Crowning Glory

March 7, 2014

Less than a month ago my youngest daughter (17) decided she wanted to try her first Beauty Pageant and entered herself into the Miss Teen BC Contest in Vancouver.  It was surprising to us, her parents, as she had never talked about it before.  Deciding to support her brave endeavor, crown or tiara isolated on a white backgroundwe agreed to help her through the process.  We scrambled to get the necessary dresses, gowns, shoes, bathing suit, jewelry etc. and last weekend we took her to Vancouver for the competition.

I marvelled at my daughter on stage during the competition – she was beautiful, well-spoken, poised and all grown up.  But her ‘crowning moment’ was actually not the moment she was handed a title, a crown and a trip to the Miss Teen Canada Pageant in Toronto, no, her ‘crowning glory’ came later…

During the long car ride home, she told us that she had decided not to proceed with the next level of competition.  It wasn’t because she was scared, or thought she wouldn’t do well, it was because she didn’t “feel authentic being that girl” on stage.   The depth of her conviction, confidence, and self-awareness she demonstrated as she shared was moving and inspiring.  Proud doesn’t seem like a deep enough or rich enough word to describe how I felt about her at that moment.

It is easy sometimes to get caught up in the motions of whatever we are doing, chasing dreams or ambitions that are not necessarily bad things.  That day however, my daughter reminded me of how important it is to be authentic, no matter what the cost because that is the prize that is worth holding on to.

Success doesn’t always mean we sacrifice our authenticity, but perhaps we need to discern where we place the crown…is it on our success or our character?

A wise man once said, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

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Over 35 Million love kamloops logopeople watched the Westjet Christmas Miracle video that showed the surprise they gave their customers.  Those unsuspecting passengers received gifts they never dreamed they would get – especially not by the time they landed at their destination!!  What if we could do something similar here in Kamloops?

OK, so we might not have the deep pockets Westjet has, but we do have some creativity and old-fashioned elbow grease :)!  After all, it wasn’t so much the gift that brought the joy to those passengers, but the feeling that someone cared for them.

“Love Kamloops – Louder Than Words”, is an initiative I had a hand in starting a couple of years ago.  Instead of just saying “we care” about our city, I wanted to show our caring through action.  We wanted to take part in the good things that are happening in our community and use the resources we have, to help those already doing a great job helping others.

Since February is heart month, why don’t we show our love for Kamloops by getting involved where we can.  Let our actions of love speak “louder than words” to those around us.

What can we do?  Well, here are a few ideas that might help get your imagination working:

  1. Volunteer at one of the many organizations in our city that help those in need
  2. Connect with an elderly neighbor who isn’t able to get out much
  3. Help a single parent at your school by offering to watch their child for a couple hours on the weekend
  4. Use your business savvy to mentor someone who is new in the industry
  5. Pay for the person behind you in the Starbucks drive-through lineup

Consider your resources and what you are good at, then think about how you could use those things to help someone else and then all you have to do is watch for the smile…Look for the relief in the eyes of the person you help, the load that shifts off their shoulders just a little, and the joy that comes from realizing someone else really cares.  A gesture that says, “we aren’t in this alone” is a powerful statement.

We were made for community and in this world of technology it is easy to forget that.  It is too easy to keep people at arm’s length as we sit in our homes with our TV, phone and computer and….feel lonely.  So open the door and reach out:).  My husband and my friends have found that even though our intention is to bless those we serve, we are the ones who end up being blessed!

Come on friends, let’s make our love for Kamloops “louder than words” during heart month!

Taking down the Christmas Tree and packing up the decorations of the season is tremendously satisfying.  I wouldn’t say Christmas decorations are “clutter”,  however they definitely add to the ‘busy-ness’ of a room and home.  The feeling of space opening up and being able to get into the corners and clean is really uplifting to me.

De-cluttering the rest of my life is important too.  For instance, being a volunteer at my church becomes very busy in December, so I do find my schedule seems to simplify after Christmas.  The parties, concerts and school programs are also complete for another year and life once again settles into a more predictable rhythm.  However, just because it’s normal and predictable, doesn’t mean it is clutter free.  That’s why I like to take some time in January to sit down and examine all areas of my life to see where else I’ve collected ‘clutter’.  Here are a few areas I take sdeclutterome time to consider:

My Business
I can get caught up in the “busy-ness” of my business and lose productivity rather than focusing on areas of growth.  I ask myself, “Am I doing things that are depleting my personal resources rather than replenishing them?”  Realizing that last year, prompted me to hire a Virtual Assistant this year, who has freed me from tasks that were bogging me down so that I can focus on more things that I like doing in my business.

My Family
Owning my own business, having a husband who does shift-work, and having kids involved in sports or jobs, has dramatically increased the pace of our family over the last few years.  I find it’s important for me to examine our schedule at home to see if there is anything making us too busy.  We can, at times, find ourselves running in circles and not getting enough time together.  Taking time to re-calibrate our priorities and determine if we can do anything more efficiently is always a good thing for us.

My Home

This time of year, I like to go through each room in the house collecting things and clothes that I haven’t used in the last 6 months and pass them on to others.  Recycling items is good for the environment and ensures your cupboards and closets don’t become messy.

January can be a ‘down’ feeling month.  Here in Kamloops we don’t get a lot of sunshine during this month so I find that I feel better when I’m pro-active and making some conscious evaluations of where I’m at and where I’m going.  How about you?

Family Ties

December 4, 2013

wendy familyLast year I went with my Jewish Father-in-law to the Western Canada Theatre’s production of Fiddler on the Roof.  It was my very first time watching the infamous production.  Knowing that my father-in-law’s mother was a little girl living in Russia during this era, just like the musical, made it especially poignant.  He immensely enjoyed the comedic portrayal of his heritage and it conjured many stories from him later that evening.

I would have to say that was one of those ‘perfect’ evenings.  That moment when we are all gathered around the fireplace on a cold winter’s night – our grown daughters still mesmerized by the fond familiar stories their grandpa is telling while my husband interjects his own humorous anecdotes of growing up with a Jewish heritage…We were connected that night.  In that moment the ties that bind us together were connecting us to each other, to our cultural heritage, to those who went before us and even to our future…those ties filled me with comfort and joy unmatched.

This is my wish for you this Christmas–that you would take time to connect.  Make room in your schedule for those moments that you will remember for the years to come.  Nurture your heart and those around you by allowing the stories and the laughter to go much later than they should.  Nurture your soul by connecting with your faith and the wonder of the first Christmas.  Connect to whatever or whomever brings you comfort and joy.

Merry Christmas!

From the Runge Family

Would You Buy A Zoo?

November 1, 2013

Matt DamoWe Bought A Zoon stars as Benjamin Mee in the 2011 movie, “We Bought A Zoo”.  It’s an endearing tale based on the true story of a middle-aged and extremely adventurous widower, who moves his family from the city to start a new adventure…rejuvenating a very tired privately owned zoo.

One of the many conflicts in the story is between the father and his son (who is coming of age).  During a poignant conversation between Benjamin and his struggling teenager, he passes on some wisdom he himself gleaned from his big brother decades earlier, “…sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage…20 seconds of embarrassing bravery”.  Later in the story, Benjamin demonstrates to both his children how much can be accomplished in this sliver of time by acting out the very first time he met his wife.  Entering the cafe and walking to her table left Benjamin with 15 seconds of courage and time to come up with a line to break the ice, which of course, he did.

That phrase haunted me for days after I watched the movie over the thanksgiving holidays.  I thought of how some things in life seem so insurmountable that you don’t want to even try…but if you break it down to just 20 seconds, suddenly it seems…do-able.

Courage, bravery and valor are words that get used repeatedly this time of year as we remember the sacrifice soldiers have given (and are still giving) for the freedom we enjoy.  A great Teacher/Rabbi once said that there is no greater love than to give your life for another…but what kind of courage does it take to make that decision?  Can 20 seconds of courage lead you to the greatest triumph you will ever know?

I began to consider my own life:  Am I living courageously?  Do I take risks and view life as a great adventure?  Or, am I bound by the fears of ‘what if’?  Is my fear of failure wearing the mask of procrastination?  The Encarta Dictionary defines Courage as “the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action”…Am I willing to commit to a plan of action, association, or lifestyle no matter what?

Sometimes we become lulled by the Hollywood idea that a full life is just a place of incessant happiness and daily Norman Rockwell perfection.  That’s not what real life is about.  An abundant life is a life full of plenty…plenty of experiences, plenty of mountain tops, plenty of valleys, plenty of risks, plenty of pleasant surprises.  In 1910 Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech that clearly illustrates this collision of a real life, an abundant life and a courageous life:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

We need to embrace it all…..is it really so hard if it only takes 20 seconds?

No Thanks?

October 9, 2013

How do you measure happiness?  Are you happy?  Maybe a better question is, are you thankful?  A recent study came to my attention that said a person’s happiness was directly related to their level of thankfulness.  Interesting…is thanksgiving only a day we celebrate once a year, or is it an attitude that we carry with us every day through the year?

We say ‘thank you’ to the barista at Starbucks and ‘thank you’ to the dry cleaner but how often do we say it to those we love?  There’s a tradition in our culture to express our admiration and gratitude to loved ones after they pass away, but what if we didn’t wait til then?quotation octoberblog

Being thankful changes our worldview.  It moves us from having tunnel vision to panoramic vision.  It forces us to look up and look around.  To be thankful, we have to notice things and people.  It pulls us out of our egocentricity to a place where we focus on others and see that there are really great things in this world, and really great people.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition that began centuries ago by two very different people groups coming together and sharing the bounty of what they had, but maybe it’s time to change the tradition a little.  Instead of celebrating the bounty from our table, maybe we should celebrate the bounty in our lives; instead of waiting to be thankful one day, maybe we should try to be thankful every day.  Let the gratitude pour out til it overflows and see what happens…maybe you’ll feel really, really happy (or maybe you’ll make some one else feel that way!).

I want to take this opportunity to thank each one of you–not just for your business–but for allowing me the privilege of entering into your lives at such a significant juncture in your timeline.  It has truly been my pleasure!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

PS>>Check out this inspiring youtube video about the “Science of Happiness”…

A Fresh Start

September 10, 2013

??????????????????????Fresh starts abound this time of year.  The start of school, the change of schedule, the change of season – they all hold within them the chance for something new and something better.  But first to cross that threshold of change and open the door of possibility, we need to leave the past behind.

Experts say that to sell your home the best thing to do is to give your house a fresh coat of paint.  You may love the burnt orange or fusia pink, but buyers usually don’t.  Paint covers a ‘multitude of sins’ so to speak, erasing the years of hand prints down the stairway, or the chair marks in the dining room.  A fresh coat of paint can even make outdated cabinetry look appealing.

When choosing a new colour scheme, it should be limited to three fairly neutral colors (see the article, “How To Stage Your Home With Color” at http://www.benjaminmoore.com).  Stark white is not a good idea as it makes the rooms feel cold and institutional.  You want buyers to see their own possibilities and dreams for their future in your home.  Removing personal items and painting over your ‘memories’ can be a surprisingly emotional process and the work itself is daunting, but the payoff for the time and effort here is usually BIG when it comes to the final sale price :).

Fresh starts in life are good when the finally come, but they can take a lot of hard work.  Sometimes new beginnings are offered, and sometimes they are earned, but usually they come after something – a trial by fire perhaps, or a mishap, or simply a calendar event – like the start of school.

If you find yourself in an old pattern or a difficult situation, don’t be discouraged.  It may be a great opportunity for you to look for some “fresh paint” and re-invent yourself or your perspective of your own circumstances.

Sometimes it’s easy to keep thinking about ourselves or someone else the same way -“painting them with the same brush stroke”.  Maybe it’s time to give that co-worker, that teen-ager, or that server at your favourite restaurant a second chance and a new opportunity to surprise you.  Maybe, it’s not them as much as it’s how you think of them…and the payoff in it all?  You will get a new perspective, maybe a new friend, earned trust, or even…a fresh start.

If you could try something new this fall, what would it be?