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.

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.


My Opinion of the Oil Sands

oilsandsOriginally published April 26, 2013

Last week I alluded to my Toastmasters speech project on the oil sands. A reader suggested I post it for all to see, so here it is.

Intro: Shelley Goldbeck, has been grilled by the press for her company’s involvement in oil sands projects.  She will now give a statement which will be followed by a short Q&A.

Mister Chair, Fellow Toastmasters, Honoured Guests:  I have three main points to make about the Alberta Oil Sands.

1.  I contend that the mainstream attitude about the Oil Sands is skewed. Rather than viewing the development of the oil sands as an environmental disaster, I suggest we define the Oil Sands as Mother Nature’s mistake, her oil spill, asleep at the wheel, so to speak.  Oops!

With this in mind, we are no longer “mining” the Oil Sands; we are simply cleaning up the environment, restoring the area to its “natural” state.  After all, it’s not natural to have oil-soaked sand.   Restore indigenous flora and fauna. Stop the seepage of oil into the Athabaska River and ultimately the Arctic Ocean.

In short, it is irresponsible not to mop up the mess!

We have the knowledge and the ability to mitigate the environmental impact of this major oil spill.  My company employs a number of professionals in a wide variety of sciences including soil, groundwater, air, noise, vegetation, fisheries, wildlife, archaeology, traditional knowledge, and more, all in an effort to reduce the impact of this natural disaster.

2. Oil is currency.  Like it or not, our economy is driven by oil.  Rather than turn our backs on this opportunity I suggest we make the most if it.  Let’s invest in research for alternatives now so when the faucet turns off we’re not caught with our pants down.  We need to invest more of our oil profits as opposed to the usual drunken sailor spending, typical of pirates… er …politicians.  Norway has a huge nest egg while our sorry Heritage Trust Fund has been raped and pillaged so often she is a mere shadow of what she could be.

3. The Oils Sands are often vilified because of their potential impact on Global Warming.  A few years ago my husband and I purchased a home in Arizona because global warming wasn’t coming to Calgary soon enough for us!

I recall learning in Grade Three Science that oil was formed by decaying tropical rain forests and inland seas that once covered what is now Alberta.

If that is true, who says the current climate of Alberta is normal?  I like to think we’ve been in a below average blip for millennia and we are gradually climbing back to a normal, more tropical climate. Plus today’s tropical rainforest is the oil of a million years from now, though likely by then oil will be obsolete, primitive, or frowned upon, like shooting up heroin in a church. Therefore we owe it to future generations to burn fossil fuels, warming the planet, nurturing tropical rainforests, to die and decay and be squeezed into oil in case they are no more advanced than we are.

Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you to support the efforts to clean up the gigantic oil spill we affectionately call the Oil Sands.  Whether it’s true or not there is no harm in assuming peak oil has come and gone; let’s not leave our grandchildren freezing in the dark.  Let’s think outside the oil barrel and develop alternatives with even a fraction of the proceeds and invest more of the profits for future generations. We have knowledge, skills and technologies to reduce our footprint; let’s use these to develop the Oil Sands sustainably.

At this time I invite you to ask questions.

1. Question: What do you think about the Oil Sands protests?

Hypocrisy should be one of the seven deadly sins!  Ha! But seriously, every single person protesting the oil sands uses petroleum products daily: in their food, clothing, housing, transportation, medicine, their X-boxes, iPods, iPads, and computers. The helicopters they fly over the oil spill are powered by petroleum and are largely manufactured using petroleum products, as are their cameras. For better or worse, every single thing we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell is connected to oil.

I believe we need to find alternatives to this finite resource but abandoning it before developing alternatives to at least SOME of its uses is pure folly. We need to conserve. We must be mindful of the environment and harvest this resource, being careful to do as little harm as possible.

Vilifying Canada’s Oil Sands is not the answer.

2.  Question:  There have been news reports that Quebec is embarrassed by the Oil Sands, like the wayward sister who’s shacked up with a guy half her age.  What do you have to say about that?

Like other Canadians the residents of Quebec use petroleum products daily and enjoy many benefits because of Alberta oil, like the lowest university tuition in the country and virtually free daycare.  My daughter spent $40,000 in the last four years for child care so she could keep her job to feed her children. If she lived in Quebec she would have paid less than $9000.  To continue with your analogy, Quebec is essentially living off the avails of prostitution.

Thank you for your questions.