Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Random acts of INSPIRATION

One thing I learned at the Junos: live like someone's looking

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Being at the Juno Awards was most inspiring, in many ways. First off, the quality and quantity of talent that descended upon Regina was immense -- not only the big names we already know, but also the next wave of upcoming artists. Having nearly 100 first-time nominees this year was, in itself, inspirational.

Secondly, while driving back home to Winnipeg, alone with my thoughts, it dawned on me I had been part of a chain of inspiration. It went down something like this...

At the gala dinner on Saturday night, the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award was given to Tom Cochrane. It was presented by his daughter, who spoke about how he inspired her throughout her entire life. Then Tom got up on stage and undoubtedly inspired the whole room with sincere words and a glimpse into his truly genuine and selfless heart.

Next morning, after a late night, I went to hot yoga with a couple of friends. It turned out to be a pretty difficult class for me. Meanwhile, my friend Sara sailed through the 75-minutes with ease and grace, stretching, twisting and balancing her body beautifully in every pose. She was amazing!

All I could think was how utterly impressive. Even though it was particularly hard for me, Sara's strength and energy silently kept me going. Right there and then, I was inspired to spend more time practising yoga. Later, when I told her that, it made her happy. She told me she worked hard at yoga, went to hundreds of classes in the past year and was really proud of her progress. She definitely should be.

At the Juno Awards pre-reception that evening, I was hanging out with Don Amero (first-time nominee), when Jim Cuddy walked in. Don approached him to take a picture. In their brief chat, Don told him "your music inspires me." Yet another example of inspiration, which by now was becoming a recurring theme on my radar.

Then we set our sights on Tom Cochrane. After his incredibly memorable appearance the night before, we just had to get his picture, too. I approached him and told him how inspired we were by what he said the night before. "Don is a musician, and a really big fan," I told him, "Would you take a picture with him?"

"For sure," he said, and posed with Don. Then he posed with our friend Melissa, another big fan of his. As I was about to walk away, Tom put his hand on my arm and asked me, "Do you want a picture, too?" As I stepped in close, I recited to him a line I memorized from his speech the night before: "Humanitarianism is the practice of the ethics of kindness and compassion." Then I thanked him for inspiring us with his work and his words.

"Thank you," Tom said. "You inspire me." Wow. Coming from an esteemed musician like him, it was music to my ears.

Later that evening, there was one more individual I had to meet -- and it wasn't an artist. It was W. Brett Wilson, businessman and philanthropist, who I've watched many times on Dragons' Den and Risky Business. He was my favourite Dragon (along with Dragoness Arlene Dickinson) before he left the show because he always conducted himself with integrity and stayed true to his ethics. Exactly the kind of entrepreneur I aspire to be.

I had seen him out-and-about at Juno events all weekend and now there he was, standing merely ten feet from me. It was my chance! This time, Don approached on my behalf, asking if he would pose for a photo with me. Brett was gracious to oblige and afterward conversed with me for a good ten minutes. How honoured I felt for that much face-time with such a successful businessman!

Before turning to leave, I said to him, "Thanks a lot for taking time to talk with me and for all you do. You totally inspire me."

With that, I was satisfied my Juno adventure was complete. I couldn't possibly be any more inspired. However, the best was yet to come and it wasn't from a talented musician, wealthy businessman, or yoga goddess. Nope.

It was from Richelle, a colleague from Saskatchewan I'd met only once before, a few years ago. To tell the truth, I didn't even recognize her when she approached me that evening. We chatted for a few minutes, making small talk and dabbling in reacquainting, before she declared to everyone at our table: "RoseAnna inspired me to start running!"

"Really?" I inquired, "How?"

"From all your talk about rowing on Facebook! It made me want to do something, too."

Wow again. I was floored. I honestly had no idea. In that moment, in the midst of music and mayhem, Richelle made my day more than anyone else. Knowing I inspired someone to make a positive life change unexpectedly turned out to be my favourite encounter of the weekend. So much so it got me thinking about what inspiration actually means and how infectious it is. It also inspired me to come home and write this story.

When it comes to inspiration, I've come to this conclusion: While some people choose to dance like no one's watching, it's also a good idea to live like someone's looking. You just never know when you might inspire another person.

And that thought is the most inspiring of all.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 28, 2013 A14

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