The Changing of the Guards..um, I Mean Seasons

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Hello everyone,

I don’t know about you, but as for me, it always seems that I am just beginning to relax and enjoy the summer when BANG, it’s fall! Seriously though, I do love the changing seasons. ( I don’t think I could live in an area that was relatively the same all year-long.) There is so much beauty to enjoy in each and every season. I am totally mesmerized by the magnificent display of colors in the Autumn. Every day shows more and more variety of hues. I have been blessed to be able to witness this each year. I enjoy the fresh brisk air that Autumn brings. The chilliness in the air makes me feel so alive and charged. The kid inside me, really enjoys running through the leaves and hearing them crunch!  Then afterwards, I long to go into my kitchen and bake warm homemade pumpkin bread. Hot cups of coffee mixed with homemade goodness, shared with family or friends, is the perfect blend to enjoy an Autumn day.

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I get so excited about decorating my home with the onset of each new season. Fall is one of my favorite decorating times. I just love the look and feel of the autumn colors. I have to admit I am a candle lover as well.  I thoroughly enjoy the scents that come out at this time of year. The smell of cinnamon, cloves and apple are among my very favorite. Due to the fact that it gets dark so much earlier now, I routinely add some ambiance in our home by the lighting of candles.

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Our lives are very much like the seasons. Seasons provide the Earth with what is needed in the next season.  Again, our lives are like this. When we’re young, time seems to stand still, and we can’t wait to grow up. When we’re old, time passes at a whirlwind speed, and we look back longingly at the earlier years. In between is the fullness of our life—the longest and most important season. It has been said that the spring of life consists of the time from infancy until approximately twenty years old. This is the time that it takes to go through the process of becoming an adult. Before you know it, spring is over and summer is upon us. Are those young men and women in their caps and gowns our kids? It can’t be! Why, it was only yesterday that …

And so it is, that our children begin the next season. The summer season in our life span is the longest, covering the period from about twenty years of age to the average retirement age of sixty-five. In early summer, young adults are busy raising their children—concentrating on the present. Lives are blossoming and charging full speed. But the finger of time moves on. The nest becomes empty, after our children have ventured out on their own and have started raising their own families. Late summer finds us focusing more of our energies toward slowing down and enjoying the fruit of our labors. This is generally a wonderful season. As wine mellows with age—so have we. We seem to draw closer to our loved ones, and we now have the time to pursue hobbies and to travel.

Then we stumble upon the last season of our glorious existence, the winter. In the old age of winter, you will find us in our rocking chairs reminiscing over the years we have experienced. Poring through our memories of the important days, life time events,  and all the things in between that have made us into who we are. This isn’t a time of sadness and defeat, although we know that the call of death is imminent, we can look to our children and grandchildren and rest assured that the circle of life will continue long after we are gone.

Seasons come and go. It’s important that we take the time to fully enjoy each one before it passes!

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 I have included a few interesting quotes on the Seasons of life that I enjoyed.  Talk to you soon…off to have a cup of yummy hot chocolate!

You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything
tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is
round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power,
whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. . . .
Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always
come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle
from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.

Black Elk 

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There was an Indian Chief who had four sons and he wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly.  So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer and the youngest son in the autumn.

A year later, when they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the pear tree was ugly, bent, and twisted.

The second son said no, the pear tree was covered with green buds and full of promise.

The third son disagreed; he said the pear tree was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.

The last son disagreed with all of them; he said the pear tree was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The Indian Chief then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree’s life.

He then told them that they cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy and Love that come from life can only be measured in the end, when all the seasons are up.

If you give up when it’s winter, you will no doubt miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer and the fulfillment of your autumn.

Author Unknown

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The question, “Which is the happiest season of life?” was asked of an aged man.
And he replied: “When spring comes, and in the soft air the buds are breaking
on the trees, and they are covered with blossoms, I think, ‘How beautiful is spring’;
and when summer comes and covers the trees with its heavy foliage, and singing birds
are among the branches, I think, ‘How beautiful is summer.’  When autumn loads them
with golden fruit, and their leaves bear the gorgeous tint of frost, I think, ‘How
beautiful is autumn.’  And when it is severe winter, and there is neither foliage nor
fruit, then I look up through the leafless branches as I never could
until now, and see the stars shine in God’s home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               unattributed

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The Truth Hit Me .. and I was Changed

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I have had the privilege to volunteer many times for Free the Children,  an organization I deeply admire.  The organization was founded by Craig Kielburger in 1995 when he gathered 11 school friends to begin fighting child labour. He was 12.

One morning, Craig flipped through the Toronto Star in search of the comics, he was struck by a story. A raw, but courageous story of a boy his age named Iqbal. Iqbal Masih was born in South Asia and sold into slavery at the age of four. In his short life, he had spent six years chained to a carpet-weaving loom. Iqbal captured the world’s attention by speaking out for children’s rights.  Eventually, Iqbal’s wide media coverage caught the attention of those who wished to silence him. At 12, Iqbal lost his life defending the rights of children. What Craig learned from Iqbal’s story was that the bravest voice can live in the smallest body. Craig had to do something. Craig gathered together a small group of his Grade 7 classmates and this is how Free the Children was birthed.  Today, Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner, with more than 1.7 million youth involved in our innovative education and development programs in 45 countries.  I admire many things about Craig and Free the Children, but his passion and integrity are two characteristics  that are extremely refreshing.

It is amazing what one person can do to cause change in the world. Imagine, he was only 12!  He saw a need and developed a passion and vision. How inspiring.  For more check out  Freethechildren.com

So back to my story!  I was asked by Free the Children to do an interview for a video for ” We Day.”  Snippets of what I said, along with others, on how we felt about the organization and volunteering for them, would be blended into a presentation. I was honored by this opportunity. This was a cause that I truly believe in.  I pondered what I could say, in a few minutes, that would influence others. If you aren’t familiar with “We Day,” it’s a huge, one – day, event with thousands of young people and adults in attendance.  I wanted to make sure that what I said, mattered.  I contemplated for days.  Then I began to think about what I was going to wear for this video footage.  I mean, seriously, I had to look good, after – all I was going to be on the big screen with thousands of people viewing this video!   I picked out an outfit that I felt I looked best in.  I made sure all my accessories were matching.  My hair and my make up were just right.  I left for my interview; feeling a bit nervous but very inspired.  I was excited.  Just a few minutes before I arrived, I realized that I had forgotten  to put my dressy shoes on. I was wearing my slippers!  For a split second, I was mortified.  Here I was working so hard to create an image that was appropriate and now I had shown up in my slippers.  I had no time to go back and get my shoes.  I was doomed to film in my slippers.

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That is when the truth hit me and it hit me hard!  Here I was, speaking for a group of passionate people about being the change in the world and I was concerned about my shoes!  My priorities were out of line.  My attitude was  quickly readjusted, as I began to think of children in other countries that don’t have the opportunities that we have.  They aren’t allowed education and access to water and a wardrobe of clothes with shoes that match their outfits.  I felt so ridiculous to be concerned over such a trite issue.  I walked into that interview with a real story and a renewed purpose that day. I shared my experience with them.  I was humbled by the life lesson I learned by accidentally forgetting my shoes that morning.

I believe it is time we all begin to shift our perspective.  We need to be less concerned with frivolous issues.  It is time to get a vision for the issues that matter.  In closing, remember the words of Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

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Super Charged Monday…yes I know it’s raining!

Good Monday Morning to you all!

The weather is dismal, however we DO need the rain.  My husband and I went canoeing  the Grand River yesterday *20 kilometers!!  I say that, to say, we NEED rain.  There were parts of the river that are flowing quite shallow.  So it’s evident that we need the rain!

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I have this really amazing bush in my front yard that whenever it rains, it holds the raindrops so perfectly on its leaves.  This always cheers me up on a rainy day because I can look at it.  Every time I see fresh raindrops on the leaves, I am grateful for the rain!

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Question of the morning … are you beginning your week super-charged?  Many of you will read this and think, “yeah, right!” Trust me, I know that feeling as well.  For my Monday Motivation today I want to challenge you to re-train your thinking!  It’s true, how we begin our day affects our whole day.  Taking that into consideration, it follows to say that how we begin our WEEK can affect our whole week.  First of all, life is too short to go messing up a whole week! Secondly, it does wonders for you to start your week on a positive footing.  This is the reason that I have committed to always writing on Mondays!  I believe strongly  in starting off on the right foot.  Instead of dreading Monday’s you can actually begin to look forward to the prospects of a bright new week ahead.

Sometimes you never know what a week has in store for you. Several weeks ago, I was going about my business, writing, blogging, researching things and spending time using Social Networks to promote my new business.  Out of the blue, I was invited to attend a webinar, hosted by Jack Canfield, on becoming “unstoppable.”  This fit into my schedule and I was happy for the opportunity to listen to the co-author of “Chicken Soup For the Soul” series, and extremely famous, Jack Canfield. This man is number one in the Coaching World. He is highly influential and very knowledgeable.  I also was interested in seeing the “how’s” of webinars, as I plan to incorporate this into my own business. All in all, I felt this was a win-win situation for me. I could be encouraged and motivated by watching this event and I could glean some insight of webinars.  I spent an hour and a half listening to him speak on the subject of Becoming Unstoppable. He was amazing!  I was so encouraged and empowered after hearing him.  My motivation level was lifted and I was soaring.  After the webinar, I went back to writing an article that I was working on.  About a hourish later, my phone rang.  When I answered they asked to speak to me. The woman then said, “I am Jack Canfield’s assistant and he asked that I call everyone from today’s webinar.” (yes, my head was swimming, trying to take in the fact that Jack Canfield asked her to call me..) She asked me how I enjoyed the session and then she went on to say that Jack was scouting for some people for a program that he could mentor and teach.  She felt that I would be a good candidate. She scheduled an interview for the next evening for both my husband and I to attend via phone conference.  I hung up the phone and felt like I was dreaming!  How could all of this be taking place in my life?  I know that I have been pursuing different arenas to assist in my business building. But seriously, I never dreamed of an opportunity to be trained and mentored by someone of this caliber.  Well you can imagine that my husband and I did our homework to prepare for the next nights interview session!  We were excited and nervous. The next night we interviewed for over an hour. Before the phone call ended, I was accepted to be in Jack Canfield’s Mastermind Coaching Program!  This was unbelievable news  What a turn of events in my life!  This will empower me to be an incredible coach and open doors in so many areas. I am humbled and extremely grateful.

I share this news with you for the reason that first of all, I am extremely happy, excited, amazed, honored, thrilled, out of my mind with joy over this opportunity. Secondly, I share this news with  you for the reason that you never know what is coming up next on your path. As you begin to write out your goals and focus on what you really want in life, it is amazing what doors open up in front of you. If you had told me a month ago that I would be mentored by Jack Canfield, I most likely would have chuckled at the prospect of that. Yet, in two hours from now I will be sitting in my second session! Already the principles that he has instilled into my thinking has propelled me to a deeper level.  I can only imagine who I will become after an entire year under his tutelage!

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(Me, while canoeing the Grand River)

Begin this week by being super charged! Don’t drag through week after week without a vision for you life. Live your purpose! If you don’t know what your life purpose is, discover it! I would love to hear from some of you on what’s going on in your life. Feel free to send me comments! I love the interaction. Always, remember if there is any way I can assist you, feel free to email me at:  charlene@topsspot.ca

Love and empowerment ,

Charlene

Bald for Brenda

Hello everyone, I was thinking, hmmmm, what should I post?  What can I share?  What’s running through my mind?  Well to be brutally honest I have so much running through my mind currently.  I have just started Top’s Spot Life Coaching.  Learning  how to build websites, social network, get my writings published, set up speaking engagements, learn to webinar and of course scouting for clients to Coach and so much more has kept my mind flowing for the past 4 months.  I have loved every minute of it yet I think my mind is totally on “overload.”  I go to bed at night but there is this switch on the side of my head that as soon as it touches the pillow,  generates a million more thoughts.  Ideas, concepts, writings, people, places, and every other imaginable thing .  So while I was contemplating what to write, I asked myself, “what experiences have you had that were meaningful or taught you a lesson; share one of those!  Which brings me to this post

.  Have you ever stopped to think about your hair?  I mean really thought about it!  Have you thought about how your hair makes you feel,?  Your hair is a characteristic that people know you by. Hair can be like your own “branding” to the world.  I know sometimes if I am feeling lousy and just seem in a funk, if I go get my haircut and styled, I come out of that salon like a brand new ME.  And we have all experienced seeing the man that is balding trying desperately to cover that bald spot.

Why?  Because quite frankly, we are attached to our hair!  I never really thought much about it until I shaved my head bald.  What I learned through the xperience of shaving my head has literally changed my perspective on life. Brenda and I are cousins, but we actually felt more like sisters.  We grew up together, went to school together, got married around the same time, had our children close together.  I can barely think of my younger days without her being a part of it.  Well Brenda got cancer.  ( I know you probably were already reaching that conclusion)   Brenda had gorgeous hair!  She loved her long curly locks.  Most people hate when they have curly hair, but not Brenda, she rocked that hair!

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To go through a terminal illness with someone that you love is one of the most difficult things.  At first I struggled with my interactions with her.  Every time we spoke or were together, Cancer, was the pink elephant in the room.  ALL I could think about was her cancer.  I started not knowing what to say.  It felt mean to discuss future plans and events knowing she wouldn’t be here to see them.  Yet it wasn’t right not talking about regular life.  There would be intervals of silence on the phone while I would come up with something to say.  It took me awhile to just be natural.  You feel  the pain and the struggle all the while feeling so helpless.  Brenda was a remarkable person.  She never lost her sense of humor.  She was dying of cancer and joined Weight Watchers!  This was so funny.  She said, ” I think I am the only person in the world who is dying and I am on Weight Watchers!” Her strength and joy lasted up till her last hours with us.

The time came when she started losing her hair.  She called me up and said,” I am just going to shave it off…it will look better than chunks missing.”  I heard the bravado in her voice but sensed the great sorrow in her statement.  I couldn’t do anything for her.  She was in pain and suffering and I was not able to do a thing to help her.  So I decided to do the only thing I could.  I would shave my head bald and relate to her that way.  I live in Canada now and she was living in the US.  So I did some video/ pictures of my journey of Bald for Brenda!  I posted them and sent them to her.  Brenda was deeply moved by my gesture to identify with her.  We discussed it quite often.

6332_264923310610_3218104_n        Me, before shaving my head.

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The shaving process!

My family stood behind my decision and helped shave my head. They seemed pretty shocked at first but got on board as soon as they saw I was serious.  Everyone got into the process.

I did this to identify with Brenda, to share in her time of hardship yet what it did for me was incredible!  I don’t know how to put into words the transformation that occurred within me.  This was the most liberating experience I have ever had.  Suddenly I no longer had an “image” to hide behind.  I had no hair.  My true self had to be the beauty that became visible.

Going out in public with a bald head changes the way people react to you.  Silently, they question what”s wrong with you.  People view you differently.  I started to understand the depths of what others go through that have visible physical ailments.  I learned about prejudices in a fresh way.  The countless lessons I learned from this will go on with me throughout the remainder of my life.  Brenda and I would phone and talk about all these things.  It deepened our already strong bonds.  She told me how greatly affected she was by my gesture of going bald with her.  My only reply was that I could not do anything to help her or to take the pain away, however I could at least identify with some of what she was facing.

My husband and I had a big fancy wedding coming up and I was bald. I went out and got a wig for this event.  I dressed up and put that wig on and went to the church.  I felt extremely uncomfortable in this wig.  It was like I was playing some role in a stage play.  My friends didn’t even recognize me at first glance.  Between the wedding and the reception, I went home and changed and took that wig off. I went to this elegant reception totally bald.    I walked into that fancy place without anything to hide behind.  For the first time in my life I realized I was comfortable in my own skin.  I didn’t have to look a certain way, feel a certain way or dress a certain way, to be who I am. I had so much pleasure that evening at the wedding.  I later found out people had been asking about the bald lady “living it up” on the dance floor.  As the story spread, people were refreshed in my ability to be free.

The next “big” event I had was an interview for a job that I really wanted.  It took me almost 9 months to pin down this interview.  Once again, I was almost bald.  I did not allow this to intimidate me at all.  I knew that if I was my true authentic self I would give them every reason to hire me.  That was one of the best interviews I have ever had.  I can’t explain why, other than the fact that I was ME.  I didn’t have anything to camouflage.  I didn’t have a “social image” I was trying to attain.  I was, simply, me. and a very strong and vivacious me at that!  I got the job that I had wanted for so long.  It was exhilarating!

Originally, I did this for Brenda…but in turn it ended up being the best thing I ever could have done for myself.  I left my comfort zone.  I no longer needed to look, act or think like everyone else.  I discovered the strength of who I am.  I am not advocating that you all go out and shave your head bald; all I know is that it was a life changing event for me.  I miss Brenda daily, but she lives on in the things I do each day. She taught me so much about life and what really matters during her illness.  She motivated me to continue to step out of my comfort zone and to pursue the life that I wanted.  She made me promise that I would allow my life make a difference in this world.  I promised her that I would and each day that I live, I aim to make a difference in the circle of influence that I have.

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It’s all in the Plan

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Happy Monday Motivational!  All weekend I was contemplating what to share for motivation today.  I was asked last week what the vision for my life is.  Hey…that’s a BIG question.  Fortunately, I am in a place that I do have a vision for my life.  Sadly to say, I haven’t always had a vision .  I guess I was somewhat assuming that “things” just kinda happen while you live.”  While it is true, things do just happen while you are living ; the truth is, unless you have a vision or plan for your life so much time and effort is wasted and you set yourself up for failure.  If you don’t have a PLAN,  you are planning to fail.  I started going over this concept again and again in my mind this weekend.  I thought how many,really great people,are just aimlessly living their lives?

The other day I was walking through my neighborhood and came to an area where a bunch of carpenters were.  They all had their tools and were conversing about building a complex.  Quite interesting.  So there they were with tools and just decided to put up random pieces of boards and doors and a window or two…obviously this is a bizarre story.  We all know that this is not what really happens.  The carpenters at this site all have a blueprint for the project they are building.  Every single detail is listed and thought out before the ground is even broken.  They have a “plan” and they will succeed at building the complex as long as they follow the blueprint.

Have you ever watched a chef as he prepares a gourmet meal?  It isn’t some arbitrary throwing together of ingredients.  Each step along the way is built into the recipe.  The chef knows that when he has finished, he can expect a certain end result.  If he were to just throw in” a bit of this and some more of that ” there would be no guarantee of the finished product.

When you get on a train in NYC and have the destination of Disney in Florida, obviously the conductor of that train has a route to follow.  You don’t purchase your ticket in hopes to arrive at the destination.  The conductor has a path to follow.  You can rest assured that the train you are on will arrive exactly where you desire to go.  There isn’t any guessing work because he has the route already mapped out.

So it is with our most precious commodity, our lives.  Unless we have a vision for our lives, then we will not get the desired effect that we are hoping for.  The time we have to live is limited.  It is really important for us to examine what it is that we want to accomplish in this life .  Make it happen!  Set up some goals, make some action plans, and become accountable for what you desire to happen in your own life.  This may sound like a lot of extra work but honestly in the long run it actually causes you to have a better quality of life.

Have a great Monday!

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