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Lessons from Realizing your Dreams

Being in zero gravity. Playing in the NFL. Winning stuffed animals at the fair. Authoring an article in the World Book Encyclopedia. Being Captain Kirk. Being an Imagineer with Disney.

Dreams of a typical American boy born in 1960. Dreams of an atypical American man, Randy Pausch Ph.D., whose last lecture given at Carnegie Mellon University in September 2007 is awakening everyone to how to truly value and live life, each and every day, whether you have been given six months to live or have sixty more. And in Randy’s case it was the prior for in September 2006 he received the grim diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Before his diagnosis he was an inspiration to his wife, his family, his students, his colleagues and his profession. With the publicity surrounding his last lecture, Randy has become an inspiration to thousands more, as we are in awe of his courage, humor, joy, zest and love for his family, for life no matter the conditions or circumstances. 

In the lecture title Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, Randy shares his dreams, how he has realized them, and the life lessons he learned from them. I cannot begin to give justice to his lecture, which in the end he dedicates to his children, yet I am compelled to share with you some of his poignant quotes:

“Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome.”

“Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. You have got to get the fundamentals down because otherwise the fancy stuff isn’t going to work.”

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”

“The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.”

(discussing feedback) “But for the most part, people looked at that (bar chart) and went, wow, I’ve got to take it up a notch. I better start thinking about what I’m saying to people in these meetings. And that is the best gift an educator can give is to get somebody to become self reflective.”

“…if your kids want to paint their bedroom, as a favor to me let them do it. It’ll be OK. Don’t worry about resale value on the house.”

“I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there’s no other way to play it.”
“Never lose the childlike wonder. It’s just too important. It’s what drives us. Helps others.”

“You get people to help you by telling the truth. Being earnest. I’ll take an earnest person over a hip person every day, because hip is short term. Earnest is long term.”

“Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.”

“Show gratitude.”
“Find the best in everybody.  ….you might have to wait a long time, sometimes years, but people will show you their good side.”

“And be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.”

Living in the culture we live in, it is very easy to begin living life by simply going through the motions, one step at a time, day in and day out. We fondly think of the “good old days” when our childlike wonder truly guided our days, and we blame our adult responsibilities for squelching our imagination, our dreams, our zest. We may sometimes do a little self reflection, but often find our minds are brought back quickly to what we need to be doing for who has time for dreaming when there is so much to do?

No matter our age, we all have within us that childlike wonder, for some it is buried deeply, yet for all it is very willing and ready to be re-discovered. We just have to be brave enough to allow it.

Randy Pausch has lived life by finding the extra in the ordinary. He has been a student of life, allowing that childlike wonder to guide, inspire and serve him every step of the way. Sharing of his self reflection shows us how powerful doing so is, and how in both non-traditional and traditional ways we may realize our dreams, becoming the wiser for doing so. It clearly didn’t take Randy experiencing a life threatening illness to spark his zest for life; he had chosen to live with such throughout life. Allow him be our example.

His professional contributions are vast, and now so are the means by which he has accomplished them. I am grateful that I have been exposed to Randy Pausch and to his life lessons, and wish him well on his continued journey.

Extra Ordinary

How are you allowing your childlike wonder to guide you?

What would you share if you gave your “last lecture”?

What childhood dreams have you set aside because of the brick walls? Are there any you want to revisit?

How can you be more earnest? Forgiving? Grateful?

What can you do each and every day to ensure you have fun?

Interested in more, go to

About Extra Ordinary Living

Janet began her coaching journey in January of 2004, leaving behind a satisfying career as a healthcare executive. Working first under the company name, Tiberius Enterprises, in January of 2007, Janet adopted the company name, Extra Ordinary Living, symbolizing her desire to work with people who defy the law of average and want to live extraordinary lives, consistently adding the extra to the ordinary. Her by-line embracing sustainable change is reflective of two intentions. First is to have the changes a client makes have long term positive implications. Second is to live a life that respects the importance of sustaining our planet’s lives for generations to follow.

As an Executive Coach, Janet’s intention is to assist service professionals and organizations to maximize their return on human capital….managing human behaviors for optimal outcomes. Janet has repeatedly found that an individual’s professional and personal satisfaction and happiness is often limited by their very own “human capital.” She loves working with people to identify and own their natural tendencies, abilities and talents; to recognize their limitations, and apply all in creating the life they have historically only dreamed about. As a professional coach, Janet is trained to listen, to observe and to customize her approach to match her client’s needs. She provides tools, support, structure and accountability to help her clients unleash their full potential and optimize results.

Having a coach herself for over four years, Janet has found the best thing about coaching is that it is all about you, the client, and what you want. A coach may share her opinion, and give you advice; however, it is all up to you to pick and choose what you want to accept. A coach suspends judgment, and supports you in your decisions.

With the coaching philosophy as her foundation, Janet is also an inspirational Professional Speaker. She has spoken at local, state and national conferences, providing the plenary session as well as more structured workshops. Her goal is to impart useful, practical and memorable information in a fun and dynamic way to assist her audiences in living extra ordinary lives. Janet always customizes her content to match her audience.

 Interested in learning more? Please contact Janet by phone at 540-342-3040, email,, or visit the website,


Janet Crawford MHA, MBA Professional Certified Coach

Extra Ordinary Living is written for aspiring individuals looking for new perspectives and ideas for living life differently by finding the Extra in the Ordinary.

Sustainable Living Tip:

Wise Water Use

Imagine what your life would be like without access to water?  “Clean” water?

No more showers: cold or hot; no cold drink of water to quench your thirst; no indoor plumbing; no morning coffee; the list is endless.

Throughout my life and my guess is yours, I have always had plenty of water…to drink, to bathe, to clean, to swim, to flush, to cook, to irrigate….however much I needed and for whatever I have needed it, it has been plentiful. And I assumed it always would be, until my husband became “the rainwater man”.

Unfortunately, there are people who live continually in search, in need of water, clean or dirty. They can only imagine what it would be like to have water.  Lack of access to water contributes significantly to poverty and disease, and impedes the success of any interventions designed to improve the situation.

Water is essential to our being and to our well-being. It is a finite, precious resource that we need to treasure, value, and conserve so that generations to come will also know the blessings of water. 

What can you do?

Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth….save an average of 8 gallons of water a day.

Install water efficient products.….waterless or dual flush toilets; point source hotwater heaters; appliances with the WaterSense sticker. Go to for more information.

Fix leaks….test your toilet by putting food coloring in the tank and if it shows in the bowl without flushing you have a leak. A leaky toilet can waste as much as 400 gallons of water a day. WOW!.

Use drip irrigation for watering your lawn….or minimally water in the evening diminishing the amount that you loose to evaporation.

Harvest the rainwater…..use it for watering your plants, your garden, your lawn, your body. Go to to access the Virginia Rainwater Harvesting Manual published in 2007 with step-by-step guide to installing your rainwater harvesting system.  (disclosure: Rainwater Management is my husband’s business)

Bottom line, if we commit to wise water use practices we can help to mitigate the effects of drought and save homeowners money on water and energy bills without compromising convenience or performance. It’s really pretty simple, just ask your ancestors.

EOL Upcoming Events:

BookIn the spirit of To YES living, Janet and Joanne will be hostess in g a monthly gathering of Living in the New Earth where we will explore how to apply the concepts in Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth. If you live in the Roanoke area and want to join us, the details follow:

When: First Friday of every month beginning May 2, 2008 from 12 noon to 1:00 pm.

Where: Daily Grind – West Village on 419

Cost: Free, unless you purchase a delicious lunch or cup of coffee

Come as often as you want.

Another Opportunity

If you are a student of yoga and want to begin applying yoga principles in all aspects of your life, I invite you to join me and Colleen Carrell in a day retreat,

Living Your Best Life Through Yoga on May 17th from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm.

For more information about both events, email me at or call 537-6578.


"The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart - this you will build your life by, and this you will become."

– James Allen

"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge – myth is more potent than history – dreams are more powerful than facts – hope always triumphs over experience – laughter is the cure for grief – love is stronger than death."

– Robert Fulghum,
The Storyteller's Creed

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