Posts Tagged ‘passion’

The town of Cateura, Paraguay, is built on a landfill. Residents sort through the garbage to find items that can be sold. One day an orchestra director and music teacher came to town to teach children how to play violins and flutes. But they didn’t bring enough instruments for all those who wanted to play.

The town’s scrap dealers found a creative solution to the challenge. They built violins, violas, guitars and horns out of junk found in the landfill. The music that emerges from these recycled instruments rivals the greatest orchestras in the world.

As the orchestra director points out in a video about the project, it’s a valuable lesson in recognizing the potential value in much of what we consider to be “garbage”. It’s also about recognizing the value of every human being, the potential for growth and passion that exists in each one of us, regardless of where we live and the circumstances in which we live.

May you and your family enjoy the blessings of  good health, shared joy, and beauty this holiday season.


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I recently read an interview by Rana Florida with Andre Agassi, the former tennis star. In it, he was discussing his views on achieving success. I was delightfully surprised to notice how his approach echoes the Dream Bigger philosophy.

For Agassi, it’s all about relationships and connecting with people who share your values. It’s also about focusing on something bigger than you, going beyond your own wants and needs.

“When I realized that I wasn’t born to play tennis, that I was made to play tennis, I searched for other things to which I felt more deeply and emotionally connected. Like education. I then made tennis part of that work. Anyone can do this with any job. If you don’t love the task at hand per se, make it about your family, make it about serving others, make it about simply being conscientious. Make it about something other than your own fleeting wants and needs, work at it with everything you’ve got, and then stand back–the results will be magic.”

He emphasizes the importance of having a support system, at least one person who understands you and is there for you, through the moments of success and the challenges of failure. He stresses that having a mentor (counselor, teacher, coach, friend) is vital and even more important than the amount of time you invest in perfecting your skills.

Agassi also points out that it’s about the experience – the process itself – not the end goal. He suggests that, by being present to what’s unfolding, you will find peace. He says that peace, not success, is the ultimate goal of any undertaking.

But, don’t take my word for it! You can read the rest of this inspiring interview on HuffPost Business.

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Last week, we spent time on our sailboat with my son and his girlfriend. I haven’t seen my son for over two years because he lives in Hong Kong now, so every moment together is precious to me. We sailed (even though the wind didn’t always cooperate), anchored and swam off the boat, had meals made in our tiny kitchen, and slept docked at the Port Dover Harbour Marina at night.

One day, as we sat on the boat having breakfast, a sailboat motored past. My partner pointed to the name on the back of the boat – “Livin’ The Dream”. I looked at the people on the boat and thought, “Wow, they certainly are living their dream.”

Later that morning as we walked into town to check out the Friday the 13th motorcycle event. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, every Friday the 13th, motorcyclists from all over North America roar into the tiny beach town of Port Dover. It’s been going on since 1981 and this year marked the 54th event. It was a big one, given that it was July and the weather was perfect. Organizers expected about 200,000 people this year.

There were motorcycles of every size, shape and colour imaginable (even pink!) filling the streets of the town (which were closed to other vehicles). Lots of Harley Davidsons naturally. I even saw a few Indian motorcycles. While I don’t know a lot about motorcycles, I do recognize passion when I see it, and bikers are passionate about their bikes.

Indian motorcycle at Friday the 13th in Port Dover

I spoke to one biker who’d come down from the Yukon in northern Canada. He said he’d been planning to come for several years. It’s a long way to come for just one day, but it was worth it to him. He was living his dream.

I’ve since realized that, in any given moment, you can be living your dream. It’s all in your attitude. As I sweltered in the scorching heat of the sun, deafened by the roar of motorcycles, I looked around at my son, his girlfriend and my partner and smiled. “Yep, I’m livin’ the dream,” I thought.  “I have everything I could possibly want, right here, right now.” Sure, I’m hot and sweaty, and there are aspects of my life that aren’t as successful as I’d like, but living the dream is not about perfection. Hey, even in paradise, there are mosquitoes.

Living the dream is about savouring the best that each moment has to offer.

I’m livin’ my dream right now. Are you?

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We’ve all done it – worked at a job we hated because it paid the bills. When you were in that situation, what did you notice about yourself? When I look back on those times in my life, I realize I was miserable. I dreaded going into work, I was discouraged while I was there, and when I came home at night, I was not good company. No amount of money can make up for that much unhappiness.

It’s from that experience that I came up with the last of my Laser Questions.

Does this opportunity call my BEST self forward?

When I’m at my best, I glow. There’s an inner joy and exuberance that radiates out into the world around me. I’m filled with curiousity and wonder, eager to learn, happy to share and people are drawn like magnets to the light that seems to emanate out from every pore. Life is good.

Work that evokes my best self also seems to involve good money. So it’s a win-win situation all around. And I know instinctively when an opportunity is “right” for me. There’s a feeling deep inside my heart that says, “Yes!” even if my mind is second-guessing whether or not I have the skills or experience needed for the job. If my heart’s on board, then I’ll figure out whatever is needed.

The other cool thing about doing work that calls forth your best self is that you’re guaranteed to do your best work. And, as a result, your reputation grows and more opportunities come your way.

It all starts with you though. By knowing who you are, you’ll discover what makes your heart sing, and how you can bring the best of yourself and your gifts to the world around you.

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I love hearing stories of people dreaming bigger, and living the life they’ve always wanted! Last week, I was at Grand River Rocks where I met a young man who’d spent the last ten years or so travelling around the world, doing as much rock climbing as he could. Finally he decided it was time to settle down and get “a real job”.

So he returned to his home town and after some searching, decided to open a business with three friends. As of August, 2011, he is part owner of … wait for it! … a new indoor rock climbing facility in Kitchener, Ontario! It’s a thriving business, and they’re all doing what they love most – climbing and sharing their passion with others.

His “real” job is also his dream job. It’s a wonderful example of what can happen when you’re open to possibilities (and ignore those who suggest it can’t be done).

So, what was I doing at a rock climbing facility?

I was fulfilling a dream of my own – learning to rock climb.

Those of you who have been following my newest blog (FabFiftyFive) already know that rock climbing is one of the items on my Fun List of things to do this year. I really didn’t know what to expect, although I thought I’d be somewhat terrified (I have a bit of an issue with heights).

But when the time came for me to climb the wall, I discovered something interesting – it’s a very Zen experience. As I climbed, the rest of the room, all the noise, the people and activity, faded away. There was no fear because I could only see what was right in front of me or just above me. I was extremely focused, striving to maintain my balance, find new places to put my feet and grip with my hands. I had to be fully present, completely in the moment, using all of my mental abilities and physical agility to move upward toward the top of the wall.

It was exhilarating, exhausting, stimulating and invigorating. I felt like I was 15 years old and climbing my favourite tree in the backyard. I also felt like I could do anything – reach higher, stretch farther, push and pull harder than ever before. I loved the mental challenge of figuring out the next move. And pushing my body beyond its usual physical limitations.

Fifty-five? Nah. While I was climbing, I was ageless!

How many experiences in life can you describe like that?

Needless to say, I’m going back. There are more walls to climb, more challenging routes to try, and I haven’t even gotten to the “Big Boulder” yet!!!

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I remember reading a quote by Ray Charles once in which he said music was a necessity of life for him, like food or water. It was an integral part of his very being. I may not play an instrument or sing (at least not in public!) but I can recognize mastery in others. I want to share with you a few of the musicians, singers and songwriters who bring music to life for me with their extraordinary gift for expressing my deepest feelings, longings and dreams.

When my children were young, they were lucky enough to have Duncan Addison as a piano teacher. Duncan embodied music. It flowed from every cell of his being. Watching him play the piano, teach students or conduct a choir was like watching joy in motion. Although he has since passed away, I smile every time I think of his boundless love of music and how eager he was to share that love with everyone he met.

Last week, one of my favorite local musicians was playing in our city square. Juneyt is originally from Turkey and is one of the most gifted and versatile guitarists I’ve ever met. He seems equally at home playing popular cover songs as he is performing challenging flamenco pieces, many of which are his own compositions. He recently released his debut album, Ocean, and is already making plans for a second one. Naturally, given that I dance flamenco, that’s the music that makes me sit up and take notice.

He leans forward over his guitar, caressing it like a lover, body swaying with the melody, fingers alternating between tapping the wood and deftly picking at the strings. The haunting sound and increasing intensity of the rhythm cause the rest of the world to fall away and all that remains are the soulful vibrations – of passion and of life.

Another local singer and songwriter who is making a name for herself is Sue Baker Proud. The joy and ease with which she sings fills my heart with light, and her lyrics seem divinely inspired. In remembrance of 9/11 and her visit to Ground Zero, she wrote Only Love Remains. The first time I heard it, I was moved to tears.

Sue is working on her first CD and will be performing on October 2 at 1:30 p.m. at The Museum in downtown Kitchener. She will be singing a song she wrote as the result of a silent auction bid for the Dream for Uganda event.

Recently a friend sent me a link to a trio of breathtaking singers, Il Volo. Just teenagers, when these three Italian tenors start to sing, audiences are spellbound. Where do these powerful voices come from? I delight in the obvious joy they feel when singing, and the twinkle in their eyes in anticipation of the audience’s reaction.

How blessed we are that these artists (and others like them) exist!  The pleasure they bring into the world is two-fold: they’re doing what they love to do, and we get the joy of listening to them!

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“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” ~ Harold S. Geneen

Today I’ve been mulling over the qualities that make a good leader. What sets one person apart from the crowd, and causes him or her to become the voice, the face or the driving force of an issue? How does that person draw others to him? Is it charisma, power, intelligence or eloquence? Or is it something else, an elusive, undefinable characteristic that someone is born with or perhaps grows into? Why does it seem to be just a role for some, while for others, it’s a way of being. It’s who they are.

Early Monday morning, Jack Layton passed away from cancer. He was 61. For my readers outside of Canada, the name might not mean anything, but here in Canada, regardless of your political leanings, you’d have to acknowledge that Jack changed the landscape of Canadian politics in the 2011 spring election. Virtually singlehandedly.

Jack was the leader of the New Democratic Party, a party that had generally held the role of the underdog in federal elections until this year. Yet, as the election campaign rolled on, the NDP gained momentum, led by Jack’s quiet determination and faith in his vision. He led by example, focusing on his party’s mandate, travelling tirelessly back and forth across the country to meet as many Canadians on their home turf as he possibly could.

Although I never met him personally, I had the impression of a down-to-earth gentleman, a man who genuinely listened to the individuals he met, who cared enough to take a stand on tough issues and, above all, to follow his passion. In the media coverage, I remember his friendly smile, his outstretched hand, his seemingly constant good humour, in spite of dealing with recovery from hip surgery, and perhaps already knowing his cancer had recurred.

I think it was the televised leadership debates that set him apart from other politicians. Although short in stature, he shone with integrity and clear vision, and was equally at ease (and understandable) in both English and French. He had a “Yes, we can!” attitude that made everyone believe that anything was possible.

And it was. In a few short months, his party skyrocketed to official Opposition status in Canada and an almost total monopoly on electoral seats in the province of Quebec. Who was this man with the fire in his eyes?

Jack Layton was a brilliant example of the power of passion and commitment. He accomplished things that once would have been considered unthinkable, and did it all with calm unwavering determination. Although he paid a high price for his efforts – his life – his legacy is one to remember. He not only changed the face of Canadian politics, he also showed us, with apparent ease, how living your dream transforms you as well as the world around you.

Here are some of his words of wisdom in a letter to Canadians written shortly before his death:

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

And so we will. Thank you, Jack Layton.

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