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Archive for the ‘Inspiring People’ Category

Last Friday, I was introduced to a practice of mindfulness and supreme focus by my friend Adam. While he IS a wise old soul, he is neither a yoga master nor a Buddhist monk. He is an 8 year old boy who likes Doritos, Ben-Ten and modeling clay figures of Spider Man and he suggested that I give Fimo a whirl. So I did.

Let me preface this by saying I’ve made it a bit of a mission to find wee food items for my daughter’s dollhouse (custom made by my Dad to look like our house…wall colours and all). I pretend that I’m seeking out the cutest foods for my daughter, but when I’m being honest with myself, it’s a quest for me…something unrequited there, I’m sure! Last week, I spent a WHACK of money at the Ex on dainty teeny-tiny foodstuffs (and felt a little bit like a crazy old cat lady for the experience…miniature doilies, anyone?).

photo

Fun with Fimo

So when Adam implored me to take a jaunt with him to our nearest art supply store and shell out some bucks for Fimo,  I was in…though just for him. I never thought I’d manage to create something worthy of adorning the dollhouse. Fourteen dollars later however, my mind boggled with the endless possibilities: ice cream cones, sushi, meatballs, cookies…oh my!!!!

We nimbly worked it with our fingers, talked about life, love and bullies. We listened to the rain fall and shared jokes. We counseled each other on our creations and championed each other’s good work.

Given that this delightful afternoon occurred during my working hours, and in honour of my value of hard work, I’ve decided to apply what I learned about the afternoon to my business…and my life. And what did I learn? A lot.

  • Be open to new endeavours…whatever it may be.
  • Want more play in your life? Listen to children…they know how it’s done.
  • Letting go of preconceived notions about how something should be done can give you lots of room for expansiveness. And a quieter mind. Very good for your innate creativity in all you do.
  • Taking time away from business is a good thing…besides, as the one and only Danielle LaPorte tells it, you’re not that important
  • Paying attention to details can make the difference between something being unpalatable or sumptuous. A little more effort can be rewarding…even if it feels fussy and awkward.
  • The only person that expects me to be perfect is me. AND, given that I’m imperfect, what the hell do I know about perfection anyways!
  • There is certain deliciousness in variety. And FURTHER to this, stay tuned for an event that I’m co-hosting with my dear colleague Lisa Chandler. It’s all about sampling a delectable variety of coaching styles…in 15 minute increments. You’ll be AMAZED how a good coach can help you cut to the meat of an issue in less time than that.

I’ll not be doing this for a living any time soon, but was pretty pleased how my little smackerels turned out….fingerprint imprints and all.

So, I ask you to try something new, fearlessly and with no attachment to the outcome. You may surprise yourself…and even clear your mind while you’re at it. And if you don’t know what that could be, ask a kid. They’ll let you know how fun’s done.

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Last night we spent a perfectly lovely evening at the Beaches International Jazz Festival. The weather was ideal, the crowd was energetic and appreciative and the music somehow seemed better than we’ve enjoyed in previous years (in my humble opinion). Some nights are just like that.

One of the many musical highlights for us was seeing The Disease…a young “7-piece funk machine” from Toronto. They were (in the words of my drumming husband) “tight”. I don’t know much about that, but I do like to think I know talent. And they really had it going on. While they didn’t pull the same size crowd as other bands doing jazz standards, the crowd that they did have appreciated the talent too.

Ok, so you don’t visit my blog for musical critiques. Here’s what I really loved and appreciated about this group—they “felt it”. Every last member. I was particularly mesmerized by the guy on the keys – David Atkinson. He would not, COULD not stop dancing. He played on his tippy-toes for goodness’ sake! He couldn’t contain his jubilation…his sheer joy of doing what he loved doing. It was infectious and to me it epitomized that quote that we’ve all been e-mailed ad nauseum: dance like no one’s watching.

Now I know what that means…really means. Had that wildly talented young man put a cap on his groove, the notes would have been flatter, to be sure, but more criminally, we the audience would have been cheated out of a display of unbridled excitement, energy and joy. Which I know I really inspired me.

Kids do it. They run, jump, play, sing, dance and twirl with no concern about appearances (at least until pre-puberty, and then, I’m told, it’s hell in a handbasket). Why does watching kids sing the national anthem off-key bring tears to my eyes? Because it is sung with heart, intention and purity of soul.

It’s not too late for us as adults to do the same.

So, I challenge you: give like no one’s watching; worship like no one’s watching, play like no one’s watching; love like no one’s watching; cry like no one’s watching and laugh like no one’s watching. Go on and even let the milk pour out of your nose. Those that are watching will celebrate the moment right alongside you.

Thanks David, for the reminder.

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Years ago, while on maternity leave, I read in a parenting journal about the mompreneur phenom, Jennifer Torres, Founder of Salsa Babies.

Jennifer and her inspirations

Jennifer and her inspirations

Back then, I was a budding entrepreneur myself (cf: my fleeting attempt at product development). I recall reading that this powerhouse of a woman started her company with the purpose of staying home with her kids after her maternity benefits had ended and that her intention was to generate the same revenue that she was receiving from EI. No more, but certainly, no less.

I too, wanted to stay home with my daughter and also develop a business. When I read those simple parameters, it seemed viable and …inspirationally… attainable. I felt moved to set the same goal for myself.

Our paths have crossed a couple of times over the past year, and I’ve always wanted to hear more about her. Yesterday, we shared an hour of great conversation about business, balance, goals, dreams, and why folding underwear is a time suck. She is every bit as vibrant, dynamic, energetic and warm as you’ve imagined. And she has it together.

I was hooked the moment she uttered her opening remark:

I’ve learned to follow what interests you and what you’ve loved doing throughout your life.

Bingo.

Her story

Jennifer always knew that when kids came along, she’d want to stay at home with them. So, when she was pregnant, she took ESL certification in the hopes of finding a job flexible enough to be home with the babes. Nothing came up. While on mat leave, she asked her employers if she could work part-time when she came back…and they said no. She was miserable and felt pretty desperate at the notion of leaving her babies in childcare to go back to job that wasn’t overly fulfilling. It just didn’t seem right. (And as I’ve often written…if it doesn’t feel right for you, it probably isn’t right for you. But I didactically digress.)

One fine day a friend handed her a tissue and pointed out that she could maybe integrate her well-known love for salsa dancing into a business. Jennifer was resistant at first…after all…salsa’s about heels and less about babies. Or was it?

The Birth of Salsa Babies

The idea percolated in her head for a while…and when she found herself dancing around her house to soothe her colicky baby in the carrier, the idea really started to heat up in the most picante way. What happened to turn the idea around from a ho-hum one to being her life’s passion? In a word: RESONANCE.

Before long, her network of support rallied around her and helped her get her idea off the ground. A logo was created; a plan developed; flyers distributed; a web site launched; and, since then, thousands of new moms have shimmied their way to slimmer waists and happy babies. Thanks to Jennifer’s vision.

In some ways, Jennifer’s story is a study of what is possible is you simply believe in yourself. Is there any way she could have known that 8 years after the ESL thing didn’t pan out that she’d be co-writing children’s CDs, writing books and having appeared on TV more times than she can count? As she pointed out in our discussion:

My goal was not to be a million dollar industry…but now as I look back, I could have thought bigger. I just didn’t want to be too cocky.

Familiar, huh?

S-U-C-C-E-S-S

What excites me is the fact that she THOUGHT she was thinking small, but in fact, was setting herself up for success. A business idea aligned with her values, interests, strengths and abilities? A network of support and boundless energy and acumen? That to me is a fool-proof recipe for success.

Is she successful?

Well that depends on your definition, of course, but beyond the professional accomplishments noted above, Jennifer points to two things that she’s most proud of:

  1. The fact that she has built a business that enables (at last count) 30 licensees to be doing what they love (teaching salsa) while being with their kids. This wasn’t a goal per se, but what an amazing by-product!
  2. Her girls are looking up to her in a new way. Jennifer points out that in her lottery win dreams she always saw herself at home with them and acknowledges that this may well be the right path for many…but now sees how flat that could have been for HER. Her girls see her on TV and know that she’s doing what she loves and is happy. By example, her girls are learning the value of developing something for yourself:

My 8-year old daughter started a book club and was so organized about it all. She wrote up a proposal, did up a flyer, planned the space, talked to the principal and handled all of these other details. My husband looked at me during the flurry of activity and said: ‘that’s you!’

Like all success stories, there have been some bumps in the road. She has been targeted for her great ideas and has had them ripped off (in one case, a copy cat took words verbatim from her web site). And there’s no question…like most business-parents, Jennifer knows too well the constant struggle of maintaining that elusive “balance”. “How much TV is too much for the kids? What am I missing if I don’t spend the day with the kids? What could I have gotten done if I had worked today?”

At her annual licensees’ meeting, she delivers a segment about finding balance in being a business owner. Some good rules of thumb?


What’s next for Jennifer and Salsa Babies?

She has some pretty exciting plans for the company….market expansion, program development and some new offerings and packages. You’ll just need to stay tuned. Trust me…you’ll be hearing lots more from this beautiful woman who just bubbles exuberance and energy.

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A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to attend the launch of SoloMag, the brainchild of Jacqueline Parker. More on that cool woman in a later blog posting.

I am drawn to people who glow. Call it the law of attraction, call it what you will. As such, I was drawn to Monica Graves. (more…)

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Listen to the MUSTN’Ts, child
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS,
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES, then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child
ANYTHING can be.
— Shel Silverstein (more…)

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It’s been oft-quoted that Lao Tzu said “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

What’s the first step in a 1,100 km trek in Antarctica? (more…)

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Heather Bell Denison is a brave woman. (more…)

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