Sunday, April 25, 2010

Geoffrey Canada....

(Geoffrey Canada with Children from the Promise Academy Public Charter School in Harlem)

And tonight, some child will go to bed,
No food, no place to lay their head.
No hand to hold, no lap to sit,
To give slobbery kisses from slobbery lips.
So you and I we must succeed,
In this crusade, this holy deed,
To say to the children in this land:
Have hope. We're here. We take a stand!

(Taken from Geoffrey Canada's poem "Take a Stand")

As someone who has spent the majority of her professional career as a teacher, nothing inspires me more than people who devote their lives to making a difference through education. Geoffrey Canada is one such individual.

In his 20-plus years with Harlem Children's Zone, Inc., Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform.
Since 1990, Mr. Canada has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children's Zone, which The New York Times Magazine called "one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time." In October 2005, Mr. Canada was named one of "America's Best Leaders" by U.S. News and World Report.

In 1997, the agency launched the Harlem Children's Zone Project, which targets a specific geographic area in Central Harlem with a comprehensive range of services. The Zone Project today covers 100 blocks and aims to serve over 10,000 children by 2011.

The New York Times Magazine said the Zone Project "combines educational, social and medical services. It starts at birth and follows children to college. It meshes those services into an interlocking web, and then it drops that web over an entire neighborhood....The objective is to create a safety net woven so tightly that children in the neighborhood just can't slip through."

The work of Mr. Canada and HCZ has become a national model and has been the subject of many profiles in the media. Their work has been featured on "60 Minutes," "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "The Today Show," "Good Morning America," "Nightline," "CBS This Morning," "The Charlie Rose Show," National Public Radio's "On Point," as well in articles in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, USA Today and Newsday.

Visit this link to to view more information and to watch a segment where Geoffrey shares his views on teaching. You can also visit the Harlem Children's Zone to find out more.

Og Mandino....

(Image via Og Mandino blog)

"Weak is he who permits his thoughts to control his actions; strong is he who forces his actions to control his thoughts. " Scroll VI

I was checking out the Og Mandino website last night and subsequently ended up on the computer all night! The site is called "Intentional Creation - Og Mandino for the 21st Century", and I completed the free Intentional Creation Assessment that is on there. It was really, really interesting. You do two quick activities and you get an analysis of your external and internal world. It tells you aspects of these two worlds that are balanced, slightly out of balance, frequently out of balance and consistently out of balance. For each aspect you can discover what your thoughts want you to do, what the sabotaging thought process in this area often looks like, and a positive affirmation for this area.

For example, in my internal world I am consistently out of balance in one thing; being Pragmatic. My thoughts want me to be anxious, impatient and annoyed (oh boy, is this ringing true for me or what!). The affirmation I can tell myself and need to remember when these sabotaging thoughts come to play is "I am process oriented. I accurately and realistically assess the time, energy and actions needed to create my dreams and make them a tangible reality."

There is nothing that I am consistently out of balance in, in my external world but what struck me was the areas that I am balanced in here: Empathetic, Compliant, Consistent, Proactive and Tolerant. These actually match my strengths (as seen when I shared my results from the strengths finder assessment). In my internal world my ability to be Resolute and Unconditional is balanced. (Good to know since the possibility I created for myself a little while back was unconditional love and inspiration!).

Anyway, I found it really interesting, particularly in helping me to be more aware of the areas in which I am frequently out of balance. Now I have some little reminders to tell myself when I fall into the trap of listening to my sabotaging thoughts.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Love and Hugs....

To my sister Lauren who ended up on the operating table yesterday having her appendix taken out (Dude, you go to pretty good lengths to get out of work my friend.....!). Hope you are feeling ok honey. x

Monday, April 19, 2010

Why People Fail....

I actually finished this book about a month ago now, but really wanted to make sure I posted about it. It really was very straight forward and easy to understand. Although I haven't put any of the tips into practice yet, there are definitely a number of them that I will.

Siimon Reynolds presents 16 obstacles that he believes are the barriers to success and explains how to overcome them. These obstacles are:

1. Unclear purpose: When you have a clear and inspiring life purpose, every department of life becomes easier.
2. Destructive thinking: One of the greatest moments of a person's life is the moment they decide to no longer be a victim of their destructive thinking and commit to taking charge of their thoughts.
3. Low productivity: People ho fail usually don't take enough action. Productivity is simple. Get clear about what you want; Take action; Change your approach if it isn't working, and stick with it if it is.
4. Fixed mindset: Those with a growth mindset value learning and progress over anything else. As a result of continued growth in every field of life that they value, people with a growth mindset are always getting better and more adept at the stuff they work on.
5. Weak energy: Together, natural foods, vigorous exercise, regulated sleep and daily meditation to relieve stress will work wonders.
6. Not asking the right questions: The quality of your life depends on the quality of the questions you regularly ask yourself.
7. Poor presentation skills: Nothing big happens until someone sells someone else on something, whether its an idea, a product, a service or a person. The only solution is to get good at presenting as fast as you can.
8. Mistaking IQ for EQ: Our emotional wisdom - our empathy for others, our self-discipline, our optimism and our ability to get on with those around us - has a far higher impact on our success or failure in life.
9. Poor self-image: Visualise that you are successful for at least a few minutes every day.
10. Not enough thinking: Successful people resist the urge to leap into action without forethought; instead they carefully plan their line of attack. Dedicating hours, days or even weeks to conceiving breakthrough ideas is a vital part of achieving uncommon success.
11. No daily rituals: Rituals are at the heart of any effective success system. By developing a series of activities that become habit and therefore don't require huge effort to do, you make progress towards your goals every week.
12. Stress:Its not what happens to you that makes you stressed, its how you react to what happens.
13. Few relationships: Highly successful people always develop a crack team of advisers to help them reach their goals. You are only as good as the team around you. The key is to develop these relationships before you need them.
14. Lack of persistence: Most people get ahead of the pack by simply trying harder, working longer, doing more and basically just persisting longer than the average failure. Behind all those exciting stories of the mega-successful, you'll usually find that good old, down and dirty persistence was the real secret to their stardom. Push yourself. Go the extra mile.
15. Money obsession: Putting money or fame first in your life leads to less happiness, poorer health, less community involvement and lower self esteem. Build your life around relationships, community, serving others and appreciation, and all the research says you will have a far more enjoyable time than the money worshippers.
16. Not focusing on strengths: Its far smarter to design your life (as much as you can) around your strengths. Life is short. Don't spend it doing things that you are neither good at nor particularly enjoy. Anyone can recreate their life so that they are doing more things that nurture and enrich them, and that they have a talent for. All thats needed is the will to make it happen.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Today I am grateful for amazing friends who are full of compassion and love; fellow lulu's who wear crazy outfits and tell crazy stories (You know who you are Miss Chan!); self belief; authenticity; coffee and chats with a beautiful soul; and precious time with my little man (especially his tickles!).

Monday, April 12, 2010

You're not that important but you are the centre of the universe....

I came across something from Danielle Laporte tonight that I found fascinating. She put forward the following two ideas:


This is Part One of a two part exercise. Repeat: this is not a philosophical declaration to carry around in your heart. Rather, it's a soul-teaser to wind through your bean and shake up some thought forms.

The world will go on if
: you don't show up at work.
: you don't post to your blog tomorrow.
: you cancel the meeting.
: you stay in bed all day.
: you don't sign the contract.
: you don't answer the phone.
: you don't check your email.
: you leave town.

CEO, #1, Captain, President, The Leader.
Who cares. It's just business, moving parts, day to day. You can be replaced.

Mother. Father. Teacher.
Aside from single parents caring for little ones, you're just not the only influence in your children's lives. They may not even want to stick around when they grow up. You may never be thanked. They will find their way with or without you.

Lover. Partner. So-called Significant Other.
Replaceable. And God knows, as a partner, you can certainly be improved upon.

You're one in a about six and half billion. A speck. A blink in the eye of God. A nano micro weeny zip in the eons of time and vastness of space. No one's happinessreally depends on you - no one's. People can take care of themselves like they always have. It's most likely that one hundred years from now, nobody will so much as mention your name.

You're just passing through, and times flies.

Life will go on with or without you.

How does it feel to consider that?


This is part 2 of the exercise

So much is because of you. The letters you've written and sent, the touches, the kisses, the parties. Every grain of advice, set of directions, every breakfast for guests. That quarter you tossed into a panhandlers hat could have facilitated the call that turned it all around. Little kindnesses, grand gestures. The doing of your being imprinting place and time. Inevitably.

Consider everything you've ever been thanked for.
Every photo you've been in.
Every corner you've turned.
Every time you've signed your name.

Consider that you radiate. At all times. Consider that what you're feeling right now is rippling outward into a field of is-ness that anyone can dip their oar into. You are felt. You are heard. You are seen. If you were not here, the world would be different. Because of your presence, the universe is expanding.

How does it feel to consider that?

What struck me when I read this was how both ideas are true but how easy it is to lose sight of them. Life totally goes on whether we do any of the things listed or not - but we so easily fall into the habit of thinking we 'have' to do everything. That we can't stay home from work if we're sick, that we must be contactable everywhere we go, that we can't take one day each week or even every now and then for ourselves. But we absolutely can. The times I have been acutely aware of this has been during periods when I have been ill - most recently, when I went through postnatal depression. The thought of all those daily things and bits and pieces not being done was initially unfathomable. But when it came to the crunch and I had no choice but to remove myself from everyday life as I had known it, the world did not end. I pretty much dropped out of my usual existence for a good number of weeks/months and life went on. Funny that....

On the flip side, I love the idea that we are the centre of the universe - but for all those reasons that really matter (you know the ones we often don't stop to think twice about or the ones we take for granted). How amazing is the impact we can have on the world around us from just 'being'. The letters you've written and sent, the touches, the advice - so beautiful and empowering when you stop to think about it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Firestarter Sessions....

I'm so excited! I've signed up to do Danielle Laporte's "Firestarter Sessions" which is a digital experience for entrepreneurs. It starts in May but if you pre order you get to download a PDF of some of the work to get a taster of what its about. It is so inspiring and motivating and interesting that I woke up at 5am the morning after I downloaded it because I just wanted to get stuck into it. I took so many notes its not funny because everything resonated with me so much. There was an activity at the end where you had to answer certain questions. Here's some of my responses:

You go to the best cocktail party ever. Its a life changing event because you meet the most with it, interesting, empowered people, and each of them can contribute to your career and interests in some way. Who was there? What kind of info did they share with you? What did they ask you? How did they offer to help you?

Oprah Winfrey, Brian Tracy (self-help author and guru), Marcus Buckingham (motivational speaker, trainer, researcher and author), Chip Wilson (founder of lululemon athletica), Christine Day (CEO lululemon athletica), Susannah Conway (photographer, writer, blogger), Danielle Laporte (entrepreneur), Marisa Haedike (artist, blogger), Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist-photographer), Garance Dore' (illustrator, photographer, blogger), Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyonce, Ellen Degeneres, Bono, Jono Fisher (founder of Wake up Sydney!), Siimon Reynolds (entrepreneur, writer), Seth Godin (author, entrepreneur and agent of change) & my twin sister Stacey.

A real mixture there covering everything I love: creativity, art, writing, blogging, fashion, music, humour, business, self-development. The information they would share with me would be how to remain authentic and follow your passion, how to make a living from your passion, how they have made a difference in the world and insights into their journey. They would all offer to help me by mentoring me, giving me feedback, allowing me to work with them and simply by enjoying life and my experience with them.

What are you intensely interested in? What could you talk about late into the night with like-minded people, or to an audience of rapt listeners hanging on your every word?

Living authentically, living creatively, inspiring others, making a living by doing what you love, being the change I want to see in the world, inspiring others, goal setting, self development, finding my passion, reading, design, entrepreneurship, connecting with others.

What activities make you feel really useful, alive and strong? When do you feel like a rockstar, a gifted contributor, a very cool and purposeful human being? In terms of the things you do, when do you feel most like yourself?

When I'm advising others, inspiring others, connecting, creating and blogging.

What do I want to be known for?

Inspiring others and living authentically.

If you are interested in doing the Firestarter Sessions, or just want to find out more about the amazing Danielle, here is the link to her blog.

Friday, April 9, 2010

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage" - Anais Nin

The Strong Life Test For Women.....

Today I went on-line and did Marcus Buckingham's "Strong Life Test for Women". This test is linked to a book of Marcus' by the same name. According to the test my leading role is a CREATOR. This means I begin by asking "What do I understand?". I'm not immune to the feelings of others, but my starting point is my own insight, my own understanding. My best quality is my ability to find patterns invisible to others. I always need to find time to be by myself. I need to be careful not to think so long that I never do anything. My smartest career move is any job where I am paid to produce new content.

My supporting role is ADVISOR. This means I begin by asking "What is the best thing to do?". My thrill comes from knowing that I am the person others turn to for the answers. I don't necessarily want to be the person who actually makes the changes happen. Rather, what excites me is being valued by others for my insight and my judgement. My best quality is my ability to find a solution. I always need to search for data to support my advice. I must be careful to not get frustrated by other people's failings. My smartest career move is any job where I'm paid to be opinionated.

Spot on in so many ways! I love learning more about who I am and self-development. If you want to take the test yourself you can do so by following this link:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hunting for Eggs....

Isn't he adorable?
(Thanks to my cousin Em for taking the photo!)

Great things about today....

My Little Boo Boo giving me 'huggles' this morning (even though it was 5am...!).

Having great energy at work today.

A fun staff meeting at work re-merching the store.

An afternoon of tea, chats and chocolate in the Chinese Gardens with a lovely friend.

BBQ pork buns for dinner with Boo Boo.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Image of the Day...

(Source unknown)


One of my bestest friends sent me these agreements the other day. Very wise advice for living.....

agreement 1

Be impeccable with your word - Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

agreement 2

Don’t take anything personally - Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

agreement 3

Don’t make assumptions - Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

agreement 4

Always do your best - Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tiny Dancer......

There is an amazing person I know. She may be tiny in size but her heart is bigger than the whole world. She is like a little fairy, flitting around bringing light and love to everyone she meets. When I see her I want to pick her up and put her in my pocket so that I can protect her and carry her with me always (she doesn't actually need me to protect her, she is such a strong, powerful spirit who will achieve anything she puts her mind to). I also know I don't need to put her in my pocket because she will be in my heart always. Her name is Melsy Smelsy and I LOVE her.

P.S. I'm the only person who is allowed to call her that!