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About Shelley Goldbeck

Shelley Goldbeck, DTM is a Thinker, Writer, Speaker and Serial Entrepreneur. Her empire includes a speaking and consulting business, speech coaching business, and a publishing company.

Defining Moments

Lance Miller, keynote speaker at the 2017 District 42 Toastmasters Fall Conference, spoke about defining moments: little actions that can completely change the trajectory of our lives or result in outcomes we could have never imagined.

Let me tell you about the amazing consequences of a small act of kindness:

Last spring a Cowboy Poetry colleague, Jenn, whom I barely knew, lost her husband. When I saw her at the next festival, she was quite distraught. She and Harry had sung together. She was determined that his passing would not inhibit her playing and singing but she found it extremely difficult to be a solo act.

I suggested we sing together. We did, had tons of fun and it helped Jenn get through the weekend.

When we met up at the next festival two weeks later, my guitar player couldn’t come so I taught Jenn my song in the morning and we performed it in the evening to favourable reviews. We had so much fun we agreed to meet again to sing.

The Toastmasters conference was in her city, Medicine Hat, a month later. I invited her to come to part of it and take in the banquet with me.

She did. My fellow Toastmasters welcomed her. One helped her with glam make-up for the banquet. She even won a door prize. And here’s what she sent me today:

Shelley: I had a such a good time Saturday. And again on Sunday when I went to a jam that lasted all afternoon and evening. Last night I felt like I could explode with happiness!

Thanks again for inviting me. I truly felt privileged and honoured to be with someone as accomplished as you and to meet some of your colleagues.

And what a ripple effect one ‘small’ gesture can make! (Your invite was not small, thus the marking.)

When a cousin’s son texted me on Saturday, I said we’d converse later: I was at the Toastmaster’s convention.

That led to lots of questions on his part and an opportunity to promote the benefits Toastmasters would have for him as a young man.

This made me smile.

One small gesture of friendship resulted in a non-Toastmaster spreading the good news about the benefits of the program.

Who knows? These two may end up helping the Medicine Hat Toastmasters clubs grow and touch more lives!

And I had a small part in healing Jenn’s broken heart.

My advice?

If you get the chance to say a kind word, give someone a hug or invite someone to your meeting, do it.

You never know what a difference you will make and whose lives will be touched.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

red-love-heart-alone-6068The day of love.

Contrived into a commercial “holiday” for the benefit of jewellers, chocolatiers, restauranteurs and florists.

I’m not against celebrating love.

Just the way we do it.

Personally, a bouquet of overpriced roses (simply because it’s Valentine’s Day) means little to me if the person presenting them neglects to use kind words the other 364 days.

And since I gave up sugar four years ago, those heart shaped boxes of waxy blobs of sweet don’t cut it anymore. I now prefer high-quality dark chocolate. A square or two mitigates the urge to eat more. (Yes, I’ve become a chocolate snob!)

Jewelry lost its sheen for me when I tried selling some rings and I was offered five cents on the dollar! All that glitters not worth gold!

Here’s what the Day of Love means to me: spending time with people I love.

Today I’m visiting two of my octogenarian friends and an aunt who’s in town. I’ll spend time with my Grandtoys this afternoon and see more friends this evening.

I’m enjoying listening to all the love songs on my favourite radio station.

Most importantly, I expect to continue building an aura of love that will spill into every day for the rest of my life.

I don’t expect it to be onerous. I believe we are all connected. One.

So when I’m kind to others, I’m kind to myself. I like to be kind to myself.

Like everything else, it seems the more I practice the better I get.

I encourage you to begin creating a day of love everyday. What better day to start than Valentine’s Day, the Day of Love?

Merry Christmas 2016

Where have the days flown?
It’s already Christmastime.
Sit to write my seasonal message.
This Christmas it MUST rhyme.







Cowboy Poetry’s my new passion.
But, you ask, what does THAT mean?
It’s horses and cows and country life
And even ranchers’ washing machines!

Folks gather to hear the music
And cowboy campfire poetry.
Through song and country rhymes,
We keep alive, our western history.

Shelley at Kamloops

Shelley at Kamloops








In March I was in Kamloops
At their Rising Star poetry contest.
I placed and I’m invited back
As a professional performer and guest!

I attended poetry gatherings
Last year, in Canada and the USA,
With my retired sister/friend, Loree,
In our fifth-wheel, down the highways.

I learned to haul that fifth wheel
With a three-quarter-ton pickup truck.
But the one thing that I’m most proud of
Is I learned how to back it up!

Sacred Reading Space

Sacred Reading Space








I moved eleven trucks of soil and rock
Into Harmoni’s beautiful backyard.
Built a sacred space for reading.
Don’t need a gym for muscles hard!

I came close to committing suicide:
Accidentally slashed my own wrist.
Only had to drive to three walk-in clinics
To find a doctor who would stitch!

In June I became a Funeral Celebrant
To tell the stories of the dead,
Who have their own ideas about
The funeral service and what is said.

I’ll have read my thousandth book,
Since 2007, to the last day of this year.
It’s been the adventure of a lifetime.
To my education, I’ve added years.

I think I’ll go back to only two books a week.
It is time I finished writing a few.
If you’ve read any good books lately, though,
I’d still love to hear from you.

Dove's 16th Birthday

Divot’s 16th Birthday








Divot, the golden Wonder dog
Is on Christmas seventeen!
The vet says she’s sure Divot’s
The oldest Golden Retriever she’s seen!

Divot still goes for daily walks,
Not more these days, than ’round the block.
Still likes to sniff out luscious smells
But sometimes her hind legs simply balk.

All my girls are doing fine.
In January, daughter, Harmoni
Begins a course online
For a degree in psychology.

Jasmine and Rhythm

Jasmine and Rhythm










Grandtoy, Rhythm continues dancing:
Performed in the Moscow ballet
Calgary Nutcracker performance.
Hopes to be choreographer one day.

Grandtoy, Jasmine took up the ukulele.
In only two weeks she was playing some tunes!
She seems to excel at whatever she tries.
Who knows: maybe first woman on the moon?

Daughter, Rachel has a new book soon,
Added yoga instructor to her CV.
Seems that girl is always on the run.
Some people say she’s a bit like me!

As usual, my plans for 2017
Are ambitious, to say the least.
I’ve had enough of famine;
I’m ready for a feast!

Between poetry and publishing,
Presenting and pontificating,
I plan to perform more, professionally,
Plow into next year’s posterior, celebrating!

Everyday, we all have plenty to eat,
More clothes than we can ever wear.
We have no wars plaguing our streets.
In our world, these privileges are rare.

Let’s be thankful for the many blessings
We all enjoy each and everyday.
My hope for you in the New Year
Is that Gratitude’s here to stay.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas,
Creating friends and family memories.
May your tears, next year, be tears of joy,
And your days overflow with “tee-hee-hees”!



Barbwire Dispatch March Issue

ACPA logo blackLast summer I became acquainted with Cowboy Poetry and the Alberta Cowboy Poetry Association. One thing led to another and poof! I’m a member of the Board and I’m the Editor of the ACPA newsletter, the Barbwire Dispatch.

It has been great fun getting to know the people involved in the ACPA, which has the mandate of preserving our western history through music and spoken word. Themes are generally around country living, horses and growing food, especially beef.

The Barbwire Dispatch recently opened its pages to all audiences, no longer exclusive to members. In its pages, we’ve attempted to communicate with members, performers and fans, by sharing stories, news and tips.

If you’re interested in learning more about western entertainers, I invite you to follow this link to the March 2016 issue of Barbwire Dispatch. If you’d like to receive it every other month, let me know and I’ll get you on the mailing list.



Peaks and Valleys: Must-See Local Artist, Caran Magaw

Caran Art Show One of the fun things I did so far this month was  attend Peaks and Valleys, the opening art show of my friend, Caran Magaw. For the entire month of March you can see and purchase Caran’s art at the gallery, Framed on Fifth, a small character gallery at 1207-5 Ave in Kensington, in the heart of Calgary.

At the opening I spoke with Hannah, one of the proprietors of the gallery. She shared that the gallery focuses on up-and-coming and local artists like Caran. It was comforting to know there are still businesses that understand the impact of supporting local and budding artists.

I met Caran years ago at a  friend’s birthday party where we hit it off immediately after discovering our mutual love of reading. Soon after, I joined Caran’s book club, of which I was a member for five years.

Over the years I’ve seen Caran evolve tremendously as an artist. Mostly I’ve admired her determination to work on her art, really work on it, for the pure joy of it. I strive for that state of mind and reliable execution.

Caran’s early work was farm-centric, featuring grain elevators, yellow fields of grain and portraits of horses.

Two years ago I bought my first piece of real art, Caran’s Bold Mare, a jaunty white mare on a red background. The painting takes me back to memories of the white mare I rode as a teenager. Caran let me pay instalments and Bold Mare has been my most exciting purchase in years. I felt privileged to support my friend’s art by buying some of it.

I know little about art, except I do know what paintings make me feel good when I look at them. I was drawn to Caran’s recent work, mostly landscapes, which look like watercolours accented with black oil paint. I’m sure that clumsy explanation is completely inaccurate. Regardless, the effect is bold and beautiful.

When I visited the gallery I spotted another piece I covet. I could tell you the name but then you might snatch it from under me! I’m hoping all her paintings sell but that one so I can have it for myself, maybe strike up another payment plan!

I do hope you’ll visit Caran’s exhibit, if nothing else but to look at some very pretty pictures painted my a very lovely local woman, supported by a local business.

Caran Magaw, Calgary Artist

Caran Magaw,      Calgary Artist




Is Stress Causing You Distress?

Sunflower against blue skyMy friend Ellen has been going through some tough times, a squabble with her sister over the family farm.

I visited Ellen recently and she complained that her lips had been burning for a couple days.

We discussed the possible causes of her discomfort. What was she eating? Had she started using any new products? Had she developed an allergy to something?

The pain was unresponsive to her attempted remedies which included coconut oil and vitamin E. Nothing worked.

Another day passed and Ellen’s lips slow-burned like a Scottish bog.

We reviewed our attempts to diagnose the cause.

Finally I blurted out, “What have you been doing the last several days? I’ll tell you.

“You’ve been writing your responses to 160 pages of lies and vitriol from your sister, words and thoughts that you have worked hard to ignore. Until now, you’ve taken the high road but your lawyers’ insistence that you respond to this poison has caused this reaction. I suspect your body objects to the toxins you’ve “spoken”.”

I suggested that she could get relief if she would recognize and release those negative thoughts. She meditated on it that evening when she went to bed.

The next morning her lips were no longer burning. It seemed a miracle.

Our bodies ARE miracles. The strange thing is how little we know about our own bodies and the tremendous power of our minds to affect our bodies.

Frankly, when I suggested the remedy, part of my own brain whispered, “That’s woo-woo stuff.” But I kept that to myself and persuaded Ellen it made sense and it was worth trying.

I’m so happy Ellen had faith. I got to witness a miracle. I needed the reminder.

Are you experiencing inexplicable physical symptoms that don’t respond to usual remedies?

I suggest you examine your life for stress. I’ve come to believe it is most often the root of illness or the catalyst that spawns an adverse health event.

After this experience with Ellen, I am more convinced than ever that an active plan to relieve stress is as important as a healthy diet and daily exercise.

Reading Heroes

booksFebruary is “I Love to Read” Month.

I do love to read. And I don’t need a “Month” to inspire me to read. But maybe you do.

I was fortunate to be born to two parents who read; (they still do). Their parents were also readers. One of my early memories is my grandma reading the “funnies” from the newspaper to my siblings and me. She also read us Bible stories from a huge illustrated book. I still have that book.

I remember my dad reading a book to me about brownies (fairies, not Girl Scouts or desserts). I might not have remembered it but I read it myself when I was in Grade Three, and I realized it was the book Dad had read to me when I was only three or four.

My parents would regularly sit in the living room, each reading their own book. My mother often spent her meager pin money on books.

Up to Grade Five my teachers read books to the class in the few minutes after lunch each day. Among the most memorable were Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, the beginning of my enchantment with the words of Mark Twain.

The example of these influential readers probably entrenched reading habits in my life. Reading provided me with the best escape and a good excuse (sometimes) to delay doing my chores. (Parents want their children to read. Consequently I often got away with not setting the table the first time I was asked. “As soon as I finish this chapter!” I rarely got away with anything else, but reading trumped some chores!)

I read to my girls when they were pre-school aged. When they were older, during a tumultuous time in our family life, we had the habit of jumping into my bed to read a chapter or two together before lights out, even though they were perfectly capable of reading to themselves. My daughters still remember that we read Black Beauty together and the fun we had “reading” our big atlas.

My daughter began reading to my granddaughter the day she came home from the hospital. People thought she was crazy, reading to a newborn, but it paid off: at six months, my granddaughter was saying “no, no, no”, a line from her favourite book and she spoke in full sentences before she was a year old. I attribute her advanced language skills to all that reading.

Perhaps you haven’t had the advantage of heroes who showed you that reading is an integral and enjoyable part of your life. It’s never too late to start reading.

If you’re a parent, begin by reading to your children or grandchildren. You might choose short stories and then move up to longer novels. I recommend the classics, like the aforementioned, Black Beauty and Mark Twain books. Little Women, Jungle Book, The Chronicles of Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, Harry Potter are also worth reading with children. I’ve read or reread many of these titles as an adult and I enjoyed them all.

When you read with kids, you can help them learn vocabulary and grasp advanced ideas, which they might not be able to do on their own. Sometimes we didn’t read an entire chapter because the discussion of the concepts was more important than getting finished.

If you’ve not been a reader, you might enjoy starting with some of those so-called children’s books. Or if you are particularly interested in certain topics, you might choose books relating to that topic. It helps you stay the course much more easily than if you read something in which you have no interest or that is beyond your reading skill. (It will improve, I assure you.)

Schedule reading time. If you could devote an hour before bed each night to read, it’s probable that you would finish almost any book within a month, most likely in less time than that. You could go from reading no books to reading twelve each year, a huge improvement!

Carry a book with you. Our days are fraught with wasted time: waiting in line at the bank, waiting for your late lunch date, doctor’s waiting rooms, all prime reading opportunities. I generally read a “purse book” (I always have a book in my purse) each month.

Reading does not have to be a solitary activity. Joining a book club is a great way to find new reads you might not otherwise discover. It’s fun to share the experience of a good (or even a bad) book with others. Often your club members shed some new perspective on the book that can lead to some enlightening discussions.

You can have an informal book club with just one other person. I have a friend that likes to discuss certain books with me. My sister and I share good books.

Reading doesn’t have to be expensive. We all pay for libraries with our tax dollars. We have an obligation to use these valuable resources. (I gleaned this concept from a recent biography I read called The Billionaire Who Wasn’t. The subject, Chuck Feeney, who gave away his billions, hence the book title, believed libraries are to be used, regardless of your wealth).

Recently I’ve enjoyed the Calgary Public Library’s e-book section, presently carrying around 18,000 titles and growing. I can always find something interesting. Currently there is no charge to get a library card if you live in the City of Calgary. Download e-books to your tablet and voila, mobile reading!

The benefits of reading are legion. Increased knowledge, sharper vocabulary, and improved writing skills are just three benefits I’ve enjoyed because I read more. My understanding of the world seems clearer because I get the literary references that I used to miss. (I now understand what a Lolita is; I didn’t before I read the book, though I had heard the expression.)

If you read more you will be able to read more. When I started my serious reading journey I struggled to read a book a week. I now read three per week, fairly effortlessly, although I do prioritize reading. Someone suggested I’d have more time if I read fewer books. I felt like they suggested I stop breathing.

You don’t have to be as obsessive as I am to benefit from reading more books.

Read more because you will benefit and those around you will benefit, especially the children in your life.

Reading Month is a good time to begin.

Dinner for Thousands

Today I am pleased to share my platform with my dear octogenarian aunt, Elsie who recently sent me this story that she wrote years ago. She never got the opportunity to publish her stories and I am delighted to share this one with my readers.

Tonight my husband and I served a conservatively estimated crowd of 2000 at an impromptu fly in dinner.

Some came gliding silently, while others arrived squawking in anticipation of the feast ahead. Unlike most social functions of today’s hustle and bustle, all guests arrived right on time, and without exception, unabashedly enjoyed their visit to the limit!

Not one looked askance at the menu. Each and every one went home full, contented and appreciative. Between courses they very politely moved aside. They took the quiet moment to stretch, yawn or preen their dinner suits.

They all looked so lovely in their basic white jackets, trimmed with grey, their black headgear and each so immaculately groomed. It appeared they had primped and readied themselves the whole day for this festivity.

Not all conducted themselves according to Emily Post. In the beginning there was a certain amount of shoving and elbowing but when they realized there was more than enough food for all, they settled down to act the ladies and gentlemen they were.

The only cleanup to do will be to wash down the tractor in the morning. Despite that, we wish them all well and hope to see each and every one again when we work the summer fallow the next time!

Here is a picture of our dinner party:

Sea Gull Dinner Guests, June 20, 1974

Sea Gull Dinner Guests, June 20, 1974

It was one of those unexpected happenings that make you so thankful to be on the land and not in the city. The gulls had always visited as we worked a field, but not in the unbelievable numbers as this evening. They must have homed in on the only tractor moving for miles and miles.

It felt like a scene from a Hitchcock movie, The Birds, with the gulls making the fallow white for a hundred yards behind, above, and to each side. Eerie but beautiful.



Sadly, after years of spraying anhydrous ammonia on the fields, the seagulls disappeared. The soil may never recover. A hard lesson that some have yet to learn.

Elsie Matthie



Meeting Teresa

PoohMy good friend L___, (she’s shy), (I’m going to call her Lucy) has been playing Scrabble online with Teresa for over eight years. They’ve played over 2000 games and they are completely, amazingly, matched, having each won 50% of the games and tied eight!

They’ve gotten to know each other, sending chat messages as they play. Sometimes Lucy plays at five in the morning and Teresa jumps into the game at midnight. Sometimes they’re online simultaneously.

Our summer sojourn was destined to take Lucy and I to Vancouver, where Teresa lives. I suggested that Lucy should meet Teresa while we’re in her city. Lucy agreed, although she immediately felt anxious. After eight years of online bliss, Lucy couldn’t help but wonder if she would like Teresa in person.

The day arrives. We’re to meet Teresa at a casino restaurant/buffet. We’re late. Teresa has left. We call. She turns around. We wait.

I’m at the restaurant entrance upstairs. Lucy is on the main floor, hunting, pacing, waiting.


Suddenly I hear a sound that’s like  a melancholy hyena, a combination of laughing and crying. Teresa’s here.

They glide up the escalator, entwined. Their eyes are shiny with tears of joy.

I meet Teresa but my presence is extraneous.  (I don’t care. This is for Lucy!)

As I follow them into the restaurant I notice these two ladies, approximately the same age, are almost the same height and build. One is Asian, one caucasian, as if that matters. What matters is their sister-like connection.

Walking behind them, I feel like I’m soaking in the joy that spills over, joy that gushes from their locked arms and insatiable need to look into each others’ faces.

They can’t look at each other enough. They move close, heads together; they smile, retreat and look at each other with sparkling eyes.

They laugh. They cry. They demur. They gush.

It’s like watching the courtship dance of exotic birds.

I am privileged to witness this meeting. I try to stay out of their conversations. This is their date. I am the fifth wheel.

Thankfully, I am kept busy by the extensive buffet. I take many trips, sometimes just to look at the huge spread. I pop back to our table and do my best to stay on the periphery of the conversation.

By the end of three hours I am spent. All that positive energy! All the sugar from all those trips to the buffet! I’m definitely riding high by the time we bid Teresa good-bye.

And it lasts. Lucy is tired, but beaming. We rehash the meeting again and again. We know it’s not everyday you meet an old friend for the first time.

Lucy’s fears are but ether. We are still smiling.

Meeting Teresa was among the most magical moments I’ve had in years. It wasn’t my magic. Lucy and Teresa generated that magic and I was lucky enough to be there to see and experience it.

It was a highlight of my summer.




Horse Sense Now Available Online

Horse Sense cover
My regular readers may recall that I have recently taken up a new interest: writing and performing Cowboy Poetry.

I am delighted to announce that my first book of Cowboy Poetry, (so far), Horse Sense is now available online at Amazon: 

Horse Sense is a collection of the poetry I wrote in 2015. It’s based on my experiences, growing up with horses on a farm, and the experiences of my friends who live and make a living in the country.

I am so pleased that my mother, Ilene Goldbeck contributed her private horse sketches for the book. The tribute poem I wrote for her 75th birthday is included in the book.

In Horse Sense, you’ll find stories that will resonate with you, especially if you grew up in the country. I chose to print the book in large font so my audience and I might not need our reading glasses! It’s a short book, but the point of poetry is to be succinct!

I invite you to read Horse Sense. Hopefully it will inspire you to attend a Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

The Cowboy Poetry community is full of interesting characters, some of whom remember farming and ranching before its domination by corporate conglomerates. Some still practice the old ways, growing our food and collecting and telling stories along the way.

Music is a major part of the Gatherings, mostly the real, old western, story-telling songs. Some performers bridge the gap between the classic oldies and newer music that has the same integrity. Not generally stuff you hear on the radio anymore.

Visit to learn more about a gathering near you.

I’m off to Elko Nevada for the largest Cowboy Poetry Gathering in the USA. I will report on the activities in the next issue of the ACPA Barbwire Dispatch. December’s edition is linked here for your viewing pleasure. Happy Trails!