Lots to be Thankful For, Even When We Don't Think So
Lots to be Thankful For, Even When We Don't Think So
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Nelson Mandela
There are many quotes I find inspirational, but I would have to say this one is my favorite. Maybe it’s because I, myself, fell so many times......I think most of us do throughout our lifetime.
Today, when I look at that quote, the reason I am most proud and feel accomplished of my life, besides raising my children, is that I kept getting up.
Oh, there were times I wanted to crawl in a bunker.... a cold, dark bunker. Sometimes I didn’t want to get back up and am not too sure how I did. Was it a determination that I was born with? Was it genetic? My dad was a professional boxer and he always kept getting back up.
It wasn’t until years later that I figured it out. I kept getting back up because I could. It’s a choice. It’s always a choice.
We can wallow in our defeats or we can say with conviction, “Tomorrow is another day, and it’s a brand new one.” It sounds simple, and it is. We often make things out way more complicated and difficult than need be!
Not only would I get back up but I chose to learn and grow as a result, making that fall worth it.
Always, always, always look at the alternatives to every situation.
For example, I was watching the Children’s Hospital Miracle Telethon one day many years ago.
This one interview struck me like a lightning bolt, and changed my perspective on life! A young couple had recently lost their four-year-old little boy to cancer. I felt beyond devastated for them, and the tears were streaming down my face.
I think, on a much smaller scale, I could relate to them. Not long before that, I almost lost my baby on many occasions when he was battling his critical heart defect.
As I was watching this story and becoming more and more grief stricken for this poor couple, things began to change once the interview started with the parents. My entire feelings shifted and it was almost as though something magical happened. They began sharing their pain of losing their baby and how everything would be changed forever, but how they felt blessed. They shared special stories of fun times and talked about how lucky they were.
At first, I thought I heard them wrong. How could they feel blessed and lucky??? They must be heavily medicated or something.
But then they explained why they felt blessed and how those four wonderful years spent with their little miracle were the best. Four years of pure joy with him.
At one point, my body became numb and my heart started to race as I began to relive the memories when Avery was only about a month old. This was a time when my dad had just died from a sudden heart attack, and Avery’s little body was beginning to shut down, too.
I remembered praying for Avery, “If only I could bring him home, even if only for a year. If all I could get was one year, I would be the happiest mom....... Just one year to take him home to snuggle, cuddle, laugh and play.” I then clearly understood what they meant.
During their story, they said, of course, there were many times they wanted to disappear into nothingness, but that was the alternative they decided NOT to take.
You see.... it is a choice.
Instead, they chose to keep their son’s memory alive and rejoice in all the wonderful memories they had in those short four years. What happened couldn’t be changed or ever forgotten, and their only control was their ‘take away’ from it all.
Their attitude, and if they ‘got back up,’ would determine whether they would have a bright future or not.
Since that day, my outlook on life considerably changed and I began to decide my path by looking at the alternatives.
When my dad died at 59, everyone said things like, “Oh, he was far too young...life isn’t fair sometimes.” I didn’t see it that way at all.
Of course, I wished I had more time with my dad. After 19 years, I still miss him every single day. But I don’t feel ripped off. Instead, I felt blessed to have had the best father ever. He was there for all my milestones growing up....graduation, walking me down the aisle at my wedding, and the birth of my first baby.
People used to say to me things like, “You poor thing....you have been through so much with Avery’s heart defect and Jesse’s autism, yet you always seem so happy.”
They just didn’t get it. They were feeling sorry for me and I was feeling blessed. But that was okay because it inspired me to change my life’s journey and help others understand how life can be wonderful, even if it doesn’t go as we expected or planned.
Avery and Jesse are young and happy adults who tell me every day that they love me. It doesn’t get much better than that. And that’s my ‘take away.’
Whatever brings you to my blog, and whatever you have gone through or may be going through, take a bit of time and think of the alternatives. There is always a choice.
When we choose to be positive, more positivity surrounds us. Look at any positive people you know and look at who surrounds them. I bet it's more positive people.
Adopting an attitude of gratitude will ensure many more sunny days ahead!
The Chance to Meet David Foster
The Chance to Meet David Foster
I have been a big fan of David Foster for many years..... 19 to be exact.
Until 1998, when Avery was born with a critical heart defect, I didn’t even know that a hospital for sick kids existed, let alone one that saves thousands of children’s lives each year.
That was the year I learned that there are a lot of heroes; from the doctors and nurses, to the little patients they take care of, and to all of the philanthropists who generously support the hospital and provide much of the state of the art life saving equipment.
That was also the year I came to understand that there are more generous people in the world than I thought, and one of them being BC’s own David Foster.
Back then, I knew of David and how he was a great composer and that he’s worked with the most famous singers in the world. But I would find out that he was much more.
I kept seeing his name, as well as many others, on plaques along the hospital walls. That's when I found out about the David Foster Foundation.
His non-profit charitable organization is dedicated to providing financial support for non-medical expenses to Canadian families with children in need of life-saving organ transplants.
For the past 30 years, the David Foster Foundation has assisted over 1,000 families with children in need of major organ transplants and provided much-needed dollars in direct family support. In 2006, the Foundation became a national organization, expanding to help families across Canada.
This is such an important foundation for many reasons. Often, young parents live paycheck to paycheck so when a child becomes critically injured, or sick, the last thing they need is to worry about how they can afford all the expenses involved with their crisis.
I know this all too well from our experience following Avery’s birth. Suddenly, our lives were turned upside down and we found ourselves living in the parking lot of BC Children's Hospital while our baby fought for his life in the ICU. To know that there are generous people out there like David Foster provides a relief that parents so desperately need.
Thankfully, Avery didn’t end up needing a transplant, but it is sure a comfort for many parents to know his foundation is there to support whoever needs it!
One of the many reasons I wrote my book, Bravery, was to shed some insight to all the heroes who support BC Children’s Hospital. Heroes are exactly what they are in the eyes of a parent with a critically ill baby or child.
I wanted a parents’ perspective to let the doctors, nurses, and all the supporters of BC Children’s Hospital see how immeasurably valued they are. So, when I found out that Peter Legge was hosting a networking event and interviewing David Foster as the main guest, I dashed to my computer as fast as I could to order the best tickets available.
I was lucky enough to get VIP seats on the front row!
Determined to meet David, I wanted to give him a big hug, thank him for all his generosity, and perhaps even have an opportunity to give him a copy of Bravery!
When the day arrived, of course I tried on fifty different outfits.... what does one wear to meet one of their mentors and hero??? I picked a light summery peach blouse with off white capris and my new sparkly high wedged heels.....then wondered...... how tall is David Foster?
Well, I’m only 5’2”, so even with four-inch heels I will surely be shorter than him.
Then I grabbed a copy of Bravery and signed it, along with a note thanking him for his generosity to all the sick kids and their families.
On the drive to the city I must have looked funny to passer-byers. I had this ear-to-ear perma-faced grin the whole drive in; talking to myself with affirmations and conferring with the Universe that I wasn’t leaving the hotel until I met David Foster!
I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen, but knew it would!!
Upon being seated, I was delighted to find out that my seat was near centre stage and I would be 15 feet from David Foster!
For two hours, David talked candidly about his successes and faux pas. He told us how the inspirations of many of his songs came to him. He spoke to how networking and finding what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, are important keys to success and happiness.
He told stories about some of the stars he’s worked with, and an argument with Barbra Streisand (they remain best of friends). He joked about being a hopeless romantic and he is looking for wife number 5. At one point in the afternoon, the cutest little boy came on stage to say “Hi” to David. As it turned out, that boy was the recipient of a heart transplant who the David Foster Foundation supported.
There were so many entertaining moments that it is difficult to remember them all. But I will mostly take away that David Foster is a talent, a legend, with a charm and wit that I could listen to all day. And, by the way, he also remained a very handsome man.
When the interview came to close, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Would David go out the door? Would I have to stock him throughout the hotel?
He came right out into the audience and started talking to people. I patiently waited for that moment of opportunity and jumped on it.
I said, “Hi, I’m Kim, and I have to have a picture with you."
Ughhhh, why did I say that???
He said, “Oh, you do, do you?” Then he said, “Are you Irish?”
I wanted to ask him why he thought I was, but instead blurted out, “Yes, I kissed the Blarney Stone last year and now I can’t stop talking!”
What???? Why on earth would I say that???
Oh well, he smiled and chuckled. I then told him I had a copy of my book to give him, and he said, “Oh, okay. Thank you, but I’m not a big reader.”
He must have saw a look of disappointed on my face and said, “Well, I promise to read yours, Kim.”
I briefly told him what it was about, and why I wanted him to have a copy. He seemed quite interested and we talked about his foundation for a bit, then I got my picture!!!
What a fantastic day. I had that same funny looking perma-grin for the entire drive home, fantasizing about David reading Bravery on his flight home to Malibu.
CHANGE YOUR BELIEFS...... CHANGE YOUR LIFE
CHANGE YOUR BELIEFS...... CHANGE YOUR LIFE
We all have good and bad days. The contrast is valuable. We could never appreciate true joy if we didn’t have the contrast to know what the alternatives feel like.
Recently a lovely friend of mine was having a bad day. Well, as most of my friends can attest to, and I think many of us have the same reaction, we instinctively want to help them feel better. So, I go into fix-it mode because I have noticed that she has had a stream of bad luck and events happening to her lately.
I would hear her say things like....”I just can’t catch a break” and “Everything keeps going wrong.”
I decided I was ready to share what I have learned over the years of studying and reading about the Law of the Universe, or Law of Attraction as some call it. How there is a pattern to our lives sometimes....like people who say “if they didn’t have bad luck, then they wouldn’t have any at all”....and that’s what they get. Or saying, “they always pick the longest lineups”, or “they can never find a good parking spot.”
Well, they are right. That’s what they put out into the universe. God is perhaps obliging their orders.
I have another friend who says that she walks with a cloud above her head and how her life is full of misgivings and calamity, and it’s so true. Catastrophes are a regular part of her life.
But then there are the people who repeatedly have great things happen to them.
These people continue to succeed in every aspect. It’s as though their confidence and positive attitude can’t steer them wrong. They are always happy and never complain about anything. Some chalk it up to just being lucky, or hard work, but there is much more going on behind the scenes.
As a child, I remember grocery shopping with my mom and she would always say how she picks the longest lineups. Well, that is exactly what would always happen......there would be a price check or a lady with a hundred coupons. Years later, as I became a shopper myself, I found myself saying exactly the same thing!! And that’s exactly what happened.... pretty much every time.
It’s what I believed would happen and therefore it did! Thankfully, one day a friend told me to YouTube Earl Nightingale’s ‘The Strangest Secret’. So, I did.
It was the beginning of a new awareness for me.
I started to understand how thoughts and, even more importantly, feelings, become things! It took me a while because we are so conditioned to believe otherwise, but I thought, “I must give this a shot”.
Slowly over time, I began to see the significant worth of this ideology, and real manifestations of its truth. I started practicing with little things like saying and believing with a conviction that I will pick the quickest lineups....and I did. I kept saying to myself, “I always find four leaf clovers”, and I did.
Slowly, more and more good things began to manifest for me as I would practice these positive beliefs.
One example I love to share is the day Avery went to his first rock concert with me....Bon Jovi.
My friend had given tickets to me as a present because she knew I loved Bon Jovi. She couldn’t afford the greatest ticket seats, but that was okay. We were just excited to get to go at all!
On our one hour drive to Vancouver, I decided to try out my new found belief in the Law of Attraction with Avery. I said with the most enthusiasm and vigor, “Avery, something very special is going to happen to us today!!! Can’t you feel it??? Let’s believe this with all our might and know it to be true!!”
He was so excited, laughing emphatically and agreeing wholeheartedly!
Arriving in the city, we dropped our car off at my sister and brother in law’s house. They had tickets too, only one’s with very good seats. Together, we all took the SkyTrain to the concert.
Once we were inside and getting into the elevator, they teased us about our seats and said, “We hope you don’t get a nose bleed.”
Avery said to me, “What do they mean by that Mom?” I replied, “Oh never mind them, that’s just a phrase for people who are high up and don’t have great seats. We’ll be fine, they have big screens everywhere.”
Well, soon after that, a young man approached us and said, “I work with the promotional department in the band and have two extra floor tickets if you would like.”
Avery and I look at each other, then at the man, and I blurted out, “Sure..... but really????”
He said, “Yes indeed”, then proceeded to hand us the tickets as we thanked him very much.
After giving a smug grin to my sister and brother in law, I press the down arrow on elevator button. On our ride down, Avery was beaming and bursting with excitement, and whispers in my ear, “Mom, The Law of Attraction really does exist!!!”
What a wonderful moment, and what an incredible night.....we ended up being so close to Bon Jovi that I could see his armpit hair!!
As I shared these stories and beliefs with my friend, I saw the sparkle in her eye begin to return, and gratefully she said, “Thank you so much Kim, I really never thought of it this way before, but it makes perfect sense. I surely see how I must stop this negative mindset I have been holding.”
I thanked her as well because one of the best and rewarding gifts we can offer each other is the hope and inspiration to see better days ahead. I look forward to seeing how she makes out and will keep you posted.
It’s Never Too Late to Get Started - Stay Motivated with These 9 Tips!
It's Never Too Late to Get Started - Stay Motivated with These 9 Tips!
I find, ever since I started getting close to my fifties, I've begun to get a little panicky at the thought of all the things I still wanted to do in my life – with time running out.
It seems as though so much of our life is consumed with school, work, and family. By the time we can lift our head and take a breath..... we're fifty.
Now, that my kids are older and more independent, I finally have some time to follow my dreams and aspirations. But how do we get started......we've been so busy with work, kids, cooking, cleaning, and keeping our home's organized to the best of our time and ability, we aren't sure how to operate in this new social media world.
Yet, I have set some goals, and one of my major one's is to become a successful personal development speaker. I kind of chuckle because many people think that my ship has sailed. If there is one wonderful and valuable lesson I have learned in this life of mine so far, it is to never listen to the naysayers.
How in the heck would they know anyway and who do they think they are? Only our own selves have the power to control our thoughts and actions. In fact, most people didn't find their great successes until well into their middle ages or later.
Thomas Edison had always dreamed of creating a lamp that gave off light. Well, it took him over 10,000 failed attempts before he discovered electricity, and he was well past the middle of his life. Can you even imagine? 10,000 attempts! Wow, now that is some perseverance!
One of the most famous presidents of all time, Abraham Lincoln, who was arguably also one of the best presidents the United States has ever seen, was a failure at the hand of many careers before he became president.
He failed at farming. When he turned to politics, he lost the nomination to run for U.S. senate. Twice, was defeated in the run for U.S. Congress. And he was defeated in the run for the nomination of vice president. Indeed, there were even more failures before he became President of the United States.
It just goes to show, if we want something bad enough, we must NEVER say never. Never give up and most definitely do not listen to any pessimists trying to discourage us.
I almost didn't write my book because my pompous English Professor didn't think I had the writing talent. Thankfully, all the support and encouragement from my family growing up had helped to instill the belief that I could do anything; if I wanted it bad enough, and had the faith and persistence to see it through.
I pushed through my insecurity and wrote Bravery. It may not have been a best seller, but it sure helped to inspire and uplift thousands of people!
So far, since I have turned 50, I have been an Impact Speaker for United Way, did a TEDx Talk, started blogging, and taken on many other terrific things I have always wanted to accomplish.
So, for all of you who feel time has passed you by – think again! I have a 76-year-old friend who has started her book, and another 84-year-old friend who still plays on a baseball team!
Here are my 9 tips for staying motivated!
1 ~ Surround yourself with as many positive people as you can.
Like attracts like. Do you ever notice how your positive mood changes if you’re in the vicinity of a negative or grumpy person? Sometimes it's unavoidable in certain situations like our workplace or other factors, but when we can choose – let’s choose to be around positive uplifting people because it’s contagious.
2 ~ Filter out negativity and discouragement that sometimes comes our way.
I always remind myself that it is our choice on how we react to negativity or discouraging people. One of the phrases I try to remember to say every morning is, “It’s my decision, and I’m not going to allow anyone to interfere or negatively affect this beautiful day for me!”
3 ~ Exercise more.
I have found that regular exercise that includes cardiovascular activity and strength endurance is a terrific boost for feeling good about ourselves It also stimulating those feel-good endorphins!
4 ~ Get your blood levels checked.
Doctors are finding out more and more how middle aged woman are lacking in protein, along with thyroid issues, which can be very energy depleting. Good energy is key to staying motivated.
5 ~ Be kinder to yourself.
Don't ruin your day if you fall off your diet, or missed an appointment or a workout. We are human, and getting upset with ourselves only prolongs the bad feelings.
6 ~ Read more.
Read more non-fiction motivational books rather than those far-fetched romance novels or tabloids. You'll be energized and learn so much more. Plus, it's always a great idea to exercise our brain too!
7 ~ Smile more.
Scientific studies prove how smiling releases feel good chemicals in our brain which helps us live longer and healthier lives!
8 ~ Try to get outdoors more.
Being in nature arouses our senses, and literally 'smelling the roses' will help us feel better too!
9 ~ It’s important to make daily affirmations about our attributes and all we are grateful for.
I'm a huge believer in the Law of Attraction, and I know from my own experiences how thoughts become things. This is even more true when we attach the feeling of excitement for all we have to be grateful for.
We all have bad days, and there have been some for me where I just simply didn't feel grateful. But when I focused, I could always find something; something so simple as having my eyes to see the beautiful bird flying by, or the legs that carry me to my destinations. We can always find something to be grateful for.
A Rocky Start
A Rocky Start
Our family just celebrated my son's 19th Birthday.
All birthdays are special as we get to celebrate the miraculous birth of our loved ones, and every birthday is unique to ourselves. My sons, Avery’s, was certainly no exception.
Every year on May 29, I am filled with fevered emotions reliving this eventful day from 19 years ago. Imagine going into labour, (as I'm sure many of you don't need to imagine). It's of course one of the most painful experiences for most, but knowing we are going to soon meet this little person we've been carrying around in our tummy for 9 month or more, it’s totally worth the painstaking contractions and everything else agonizing that goes with labour.
However, once that baby arrives we forget all about the torturous hours that preceded and we marvel in the joy or our creation. I was fortunate to already have had this experience with my first baby, Jesse, but not so much the second time around.
For anyone following my blog, you know that my son was born with a critical heart defect and wasn't expected to survive. This is certainly not what you expect to hear after giving birth.... it's usually, "Congratulations, It's a Boy!" Or, "Congratulations, It's a Girl!"
Instead, coming out of anesthetic, I faintly heard, "You have delivered a baby boy, but he is very sick. We believe he has a serious critical heart defect, and a team of specialists are coming from Children's Hospital to pick him up. I am very sorry."
Nineteen years later, I still remember those words coming out of the nurse’s mouth as though it were yesterday, and can't help the tears falling onto the keyboard and clouding my vision. They are reflections of various kinds of tears. Some are from reliving the day, and feeling completely helpless.
A mom’s job is to protect and comfort, and I've failed on the very first day.
Some, though, are 'Happy Tears' because Avery is still with us and I have had the unique pleasure to watch this determined little soul blossom into a handsome young man.
And some tears are also for remembering the little ones who didn't make it home.
Some days, the only way I could escape delirium was to fantasize about bringing Avery home one day, watching and guiding him as he grows and matures....sitting in the audience watching him walk across the stage at his graduation..... hoping he finds the job and wife of his dreams.
At times, while Avery fought so bravely for his life, those day dreams were all I had to carry on. These are all things I think many of us just simply expect, and may be taken for granted a little because after all, isn't that how things are supposed to go?
Well, albeit Avery had the roughest start of many, I am most grateful because he is still here..... strong and healthy. I always am reminded of a conversation I had with his primary nurse who became one of my best friends. I said to her one day, "Do these heart kids grow up to be so spoiled because the moms and dads are just so happy they lived and they let them do and have whatever they want?"
This was a real fear because it is how we were with Avery.
For his first four years, he probably didn't know what the word no meant. Nurse Bonnie gave a little grin and said, "Actually Kim, these heart kids grow up to be the most happy, caring and gracious people I know."
Well, I am happy to say Bonnie was right, Avery is all that and more. There probably haven’t been more than a few days where I haven't heard, "I love you Mom."
So yes, it was a rocky start, but having seen the outcome of these past nineteen years.... it was more than well worth it. It has been living a miracle and an honored gift to be Avery's mom. He has inspired a better person in me in many ways, and paved the most wonderful life path to follow.
Life gives us unexpected events sometimes, but if we search, and sometimes we must dig deep, we can find the silver lining in any event. It's always a choice.
This past Sunday was Mother's Day and I hope that everyone who is fortunate enough to have their mom live close by had a chance to spend some time together.
I am blessed to have spent every day since I was born celebrating Mother's Day with my mom. Last Sunday was my 50th time and it struck me, for the first time, what a rare privilege this was. Across the world, wherever it may be, what we share is that we have a mom.
However, for many of us, Mother's Day is a sad one. Several of my friends have already lost their mom's, and some never knew their mom at all. Some have had great moms, while others have not. I wish to send a heartfelt blessing to those who don't feel like celebrating Mother's Day.
When we become a mom or dad ourselves, it sure gives a whole new perspective to why we celebrate this day. It's darn hard sometimes. I see why people say it is one of the most difficult jobs in the world ...well, to do it successfully that is.
Anyone can be a mom. To be a really good one, it takes patience, unconditional love, tolerance, sacrifice and so much more. We wear multiple hats..... teacher, janitor, taxi driver, chef, maid, and a string of others!
When I became a mom, it was the most exciting day of my life. Of course, the exciting part was only after the horrendously painstaking 17 hours of labour and what I thought to be near death. But once I recovered from that, I felt like I was a natural. I guess that was because I had learned from the best.
My Mom and Grandma were the most remarkable role models I could have ever learned from.
But over the years, being a mom hasn't been so easy for me. My daughter, Jesse, who is now a happy twenty-two-year-old, was diagnosed with autism when she was a toddler. This was the beginning of many frustrating years trying to deal with inclusion and a daughter who didn't fit in.
My son, Avery, was born with a critical heart defect. We almost lost him many times, but now he is a handsome 18-year-old high school honors graduate – even winning the Nelson Mandela Hardest Working Student Award – and is currently in university.
Yes, it has been challenging at times... sometimes very challenging. But it’s the rewards of having two healthy and happy children who fill my life with love and joy that have made it all worthwhile. It’s an honor to be called their mom.
Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world, with not great pay, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have become a better person from knowing them, and I'm happy they chose me to be their mom.