Posted in Family, Inspiration, Living from the soul, Motivation

Memories of Mom Living her Passion.

IMAG3216“Come and look at the sewing machine with me.” My mom beckoned me to follow her to the dark corner where the old singer sewing machine had been stored for several years since she became blind.

She uncovered the sewing machine.  The cloth over it was a heavy linen which had covered it for decades. She pulled out the small wooden draws on the side and took out a small brush to dust it. She gently pulled it out from the dark corner to the light and then started to test the peddles which seemed to be stuck and made a funny creaking sound.  She found an old bottle of  machine oil, safely tucked inside the drawer and applied it to the various small machine parts while she tested the peddles over and over until it rolled with ease. Her numb hands fumbled with the parts and they dropped from her hands occasionally. She bent her head and strained her eyes as much as she could but she did not stop  until she felt that she had given the sewing machine the proper care and touch which it needed.  It seemed to me that at the end of that experience she looked exhilarated.

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My tears flowed nonstop as I helped her with the sewing machine and observed the pensive and thoughtful look on her face.  I know how much this sewing machine meant to her and I am sure that if she was right here with me, she would tell me that it was her lifeline. Back in 1929, women like my mom did not have the fair advantage to go to school.  She was denied an education because she was the eldest child and had to stay home to help her mother with the house work.  I believe that she must have been about fifteen when she learnt how to sew with one of the top seamstresses from the neighbouring village of Laborie.  To get to her sewing classes, she had to walk almost an hour to and from the class.  She got married about fifteen years as well and her father, who had been physically absent from most of her life,  gave her  the sewing machine – I believe as a wedding gift. She smartly invested her time in mastering the art and developed her small business in sewing tailored made clothing for  the people in the community.  She was one of the few seamstresses in the community.   Many people came to our home with bags of cloth and styles of clothes from catalogues and gave countless instructions to my mom so that she could turn their visions into wearable garments.

Looking back, I can see what a great mom and entrepreneur she was!  She kept everything in balance by waking up early, getting us all ready for school, cooking meals, doing all the house chores and creating the time to live her passion for sewing as well as earning an income. She sewed all of our clothes and uniforms as well as my dad’s pants and shirts and even the undergarments. Just before his death, he showed me some of the pants which she had made for him and which we still wore up to 2012!   All of my three sisters and I learnt how to sew by watching her.  However, she never wanted us to  sew as a means of earning an income. She believed that we could do more than that and ensured that we had the support which we needed to have a good education.

As an adult, I appreciate all what my mom did a million times more now than I did while I was growing up.  She had a lot less to work with – no education, less money, less opportunity, no management training, no marriage counselling, no parenting classes, no brands, no luxuries… but she had courage, faith, vision, great time management skills and knew how to prioritize her time to get things done. She lived her passion for sewing.  I can only imagine the devastation she felt when she became blind and could no longer live her passion.  Yet, she courageously accepted her fate and one of her favourite lines were “It is not my will but if God wills it for my life, I accept. ”

Those photos were taken in 2007 on my first visit to Saint Lucia after migrating to Canada in 2003. She crossed over in 2011.  I will always hold on to those memories and I am glad that I captured those moments with those photos.

Live your future now.  Do what matters to you and don’t wait for perfect circumstances.

Love,

Magdalene

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He has held 31 different jobs – a few tips on embracing life’s unexpected journeys…

“If I can put a smile on two people’s face each day, I will give back to my parents what they did for me.” This is the philosophy which Kyle Wannermaker lives by and which many of us in our neighbourhood have experienced with him. A single dad of three daughters for a good part of his life, although he is now happily married, he has faced several challenges in his life but his upbeat and positive attitude about life can’t help but give hope to others. His constant message is “Don’t give up!” His mom was a Mohawk and his dad a German – an interesting combination which has had a strong influence in his love for the earth and his entrepreneurship spirit. Kyle’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances especially with the workforce is incredible.
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His first diploma was in electronic engineering and he worked back then with Nortel until the crash which forced him into new career pathways. He has another diploma in recreation management and in festivals and community events management from Algonquin College. He showed me his folder which has business cards of about 31 different job titles he has held over the years ranging from being a mason’s helper, a plant specialist, running a taxi service, the owner of three retail flower stores, staffing supervisor, marketing director, landscape, event manager, property manager, banker, auto sales and repair and so many others. He has done all combinations from having a full-time job to having two jobs at a time, to being his own boss and to sometimes having no work at all! When I asked him what his best job was, he asked me “Economically?” And so I was surprised when he said he netted $78,000 as a flower delivery staff for a flower store. I would have never imagined there was so much money to be made in delivering flowers… this was what led him to owning three flower stores later on. His experience in life is so broad and varied that he also describes himself as an “old fashion encyclopedia” and encourages people to ask him anything!

How can one shift from so many jobs? In North America, I have learnt that it is normal to change careers 3 – 5 times, but Kyle has far broken that record. His response to that is to embrace the journey. “Every time I search for a new journey, I meet amazing people. However the key dominator is gardening!”

Interestingly enough, it was his garden that ignited my interest in wanting to talk to him. He has a passion for gardening and you can feel it immediately as you look into his yard which is very close to the bus-stop where many of us catch the bus in the morning. His garden is usually the topic of conversation because of the combination of flowers and vegetables in there but more importantly, the people in he area feel connected to the garden because he has opened it up to us to use whatever vegetables he has growing. Last week, a neighbour was joyfully telling us that she had picked about 20 lettuce leaves the night before. He gave a few of us some tips about harvesting the lettuce by pulling the leaves from the outside of the plant and not pull out the entire plant. This allows the plant to continue producing more leaves from the centre.
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“I try to put a positive spin on the eco system as well and use what people throw away into something useful.” This is clear in the many recycled things he showed me in his garden from the stones he used to create his walkway to the flower pots and my favourite one was the small tomato plants he rescued from a neighbour who was throwing them away. He created a lovely row of tomato plants at the curb.
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Kyle also shared with me that he took thrift management courses which has also helped him to be wise about how he uses things as well as to think more carefully between needs and wants. Over the years, he has learnt that he does not have to buy everything. For example, most of the plants in his garden came from “somewhere” or “someone”. He shared one story of being able to get about $6000 worth of plants from a person who was changing his front yard to interlocking bricks. Kyle took all the plants which would have been discarded and beautified his cottage property. Similarly when someone else was changing his front yard and Kyle received six truck loads of topsoil for this garden. He also gives back a hundred fold to others from this garden or if someone gives him a plant he would happily be of some service in their garden. Instead of buying plants full price, he waits for them to go on sale and then buys them. He starts plants from seeds in his small greenhouse in the basement – so from a packet of seeds which cost $2.49, he can get up 19 plants which could cost as much as $60.00!
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It is hard not to notice the deep gratitude that Kyle has for everything in his life and the compassion which he has for people. Regardless of the challenges he has faced, he seem to attract good things to him and I could not help but ask him how he does that. His simple answer was “Give back to others” He feels blessed and that feeling of gratitude and trusting that life will offer all that he needs as he also plays his part in making an effort to move forward, is really the key to personal success.

For those of us who think that we don’t have a green thumb to start a garden, his message is “Can you care for a seed?”

We are living in times where our ability to adapt to change is critical for survival. More importantly though, is our ability to embrace those changes as part of our journey but to also stay rooted in our values and who we are at our core. One of the things that Kyle has learnt about himself, regardless of all the career/job changes, is that being with the earth matters to him. “When I am with the earth, I feel I can get access to higher powers within me… it is my inspiration.”
TuneIn today to that inner place within you. What would you need to remain connected to in your toughest moments in life? StepUp to offer something to someone… giving and receiving is the continuous natural cycle of life which keeps all things flourishing. Sometimes, we perhaps don’t need more money… maybe we need to re-think the difference between our needs and wants and how to better use what we do have!
Love,
Magdalene

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How To Destroy Opportunities That Can Give Us A Career Break, A Better Relationship….

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It is easy to destroy opportunities that could give us a great career break, a promotion or a better chance at having a great relationship with a co-worker, friend, neighbour, child or partner. Even though much of world has gone digital, the human connection is still at the heart beat of making or breaking us. I take a deep interest in observing human interaction around me and very often I see situations that I think could have been dealt with differently, if only we are a bit more aware. Sometimes we think that how we behave at home is different from work but I think it is hard to separate the core of who we are. A happy person will carry that feeling of happiness everywhere they are. An angry person will carry the energy of anger whereever they are, even if they are dressed in the best garments.

From a soul perspective, I know that our souls are longing for expansion, advancement and to be filled with light. It longs to feel good about what we do on a day to day basis.

This list is not inexhaustible but here are a few things that can make or break the deal:

a) Not paying attention to who has influence and power to make or break you.

A few years ago, in the middle of a work crisis, a wise older woman wrapped her arms around me and said, “Magdalene, pay attention to every single person in the company. Acknowledge the smallest worker, for he or she has influence which is bigger than you may realize”. How true that was! Shortly afterwards, the person who opened the door to a specific opportunity for me was the cleaner who got to know more about me and was connected to the head of another organization who was looking for a person with my skill set. I was very surprised at the turn of events in this specific case. Sometimes we think that only our boss has the power to promote us – WRONG! Think of all the people who can talk to your boss or partner or child about you! I have seen cases where so much negative information was fed to the decision maker that it ruined any possibility of promotion for the worker, even when he had all the skills and could do the job. I have also seen people get promoted simply because others spoke about them in such a positive way. The more people who you have good relationships with – the better!

b) Lack of self-awareness:

Sometimes we have no idea of how our actions, body language, words and general energy comes across. I once interviewed a woman who looked so tired that even though she had an impressive resume and I believed that she could do the job, her low energy level simply drained me. Another time, someone else was so bubbly and excited that she too drained me because it was hard to keep up with her extremely high energy. I was once interviewed and did not get the job because I came across as being too confident! Since then I have learnt how to be a bit more humble and to also match my environment so that I fit in and not to stand out in the “wrong” way. Now, from a cross cultural perspective, this is very sentitive as behaviours from one country may be completely misunderstood by another country. It is important to educate yourself about other cultures, ask lots of questions if you are not sure of how you come across and be observant about how business is conducted around you.

c) Insecurities:

People who are insecure in themselves feel that others are constantly against them or attacking them. This results in a constant inner battle which makes them guard against others to the destruction of establishing productive and positive relationships. If you are constantly complaining about everyone or feeling attacked by others, it is likely that you need to do something different to change that around. Exhibiting “smart-ass” behaviours, making rude remarks or making statements that put another person down sets a RED alarm, makes others feel inadequate and immediately begins an upspoken “battle”. I recently watched one person rolled her eyes and exchanged a dirty look with someone else, while their colleague was speaking and even though it was not targeted at me, I immediately developed a dislike for the person’s behaviour. I could not help but wonder if I worked with these people, whether I would be treated in a similar way.

d) Lack of gratitude for the simplest to the grandest things:

By nature, human being like to be appreciated and the more we can say “thank you” to others, the more we attract positive energy our way. By simply not acknowledging the good in others, we diminish the light around our own soul. Find ways to show your gratitude to others. Send a card, call to express your sentiment, send an e-mail, treat a person to lunch or coffee, buy a small gift… I try to express gratitude to at least one person each day and it always creates an uplifting energy!

Imagine if each one of us took individual responsibility to touch everything we do with gratitude, generosity, good intentions, love and sincerity. The best part of it all, is that the moment we become aware of the behaviours that can cause destruction in our lives, we have the power to change it around. Our soul loves nothing more but to expand and grow in a positive light.

TuneIn to what is causing destruction in your life and StepUp to make the change required to attract amazing opportunities.

Love,
Magdalene