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Hometown Homage


David Muir: A Catalyst ‘Round the World

This past week I had the pleasure of hearing ABC’s 20/20 David Muir speak about his career as a journalist. As a Syracuse native, he explained when he had his internship at our local CBS affiliate station throughout high school and college, he would ride around in the news cruiser thinking, “Wow! I’m so lucky! I’m seeing the world!” All of us in the room chuckled, knowing how small our dear city is, both in acres and blocks as well as people and events. Fast forward 25 years and here he is, actually seeing the world. It’s this excitement and spontaneity that has propelled him through his career where he now shares an anchor desk with the revered Diane Sawyer. But he went on to say why his job means so much to him, and it truly struck a chord.

How to Save a Life

One of the major stories David has covered during his career was the famine in Somalia. It was the worst famine this generation has seen, and he was there for it all. He depicted a scene that some of us can only imagine in our most gruesome and terrifying nightmares. A scene where doctors tended to people hanging on to their last thread of life. A scene where children’s skin was hanging from their bones due to the lack of nutrition. These made-for-movies moments are ones that reporters tend to capitalize on, ones that we at home ask, “How dare they be so insensitive and so dehumanizing?” But for David, these are moments that make him think, “What can we as Americans do to help?”

In David’s mind, “What’s the point of reporting on something if you can’t create change?” And that’s just what he did in Somalia. While talking with a doctor who was tending to a child’s bedside, David reached down and picked up a packet filled with a powdery substance. When he inquired what it was for, the doctor responded with, “This one little packet, only costing $2, can save a child’s life.” The packet contained a special form of peanut butter, one that contained enough protein and other nutrients to bring a child back from the brink of despair, deterioration and ultimately death.

So much more than the cost of peanuts

With a sense of urgency, David sent out a plea to all Americans. He explained the necessity of these packets for the doctors who were doing their best work in Africa. And over the course of just a few hours, Americans had given more than $100,000 to the famine efforts, namely for a bountiful supply of peanut butter packets. As David ended his story, I realized that this is what change is all about—capitalizing on a moment or situation of extreme need, and giving people a reason to be charitable, a reason to be selfless and most importantly, a reason to be thankful.

The Challenge

I challenge you, as we begin the new season (I know, I know, it’s been autumn for almost a week, but who’s counting,) to start looking at situations through a different lens. Make those moments and those callings more like revolutions, where YOU are the catalyst; you are the source of good in all that is sad and negative in that seemingly tiny and intimate space. Instead of asking God why these children are starving, why these adults are suffering, ask what… what you can do, what you can give, what you can be. Be the change. Be the peanut butter.


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Planning on Whatever


Check it out on Amazon!

I’d like to start this post off by apologizing for my serious case of blogger’s neglect. I realized I haven’t written in what seems like forever, but I’ll admit– the holidays and the proverbial hang over they left behind were a bit much for me this year. But as this post clearly indicates, I’m back in action 🙂

I realize the title of this blog is a bit oxymoronic… “whatever” doesn’t typically hold any weight in a planner’s vocabulary. It’s a word we hate. When we hear that word, it basically says to us, “I’m flying by the seat of my pants and I do not have a plan… at all… and I’m going to take you on this wild ride with me.” This is where I’d say to myself, “Umm… no thank you,” and start coming up with a plan of my own. But thanks to my daughter’s AMAZING babysitter, I’ve started to loosen up a bit and realize that saying, “Yes, please” every so often to these types of propositions could lead to something truly life changing.

Ashley is a super mom. She has two boys of her own and she watches several kids, including Maryn, 5 days a week. She still has time to cook, bake, be an awesome wife and most recently, a top-rated author. Wait, what? That’s right, a top-rated author. And it all happened on accident!

You see, Ashley found her love of reading of guilty pleasure fiction when she read “50 Shades of Gray.” She read the trilogy in three days (that’s right, do the math– that’s a book a day,) and found she was letting her imagination run wild after finishing books. She would lay in bed for hours on end trying to shut her mind off, but it was impossible. After many sleepless nights, Ashley decided there was only one way to calm her mind: she had to write her own book.

And that’s exactly what she did. After researching the ways of an author, finding editors, beta readers and bloggers who were willing to start a “buzz” for her, she finally had the support she needed to publish her first book, “Planning on Forever.”

Her book has been getting rave reviews and has climbed the ranks on Amazon for the past several weeks. Now she’s getting ready to release her second book, “Summer Rush,” and I know that will be just as good, if not better, than her first book. Now she will eventually be able to do what she loves to help support her family. And to me, there’s no greater gift than that.

Following Ashley through this crazy process, she’s taught me an invaluable lesson: sometimes, when you plan on “whatever,” it turns into a plan that lasts “forever.”


To check out Ashley’s book, go to and search “Planning on Forever” or “Ashley Wilcox.” You won’t be disappointed!

So really, how ambitious are they?

When trying to find an available domain name for my blog, I found that many renditions of ‘ambitious soul’ were already taken. So of course my thought was, “Who are these people anyway? Are the thoughts that took us to the name “Ambitious Soul” the same? Some were close, some were not. But they all lead to one thing: your future.

Amongst all the ‘ambitious’ graphic designers and photographers and sports enthusiasts, I came across a website that wasn’t like all the others.

I was met  with a peaceful lakefront photo, looking out at a sunset from a wooden dock. The headline read, “Live the Life you Want…Without a Paycheck!” Intriguing, right? Of course the first thing I think of is network marketing, especially when I see the words “home-based business” that follow. But my brain is taken down a side road when the site begins to loosely outline how to a) buy into a franchise or b) buy a traditional brick and mortar business. And then just as I suspected, it launches into how to start your own home-based business (and of course all the details on this are not disclosed on the site.)

It weighs the pros and cons for all three options and then of course solicits you to ‘click here’ to contact the company for additional information. I’m sure you can imagine me sitting in my swivel chair, twirling around and fist pumping for network marketing, having the “ah-ha” moment I’ve been waiting for. Wait, no. That’s me twirling around in chaos, shaking my fist for the madness to stop.

It’s not that I’m mad at network marketing or that I don’t like it; I actually used to be part of an extremely successful network marketing company. The thing that drives me absolutely insane is when people start in network marketing to get rich quick. I don’t care if you’re selling jewelry or designer handbags or makeup– they are all built the same. If you truly have an affinity for one of those things or the other bajillion things that have direct selling blueprints, I say go for it! But if not, hold out for something truly amazing.

3M’s Post-It notes: a billionaire’s “ah-ha” moment.

9 times out of 10 people fall into what makes them tick. Do you really think Mark Zuckerburg went to Harvard aspiring to create his own social network? Just think about 3M’s Art Fry; he invented Post-It notes on accident!

So sorry Ambitious Soul #1, but I believe ambition is born through passion. Whether it’s a passion for writing or photography, entrepreneurship or apprenticeship, close your eyes and imagine the world as if money were no object. Now shut your mind off to all practicality and realism. Lastly, ask yourself this: what would you do?