It is not what we get, but who we become… what we contribute, that gives meaning to life ~ Tony Robbins

Back in January I was talking to a colleague who helps people understand their WHY.  After our conversation he told me that my WHY is “to build relationships based on trust”.  I thought a lot about this over the following months.  I agree that I build relationships based on trust.  I am successful at what I do because I establish relationships and trust, allowing people to be comfortable being open and honest with me, which in turn allows me to help them resolve their issues.  I had a hard time accepting that this was my WHY though, I just didn’t get it.  Last week I was in Albuquerque visiting this colleague and we had another conversation about it.  I explained that it just didn’t make sense to me.  As he asked further questions it was determined that my WHY is “to contribute” and my HOW is “to build relationships based on trust” – YES!  This makes sense!  I lose passion for a project when I don’t believe that I am contributing.  I know how blessed I am and always have my eyes open for opportunities to help others.

My favourite way to contribute each year is to sponsor a family at Christmas.  I get incredibly emotional while I’m shopping, as most of the things that I am buying are things that we take for granted.  Towels, pyjamas, dishes and blankets.  I probably go a bit overboard but the thought of a child not experiencing the magic of Christmas makes me want to cry.  The thought of a mother not able to afford sheets for a bed or warm winter coats for her and her kids makes me so sad.  I think I usually spend about $700 on a family.  $700 is a lot of money and there are a lot of things that I could spend that on, but I can’t think of anything more important than allowing this family to have some comforts that we consider necessities.

Tonight I watched a clip from the Ellen DeGeneres show.  It was about an elementary school teacher who goes above and beyond, contributing to the happiness and well being of her students.  (Coincidentally, or not, she is also from Albuquerque!) She spends the first hour (and her own money) every morning ensuring that her students have eaten, brushed their teeth, combed their hair and are appropriately dressed.  There was an incident where two students at her school needed to be placed in the foster system.  She stepped forward and took the children, for what was to be the weekend, but she has been taking care of them now for six months!  This woman is amazing.  Watch the clip:
Most of us will never contribute like this woman, however that shouldn’t stop us from making our own contribution.  I know that she inspires me to want to do more!
Never think that what you have to offer is insignificant.  There will always be someone out there that needs what you have to give.
A few months ago I contacted Cornerstone Family Violence and Prevention Centre to see if I could volunteer.  I had no expectations about what type of work I would be doing, I just wanted to help.  Doing dishes, driving to get groceries… it really didn’t matter to me.  What I was offered was the opportunity to facilitate Leadership Training to their management team.  I went there to help them and they ended up helping me.  My vision is “To inspire and motivate people to achieve greatness”.  I still struggle with how I will achieve this vision but then things like this happen and I realize I just need to keep doing what I am doing.
I do these things – donate, volunteer and help people because I am grateful for all that I have and want to help make someone’s life a little bit better.  What in turn happens is I get so much more out of the experience than perhaps even the person I am helping.
If you are contributing, good for you and continuing doing so.  If you’re not, start!  If you’re not sure how, let me know, I have lots of ideas!
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give ~ Winston Churchill

The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams ~ Oprah Winfrey


Five months ago a picture, similar to the one above, came across my Facebook newsfeed.  I was immediately drawn to it.  As I looked closer I realized that it was a picture for a swim trip.  A swim trip?  I couldn’t believe something like this existed!  Not only is it a tour for open water swimmers but it is in one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.  I booked the trip that day!

This past week the trip that I have been looking forward to for five months finally arrived.  And it did not disappoint!  For three days I enjoyed my favourite things – open water swimming, hiking, boating and the sun!  There were five other amazing people in the group who made it that much better… not to mention our awesome guides!  We swam in the narrow and twisting canyons for an hour in the morning, had lunch, hiked the red rocks and then swam in a different canyon for another hour in the afternoon.  It was incredible swimming in this lake. The water was crystal clear and the perfect temperature – for me anyway, those who don’t swim in Lake Ontario regularly thought it was a bit chilly!
Chapter 14 of Robin Sharma’s book – The Greatness Guide is titled “How to be a Happier Human”.  He says “As we leave the wonder years of childhood, most of us stop doing the things that make our hearts sing.” While I was in Lake Powell my heart was singing!  “When you get back to doing those things that lifted your spirt and sent you soaring, you reconnect with that state of happiness that you may have lost.”
What would make your heart sing again?
This trip was truly extraordinary.  I am appreciative to the Strel family for creating this tour company.  It’s difficult to explain as most people think of open water swimming as torture rather than something they would fly thousands of miles and pay money to do.  For me though, this is one of the most amazing trips I have ever been on.  To be in the water and look up at the beautiful red canyons and the incredibly blue sky is such a unique and remarkable experience.
The pictures, while beautiful, don’t do justice to the beauty and massive size of the lake and the rocks.  Lake Powell is on the border of Arizona and Utah.  It is 186 miles long with many canyons.  We would be lost somewhere in there if I was driving the boat!  Our hike on Day 2 took us to Rainbow Bridge which is the largest natural bridge in the world.  It is only accessible by boat or a 14 mile hike.  It was spectacular!  290 feet from the base to the top, and spanning 275 feet across the river.
Next year… Montenegro, Turkey, Croatia or maybe Lake Powell again?  I can’t wait!
We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure.  There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we see them with our eyes open. ~ Jawaharalal Nehru

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing ~ Helen Keller

Each week I wonder if I am going to have something to write about.  When I started writing, I had a fear that I was going to run out of ideas.  And then things like this happen…
This past week I had the privilege of meeting and listening to a young man speak about his EPIC adventure and how he got to this point in his life.  I was incredibly impressed with how well he told his story and he nearly had me in tears.  I get emotional when I witness people doing amazing things.  Pushing the boundaries, reaching high and doing what the average person thinks is crazy – I love it… and I cry!
Jacob Pope is 20 years old.  He is smart, well spoken, incredibly driven and he is a hemophiliac.  After a fall at a young age the hemophilia was discovered.  A struggle for a child to be careful not to play too rough, a struggle to be different from other kids.  He attended a camp for hemophiliacs and while there understood that he wasn’t alone.  There were other kids dealing with the same issues.  He is grateful for that experience that helped him realize that he didn’t have to let his condition define him.
Some people use their circumstances as an excuse.  Others are grateful for what they have and what they can do, they don’t focus on what they can’t.  Jacob is a varsity rower at the University of Georgia, he pushes his limits, he doesn’t make excuses.
Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do ~ John R. Wooden
In June 2016 Jacob, along with his friend Chris Lee, will row unassisted in the Great Pacific Race, a race that defines itself as one of the greatest human endurance competitions in the world. 2,400 miles across the Pacific Ocean from Monterey California to Honolulu Hawaii.  Imagine being in the middle of the ocean, in an ocean rowing boat with no assistance.  Just you, your food, a water filtration system and your closest friend… for 30 to 80 days! The water will be rough, there will be storms and there will be no stopping once they start. And their goal isn’t just to finish, their goal is to be the youngest and fastest team to finish.  Additionally Jacob will be the first hemophiliac to row across any ocean.
How is that for an EPIC adventure?
Through this amazing feat, they will be raising money for Hemophilia of Georgia, an organization that has helped Jacob, who now wants to pay it forward.  If you are inclined I ask you to consider making a donation.
I am so excited to follow Jacob and Chris next June as they make their dream come true.  Incredibly inspiring and it makes me want to realize my big dream!
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have always imagined ~ Henry David Thoreau

Life gives us choices. You either grab on with both hands and just go for it, or you sit on the sidelines.


This past week I was at a conference in Scottsdale, AZ.  On the first night, dinner was around the pool. My plan was to go down, eat dinner and go back to my room, go to sleep early and get up to run in the morning.  That was my plan…

I walked into the party and didn’t know anyone.  This is an incredibly uncomfortable feeling for me but I force myself to do it and I fake it.  I walked around but everyone was talking to someone else, I always feel strange jumping in mid-conversation with people that I’ve never met, so I just kept walking around.  Aha!  A women sitting by herself, I go over and introduce myself.  We started talking and we had a great conversation, she was like a friend that I had known forever.  Some time goes by and we go to sit with her colleagues.  I’m having fun.  There was some talk of a local bar that has goldfish racing on Tuesday nights… it was Tuesday night.  I thought, this was meant to be.  I rounded up (harassed) people to join us.  The introvert (me) was organizing the social event with people I didn’t know!
There were 10 of us that ended up going to the bar.  There was in fact goldfish racing.  There are 2 thin troughs filled with water.  You get a goldfish in a glass and a water gun.  There is a starter and you race against someone else by dumping the fish in the trough and shooting it with the water gun to get it to the end.  It’s not as easy (or as cruel) as it sounds.  My fish got half way and turned around and went back to the start line!  This very interesting bar had a life size Connect 4 game (that we challenged some locals to and won), a child’s train ride (that I got in) and a picture cut-out of Gilligan and the Skipper (which I also got my picture taken in).  The highlight of this outing though was taking the golf cart taxi home, equipped with neon lights around the roof.
Needless to say I didn’t make it out for my run but I wouldn’t change this spontaneous event for anything.  Some of the people who I tried to recruit to go out said “I will go tomorrow”.  I told them that you can’t plan for a spontaneous event.  Tonight is the night that it’s happening… and also the goldfish only race on Tuesdays!
The best nights are usually unplanned, random and spontaneous. 
Plans are good, I love plans and 95% of the time I follow them. But don’t be afraid to jump at an opportunity when it appears.
Because I didn’t stick with my original plan I had one of most fun and entertaining nights I’ve had in a long time.  I got to know these new friends and I am still laughing when I think about the night.
The next time someone asks you to do something spontaneous, just do it. You can catch up on your sleep later. (I arrived home late Friday night and slept for 9 hours straight) 🙂
In the end, it is not the days or the years that we remember, but the moments ~ Kobi Yamada