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 …

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 😀

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”.

Adventures Aha! Moments Spotlight Stories

The Lost Art of Letters

My friend Ed Vielmetti has a lovely practice. He sends postcards to friends on a regular basis. He told me about this when I first met him more than a decade ago at one of Jerry Michalski’s soul-changing retreats. I thought it was a wonderful way of reviving old fashioned letter writing on a micro-scale.Continue Reading “The Lost Art of Letters”

Adventures Aha! Moments Stories

Spontaneity is an Adventure Diva’s Best Friend

I’ve been thinking about a moment riding the bus, when a mother boarded, pushing her son in a stroller. As she stopped to pay the fare, the toddler looked straight down the aisle, and hollered “Hey everybody! How ya doin’?” The entire bus erupted into laughter, and in an instant the invisible cord that hadContinue Reading “Spontaneity is an Adventure Diva’s Best Friend”

Adventures Aha! Moments Soul Pepper Stories

The objects of my affection.

30 years ago I was a very young woman on a very big adventure. Traveling West through several provinces on business, I was treated to a night up in the mountains at the Banff Springs Hotel. My colleagues and I were dining at a table next to the Calgary Flames NHL hockey team, who hadContinue Reading “The objects of my affection.”

Aha! Moments Soul Pepper Stories

Tiny Stories

I try very hard to collect memories instead of trinkets these days, but there is a small handful of touchstones that help me keep in view what is most important. Some years ago this antique locket on a watch fob utterly captivated me. The small glass globe parts in the middle, with a picture displayedContinue Reading “Tiny Stories”

Adventures Aha! Moments

With a little help from my friends …

Tonight was the first time I went out in public with the new business. I didn’t sleep much last night, worrying about what it would be like to share it with strangers not knowing how it would be received. I had no idea how is indelibly cool it was going to be to connect withContinue Reading “With a little help from my friends …”

Adventures Aha! Moments Stories

Relish the reverence of little things …

Note to self: relish the reverence of little things, and be grateful when the universe conspires in your favour. I’ve been a single girl for a little more than 3 years now, and the perfect hermit. Tonight is the first time I’ve been brave enough to go solo to a social event. I nearly talkedContinue Reading “Relish the reverence of little things …”