Many of you know that in indoor volleyball, the setter is like the quarterback who volleys the ball to an attacker. The attacker then spikes the ball at the other team. The thing is…in order to set the ball to an attacker, you need a pass that you can volley. Well, I was a setter on my team. When I was in grade 10 or so, I remember that we had lost the game and I was complaining to my Mom about the passes. I said: “How was I supposed to set those passes? I couldn’t do anything with them!” I’ll never forget my Mom’s reply, she said: “Your job is to make it better for the next player. It doesn’t matter what kind of pass you get, your job is to make it better.”
Every once in awhile I cry. It doesn’t happen often but last week was different; last week I found myself crying almost every night while I lay in bed. I was thinking a lot about two close family members that passed away very suddenly a couple of years ago. I am not sure exactly what made me think of them…maybe it was the cyclist whizzing by in his racing suit on the street…maybe it was one of the photos around my house that happened to capture my gaze…or maybe it was someone’s familiar smile on the streetcar. Whatever it was, both my brother-in-law, Kevin and my Uncle Ed were on my mind.
I love meeting new people. I’m always excited to hear about their lives – about what they have done in the past, what they are doing now, and what they have planned for their future. Each person has an interesting story and features that are make them so unique. I also love trying to figure out what their special gift is…
The thing that I have realized of late though is that I see people totally differently than they see themselves. When I meet a person for the first time, I see them as their superhero version. Usually as I get to know a person, I find that they don’t often share this vision of themselves of having so much inherent value and so much to contribute to make the world a better place.
Have you ever found a book that really resonates with you? Through a series of serendipitous events, I happened upon a great book that seemed to be written just for me: The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. In the book, Jeff Olson talks about the way in which successful people become successful. He asserts that one person is no different from another and that anyone can become successful. In his view, the difference between those who become successful and those who don’t, however, is that successful people practice simple disciplines persistently and consistently over time that lead them along the path to success.
If there is one thing I have learned in my life (and mainly through sports) it’s that what you think is what you create and who you become. High performance athletes are trained to control their thoughts and practice positive affirmations daily.
I often speak to my kids about the importance of using positive words and self-talk to help them succeed at challenges they’re facing. The other day we were in the playground and my 4-year-old daughter told me that she couldn’t climb up the rope ladder. I told her that she just needed to say to herself: “I can do it! I can do it! I can do it!” As we chanted this mantra together, she managed to climb the rope ladder all by herself (and you should have seen the look of pride on her face!)
I’ve never really thought of myself as an artist. In part, this is because I was completely overshadowed by my sister Rachel who was a very gifted artist in a number of mediums (clay, drawing, painting, you name it!). I vividly remember being in art class with Mr. Levang at Maillard Junior Secondary School and looking up at one of the only pictures that he had hanging on his wall above his desk (a distinct honour)… it was one of my sister’s sketches. I must admit that was rather intimidating. Despite being in my sister’s shadow, I was pretty good at doing portraits of people. With just a pencil, a piece of paper, and some time to focus, I could draw a pretty impressive and recognizable portrait.
Last week I reconnected with one of my favourite people in the world. You know the kind of person I am talking about…the kind of person who is filled with love and positivity and lights up a room when he walks in. The kind of person who has accomplished so much in his own life and touched the lives of countless other people in positive ways. The kind of person who has every reason to have a big ego but instead is self-effacing, humble, and amazingly charming.
During the last ten years that it took me to complete my PhD (yes…that’s right, it took me ten years!), every book and article that I read related to my PhD topic. The good thing is that I am really passionate about Aboriginal law and almost everything I read on that topic fuelled my passion and sparked new ideas for me. The bad thing is that I wasn’t able to read anything else – no fiction, no self-development books, no biographies… So now I am really enjoying getting back to reading other books!
If you had told me that I should deliberately schedule time for myself a couple of years ago, I would have looked at you like you were bonkers. When my kids were young, I felt like there was no time for me at all. As a new Mom, I could hardly even find time to shower and I felt like I needed toothpicks to keep my eyes open most of the time. Now as a working parent with many things on the side, I still struggle to find time for myself.
At a conference focusing on Indigenous legal traditions at McGill Law School this past weekend, I reconnected with a lovely, accomplished law professor that I hadn’t seen for awhile and asked her how her law teaching was going. She told me that although she is now very comfortable in her job, as a full-time working mother of two young kids, she is feeling overwhelmed, isolated, and feels like she is just trying to get through each day as it comes.