Conquering the Fear

So … this morning I get a text from my daughter-in-law Livy who wrote, “I cried laughing at this.”

“At what?” I ask.

She sends three photos.

The first is a cover page of a swim report she found with her husband/my son Ricky’s name on it. He was 7 years old at the time. He is now 41:

Rickys swim report1Livy next sent a photo of the inside of the report:

Rickys swim report2

Did you notice that no section is checked off or commented on?

The last photo explains why …

Rickys swim card3

The swim instructor writes, “Ricky has never been into the water in swimming lessons…when you ask him to go into the water he refuses and starts to cry…”

Thinking of what he’s done since then, I couldn’t stop laughing today.

I should look for the swim instructor Risa Starr now.

I’d tell her about Ricky setting and overcoming personal challenges such as climbing Machu Picchu, Kilimanjaro, and to base camp at Mount Everest.

I’d tell her about his successful participation in several triathlons.

And I’d take great joy in telling her about his initiative this past weekend: the second annual #organdonorswim, a 30 kilometre, six person relay swim across Lake Muskoka, from Gravenhurst Wharf to Port Carling’s Hanna Park, to raise 1) awareness for organ donation, and 2) donations to send kids with organ transplants to overnight Camp Kivita for a week.

 

 

Who says you can’t conquer your fears? Who says you can’t learn new skills? Who says you can’t change who you are? Who says you can’t successfully achieve goals? Tell them you can, and you will. And figure out the ways to do it…

Organ Donor Swim1

We’re still laughing…

How a Road Taken Can Lead to Unexpected Results

What do you do when you face a challenging situation?

I tend to mull it over and over until a kernel of an idea forms that leads to something that might be a solution. To get there, I talk and discuss with everyone around me until they engage in finding that solution. I gather information. I want to know why it’s challenging. Why has it presented itself? What are the issues? What are possible solutions? And then, in collaboration with others or on my own, I decide on a pathway to what is hopefully a satisfactory resolution.  And that often leads to surprising results.

One example: MAMMA

Challenges about mothering led to development of a MAMMA newsletter, TV series, mini-conferences and workshops.

mamma-five-cousins

The five cousins who ignited the idea for MAMMA.

Those initiatives began with discussions I had with my sister-in-law Marlene whose children were the same age as mine and  sick. Each of my three kids at that time were in the midst of taking turns with chicken pox over the course for six weeks. Hers had croup. We were completely isolated in our homes. No friends over to visit. What saved us from going nuts was our dial up telephone. In our discussions, we recognized that our situation was universal: moms at home had little to no support system.

We bandied about the idea of starting an entity that would address real issues of motherhood. We approached a municipal government organization offering family services about distributing a survey asking moms to indicate their interest in participating in and contributing to what we assumed would be a regular newsletter. Very supportive, the organization’s committee agreed. Response was considerable – and positive. We decided on an unwieldy, yet appropriate name: Modern Activities for Mothers’ Mental Awareness. We wrote articles, invited contributors to write, typed, copied and collated our first MAMMA issue.

mamma-ethel-and-paul-stapling
Each family member, from grandparents to children, took turns at folding and stapling each newsletter

 

mamma-with-kids

 

Eventually, MAMMA became a quarterly publication, edited and designed by professionals, sent to the presses for printing, and mailed to subscribers across the nation and around the world. One issue included a Directory to Home Party and Services that led to a Home Party  feature by Financial Post Magazine. A journalist with a copy of MAMMA asked to interview us and some of the home party business owners mentioned in that issue.

mamma-homeparty_issue

After capturing the attention of local and then national media, we were contacted by the director of a small cable company about the idea of a taped half hour weekly cable show along the lines of our publication. We were excited to take on the challenge.
meet-the-mammas

That gig in turn led us to pitch the idea to a major cable company of an hour long, live, interview and phone in show, once again ‘wo’manned by local volunteers.

mamma-show-control-room

mamma-motherhood-gets-a-network

We became a phenomenon, especially after the airing of an interview with our camera woman – a last minute guest who – til then, it turned out, had received the largest divorce settlement  in the history of Canada! (How well do we know the people who cross our lives?)

media-coverage-decades

You never know when the solution to a problem can lead to wonderful results you never considered. You just have to take the leap.

Another example: GRADING THE TEACHER: A PARENT/TEACHER GUIDE

Challenges about my children’s education motivated me to writing a proposal for an article in one of our local newspapers. It was turned down as not suitable for that publication by the editor – with the suggestion that I expand it into a potential article for a national magazine. With that in mind, I created a report card to send with my proposal to another newspaper. That became the focus of a full page focusing on evaluating teachers, using some of the points in my report. (See the Toronto Sun headline “Marking the Teacher” in the photo below.)

The editor there suggested I use the report as the source of a book.

That led to writing an outline, submitting a proposal, taking on a New York agent, being turned down by 28 publishers, and then contacted by Penguin Books Canada!

My book Grading the Teacher became a best seller worldwide. And … as well as by most major local and national media across the country, it was featured on page two of the newspaper by the very first editor I approached with my proposal for an article!

gtt-media-coverage

Have you taken risks overcoming challenges that led to surprising results? Share your story…

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In the next post, I will describe the background of a completely new initiative I’ve just previewed this past week. Here’s a sneak look:  https://www.facebook.com/NellieJacobsSunnySideUp

Letter to My Children

Friendship

I’m at that stage of life when I am sorting, organizing and eliminating clutter in preparation for moving out and on.  Digging through boxes stored away for years, I am making so many discoveries.  In the process, I read everything. Forgotten memories are stirred up. Letters to and from friends and relatives remind me of past relationships, events, losses and achievements. Among all that paper, I’ve come across notes I wrote to my children to help guide them through life. They grew up into loving, responsible, caring adults, now parents themselves. Hoping they will share this with their children,  written from the heart and unedited, here is one of the letters I wrote to them decades ago:

……………………

LETTER TO MY CHILDREN

Be true.

Discover your whole person.

Develop you.

Draw upon your inner resources.

Success is being happy.

Success is being fulfilled.

Success is being secure with yourself.

Be honest.

Analyze your shortcomings.

Work on a plan to improve.

ENVY

Envy no person.

No one can have it all. No one can have it all. If they do, at what price?

The rich lose their possessions; the beautiful, their looks.

The powerful, fall.

KNOWLEDGE

Learn from others.

Learn from yourself.

Read.

Discuss.

Watch.

Think.

Pause.

SELF-DEVELOPMENT

Identify your strengths. Build upon them.

Admire yourself.

Be proud of your accomplishments.

Identify your weaknesses. Attend to them.

Love yourself.

IMPROVEMENT

Not everything is self-fixable.

Get help if and when you need it.

Grow up.

Become mature.

Take responsibility for your actions and words.

Let go of blame.

CONSIDERATION

Be courteous.

Be irreverent but not rude.

THE RIPPLE EFFECT

What you don’t do can have a great – or greater – effect than what you choose to do.

Consider the effect of your words and actions on others.

SHARING

Carry your share.

Each excuse creates a heavier burden for the rest of us.

RESPECT

Don’t look down at others.

It’s too easy to be critical and patronizing.

LUCK

It is not everyone’s luck to be good-looking, bright, capable and privileged as you.

COMPASSION

Be forgiving.

You may never know what secrets your friends and acquaintances carry.

Be compassionate.

You may never know the burdens and tragedies of people you meet in your lifetime.

PRESUMPTIONS

Don’t presume.

Don’t presume you know all the answers.

You don’t even know all the questions.

No one knows. if he or she says they do, they are either lying or fooling themselves.

SUCCESS

Behind the face of every adult is a kid trying to figure out what the hell he or she is doing.

Some seem to accomplish it better than others.

No one is successful in every area.

The secrets of life are within yourself.

Have faith.

The world is wondrous.

Question values.

Hold onto humour. It may save your life.

FRIENDS

Choose friends you can love,

Choose friends who love you back.

ATTITUDE

Be open.

Learn to trust.

Accept love.

Guard yourself.

Don’t be naive.

Give yourself time.

Be patient with others.

Allow mistakes.

Reach higher, always.

GET HIGH

Forget drugs.

Learn about art. You will appreciate beauty.

Learn about music. Its rhythms captivate.

Study literature. Attend live theatre. Gather ideas.

Forget television and electronics. Interact with people. Volunteer.

Look for positive role models. follow their lead. Become a leader.

Mentor others, then set them free.

Recognize those who labour for you.

Acknowledge their work.

Be open-minded.

Consider new ideas and approach.

BALANCE

Balance your life.

Develop hobbies.

Cultivate interests.

Follow your interests and hobbies.

Become physically active.

Nurture family relationships.

Work at friendships.

Keep in touch. Regularly.

Visit.

Meet for lunch or dinner, movies, theatre.

Phone.

Write.

Email.

Be balanced emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually.

Believe in something.

Nurture yourself.

Pamper yourself.

Relax.

Take time.

Abandon sarcasm.

Don’t goad.

Encourage others.

Give compliments.

Be generous to those who deserve it.

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