The Day They Came

In my final year of high school, we learned about one of the most complex and controversial leaders in the early history of Canada, Louis Riel – an influential Métis leader who sought to preserve Métis rights and culture and led two rebellions against the government of Canada to protect the people – the Red River Rebellion of 1869 and the North-West Rebellion of 1885. He was captured, convicted and hung for high treason, and is also said to be the founder of the province of Manitoba, which now celebrates him each year with a public holiday held in February.

It was the first time I began to understand how disconnected human beings can be in their own humanity. Perhaps I was naïve in thinking that we should all be able to get along, no matter our origins, beliefs and daily routines – and embrace each other from a place of love, curiosity and giving rather than from hate, fear and taking.

One of the assignments we had to complete was to write something – e.g. letter, poem, news article, etc. – reflecting what it was like to be living during that time in Canadian society. I chose to write a poem from the point of view of a young indigenous woman, 18 years of age – the same age as I was then.

For reasons unknown, I never gave it a title. But 20 years after high school, I made a pilgrimage to Louis Riel’s grave at Saint-Bonafice Cathedral in Winnipeg, Manitoba to pay my respects. This history has had a profound and deeply rooted impact on me – shaping my core beliefs of inclusion of all and potential in everyone.

After reading my poem the other day to my sparkle and shine sister, Trina Maher – an Indigenous Inclusion Expert and Member of the Mattagami First Nation in Ontario – she graciously offered this title, “The Day They Came”.  She encouraged me to publish it, especially now, when Canadian society is coming to terms with, including sharing, listening and understanding, what happened in Indian Residential Schools through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, a component of the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

This federal commission was established to ensure the voices of all residential school survivors are heard and, with their consent, recorded as historical record and needed to develop a reconciliation agenda. These testimonies resulted in a report with 92 recommendations for action which is now monitored by the new National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba.

To learn more:  

http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=10

http://nctr.ca/map.php

 

What in history has had such a profound and deeply rooted impact on you, shaping your beliefs?

 

The Day They Came 

A poem written by Nancy Fijan on February 6, 1987
~ with the title graciously offered by Trina Maher on March 13, 2018

 

They came in as gentle rains
Bringing knowledge, God and peace,
She glanced.

 

They grew food and shelters built
Changing her surrounding home,
She watched.

 

They taught from their spiritual books
Revealing an unknown god,
She glared.

 

They left by slaughtering her elders
Exposing their true purpose,
She cried.

Every Day Your Future Can Begin

There are two phrases that caught my attention last year – both have become affirmations of mine as part of my self-care routine. One is the title of this blog – more about this uplifting source of musical inspiration at the end. And the other I read in a book last year – “self-care is a form of social activism” – declared by the brilliant Dr. James Rouse in his beautifully crafted book made lovingly with his wife, Dr. Debra Rouse – Think, Eat, Move, Thrive: The Practice for an Awesome Life. In addition to their truly magnificent treatise on living well, three more books by amazingly talented human beings – Dr. Emily Nagoski, Jacquie Somerville, and Dr. Greg Wells – gave me life-changing insights that I’ve incorporated into my routine, my way of being – with brilliant results and elevating me to a higher starting point for this year of awesomeness.

Let me share with you what stuck with me and hope you explore the books, and the music at the end, to find what is meaningful and motivating for you. What books did you read last year that have made your life better? What lyrics do you sing over and over again to move you forward?

Come as You Are – The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life
Emily Nagoski, PhD

To buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Come-You-Are-Surprising-Transform-ebook/dp/B00LD1ORBI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517414492&sr=8-1&keywords=come+as+you+are

As Emily notes at the beginning of the book, ‘the science of women’s sexual well being is young’. She has crafted a brilliant resource for every adult no matter their gender or stage of their sexual journey. It is full of useful insights backed by science and complementary examples of real-life stories of relevant experiences.

It is laid out in four parts – Part 1 includes the topics of anatomy, sexual personality, and context; Part 2 includes emotional context and cultural context; Part 3 includes arousal and desire; Part 4 includes orgasm and meta-emotions.

The concepts of context, brakes and accelerators resonated the most with me. As did her sleepy hedgehog model of emotional management, which essentially is a process to help work through the doubts or insecurities playing out in your head and limiting or preventing a beautiful experience with your partner:

  • Step 1 – give it a name, e.g. sleepy hedgehog.
  • Step 2 – sit peacefully with it on your lap.
  • Step 3 – figure out what it needs.
  • Step 4 – tell your partner.
  • Step 5 – collaborate to help the sleepy hedgehog.

She encourages replacing self-criticism with self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness – ‘allowing negative meta-emotions, feelings to complete their cycles and release them to create space for the new goal’. In the context of her book, she indicates that – ‘the right goal is whatever is true about you right now’.

This book is a bridge to understanding each other more as human beings and it will, I believe, change the conversation.

Think Eat Move Thrive: The Practice for an Awesome Life
Dr. James Rouse, Dr. Debra Rouse

To buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Think-Eat-Move-Thrive-Practice-ebook/dp/B00GEEB096/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1517414566&sr=1-1&keywords=james+rouse

Dr. James and Dr. Debra share beautifully brilliant strategy for complete life wellness with ‘loving, empowered proactive self-care’. Having had the pleasure of hearing Dr. James speak twice over the past two years, I know that anyone who reads this book and implements any of its practices will evolve into the very best human being possible. He exudes love and is on a mission to change the world – one bite of kale at a time.

The four sections of this book, Think, Eat, Move and Thrive, are complemented by supporting routine templates and recipes to aid you on your wellness journey.

What resonated the most for me in the Think section is WWLD – or what would love do? This is a practice that I do my very best in applying each day – especially when life’s situations get complicated. It serves me well – and is hard sometimes. As they say, ‘when you come from love, you come from a place of wholeness, a place of service’.

Taking heed of their advocacy for plant-based food – specifically dark leafy greens, blueberries, turmeric and avocadoes –  in the Eat section has had the biggest impact on my health. Along with regular exercise being ‘present in my body and mindful in every movement’ as they write about in the Move section, I dropped two dress sizes by the end of 2017 and am on my way to three – and now having a great deal more energy, in general.

In the Thrive section, their thoughts on ‘excelling and going beyond self-imposed limits’ rang true for me. They proport that to thrive is, ‘to really know yourself, know your passions, your purpose, your deepest longings, your mission and your vision for your life’. Simple naked insights that often stare at us blankly waiting for us to choose to act – and when we do, the results propel us to continue moving forward on fire.

This book, made with a deep love for all of humanity, will inspire you to take the most amazing care of yourself.

My Scandalous Little Rule Book: A Scandalous Guide to Sensational Success!
Jacquie Somerville

To buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Scandalous-Little-Rule-Book-Sensational/dp/1590793005/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1517414635&sr=1-1

Jacquie’s book is as vivacious as she is – having first-hand knowledge, cocktails with her and a bunch of conference mates last June at the Ritz in Toronto. It is a fun-loving raw introspective of what is means to truly be a woman in the world today – full of her personal stories and stark advice on how to tap into and live to your full potential, and as a woman. It is the most honest, hilarious, blushingly shocking at times, and helpful book about women, for women, by a woman that I’ve ever read in my entire life.

She begins with some simple advice – ‘Stop being so cautious. Take a risk, achieve some major stuff, and have some fun’. Many more such insights from her resonate with me, including:

  • There are no coincidences in life
  • When life presents you opportunities, trust yourself and jump
  • I have so much love to give – love kept suppressed for fear that vulnerability would leave me weak and pathetic
  • Regret will hold you back from ever being fully you
  • Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
  • Clarity is my life coach and my voice of reason
  • It’s your energy that is causing you grief
  • We all come by our issues honestly
  • Most of us don’t have any idea what our true limits are – we haven’t come close to tapping into our full potential
  • Love others fully and with an open heart
  • Look for lessons in your challenges
  • Grab life by the balls

This book is a must read for all women who march to the beat of their own drum – or really want to!

The Ripple Effect: Sleep Better, Eat Better, Move Better, Think Better
Greg Wells, PhD

To buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Ripple-Effect-Sleep-Better-Think/dp/1443436933/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517414890&sr=1-1&keywords=greg+wells

Dr. Greg Wells is a truly brilliant orator. I’ve also had the pleasure of hearing him speak twice in the past two years. He shares meaningful, complex information about living the best life you possibly can and does it in such a thoughtfully crafted manner that you feel like you’ve just taken a half-semester 3rd year medical sciences university course in the span of a couple of hours – understanding every word of it! His book is just as eloquent and has had an equally positive transformative effect on the routines of my life.

In the Getting Started chapter, the section about dream setting stood out for me probably because I forgot what it meant to dream big along the way. Dr. Greg highlights the power of dreaming big:

‘Dreaming BIG, then making small, consistent improvements,
can revolutionize your health and your life.
If you really want to achieve something, dream yourself into doing it.
Dream setting is powerful.
And it is the most effective way to change your life for the better.’

Supporting the concept of making small, consistent improvements, Dr. Greg’s 1% Tips are well peppered throughout the book and are easily implementable routine changes. As well, his approach in dealing with ‘insurmountable challenges’ that we are often faced with in life aligns with my Dad’s approach of practicing patience. Dr. Greg states that we don’t have to necessarily ‘try harder, react and charge ahead’ – he espouses the benefits of stepping back, resting, recovering, regenerating, and responding strategically. This is one of the best changes I’ve made, try hard to stick to, and is making a noticeable difference in every aspect of my life.

Many of the 1% changes I’ve made are found in the Sleep Better section of the book. Dr. Greg believes that, ‘the foundation of human health and performance is sleeping soundly’. One of the research findings that he shares that says it all for me is that, ‘you can literally wash your brain of waste products and damage each night, if you sleep well’. And even more important than sleeping 7 to 8 hours each night is sleeping on a regular schedule.

In the Move Better section, he shares with us that some research shows that ‘as little as 15 minutes of exercise each day is enough to decrease our risk of certain cancers by 24 – 50%’. This is an incredibly compelling reason to get and to stay active every day. He also shares with us one of his big dreams in this section, specifically – ‘that exercise, physical activity and training become part of life for almost everyone on the planet, and that we are all as healthy as we can be as a result’.

The Eat Better section is full of research backed information about what and how we eat – for example, plant-based foods, Omega-3 fatty acids, safe sustainable fish, probiotics like that found in fermented food and hydrating with water. He recommends checking out the following food guides based on actual research: Harvard Medical School’s Healthy Eating Plate and Brazil’s healthy eating recommendations. Also, the section about the duality of inflammation in our bodies was eye opening one for me – specifically, ‘inflammation is a powerful process that helps repair and regenerate the tissues in our bodies and brains, but if we don’t eat well, are inactive, and sleep poorly, low-grade inflammation develops’- which can become incredibly dire to our overall health.

In the Think Better section, Dr. Greg shares amazing tips, such as how to think clearly to build mental health and happiness, recognize the presence of stress and minimize its negative effects, and get into a state of flow to perform at your absolute best.

This is more than a book – it is a rallying cry. I do hope that many components of it will become part of your daily routine to help you become the best possible healthy version of yourself.

“Every Day Your Future Can Begin”
Lyrics by Scott McMahon, singer and songwriter based in London, UK

To buy his music, go to his cool website: https://www.scottmcmahononline.com/

To understand more about the magic of this incredible artist and beautiful man, check out my Soldiers of Love post: https://anaphoraonline.com/2017/12/13/

Explore his website to find the album and the song that holds these precious lyrics, this powerful truth – then listen to the tone of his voice when he sings it – simply exponential inspiration.

2017 – My Year on Twitter by Nancy Fijan

My Twitter feed is just that – mine. Personalized to the hilt with what or who I’m interested in following to read about, learn from or get inspired by. Keeping a current pulse on the broader world, wondering and being in awe about new ideas, creations, inventions and billion people solutions, marveling at the courage and sometimes quiet bravery of people, and stumbling upon those just in time words of inspiration – all move me to use this medium of society at large, for the most part, each day. Reviewing and deeply reflecting on my feed for 2017, I captured a few highlights of what is shaping my thinking and is steering me along the path I am on to an unknown destination, with the utmost clarity – including brilliant songs that move me and beautiful words that hearten me. Sharing these with you here:

Spotify Playlist: Songs that moved me in 2017

https://open.spotify.com/user/22els2ycayoelrdpdmcu546aq/playlist/3Q6YfAqUwtiWr8s1DbJSPs

Sway: Quotes that inspired me in 2017

https://sway.com/xlVIYdHqG4GXxrCH

And stories about amazing people and organizations doing the world a whole lot of good, which I’ve organized to share with you under four themes: She Rocks, Chasing Abundance, Ingenuity, and The Power of People. Stories about grit and tenacity; stories about getting more connected while being respectful to our planet in these pursuits; stories about improving lives by creating or innovating; and stories about helping people and our beautiful planet, making sure no one and nothing is forgotten, and reminding us of the power of love and of people especially during those times when the worst of humanity prevails. The actions of these people and organizations caught my attention because I have a big heart and care immensely about the welfare of people and our planet; make me grateful for the path fellow human beings are paving for us; and spark my curiosity, turning the wheels in my head, making me think about new problems to solve – knowing that anything is still possible in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In the same spirit, what stories caught your eye in 2017?

She Rocks!

In January at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland – the first all-female orchestra from Afghanistan performed their very first international concert. Given that music and the arts were banned in this country under the Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, this accomplishment is an extraordinary display of courage and a shining example of the power of music to shift outdated views and propel society forward. As one of its members declared in an interview, “…I am confident that music is nothing bad…music is something beautiful.” Exactly, I agree. Not nearly understanding enough about how people in this war-torn country are coping and moving forward, this story about a strong group of female musicians is a good indication that it is getting better – I hope.

In London, UKPhoebe Hugh, CEO and co-founder of ‘insurtech’ start-up Brolly, and her team engaged their customers and the public in a crowdsourcing campaign to come up with a new logo after a big insurer threatened them with legal action over their umbrella logo, which the Brolly team said looked more like a ‘blushing jellyfish’. After over 300 entries, the Brolly team held a cool splashy event to announce the winner of the new logo design. Phoebe stood on stage with music blaring in the background, held a picture of the old logo and turned it upside down. The new logo was just that, an upside-down version of the old logo – looking like a smile 😊 It was the number one suggestion of numerous entrants, and is aligned to their mission – “to turn insurance on its head.” With this marketing win and, later in the year, getting a million GBP in seed money, led by Valar Ventures, a U.S. – based venture fund backed by Peter Thiel – the future is certainly bright for Phoebe and the Brolly team. No matter how heavy your circumstances are, humour and ‘crowdsourcing’ support will pull you through – this I know well.

In Senegal, the story of Yayi Bayam Diouf and her 68 years caught my eye. After her son died trying to cross the Mediterranean, she had to find a way to sustain herself. With help from UN Women, she became the first woman to fish in her small rural fishing village –  and now leads the charge to support and teach other women about sustainable fishing and fish farming, and to learn entrepreneurial skills. Teach a woman to fish and watch her change the world.

And then there is Grandma Mary of Singapore and her 81 years. She learned how to play acoustic guitar at 60 years of age by copying what she saw in books – and now has a collection of over 10 guitars including a Gibson Les Paul. Grandma Mary took center stage with an electric guitar solo this year at Singapore’s National Day Parade, proudly the oldest of 3,000 performers. She reminds us that we can do anything, telling us, “You need to keep learning new things…if an old lady like me can play the guitar, you can play it too.” Keep on rocking in the free world, Grandma Mary!

In the true north strong and free, Canada – Nancy Klensch, founder, creator, innovator and CEO and president of Summit Kids, is creating ‘personalized experiences’ in ‘child centric environments that intersect between home and school’ embracing ‘kids for who they are on their terms’. The focus of their numerous programs is on teaching young people to ‘follow their heart and learn how to be kind and compassionate’. Her passion, tenacity, and formidable results (her business grew exponentially between 2011 and 2016) make her one of Canada’s greatest entrepreneurs and business leaders – she has received numerous accolades recognizing the same. Here’s her video interview that caught my eye – https://vimeo.com/231466562 She says that she has an, ‘obligation to bring Summit Kids to the world’ – I agree, and with Nancy leading the charge, I know it will happen.

Chasing Abundance

Royal Philips is a 123-year-old Dutch technology company headquartered in Amsterdam that is leading by example when it comes to ‘innovating with purpose’, or rather – improving people’s lives through innovation. Even bolder is what they call a ‘moonshot’ goal – to improve 3 billion lives a year by 2025 through meaningful innovation. Their primary focus is healthcare technology – from healthy living and prevention, effective diagnosis and treatment, to home care. For those looking to solve billion-people problems, it’s worth looking at companies and organizations like this one.

According to a Wired blog I read, there are over 285 million people worldwide who are blind or have visual impairments. Companies like Microsoft and Aira have developed mobile apps to help visually impaired people identify their surroundings. Microsoft’s Seeing AI app uses artificial intelligence to describe people, text and objects, and Aira’s headset with built in camera connects to a mobile app that sends images to a remote call center agent to narrate back to the headset wearer. The power of the mobile or cell phone to improve billions of lives is astounding. Mobile phones have become an invasive part of human existence, an extension of individuality, and offer a plethora of conformist type personalization options – and more importantly, offer apps now that are improving the lives of millions tenfold.

I’ve always been excited about the potential of solar and wind power to make the world a better place. And with companies like, Tesla, it’s happening in an exponential way. Tesla is working to solar power entire islands, like Kauai in Hawaii and Ta’u in American Samoa, using thousands of solar panels and hundreds of their PowerPack2 commercial batteries that store solar energy at night. Tesla is helping the world keep the lights on and is rapidly becoming a powerhouse in the energy storage business – for example, solar roofs for homes is going mainstream, and by building the largest lithium-ion battery in the world charged by wind power in Australia to help fight power outages. Clean energy in China is at the forefront to eliminate their reliance on coal and significantly reduce carbon emissions. Companies like China Merchants New Energy Group are building 250-acre solar farms shaped like giant pandas – with the intent of the design to raise awareness about clean energy among young people. If Tesla and China are working on solving this billion-person problem, take heed.

Intersecting solar power and mobile phones, a story about battery-free phones caught my attention from the World Economic Forum. They reported researchers have created mobile phones that consume almost zero power using sunlight to get its needed energy. The most power consuming step in mobile phones today is converting analog signals that convey sound into digital data. The battery-free phone takes the tiny vibrations in a phone’s microphone or speaker that occur when someone is talking and encodes the speech patterns in reflected radio signals that almost use no power. Using Skype calls, researchers were able to receive incoming calls, dial out and place callers on hold using the battery-free phone. The thought of almost never having to charge a mobile phone makes me happy.

Robots, AI and ransomware, oh my. We’ve certainly been exposed to a brand-new digital world in 2017 – one in which Facebook shuts down AI after it invented its own language; one in which cybercriminals are holding the technology of companies and organizations hostage until exorbitant amounts of ransom in the untraceable digital currency, Bitcoin, are paid; one in which Boston Dynamics created a humanoid robot that can do box jumps and backflips, which after watching the video of it, brand designer and music producer Alex Medina responded with a ‘we dead’ tweet; one in which by tracking game data in Microsoft Excel, a robot hand learns how to beat human opponents in Rock, Paper, Scissors. Given this reality – I agree with Elon Musk’s call to regulate AI and robotics like food, drugs, aircraft and cars – a wise move for all of humanity.

Along the same lines, an article in The Economist shares thinking about regulating Alphabet (Google parent), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft given the magnitude of the data they ‘own’ and control. The article proports that data is the most valuable resource in the world, replacing oil. It reminds us that the volume of data is increasing exponentially given almost every activity we do creates a digital trace. These companies essentially have what the article calls, ‘a God’s eye view’ of the economy, locally and globally. Recommendations include taking into consideration the extent of a company’s data assets for M&A activity, and more importantly, creating transparency with consumers regarding the amount of money a company makes off their personal information. Should companies own and control data or should people? Should I be able to make money off companies using my personal information or should they only?

An informative resource that I’ve come to know and use to develop an understanding what’s going on in the world of technology innovation is the hype cycle visual produced by Gartner, an American research, advisory and IT firm. For emerging technologies in 2017, the company evaluated over 2,000 technologies and produced a hype cycle illustrating technologies with the greatest potential to deliver competitive advantage over the next 5 – 10 years. Artificial intelligence as a service, deep learning, machine learning, 5G adoption, transparently immersive experiences, digital platforms – are all on the forefront of technological innovation. And predicted to explode into mainstream adoption are: 4D Printing, Autonomous Vehicles, Brain-Computer Interfaces, Human Augmentation, Quantum Computing, Smart Dust, Volumetric Display – all worth checking out.

Ingenuity

Canadian business schools unite to improve Canada’s competitiveness! Now there’s an audacious goal. Founded by Rotman prof, Ajay Agrawal, at the University of Toronto, the Creative Destruction Lab is a program supported by Canada’s finest business schools (including UBC, University of Calgary, HEC in Montreal, and Rowe at Dalhousie in Halifax) and backed by some of the country’s most formidable business people to help start-up companies (many using AI and other leading-edge technologies) to unleash their potential and get the funding and advice to make it happen. When it launched in 2012, it had a goal of creating $50 million in equity value in 5 years – and in just over 4 years, it exceeded $1 billion. It now has a goal for its graduate companies to create $100 billion in equity value by 2027 and for half the companies to be Canadian based, given it’s also expanding to a broader global reach.

Looking to make flying a more human experience is Airbus – this maker of things that fly is making easy to load and remove modules for airplanes to create ‘experiences’ for passengers, such as coffee shops, co-working spaces, day cares, spas and cycling studios. Essentially allowing the free movement of people onboard a plane and a more comfortable flight. Quite the opposite of the cramped efficient use of space in airplanes today for most travelers. It will be interesting to see how this develops over time – and I’d suggest it will become more probable if alternative clean sources of cheap fuel are used in conjunction.

A team of six women in their early 20’s, all MIT engineering undergrads, invented a device that scans text and converts it into Braille in real-time, called Tactile. Using optical character recognition and Microsoft’s Computer Vision API, the team’s software transforms text to Braille by triggering a mechanical system to lower and raise pins. Their goal is to create an affordable portable device in a Braille market which has had limited advancement or innovation in the past 30 years. They have been accepted to Microsoft’s Make What’s Next patent program. Exciting future ahead for these women and for all those benefitting from their meaningful inventions.

Designed by Elena Larriba, a London, UK Royal College of Art grad, Vycle is a vertical transport system that enables you to bike up walls. It looks like the front half of a bike that is attached to a vertical rail, and can be fitted to the side of buildings, scaffolding or cranes. It is a space saving alternative to elevators, escalators and stairs.  It’s one of the coolest human powered inventions I’ve ever seen with a multitude of global applications, and one that I look forward to using.

The Power of People

When the United States imposed a travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, law students across Canada, organized by students at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie and at McGill in Montreal, participated in a ‘research-a-thon’ to support the Canadian Council for Refugees in helping refugees seeking asylum in Canada. Their goal to was to create summaries of relevant or important legal documents spanning different kinds of legislative provisions, jurisdictional issues, jurisprudence and human rights law. It’s a great example of doing something when you get that burning desire to roll up your sleeves, to help others in need, to put your skills to use, and to make a peaceful stand for what you believe in.

Many of the stories that both saddened me and touched my heart deeply were those of the terrorist attacks across the UK, particularly in London and Manchester. My closeness with London is true and deep, and I found myself texting loved ones and glued to the BBC during the aftermath. In reflecting for this piece, I quickly came to realize that my feelings for one part of the world experiencing such turmoil were not the same for other parts of the world, where, indeed, these horrors were much worse. And I started to feel guilty, because I could not remember all other incidents in the same manner. One could argue that familiarity and love are more prevalent in my heart and mind for places where I’ve been, worked or where I have close friends and family. Thus, I’m grateful for Esri Story Maps and Peace Tech Lab for their effort in keeping the world honest by capturing data for all such terrible incidents and storing online for all to view and use: https://storymaps.esri.com/stories/terrorist-attacks/ As of 2:15pm EST today, there have been 1,128 attacks and over 7,600 fatalities globally in 2017. These are not cool statistics, these are real statistics. For me, the power of people to do good far exceeds the power of people to inflict death or harm – and I’m hoping that with more collaboration, understanding, love and peaceful stands for what you believe in, these attacks will cease from happening. It just must stop.

Another such terrible thing that just must stop in this great big world of ours is what’s happening in Libya, where some of the 400,000 to 1 million stranded refugees and migrants being held in decrepit detention centres are being sold into slavery. Amnesty International’s slogan, ‘People are not for sale’, caught my eye on Twitter, and I was thoroughly appalled when I read what was happening. What the f*&% is wrong with people? Maybe I’m too sheltered in my little home in a safe country making bold statements on my tiny tablet – but this just must stop. The sad thing is that this has been going on for decades because people in countries where refugees and migrants wind up in, give millions of dollars to point of origin countries, like Libya, to keep these desperate human beings from leaving again. Home countries are often too poor to do anything to help their citizens return – more often than not, these people don’t want to return to a place where there is no hope nor opportunity. Brutal and inhumane. It just must stop.

There is hope. Here’s a feel-good story that brightened my mood relevant to the power of people.

I fell in love with sea turtles after numerous vacations to Mexico over the years, particularly to Cozumel and to the Mayan Riviera. For many years, sea turtle numbers were dwindling, and massive conservation efforts came into play. A 16-year study conducted and published by an international team of scientists confirmed this year that sea turtle numbers around the world are recovering – touting this as a ‘global conservation success story’. Efforts made to protect nests, eggs and females and reducing bycatching have made a significant difference, while there remain concerns regarding beach erosion, extreme cold or hot temperatures, and plastics in the ocean. If we can save the sea turtles, we can save everyone. 

 

Soldiers of Love

Soldiers of Love

These beautiful human beings, women and men full of light and song, hop out of bed every morning with joy in their hearts. They pack up their gear and head to their mecca to pay homage to the gods of music – out of love, pure uninhibited and deep love. In London, UK – you will find many of these fantastical songbirds strumming until their fingers bleed along the banks of the River Thames, every single day come rain or shine. In a fake plastic world consumed with instant gratification, their arduous fate, a story shared with likeminded harmonious souls around the world, is one that needs to be heard, with great respect and dignity, and because of love.

A busker’s heart is full of passion – a lust for music deep within the soul. To listen to music, to create music, to play music – nurtures and sustains their existence in this great big world. A busker’s mind is wired to persevere in the truest sense, dictionary.com defined, i.e. to continue, “in a state of grace to the end”. Chivalrous to the core, these soldiers of love march on with authenticity and bravery tattooed on their arms. They hone their craft and unleash exponential potential through elated exertion for thousands of hours. These bringers of joy teach us to follow our hearts, to find beauty in our sometimes-dark world– and graciously lead us on by spreading peace, love and joy to all through their gift of song.

Fortunate for me, I had the pleasure of meeting one such beautiful soul in December 2016 in Zurich at Robin Sharma’s Titan Summit – a soldier of love, born in Scotland and existing in London, UK, a true artist, Scott McMahon.

Website: https://www.scottmcmahononline.com/

 

When he played the stage at the Park Hyatt Zurich, I was lost. I felt things that I hadn’t felt in a long time – it was as if no one else was in the room. His quiet confidence teeing up his set got my attention, and when he sang, the world stopped. His power, his passion, his confidence, his energy uplifted every person in that room, and captivated my soul. He was not only singing to us – he was singing to the world, and to all the great rock gods before him. I just felt it. His passion for music runs incredibly deep. His new album, Lion Taming, was created with love within a year of his previous album, Natural History. This new masterpiece, I whole-heartedly believe, is the climax of his evolution as an artist and is elevating his rising star. Download it, listen to it – he takes you to the most wonderful places in his vast and varied stories of love.

The Music in Me

Music is an expression of life – melodic, soothing, energizing, and has millions and millions of songs and symphonies still to be written. It comes from the depths of souls, the fires in hearts, and the creative potential in minds. And it is in me.

I started pouring music into my soul when I completed my first glitter poster project on my favourite artists at the time, Hall and Oates, for Mrs. Matsui’s Grade 7 music class. And this continued after I attended my first real stadium concert, Rick Springfield, at age 13 on my own; and so many more concerts by iconic artists over the years like David Bowie, U2, and Pat Benatar; most recently having the joy of seeing the timeless and powerful Stevie Nicks in Toronto last November.

AC/DC’s Back in Black was the very first album I ever got, and hundreds more records, cassette tapes, and CDs over the years. I’ve listened to thousands of songs so far in my lifetime – and still get excited to hear a new song or check out a new artist, and instantly now with the luxury of streaming music from around the world on Spotify.

Other than attempting to play viola and to sing in the school choir in middle school, I consider myself an enthusiastic appreciator of music and believer in the power of human potential.

My mother’s father, Antun Tkalec, my late grandfather, was the musical genius in my family – he was a self-taught musician who could play and write music for seven instruments in the local village brass band, Habeki, in Mali Bukovec, Croatia.

His musical talent was passed down to his grandson, my cousin, Zeljko Tkalec, who today hand crafts electric and acoustic guitars out of wood in Croatia.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tg.tkalec.guitar/?hc_ref=ARTc7nwpIPbOHFqWzkMwGdnth-cG1rNXrd3v_qJ3FETPhW4-JMN6RxnTI5UzPGBskjA&pnref=story

And to his great-grandson, Toni Tkalec, a singer, songwriter and musician in the Croatian band, Jam Ritual.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamRitual/?hc_ref=ARQDOQOQLduihP5Ko_otJr4ciDENjuwNz3Q6CzXlGLf11Xc6zlN5TLh-6Yg4HAreE-4&pnref=story

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glLo8BTnEAs

What More Do We Need?

To survive as humans on this planet, we basically need food, water, shelter and clothing. To grow into our full potential, we need sanitation, education and healthcare. To pave a path to universal acceptance and understanding of every individual, we need music. Music is the definition of equality. Music is the definition of freedom. Music is the definition of unconditional love.

Copper Connecting

When I walked in the Park Hyatt in Zurich last December, the overwhelming beauty of the incredible sculpture in the lobby deeply touched my soul. This gorgeous art installation, called ‘Networking’ created by Swiss artist Martina Vontobel, has thousands of very thin copper wires woven together in unique massive shapes, exposing light and transparency. It is said to represent the connecting of people, bringing them together. The material used, and purpose of design perfectly foreshadowed the intent of my visit – to attend Robin Sharma’s Titan Summit, an annual event drawing scores of fascinating people from around the world in the common pursuit of becoming icons and legends, and making the world a better place with the contribution of their individual gifts. My entire experience in Zurich, the hotel and attending the Titan Summit, changed me in the very best possible way forever, like copper connecting.

Copper is an intriguing element in our planet. It can be used directly in its natural metallic form and has been used by humans, since c. 8,000 BC according to Wikipedia, as building material, decoration, jewelry and currency. Copper has evolved in the significance of its use in modern times, primarily as an electrical or thermal conductor in cars, computers, and microwaves; and it continues to be used in architecture because of its corrosion resistant properties. It is also an essential element to human health, particularly as it is required for normal metabolic processes to occur in the human body. The longevity and complexity of the multifaceted use of copper in our human existence is truly remarkable. It truly is a conductor, of the finest human symphony, keeping things and people functioning, moving forward – quite a powerful distinction to hold, like the effects of the Titan Summit on those in attendance.

Given the powerful properties of copper as a conductor, naming this captivating installation, ‘Networking’, is compelling. Through it flows the energy of like-mined individuals looking to connect and develop mutually beneficial associations or relationships. The copper sculpture allows for human electricity to be generated, fueling personal and professional growth. This connection, this binding or joining together, requires a person to act. Whilst the copper stands still, energy flows only when humans press the button, turn it on, or as implied by its namesake, initiate contact with other humans. Conductors, like copper, are all around us in various forms; it’s the action of connecting through these conductors that we as humans have the capacity to initiate thus unleashing power, or rather, positively charged outcomes.

Have you ever been in a room of people where the vibe was totally electric? Where you felt good energy flowing through all of you? And whilst soaking in the rays of positivity, you realized that you made the best decision of your life? That’s how it felt for me at my first Titan Summit, facilitated by the strongest conductors of human energy in existence today, Robin Sharma and his vibrant faculty. Within four life changing days, I made personal connections with over 30 incredible human beings, and professional associations with many more. This diverse, open-minded, kind hearted group of individuals, or Titans, from all corners of the world, and from all walks of life – business leaders, artists, professionals from all disciplines, humanitarians, and inspiring entrepreneurs – aspire to be the very best human beings possible in their pursuit of leading a giant life.

Titans push and encourage each other to climb individual mountains through discipline, self-love, mastery, and incredible bravery like that found in the upper echelons of the greatest human beings of all time, e.g. Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa. They act and are always in forward motion, looking to improve their performance each year and maximize their contribution to society out of deep love and respect for humankind. Collectively their individual energy is powerful enough to cause significant shifts in how others think, behave and act – quite profound is their force on humanity, and it is growing stronger and more influential each year.

With the spirit of a hero and the heart of a saint, Titans infuse their glowing energy on all who have the joy of being in their presence. You’ll have the very best conversation with any one of them. These beautiful people, through their hard work and discipline, have abundant clarity about their innate talent, strong passions, and what their gift is to the world. Spending four days engaging with this eclectic crowd certainly fires up your game and polishes your perspective on life. More importantly, you will come to understand who you really are and where you need to go, and will have the support of giants to get there.

Sitting in my stylish room at the Park Hyatt Zurich before the event, I was full of fear and doubt, while at the same time I was very excited to be there. I wasn’t sure that I belonged in this high performing world-class group of accomplished and inspiring individuals. Given I’m a Type A personality with a lot of heart, I swallowed hard, took a deep breath, trusted myself and my core social strengths, and plunged right into the fear of the unknown. Wow! I’m forever grateful that I pushed myself forward. At the end of day one, I had a little cry in my room – a happy cry, because I knew that I found my tribe, finally. As soon as I first introduced myself to someone I did not know (which was pretty much everyone!), I knew right away that, based on the verbal exchange and connection that ensued, I belonged.

These glorious conversations will forever be imprinted on my mind and have been a source of light in my life ever since. Conversations full of bigger, richer perspectives about the world, overwhelming compassion and understanding for all, encouragement to pursue your true self, sharing and listening without fear or judgement, acceptance of vulnerability, letting it all out, i.e. whatever is wearing you down, and emptying the darkness in your mind. Talk about copper connecting – just amazing what spending four days with incredible people can do to energize your heart, mind, body and soul to move forward in pursuit of your life’s purpose.

Inspired and moved by the beautiful copper sculpture called ‘Networking’ sitting quietly and elegantly in the lobby of the Park Hyatt in Zurich, I changed the conversation of my life by forging meaningful new life-long relationships with a group of people called Titans, my new tribe. These conductors of all that is great in the human spirit helped unleash my mind, open my heart, invigorate my body, and feed my soul. In connecting with them, I have come to know my own purpose and now have the clarity, relationships and tools I need to leap forward with my life.