One of the things that was really helpful was Andrew Stanton’s TED Talk, and the simple pictogram that accompanied it: “The Clues to a Great Story”.

Click through to add them to your own toolkit …

Aha! Moments Spotlight

Opportunity Makers, Embracing Differences, and Creating Something Meaningful.

“We all want to use our talents to create something meaningful with our lives. But how to get started?”

This is a pretty great invitation, and the one that Forbes columnist, Kare Anderson, gave in her TED Talk back in September of 2014.

We are often confronted by moments of connection with people who really challenge our ideas, our values and our points of view. Shutting the door to that connection may be the easiest and most comfortable thing to do, but there are so many incredible opportunities that are lost when we do that.

One of the things that really resonated with me was a particular observation Kare made about people who are the greatest “opportunity makers”:

“They’re not affronted by differences. They’re fascinated by them.”

Kare issued a resonant challenge:

“To re-imagine a world where we use our best talents together more often to accomplish greater things together than we could on our own.”

Click through to watch Kare’s TED Talk to learn more about the ways you can boost your powers as an “Opportunity Maker”.