Realize your Potential Articles

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Spons’d Tingles: Realize your Potential in 2011

December 13, 2010 11:06:18 Posted at December 13, 2010 11:06:18
Lainey Posted by Lainey

Over the last few weeks we’ve been discussing “Potentialists”, a group of people that American Express has identified as wanting to get more out of life through enriching experiences. We’ve featured celebrity potentialists who find fulfillment through travel, philanthropy, hobbies and interest including Scarjo, Natalie Portman, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Full Story

Sponsored: Realize your Potential thru passion

December 6, 2010 07:19:00 Posted at December 6, 2010 07:19:00
Lainey Posted by Lainey

Over the last few weeks we’ve been discussing the American Express Canada “Potentialist” – a type of person who is rethinking what life is all about and who is finding ways to enrich her/his life through meaningful experiences. For some it’s about the challenge of exploring new places, and for others like Natalie Portman Full Story

Sponsored Tingles:Realize your Potential By Giving

November 29, 2010 07:35:00 Posted at November 29, 2010 07:35:00
Lainey Posted by Lainey

For the last few weeks we’ve been highlighting the American Express Canada “Potentialist” – a type of person who is rethinking what life is all about and who is finding ways to enrich her/his life through meaningful experiences. For some it’s about the challenge of exploring new places, as we saw last week in our post about the travels of Scarlett Johansson. Full Story

Spon`d Tingles:AMEX Potentialists travel the world

November 22, 2010 07:31:00 Posted at November 22, 2010 07:31:00
Lainey Posted by Lainey

Last week we introduced the American Express Canada “Potentialist” – They are often ambitious people who are rethinking what life is all about and are finding ways to enrich their lives through meaningful experiences. For some it’s about the challenge of learning new skills or exploring new places as ways of expanding their lives. Full Story

Sponsored Tingles: Realize your Potential

November 15, 2010 07:30:00 Posted at November 15, 2010 07:30:00
Lainey Posted by Lainey

I was recently very flattered to have been approached by American Express Canada to be part of their ‘Realize The Potential’ campaign that celebrates a growing segment of our population called Potentialists. Who are the Potentialists? They are all around us. They are often ambitious people who are rethinking what life is all about and are finding ways to enrich their lives through meaningful experiences. Full Story

Potentialist Reader Stories


By Shreve


For as long as I can remember, I've known that I was a photographer. Though my parents did not support this career choice, I went to photography school and got my BA degree, then moved to NYC where I lived as a starving artist. Literally. I loved my life in New York, difficult as it was, but moved to San Francisco for two years to help care for my godson when his parents were self-destructing. As their lives got back on track, I felt free to move back to NYC, and, on a wild whim, decided to ride my 150cc Vespa scooter across the country, from SF to NYC. It was a solo trip, just me and my sparkly little Vespa, 6000 miles and two month to the day. My journey took me through Wyoming and I immediately fell deeply, wholly, in love with Wyoming; specifically, the Bighorn Mountains. When I arrived in NYC, I knew my heart was still in Wyoming and within a month I had moved to a tiny town at the base of the Bighorns, population 300. I knew no one, didn't know how I would make a living; I just knew I had to be there.

Within months, I had fallen in love with a cowboy and one spring day, he stopped by my rustic one-room cabin (no indoor plumbing, woodstove as only form of heat) with a baby coyote pup in the pocket of his coat. The coyote pup was about ten days old, orphaned after his parents had been shot for killing sheep. My cowboy asked me if I wanted it. To be completely honest, I didn't! I had never raised a dog puppy, much less a wild creature, and yet I could not stand by and let this baby die, and so I took the coyote into my home. I was immediately entranced - by him, by the experience. I photographed Charlie daily, simply because I was so compelled to, and sent out one picture each day via email to my friends and family. My 90 year old grandmother soon made it clear that she could no longer start her days without her picture of Charlie; my photog friends in NYC would pull out their phones during breaks in photo shoots and share my Charlie pics with the models and crew. About three months into this, my best friend from third grade called me and said, "Your pictures are amazing, Charlie is amazing, I forward the images to my friends and they forward them on to their friends, and Shreve, you really should be getting paid for doing this." And so I started a blog, archiving my past photographs of Charlie, and opened up a subscription list for the daily emails.

Six weeks after my blog went live, Dooce.com linked to me. My hits went through the roof. My blog was linked all over the place. A week later, I received emails from four different publishing houses requesting a book, a memoir. I signed with Simon & Schuster in January of 2008.

Charlie is now 3 1/2 years old and he is still with me. He is house trained, he walks on a leash, and I feed him meat every evening, piece by piece, by hand, as he sits patiently in front of me. Working with him has required me to grow into my own strength as an individual in ways I would have never imagined, and he has opened my heart to love in a way no human ever had. And with him by my side, I now make my living doing what I love most ~ sharing my writing and photography with the world. My book has been translated into three languages to date, and I am consistently blown away by the responses people have to my work. I think Charlie and I give people license to dream, to believe in possibility, in whatever form it might take in their own lives.

As a somewhat-tangent, I've been wanting to write to you with the offer of sending you a copy of my book "The Daily Coyote" because, based on our very similar taste in books and the way you speak of Marcus, I think you would enjoy it. So, if you're interested, please do email me a mailing address and I will pop one in the mail!

And thank you for your blog ~ I am out in the boonies here, and I love keeping up on pop culture through your site and your intelligent analyses.

many thanks ~
Shreve


By Jewelle

I'm not writing this for myself. I'm writing this in support of my mom, who, despite her liking of Tori Spelling, is a rather interesting example of someone who gives to the community.

My mom a (cough cough) 60 year old something - works full time in social services. Not just any type of social services; rather, the city's largest homeless shelter for men. Heart strings tug for children in need, animals, but the man sleeping on the subway grate is always hurried past with an averted gaze. My mother has been there for almost 16 years now and it must tell you something when you're downtown together and she stops and says hi to a 6'5 panhandler who affectionately calls her 'mom'.

It's not easy employment for someone in their 20s, hell, forget someone who is in her 60s. It's rough, harsh, constantly dealing with tragedy, yet my mom is still able to find the humour in every day situations and look at every day as if it is truly a gift, and not to be wasted. She spends her free time doing what makes her happy, not what society says someone in her age should enjoy. How she came to this, is itself a bit of a take the situation by the balls and squeeze.

As I mentioned, she's been at this shelter for almost 16 years, which would mean she started working there in her 40s. When I was finishing up my last two years of high school, my mother looked around the small town we were living in and realized there wasn't anything there for a single woman of her age once I went away to school. A voracious reader, she had to leave high school in grade ten and with some nudging, she earned her high school diploma. Good for her, right? It gets even better. Remember, we're talking small town early 90s. Was there really such an option as night school or online courses to earn your high school diploma? Of course not. My mother had no choice but to attend the same high school as me, in the day. Once the students got past the sight of seeing an adult who wasn't a teacher in their classes, she seemed to fit right in (damn woman knew more of the gossip than I did!). A lot of the students seemed to find in her an adult who wouldn't judge, who would just listen and I think this is what has served her so well working where she has. She sees these men as actual men; not a scrap of clothing on the sidewalk to be kicked aside in the rest of the world's haste.

Jewelle



By Sarah


Dear Lainey,

I must be a relatively new follower of your blog (when I say follower, I mean I follow it religiously) because I had not yet heard the story behind how it all came to be. I'd like to thank you for sharing your story, as it resonated strongly with my own experiences with my mother. It is comforting to hear how these terrible events can eventually lead to such positive changes. Here's to many more years of your mother driving you crazy, and to the immense enjoyment these entertaining stories will provide for your readers!


I would like to share my own story with you below:


At my mother’s funeral, I was inundated with questions about what I would do now. While I managed to deflect these inquiries with adequate answers, inside I found myself screaming, ‘I don’t know!’ For the first time in my life, I didn’t know. More importantly, for the first time, I didn’t care. I could only be sure that everything had changed for me in ways I couldn’t fully comprehend at the time. It had been only four weeks earlier that I sat in my flat in South East London as my mom told me she had only two months to live.


The story behind my living in London is likely a common one. I had finished my undergraduate degree and it suddenly became overwhelmingly evident that I had lived only in Canada for 22 years. It was time to live somewhere else for a while, so I moved to England and spent a year struggling to make ends meet while travelling throughout Western Europe. I loved it so much that I decided it was a necessity that I stay there. But, I had taken a year off to have my fun; it was time to set the wheels in motion towards making something of myself, so I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in London.


Upon arriving back in London after visiting with my parents in Canada over the summer of 2009, we found out that my mom had been diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer. The news left me completely crippled, and all I could think about was going home to be with her.

My mom insisted that I not panic and was adamant that I continue on with my studies in London. It was a particularly difficult and invasive form of cancer, but her doctors seemed optimistic, so I conceded to her appeals and remained in London. Luckily, over the course of her numerous rounds of chemo and therapy my professors allowed me to take time off to be with her for over two months.

Most people diagnosed with her form of cancer do not end up qualifying for surgery. When my mom was done with her first rounds of grueling treatment, she did qualify, and her Oncologist declared that she was, ?one tough lady.? Her surgery was horrendous. They removed her entire stomach, part of her liver, diaphragm, and esophagus. She was in the hospital for nearly a month and had whittled down to 84 pounds. When I hugged her Goodbye, as I was on my way back to London, I thought she may crumble. I had never felt so much pain and longing leaving home before.


As I embarked on summer in London, we couldn’t have been more positive, as her treatments had proven to be a success and she was deemed ‘cancer free.’ But, a mere few months later I sat flummoxed only the phone, attempting to process the notion that I was going to lose my mom.


When I arrived home, on her 57th birthday, it was shockingly clear that the process of dying had already begun to take hold of her. Up until that point I thought that to suffer was to lack the cash-flow to buy a pair of bad-ass designer jeans. Fulfilling her palliative care myself at home, watching her deteriorate and die from this nightmare of a disease, and having to wake up to the reality that she is gone every single morning has humbled me to a point that was once unfathomable to me.


In the weeks following her death, I felt terrifyingly lost and confused, with an inexplicable lingering anxiety. I was having a crisis of confidence as I struggled to finish my dissertation from home. Suddenly, my years of education seemed to mean so little to me. My life was on a particular path. I was ticking all the right boxes on my way to becoming a success. It would have been easy for me to continue on this path, to delve into a Phd, go to medical school, or enter the job market, but what would have enriched my life prior to my mother’s death, I am utterly certain, would not enrich it now.


So, I began to entertain ideas about how I could find fulfillment in what I actually want to do, and not with what would be considered successful on paper. I had always wanted to travel throughout Africa, but I knew that travelling for the sake of travelling would not be enough for me right now. Instead, I have made plans to set off for Africa after the holidays on a volunteer mission for a few months. I am going to travel and get behind a cause, see how others live, and gain perspective on my life in Canada. My volunteer program will focus on orphans and community development, and for the first time since my mother died, I can look forward to my future.


I don’t have any grand illusions about my mother’s death; I don’t indulge in any sort of thoughts about a cozy after-life or seeing her again. At this point, I find solace in not much else other than that her death brought an end to her suffering. I am far too cynical a person for much else. But I am a cheerful pessimist, and know that her death will prove to be an important demarcation in my life. That as I move forward without her I will be able to trace everything back to the fact that I lost her. And as time goes, positive aspects that can be tied back to his terrible occurrence will begin to reveal themselves. I am hoping that this adventure to Africa will be the first in a series of such events.


So, am I a Potentialist? Well, I am 25, I have a mountain of student debt, and I am years away from owning a car, let alone a house. I don’t have any immediate plans to get married, have kids, start my own business, write a novel, or solve world hunger. My mother’s death has changed nearly everything for me, but my ambition and drive have remained completely intact. I always held a very private admiration for my mother and I know, although she was always subtle about it, that she held certain expectations for me. So if anything, I am more determined than ever to fulfill those expectations, but my notions about what will truly make me happy in life have changed.


When I return from Africa, surely I will be bombarded with questions concerning, ‘what now’? I may very well find myself again without a plan, but I am confident that my ambition and willingness to take the less traditional path will not have faltered.


Thanks for your time,


Sarah



By Kaili


I come from a traveling family so it’s in my blood. My mom travels more than anyone I know (sometimes for fun, sometimes for work as a doctor in Malawi or Zimbabwe) and she brought me and my siblings up traveling with her. She was the single lady taking her three kids to places most wouldn’t think of visiting: horseback camping trips in the Yukon when I was 13, camel safari in Kenya when I was 15, remote Scottish castles when I was 19. I know I’m immensely lucky to have had such experiences and I owe my current need for travel to my mom – a gift she’s given me that’s worth the world (literally) and absolutely has defined who I am as an adult..

I took my first ‘alone’ trip when I was 15 to Italy and France for two weeks. Although this was ‘alone’ in the sense that I wasn’t with my immediate family, I was however with my entire high school band, so… not alone at all. In fact very, very not alone most of the time. My best friend since grade 1 and I were inseparable the whole time (and still are to this day).


Next major trip ‘alone’ was 6 months in New Zealand, Australia and Thailand when I was 23. Although again, I wasn’t truly alone, I was with my sister. My sis was 5 years younger than me and we had zero in common, except for that travel bug gift from our mother. My friends said “You’re going with your sister? You guys can’t stand each other”. My family said “You guys are going to kill each other!”. My sister and I said “Let’s try this out – if it doesn’t work, we’ll go our separate ways”. It worked remarkably well. I won’t say it was smooth sailing the whole time (MAJOR fights did happen) but you can’t break up with your sister like you can a boyfriend or a girlfriend so we made it work. We now know each other better than anyone in the world and are much closer than we ever were pre-‘Down Under Adventure’. Plus I’ve got a lot of dirt on her now for blackmail purposes… although she had just as much on me.


In 2007 I decided I was ready for a trip again. A really big one this time. I was going to go… somewhere… and not return until either: 1. I ran out of money or 2. I got super homesick. Turns out I have a great tolerance for homesickness.

I decided on Asia. I was open to going with someone but having travelled in the past with people I couldn’t break up with (my mom, my best friend – she’s family too – and my sister) I knew whoever I went with would have to be ‘un-break-upable-with’.

I settled on myself.


It’s pretty hard to dump yourself on the other side of the world.


I scrimped and saved for two years – serious, serious saving. Every dollar saved was another meal away (for real, this is how cheaply I was planning on traveling). I quit my job and moved out of my apartment.


I booked a one way ticket, leaving Christmas Day 2008.


I taught English in Korea for a month and somehow accidentally taught my class that a garbage is called a ‘come back’… I’m not entirely sure how this happened and I wasn’t able to properly explain the correct translation so I’m responsible for some confused kids!


I had to explain to a disgruntled airport security officer why I was accidentally trying to board a plane in Vietnam with a bullet in my pocket. Truly an accident!


I spent lazy days on the Mekong River restaurants in Laos talking to whoever sat at the table next to me.


I cycled 40 kms a day for three days in Cambodia to see all the ruins of Angkor Wat (tourist central) and volunteered for two weeks in a remote village orphanage (no tourists to be seen).


I spent a month on a remote island in Thailand where I got to know the locals and the long-term visitors – all who were there for the beautiful sunsets and the supremely relaxed pace of island life (no cars, no electricity, no worries). It was here I ate a birthday cake made for me by my friend Gyn out of what I understood to be… jellyfish.


I was on another island in Malaysia for so long everyone assumed I’d moved there permanently.


I marveled at all the luxuries of Singapore, especially considering my usual accommodations and transportation.


I visited temples in Indonesia my parents had visited 35 years before, and they were just as spectacular as they told me they’d be.


I answered all the questions in the Philippines of why I was travelling alone: “You lonely?” Not at all! “Your boyfriend leave you?” Uh, no but thanks for the concern. “Your husband at home making money?” Um, no, no… don’t even have one of those. . I answered these questions at least daily. After explaining myself, everyone was fascinated that I’d choose to travel alone. It was a great conversation starter and an eye opener for me. I knew solo travel wasn’t for everyone, but I didn’t know it was SO misunderstood. I decided to go alone, it wasn’t just my fall-back plan. I wasn’t sad I was alone. Although to be fair, I was rarely alone.


I met some of the funniest, exciting, interesting people to walk this planet. Some I speak to regularly, some I’ll never hear from again but I took a bit of each of them with me (cheesy but true). Their adventureous ways spurred me on.


I roughed it. Who needs toilet paper? Not me. Toilets? Nah. A mattress? Nope.


I spent the max amount of time in each country my visa would allow.


Me and my beaten up backpack went to 9 countries

Took 2041 pictures
Filled 1 fat diary with brutally honest and colourful stories
Read 64 books
Had 3 amazing friends travel to visit me while I was overseas… and try their hand at roughing it to hilarious results.
Wore 1 (one!) pair of sandals the whole time (yes crocs are ugly but they are amazing traveling shoes!)
And after 11 months and two days, finally ran out of money. It was time to go home; on November 27, 2009 I landed to an amazing welcome home celebration and my request of a Spicy Ceaser and lots of cheese delivered to the airport. It’ll be my coming home anniversary this week!

On this solo backpacking adventure I learned to trust my gut, and when the gut-check came back positive, to trust others.


I now know I’m comfortable in pretty much any random situation you can throw me in, because, well, I’ve already been thrown into it before.


I know I’m a better person for having gone on this trip, and I’ll be a better person still after getting back from my next. Now I just have to decide on where that’ll be.


I don’t know if I’ve yet realized my full potential but each travel adventure gets me closer and closer… and I don’t at all mind the wait.