Sunday, June 24, 2007

Be the Presence of Amazing Grace

Be the Presence of Amazing Grace
  • What makes you want to rise above mediocrity?
  • Where do you go to find inspiration? Who supports you to achieve your best?
  • What is your amazing grace? What is the gift that you came into this world to share?

Boy, these are tough questions, but questions I have been asking myself nevertheless. I have been challenged in my lifetime to have the motivation and tenacity to be great. I mean really great. Oh, I’ve learned a lot … in fact, I am a perpetual student of life learning. I don’t like not knowing things so I spend hours delving into the whys and wherefores. I’ve learned how to create my own website, develop blogs and forums, set up and utilize PayPal accounts, make hand bound books, turn simple photographs into dynamic video presentations with effective transitions, background music, and voiceover. With that said, I am still searching for my amazing grace.

  • What have you taken time to push the envelope to learn?
  • Take some time to reflect and really pay attention to what you bring to this world that no one else can bring. This is not an easy exercise.
  • Write your list: The Things that Make Me the Most Amazing Me!
  • Elaborate on at least one item on your list. Don’t stop until the pen is dry.


Work like you don't need the money,
dance like no one is looking,
and love like you've never been hurt.

—Satchel Paige


Awestruck In the Presence of Amazing Grace

by Lissa Ann Forbes

Have you ever been in the presence of someone who captured your heart? Who threatened to change your life forever? Who made you feel so comfortable in his or her presence that any awkwardness just melted away?

It was Saturday, 8:15 in morning. I arrived at the National Speakers Association (NSA) meeting right on time. People were mingling in pockets of two, three, four. A buffet of exquisite breakfast foods was set up. Different than the usual fare of croissants, fruit, cheeses, coffee, and juice. That day, in addition to the usual coffee and juice, there was quiche, bacon, fruit & yogurt parfaits.

I saw a familiar face. Karen asked if I’d like to find a seat next to her as she walked to the back of the room. Without intending to be rude, I said I’d love to, but I preferred to sit at the front of the room because I knew, I just knew, that the feature speaker was going to be something special. I ambled to the front of the room and found a spot that hadn’t been spoken for already. My “table-mates” were engaged in their own conversations, so I went to get some breakfast before I settled in at my table of eight, all facing the stage.

Upon returning I took my seat next to a gentleman with a kindly face, a bright smile, and tiny gold hoop earring in his left ear. He was wearing a black and brown houndstooth jacket with the sleeves tucked into the pockets, black pants, and loafers. He introduced himself as Alvin Law. As I introduced myself, I registered that he was the keynote speaker for the day. How providential that I should sit next to him. For a fleeting moment I thought … handshake. Having already read and now seeing that Alvin had no arms, I immediately, without losing a beat, asked for a hug. Warmly, he said, “oh, I love hugs.” We hugged. I smiled and said it was a real pleasure to meet him.

We settled in as we listened to the first speaker. Alvin rustled a bit next to me, taking papers out of his leather briefcase on the floor … with his feet. He’d taken off his shoes. He reached for his cup of coffee on the table top … with his foot. I wanted to observe, but didn’t want to stare. I looked his way briefly a couple of times to catch a glimpse. I was simply curious to watch this man function completely independently in unconventional ways. But I didn’t want to be a “gawker,” not that he hadn’t experienced that many times in his life, I was certain.
Then it was time. It was his turn to grace the stage.

He talked about thalidomide and the birth defects it caused. He talked about his birth parents who gave him up at only a week old because they couldn’t cope. He talked about the angels, Hilda and Jack Law, who took him in as their foster child at three weeks … for a temporary stay that lasted the rest of their lives. He referenced them as his only parents, the one’s who nurtured him back to health, who had an awakening that everyone was looking at the wrong thing. They were looking at what he didn’t have, couldn’t do, rather than at what he did have and could do. They were his hope and his light.

Everything this vibrant soul had to say hit a chord for me. I was surprised when he said, “I was an ugly baby.” He was an adorable baby. I listened as he told the story of starting school across the street from his home, when he was told he couldn’t go there, that he had to go to the school for crippled kids. I laughed at his mother’s response to the principal’s retort, “He has no arms, what do you call that?” when she said very matter-of-factly, “Alvin!” I cried as he gave his parents so much credit for his accomplishments, not letting him off the hook just because he had to improvise to do a task including mowing the grass and shoveling snow. I laughed some more when he said the speaker who changed his life was “too happy,” reminding me of Patch Adams' nemesis superior who noted in his student medical file that he was “excessively happy.” I cried when I thought of what I hadn’t done in my life because I didn’t know how or thought I couldn’t do it.

He closed his program by playing a piece he wrote on the grand piano that had been wheeled into the room. He talked about the importance of what’s on the inside, not what’s on the outside. He ended with a signature story about the piano teacher who said he'd never play piano because his toes were too short.

Applause filled the room, a room filled with more than a 100 people. This man had touched the hearts and souls of everyone there. He touched my heart and inspired me to exclaim, I have no excuses, absolutely no excuses, for not doing everything I can dream of! This man has inspired me to think differently.

How could you ever doubt what you were capable of after being in the presence of amazing grace? After being in the presence of one who puts you at ease with his differences?
What are your obstacles? How can you adapt in order to accomplish more?


Alvin’s Laws of Life: 5 Steps To Successfully Overcome Anything
by Alvin Law

Alvin Law’s book is a reflection of his talks, or maybe vice versa. Nevertheless, reading his book after hearing him speak reinforced his message. Anyone can do anything if he wants to badly enough. The secret is in using what you have, not focusing on what you don’t have. Alvin has first-hand experience. Having been born without arms, over time he learned to do everything with his feet: Walk, of course, but in addition he writes, eats, throws a Frisbee®, plays basketball, types, drives, and plays not one, but at least three musical instruments: piano, trombone, and drums, and much more.

I was as captivated by Law’s book as I was his talk. I could hear his voice all over again as I read. Two weeks after hearing him speak, one week after finishing his book, I can't stop talking about him and how he's inspired me, how I was in the presence of amazing grace, and I suggest that you too can learn something from this man.

Book available on Alvin's website
** Don't miss the video**