How to be powerful

It seems as if our society is fascinated by, even celebrates, destruction.

We have that awful term “shock and awe” from the second Gulf war. We have ____mageddon (here close to Toronto that would be snowmageddon for example) and ____apocalypse (What isn’t an apolcalypse these days? Zombies, turkeys, weather, shopping).

Popular news favors the unsavory and we’re deluged with images of war, violence, crime and other horrors. Insults, sarcasm, explosions, war games, gladiator sports and brawls pass as entertainment. We’re endlessly wowed with our own ability to destroy and be horrible.

Are we drawn to the power inherent in these destructive images; the power to turn our world upside down, to rip each other or a country apart, or freeze it in its tracks?

Is destruction powerful? No. Creation is the ultimate power.  

Which is more powerful? Hurting a person or animal or using love and patience to restore health and trust? Is it more meaningful to tear down a society or to build one? Which are more enduring? Works of beauty and skill or acts of vandalism and destruction?


Victory Hand

If I can choose my response to any situation – and I can, and so can you – then choosing optimism, hope and kindness is the constructive, powerful choice.

Being morally brave, standing up for what is right, taking the high road, building, growing, creating and being generous are the hallmarks of a powerful person.

My birthday story

Every year on my birthday my mother would announce “I remember the day you were born….” and she would launch into what I came to think of as my birthday story. It was a story just for the two of us to share. She’d recall the weather (it was snowing), having contractions as she served my brother and sister breakfast before sending them to school and telling my father not to dawdle coming home from work because “the baby was coming.” I’d hear how he was indeed late, how she wanted to stop to buy magazines on the way to the hospital but didn’t have time to read them because I was so impatient to be born.

MomandMeOn my last birthday before my mother died, I went to visit her. She was very ill and her mental facilities were spotty. I told her it was my birthday, but she had forgotten. I asked her to tell me my birthday story. Frustrated with her own lack of comprehension she asked me crossly “what are you talking about?” Even when I prompted her, she just shook her head, not recalling what my birthday story was. Returning home, I realized bleakly that I would never hear my birthday story again. A part of me felt diminished.

On my first birthday after my mother’s death, my sister, Carla, who is seven years older than I am, took me out for the day. As we were driving, and completely out of the blue, she said “I remember the day you were born. The weather was just like this….” And then she told me about waiting with our brother and father for the call from the hospital, and how happy she was when she found out mom had had a baby girl.

I listened in stunned, joyous disbelief. My birthday story wasn’t gone! This was my birthday story from another perspective – a version that had never been told before. And with its telling that little part of me that I thought was diminished forever was restored.

Thank you for the birthday story, Carla. Happy birthday to me!


A few years ago, I was desperately unhappy with my life. I felt stuck, not knowing what exactly was wrong or what to do. Within months, I was depressed and having panic attacks. As I tried to figure out what to do, or if anything could be done, my panic mounted and my frantic mind scrabbled at the seams of my life like a cornered rat. I feltfish hopeless and trapped.

My sister told me about an exercise she did when she was feeling similarly stuck and unhappy. She wrote down all the things in her life that were in her power to change. She suggested I try the exercise myself, assuring me that the results would be surprising.

She was right. There’s precious little that you cannot change. All these things (and more) are yours to choose:

Your home

Your job

Your eye and hair colour

Your name

Your spouse, your friends, your pastimes

Your citizenship,

Even your gender.

They’re all open to change.

In fact, the only things you can’t change are your past and your age.

Reinvention, transformation, opportunities and fresh starts are available pretty much every minute of the day. Now that’s hopeFULL knowledge!