Advice from J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling, author of the series, wasn’t always a runaway success. Before publishing “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” she was a struggling single mother, surviving on state benefits. Here are her tips to succeed in any creative pursuit. Astrohaus Freewrite on Twitter

Although Rowling‘s twitter thread was directed at writers, her advice to change yourself from “somebody who’s ‘thinking of’, who ‘might’, who’s ‘trying'” into “someone who DID” is perfect for any journey.

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The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference has been organized to showcase local heroes, individuals from within our own communities, who are creating their own path, leading by example, and following their dreams through purposeful work.

Intrigued? Come listen to the stories. Ask questions. Be inspired to change your life!

#WhenIGrowUp Wednesdays: Joanne Rowling

RESEARCHER | SECRETARY | EFL TEACHER | WELFARE MOM | AUTHOR

Today, Joanne Rowling (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling, Robert Galbraith) is known around the world for the Harry Potter film franchise, and the series of books upon which it was based. She also has a net worth of more than $850 million, a property in London, and another in Scotland. Rowling is the founder of the Volant Charitable Trust, the recipient of multiple honorary degrees, and an international celebrity. Few of us will ever achieve that level of success, or even dare to dream in those terms, but Rowling’s journey is only remarkable by the level of her achievement, not by the path that took her there.

JK RowlingBorn in 1965, Rowling was raised with her sister in a two-parent household in England. Her mother suffered from multiple sclerosis; her relationship with her father was strained, and as a teen Rowling struggled with depression. She wasn’t an exceptional student, but was competent, good in English, and completed her work. She graduated from Exeter University in 1986 with a B.A. in French and Classics.

After a few years of office work, Rowling moved to Portugal to teach English as a foreign language. There, she met her first husband, television journalist Jorge Arantes. Their daughter was born in July, 1993; they separated in November of that year. The marriage ended with rumours of abuse. Rowling left Portugal with her daughter, Jessica, and moved to Scotland to be near her sister. Upon their arrival, she registered for state benefits.

Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling saw herself as a failure.[1] Her marriage had ended, and she was jobless with a dependent child, but to her this was liberating, and it allowed her to focus on writing.  – Wikipedia

The first Harry Potter book was completed in Scotland while Rowling was on welfare. She wrote at her kitchen table, and worked on the book in cafes with her sleeping daughter beside her. Did her desire to write appear out of nowhere? No, she had always wanted to be a writer.

Rowling had grown up surrounded by books. She was a voracious reader, and wrote fantasy stories as a child. In university, she put reading ahead of her studies, and even accumulated a £50 fine for overdue books. The idea for Harry Potter came in 1990 on a train trip from Manchester to London. She began to make notes, then took all of them with her to Portugal. When she returned to Britain, in her suitcase was a draft of the first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and an outline of all seven books in the series…

So, let’s be inspired by the successes of others, and let’s continue to dream ‘the impossible.’ Put aside the obstacles, close your eyes, and finish the sentence: When I grow up, I want to be…

[1] JK Rowling (June 2008). “JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure”. TED. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2011Failure & imagination

Sources: Biography, J.K. RowlingWikipedia

~ Debbie MacLeod


The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference has been organized to showcase local heroes, individuals from within our own communities, who are creating their own path, leading by example, and following their dreams through purposeful work.

Intrigued? Come listen to the stories. Ask questions. Be inspired to change your life!

Stay Creative!

creativity [krē-ā-ˈti-və-tē] noun: the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness, Oxford Living Dictionary

40 Ways to Stay Creative

via Abel Premnath


The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference has been organized to showcase local heroes, individuals from within our own communities, who are creating their own path, leading by example, and following their dreams through purposeful work.

Intrigued? Come listen to the stories. Ask questions. Be inspired to change your life!

Connecting the Dots

Connecting the Dots
It’s not always easy to figure out why we feel dissatisfied, or bored, or restless. Sometimes the answer is a simple fix. Other times, it’s a lot more complicated, and involves much soul-searching and reflection. The answer to happiness for some is to embark on a journey of self discovery, and reinvention. When that happens, the question then becomes, “Where do I start?” In some cases, the first step forward may be to look backward.

I’m an avid reader, and have been since elementary school. When I look backwards, I see how reading introduced me to libraries, where I became a volunteer, and a literacy advocate. From book borrower, I grew up to be a book buyer, a collector, and a seller. From reading, I moved to writing, to blogging, and to working as a communications professional. Books also introduced me to history, which led me to university, and archives and museums, to travel, and to art – all things that today, I can’t imagine living without.

As I begin to reinvent myself, to search for the path forward, I’m looking back at all the things I love best, wondering how they will fit together: the books, the history, and the travel. Are all the pieces in place? I feel that they are, but I’m still looking for the idea, or the inspiration that will connect the dots between my experience, my skill set, and my dreams.

It’s that creative spark. Where do I look for that?

~ Debbie MacLeod

(Photo courtesy of pippalou via morguefile.com.)


The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference has been organized to showcase local heroes, individuals from within our own communities, who are creating their own path, leading by example, and following their dreams through purposeful work.

Intrigued? Come listen to the stories. Ask questions. Be inspired to change your life!

Are We Not Human Beings?

When there is nowhere to go, nowhere is home – Human Flow

A film by Ai Weiwei…


The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference has been organized to showcase local heroes, individuals from within our own communities, who are creating their own path, leading by example, and following their dreams through purposeful work.

Intrigued? Come listen to the stories. Ask questions. Be inspired to change your life!

A Reminder

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. – Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011

To view the complete “How to Live Before You Die” Stanford University Commencement Speech by Steve Jobs, please click here.


The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference has been organized to showcase local heroes, individuals from within our own communities, who are creating their own path, leading by example, and following their dreams through purposeful work.

Intrigued? Come listen to the stories. Ask questions. Be inspired to change your life!

Fingers Crossed for a Sunny Day

networking [net-ˌwər-kiŋ] noun: the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically, the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business, Merriam-Webster

networking [net-wur-king] noun: a cringe-inducing activity designed to make individuals down glasses of (insert chosen alcohol here) in order to become socially-functioning adults among a group of strangers with some sort of common interest, Taylor Henriquez

Wine and CheeseLove ‘em or hate ‘em, networking opportunities are an integral part of all conferences where people have been invited to learn, and to share information. While it’s true a lot of us are uncomfortable with formal events like wine and cheese Meet ‘n Greets, most of us do look forward to making new friends, to sharing our experiences with like-minded people, and to engaging in lively conversation.

Keeping that in mind, The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference will organize a formal networking event for the end of the day, as well as create informal situations throughout the day, that will make it easy to meet your fellow attendees. Our venue, the Fort Langley Community Hall, was selected specifically for the variety of networking possibilities it offers.

Fort Langley Community Hall, grounds - Photo by Jamie DelaineAlthough, we’re in the early stages of the planning process, and while we don’t want to give it all away yet, we will emphasize that the Hall is located in the heart of historic Fort Langley. The grounds are beautifully landscaped; the famous downtown core is only blocks away; parks and riverside trails are close. In addition to the numerous health benefits that come from taking a break outdoors, we’re hoping for a beautiful spring day to refresh, and to remind us of beginnings.

We encourage all those who attend the event to wear comfortable clothing and footwear, and to be prepared to take their coffee, or their lunch outside into, what we hope will be, the glorious sunshine. Fingers crossed…

~ Debbie MacLeod

Wine & Cheese photo by Dianne Hope via morguefile.com 


The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference has been organized to showcase local heroes, individuals from within our own communities, who are creating their own path, leading by example, and following their dreams through purposeful work.

Intrigued? Come listen to the stories. Ask questions. Be inspired to change your life!

Growth is Painful…

Stuck Where You Don't Belong

via Fierce, Fit, and Free


The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference has been organized to showcase local heroes, individuals from within our own communities, who are creating their own path, leading by example, and following their dreams through purposeful work.

Intrigued? Come listen to the stories. Ask questions. Be inspired to change your life!

Introducing: #WhenIGrowUp Wednesdays

Graduation CapWhether you graduated from high school five, or twenty-five years ago – or more – I’m guessing few of you have hung onto any of the words spoken by your Valedictorians. I certainly haven’t, although I’m sure “future” figured in there somewhere. So, in order to find the perfect sentiment to introduce our hashtag for The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference, I resorted to Google. As you can imagine, the possibilities were endless, but I did find one quote that particularly reflects the spirit of our event:

Never give up what you want most for what you want today. – Neal A. Maxwell, scholar and educator, 1926 – 2004

By the time we finish high school, our heads are packed full with dreams. Some of us share these big ideas with our friends and families, some keep them to ourselves. They can be simple, or utterly fantastic, but they’re ours, and usually our first steps outside of high school are made in their direction. Then, life happens.

From Passion to Purpose Events invites you to reignite the sense of possibility that filled you up when you were in your teens, when you believed the world was ‘your oyster.’ On #WhenIGrowUp Wednesdays, beginning next week, we’ll feature stories of people who reinvented themselves, or who came to a crossroads and chose a different path, or who rediscovered, or returned to the pursuit of their youthful passion. Or who found a new one!

Remember when you used to say, “When I grow up, I want to be …?” On Wednesdays, let’s play that game, again.

~ Debbie MacLeod

(Photo courtesy of Kenn W. Kiser via morguefile.com.)


The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference has been organized to showcase local heroes, individuals from within our own communities, who are creating their own path, leading by example, and following their dreams through purposeful work.

Intrigued? Come listen to the stories. Ask questions. Be inspired to change your life!

Stacey’s Pink Elephant

You have to risk a little crazy if you ever hope to escape the gravitational pull of the ordinary – David Usher, Let the Elephants Run: Unlock Your Creativity and Change Everything

I first heard of David Usher in September 2013 when I attended Edmonton’s E-Town Festival of ideas. Most of you will know Usher as a musician, the front man for the rock group Moist, but he’s also a self-professed Geek, a businessman, the creative director of a non-profit, and a popular keynote speaker. In 2015 he published a book based upon his conference presentations about creativity and the creative process. Let the Elephants Run: Unlock Your Creativity and Change Everything is just as inspiring as he is.

Let the Elephants Run by David Usher

I accidentally came across Let the Elephants Run at the library a few weeks ago, and snatched it up. Usher’s premise is that creativity is 5% inspiration, and 95% hard work. He believes we’re all born with the creative gene, but it often becomes buried within us over time. By defining his creative process, he gives everyone a template by which they can rediscover their own creativity – and put it back to use. (Read more about the book here.)

So, what is a Pink Elephant, and why does Stacey Wakelin have one?

In Usher’s book, Pink Elephant refers to those “crazy ideas that come from big dreams and a wide imagination,” that “often seem impossible and not grounded in reality.” Stacey’s Pink Elephant is that she wants to help people, specifically those experiencing homelessness. And, not simply through a donation, or volunteering with a non-profit. Stacey wants tiny house villages for the homeless in the Fraser Valley, similar to those in U.S. locations, and exactly like this group is trying to get off the ground in Abbotsford.

Compassion Pop UpAs she takes time to educate herself on the issues involved, Stacey and a pretty amazing group of volunteers have been organizing Compassion Pop Up Events in various Langley/Lower Mainland communities via The Compassion Collective. Each of these events gives The Collective the opportunity to meet individuals experiencing homelessness, and to speak with them first hand. Event details involve research, and sometimes coordination with other groups, businesses, and organizations, which offers up more chances for Stacey to learn as much as she can about it all.

A Pink Elephant? Absolutely.

A crazy idea? Maybe, to some, but not so much if you’re taking it one step at a time.

~ Debbie MacLeod


The CREATIVE CHANGE-MAKING Conference has been organized to showcase local heroes, individuals from within our own communities, who are creating their own path, leading by example, and following their dreams through purposeful work.

Intrigued? Come listen to the stories. Ask questions. Be inspired to change your life!