Books I Read in 2015

I love reading posterPeople are shocked to learn that I read 156 books in 2015, an average of three per week. It’s part of my on-going goal to read 1000 books in ten years and educate myself along the way. I hit 890 on December 31, 2015, which leaves me with only two to read each week in 2016.

I began last year with a vacation where I read a book a day, 21 books in 20 days. Airports help. I flew stand-by and stayed in the airport for 11 hours, after being bumped twice. Luckily I don’t mind. I read three books before the plane left and one on the flight.

I read from many genres. I started the year with more fiction than usual but ended up reading about one-third fiction and two-thirds non-fiction, which includes health, food, self-development, writing, speaking, marketing, business and politics.

This year I discovered the Calgary Public Library’s amazing online offerings. Last I looked they had over 17,000 e-book titles. I created a wish list. Whenever I need a new book to read, I go to my wish list to see what’s available. (They carry a limited number of licenses for each book so you do need to wait sometimes.)

Before e-books, I would judiciously choose books for my trips, hoping I wouldn’t run out of reading material. With access to so many books online, I no longer worry about being caught without something to read.

Everyone wants to know about my favourite reads. Here are a few highlights from 2015:

Best fiction: Ragged Company, by Richard Wagamese, a heart-rending account of four homeless people whose lives change after a major event. I really felt their pains.

Other notable fiction titles: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I read a few Tom Robbins books, which are far out but entertaining: try Jitterbug Perfume. I enjoyed A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

On the non-fiction front: Two books by Mark Kurlansky entertained and educated me: Cod and Salt. I was amazed by the politics and history around these two basic foods.

Several Short Sentences about Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg showed me a new way to approach writing. It’s on my personal library wish list. How to Lie with Statistics (a book that was already printed 24 times by 1954) proved enlightening and still relevant 60 years later!

Your Perfect Presentation by Bill Hoogstrop was the best book on presentation skills I read last year. (By the way, no presentation is perfect!) The Long Tail by Chris Anderson and Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom were two of the best marketing books I read.

I also read a number of memoirs and biographies of famous and infamous people including Nikola Tesla, Jann Arden, Mark Twain, Willie Nelson, Susan Schmidt (an ex-polygamist), CS Lewis, Helen Keller, Barack Obama, Catherine the Great, Malala Yousafzai (Taliban shooting survivor) and Joni Mitchell.

I was touched by A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead, examining the lives and deaths of over 200 French women sentenced to Auschwitz during WWII. I was struck by the fact that the survivors suffered from multiple health issues after their release, proof of the importance of good nutrition or the harm caused by poor nutrition.

I learned about harem life from Daughter of Persia by Sattareh Farman Farmaian and about First Nations issues in Dancing with a Ghost, by Rupert Ross. I read Quiet by Susan Cain, a fascinating look at introverts and how they don’t get as much respect as extroverts. (By the way, Cain’s TED talk is among the top viewed talks.)

I read a number of books on conquering procrastination and I plan to get around to implementing what I learned sometime later this year! LOL!

Sadly, I gave up my book club. I was unable to attend the first five meetings this season so I bowed out. I will miss the variety they provided to my reading list and the rich discussions we enjoyed.

Reading books has given me an education beyond my expectations. I am a better writer and speaker because of all this “training”.

I realize that three books a week is impossible for most people. I’ve so enjoyed my reading journey that I urge people to read more books, even if it’s one per month. It’s not so hard if you make reading a priority. Watch less TV. Carry a book wherever you go. Embrace online technology.

With regularly scheduled reading time, I promise, you’ll become a faster reader and your life will be enriched beyond your expectations. Happy reading!

I’d like to know what your favourite books are so I can add them to my to-read list.

Goals Not Resolutions

smileMy business card says that I am the CEO, Chief Eternal Optimist, of my company. As an eternal optimist, it grieves me to learn that people have given up on resolutions. I believe there is always hope, always room to improve and that taking action, no matter how insignificant is better than doing nothing, helplessly accepting our fate.

I agree that there are many good reasons to not make New Years resolutions including:

  1. They don’t stick. In theory they sound good, but they often fizzle before the first month of the year is over. Set goals, not resolutions. Goals are supported with action plans. Resolutions are just wishes.
  1. Resolutions are often unrealistic or worse, unspecific. “Lose weight” or “be nicer to people” are simply too vague to have teeth and any hope of success. Creating an action plan will expose unrealistic goals. Losing 100 pounds in three months is a sure failure. Do the math: 33 pounds a month, over a pound a day. You’re likely to quit. Realistically, you can achieve a goal of losing two pounds a week and lose your weight in a year.
  1. It’s the wrong time of year. Why is it that changes have to be reserved for the New Year? Why don’t we change when we realize that change is desirable, that it might make things better? What’s wrong with quitting smoking in March when the stress of the holidays is a distant memory? I add ideas to my self-improvement list all the time. I don’t wait for January, although the New Year is always a good time to take stock.
  1. Failure to plan. Blurting out a resolution without any thought of implementation is a common mistake. If it bothers you enough to change, it’s probably significant and therefore not necessarily easy. Just saying you’ll do something is far different from writing a step-by-step plan. Baby steps contribute to the success of the plan. That’s why you want goals, not resolutions.
  1. Expectations of perfection. Unrealistic expectations of how the changes will happen cause people to give up when they inevitably fail at the new habit they’re trying to forge. Instead of staying the course, they throw up their hands in despair and declare that making resolutions is doomed to fail. You aren’t perfect. You might have to work at saying no to the doughnuts in the coffee room at the office. You might fail. You’re human. Get over it and move forward.

In addition to the above remedies to the reasons not to resolve, here are a few more tips.

  1. Know your “why”. Why do you want to change that part of you? Why is it important to you? Is it important to you or somebody else? You might discover it doesn’t matter and you can scrap that resolution. Or you might understand how very important it is to you and thus give yourself incentive to persevere.
  2. Be kind but firm with yourself. I think people are mostly born lazy. We tend to choose the easy path so discipline is vital. The greatest rewards usually require some discomfort. So be firm. But if you fall, forgive yourself. Get up. Dust off. According to Confucius, Success is falling down seven times and getting up eight times.
  3. Reward yourself. The best rewards are small and frequent, helping you stick with it to achieve the big prize. Realizing your goal is like a marathon: one step at a time. Celebrate that you ran five km. Celebrate you cracked ten km. Eventually you’ll cross the finish line. You know what you like. Express some self-love and take that nap or two-hour walk, your reward for achieving your goal.

Don’t underestimate the power of personal change and growth. My life’s trajectory has been forever altered by my successfully kept resolutions.

In the past I’ve shed the habit of hitting the snooze button several times before actually getting out of bed. Another year I gave up alarm clocks entirely. I eliminated sugar from my diet and the benefits are legion. I gave up dairy, stopped snoring and have never gone back. Resolving to read more books (first one per week, then two and now three per week) has profoundly changed me. I recently achieved an education goal that began as a resolution a few years ago.

I wouldn’t be the person I am without having made resolutions, although, I think they were really goals.

Go ahead. Make some resolutions. You could accomplish great things. You might check something wonderful off your bucket list. Or you might become a better person just because you stretched and grew. I am optimistic about your future.



Ilene on Her

Ilene Goldbeck

Ilene Goldbeck
In her 20’s




My mother’s 75th birthday was in August. And like most farm wives she has made her share of sacrifices to keep the farm going. I hope you’ll enjoy this little tribute. Here’s to you, Mom



Ilene on Her

Ilene is my mother’s name and after decades it has occurred to me

Just how appropriate her name is when I think about our family.

She has quietly supported Dad since she was only seventeen

And his life and ours just wouldn’t be the same without Ilene.


When she married she was 90 pounds soaking wet

But wiry and strong; you ain’t seen nothing yet!

She’s not much bigger now but she can still toss

Forty or fifty bales that weigh nearly as much as she does.


Ilene on her, my partner, my wife. Ilene on her to get me through life.

Ilene on her each and every day. Ilene on her; there’s no other way.


A penny was never stretched like a penny in the hands of Mom.

As little as came through her hands, she always saved some.

And just when times are extra tough and no solution is in sight

My mom reveals her secret stash and saves the farm from its plight.


For many years she had a full-time job in town at the bank.

That regular paycheque ensured their small farm never sank.

Chores to do before she left and more when she came home

Never seemed to faze her, even when she did them all alone.


Ilene on her, my partner, my wife. Ilene on her to get me through life.

Ilene on her each and every day. Ilene on her; there’s no other way.


Her garden and her chickens helped keep the wolf from the door.

She’s worked beside Dad and not desired much more

Than being his partner, with a horse or two in the yard.

I challenge you to find a woman half her age who can work half as hard.


She keeps her health in check; she doesn’t need to take pills

But she faithfully ensures Dad takes his to ward off all his ills.

She silently consents when he conjures brand new schemes

And participates completely in the fulfillment of their dreams.


She has seen her share of sorrows but she always wears a smile

Despite the trials and burdens of walking with Dad along the miles.

She would say her life’s been happy though she’s never had much nice stuff.

Having horses in common with Dad, to her, has always been enough.


Ilene on her, my partner, my wife. Ilene on her to get me through life.

Ilene on her each and every day. Ilene on her; there’s no other way.



Performed at 30th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Lewistown, MT 2015

Ode to Willow Creek

Shelley Goldbeck at Stavely

At Willow Creek Cowboy Gathering

I attended my first cowboy poetry event on July 10 and 11 at the Willow Creek Cowboy Gathering at Stavely, Alberta. I participated in their open mic on Saturday with this poem I wrote that day.





Ode to Willow Creek

Come to Cowboy Poetry, it’s lots of fun to go
Sit in rows of chairs and just enjoy the show.
Talk of cows and ponies and land and farmin’.
You’re a farm girl so I know you’ll fit right in.
Life got in the way, almost got there last year
But something else came along and I missed again, I fear.
This is my year for change, something new to do
So when my sister said Lewistown, Montana I knew
I had to grab the proverbial bull by the horns
And take a chance and share some of my poems.
That’s right. Not only am I going, I decided to commit
To sharing some poems and see what comes of it.
My poetry gushed like waterfalls, spilling from the pen.
Growing up on a farm, I have herds of stories to spin.
Like Dogface, an old plug pulling kid-laden toboggans on frozen fields.
In ’67 there was the wagon train trek, ’75’s barley yields.
There was my 12 hour concussion, got thrown and kicked by a horse.
There were parades and gymkhanas and rodeos of course.
So I’ve got some poems but I haven’t seen it done,
This cowboy poetry thing, so I decide I need to come
To Willow Creek Cowboy Gathering to get me some smarts.
Knowing nothing would be such a greenhorn move to start!
Let me say I was wowed sitting in the crowd on the edge of my seat
Feeling the singers sing, the players play and the poets speak.
Sagas about cows and horses and big skies,
Opining about their problems and making up lies.
Listen to Jim Hamilton’s poem about the cow man
Contemplating suicide, cancer doctors reveal his life span.
All words carefully chosen, each one has its weight.
Letting them out judiciously, one by one, through the gate.
There’s Phyllis Rathwell and her homespun yarns
Of grandkids and Hutterites and functions in barns.
The customs agent searching her truck for contraband
Struck a chord. I’ve driven farm trucks so I understand.
I think her scheme is brilliant and I plan to do the same
When I head to Montana for Cowboy Poetry games.
I’ve been surprised by all the music; I grew up on cowboy songs
And with a story put to guitar you simply can’t go wrong.
If you close your eyes Charlie Ewing can pass for a young Tyson.
Through the voice of Jim Beaudoin, we heard even more of Ian.
Who has more fun onstage with strings than Noel Burles?
I bet when he was younger that he got all the girls.
Sitting, watching and listening to the cowboy poetry stars
Almost makes me think I should take up the guitar.
I wish that I could memorize like Mag or Jim or Morley.
But I can’t remember last night’s supper so I need my notes, I’m sorry.
I can’t decide if it’s his guitar picking I prefer
Or the masterful way Ed Brown talks of wrestling bear.
Or his song about NOT preaching at the wedding of Tim.
Like the rest of the cowboy poets, couldn’t get enough of him.
I never dreamed I’d see a show that makes audience eyes shine
Which is udderly what happens when you see Divine Bovines.
I’ve met some fabulous people, for example Ruth and Kay,
They’ll be at Lewistown, a name they taught me to say.
They pointed out to me it’s pronounced LewisTOWN
Not LewisTON like EdmonTON, not TON but TOWN.
All the poets and all the singers filled me up with awe
At their talents and deep thinking they shared with us all.
I left last night, inspired to write poetry for you.
Thanks for allowing me to show what I can do.
I’d rather be here than with the crowds at Stampede
I like that I can hear every story, laugh and deed.
I like that the songs are honest, not artificially produced.
Hearing thoughts I’ve not heard before gives me quite a boost.
I like that I can see the stage without binoculars on my eyes.
I get to corral real people and learn about their lives.
I feel like this is my place, so thank you Willow Creek
For all your hospitality. What a way to end the week!

Stavely Alberta

Shelley Goldbeck at Willow Creek Cowboy Gathering

Am I a Good Mother?

FIve generations of strong women. 2004.

FIve generations of strong women. 2004.

In response to an invitation to write something for a Mother’s Day contest, I wrote this piece. It had to be 325 words or fewer; mine is 324!

Sometimes we mothers wonder, “Am I a good mother?”

I recently realized my grown daughters are messy. Their shoes and clothes are strewn about their house. There always seem to be dirty dishes on the counter. Their laundry is rarely all done and put away.

Bemoaning their habits, I declared I had failed as a mother. A good friend asked me if my adult children’s neatness is a true measure of my parental success.

(Pause) No.

THIS is how I gauge my success as a parent: my children are decent human beings.

They share their meager wealth with their friends and family. Generous.

I once was walking with my then late-teen daughter when the elderly woman in front of us tripped and fell to the ground. My daughter sprang into action, lifting the woman, brushing off her clothes and gathering her spilled groceries in the blink of an eye. “What if that were Grandma?” she replied when I commented. Decent.

This spring one daughter’s friend longed to visit her dying mother one last time but couldn’t afford the flights to Ontario. My other daughter had a pass for two flights and gave them to her sister’s friend. Compassionate.

I once regretted that my daughters came from a broken home. About 15 years ago they told me that they didn’t consider themselves from a broken home but from a happy home. Loving.

The mother of my Grandtoys often foregoes housework to ride bikes, play games or sing and dance with her girls. Priorities!

I love my wise, beautiful daughters. Being their mom has been, bar none, my greatest life experience, my most significant life purpose and my most satisfying accomplishment.

When their father became ill over 30 years ago, I knew my only job was to prepare my children for adulthood, in case they lost me too.

It wasn’t easy but I did my job.

My daughters are decent human beings.

I am a good mother.

Happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers.

Old Dog Vestibular Disease

Divot 14 Years

Divot 14 Years

Old Dog Vestibular Disease. Ever heard of it? Me neither.

I suppose it’s because few dogs get really old. Our vet said at our last check-up that she rarely sees Golden Retrievers older than ten or twelve years old.

Divot is 14.

A few days ago she suddenly turned into a mad cow. You’ve seen the images of those poor creatures stumbling and bobbing their heads. That’s what Divot looked like and it was heart-wrenching.

She had a good walk in the morning. In the afternoon Hubby pulled a slice of roast beef from the fridge. Her usual reaction would be to dash over and hope that a crumb would drop or Hubby would save a scrap for her. (He always does!)

She didn’t budge.

We left her, thinking it a temporary numbness, perhaps like when you lie on one side and your arm “falls asleep”.

Suppertime rolled around and she refused to get up. We helped her. She attempted to walk the five feet to her food dish.

It was then that she looked like the mad cow. The way she gingerly picked at her food like her mouth was frozen convinced me she had had a stroke.

The looming ugly decision tormented me. I knew the day would come. But I’m not ready to let go.

Next morning, at book club, the host made the mistake of asking me how I am and I couldn’t keep it together. Good thing: every member of my “tribe” hugged me and commiserated and told me of her own experiences losing her best “furiends”. That made it better.

One told me not to grieve yet, but to love Divot until the end. Then grieve. She said it could be my gift to Divot. I liked that.

So I cheered up and resolved to investigate Divot’s sudden ailment. That’s when I learned about Old Dog or Geriatric Vestibular Disease.

Vestibular refers to a nerve that connects the ear and the brain. It can be inflamed but there is no definitive cause for the condition.

The symptoms seem stroke-like. They include, a cocked head, instability in walking, tending to veer to one side, affecting appetite (hard to eat when you’re dizzy!)

I learned that pet owners often hastily euthanize, believing the dog has had a stroke, when the dog can recover from Old Dog Vestibular Disease.

Divot didn’t seem to have the severe effects of stroke, which are the same as Vestibular Disease, but can also include blindness and permanent paralysis. Apparently strokes are rare in dogs.

After a few days, we visited the vet. Amazingly, Divot was considerably better that morning. She still wobbled but she seemed more stable. By the time we got to the clinic she was walking only slightly off-kilter. The vet marveled. She said three days was very fast to show such recovery; it can take weeks.

The vet said we can expect Divot to recover except for having a cocked head, a perpetually inquisitive stance, which does add to her charm.

The vet also suggested that many people do MRI but in her opinion it wouldn’t benefit Divot. We appreciated that.

Divot in  2007

Divot in 2007

She prescribed good care.

“Including walks?”

Divot LOVES her walks more than anything. I know that not walking would surely hasten the aging process. I was relieved when the vet agreed short walks are fine.

We took a stroll that afternoon. Divot wobbled only a few times in three blocks. She had a good snow bath (rolling with glee on a patch of snow) and even trotted a couple times.

It seems she is recovering. We will have to face the ugly decision one day, but not today.

I am more determined to cherish each moment and fully drink in the splendor of our walks together so she will never really be gone.


Sources: Google: “Dog stroke” or “Vestibular Disease”


smile“Grandma, are you ALWAYS smiling?” my nine-year-old Grandtoy asked as we entered the grocery store.

For a moment I was dumbfounded by a mixture of “Yay! I did it!”, surprise that somebody noticed, and relief that it was somebody I love, precisely the people I smile for.

It started a few years ago as my mirror gradually revealed what we all dread: the signs of aging. I tsked in regret over the roadmap of wrinkles etched on my face.

Then I realized that they almost disappeared when I smiled. Of course, I resolved to smile more.

As you all know from years of failed New Year’s resolutions, resolving and doing are two very different countries.

I decided to smile whenever I saw my reflection in a mirror, window, or screen.

I set up my iPad near my computer. I could see my reflection in it and I would smile as I conducted my telephone interviews. They say people can hear you smile on the phone. I believe that to be true. My clients and I seemed to have better conversations when I smiled.

I video record as many of my speeches and presentations as I can. Then I watch them to improve my presence. I pay attention to my smiling. I am often taken aback to discover I smile far less often than I think I do.

When I am with people, I remind myself to smile. It’s easy for me to present my serious/concerned face, which I’ve been told can be a bit scary. After all, that IS when the wrinkles are more prominent!

Through all that smiling I accidently discovered that when I smile I can hear better! (That revelation came to me while using my phone earphones.) The position of my ear canal must adjust slightly, opening to allow in more sound. This is another reason to smile when I’m with people: it helps me listen better, which is a gift I can give them.

So when my little sweetie asked me if I always smile, I celebrated that my efforts are paying off, with a smile.

That means I am more beautiful, ergo more approachable and that feels good.

In fact, that makes me smile.


“Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone.”― Stanley Gordon West, Growing an Inch

“Smile, what’s the use of crying? You’ll find that life is still worthwhile If you just smile”. From song, Smile composed by Charlie Chaplin et al

Eeks! Ebola!

ebolaEveryday, Ebola news dominates.

It’s interesting to watch the circus and alarming to see and hear some of the reactions.

Here are my observations and questions:

  • Why has Ebola spread so quickly? It seems as though the “authorities” have been syrupy slow to react. And you know what stirs me up? Airports continue to accept travelers from Africa, even Liberia, where the largest outbreak appears to be. They get in but my granddaughters’ juice boxes were confiscated at Security. Too dangerous. Didn’t you know six year olds make bombs out of juice boxes all the time? (They once took my lunch: hummous because it was too liquid. They left me my pita but naked, it wasn’t palatable!) The lax handling of this by the US Government et al is more evidence that airport security measures are largely to give the impression they’re addressing security concerns when in fact, it’s all a charade.
  • Consider this report: The US Government owns the patent on Ebola. Why? Aren’t patents granted to creators? Why is the US Government creating deadly viruses? Just asking. If this is true was Ebola released on purpose? If not, who’s guarding the lab? Is it the same contractor that’s screening passengers at airports?
  • Just as the Ebola epidemic was becoming a common headline the pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline announced that they had a vaccine, miraculously ready to test on human guinea pigs. What a wonderful coincidence! They will reduce ten years of studies into 12 months! Makes one wonder if the patent owner is colluding with GSK.
  • Who is lining up to get the Ebola vaccine? Think about the clinical trials. Group A gets untested vaccine. Group B gets the placebo. Do they purposely expose both groups to Ebola and see who gets it? Seems rather dangerous. Both scare me: an injection of virus that could cause Ebola (not to mention the vaccine adjuvants which are known poisons) or the placebo, which means there’s no protection. Where do I sign up?
  • Why a vaccine not a cure? If the US Government created it, surely they’ve been working on ways to prevent and cure it. Shouldn’t all possibilities be considered? I’ve seen reports that massive doses of vitamin C or colloidal silver can help bolster the immune system’s troops but these options are not being considered. When properly armed, our immune systems are marvelously designed to resist a host of hostile organisms. But most people are woefully malnourished and their immune defenses are weak. Africans are notoriously undernourished, or so we’re led to believe by news reports and Save the Children ads.

If you’re concerned about Ebola, I suggest minimizing trips to Africa for now.

Avoid the vaccine; it needs testing. Don’t be a guinea pig.

Nourish yourself by eating a wide variety of unprocessed foods and whole food supplements. For example, studies show that Vitamin D bolsters the immune system, so get some sun or eat some fish.

Most of all, don’t dwell on this issue. Have you ever noticed that when you focus on disaster that seems to be what shows up? Race car drivers are trained not to look at the wall because if they look there, they drive there.

Eyes on the road.

Thanksgiving 2014

Makers Faire: Pumpkin made of Lego.

Makers Faire: Pumpkin made of Lego.

Fall and winter are upon us once again. Some days it feels and smells like fall; other days it’s downright winterish.

As we harvest our gardens we are reminded to be thankful for our bounty, not just from our gardens but the bounty of life.

I believe we should have an attitude of gratitude every day but it doesn’t hurt to take time to reflect on a Day designated to Thanks.

Here is my list for 2014:

With the recent Ebola epidemic unfolding, we must be thankful we live in a first world country. Canadians won’t necessarily all escape unscathed but I’m told the virus can’t survive cold. I never say this but: Thank God for our cold Canadian winters! (which are useful for mitigating many harmful organisms).

I am thankful, still, for my health. It’s not a random happening. I invest in my health. I educate myself about food, exercise and medical discoveries that could benefit me. I am thankful I stopped lying to myself about my diet, finally confessing to having a sugar addiction, and taking action to remedy my health. The results have been mind blowing. See My Sugar Story at

I am thankful for my brain. So far this year, I’ve read 115 books and am on track to reach my goal of 150 in 2014. Amazingly, books have presented themselves just when I seem to need the message therein. I have had the privilege of sharing some of these good reads with others, who have reported that the messages were timely.

For my “Communities”, I am thankful. Those include my newly joined Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. I have learned many things and gotten so much valuable support that I can’t imagine not knowing these folks. CAPS was instrumental in my forming a new company, I am privileged to be able to attend the CAPS convention in Toronto in December.

Another of my cherished communities is Toastmasters. I am on the final project to attain my Distinguished Toastmaster designation. I love attending Toastmasters meetings where I invariably laugh and learn. I have made friends in Toastmasters that have enriched my life. The District 42 Toastmasters Fall Conference is in Calgary in November and I’ve reserved my seat.

My most important community, of course, is my family and close friends. I am fortunate that my daughters and granddaughters (Grandtoys) live close. We see each other regularly and that fills my soul. One of my great joys is being involved in the rearing of my Grandtoys. The other day I noticed my 11-year-old Grandtoy had had a growth spurt. We measured and sure enough: she’s 1/4 inch from 5 feet tall, up almost two inches since June!

My propensity is to always look for the next new thing I can see or read or do. That doesn’t always allow time to reflect on being content with things they way they are. When I take the time to do that, I discover that I have a rich life, certainly conducive to happiness, which is the best life purpose, in my opinion.

I encourage you to take a block of time in the busy Thanksgiving weekend to review your life, celebrate your blessings, and baste yourself in happiness.

See past Gratitude Messages:

Great Full 

Attitude of Gratitude

The Wisdom of the Enneagram

enneagramHave you ever bought a car, one you think is unique and as soon as you own it, you notice the same model everywhere you go?

The Enneagram (pronounced ANy-a-gram) is like that for me. A fellow member of my speaking mastermind group suggested I read the Wisdom of the Enneagram when I was wrestling, yet again this spring, with what to be when I grow up.

I borrowed the book from the library and answered 75 quiz questions for each of the nine personality types. I later learned they are available online, see

Over the last three decades I’ve taken a number of personality tests, Myers-Briggs-type measurements of who I am. Some measure me in colours, (I am blue or green or red, depending on the test). Some peg me by letters, CV or IF. Others use animal names to describe the personality types: owls and otters come to mind. Some tests are like horoscopes.

No test has ever come as close to pegging me as the Enneagram did.

In June, I signed up for some ten-minute business coaching. To my surprise, my coach was familiar with Enneagram. She was able to suggest actions to improve my habits that fit with who I am. She helped me focus on my gifts and find tools to work around my weaker areas.

Here is what the Enneagram has taught me so far: I am a Seven, the Enthusiast. I love new beginnings. One of my obstacles to success is my propensity not to finish things, and Enneagram said, especially educational pursuits.

It’s true. I’ve taken several courses and never written the exams so I could get the piece of paper. The knowledge has always been what interests me; the accolades are less important.

But accolades and various pieces of paper matter to the world, especially when one is a leader and expected to show proof of one’s ability to do the job.

A light came on for me. I had agonized whether I would finish my Toastmasters path. I had just one project to go to achieve Distinguished Toastmaster, (DTM), a rather arduous one-year commitment to mentor four Toastmasters clubs. I decided to change my life: to get my DTM by the end of the Toastmasters 2014-2015 season. I’m already three months into the year commitment. And I will finish.

The final bit on synergy I want to share with you (remember that new car?): a few weeks ago I attended a business women’s networking meeting where I met Eileen Head, a lovely woman who spoke about her failed 35 year marriage and how she was using the Enneagram to help others heal their relationships.

Having survived two failed marriages myself, it wasn’t hard for me to imagine how much more enhanced relationships would be if we understood ourselves better. Truly knowing the way others see life would make it easier to collaborate and reach mutually beneficial solutions.

I’ve included a link to Eileen’s business. I urge you to discover your own Enneagram and consider calling on Eileen to help you heal your relationships using this amazing tool.

The best part for me about Enneagram was its declaration of my greatest gift: the joy of living. This is so true of me and now that I know it for sure, I look for ways to celebrate and help others celebrate life everyday.

There is wisdom in the Enneagram.