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Today, I simply have a pictures blog post, of the numerous flowers I came across this year and took pictures of. What is it about flowers that surprises and delights us? That enthralls and captivates us? That makes us cast aside our troubles, even for a moment? That makes our hearts sigh with contentment and joy?

As winter knocks and the cold winds howl, at least right here at Shot of Inspiration, we have these “eye candy” (no calories added) to warm your hearts!

Light-Pink-Bud

Life holds so much promise, as the little bud starts to grow… “Hello future!”

Pink-Buds

Some like having company, so they grow in clusters…

More-pink

This one can’t wait. We look away for a moment, and it’s already in full bloom, embracing life…

Pink-2

It prompts another little bud to follow suit…

More-yellow

Others choose to color the world with splashes of yellow…

Pink-Rose

Others with pretty pinks…

Small-Pink-Flower

Even weeds have dainty flowers too…

White-Dainties

Some light up with whites…

White-Flower

And a breeze kisses the petals…

White-Flower2

…and the pollen ever so gently…

Sunflower

But alas, the sunflower, the sunflower, infuses us with energy…

Sunflower2

…and unspeakable joys, as we uncover new ways to look at them, to look at life.

Hope your hearts warmed just a little bit, by this little post. What is it about flowers? That lights up our wintry world? It’s their spontaneous beauty, effortless effect – nature’s gift to you and me.

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy reading these too:

This post is dedicated to Earl Erickson, Adjunct Faculty at the City College of San Francisco.

      Jump for Joy
      Image by kreg.steppe via Flickr


      During another downturn several years back, I learned a new definition of success.

      It was a time not unlike these times.  Many companies have folded.  Many people have been laid off.

      In the eyes of the world, these companies would forever be tossed in the “failure” category.  After all, didn’t they run their companies to the ground?

      I was, at that time, the owner of a public relations agency struggling to keep my clients and my employees.  While I was discouraged, I wasn’t defeated.  But I didn’t feel like “success” either, until I met professor Erickson from the City College of San Francisco, where I had signed up for a complimentary small business management class.

      Professor, how do you define success?”  A dark-hair middle-aged woman at the front of the classroom raised her hand.

      The grey-hair, balding professor in a navy suit looked up from his lecture notes and turned in the direction of my classmate.

      Well, it’s simple.  Once you have learned and improved upon whatever it is you want to learn and improve on, then to me, that is success!”

      That’s it?”  My classmate’s eyes opened wider and shot back instinctively.

      Yes, that’s it.”  The corners of my professor’s lips turned into a smile.

      I sat quietly, but my mind was processing that simple advice…

      Once you have improved, then you are successful.  Yes, I think that’s what he just said.

      Those simple words had a profound effect on me.

      I began reflecting on some business challenges, but came to the conclusion that hey, I was still a success!  Why, because according to my professor’s definition, as long as one have learned or improved from an experience, one is a success!  So on that particular day, no matter what I felt about the state of my business, I was proactively sitting in a classroom, improving my small business skills.  So, I have crossed a small, personal success milestone!

      After that, I started rewarding myself for little, personal victories.  Hey, I outreached to five prospective clients today.   Hey, I worked with our webmaster HelloAri to complete our website revamp.  Hey, I created a great marketing campaign today, etc. etc.  Soon enough, these personal victories grew and began manifesting as public ones, and we started winning more clients and awards.

      Once you have improved, then you are successful.  Yes, that was what he said.

      How refreshing!  Perhaps the secret of happiness lies in our perceptions of success.  Have you had days when you feel discouraged because you are so far away from reaching your goals?  Consider carving your goals into smaller pieces.  Say you’d like to run a marathon one day.  But it overwhelms you.  Why not start by going to the gym and runing for 10 minutes today and adding on the miles incrementally afterwards?  So long as you are learning and making progress, hey, you’re a success!

      What goals are you working toward?  What successes have you had recently?  Do share.  Remember to see them in smaller pieces, so you have more reason to pat yourself on the back and more reason to celebrate.

      Here’s to your success!

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      Tonight’s Chinese take-out delivered unexpected doses of inspiration…

      Inspiration is everywhere.  It is in that hummingbird hovering over the red columbine.   It is in the gentle smile and words of Maya Angelou.  It is in so many movies, when protagonists overcome much difficulty to arrive at an end goal.

      Hey, it was even in the fortune cookies that came with my Chinese food tonight!  Three little sayings – they came in neat, crispy, little 3-D pac-man shape cookies.  I have gently unwrapped and lay them out for you below:

      List of cookies

      Image via Wikipedia

      I hear and I forget.

      I see and I remember.

      I do and I understand.”

      A man’s dreams are an index to his greatness.”

      Consume less.  Share more.  Enjoy life.”

      Enjoy life indeed!  Do you remember other memorable sayings from fortune cookies?  I know of someone who have kept several in his wallet.  Or have you drawn inspiration from the most unexpected people, places or things?  Do share!

      This post is dedicated to my friend and former colleague, Christina Cheang.

      The Passage of Time

      Image by ToniVC via Flickr

      I was in a fancy Chinese restaurant in the Lion City, sitting across from Christina C., a dynamo of a woman and the new Singapore leader of our international public relations agency.  We were deep in conversation as the waiter filled our cups with Puér tea and served us plates of steamed sea bass and herbal black chicken.

      I was wrapping up a two-week business trip.  My life in San Francisco seemed so far away.  Well, literally 8,500 miles away.  Yet my mind was a whirlwind of thoughts, twirling about everything I needed to do before I left, and everything that awaited me when I return.

      “How am I going to find the time to do everything?”  I said as I wolfed down the sea bass and emptied the tea cup.  “Within the next week, I’ll be making five presentations.  Two here, and three back in San Francisco.”

      Christina looked at me through her stern, maternal eyes.

      “Slow down, Sharon.  Don’t you know that time is elastic?”

      “Time is elastic?  What do you mean?”  I rested my chopsticks, momentarily.

      “Well, you and I think that we only have 24 hours a day.  But have you ever been so engrossed in something that you lose track of time?”

      “Well, yes.”  My eyebrows arched higher as I leaned toward her.

      “Have you ever felt like hours have passed, when in fact, it had only been minutes?”

      I nodded.

      “You see, when you are inspired to act on something, you will always find the time and energy to dive into what you’re meant to do.  And when you get ‘in the flow,’ time becomes elastic.”

      Inspired, I returned to my hotel room that night and whipped together a powerpoint presentation in under an hour, pleasantly surprising myself.  I experienced first hand the meaning of “time is elastic.”

      Christina C. taught me an invaluable concept, and I have often reflected on those three simple words since our memorable dinner almost two years ago.

      Michael Jackson 1958 - 2009
      Image by bernissimo via Flickr

      Tonight, I saw the Michael Jackson movie “This Is It” for the first time.  Those around me lamented that it was such a shame that he died so young.

      Then, suddenly, the three words, “time is elastic” popped to mind.  I started thinking about his lasting impact on music, and on the millions of people around the world.

      The “King of Pop” may have passed on, but his music will live on in our hearts and minds for a long, long time.  Michael Jackson has forever outlived his 50 years and succeeded in stretching time to its maximum elasticity.

      I could almost see Christina’s smile as I pen this today.

      “Great, you get it now.  Time is elastic, grasshopper.”

      Orange moon

      Image by m.a.r.k via Flickr

      It was a full moon night, everywhere…

      I’m sure you didn’t miss it, whether you live in San Francisco, Shanghai, Switzerland or Singapore…

      The moon beckoned from afar – luminous, warm, inviting – like a grandmother gathering little children around her rocking chair for story time.

      You and me, we likely didn’t breathe the same air that night, what with the countless miles between us…

      “How many miles?”  You asked.

      “Geez, I don’t know, I’ve never been good at Math.”

      But  we digress…


      It was a full moon night, everywhere…

      Though we didn’t breathe the same air, we did see the same moon, didn’t we?

      Did it not call to you?  The same way it called to me?

      Did it not whisper in your ears, the way it did me?

      “What did it say?”  You asked.

      Take heart, don’t fret the miles that separate you.  You may think we live in a vast, cold world.  You may count with your fingers and toes all your loved ones who live far away.  But really, we live in a small, small world.  How else can I visit each and everyone of you, every night, without fail, if our world were indeed too big, too vast?”

      Hark, the moon has spoken.  Just then a cloud floated by, casting a big shadow upon us.  But the moon was smart and escaped soon enough.  It then continued to smile and shine, over the freeways, over the meadows, over little you and little me.

      It was a full moon night, everywhere.  No matter the distance, we are all connected, in more ways than one.

      By Sharon Sim-Krause

      Driving north on Interstate 5, likely California’s straightest and most uneventful freeway, my husband and I came upon a most unexpected and beautiful sight.

      IMG_0595

      It was a picture of gentle cloud breezes caressed by warm orange rays – a picture of peace and renewal.  I took a deep breath, and another, and another.  What a sight, what a sight!  As our car cruised along the freeway, we basked in this beauty for the next 15 minutes or so.  The sky gradually darkened, but I felt my spirit transformed, lifted, and an inexplicable joy seeped into my being…

      I’d like to share the sight with you, my readers, and allow me too, if you will, to share an Apache blessing I came across.  Take in the picture, and with each word you read, may you be blessed…

      Apache Blessing

      May the sun bring you new energy by day,
      May the moon softly restore you by night,
      May the rain wash away your worries
      And the breeze blow new strength into your being,
      And all the days of your life may you walk
      Gently through the world and know its beauty.

      Author Unknown

      UT Austin Tower lit entirely in orange to cele...

      Image via Wikipedia

      I will never forget him.  He was a senior executive at Dell Computers.  A former Longhorn, he had come to speak to our group of wide-eyed college seniors at the University of Texas at Austin, about our future careers, of course.

      A tentative voice at the back of the room posed a question.  “I…, I know internships are very important, and I’m an intern now.   But I don’t think I’m learning anything because they just have me doing little things, like faxing, copying, filing and other menial tasks.”

      I will never forget what this professional said in response as his gaze fixed on the intern.  “If you remember nothing else from my speech tonight, remember this, “Nothing is beneath you.”

      My ears perked.  Fellow schoolmates leaned forward.  What did he mean?

      The Dell executive continued,  “When I was a fresh graduate, I didn’t start out holding the vice president title that I have today.  My first position, and I still remember my route like yesterday, was as a mail room staffer for our company headquarters.  I sorted huge volumes of mail and carted them all over Dell’s offices and delivered mail to each and everyone – with seriousness, and a smile.”

      My mind briefly entertained an image of him walking down a long and narrow corporate hallway, pushing a mountain cart of mail…

      “You might think my job was menial, but I took every opportunity to remember faces and names, to show them my attention to detail, to show up day after day and be the most conscientious mail room staffer I can be.  And guess what?  I still spent the next two years in the mail room!”

      A few of us chuckled nervously.

      “But if you ask me today, is it all worth it?  I say to you a firm “yes.”  My career took off at the two-year mark and I am where I am today because I adopted an attitude early on that served me well.  Because I told myself, “nothing is beneath me.”

      The speaker’s advice touched me profoundly and I took it to heart as I sailed through internships and on to real jobs over the years.  I have also had the privilege to share his story a few times during one-to-one mentoring sessions, or when speaking to college students at various schools.  Book author Michael Gerber also underscores a similar philosophy below:

      The work we do is a reflection of who we are.  If we’re sloppy at it, it’s because we’re sloppy inside.  If we’re late at it, it’s because we’re late inside.  If we’re bored by it, it’s because we’re bored inside, with ourselves, not with the work.  The most menial work can be a piece of art when done by an artist.  So the job here is not outside of ourselves, but inside of ourselves.  How we do our work becomes a mirror of who we are inside.” ~ Michael Gerber, e-Myth Revisited.

      Well said, Mr. Gerber, and thank you, Mr. Dell executive!  Your writing and sharing reinforced my belief that there is dignity in every job – from being a janitor,  to being a receptionist to being the president of this country.  Readers, have you had similar experiences as the intern or the Dell speaker?  How have you handled yourself in the face of “menial” assignments?  Would love to hear your thoughts, insights, takeaways, success or even horror stories!

      People through Nero'cafe window London

      Image by Pit Van Meeffe via Flickr

      Have you ever sat alone at a cafe, stared out the window and pondered this question:

      “What do I wish my life to look like?”

      One day, I did sit at a cafe.  I saw the cars and people passing by, and did ask this very question.  I wanted to be an entrepreneur.  I wanted to build a company filled with happy people and clients.  I wanted to do good work that has impact and makes a difference in the lives of others.

      First, it started as a flicker of an idea.  Then it took form and I “fearfully” took the plunge and finally hung up my shingle.  And as I worked on the business everyday, my vision for the future and this business became more refined.  A particularly edifying moment came from reading a profoundly simple, yet powerful book called E-Myth Revisited.

      There is a passage within the book that underscores the importance of having a clear vision for our lives:

      Great people have a vision of their lives that they practice emulating every day.  They go to work on their lives, not just in their lives.  Their lives are spent living out the vision that they have for their future, in the present.  They compare what they have done with what they intended to do.  And where there is a disparity between the two, they don’t wait very long to make up for the difference.” ~ Michael Gerber, E-Myth Revisited.

      Do you have a vision for your life?  It could just be a flicker now.  Or perhaps you are one of the great people that E-Myth Revisited alluded to, and your vision is already in full bloom?  Either way, drop a note and share with others who will benefit from your thoughts and experiences.

      Here’s to your future filled with bright visions!

      Dream, After Dream album cover

      Image via Wikipedia

      Are you an entrepreneur?  A leader?  A manager?  Or aspire to be one?  Then you must have often wondered how you can best manage and motivate those who work for you, and with you, to great results.

      One of the most influential authors I have read on the subject of leadership is John Maxwell.  His teachings, stories and rules of leadership have inspired me and countless others.  In his book, Developing the Leaders Around You, Maxwell offers an easy-to-understand observation and lesson on leadership – leaders dream.  And great leaders share their dreams with others who can help turn dreams into realities.  Below is his simple four-step plan:

      1. Dare to Dream: Have a vision that improve lives and change paradigms.  Have a desire to do something bigger than yourself
      2. Prepare the Dream: Do your homework.  Be ready when the opportunity comes.
      3. Wear the Dream: Do it!
      4. Share the Dream: Make others a part of the dream, and it’ll become greater than you hope.

      What is your dream?  Prepare it, do it and share it!  Wishing you much leadership success!

      Despair
      Image by ~Aphrodite via Flickr

      There are untold sufferers and suffering among us.  Just three days ago, our nation remembered and mourned those who lost their lives during the September 11 attacks.   All of us, at some time or other, would come face-to-face with pain, illness and death (ours or our loved ones).

      Sometimes, in our despair, we may ask, “What is the point of all of this?  What is the point of living?”

      While we probably ask these questions at the lowest points of our lives, I believe that they could sow the seeds for the start of a more purposeful and meaningful life.

      A strong influence who shaped my thinking was Victor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor.   I first learned of Frankl several years back, when I chanced upon his book, Man’s Search for Meaning.  In it, he recalled his years at the concentration camp, where he witnessed many Jews dying in gas chambers, from starvation, forced labor and executions.   Frankl was surrounded by death and despair.  Even his parents and wife were killed.

      However, he managed to find meaning in the midst of dark tragedy.  Because of his training, he was assigned to help newcomers overcome shock and grief in the camps.  He later set up a suicide watch unit to support his fellow prisoners.  To lift his own spirits, he willed himself to imagine his release, to imagine that he would one day be giving lectures about having survived the concentration camp, to hundreds and hundreds of people.  He imagined it so well that he actually practiced his lectures to blank walls even when he was imprisoned.

      Photo by Sharon Sim-Krause

      In his book, Frankl wrote that no matter how difficult one’s physical realities are, one can find a way to access their mental life and find refuge, hope and meaning in the spiritual domain.  It was from this belief that he developed Logotherapy, the school of therapy that believes that finding meaning in one’s life  is the most powerful driving force for living.

      Are you in a difficult situation currently?  Are you surrounded by impossible physical realities?  Do not despair.  There is a redeeming space within you – your mind, your rich imagination, your spirit – that is always available to you.  It is awaiting you to access, to visualize, to fill with uplifting thoughts, hopes, visions, beauty and peace.  Try it, embrace it.  This, is your new meaning of life.

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