If there is one question I get asked on a regular basis it is this, “How do you do all that you do?” My question back is always, “What is it that you see me do that you want to know about?”
This question always results in the conversation of capacity and capacity is something that never ceases to fascinate me. Why is it that some people seem to have greater capacity than others?
I’m 44 and I feel like my life has just begun. How is that possible? I have three children, I have been married for 20 years and I have had a fulfilling career. However, the excitement, the desire and the drive that I find within feels more like it did in my twenties. What is this and where does this come from?
Allow me to reflect. I am a dreamer and I believe that, in the seemingly impossible, the possible can be found. I know that small steps will always lead to big steps and achievements. I’m a perpetual optimist and choose to dig deep and pull out the gold within, whether it be personally or in relation to others. I’m not afraid of hard work, nor rejection, for both are part of life and understanding that at an early age promises to rid one of burdens that can tend to hold us back. I choose to let challenging things like, rejection and hard work, fuel me rather than rule me.
At the end of this month, Philip and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe it’s been two decades since we said ‘I do’, and if you include the on-and-off dating before that, we’ve pretty much been together for 25 years. We met when I was 19 and he was 21.Read More
This a story that has made its way around the globe. I’ve talked about it countless times on my radio show and to family and friends. I’ve been reminded of it countless times. Why? Because we all desire wholeness in our lives. And personally, I think all of us can see a piece of ourselves in these events. After sharing this, I was asked to write my story, so I hope it makes its way into the right places.
The story is simply about a day in my life. A day that I know will stay with me forever.
I was at the supermarket doing my weekly shop. Normally, I am a very interactive shopper. I like to know what’s going on around me and I truly enjoy the supermarket experience. I go down every aisle because it is a time and space in a busy day to simply roam perhaps a little aimlessly. I love it! Today was slightly different for me, I was extremely focused on the job at hand. I was stepping outside of my culinary safety box and cooking something new for our dinner guests. So, with cookbook in hand I was charging through the shops focusing on my recipe and my trolley. Normally I would greet my fellow shoppers with a friendly ‘hello’ and a smile. Not today.
After making tracks through the supermarket, I made it to the checkout.
As I began to place my purchases on the sliding belt and the cashier scanned each item, I felt a sense of satisfaction. I had found almost everything I needed. I had completed my shop in record time which meant time for a relaxing coffee before the cooking began. I stood patiently, waiting for my transaction to end, smiling at the man who was doing his best to pack my groceries. Whilst I was at the checkout and daydreaming about my coffee and thinking about my impending culinary extravaganza. I turned to discover someone had joined my line. It was a man who appeared to be homeless, he would have been in his late 30s or early 40s.
His hair was matted, his clothes were very dirty and he carried a horrible stench. Sadly, his smell was so strong that it invaded almost the entire front of the store. As my groceries came to an end he began to delicately place his purchases on the sliding belt. I can’t remember exactly what he was buying but I do recall it surprised me. His groceries, would have probably cost around $10. I stood, riveted to the floor, my feet wouldn’t move. My heart began to beat a little faster, my internal temperature increased. It was that feeling that maybe some of you get when you’re about to hear that ‘small voice inside’ speak loud and clear. That’s exactly what happened.
I heard that voice say, ‘pay for his groceries’.
I know many, if not most of you reading this story are familiar with that voice. We all hear it. Call it your conscience, call it the Universe but I call it God and I know that voice. It’s the voice that can warn me, caution me, motivate me…. so many moments I have heard that voice. Anyway, back to the story. I immediately began a debate in my head that went something like this: “What if he gets offended? What if he freaks out on me? How embarrassing, what if, what if.” I argued with myself for so long that others had joined the line. Again, I heard the voice say, “Will you not humble yourself to do something that will change a life? Have you not asked to be my hands and feet? Pay for his groceries.”
Being stubborn, I attempted to ignore the voice and my instincts.
I was becoming more uncomfortable. My internal temperature was raging like hot molten lava and my heart was beating faster. I was shifting from side-to-side. I knew what to do but I couldn’t step over my pride or fear to do the right thing.
My transaction was complete. As the kind cashier put my last bag into the trolley, he said, “thank you miss, you have saved $16.00 today.” I quickly realized that my savings (thanks to my supermarket club card) were greater than the homeless man’s entire bill. My heart sank. I had missed the moment. My internal temperature began to cool down, my heartbeat began to slow down and my head hung low.
Offering to pay for his groceries now would be awkward. I couldn’t add it onto my bill. I would have to stand and wait and there would be an uncomfortable silence. The excuses stacked up and I began to convinced myself that maybe I didn’t hear that voice,. Maybe I made it all up. I knew better, I knew I had missed a chance to ‘be the change I want to see in the world today’!
I wheeled my well-packed trolley to the exit and left with a horrible sense of sadness.
The sadness of walking away from a missed opportunity, is also associated with letting your pride stand in the way of the good we are offered to do. As I walked toward the exit, consoling myself I heard a well-spoken man calling out after me. “Excuse me Miss, excuse me Miss”. I turned around expecting the friendly cashier but found the homeless man with the matted hair and dirty clothes. He handed me my supermarket club card, explaining I had dropped it and he wanted to make sure it was returned.
Now, take a moment and allow me to paint a picture for you. This man had captured everyone’s attention through his looks, stench and the concern of him generally perusing the shelves. Now he was following and calling out to me as I exited the store. Imagine, the fellow shoppers looking on, the store security almost ‘at the ready’. Can you see it? Can you hear the gasps and the looks of concern?
At that moment, I heard the voice again say, “here’s another chance.”
I ignored it and stood at the entrance saddened by my weakness. The well-spoken homeless man returned to the cashier to complete his transaction. I stood, once again, riveted to the spot. I was scared but desperate to BE in the moment, desperate to step over ME. I was the only thing that stood between doing the good and the right and walking away and missing the opportunity to be a blessing. Finally, something within me broke and I began to rise up on the inside. What was happening, courage was taking the place of fear. Pushing it out like a storm within.
I began to hope that the man would take the same exit as me and silently prayed for a third chance to make a difference. I prayed that this courage I felt, this strength within would help me live beyond myself at that very moment.
Before I knew it, the homeless man was behind me ~ he had chosen the same exit!
He said, “I hope you don’t mind that I chased after you with your card.”
I looked at him and said, “No, thank you so much.” I paused and then continued the conversation, “How is your day going?”
He locked eyes with me and replied, “Not very good, it’s hard being homeless.” The conversation continued as we walked to the car park.
“You took a risk in there running after me to give my card back and now it’s my turn to take a risk with you,” I said.
“When we were standing in line I believe God spoke to me and told me to pay for your groceries. I ignored him because I was scared.”
His eyes remained locked on mine. He told me, “Everyday I ask God for direction, I wasn’t always homeless you know. I used to live in a nice area, I grew up there, I had a good job, life was great. Things just went wrong and life changed very quickly but I know I won’t always be homeless.”
I listened to him and was moved with compassion.
Our conversation continued and I said, “You’re in this space right now but God wants you to know that this isn’t how your life will end, that there is more and this isn’t forever.”
He replied, “It’s Angels like you that give me hope and today I needed hope. I just spent my last dollars on those groceries.”
I asked him if I could help him and he replied, “If you would like to – I want you to know that I’m homeless but I don’t do drugs, a lot of homeless people do but I’m just not one of those.”
At that moment, I believed him about the drugs but you know even if that isn’t the truth, God is in control and He orchestrated the entire encounter.
I asked him his name and introduced myself to him. I told him I would pray for him, that I knew God was going to do something great in his life and that he needed to hold onto hope and have faith. He extended his hand to shake mine and I was thinking, “Oh no, I don’t want to shake.” Again I heard the voice say, “Shake his hand well, place value on him.” I extended my hand and said, “God bless you and have the best day today.” He said the same and we parted ways.
When I made my way to my car and instantly began praying for him, I almost buckled over in tears. I felt such a huge burden for him. I cannot claim that I know how his story ends or how his life will change. But I know through God’s creativity this homeless man’s life can become what it was meant to be.
Today, I walked away from an opportunity to make a difference. But I believe I was given a second and third chance and I chose to do what was right.
I ended up giving him all that was in my wallet. Not a lot to most, but a fortune to him. Who knows what will happen in his life. All I know is that I’ve asked to be God’s hands and feet on this earth. Today I had the opportunity to speak into a hurting life. I realise now more than ever that on either side of our obedience there are people who will be affected forever.
My friends can attest to the fact that I always say EVERYONE HAS A STORY. I learned that from a great man … my dad. I believe that as we walk through life it is our responsibility to pull back the layers of our stories. When we do this we discover the gold that is within each one of us. Try to look beyond what you see. There is a why behind every what. Thank you for reading this simple story. I ask today that you say a prayer for this homeless man, my friend whose name is Sean.
Original date January 14, 2010.
Susan Sohn is a strong voice for family through the structure of GetRealLive. Additionally, Susan has managed to build a thriving business through simply doing what she does and is now spending much of her time giving back and helping other people Build | Connect and most importantly ENGAGE.
Over the past three years Susan has seen the following:
- GetRealLive developed a product resulting in over 200 million Twitter Impressions for Clients
- GetRealLive expanded with offices now in Canada and Australia
- Named one of the strongest Community Builders & Engagement Specialists by clients and major brands
- GetRealLive has established a large client base and has developed a respected reputation with a proven record of generating lasting results.
- Established #CalgarySpringClean in conjunction with Peter Walsh Live Event & a Social Campaign to support WINS (Women in Need Society). In a collaborative effort, we encouraged attendees to de-clutter their lives and bring these gently used items to the event. We collected over 300 bags of items from Calgarians
- Developed Social Strategies and Consultation for top brands | personalities
- Successfully Integrated Social Platforms whilst maintaining Platform integrity | language | content
- Increased Radio Engagement to over 200,000 people with top shows generating over 20,000 downloads
- Created #RealityGram101 creating a visual space for ‘normal’ acceptance
Susan started blogging before it was ever deemed cool. She started back in 2005 and set up her first ‘blogspot’ all in an effort to tell stories. As a young mum, living away from family Susan quickly realised that perhaps the current state of family life (for many) wasn’t what she knew or was used to. As she went about raising her small children, she found herself spending a lot of time answering questions about discipline, raising children who listened, enjoying your children in all seasons.
It wasn’t long before she hit the keyboard, all in an effort to help other mother’s who were seemingly drowning in nappies, baby formula, cracked nipples and little or no sleep.
No One Read Anything that was Posted and No One Knew What Was Happening…
Sleep deprived and jazzed up on coffee, Susan began to write. Yes, she expected millions of people would find her and her honest and VERY REAL blogspot would hit a sweet spot very soon. Days turned into weeks and articles were posted and unread. She remembers clicking onto her then Analytics page and seeing that someone had been on the site…. excitement was in the air but when she dug a little further, she was quick to learn that the visitor was her mother (in Canada) or her sister or perhaps a well meaning friend down the street.
This didn’t stop her. Susan was sure there were people who wanted REAL | AUTHENTIC | COMMUNITY that was totally ENGAGED. So she continued and she did what she knows to do and what she does so well. She gathered her girlfriends and put vision in front of them. It was vision about being REAL and sharing LIFE and the STORIES we all have. Before long, lead by Susan, these girls started Podcasting through a local Radio Station and hosting Live Events. True Engagement was happening and it was very exciting.
Susan kept writing and slowly but surely Community was growing, articles were being shared and people were not only Connecting but Engaging in meaningful conversations.
Small Town Girl | Big City Lights | Retiring before 30…. hang on, we can’t be done yet!
How did Susan, a small town girl, head to the big city life of Hong Kong? This story has twists and turns that would make an owl dizzy.
Hong Kong was full of Media and that’s where Susan got her taste for true Engagement and Connecting with People through the written word and through messages that matter. Susan and her husband Philip, who was in Finance lived busy lives, building careers that would see them through to their old age. Nothing or no one could prepare them for early retirement and the life they have lived. They often think about writing a book and sharing their thoughts on early success… the joys, the fun, the pitfalls and the extreme challenges. Everyone thinks financial freedom and extreme choice make life easy. These two have a lot to say about that subject.
In any case, Susan and Philip have spent the last 20 years of their lives giving back any way they can. In and thru this time, Susan has continued to build Community through the brand she was creating. This too has had twists and turns, some good, some great and some down right dreadful times. But, all-in-all she wouldn’t change much of it at all.
One thing Susan did (early on in the piece) was she determined to NOT throw a stack of money into her work and what she was building. She made a strong decision to allow this journey to unfold Organically and to take the ‘hard road’ so to speak. She wanted to build something that had legs of it’s own and could stand the test of time. Additionally, she decided that if she was going to continue to help people, to motivate and inspire people, she needed to walk the path to get where she knew she wanted to go…. This meant learning the ropes in every area of the business from website development to database marketing to graphic design.
Susan looks back now is sits in a place of Gratitude for so many reasons but one main reason is the hard road. Through this experience, she is now influential in helping others understand their Social Spaces and she has built part of the business side of her organisation through teaching and coaching people on the “How To’s”… Who knew! It’s been a longer journey but definitely a much richer journey and you will often hear Susan say, “The richness of what you see today is directly related to the quiet and the times when not one person read anything I wrote or connected with anything I did. For those moments and seasons I am forever grateful and so glad I didn’t give up. I’m so glad my instant gratification button was switched off.”
From the Quiet to the Busy
This has all been created out of passion. Passion to see people live strong, confident lives. Passion for families and for helping people through the telling of Real Stories and for seriously KEEPING IT REAL. Non of this fluffy, SuperWoman | SuperMum business. It’s about living in the moment and recognising that some will be great, others not so much and some seriously SUCK! But, the moment when Susan realized her time and risks would be rewarded was when other people started asking her questions like, “How do you do what you do? How do you make life happen a certain way? How do you do life | work | family? Just tell me How?”
Susan’s a-ha moment was when she first stuck her neck out and hosted an online Radio Show. She discovered a platform that gave her this opportunity and she called her parents and sister and told them to log on because she was hosting a Radio Show. From that day on Susan has hosted shows covering a vast array of content. She soon realised that the REAL the AUTHENTIC the COMMUNITY and the ENGAGEMENT people craved, she could create. With fear and trembling she went from show to show, creating new content as she went and people wanted to listen, to read and to CONNECT.
“I’ll never forget that first Talk N Tweet we did. That moment, when I realised that we had connected with over 4.2 million people. That we had successfully ENGAGED in meaningful conversation that would change lives.” It was in that moment that the doors flew open and the years of work behind began to make sense and the years of work ahead were filled with excitement and possibility.
“Susan has maintained a huge following because she has the keen ability to connect the right people with the right ideas to inspire people around the world. People love her because, as her brand suggests, she keeps it real. She empowers her community to talk about issues that are hard to talk about and turns people’s vulnerabilities into a source of inspiration. She also provides a platform for brands to be authentic and a natural part of the story-telling process that ensues. Susan is a powerhouse and it’s why her brand has been on an upward trajectory since its inception.” Jessica Smith
Susan’s following increased and her expertise grew well past hosting a Radio Show and writing heartfelt articles (of which she continues to do both) she dove into giving |teaching | assisting | of all that she has learned and has since developed a proven track record of results for clients both large and small.
Susan’s straight talk, no nonsense approach to life, coupled with her wit and wisdom cause people to gravitate towards her. Susan is all about building people from the inside out and truly believes that within every individual lies gold and that it is our responsibility to help find that which lies within.
To read more about Susan, her husband Philip and their three children check the ‘About Susan’ Section of the website or click HERE
To my fellow parents….. Have you ever found yourself wishing that when you left the hospital with your newborn babe in your arms the Doctor or Nurse would have handed you a book saying, ‘Read this and your ride will be smooth – it has all the answers to every question you’ll ever have hidden in these pages.’ Not sure about you but there were times and still are when I find myself reaching for such a book but alas it’s never to be found.
As most of you know our family loves food…. We love to cook, create, eat and entertain. In our home, there is truly nothing like a table full of people, enjoying food, laughing and all the while creating incredible memories in our home.
This past weekend, my teenage daughter had a group of friends over for a relaxing, poolside day. We all know teenagers know how to eat and let me tell you, they did not disappoint. I made them our GetRealLive famous Chicken Burgers that have been generously shared with us by our great friend, Barry Crocker. His Chicken burgers are the best and the teenagers agreed. One of them actually asked me if I was a chef…. love that compliment 🙂
Anyway… moving on!! Today’s post has been spurred on by something I shared on Instagram & Facebook yesterday. I posted a picture of our Kimchee Fried Rice that I made for lunch. Now, having never made this before I was a big worried that it wouldn’t work out. And, to be honest this was inspired by the fact that I had nothing left in the cupboard after 2 weeks of school holidays. After multiple days of my daughters entertaining plus kids and families coming and going, Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard was truly bare… When the cupboard is bare, there is nothing better than dazzling your family with a creative Fried Rice and that’s exactly what I did. So, as with any recipe we share through this site, this has been ‘Tried and True’ in one of our GetRealLive kitchen’s and in this case, it was mine. My hubby and children gobbled it up and, in fact, both my son and daughter have taken leftovers for lunch at school. Two meals solved in one go….. YES!
Here we go…..
Kimchee Fried Rice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil (or if you want to be a little extravagant you can use 2 tablespoons of butter… this suggestion from my beautiful sister-in-law, Angie)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 small garlic clove, minced or chopped (whatever is easiest… this meal is all about the easy!)
A pinch of coarse salt (if you like…. in our kitchen I use pink Himalayan Salt but for this recipe I skip the salt because Kimchee is salty enough. I’ve included it tho because for some palates you might need a dash to make it great. Personal taste here!)
1 cup sour kimchi (use old Kimchee if you have it’s best and I like the big pieces of it so I don’t chop it up. If you want smaller pieces then by all means chop it up. If you’re buying Kimchee for the first time ask your Asian/Korean grocer for Mat Kimchee)
1 teaspoon/a Splash of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds (not needed but I add these only because I love them!)
1 cup day-old cooked rice, at room temperature (If you have, if not, just pop some rice in the rice cooker and use fresh….that’s what I do but it’s a great dish to use up left over rice as well)
1 very good egg
1 scallion, white and light green parts only, very thinly sliced (you can either cook these through or I use them more as a sprinkle on top before serving)
1 generous pinch coarse Korean chili powder
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring now and then, until the onions begin to soften and become just brown. Turn up the heat to high and add the kimchi and cook for approx 5 minutes. Cook until the Kimchee starts to crisp on the edges basically like it’s being fried. Add the soy sauce and rice and stir thoroughly to combine. Cook until the rice is warmed through and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. To serve I like shallow individual serving bowls
This is so yum and the flavours will permeate through your house. It’s a super quick meal that is absolutely moorish! NOTE: Kimchee is spicy and can be an acquired taste. In saying that, some of the heat seems to be taken out during the cooking process additionally, the strong flavour that may need some getting used to softens whilst cooking. For those who are familiar with Kimchee and have come to love it like my family (obviously my hubby, being Korean, grew up on this…. but I’ve acquired a taste as have our children) then go for it… You will love this dish and it’s seriously easy.
Now…. if you want to dress the dish up a bit and add a bit of SWAG to it (according to my kids SWAG is…. Swhat We Asians Got!) you can add the Fried Egg on top…
If you have removed your rice from your pan you can simply wipe the pan clean and use it for your egg. Cook your egg as per usual (a fried egg) and cook just until the yoke is done, you want some of the gooey, runny yoke to melt through the rice adding to the flavour and texture of the dish. So, take your rice and delicately place your egg on top, sprinkle with your green onions/shallots even drizzle a tiny bit of sesame oil over the top and a dash of red pepper if you want and go ahead and savour the goodness you have created!
Enjoy….. Now that I have written this out, my mouth is watering and I’m ready for more…. A perfect 1 dish meal that is ready in under 10mins.
This week we are sharing stories from some of the organisations we have chosen to partner with. This one comes from Fiji via ‘A Girl and Her World‘…. We hope you enjoy and that through these experiences you are inspired to help us 1) Create Awareness and 2) Mobilise so that we are able to make a difference.
Last week, Kym and I travelled to rural Fiji to visit the gorgeous girls we support there, check in on their families’ income generating projects and meet and train the newly formed team that our Coordinator Urmila has gathered around her this year.
As always, we came away richer with full hearts and excitement about all that is possible when a group of people come together to make a difference in their community.
There was sincere and grateful thanks for your support and the reality is that we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without it. Here are some pics to connect you to what we are doing…
This sweet girl peeks out at us from her front door in a village not far from RakiRaki town. She has 4 siblings and we support her older sister to go to school as she is in high school. The younger girls will no doubt be supported as they get older too, and we are looking into setting mum up with a chicken coup so she can begin to earn a living.
This mum showed us the new wall she was able to put up with a grant from our Emergency Fund early this year as her family recovered from the impact of TC Evan that tore her house apart. Thanks to your generosity she has been able to rebuild, put in a concrete floor to one room and install new shutters to let some light in as they have no electricity.
This happy dad has been talking with us since last year about his business plan to sell fish. This trip we were able to help him purchase this freezer so he can buy fish from his brother’s trawler, freeze it to keep and sell to his community and bring any left over into town to sell at the market. He will also be able to provide good nutrition for his family and as his business grows, take back some of the ownership of supporting his daughter’s education. She was one of the first girls we supported…she is very happy to be back at school and is doing well.
And last but most definitely not least, one of our favourites the beautiful Kajul! She is Urmila’s daughter and the inspiration behind ‘a Girl & her world’. In this pic she is laughing at Kym’s attempt to make roti. Kym and I couldn’t see the problem, but when you make hundreds of these things every week, before school for the day’s meals, you learn to roll them perfectly. We loved eating dinner made from this kitchen every night!