(Rima Aristocrat, in her office at Willis College)
“Here, I did this for you.” Rima’s grandmother handed her the Medical degree which she had just completed.
“What is this?” Rima asked.
“I want you to know that it is never too late to study or to do what you want to do.” Her grandmother told her. After raising her six children, Rima’s grandmother, Tamara, went to university in her 60’s to study medicine although she never practiced as a medical doctor. However, she created a lifelong impression in the mind of the young eleven year old Rima, her first grandchild – that it is never too late to follow your dreams or to learn something new. Rima fondly recollected this memory during a business lunch meeting with her. She spoke with great love of her four daughters, her five grandchildren, women, newcomers to Canada and youth who are very dear to her heart. “I want to leave something better for my grandchildren.” She said reflectively. Her grandmother had a profound impact on her life as she thinks of the legacy she wants to leave behind.
So who is Rima? Rima Aristocrat is the President and CEO of Willis College in Ottawa. I first met her at the 2015 Graduation Ceremony of Willis College of which my son Jelan was a graduate. I was drawn to her presence immediately. She radiates light and love miles from where she stands. Jelan speaks about his teacher, Ed Mahonny and Rima in the most positive light. “Mom, the principal comes into our classroom and chats with us about everything in life. Her door is always open and we can always go to her. I have never felt so much love in a school.” This is only a small description of this brilliant award-honored woman who has continued the legacy of Willis College which was founded in 1896 by Stephen T. Willis. Ownership of the College was transferred to the Aristocrat family in 1989 and she is the 4th President and CEO of the College. Willis College is the oldest Career College in Ottawa and it is notably unique as an employer led institution which has transitioned over the years from business and language training to diversifying the College offerings in Technology, and Healthcare. Willis College prides itself in preparing students to meet the needs of employers and getting students in the workforce as quickly as possible.
(Below, the graduating class of 2015 with honoured guest, professors and Rima)
Rima migrated to Canada from Eastern Europe many years ago. She came here as a concert pianist with a Master’s degree in education. Over the years, she has reinvented herself, used her transferrable skills and exercised leadership skills in several programs and initiatives which has all contributed towards where she is today.
For more information about Willis College, please visit http://williscollege.com/
What legacy did your grandparents leave for you? What legacy do you want to leave for your children and grandchildren?
She uncovered the sewing machine. The cloth over it was a heavy linen which had covered it for decades. She pulled out the small wooden draws on the side and took out a small brush to dust it. She gently pulled it out from the dark corner to the light and then started to test the peddles which seemed to be stuck and made a funny creaking sound. She found an old bottle of machine oil, safely tucked inside the drawer and applied it to the various small machine parts while she tested the peddles over and over until it rolled with ease. Her numb hands fumbled with the parts and they dropped from her hands occasionally. She bent her head and strained her eyes as much as she could but she did not stop until she felt that she had given the sewing machine the proper care and touch which it needed. It seemed to me that at the end of that experience she looked exhilarated.
My tears flowed nonstop as I helped her with the sewing machine and observed the pensive and thoughtful look on her face. I know how much this sewing machine meant to her and I am sure that if she was right here with me, she would tell me that it was her lifeline. Back in 1929, women like my mom did not have the fair advantage to go to school. She was denied an education because she was the eldest child and had to stay home to help her mother with the house work. I believe that she must have been about fifteen when she learnt how to sew with one of the top seamstresses from the neighbouring village of Laborie. To get to her sewing classes, she had to walk almost an hour to and from the class. She got married about fifteen years as well and her father, who had been physically absent from most of her life, gave her the sewing machine – I believe as a wedding gift. She smartly invested her time in mastering the art and developed her small business in sewing tailored made clothing for the people in the community. She was one of the few seamstresses in the community. Many people came to our home with bags of cloth and styles of clothes from catalogues and gave countless instructions to my mom so that she could turn their visions into wearable garments.
Looking back, I can see what a great mom and entrepreneur she was! She kept everything in balance by waking up early, getting us all ready for school, cooking meals, doing all the house chores and creating the time to live her passion for sewing as well as earning an income. She sewed all of our clothes and uniforms as well as my dad’s pants and shirts and even the undergarments. Just before his death, he showed me some of the pants which she had made for him and which we still wore up to 2012! All of my three sisters and I learnt how to sew by watching her. However, she never wanted us to sew as a means of earning an income. She believed that we could do more than that and ensured that we had the support which we needed to have a good education.
As an adult, I appreciate all what my mom did a million times more now than I did while I was growing up. She had a lot less to work with – no education, less money, less opportunity, no management training, no marriage counselling, no parenting classes, no brands, no luxuries… but she had courage, faith, vision, great time management skills and knew how to prioritize her time to get things done. She lived her passion for sewing. I can only imagine the devastation she felt when she became blind and could no longer live her passion. Yet, she courageously accepted her fate and one of her favourite lines were “It is not my will but if God wills it for my life, I accept. ”
Those photos were taken in 2007 on my first visit to Saint Lucia after migrating to Canada in 2003. She crossed over in 2011. I will always hold on to those memories and I am glad that I captured those moments with those photos.
Live your future now. Do what matters to you and don’t wait for perfect circumstances.
In The Pilgrimage, by Paulo Coelho, Petrus talks about three symptoms of losing our dreams:
1. Lack of time
2. Our certainties – Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct about asking so little of life
3. Peace – life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give
I can relate so well to this. For years, boxes of material have been stored in my room with the hope that I would publish something one day. I became almost at peace with my excuses – I did not have time, why not just be satisfied with what I had, why bother with all of it? Who cares about me or my writing?
Even when we made decision to publish Mags Magazine, I was filled with self doubt but each time those doubts came over me, the universe would send a sign to remind me to fight for my dream. The team which pulled Mags Magazine together was created overnight. On the evening we decided to publish, it was exactly 4 weeks to the date. I sent an e-mail to Mila, the graphic designer, to ask for a meeting and met with her the very next day. I presented the project and with no hesitation she gave me her full support, with no idea of how either of use would get paid.
Here are some more distinct signs which demonstrated to me that the universe was in full support of me:
a) My partner was coming in from New York and we felt we needed a place to be away from the day-to-day distractions to focus on the Magazine. We had exactly a month to get the entire thing done. One evening I started searching for houses to house-sit – I thought that would perhaps make it more affordable. I did not find anything that evening but the next day, I met my girlfriend Viviane who excitedly told me that she was going to Brazil for a month and would need someone to stay at her house. Of course I volunteered and it was perfect timing!
b) I had a meeting with Lisa Anna Palmer to discuss some work stuff in general and to thank her for the work which she had done for us at the office. Somewhere in the middle of that meeting, I started talking to Lisa about the Magazine. At that time, I did not quite know her – we had only been having work related meetings. I could feel Lisa’s energy rise during the conversation and I pulled out my computer to show her some of the writings. We spent three hours that afternoon speaking about the content and my experiences. Lisa listened attentively and pledged her full support to helping me get it done. Two days later, she connected me to Lynn, who was one of the editors for the project. A few days afterwards, I also met with Shamsia who also agreed to edit. This was from a very informal conversation.
c) About a week before the launch, in a moment of overwhelm, I was just about to send an e-mail to my partner to ask him to forget about Mags Magazine – I felt that it was becoming too much! At that precise moment, someone came to see me at my office. He said to me, “I saw that on FB that you are going to publish a Magazine…. I am so proud of you… I came to tell you that you are not doing it for yourself, you are doing it for all of us. ” As I listened to him, I resigned by initial thought about forgetting about the project.
d) On another occasion, just shortly after the one above, I became filled with anxiety again. Once again, I wanted to call it off. My partner called me in that same moment and told me that should check my e-mail box. There was the preview of the Magazine from Dr. Edmunds, a well respected writer. You can see his review in the preview of Mags Magazine
e) A few days before the launch of the Magazine, at Lisa’s invitation, I attended “Refresh Your Passion” day long event which was put on by Kathie Donavan. There, I sat in awe as I listened to the experiences of amazing people who fought for their dreams and pursued their passions. Kory Kealy, Laura Traplin and Michelle Valberg, in particular struck an inspirational cord within me as I listened to her experiences in pursing their passions. Laura’s message from Sprit “I am my life purpose.” was just what I needed to hear. I went back home that day, fully energized and knew in my heart that I was on the right track with my own dream and stepping out of my comfort box.
f) One day, I picked up one of Oprah’s magazines and instantaneously opened the page with her interview with Paulo Coelho where he spoke about his life and his journey to getting his first book published. That interview spoke so loudly to me – it was as if I was in the room with Oprah, doing the interview with him. And the words which resonated deeply were:
“The good fight is the one fought in the name of our dreams. When we’re young and our dreams first explode inside us with all their force, we are very courageous, but we haven’t learned how to fight. With great effort, we learn how to fight but by then we no longer have the courage to go on into combat. So we turn against ourselves and do battle within. We become our worst enemy. We say that our dreams are childish, or too difficult to realize or the result of our not having known enough about life. We kill our dreams because we are afraid to fight the good fight.” Paulo Choelo
There are many, many other signs, miracles and manifestations which happened in the process to nudge me forward. I am grateful that this universe blessed me with the vision, provided a wonderful team to work with, my partner’s unwavering support, great sponsors and ensured that everything worked smoothly.
I know that when God implants a dream in your soul, you were born to live it. To not live your dream, is an injustice to the freedom of your soul.
I learned about vision boards when I was sixteen and have developed several vision boards since then. For some magical reason, everything which I have ever placed on a vision board has become real for me over the years.
Sorting through some old computer files, I came across this last vision board which was electronically created in June 2010. At that time, I was trying to set a new set a new vision for my life and also integrate the teaching of vision boards to an amazing group of people who were also on their soul search.
Until today, I had not looked at that vision board. However, I was pleasantly surprised to note that 90% of the things on that vision board are now my living reality.
- In June 2010 when I designed it, I drove a really old car which gave me more trouble than you can possibly imagine. On my vision board, I stuck a picture of a brand new car and wished with all my heart that I would drive a brand new car which would not break down with me. Believe it or not, I got my first brand new car in October 2010 and then I traded it in for a 2nd brand new car in October 2014. Unbelievable how magic happens in the universe!
- Humility: Being humble and being rooted in prayer continues to be an important part of my life and I cannot express enough how much prayer keeps me grounded in ensuring that I use my talent for the greater good of this planet.
- Being an author: This was the most interesting one. For every single vision board which I have created, I have always included being an author. I started by being an author of my blog but now I am also authoring an e-magazine!
- I want to live an extraordinary life: I do believe that I am an ordinary person who lives an extra ordinary life with an abundance of opportunities to meet new people, explore new places, use my creativity to excel etc. I absolutely love the excitement in my life!
- Creative Genius: Creativity keep bursting from me all the time to solve problems and to develop new ideas. Genius – is a bit of an exaggeration perhaps but nonetheless it is all fun thinking of myself as a creative genius.:)
- Being a speaker: Between June 2010 to now, I have spoken at numerous events. I love to talk! I once said to my boss, “I want a job where I can just talk to people.” I do that 80% of my job. How great is that!
- FUN: My life is fun. Every day gives new possibilities for fun and laughter. I see comedy in most situations because I chose not to take life too seriously.
- Connecting with people all around the world: I do this almost every day. Through my blog and my work, my knowledge of the world have expanded.
- Other pictures show money, love, partnership and family. All of these are beautiful and amazing and I feel 100% blessed.
- I am happy. There is a joy and happiness that I feel in my soul now. I feel that I am arriving at this place in my life where my soul feels that it is able to greet me peacefully.
As I am about to launch my first e-magazine, “Live Your Future Now,” which is truly a product of this blog, I can’t help but reflect on the quote:
I know for a fact, that what the mind can conceptualize can happen in reality. I also know that if you can dream it, you have what it takes to also make it happen. And best of all, I know that dreams manifest when you are completely in alignment with your own thoughts.
Look out the release of the e-magazine but there will also be a launch here in Ottawa on December 11th, 2014. Here is more information about the launch:
We have an amazing line up of speakers and it will be a wonderful and inspiring evening! If you have been a reader and supporter of this blog, I want to also thank you so very much for your support and encouragement. As a global community, we can truly support each other in realizing our dreams.
Remember to show your support by following the blog and liking us on FB.
This is a re-blog celebrating one year anniversary of my visit to New York!
For several years my soul friend who lives in England and I have talked about meeting in New York. We have known each other since we were 14 years old and even though we don’t see or talk to each other regularly, we keep each other close within our hearts. Over the last four years, several opportunities have presented itself but none that materialized until the Labour Day Weekend in 2013. Since I believe in synchronicity and believe that dreams do come true, I thought I would blog about the various events that happened in a whirlwind that made that dream come true.
Four years ago, the idea of the trip to New York came up. We put it out there to the universe with the intention that we would be able to do this one day. Margot spoke very dearly about her aunt in New York and I have always wanted to meet her.
Several weeks ago, my friend Gie told me about a bus trip to New York from Ottawa for the Labour Day weekend. It sounded interesting but I was not sure I wanted to do it.
Several weeks ago, Margot and I explored for me to come up to England to spend summer with her but that did not materialize because of some other priorities.
However, the longing to see each other was there and she was constantly on my mind over the last few weeks.
Last Thursday, August 29th, we spoke over the phone and she suddenly asked, “What about meeting in New York for the long weekend?”
It suddenly dawned on me that the bus trip for the Labour Day Weekend was happening on Friday (August 30th) and maybe I could get on that trip. Within 24 hours, we had booked ourselves to arrive in New York. I would bus for 7 hours and she would fly for 7 hours – the alignment was perfect!!!! We were on our way to meet each other.
It was a fabulous weekend. We explored Brooklyn, got lost and found, had long soulful conversations; caught up on the last 25 years; got beauty treatments; met her aunts in New York; walked over the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan which was an adventure; laughed so hard that tears streamed from our eyes; reconnected with someone I had not seen for over 20 years; enjoyed the Labour Day celebrations on Eastern Parkway and enjoyed hanging out without much of an agenda except to be together. Being present with each other was beautiful.
This experience reminded me how important it is for us to simply have dreams and intentions. Sometimes, having a specific timeline for things to happen is useful but if we trust that the universe will provide all things to us, then we must also trust that there is also Divine Timing. Sometimes, it requires sitting it out and being patient; sometimes it requires taking action steps until it happens and sometimes the forces of synchronicity kick into place when that Divine Timing seems to be right. I love it when there is such beautiful synchronicity and all the pieces fall in place effortlessly.
I experience synchronicity regularly and each time it happens, it further reaffirms for me that we simply need to dream and let go. Every thought we have becomes an intention and becomes a part of our inner world. The manifestation of those thoughts happen when the universal forces become aligned with our internal world – I trust that Divine Timing happens when all things align from a mental, emotional and spiritual inner space. The universe cannot respond to us fully, until we are ready ourselves.
- What are your dreams and intentions for your life?
- What are your dreams and intentions for the lives of those you love?
- Who would you like to spend some great quality time with?
- What would you like to do on this earth before you pass on to the next life?
- Is there a place that excites you? Meeting a person? Playing a sport? Reuniting with someone?
TuneIn to those soul desires and longings. We can feel those from a deep place within us. StepUp to put an intention out there. You can write it in your journal, draw a picture of it, put it on a vision board… create something where you have a strong visual idea of what that desire is.
Take your desire and place it in a bubble. Imagine that the bubble is floating away with that desire and will create and attract all the right energies to make that desire come true. Trust in Divine Timing and trust that the world is full of the abundance required to make that dream come true.
If you believe in yourself and in possibilities, then you will attract that from within your inner world. Imagine what it would feel like to have that desire happen and imagine feeling this emotion constantly. This is really important because our emotions pull or push manifestations of things in our lives. TuneIn to desires that will bring happy, pleasurable, soulful joy to you because there is nothing more important to this universe than to have people experience inner joy in their lives.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller
I measure the quality of my life by the quality of moments I have with myself, my loved ones, my colleagues, total strangers or with my experience of the world around me. I know for a fact that apart from knowledge, I need inspiration to thrive – in fact, I think that we all need inspiration. Inspiration kicks up an infusion of a sacred longing within me to expand myself and be more in tuned with what life is nudging me to do for my soul. Inspiration is often overlooked as a critical element of what propels a person from one action to another but those who pay attention will realize that inspiration awakens the senses to new possibilities which logic does not always agree with. I don’t go out of my way to look for inspiration but quite often, something catches my attention which resonates deeply within me and feels “true’ to my spirit.
During one of our adventures at the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, we came across this globe. As soon as I saw it, I immediately thought, “I want to embrace this globe. It inspires me to keep up with my dream to travel the world.” This picture is now etched in my memory and is a visual to remind me of this longing in my soul which I need to continue to fulfill. By simply looking at this picture, I can feel new life being breathed into me as I am even more inspired now to travel to new places.
Inspiration cannot be explained but it can be felt. It is this ‘high’ that you get, this ‘extra beat’ in your heart when you see or hear something which moves you… this feeling that sometimes leaves you light-hearted, for in a split moment, your spirit connects effortlessly and beautifully to that ‘thing’ which you simply know from deep inside of you.
All of my life, since I was a child, I have always felt that I am a part of a great and wonderful universe. I never saw myself limited to the small island where I was born. Reading expanded my mind to new places, adventures and cultures. I was always up for the next trip, looked forward to talking to anyone at all and my curious mind wondered endlessly about how things and people evolved. The world and life in general remains a beautiful mystery to me and there are many places and wonders which I am longing to see and experience.
What pictures do you have which inspires you to expand yourself? What memories do you have of things you longed to do but have not been able to accomplish? Where do you find your inspiration to move towards your inner calling?
Tune in to those little things which makes your soul sing and makes you feel alive. Step up and pay attention to what inspires you… within this inspiration may be an answer you have been searching for.