Tag Archives: inspiration

A Piece of My Heart

photo of my father, Nick Labaj

On October 18, 2011, I lost a piece of my heart when my Dad, Nick Labaj, passed away.

He was a big part of my life, increasingly so as the years passed. After my Mom’s passing ten years ago, he and I became very close. We shared laughs, stories, a home for a few years, cooking secrets, friends, health concerns, sorrows and joys.

It was at the funeral home and funeral that I came to understand what a big impact he made on so many people outside of our family. Most kids think their Dad is great. I consider myself fortunate to be told just how great others thought he was. At the interment, one of my friends whom I haven’t seen in a few years said, simply, “Your Dad was cool.” This made me smile and cry at the same time.

He was very cool. He would come downstairs when we, the kids, were having a party, and raise a glass with our friends. When my Dad was in his 60s, he had “the safe sex talk” with one of my nephews. He had a great sense of humour that he’d use to make you spurt tea out of your nose, or laugh ’til you had to pee. He had great stories from the old country, Ukraine, and tales from the rough years in a labour camp in WWII Germany that would curl your toes. He worked hard and played hard. When he was given a prognosis of six weeks to live following colorectal cancer surgery, he refused to believe it and lived 24 “bonus” years, as he called them. He would kick your ass in Euchre. He would teach us life lessons. He would deliver lyrical Epistle readings in church on Sundays. He was tough. He was compassionate. He liked the music turned up loud. He was, indeed, very cool.

In his 90th year, he remained a force to be reckoned with, even as his health took a quick, downward spiral from August through October. Just a few days before he left us, he was still teasing his grandchildren, trying his best to muster up a twinkle in his eye, and putting on a brave face.

He left footprints in many hearts, as the literally hundreds of visitors at the funeral home and funeral would attest, as they paid their respects, offered their condolences and shared their own stories about my Dad.

Dad, you will be missed terribly and remembered always.


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The Brick Wall

A few months ago, I read a book that resonated with me in a big way. It’s called The Last Lecture and was written by Randy Pausch, a professor, researcher and mentor at Carnegie Mellon University.

The book is based on Randy’s last lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. Sadly, Randy lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2008. In his short life, however, he achieved many of his childhood dreams and has inspired millions to strive to achieve theirs.

Randy came to mind today as I sat pondering what I’ve achieved so far, some next steps, and what it will take to make my dreams come true. I’ve mapped out some pretty significant goals, worked with a great NLP-based coach to make progress in eliminating my limiting beliefs and negative emotions, and as I put everything into practice, the enormity of everything I want to do has suddenly stopped me in my tracks.

Because there it is. Right in front of me: The Big Scary Wall of Self-Doubt.

And on the other side: my heart’s desires.

That’s when Randy came to mind. In his book, he says:
“The brick walls are there for a reason. They’re not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something… The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

When I’ve reached this point of self-doubt in the past, there were times when I summoned my strength, ignored the possibility of not succeeding, faced my fears and did it anyway.

Then there were the other times – when I threw my hands up, waved the white flag and closed the chapter on what might have been.

Why the difference – why do we sometimes give up and other times give it all we’ve got?

Does it really come down to how badly we want something? Looks like it. There are so many examples of accomplished people who faced the odds and through sheer determination and desire made things happen.

So here I am, facing the brick wall again.

Am I driven enough to silence the questioning self-talk? Can I get past the doubt? What will it take to get what I want and either break through that wall or vault over it, Navy Seal-style, to the other side?

I’m putting on my helmet and elbow pads. I’m armed with clear, vivid, Technicolor images of what I will see, hear, feel and do when I reach my goals. And I’m taking a run at it.

How badly do you want to achieve something? Will the brick wall keep you out?

Or will I see you on the other side?

Photo courtesy of: Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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I’m not a morning person. It’s hard for me to get inspired and motivated, especially on a Monday that follows a sunny, active weekend.

Just now I was about to dig into my career transition “to do” list, when I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful my new scarf looked, casually draped over my purse and briefcase the way it landed when I put my stuff down on the desk. I bought my new favourite accessory on Friday — it was a cheap and cheerful impulse buy (yes, TR, I am still an active impulse buyer!). I was walking by a tiny store in the underground concourse at Bloor and Yonge and my eyes went directly to it. I felt happy just looking at it.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

When we recognize moments of inspiration, it opens up possibilities that lead to options, that lead to baby steps, that inevitably add up and lead to achievement.

Just like Mama said, “Lille bit by lille bit.”

Happy Monday!

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