Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King

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Today is Martin Luther King Day, an American federal holiday that marks the birthday of an inspirational clergyman, activist, and leader who is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights in the United States.

My favorite quotations from Dr. Martin Luther King…

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.

The time is always right to do what is right.


Fearlessness

I’m happy to welcome Guelph writer and blogger Lisa Ivaldi. Today, Lisa shares her insights into fearlessness and offers a free download of her workbook, Wake Up to What You Love.

Here’s Lisa!

grizzlybear1Like most people, I have experienced profound, life-threatening fear over the years – meeting a grizzly bear on a walking trail at Lake Louise, spinning out on ice on Highway 401, a bomb threat on a commercial airplane. So I get that fear – the “unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm” – is a warning signal to put your brain and body on hyperalert so that you can more effectively deal with the threat.

It’s a great system designed to keep us safe. But what if fear is taking over your life? What if you (and by you, I mean me) are so firmly rooted in your comfort zone that you are missing out on a larger life? How do you know if you are keeping yourself away from actual threats or if you are just playing it too safe?

These questions all came up for me during a soap making workshop. Yes, you read that right, a soap making workshop! Making soap is a combination of science and cooking – two areas in which I do not naturally excel. The instructor, Linda Boyle, explained the process and it sounded so complicated that I was ready to say forget it – too hard. Then she talked about how the lye* we would use is a caustic and poisonous chemical that can badly burn skin, and I was ready to leave – too scary.

All of a sudden lye was up there on my fear list with grizzly bears and bomb threats. Why did I sign myself up for a workshop that used materials so hazardous they could maim me? If I had known any of this beforehand, I would not have registered.

Fortunately, the instructor was a friend and it was a small class, so my fear of leaving and looking stupid overcame my fear of lye. As it turned out, the process wasn’t that complicated. It was a beginner workshop and Linda walked us through it step-by-step. The lye part was no problem as Linda had premixed it with water and we just had to stir it into the oils. The light went on for me when Linda likened working with lye to making French fries with hot oil – I know hot oil can be dangerous and can cause nasty burns so I am careful!

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After I got home with my beautiful handmade soap I started wondering, how much of life am I missing out on because I think things may be too hard or too dangerous? This prompted me to take the advanced soap making workshop – the scarier one where you have to work with raw lye.

I know it sounds silly, but I really had to push myself to sign up for that second workshop. I’m glad I did because although I enjoyed the classes, I realized that while soap making was no longer scary, it really wasn’t something I want to take up as a hobby or creative outlet.

Now it’s a matter of figuring out when I am avoiding something due to fear or if it is something that is truly not of interest to me. I found a method I like from Dr. Valerie Young, author of Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, “One way to tell the difference is to imagine yourself as the confident, fully capable person you would like to be. If the supremely competent you was faced with the exact same decision, how would she feel? If you’re still averse, then you know something other than confidence or lack thereof is at play, and you have an opportunity to explore what it is.”

So thanks to Soap Making 101, I am now more able to tell the difference between something I might enjoy, if only fear wasn’t holding me back, and something I just don’t want to do. In my mind that’s a key difference between living a small life and living an authentic life. I don’t want to do everything, but I don’t want to miss out on doing cool things just because I am afraid.

(*The lye or sodium hydroxide combines with the oils to make soap – there is no lye left once this chemical reaction takes place.)

Bio

lisaivaldi1Lisa loves sharing information that will have a positive impact on the world. Her first article was published in Vitality Magazine in 2002 and this monthly personal growth blog has been online since January 2011. Her work has also been published in Business Venture, Enterprise Magazine, and, City Parent Magazine.

Lisa’s workbook, Wake Up to What You Love, was published in 2013. She occasionally blogs for The Eco Guide and has written advice articles with her teenage daughter in On Butterfly Wings – an online newsletter for girls.

If you are interested in having Lisa contribute to your publication, she would be happy to speak with you.

Where to find Lisa…

Website | Blog | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter

Download your free copy of Wake Up to What You Love here.


Movie Review: Hidden Figures

As a retired mathematics teacher, I took great pride in watching three brilliant African-American women help launch astronaut John Glenn into orbit. The film focuses on the untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), a mathematical prodigy whose grasp of analytic geometry makes her indispensable to NASA.

But Katherine’s workplace environment is far from pleasant.

As the only female mathematician in a sea of white men, she is barely tolerated by her colleagues and forced to endure indignities. I couldn’t believe her half-mile trek to the “colored” bathroom in a separate building and the “colored” coffee pot that was designated for her use. Thankfully, Director Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) intervenes.

Acting office supervisor (without the proper title or pay), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) deals with an unsympathetic superior (Kirsten Dunst), who accepts and promotes the idea that segregation is “just the way things are.”

Feisty Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) faces discrimination at all levels when she applies to the engineer training program at the University of Virginia.

Eyes riveted to the screen, I alternated between goose bumps and brimming tears, as I watched these ‘60s women surmount challenges and receive the respect and recognition they rightfully deserved. Photos of the actual women in the closing credits add to the authenticity of this larger-than-life film.


10 Inspiring Quotations for the New Year

Setting New Year’s resolutions can be daunting. If you struggle with this task why not draw on the collective wisdom of these poets, authors, and leaders.

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1. Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous New Year by believing. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true. Sarah Ban Breathnach

2. The New Year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.” Melody Beattie

3. Each year’s regrets are envelopes in which messages of hope are found for the New Year. John R. Dallas Jr.

4. For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. T.S. Eliot

5. Maybe this year…We ought to walk through the rooms of our lives not looking for flaws, but for potential. Ellen Goodman

6. Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas and progress. Charles Kettering

7. We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. Edith Lovejoy Pierce

8. And now we welcome the New Year. Full of things that have never been. Rainer Maria Rilke

9. Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.’ Alfred Lord Tennyson

10. Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right. Oprah Winfrey


My Word for 2017

Two years ago, I began this annual tradition.

In 2015, I ended a prolonged writer’s block by selecting Onward as my word of the year. In the twelve months that followed, I wrote articles and book reviews and released two novels—A Season for Killing Blondes and The Coming of Arabella. I also started several projects that were in various stages of completion by the year’s end.

Frustrated by these incomplete projects, I selected Focus as my word for 2016. I applied myself and finished editing Too Many Women in the Room (to be released in Spring 2017). I also wrote several short pieces and participated in NaNoWriMo, completing 50K words of A Different Kind of Reunion (to be completed in 2017 and released in early 2018).

As I contemplated my selection for 2017, I toyed with several words: upward, booming, soaring, flying, success, prosperity, and abundance. Clearly, I was headed in a very different direction, one less linear than previous years. Having proven that I can initiate and complete writing projects, I was now ready to raise the stakes. I also needed to cultivate a more trusting spirit and take more risks.

For those reasons, I have selected Thrive as my word for 2017.

I like this definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary…

1: to grow vigorously: flourish
2: to gain in wealth or possessions: prosper
3: to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances

And this quotation from Maya Angelou…

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

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Thrive ♦ Prosperare ♦ Prospérer ♦ Gedeihen ♦ Prosperar ♦ Trives ♦ Blomstre


Have you selected a word for 2017?


This Year is Yours

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God built and launched this year for you;
Upon the bridge you stand;
It’s your ship, aye, your own ship,
And you are in command.

Just what the twelve months’ trip will do
Rests wholly, solely, friend, with you.

Your logbook kept from day to day
My friend, what will it show?
Have you on your appointed way
Made progress, yes or no?

The log will tell, like guiding star,
The sort of captain that you are.

For weal or woe this year is yours;
Your ship is on life’s sea
Your acts, as captain, must decide
Whichever it shall be;

So now in starting on your trip,
Ask God to help you sail your ship.

By Alfred Lord Tennyson

Happy New Year!

In Praise of Morning Pages and Artist Dates

theartistswayIn 1992, I picked up a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Hoping to inspire and motivate my inner writer, I spent an entire weekend devouring the book and then decided to incorporate morning pages and artist dates into my life.

That enthusiasm fizzled after only one week.

At the time, I was in the thick of my career and personal life. Busy with course preps, curriculum meetings, extra-curricular activities, and family health issues, I found myself unable even to consider adding one more activity to my schedule.

Continue reading on the Killer Hobbies blog.