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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Kirkpatrick wisdom

Posted by Dawn-Ann on February 7, 2010

The more research I do into the Kirkpatrick clan, the more I love and respect ‘em. No doubt there were exceptions, but for the most part I’m finding tales of love, strength, dignity and loyalty. Those who knew them seemed to be unwaveringly devoted to them. The Kirkpatricks as a whole lived life with a wicked sense of humour, strong family ties and a mighty work ethic.

My grand-uncle, Samuel D. Kirkpatrick’s “words for posterity” pretty much sum up the family code: “Live life with enthusiasm, with moderation, with service, and sympathy for less fortunate people in the world.”

More examples of the Kirkpatrick viewpoint:

Family legend tells that when many Native children in Canada were being put into residential schools the B.C. Kirkpatricks refused to break up their families in this way. They chose to remain strong family units, teaching their children how to play musical instruments and become industrious, contributing members of society. (Most of us Western Canadian Kirks have at least a smattering of Native blood.)

Another family legend tells of how some of the first American generations went south to Georgia, then came back north again because they were disgusted with the idea of slavery.

Going back even further to old Scotland, we see this about Sir James Kirkpatrick (d. 1804) in Records of the Closeburn Kirkpatricks by Major-General C. Kirkpatrick:

The Dumfries Weekly Journal of the 12th June 1804 described him as “the representative of an ancient and respectable family, which had inherited that estate in succession, for upwards of seven hundred years. Descended from this ancient race, he was inferior to none of his predecessors in that generous spirit and fortitude by which they were distinguished. Mild, gentle and courteous in his manners, he possessed at the same time that firmness and stability of mind which made him tenacious of his purposes, constant in his friendships, and steady in his principles. His principles were no other than the two great sources of human excellence – piety to God, and benevolence to men”. etc.

In another obituary reference to him it was said:- “His publick character was strongly marked by disinterestedness [free from bias or partiality] by generosity and by a firm determined spirit. Possessing in a high degree all the publick and social affections, he was always amongst the first to promote any measure which he considered as of general utility and never suffered his own private interest to stand in the way of what appeared to him to be a publick good. Warm and stead in his friendships, he never deserted those to whom he once attached himself, nor declined any exertions, however inconvenient for himself, that could [be] beneficial to them.

When I was tramping through graveyards in Scotland, over and over again I saw words like “deeply loved” and “we miss thee, dear” on Kirkpatrick gravestones.

But the story that has moved me the most in my genealogical studies so far is the tale of Alexander Richard Kirkpatrick of Dublin, Ireland (1813 – 1891). He was a scholar at Cambridge and was called to the Bar in 1840, according to Chronicles of the Kirkpatrick Family written by Alexander de Lapere Kirkpatrick.

From the book:

Mr. Kirkpatrick was beloved by all who knew him, rich and poor; the grief evinced by the latter at his funeral was very striking, and many and most touching were the tokens received by his family of their affection for him. Whilst on his other properties it was said by both Priests and others that they had never seen such deep and widespread grief, extending even to the children. He was carried to his grave by his own tenants, several of them quite poor, who had come a long distance, and at no small cost, but they looked on him as a Father and a Friend.

Wow. Would that we all could be remembered this way upon our passing.

My 6 steps to gittin’ ‘er done

Posted by Dawn-Ann on November 11, 2009

Ancient mode of communication

A repost from an old blog of mine that still has a lot of valuable advice in it. I should follow my own advice! ;)

I am sitting here in my office, feeling only slightly less overwhelmed than I did yesterday. I feel scattered, with several things I want to study up on, emails I need to write, websites I need to work on, marketing I need to begin, a manual I need to complete – well, you get the picture.

Starting a new venture is exciting and fun, but a little scary, too. Time to dust off some tried and true coping strategies I have used over the years to stay organized and prioritized. Maybe some of these will help you.

  1. Create that To Do List: This really is the number one life saving tip of the day, simple as it sounds. Not only does it help you prioritize, it also “clears your head.” Write down every, single thing you can think of, from developing a marketing plan to watering the plants. For huge tasks, break them down into manageable steps. Then number them from most to least important.
  2. Act on the To Do List: While purging your mind and organizing all your items on paper is a great psychological boost, it’s only ink on paper until you actually start working it. Start with No. 1 and work your way down. You will not get everything done on day one, but even if you only get the top three items completed you will have made great progress. That’s the three most important things that needed attention now out of the way! The To Do List is a morphing thing, growing, shrinking and changing shape as your days progress. Tomorrow you’ll add new tasks, re-prioritize, then start marching right on down that list again. What a sense of accomplishment that gives at the end of the day!
  3. Bust that Procrastination Habit: Fear and old baggage and all kinds of nasty things can sabotage us, causing us to procrastinate. Feeling overwhelmed can also stop us from moving forward (that’s where the To Do List comes in handy). I used to be the Queen of Procrastination and only with a lot of diligence and hard work have I been able to overcome it. I still struggle with it at times, but I’ve come a long way. Some things that help me are:
    1. Reverse engineer your goals: Take stock of where you are now and where you want to be in a year, five years and ten years. Dream big and don’t worry about how you’re going to get there just yet. Then start breaking your goals down into sub-goals, then sub-sub-goals. Decide what you can begin working on TODAY and add it to your To Do List. Even the tiniest move forward on a long-term goal can be very inspiring. Write the outline of your book or sign up for that class you need TODAY.
    2. Don’t try to do it all at once. As they said on What About Bob? , “Baby steps. Baby steps.” This goes with No. 1 above. Keep your general focus on the end result, but your day-to-day focus on the incremental steps needed to achieve it. Treat it like a job and try to do at least one thing per day that takes you closer to your goal.
    3. Reward yourself: Aside from the great sense of accomplishment you will feel from advancing toward your dreams, an occasional treat to celebrate your progress will also provide a psychological boost. Go get an ice cream cone or spend a lazy afternoon with a book at your favorite coffee shop.
  4. Surround Yourself With Good people: There will always be nay sayers and jealous folks in your life who will try to keep dragging yourself back to where they are, but you don’t need to let them. Seek out the friends who make you feel good about yourself and who can offer good advice or even just act as sounding boards. Entrepreneurial people will be able to brainstorm with you, strong and positive people can be your pillars of strength when you are feeling overwhelmed. Likewise, you can offer support to them!
  5. Keep Balanced: A new venture is like a new lover; you want to spend all your time with it, to the exclusion of everything else. Force yourself to keep a reasonably balanced approach to everything. Make time for family and friends, your spiritual needs, recreation and renewal – even if you have to schedule them into your calendar or add them to your To Do List. This will help avert hurt feelings and stress on you. A balanced life is a far more rewarding one, don’t you agree?
  6. Be Gentle With Yourself: Sure, you may need to boot yourself in the butt now and then to get motivated. What I am talking about here, though, is to not beat yourself up if you fail to do what you expect yourself to do. We all occasionally fail at something, some of us more often than others. Be gentle with yourself and forgive yourself. Give yourself permission to get up, dust yourself off and try again.

I am sure there are many more ways people keep themselves organized and focused, but these are my basics. I’d be interested in hearing any ideas others come up with.

There now. I can scratch “Write Blog Entry” from my To Do List!

It’s official: multitasking will muddle your brain

Posted by Dawn-Ann on August 27, 2009

Here’s some more on the multitasking front, proving that once again, I’m right. (When will you people LEARN?) This new article talks about tests someone did on students who multitask the most and those who multitask the least.

In every test, students who spent less time simultaneously reading e-mail, surfing the web, talking on the phone and watching TV performed best.

I have always kind of suspected that all the sensory input we receive in a normal day of TV, texting, email and video affected our thought structures and memory, but this seems to be proof. However, the six-dollar question is: do people who multitask more become more scattered or are more scattered people more likely to thrive on multitasking? That remains to be seen.

Read: Multitasking Muddles Brains, Even When the Computer is Off


Posted by Dawn-Ann on May 2, 2009

[kiz-met], noun – fate; destiny.

I have thought about writing as a career choice off and on for years. I’ve dabbled a bit here and there and even got published once or twice. But I have never taken that BIG step to writership.

Today I found this little blurb that got me thinking about it again. I wrote it several years ago.


Yesterday, I found myself thinking of a dream I’d had awhile back. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was sufficiently strong and symbol-laden to make me take notice. One part of the dream had Oprah telling me that I need to write – that I have a gift that the world needs right now. As I remembered it yesterday, I wondered idly if the dream were true. I found myself picking up a Writer’s Digest magazine about journaling.

Coincidentally, I came home to a package in the mail. It was from the editor of a magazine I had sold a story to. Inside was a book called Canyon, which contains stunning images of the Grand Canyon. She said she received it for review and thought of me. She also praised my writing and encouraged me to keep it up, letting her know of anything I get published.

I got a little emotional, I must admit, but the word from the Universe was not lost on me, and who am I to argue?

Sometimes things happen just by chance; other times events take you past the realm of the realistic expectation of chance and into the wild unknown. Like the series of “coincidences” and small miracles that preceded the purchase of our home, or the in-your-face word from the Universe when I was debating whether to homeschool my children.

I emailed the magazine editor and thanked her profusely, both for the book and for the words. I mentioned to her that she should try to see the movie Grand Canyon sometime. It is a little-known movie (full of big-name stars) about how our lives are inexorably interwoven and how we touch each other in ways we can’t even imagine.

Shortly after sending the email, I got an email from a friend in Phoenix. She offered a place to stay if I ever wanted to come see Arizona again. I told her, “funny you should say that now.” I told her I had just been thinking of visiting the Grand Canyon again. Maybe I should, to focus my thoughts. Maybe it’s just marvelous symbolism…

OK, Universe, I’ll start writing. With any luck, I will reach and touch people in a way that is unique to me.

Pay attention: multitasking is highly overrated

Posted by Dawn-Ann on January 6, 2009

I used to have a young, upwardly-mobile coworker who took great pride in her “multitasking” abilities. She would type while she was talking on the phone, at the same time keeping an eye on her instant messaging and what was going on in the office around her. Whenever I talked to her I got the distinct impression she was not really hearing me (how could she be?) and everything she did was halfway, filled with errors and omissions. Let’s just say attention to detail was not her strong point.

I, on the other hand, take pride in my precision. It may take me a little longer to get a job done, but it is done really well when I do. This saves a lot of time in the long run because when a task is done right the first time, it can be put aside and not revisited. My young coworker was constantly having to go back and fix what she’d missed or messed up on.

Therefore, I was extremely gratified to see Mike Elgan’s recent article entitled Work Ethic 2.0: Attention Control. I hate to say I told you so, but – yeah… Mike says:

A person who works six hours a day but with total focus has an enormous advantage over a 12-hour-per-day workaholic who’s “multi-tasking” all day, answering every phone call, constantly checking Facebook and Twitter, and indulging every interruption. Read the rest here.

Try though we might, we can really only focus properly on one thing at a time. Doing too many things at once causes them all to suffer. If you give your undivided attention to the task at hand and get it done right the first time, it will save you a ton of time, frustration and embarrassment in the long run.

Six rules for Internet dating

Posted by Dawn-Ann on January 4, 2009

I was talking to someone the other day about Internet relationships and how “safe” they are – or not. I think people were surprised to know that I have had a few such relationships that began online, the last of which has provided me with a dozen or so years of blissful couple-ness.

Relationships that begin online can work, and work well. In fact, when I look back on my past relationships, one in three serious ones that began online turned out successful and long term. On the other hand, zero percent of the loves I met in real life panned out. So there you go. Empirical evidence it ain’t, but I’m convinced.

I learned a few things as I went along and I’d like to pass along six rules for online dating. I’d be interested to hear if anyone has anything to add.

  1. Take it slow. In those first, heady days when you’re finding out what you have in common and writing loooong letters to each other, it is easy to think this is it! But give yourself lots of time.
  2. Read between the lines and trust your hunches. If you’re at all uncomfortable about something that was said (or not said) or done, pay attention. Try to discern what’s being left unsaid “between the lines.” Talk to someone you trust about your thoughts.
  3. The next stage should be telephone conversations – not meeting. You can tell a lot more about a person after hearing them speak, but the first call or two won’t tell you much. You need to learn the patterns and tones of their speech to be able to figure out if they’re being honest or not.
  4. Only after emailing and talking on the phone for a while should you meet. Make it a bright, public place that you go to, preferably bringing along someone you trust. If you can’t or don’t want to bring someone, work out a code with a friend so you can call them if you need help or need to escape.
  5. If all the first steps work out well, congratulations! But before you decide to get serious enough to move in together or get married, be sure to spend LOTS of real-life time together first. That’s where one of my relationships went hopelessly wrong. We didn’t spend enough 3-D time together and it turned out he was not what I thought he was, in spite of my being careful with the first four rules. Besides, you just don’t know if they’re kind to kittens and children or mean to their moms until you hang with them for a few months. Maybe he thinks it’s funny to make rude noises at the dinner table. Maybe she eats like a pig or picks her nose.
  6. Before you get married, do a background check. Call friends and old boy/girlfriends, if possible. Find out if she has a criminal record or if he is up to his eyeballs in debt. Truthfully, this rule is good advice for almost any relationship.

There you have it! Reasonable, yet progressive. Maybe someday you’ll be able to say you have shared a dozen or so years of blissful couple-ness with someone you met online!


Posted by Dawn-Ann on December 4, 2008

To have lived well,
Laughed often and loved much;
To have gained the respect
Of intelligent men
And the love of children;
To have filled a niche
And accomplished a task;
To have left the world better -
Whether by an improved poppy,
A perfect poem or a rescued soul;
To have appreciated earth’s beauty
And not failed to express it;
To have looked for the best in others,
And to have given the best of yourself.
That is achievement.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Sir Richard’s thoughts on success

Posted by Dawn-Ann on December 2, 2008

Sometimes you just can’t think of something to write, right?  So I dug up an old post from last year.  Enjoy!

Originally posted March 2007:

Sir Richard Branson is someone I admire for his daringness, adventurousness and smarts. I devoured his biography last year (it reads like an adventure novel) and just finished his latest book called Screw It, Let’s Do It, a small book of life lessons. Here are a couple of quotes I like that illustrate the kind of guy Sir Richard is.

“I was brought up to think we could all change the world. I believed that it was our duty to help others and to do good when we could. I’m sure my headmaster was stunned when I wrote a long report about how he could run the school better. I ended grandly with the words, ‘I would be very interested in your views on this, and any money saved could be put towards my next plan…’

“He didn’t laugh, or even cane me for my cheek. He handed back my report and said dryly, ‘Very good, Branson. Put it in the school magazine.’

“Instead, I left school and started my own magazine.”


“You don’t have to fill your time rushing about in order to use your time wisely… Bill Gates – the world’s top charity donor – said his staff could spend two hours gazing into space, as long as their minds were working, and Albert Einstein came up with the theory of relativity in his head without paper or pen.”

Light Up The World

Posted by Dawn-Ann on November 21, 2008

A couple of days after writing the previous post I was walking through Bankers Hall on my lunch break when I came across a little booth. On the table I saw a small solar panel attached to what looked like a tiny car battery and some lights. I had almost passed the booth when I brought myself up short and backed up to have a look. The posters on the wall told me the topic of this display was EXACTLY what I had just written about!

I stopped to chat with a cheerful and enthusiastic fellow who I later found out is Dr. Dave Irvine-Halliday, the man behind Light Up The World. We talked a bit about LUTW, about Scotland, and about how to get this project onto the radar screen of big players who could help (yes, I will be writing to Oprah). I spent so much time chatting I used up my lunch break and had to forgo my errands for the day and get back to work, but I didn’t mind. It just seemed like more than coincidence that I was there talking to this sincere fellow with the beautiful dreams.

I got paid today, Dr. Dave. I’m heading right over to your site to make a donation!

Summiting Jumping Pound Mountain

Posted by Dawn-Ann on October 5, 2008

The surprise birthday party would have made my weekend complete in itself. However, the next day I decided to join Holly and Isaac (#2 and #4 offspring) hiking in Kananaskis. It was a stunningly beautiful fall day and I figured I’d better get out there while the getting was good.

Trudging ever upward

Holly and her friend planned to summit TWO mountains that day. I’m not sure what Isaac had in mind, but I planned to only go as far as I felt comfortable, then hang out communing with nature until everyone came back. However, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and eventually there came a point where I said to myself, “I’m going to go for it.”

It took me hours and hours (far longer than it took Holly), as I had to stop to catch my wind at times, but eventually I made it. Isaac, bless his heart, stuck with me the whole way and we summited! Somehow, I thought it was the perfectly fitting way to finish off the first half century of my life. If I can climb a mountain at 50, there is nothing I can’t do!