Expressing a Reflective Shine


This week over at the Daily Post, Nancy Thanki begins by asking: “Have you ever walked past something bright that caught your eye, but when you turn around, there’s seemingly nothing there?” The theme for this Photo Challenge is Shine.” This past week, I was blessed to share another very special sunset with my family. Nancy’s post caused me to reflect, and realize that sometimes the shine we walk past without shine-in-moments-with-familynoticing, is present moments spent with those we love.

The phrase; “be where you are” is a simple reminder that one of the greatest treasures we can give others and ourselves, is the grace of being fully present together. “Be where you are;” is an expression worth repeating in writing, out loud, in prayer and meditation, to ourselves and others. We live in a culture of instant gratification. It is easy to get caught up in believing we have to be constantly moving, thinking or talking. Give yourself permission to be immersed in silence. It is okay to slow down, just roll with it and see where it takes you.

Nancy ends her post by asking “Has the sunshine or any other light source caused you to stop because it’s highlighting something you didn’t notice before?”  As I look back at this photo, I’m grateful for that moment, the people in my life and this moment.

How about you? What is your shine? Let’s keep this conversation going, if you enjoyed it, share it with others. Please leave a comment or thought below and thank you for visiting my blog.

Sparkles, S’mores and Land that I Love | Happy 4th of July


Smores Fourth of July NostalgiaI love the Fourth of July (or Fourch of Guly as I said when I was little), it makes me feel a bit nostalgic. One of my first 4th of July parades I remember being sad because I wasn’t fast enough at getting candy and I’m sure there were one or two thoughtful kids & parents who saw that and walked over to make sure I had some. Then there was the first parade I was in with my sister where we both wore costumes and tap shoes from dance lessons. My mom told us to march holding our batons with one hand lifting them straight up and down with each step and of course, we thought it was a great idea.

As we grew older, we were blessed enough to spend the first two weeks of July up north with my dad and dear friends at Crane Lake in Voyageurs National Park on the Canadian Border. The only way to get to the cabin was by boat. Imagine hauling 3-5 adults, 5-7 kids and a dog, 2 weeks worth of food, clothing and fresh water for drinking. Sometimes it would take 2-3 trips and the boat would be so heavy the waterline was about a foot below the top. While we did have a short wave radio to hear the closest weather reports and listen to the international time, we did not have phones or television and we actually learned to appreciate that.

It was there we explored the chain of lakes where water is so clear you can look 15+ feet straight down and see the bottom. We learned how to water ski, responsibly shoot guns at targets, become great fishers and use a filet knife to clean and prepare our catch. At night, my dad would bring Crane Lakeout his guitar and we sang songs together around the fire, roasted marshmallows for S’mores and later hear the cracking and snapping of the fresh burning wood. Some evenings we would go out “on the rock” and enjoy the sunset, seen in the picture to the right. I would close my eyes and take in the fresh smell of the Norway Pine trees and burning fire. I would listen to the water lapping up on the shore, loons, seagulls or a boat humming in the distance. It was heaven on earth.

After fourth of July celebrations in the small town across the water, we would take the boat to the middle of the lake, cut the engine, watch the fireworks and have rich conversations about freedom, life or whatever was on our minds. It was there we discovered breathtaking views where stars are so clear you could see them sparkle right down to the horizon. In a good year, we could see the northern lights dance, displaying colors of green, blue and red.

I’m grateful for the people and all of those memories we created together. It shaped me in growing a deeper appreciation for this land where we live. Today, I think about so many people around the world who don’t have the same choices we do. At the same time,  we can not forget those who have gone before us and those still fighting for our freedom because they have laid much of the groundwork for us.

I also will not forget that there is still more work that needs to be done.

Regardless, I celebrate the fact that we are so fortunate to be citizens in a country where we have the freedom to express ourselves, choose to practice our faith, celebrate diversity, practice servant leadership,  be educated and to make a difference in the lives of others.

Wishing you a very happy Fourth of July. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences about how this day has shaped you. Please share below and thanks for visiting my blog!

“I AM” and “SPIRIT” In Sync With One Another #FierceForward


Fierce Forward - I AM and Spirit = Parters

I AM – two of the most powerful words you could ever declare to yourself. This is your declaration, your choice to stand in your power and allow your vision to come to reality/ #FierceForward

SPIRIT – Your truth. Freedom is found when you live your truth and let your spirit live out loud. Do not hide. Do not deny your truth. Do not let her stay quiet. Go forward, fiercely and let your SPIRIT lead the way. #FierceForward

Knowing who we are and being grounded in our truth are at the core of what teaches us to be great leaders and even better human beings.

These bracelets are handmade using African Trade Beads to support women in Africa. They are special because they support a worthy cause and they were an authentic gift from someone whose friendship means a great deal to me.

This post is inspired by The Weekly Photo Challenge themed: Partners: Whether two of a kind or ten, give us subjects that are in sync with one another – show us partnerships.

Learn more about #FierceForward at fierceforwardforlife.com

Remembering Prince in Minneapolis ★ My Story


Today I got in the car after a long day at work and before I turned on any media, my heart sunk as I sat in the stillness of the moment and the words popped in my head; “Prince is Dead……… OMG, I just can’t believe it.” As a home-grown Minnesotan, whose stomping grounds used to be downtown Minneapolis, the reality left me feeling empty and sad, then I turned on the radio to find every-singFirst_Ave_Remembering_Prince_Minneapolisle-station playing his music and DJ’s talking about him. Later, I returned home, grabbed the remote and on the TV The song “Let’s Go Crazy” from the movie Purple Rain was playing and BOOM, I briefly saw myself on National TV news.

Sometimes it is surreal to imagine we were the very first audience to hear all of those amazingly brilliant songs and to be in his presence, witnessing him perform as the most authentic form of artistry in motion. It was unlike anything we had seen before, and it was phenomenal.

In 1983 my friend Holly and I went to a casting call to try out for Purple Rain as extras. The line was long, they took our pictures and information. After a few months, it was out of sight, out of mind.

Then the call came one evening in November somewhere between 10-11:30 P.M. asking if we could be downtown by 5:30 A.M. the next day…. No hesitation.

Um……YES!”  So on that cold morning when we arrived, we were escorted into an old theatre just around the corner from First Avenue. Although we were exhausted from all the energy we spent freaking out about what to wear, how to fix our hair, getting our makeup just right, etc. Our adrenaline was pumping as they provided us with instruction about what to expect and what they wanted from us, then it was game as we were led to the club to begin filming.

Holly and I were up towards the front of the stage, and when the music was playing, it was magic and exciting. At the same time, there was plenty of time to stand around  between scene takes and Prince’s wardrobe changes. I chatted with his body-guard Big Chick (Charles Huntsbury). He stood at 6’8″ and 400 pounds with  long white hair and a beard to match. He could have been mistaken as a biker one might see as part of the Hell’s Angel club, or even a wizarding character from Harry Potter. Despite his intimidating appearance, he was kind and always took the time to chat when we saw him. Remembering Prince In Minneapolis - My Story Little did I know, that I would run into him several times in the next few years.

Back then in Minneapolis it was not unusual to run into Prince out on the town, bodyguards in tow, or to see him hop into or emerge from a cool sports car with a beautiful woman. Sometimes he would perform impromptu (notice same day or 1-2 days in advance.) The venues included First Avenue, Pacific Club, The Fine Line, Glam Slam (later called “The Quest” nightclub.), and eventually, Paisley Park after the bars closed. Sometimes it was new material he wanted to debut, other times he was introducing new talent before going on tour, Diamonds and Pearls for example. He rarely spoke to anyone. As Minnesotans, we  respected his privacy and for the most part, knew not to approach him, unless, of course, we were feeling mischievous, like one night when I was with my cousin, Stacey, who had recently moved to Minneapolis from Omaha Nebraska. After a few cocktails, I triple-dog-double-dared her to try to talk to him (knowing what would happen). Of course, she did, he didn’t speak and body guards moved in. Yes, I set her up and to this day we still laugh about it. But I digress.

Between takes and wardrobe changes, movie directors passed out free packs of cigarettes, telling everyone to smoke up the bar. We were front and center stage as he sang Let’s Get Crazy, then continued with other songs like Baby I’m a Star, I Would Die 4 U, Little Red Corvette, The Beautiful Ones, etc. Looking back now, it is so great to have such an intimate connection to that moment in history. Sometimes I hear the music and think; “wow, I was really, literally right there” it is like I forget, and something brings me back to that time. Feeling reflective, I went online today and watched those performances again and found myself in other crowd scene shots I hadn’t seen before. Technology sure has made it easier to find these kinds of things. Imagine trying to find information using fast-forward and rewind on VHS tapes. 😏

In 1984, Prince performed here on Christmas Eve and I went with my sisters, The Purple Skyline of Downtown Minneapolisit was my youngest sister’s first concert ever. My grandpa had rented out a YMCA that night for a family celebration, so we headed there after the show. I remember hearing someone say; “What kind of person has a concert on Christmas Eve?” followed by a sarcastic; “What kind people attend a concert on Christmas Eve?” 

Prince was a die-hard, born and raised Minnesotan who was ahead of his time. He changed music industry business models. Looking back, now, if I were to put myself in his shoes, of course it makes sense. This is and always has been his home, he wanted to celebrate with his people, who he loved – us.

We listened to Prince and The Time (Now called The Original 7ven) before it was “C-O-O-L” to listen to them. Was that because we were all from Minneapolis? Most likely – it was the Minneapolis sound, keeping us front and center. 

Prince was a brilliant, creative, compassionate talented artist and fellow community member who cared about humanity. He profoundly changed the landscape of music and it will never be the same because of him. I’m grateful for the memories the old songs bring; smiles. friendships, laughter, tears, flirting, after parties, connection, dancing and more.

Prince’s untimely death is a reminder that we need to take care of ourselves when we are ill and that in this world obsessed with the glorification of “busy-ness,” life is short. In the distraction, we forget to slow down and pay attention to this moment.

Today my prayer is that more of us figure out how to “be here now,” fully present for others in fellowship and as servant leaders. May we discover all that comes along with remembering to be mindful and grateful for how blessed we are.

Do you have any thoughts or memories related that you would like to share?

If so, please leave a comment below. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Appreciation as Fuel


Fire at Kidani VillageSo I was staring at my computer screen and had an epiphany. The only thing I was processing was a blank stare, and I knew I had to get out to clear my mind. This month Minnesota is on target to experience the warmest December in history and on this day, it was just 31 degrees. I knew feeling the fresh air on my face was just what I needed because I do my best critical thinking when I am walking outside. I grabbed my walking shoes and was quickly out of the door.

Feeling the crisp, cool wind on my face, set the tone for this stroll and got me thinking about gratitude. A simple thank you goes such a long way and can be a ritual that begins a chain reaction which may surprise you. Appreciation is the fuel that warms people, inspires them to pay it forward and doesn’t take much extra effort.

Research has shown that expressing thankfulness increases confidence, connection, and feelings of competency. Engagement matters and when we find little ways to express appreciation it sends the message  “I see you” and it promotes teamwork and improves the sense of community. I like to think of gratitude as a multiplier because it increases emotional well-being and improves productivity. That, in turn, leads to innovation and creativity, which is when we do our best work.

I have a board on Pinterest called “Appreciation, which has some thoughtful ideas for expressing gratitude.

Take a look and let me know what you think. I want to hear from you. How do you show appreciation?

Please share your response below and thank you for visiting my blog!

Refracting Light Life | Kakie’s Corner


These pictures are from one of our first “free” nights in South East Asia, for the Global Business Systems Executive MBA Global Studies Course, Singaporecourse in the Executive MBA program. This evening four of us opted for dinner on the rooftop in Little India. I heard a calming sound of flapping water, came around the corner and this beautiful scenery, was what I encountered.

This week’s photo challenge asks that we show what “refraction” means to us. Refraction occurs when a ray of light is indirectly deflected by a wave of energy that passes from one medium to another, which causes the illumination to bend and become distorted. For example: water to light, air to glass etc.

I interpret “Refraction” as a metaphor for life. Read more of this post

Quantum Creativity and the Power of Intention


The window of intention

I’ve been thinking about intention lately. How often do we find ourselves slipping into “automatic thinking“? What does our window of aspiration look like and how do we frame it?

Doing vs. Being | Acting vs. Reacting | Ideal vs. Real |

Intention leads to quantum creativity because, for many people, creativity restores order. Some of the most important things that we do in life come from our creativity, which invokes the possibilities of new beginnings.

The human condition causes individuals to make flawed assumptions that people do not change. But those of us have done deep self-exploration, know that we get to make a choice to be even better today than the day before.

I am not who I was five or ten years ago because of my curiosity and creativity. They have shown me the excitement to learn and grow that exists around each corner. The good news is that this world is full of random variables that can help us reach and exceed our potential every day, and we have the privilege of being able to share that with others.

Intention – Creativity – Restoration

Thanks for visiting my blog, feel free to leave a comment! Below are some quotes about intention, enjoy!_

Read more of this post

Courage is a HEART Word


Courage is a heart wordA few months back I took a six-week online class with Brené Brown based on her book; “The Gifts of Imperfection.” Early in the process we explored the meaning of courage and had a journal activity as seen in the picture. I wanted to share what Brené says about courage because I think it is profound;

“Courage, the original definition of courage when it first came into the English language – it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart – and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart…

This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, ‘Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?’ just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, ‘I’m just so grateful because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.’”

-Quote by Brené Brown, speaking about The Power of Vulnerability at TED

How often do we ask ourselves the question of what it means to live wholeheartedly? It starts with having enough self-compassion to explore our stories about shame and vulnerability without judgment. Brené says that shame cannot survive being spoken, so after we have explored our fears and insecurities, it is important to find “your people” – those who have earned the right to hear your story. They are the individuals you know will just listen without judgment. They are the people who will not throw it back in your face at a later time. Next, say it out loud to them. That is a step towards healing and growth.

That my friends takes courage and is a demonstration of living with intention. Thoughts feelings and actions in alignment with our values principles and goals. I’d like to think of it as a form of servant leadership that we give as a gift to ourselves. Genuine authenticity feels good.

If there is anything you would like to share about this please feel free to comment below.

Thanks for visiting my blog and have a Happy Valentines Day!

Out in the Cold, But No Thin Ice Here – Twinkle Lights


Out in the cold, but not on thin ice - Twinkle Lights

I took this picture in Rice Park at the 2014 St. Paul Winter Carnival on January 31st and the temperature was well below zero. There was a live band outside that evening complete with an ice bar and ice sculptures. We didn’t stay long, but we did get some great pictures.

The lights are so beautiful and remind me of a quote by Brené Brown from her book called “The Gifts of Imperfection.” A while back I posted one of her TED Talks videos that went viral about the power of vulnerability. In the book; The Gifts of Imperfection; Brené writes;

I think the beauty of twinkle lights is a perfect metaphor for joy. Read more of this post

A Random Act of Kindness for Wordless Wednesday


When was the last time someone reached out to you and performed a random act of kindness? I was pleasantly surprised when a complete stranger recently did something thoughtful for me just when I needed it most. As a result of her good-hearted deed, I plan to honor her by paying it forward.

WholeHeartedThankYou

As thought leaders, we sometimes forget the view, taking a moment to acknowledge the people around us via random acts of kindness can go a long way. We get so caught up in our calendars, goals, and tasks and only see the road ahead. But when we slow down a little to enjoy, pleasant surprises seem to come out of the woodwork.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, this past Monday, has been deemed a day to encourage making a difference in communities. As I wrote in a previous post called: Servant Leadership: Facts about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. King was a strong proponent of servant leadership, so whether or not you took action this week, I would like to propose a challenge.

What can you do to make a difference for someone this week? Please make the effort, then come back here and share your story below. I’d like to hear what you did, the response you got and how it made you feel. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tradition, Legacy and New Beginnings


These ornaments are hanging on my tree right next to one another and they both have significance. The one on the left Grandma's Ornaments for Kakie Fitzsimmonswas painted in November by my son as a way to create a memory, celebrate new beginnings, life and family. He did a beautiful job.

The ornament on the right was painted by my grandmother, Dode Jandric, in 1992. It was a tradition she created that has left a great legacy. For a number of years, she painted and fired one for each of her 22 grandchildren and countless great-grandchildren. On the back of this ornament she hand-painted a biblical quote from Isaiah 66:12 that reads:

Now towards her I will send flowing peace like a river” and on the bottom; “Merry Christmas Kakie” along with her name and the year.

As a fifth-generation oldest daughter, I now realize the significance of a biblical quote, which refers to “from her” in this scripture. I’m confident it was with intention.

This year she passed away at the age of 92. Both my son and I had the honor of spending mothers day with her, knowing it was our last. It was meaningful time well spent and a blessing words can’t begin to describe.

Here is wishing you a wonderful holiday and a year filled with new beginnings. Family and good friends are priceless. Life is a gift, may yours be bursting with gratitude and love.

Thanks for visiting my blog, keep coming back and feel free to comment below.

Six Simple Ways to Multiply Gratitude


CraneLake3This morning to start the Thanksgiving holiday, I got together with about 100 friends and each of us took a minute to share a bit of gratitude. It’s a tradition that has been going for a little over 21 years. Sometimes when I think about all I have to be thankful for, it’s like a new beginning because somehow it manages to realign my perspective. It reminds me to focus on being positive and present for the people in my life.

To honor that, I wanted to share some suggestions to multiply gratitude in your life.

  1. Keep an ongoing gratitude list on a magnetic whiteboard on your refrigerator or at work
  2. Celebrate your journey and how far you have come, treat yourself, you deserve it!
  3. Pay it forward – performing random acts of kindness multiplies gratitude
  4. If you have a loved one who lives out-of-state, call them and give them a hug over the phone
  5. Buy the kit called “A year of Gratitude” for yourself
  6. Discover new ways to say thank you to others by looking at my “appreciation board” on Pinterest.

Do you have other suggestions? Please share them below!!

The Universe as a Subtle Teacher |The Daily Prompt


Magestic SnowWhen my son was just 3 years old I recall pulling into the driveway after a full day at the office. It was early April and there was a fresh, light dusting of snow. The air was crisp and the neighborhood quiet. Often, getting out of the car after a long day at work was a chore because my mind would be whirling, as I processed the events of the day.

I unbuckled my little guy from his car seat, pulled him out of the car, grabbed my purse, his diaper bag, my laptop case, etc. and headed towards the door. I was in “full speed ahead” mode, focusing on the tasks at hand, thinking we needed to hurry. I had to fix dinner, do laundry, get him in the tub, prepare for the next morning, read a children’s storybook and in the blink of an eye, it would be time for bed.

As I walked up to the house I was stomping in the fresh snow and he was following not far behind. I got to the door, turned around and said; “Come on little man, let’s get in.” What I saw caused me to take a pause for a second.

There he was, his little self concentrating on the ground, stepping his tiny boots into my big footsteps of the fresh snow. For a moment it brought me back to my own childhood and I was reminded how quickly the time flies, that the universe is so big and is a subtle teacher.  I calmly waited,  and it was a wonderful feeling that puts a smile on my face.

As we work to navigate the world and teach our children about faith, family and staying on the right path, one would think that we teach and they learn. But little moments like that of those footsteps, remind us that the most valuable asset we have is time and we become the student. They teach us how we use that time, is up to us.

Later that night I picked up one of my meditation books and the quote at the beginning of the entry read:

The journey is bigger than we are no matter where we are in our search to know God.” –Earnie Larsen

Wow.

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This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt Topic; “Tell us a moment or an incident that you treasure  – not necessarily because it brought you happiness, but because it taught you something about yourself. Photographers, artists, poets: show us LEARNING.

 

You’ve Got the Power | My Law Starts Here


If I could enact a single law, it might read something like this:

Holding Hand

Compassion over judgment – Act thoughtfully and approach every human being, including yourself, with loving-kindness. Acknowledge your own bias and seek to understand before jumping to conclusions. Everyone has a story to tell and asking someone about theirs may be really insightful.

Love your family in word and action – Family consists of those we choose to involve in our lives. Life is short, time slips away quickly and living with regret is daunting. The good news is every person has the gift of this very moment, so step forward, make a choice and seize the day!

Let go of the anger  In every life situation, have the courage to take a step back and ask;

  • What is really going on here?
  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What is my role in this situation?
  • Who or what do I need to forgive?

Practice Gratitude each day and sprinkle in a little fun.

Be kind to yourself – Cliche I know, – treat others the way you want to be treated. But how about this:

Treat yourself the way you want to be treated.

What would that look like and if you had the power to enact a single law, what would it be? Please comment below.

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This post was inspired by The Daily Prompt: You have the power to enact a single law. What would it be? Photographers, artists, poets: show us RULES.

The Road – Our path to….


Unconditional Love

There are people who will say Valentines’ Day is a novelty, but I think it’s an opportunity to reflect, create a memory or perform a random act of kindness because sometimes even the smallest gesture can go a long way.

My mom never forgets a Valentines’ Day. Last night she came over with the tulips you see in the background of the picture, made dinner and then did some religion homework with my son.

She gave me the red heart ornament in the picture years ago on a February 14th. It says “Kakie” and on the back Love, Mom.  Time has worn the ink from changing the oil in the decanter.

The faded letters on the ornament and the flowers are both signals for me. One, a gentle reminder about being present, new life, spring and what lies ahead. The other is to pause, step back, appreciate those around me and celebrate the journey. We didn’t get here alone and couldn’t have accomplished all that has been without others. Look how far we’ve come. For many of us, it can seem quite remarkable.

Life puts gifts at our feet which we don’t recognize at first. Sometimes we stumble over them or we get in our own way. It’s okay because we are all flawed and I think there is beauty in that. Somehow we always manage to get back up, brush ourselves off and move ahead.

We are exactly where we are meant to be at any given moment and we have all of the tools we need. Today, give yourself permission to slow down, take a deep breath, find gratitude and share it with someone.

I would love to hear stories about small gestures that meant a great deal to you  Share them below and thanks for stopping by. Happy Valentines Day.