A Dream becomes Reality
This part of my story looks forward. It details a shift in thinking as I embrace my personal freedom, responsibilities, and balance. I have discovered over the last 60 years that life breaks down to a series of lessons. I have learned the value of so many things…sensitivity, intuition, caring, diplomacy, learning, trail blazing, and the value of connecting through human relationships.
For years, I have been told I’m a good storyteller. My childhood reading of so many books allowed me to dream and imagine, and my work with children fostered that skill of painting the pictures through my words for my audience to visualize. The purpose, while at times is just to inspire fun and laughter, often translates a lesson to be learned.
Frequently, I find myself flooded with ideas and the frustration that only a handful can be transformed into actual reality. This has always been my challenge. In recent years, I have learned to become more patient and develop more faith in myself and my abilities. I have always worked hard, but at times lack the focus to see a project through to completion.
Addressing the pattern of walking away from things or procrastinating too much, I have now become more aware of my stumbling blocks and can appreciate all the little steps that lead to big steps…and, eventually, the journey to success and overall happiness.
In Africa, I learned the power of connecting with the women in my class on a very human level, as a woman just like them with all our self doubts and problems, with our need to share stories, with our desire to be validated and heard. In that room, with the stifling heat, no fan and barely a draft, all of us sweating profusely, I hit the wall.
Taken this year by my daughter-in-law, Natalie. Photography: Nomad by NK
I realized in that moment that I had lost my audience, their blank faces with the pearls of sweat on their foreheads. My teaching of fractions had lost their excitement, even though I had dressed up the analytical and somewhat boring stuff. There was still an hour to go, I needed a plan and I needed it fast!
I ask you to visualize a tiny room - crammed wooden benches and a white board hanging crooked from two nails. Often, I needed to hold on to the board to prevent it from falling on the floor. The dry erase pens barely worked. Those were the conditions, like a 1920s rural school room.
As I checked my phone for the time, it hit me. Play a song, buy time to think of what to do. I asked the women to put their pencils down, and close their eyes and relax , to visualize a beautiful garden filled with flowers, a chair to sit down and dream. I checked my playlist for a song fitting the moment and pressed play. As I watched the women starting to relax, some unsure and opening their eyes to check what was happening. So, I closed my eyes as well and appreciated this moment of relaxation, letting go, dreaming and being together in this room, in this space.
The universe was kind to me, a spark of genius hit: share your story… invite connection, allow for barriers to soften, learn about each other and teach what has true meaning.
The song ended, the eyes opened and I drew a curvy line on the board. “Sigrid’s life from zero to 100” and told my story.
I talked about my childhood, how my mom used to beat me, how my baby brother cried for attention, how my dad loved us children but could not protect us when he was at work. I shared my desire to teach and love each child in this world, especially the boys and girls who were not wanted, and my experiences from working in the orphanage. I told them about the excitement of immigrating to Canada and my beautiful homeland…about the birth of my three sons, my marriages, my journey of learning and letting go. I told them about my role as a female entrepreneur, my successes and my struggles in that world of business.
Bonding with the ladies I taught in Tanzania
And I explained why I thought this world is a harsh place at times, filled with unfairness and inequities. I finally ended with my desire to contribute — to find ways to connect and bring about more light for all of us…to love more and live better.
It was like magic. I talked in English and Zuwena translated in Swahili. The women listened attentively and there were moments of sharing their pain, like the abuse some of them were suffering, and how alone they felt at times. But also their joy, and how proud they are about their children and the dreams they have about learning and becoming an entrepreneur.
Time had run out that day, but we all stayed a bit longer talking. There were hugs and tears. True learning and connection had happened for all of us, and for me the seed of empowering others through my story was planted in this little classroom in Africa. That night, I wrote in my journal for hours and cried many tears reflecting on my childhood. The many nights I would read under my covers with a flashlight about Africa, reading the book about the girl in Kenya not being allowed to go to school. The book my dad had given me, the book that opened my eyes to the injustices of the world, the book that propelled me to care more for the underdog. It brought back the lively discussions my dad and I had throughout my childhood and before he died in May 2014 and I wrote: “Papa, I know you are watching me, today a little miracle happened in that classroom, I’m so happy I came to Africa, and thank you for giving me that book so many years ago. I love you Papa”.
From that day forward, the ice was broken. Many more stories were shared and the women opened up, taking turns talking and listening about our fears and our obstacles. The spark had been lit, there is a fire in all of us to express, explore and learn.
The truth is: “Anything is possible, if you want something, you will make it happen, if you don’t really want it, you will find an excuse… so, what do you want?”
My life story which would lead to Live Your Best Life
This little seed needed lots of watering and tender loving care, and with time it grew. It was fertilized by the input and connection with like minded people throughout 2017 and a tremendous growth spurt in January 2018 when a young woman added to my already high inspiration.
I was introduced to Piper Courtenay in the summer of 2017. We had this instant connection allowing us to build a friendship and business relationship fuelled by our common interests of empowering people to take charge of their lives. Piper now works with me editing my many stories and transforming the information into a visually appealing format.
Our message is all about empowerment. All of us have power. We are in the driver’s seat of our own lives. We can choose every day what we want in it and what needs to go. True harmony and peace can only happen within people, within society, if we can get away from blaming others for our situation. We all need to learn to look within, take charge of our lives, and stop depending on others too much.
Freedom and responsibility are deeply connected. It is a constant balance between our female energy of connection and intuition and our male energy of strength and determination. All pieces are important, they all have a role to play in orchestrating our lives. Too much of one at the expense of another will result in negative outcomes. Hence, it is so important to reflect on our words and actions every day. Like Albert Einstein has said: “For every action, there is a reaction”.
Our free will must be valued, and we must maintain an openness and willingness to learn the new.
Then, there is the process of becoming unstuck from old routines and finding ways to let go what does not serve us any longer. Instead, we can connect with like-minded people and learn what works for us and what we truly want in our lives. We are only given one shot at this, why waste it? Why live in this world to please others purely to live up to their expectations and ignoring our own dreams? We all can learn step-by-step to live our best life.
For many, when we have achieved a level of contentment, this means giving back as well. It means seeing the potential for love in all humans. It becomes about looking to achieve the common good, finding solutions, and harmony within many circles.
With joy in my heart and butterflies in my stomach my dream of empowering others is moving closer and closer. The content for the online platform of Live Your Best Life Empowerment Inc. has transformed from my ideas onto paper and built piece-by-piece over the past months.
As I said earlier, all takes many steps. For now, I am ready to share my life in a story to inspire you to reflect on yours. Life is a puzzle, consisting of many colourful pieces. Each piece has significance and value. There are many relationships between our pieces in life, and one impacts many others. My idea of dividing life into categories is not new, but my approach of Understand-Plan-Execute in very practical terms with a sense of humour interwoven with my own life experience may give you the loving push you need for more self-love.
The many other ideas of community connections, blogs, newsletters, written tools, courses, and products will be added in months to come. Creating a physical space for a learning lab is part of the fall 2018 agenda and workshops for adults with speakers relevant to our categories the plan thereafter.
My hope to create a life skill curriculum for children will be the next piece. To offer a hands approach for children to learn. My dream is to give our teenagers the skills to understand their health and wellness, know how to cook a nutritious meal, understand the idea of a financial budget and what it means to live within the context of income and expenses, to learn and practice the attributes of a good character, to understand emotional intelligence, to value nurtured parenting, to appreciate a love relationship and so much more.
Many more ideas will come of that I’m sure…for now, I am just happy to have shared my story with you. It is time, now, for you to reflect on yours.
Remember, it is never too late to start living your best life.
Photography: Nomad by NK