Tag Archives: people skills

Do you know what makes you special?

majesty roseYesterday, my favourite contestant on American Idol, Majesty Rose, got eliminated. She left us all with a powerful lesson about remembering what makes us special.

When she first came on the show, she showed off a quiet and angelic voice. Her sweet tone, which was like no other, was memorizing. As a result, she was listed among the favourites.

Three weeks ago, she must have decided that to win, she had to compete with the big voices of the other contestants. Each week I would go back, hoping to hear her angelic gift, once again. She would show it for a little; but never stopped trying to match everyone else. While everyone else got better at being who they were, she got worst at being who she was. She didn’t know the value of her special gift. As a result, her journey on the show ended.

I too forgot my specialness, and tried to be like everyone else. As a result, I nearly lost my life. Now I focus on doing what I love, and with love. I write, speak and lead from my heart, regardless of what others may think. It was knowing what made me special, that enabled me to write my book. Check out these comments from my editor.

What about you, do you know what makes you special? Are you sharing your specialness with the world?

Sometimes We Just Need to Slow Down

Sometimes we do everything we can to finish a project; yet there is always something stopping us.  In cases like this, life may just be showing us that we need to slow down or ease-up, to see the gift it is offering.

This is the case with the book I’ve been trying to complete forever! I posted the cover. A trusted friend said the cover needed improvement; so he referred me to another gentleman, who has experience in graphics and layout. After going over my book, that man told me “you’re not done yet!”

In setting a mood for my story, he noticed my strong desire, yet minimal effort, to include graphics and visual art. Real art work is something I had avoided because I have petty much no talent for drawing. Plus, I made it up that it was hard to find someone to do it, and this would slow me down!

I finally realized that I had to slow down, for this amazing story I am telling is not my story! I only had to see that I was not alone, decide that I really wanted quality art and layout, and reach for what I wanted, for the people I needed to show up. 

This experience helped me realize that this is a story of the many people, with whom I joyously serve, and spread love throughout the world. It is the story of the artist, the editors, and many others who are on my team; people who are helping me tell our story to the very best of my ability. It is a story of the divine force that have taken me where I am, and give me a reason for living, for creating. 

I am now looking at early April for our completion date. Regardless, the date is not all that important, for I have slowed down to enjoy these finishing stages and the awesome people with whom I am taking this journey.

May You Gain Much From Your Suffering in 2014

Our suffering not only gives us opportunity to find our greatest selves, it gives good the opportunity to find us. However for this to happen, we must embrace our inevitable difficult times.

Today at the YMCA,  I received my greatest gift of 2014 from this mentally challenged young lady, who I see quite often. I saw her for the first time last year, when I caught her staring at me, noticing my obvious limp. I looked back at her and smiled vividly and lovingly. However, the reaction I got almost knocked me off my feet. My beaming  ‘I love you’ smile must have caught her by surprise; for she quickly whipped her whole body around, with a look of tearful horror on her face! I felt compassion, and gently walked away with the same smile plastered on my face. Perhaps it was because of my own disability that I understood her, without really knowing what I was understanding.

Since that day, every time I saw her, I would smile at her as though we were friends. Over time, the look of horror turned to a look of puzzlement to a look of blank interest. Today, I smiled at her again and was greeted with the most brilliant wonderful smile! She was glad to see me!

If I had not gone through my own suffering, I would not have done what I did to get that wonderful blessing from that girl. I would not have been the vehicle to help her find the faith that caused her to express a knowing and confidence in the spirit of love that I was offering.

This year, I hope your inevitable times of suffering tremendously increases your love, understanding and compassion for those who are differently-abled. May you be blessed.

Loving the Cycle You’re In

cycles of lifeThroughout our lifetime, each of us goes through various different cycles. For example, there is the cycle of playing or fun as we see in youth or children, or other cycles such as learning, prosperity, struggle and healing. Many would say that some of these cycles are good and some are bad. I say all cycles are good, and the seemingly bad cycles may in fact be the best times of our lives.

Since my stroke in 2007, I have been going through the cycles of struggle and healing.  Though this journey has often been painful, fearful, lonely and impoverished, it has also been the most beneficial of my life.  I am talking specifically about the amazing spiritual shifts I continuously make.

This past week I realized that in my effort to see things as positive, I was not living my life in full embrace of my financial reality. That is to say, as a result of the stroke, my bank account was depleted. Furthermore, since my work benefits ran out, I was forced to go on government disability, which pretty much puts me below the poverty level. My biggest lesson was in pretending that I was still living a normal middle-class lifestyle. I needed to accept and embrace my reality, in order to escape my own perception of being in a shameful cycle of poverty.

Only recently did I become aware that I no longer needed to pretend or run away from shame. I realized that if it weren’t for my poverty, I would not have worked so hard in the development of creative ways for people to have access to the information, support and inspiration they need to live well and go after what they want most in life.

My hope is that my current cycle of healing will take me through poverty to prosperity. However, while I am still on the journey, I will love the many opportunities it provides to grow myself and the world.

Do you love the cycle you are in?

Making People Wrong

wrongYesterday, I made some people wrong and I am glad I did it!

It started with my niece. I was in a store and tried on a beautiful pair of brown flats. I liked it, but I did not want to buy it. My niece said “I like it better than the ones you are wearing.”

When she said that, I felt really hurt, and became self-conscious. I was wearing a pair of sandals, which not only does a good job of helping me walk with my disability, I love it. So I told my niece that her comments were hurtful. Unfortunately, my making her wrong only served to make the air between us as thick as mud.

Later that day, I listened as a family friend chastised my unmarried brothers, for not giving my mother any grand kids. Like a ferocious predator, I jumped into the conversation and blasted him for not mentioning what I believe should come before kids, which is marriage or a committed relationship. That brought us into a long discourse of making each other wrong.

As a result of these incidents, I have decided to make people right. The alternative is to make people wrong, which kills off loving conversations and friendships in a world where building strong relationships are essential to personal happiness and successful living.

If I had a do-over with my niece, I would say “I like the shoes too but it’s not feasible for me to buy it right now. With your fashion sense, perhaps you can show me how to make my sandals work better with my wardrobe.”

With individuals like my family friend, I will work on keeping my mouth shut, so I can appreciate the value of what they are saying. If I add anything, it would be to ask a question, such as: “where do you think marriage and commitment fit with having kids.”

I used this more positive way of being today. On my way to the gym, my Mobility driver took me 30 minutes out-of-the-way to drop someone off. In my head, I was drafting the complaint letter I would write to York Region Transit, and I was ready to mouth-off to the driver. Then my heart said ‘make people right’. So I emptied my mind, kept my mouth shut, and gave thanks for my ride. As a result, I had the most uplifting spiritual conversation with the driver.

‘Making people right’ works!

Finding Good in Situations Disguised as Bad

This morning, like a brewing storm, I approached the mobility van (service for persons with disabilities), enraged that the late driver gave me only an impossible 15 minutes to get me to my yoga class.  After a long-faced, hypocritical hello, I stepped up into the van, to the sound of blasting dance music. As I placed my fuming bottom onto the back seat, I noticed the paraplegic young man, almost motionless beside the driver, in front of me, in his motorized wheelchair.

At first I didn’t take much notice of him or the pouncing music. The negative bickering in my head was so loud that it was deafening my ears and eyes to everything else. Then a voice in my head said:

“You know anger is not going to get you to the class any quicker, or lead to anything good, for that matter. Find the good in what appears to be the worst of situations.”

I then widened my lips into a smile, which then moved like a virus throughout my entire body, and perhaps even into the air beyond me.  The delicious R&B music caressed my ear drums and compelled me to rock my entire body, in my seat.

My gaze was then drawn to the young man. He was bopping his head, and stretching out his left hand as he rhythmically danced to the beat of the music. He was having a ball!

Minutes later the young man reached his destination. With just his head, he powered his chair, slowly backed it up, turned right and travelled out of the van. Afterwards, the driver told me that he is almost completely paralyzed below his neck. Yet every time he picks him up, he insists on moving himself, requests rocking loud music, and dances his head away!

Then the driver took the 407 highway, an express toll road normally not allowed, and got me to my class on time!

The Beauty of Being Ugly

According to Dove, women are their own worst beauty critics. They write:

Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. At Dove, we are committed to creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.

Yes I think I have an ugly face! But here’s the good news. Make-up, dyes, and anti-wrinkle cream can make many of my flaws disappear; at least make me delude myself into thinking no one can see them.

Sorry Dove, no anxiety here! I have confidence, not in my looks, but in my abilities and the Force which never ceases to get me what I need. And yes, my family and friends see me as more beautiful than I see myself. Therefore after a while they don’t even see or care about the ugliness that has become my “BFF.” Thus I can face the world believing I am ugly, but also carrying the energy of beauty, the energy of confidence, the energy of success!

Seeing People as Trees: The Power of Self-Appreciation

You know those long-lost friends from your childhood or youth? After 30 years, I found one, or should I say, she found me!

I was as gleeful as a kid, until that is, at the end of a wonderful email, she wrote “I will be glad to hear details of your life.” My stomach sank! My misfortunes, I thought, are incomparable to her life accomplishments.

Just minutes after this un-welcomed thought entered my mind, the following email from Ram Dass, plopped in my inbox.

Words of Wisdom

… you go out in to the woods, into the forest and you look at trees and you appreciate trees. You don’t say that tree is good and that tree is bad because one tree is fat and one is thin and one is tall and one is short and that one is bent and one is straight (unless you’re in the lumber business!) For the most part, you just look at the trees and you appreciate them the way they are. They are what they are. And you can appreciate them.

But the moment you get near humans – it’s interesting that you immediately go into a judging mode. You come in to ‘better’ and ‘worse’. And you do that out of your own insecurity. You do that out of your own need constantly to be reassuring yourself. So you’re saying, that person has more hair than I do, or you find dimensions constantly judging, and equating, “am I as good as, am I equal to, am I as good a mother, am I as beautiful a woman, am I as effective at this, a worker,” whatever it is, whatever dimension, and you get caught, constantly living in a judging realm. And if you start to practice seeing people as trees, in the sense of just appreciating what they are, including yourself, you’re just starting to appreciate yourself.

These words compel me to appreciate what my life experience has called me to be, for I am like a tree, whose amazing value can be compared to no other tree. I needed this message. What about you?

Finding Solutions: The Gift of No Cause

I got fired from my job. Management said “there is no cause!” I had a catastrophic stroke. Doctors said “we can find no cause!”

I choose to embrace this wonderful thing called ‘no cause.’ In blocking the reasons for my calamities, it focused me on the solutions which impact the world.

I choose ‘no cause’ as the reason my cousin shot himself; for I could have died, had I searched for the answers which died with him. Instead I commit to opening my heart even wider, so that I can act when my loved-ones are in need.

I choose ‘no cause’ as the reason a sixteen year old member of my church family died of brain cancer, for I could have been immobilized by pain, had I searched for the reason God had to take her. Instead, I commit to living my life so that I can act upon the change that she inspired me to be.

I choose no cause for all the cruelties I see in the world, for I could be overtaken by their darkness, if I try to understand evil that I do not want in me. Instead I commit to shining my light of kindness, even to the meanest in my world. And if I impact just a single soul, I have done more that I could ever do with a world full of causes.

What So Great About Getting Older and More Vulnerable?

For the first time, I am able to admit an awful truth! Over the last few years, I have often felt old, ugly, and a failure. Following my stroke, I awoke to the disheartening fact that I was not only disabled, but perhaps more tragic, I was getting old!

marigold hotelI received a wonderful aha moment when I watched the movie ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, which was about a group of retirees, who moved to India to save money, and end up finding amazing new life! I listened over and over again to the character Evelyn, as she spoke the magical words which follow, and I felt as though she was speaking directly to me.

There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it, only a present that creates and builds itself as the past withdraws.

As those words seeped inside my being, I became like the characters in the movie, for I too was finding new life. I began to willingly let go of my past, my youthful strength and physical attractiveness, and I found myself like a piece of vacant land, cleared of its vigorous trees, ready for the building of some great creation. Among my building materials were the post-stroke gifts I found in myself, acceptance, faith, forgiveness, selflessness and vulnerability.

I am creating the acceptance of me. I am building the emergence of true beauty, wisdom and strength amidst age and vulnerability!