In a traditional saying from Costa Rica, wisdom is said to be a combination of humility and a sense of wonder. It is easy enough to understand the concept of a sense of wonder when you consider a child contemplating the beauty found in nature. Understanding what humility is can be a challenge.
In this current age of consumerism and the rise of affluence, discussions about simple virtues have a magnetic appeal. It is not uncommon to see football stadiums filled with politicians, famous media personalities and everyday citizens hanging on every word and story that a leader of a spiritual/esoteric community is sharing about concepts such as compassion, humility and peace.
Humility is not necessarily found in the person who insists that he is not worthy of your praise or gratitude. Neither is it found in the person who is revered for being humble.
The purest form of humility is often found in quiet corners and unexpected places.
Written By: Jane Taylor (1783-1824)
Down in a green and shady bed,
A modest violet grew;
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head
As if to hide from view.
And yet it was a lovely flow’r,
Its colors bright and fair,
It might have graced a rosy bow’r
Instead of hiding there.
Yet there it was content to bloom,
In modest tints arrayed;
And there it spread its sweet perfume
Within the silent shade,
Then let me to the valley go,
This pretty flow’r to see,
That I may also learn to grow
In sweet humility.
but our lives will only ever always
continue to be
a balancing act
that has less to do with pain
and more to do with beauty. (Excerpt, To This Day, Shane Koyczan)
If you use social media regularly, you’ve probably seen an animation of a poem presented by Shane Koyczan at TED2013. Shane is a spoken word performer from Penticton, British Columbia who has inspired many with To This Day – a poem about the deep and lasting impact of bullying in a person’s life. Shane’s book Visiting Hours* was chosen as a Book of the Year Selection by The Guardian and Globe and Mail newspapers. Since then he has released Stickboy, Our Deathbeds Will be Thirsty and an album entitled Remembrance Year. (See link below in Related for more information.)
[Shane Koyczan] makes you feel the depth of love, joy and pain in everyday life. Love, after all, is in everything. –Joel Pott, The Guardian, writing about Visiting Hours
To date there have been 5 1/2 million views of Shane’s presentation on YouTube. This means that there’s a good chance your friend, family member or colleague hasn’t seen it yet. Please do share a link to Shane’s work, if you have the chance.
Here is a link to the animation of the poem and more resources about Shane’s work.
True genius without heart is a thing of nought – for not great understanding alone, not intelligence alone, nor both together, make genius. Love! Love! Love! that is the soul of genius. (Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin, entry in Mozart’s souvenir album)
Most of us live out our lives activating our dreams or aspiring to do so. Statistically we are most likely not geniuses; however, we can become deeply knowledgeable and passionate about our work. This expertise can develop after years of training, education and work experience or we can hit our stride earlier before we are 30.
Have you ever found yourself involved in a face-to-face or online discussion about the value of one career path or academic degree compared to other options? Every month or so there is a new study about how some choices will lead to better remuneration rates. A decision to aim for medical school is discussed with enthusiasm while the plans of a student who hasn’t quite made up his mind are kept under wraps. Meanwhile one professional informs another - working in a different field – that people with his own academic, research and work experience encounter more challenging and rigorous work and therefore should receive more professional respect and a higher pay. Both professionals have attended graduate school and are experts in their fields.
These exchanges can foster insecurities in people who have doubts about their own abilities and expertise. Mid career some people take a break from their jobs, go off the grid for awhile, read self-help books or muse about trying a completely different career.
Life coach, poet and Stanford educated author Tara Mohr has shared insights and gives spot-on advice about how you can discover what type of expert you are. She describes four types:
* The Survivor moves and connects with his or her audience – often more effectively than formal experts.
* Cross Trainers provide fresh insights regarding areas in their new chosen field that have been overlooked by other experts.
* The Called have passion that can go the distance; a vision; and, will challenge accepted ideas about a situation that others have decided to accept.
* The Specialist holds advanced degrees and/or has a considerable amount of work experience in an industry.
Where would we be without diversity in our workforce and in out communities? Tara Mohr’s ideas help us to appreciate the unique talents, experience and knowledge that each of us bring to our professional community; the office; our circle of family and friends; and, our efforts (paid and unpaid) in our communities. She also discusses the potential pitfalls that each type of expert might face.
Do you know people who are struggling to find their way on their career path? Do they know which kind of expert they are? Is a lack of confidence about their own level of expertise in their chosen discipline holding them back from taking the next important step? Are they ready to take the leap?
If you follow information about outdoor education and the international movement to help children experience the outdoors, you will enjoy hearing a recent talk shared by the Pecha Kucha office in Tokyo. The subject matter fits perfectly with the ideals that have been expressed by promoters of the outdoor education movement.
Englishman David Pollard spoke about his work with collaborators to create houses or objects using natural or recycled materials such as earth, branches, wood and flowers. He starts his Pecha Kucha talk with an interesting challenge. Most of us have had a creative idea but for some reason or other abandoned it. He suggests that this idea could have been a winning opportunity and then goes on to explain how he took on projects even though he was discouraged by people who knew him. He has also gone from one project to another based on the interest that people have shown in his creative skills, resulting in unexpected twists and turns in his career. David explains that the most powerful brands are those that sell you a feeling. His brand focuses on simplicity and the natural world.
Pollard’s Happy Soil Project began in Birmingham, England where a child’s drawing of a house was used to create a structure made out of branches. The structure was then transported to the centre of the city where it was displayed as an outdoor installation. The Natural House project in Japan evolved into a workshop for children and their parents that accompanied an art installation in central Tokyo. (Further information and photographs.) Following the creation of preliminary drawings, the children and adults made a house out of locally sourced sticks and branches.
David’s Partner Tomonari Waku explains: We asked them, “What can you see around you?” For example, a big tree, a big building. “What kind of town do you want to make?” We then helped them to make a house they wanted to see. [...] We want to create an oasis within a city. Oasis is the concept. It is also a communication tool, allowing people to connect. You can also go inside [the Natural House]. In the summer it is very cool. Outside it is very hot but inside it is very cool.
On a much smaller scale, these projects are a reminder of fairy houses children build in gardens and forests. In one of the main BC Girl Guide camps there is a small area dedicated to these small, natural houses. Thinking of something in between impromptu fairy houses and these projects in Tokyo, what could children and adults in British Columbia consider creating with their own ideas, drawings and natural materials?
It’s not very often that I have had the opportunity to know someone who embraces the concept of honouring, cherishing and celebrating people and life with passion, enthusiasm and commitment. Over the period of five years, I worked with a Montessori colleague in Japan who was also the Principal of our department. Our five classroom department was part of a larger international school in Japan. During that time I had many opportunities to hear Trish’s ideas about the world of Montessori schools, children, child development, and topics such as peace education. It has been a few years now since we worked together and most of the content from our conversations has blended together in my memories. I find it hard to remember specific topics but rather remember the overall tone and approach – the spirit of our conversations. I also remember functional results of her influence. As an example, Trish told my colleagues and me that we needed to remove negative words and sentiments from our conversations and communications with parents and the children. We had to avoid using the word “not”. See? I just did it. This was particularly important when we were writing out our report cards.
Trish (l) with my Irish (c) & American (r) colleagues celebrating in my tatami room.
After I returned to Canada, and six months before I got married, I opened my inbox and found an E-mail from my former colleague. It had the subject “From Heaven”. In the split second that it took me to open the E-mail, I was in a suspended state of confusion. From heaven? What does she mean? As I read the E-mail I started to realize that she wasn’t the author. Her daughters were writing to tell me that she had passed away suddenly from an unexpected brain hemorrhage. I was shocked. Five years later I still think about her often and miss her presence in my life, her wise ideas and her passion for life.
What was most unique about Trish’s life outlook, in my opinion, was her enthusiasm to honour, cherish and celebrate her relationships with other people. I recall seeing photos of her with her daughters showing how they would have a summer celebration outdoors. They dressed in white clothing that was reminiscent of another time and place. They celebrated the natural world and their relationships as mothers and daughter. At least this how I recall hearing about the story. Perhaps I don’t have the details quite right anymore, but I do recall that it was a special and meaningful time that they spent together on a regular basis, even though they all lived in far flung corners of the globe.
In one conversation I recall her describing how she ended a long term relationship with her romantic partner. They devised a personal ceremony in which they honoured and celebrated their relationship symbolically through the rituals they shared together that evening. What a meaningful and peaceful way to re-frame what could be a difficult and traumatic moment.
After I ended a relationship suddenly, Trish advised me to find three things to say about my former love interest – three reasons to express gratitude for our time together. I was in a lot of physical discomfort following a car accident he and I had been in, and was still reeling from the disintegration of our relationship. She calming guided me through this process of letting go and encouraged me to embrace a process about which I was not very keen. In a prior relationship that I’d also had in Japan, I was left with a feeling of a lack of conviction about the decisions and actions that I took at the time. At the time I sought out and followed the advice of a close friend about my options rather than my own heart. For many years the unfinished threads of this experience floated around in the background. Recently, while following Trish’s advice, I tried to recognize the gratitude I had for that time in my life and wrote about it in the piece “Gratitude: Sometimes it Takes Awhile.”
In the spring before my departure from Japan and return to Canada, Trish asked her friends and colleagues to create a quilt block that would become part of her 50th birthday celebration. I remember putting the brakes on when she asked me. At that time I didn’t feel I was well equipped to create a fabric piece. I knew that she and her friends had created elaborate, beautiful quilts in the past and couldn’t imagine how I could create anything worthy enough for her quilt. I recall a day when she stopped me in the hallways and told me, in no uncertain terms, that I would be creating this quilt block and she would be waiting to receive it. That summer, as I relaxed by the beaches and in the gardens of Barbados, I created a quilt piece focussed on the spiritual conversation surrounding the theme “The Lord is my Shepperd”. The specific quote that I added to my piece was “He gives me strength and he guides me to the right path.” (Psalm 23)
When I think about this approach to honouring and celebrating out relationships and times together, I realize that I am not always so committed to implementing this ideal in my life. Recently I have started to give more thought to the idea of gratitude and how our past informs our present. As I strive to appreciate my time with family and friends and support others, I’m seeing the benefit of revisiting past events and times that took place in the recent and more distant past. Recalling Trish Copeland‘s inspirational ideas seems to be the perfect place to start.
I worked with Trish at a time when it was still very much in vogue to receive catalogues from companies when you wanted to order Montessori supplies and books, and educational material for your classroom. Trish introduced me to Under the ChinaBerry Tree – a company that celebrates books and other products that feature “unconditional love, sparking the imagination, cultivating tolerance and appreciation, celebrating nature, inducing giggles, or bringing a quiet, reverent close to the day. Chinaberry offers items to support families in raising their children with love, honesty and joy to be reverent, loving caretakers of each other and the earth.” The catalogue also included thoughtful articles about these topics. Right now Trish is watching me from heaven as I munch on dark chocolate, crouch with knees bent on my chair and type these words. Listening to the Chinaberry mission statement, I know is smiling. I hope you’re smiling too!
We’d love to hear from you so don’t be shy! You can comment about this posting using the comment function below or visit us at our Facebook page.
Playing Big is a fusion of inner transformation and skills training. You get the practical, Stanford MBA, tactics-loving side of me – in modules on negotiation, public speaking, getting media attention for your work, and getting into action. But you also get the poet, the coach, the personal growth teacher and spiritual seeker in me – in modules on clarifying vision, unearthing your calling and dealing with big fears. Playing Big is a fusion of inner and outer work, and that makes it one of the most unique programs out there. Tara Mohr
Are you holding yourself back? Are you ready to move forward? Are you ready to check your inner critic and discover a vision of an older, wiser you in the future? Are you ready to stop playing small and have a greater impact in the world?
Are you a woman?
Are you an artist? Are you a politician who wants to step up her game or an aspiring politician? Are you a social worker or teacher? Are you a mum at home full time who wants to start an at-home business or re-enter the work force? Are you a 20-something who wants to kick-start her career or a retiree who wants to start a new venture? Are you a Gen-X woman who wants to switch it up at work? What’s your story? Who are you and what do you want to do next?
Tara Sophia Mohr is a writer and teacher who focuses on women in leadership and well being. Starting January 24th, 2012 she will be offering round two of her popular Playing Big course – a six month online programme for women. Here’s what Tara said recently about Playing Big:
What my audience most wanted to learn was what I most wanted to teach. My biggest passion was their biggest quest: playing bigger. Specifically, how visionary, creative, entrepreneurial women can play bigger.
From there, I developed my Playing Big program – a natural outpouring of all that I already knew from my own journey to playing bigger, from coaching other women, from my MBA training, and from a lifelong passion for helping women share their voices. Over 100 women from around the world – from Dubai to Detroit – have participated in Playing Big, and now an amazing group is signing up for round two. (Taragentile.com)
You may have seen Tara on The Today Show discussing 10 Rules for Brilliant Women. Perhaps you’ve read her work on the Huffington Post. Perhaps you’ve signed up for her E-mails and receive copies of her exquisite & sensitive poems focussed on helping women to quell their inner critic and take risks.
If you think you’d like to take part in Tara’s next six month programme, listen to this informative and uplifting online phone call which provides more information about what you can expect. (Note: You can pay for the cours on a monthly basis.) Over 100 women around the world will take part in this programme. Will you be one of them? If this isn’t an option for you right now, consider sharing a link to this page on your website or social media network (via LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, for example) and do check out Tara’s website.
It would a treat to hear from you so don’t be shy! You can comment about this posting using the comment function below or visit the BCFamily.ca Facebook page.
Just registered for the Fortune Most Powerful Women Virtual Conference It’s free/looks like a great idea http://ow.ly/6MB6l
On October 4th, 2011 women everywhere who have access to the Internet will have a chance to listen in on – and to some degree take part in – the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit Virtual Conference. The conference will feature some of the most talented people working in their disciplines. Some of the guests include the CEO of Stella & Dot, Jessica Herrin, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, and actor Glenn Close, to name just a few. If you are interested in topics related to women in leadership, do check out the agenda online.
Whether you’re a Stay at Home parent who volunteers in your community; you work part time with a home business; or, you work full-time out of the home, it can be helpful and inspiring to hear how other women are getting along in the world. Year by year, as we get older, we increasingly realize just how much experience we have, how much we know, and how much we have to offer in our community, both in a private and professional capacity.
Today writer, coach and wise living coach Tara Sophia Mohr shared a poem entitled This is Your Time. In the conclusion she writes that [she] believes this is truly your time. The world needs your voice, your gifts, your light. On Tara’s website she writes about her beliefs regarding women today:
Most brilliant women don’t see their own brilliance and are “playing small” and they know it: not speaking up, doubting themselves, seeing themselves as “not yet ready” to launch the big idea, the organization, to put themselves at the table. The 10 Rules, and the other work I do with women leaders are about learning how to quiet self-doubt, clarify purpose, and become comfortable with taking bold action in the workplace and in the world. That is what I teach, and I love to teach it because I’m still learning it myself.
If Tara’s ideas resonate with you, you will be keen read the Fortune Magazine write-up about the virtual conference and the related invitation to women and teenage girls everywhere:
Fortune will stream all plenary sessions of the Summit to our virtual audience—plus customized sessions exclusive to the virtual audience. Join the conversation with most prominent women leaders in business, philanthropy, government, education, and the arts. Attend from wherever you are.
The best feature of podcasts, online shows and virtual conferences, for example, is that you can follow along as you go about your daily business at home or even at work. In the spirit of Tara Sophia’s poem, is this “your time to ask your big questions, without apology?”
In interviews and workshops, Vancouverite and health and wellness expert Dr. Susan Biali promotes her approach to living a full and holistic life. Her message resonates because her ideas are informed by her own personal experiences. She left a successful (and stressful) full-time position as a doctor so that she could pursue her unfulfilled passion for flamenco dancing. She now dances professionally part-time in Mexico and works part-time at Vancouver medical clinics. Her advice can be inspirational to busy parents who endeavour to make healthy living choices as a family, while instilling concepts of healthy living in their children. Often intentions and goals do not match the reality of day-to-day routines.
- Honour your body (Both your physical body and your nutrition)
- Rescue and revitalize your relationships
- Get a life
- Make room for the divine
- Make someday today
Here are further tips from Dr. Baili. All of these ideas appear to be based on common sense and pull together much of what we are hearing about and reading in health reports these days. However it is important to remember that Dr. Biali has successfully transformed what was an already “textbook” successful life, coloured by severe depression, into a life that brings her much more happiness and well being.
1. Vanity can be a great motivator.
Dr. Baili explains that sugar can hurt your body in the long run; however, if you focus on how it can cause puffiness in your skin, your vanity may motivate you to cut down your sugar intake.
2. I’m a huge fan of anti-inflammatory foods.
Processed foods, sugars and refined flours increase inflammation. This is something that many other health and wellness experts are saying as well. Inflammation speeds up aging and chronic disease. One often hears a doctor say that one condition or another has an unknown cause, but is known to be triggered by inflammation.
3. The best advice I can give for mental well-being is to always look for the gift and the lesson in any challenge or crisis. My challenges transformed me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t give them up for the world.
It can be challenging to look for this gift where you are in the midst of a challenge or crisis. When a friendshp or relationship turns sour, for example, it can be hard to look for the gifts that that person brought into your life. What a struggle it can be to come up with ideas in a genuine fashion. Over time, though, it is possible to think of some gifts and have a much healthier perspective about the role that that relationship played in your life.
4. Passion can instantly transform a lack luster life into an extraordinary one. Find at least one thing that you love to do, and do it regularly. That injection of passion will light up all the corners of your life.
It can be hard to switch gears dramatically in one’s life to pursue one’s passion, as Dr. Baili did. Perhaps you are a single parent who is stuck in a “pay the bills” job. Over time and with careful planning small steps can lead to larger changes in direction. Additionally sometimes that passion can be found in side-line interests. This interest may not be the main focus of your life, but it can sustain you through more dreary challenges and requirements.
Dr. Baili has suggestions for those who have experienced anger, hostility, resentment or all-out blaming in any of your relationships:
Tend Your Own Garden.
Instead of wasting time thinking about or complaining about what someone is doing wrong, catch yourself and stop. Change your focus, immediately, to what would be the best thing you could do, right now, for yourself and your own life.
Learn to be Happy, No Matter What Others Do
If your happiness depends on the actions of another person, you (and they) are going to be miserable. Find, or create, things about your life that you enjoy, and focus on them when things get tough.
Listen to Your Body
Hostility and resentment can hurt you more than they do the other person. Learn to recognize signs of tension in your body: stomach pains, neck or back pain, headaches. At the first sign, do something that helps you immediately feel better (attacking the other person does not count!).
Own Your Own Buttons
If someone knows just what to do or say to set you off, don’t blame them. You can’t control them, but can control your reaction. Notice yourself as you react and interrupt it: e.g. take a time-out; leave the room; do something silly.
Focus on What’s Good.
Focus on what you like about the other person, and what you could or should improve in your own life. When you focus on the good things, the change in you will often cause the other person to miraculously improve on their own.
If you’re feeling down or lacking in motivation, give people like Dr. Susan Biali some of your time. You just might find that she will put a fresh spin on ideas that have been bumping about in your head for some time now.
If you are eat really well, particularly if you eat organic, and if you get regular exercise and you laugh, and you have fun, and you spend time with the people that are important to you…that is so critical to our health. And you have things in your life that you are passionate about and you drink enough water and exercise and you get enough sleep and you minimize stress as much as you can, if you go on vacations. If you do those things, whether you take all the supplements or you go to the alternative practitioner or your doctor or not, you are going to look better and you are going to have better health. (S. Biali speaking with Amy O’Brian, Vancouver Sun, Dec. 29, 2008)
You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you, For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
Kahlil Gibran (1883 – 1931) Source: The Prophet, 1923, On Children
Bundle up all the characteristics found in Olympians, add in additional extraordinary skill and admirable efforts and you end up with Paralympians. On March 12th, 2010 the Paralympics will start in Vancouver. 1,350 athletes from 43 different countries will compete in 64 events. Now that the 2010 Winter Olympics have ended, many people feel that the intensity of the Olympics focus should remain strong as we welcome the Paralympics to Vancouver.
To put this in perspective, the Paralympics represent the strongest example of honouring diversity in our society. The athletes have overcome significant challenges in order to compete in these games.
The categories in the Paralympics include:
Amputee: Athletes with a partial or total loss of at least one limb.
Cerebral Palsy: Athletes with non-progressive brain damage, for example cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke or similar disabilities affecting muscle control, balance or coordination.
Intellectual Disability: Athletes with a significant impairment in intellectual functioning and associated limitations in adaptive behavior. (This category is currently suspended.)
Wheelchair: Athletes with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities which require them to compete in a wheelchair.
Visually Impaired: Athletes with vision impairment ranging from partial vision, sufficient to be judged legally blind, to total blindness.
Les Autres: Athletes with a physical disability that does not fall strictly under one of the other five categories, such as dwarfism, multiple sclerosis or congenital deformities of the limbs such as that caused by thalidomide (the name for this category is the French for “the others”).
Paralympians are classified into one of three categories: visually impaired, standing or sitting
Canadian families can relate to this concept of diversity. Between physical, emotional and psychological and/or learning challenges, many children in Canadian households and within extended families experience some kind of disability that sets them apart as being different from the idealized notion of “norm”. In this way we all can empathize with and appreciate the accomplishments of the Paralympians.
So let the games begin, bring on the enthusiasm and please feel free to share this posting with your friends by E-mail or on your social network.
If you are planning to attend the games we would love to hear your plans or hear about your experiences.
Five sports will be on the 2010 program:
Alpine Skiing: completed on a single ski, without ski poles or navigating based on a guide’s directions
Biathlon: Biathletes with a visual impairment ski with a guide and shoot with electronic rifles enabling them to aim by sound
Cross country skiing: skis move parallel in the tracks, push off with the edge of their skis like skaters or sit ski in a track while seated in a sit-ski
Wheelchair curling: all elements are the same except for sweeping. More results remain in play.
Sledge hockey: athletes use two double ended sticks, one end has a curved blade for the puck while picks on the other end help maneuvere the sledge.
*LiveCity Downtown, Georgia and Beatty, 11 – 12:30 AM(Visit a created “piazza” featuring a large outdoor screen, daytime interactive school programming and street entertainment. This site opens Feb. 11th. It will reopen during the Paralympics from March 12 to March 21.)