“We need to pursue our dreams vigorously!” ~Marc Scrivener

The Spotlight feature on DaveUrsillo.com showcases the real-life stories of “everyday” men and women who are pursuing their dreams while defying  cynicism and risking being misunderstood by others around them.

Today, in this double dose of remarkable people, I’d like you to meet Marc Scrivener and Cheryl Maloney. Marc and I worked together on The Happiness Catalyst, an e-book on utilizing the Internet and social media to inspire community building through true stories of neighborhoods bonding together during times of tragedy, and more. Cheryl is the woman behind Simple Steps… Real Change, an inspiring community of over 30,000 members on Facebook.

Together on DaveUrsillo.com, we are building an inspired community of genuine dreamers and dream-pursuers who are changing the world. Are you among our ranks? :)

1.) In your own words, introduce yourself!

Introduce my Self. The egoic self is the problem, isn’t it?

This egoic self currently known as Marc resides in a 41 year old body… a body which happens to be in the best shape of its’ existence — due to a relatively recent interest in yoga and running. This new-found healthiness is very helpful, as I work as the Acting Fire Chief for a small, but busy career fire department in Connecticut. I have two wonderful offspring, daughters, one of which lives near me and the other lives in Ohio. This is simply the best time of my life spiritually, mentally, and physically.

I enjoy Contra dancing — an early American form of dance — on most weekends. I don’t have a TV, and haven’t for most of my life. In fact, I live a simple existence in a small (448 sq ft) house in a semi-rural area.

2.) What dreams you are pursuing?

The weird thing is I keep accomplishing my goals and having to create new ones. How inconvenient! I intended to run a half-marathon this year and already have done it. Maybe I’ll run a full marathon this year as well. I intend to embark on a writing journey (inward) this year, with a yet as to be determined destination.

So far, my goal is just to begin exercising the writing part of my brain and see what develops. I’m also pursuing a permanent appointment as Fire Chief for my community. I intend to be the leader Lao Tzu spoke of…empowering people to take responsibility. I also intend to continue to develop a mindfulness practice.

3.) What effects have these pursuits had on your life?

The yoga and running have had a profound effect on my life. I’ve lost nearly 40 lbs, no longer need blood pressure medicine, and simply feel great. These activities have been so good for my mental and spiritual health as well. I’d like to believe that I’m more calm and centered than ever before, and other people do make comments to that effect — so it may just be true.

All of this is a very good practice to have when running a 30-person emergency response organization, which can be taxing. I love my work, so it’s really not work for me…the lines are blurred between work and home, which requires me to live purposefully. I see my number one job as serving the people who work for the organization, and the community.

4.) What has pursuing your dreams taught you about yourself? About others? About life?

I’ve learned that there are things that interest us, things that we have some natural talent doing, and things that pay the bills. If a person can find the nexus of the three, it makes for a pretty happy existence. I’ve also learned to align myself with the flow and not hesitate when it brings opportunities–even if it doesn’t please other people. We need to pursue our dreams vigorously! Additionally, we all need some meaning in life. Meaning is a by-product of the nexus I mentioned a few sentences ago. Jump into the nexus, work hard, and see how good life becomes.

5.) What are your sources of inspiration?

I’m learning to attend to all of the aspects of my being: spiritual, mental, and physical. I find out who inspires me and read voraciously. Some of the authors that have inspired me most are Stephen Covey, Viktor Frankl, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Thich Nhat Hanh, Elizabeth Gilbert, Peter Drucker, and more. I’ve recently discovered an affinity for Eckhart Tolle. I enjoy meditating on the sayings of Rumi, Lao Tzu, and the Dalai Lama, among others.

One of my personal practices is to ask myself, “On my deathbed, will I regret not having spent more time doing this activity?” In response to that self-questioning, there’s no TV in my life, but there’s lots of dancing and community involvement. It’s a great question.

6.) Do cynics, doubters and pessimists affect you and your pursuits?

Everyone is affected, to some extent, by cynics, doubters and pessimists. It hurts when people oppose your intentions. The important thing to do is sort out what hurts because of the ego, because there’s some truth in the criticism, and what is simply nay-saying.

I try to surround myself with people who are positive, happy, creative, loving, fun, and simply decent; however, I can’t be with them all of the time–so I add activities to my life to recharge myself from time to time. There’s so much opportunity to connect with great people today. For example, I met Dave Ursillo on Twitter, and we wrote a book together (with several others too!). How great is that?

“We each need to play to our strengths, our passions, and to connect with others who are good at what we are not. Together we can accomplish anything!” ~Cheryl Maloney

1.) In your own words, introduce yourself!

I am your next door neighbor, your co-worker, the person that you pass in the grocery store, a good friend and no different than anyone else. One day I woke up and found myself alone, tumbling through life and wondering what had happened. In that space I found my voice and my deep desire to help others realize that they are not alone.

2.) What dreams you are pursuing?

Personally, my short term goal is in process and I am returning to my home in the Pacific Northwest. Jack & I are moving to the Portland, Oregon area.

My long term goals include taking Simple Steps… Real Change beyond to the next level by expanding into other medias and pursuits including creating a weekly call in radio show and organizing local meet up groups for those who are interested in an “in-person” experience. Probably my most compelling goal is to create connections between individuals, groups and organization that enable them to realize their dreams.

3.) What effects have these pursuits had on your life?

I’ve been a loner most of my life… believing that somehow I could do whatever I wanted to do or be who I wanted to be and needed no help from anyone. My truth is that what means most to me is helping others and in doing so I realized that I needed others in my life too. I have been blessed and humbled by those who have come together to be part of Simple Steps… Real Change.

4.) What has pursuing your dreams taught you?

The lessons that I’ve learned have been simple yet powerful. First, I’ve realized the connection between every living thing. What I do touches the lives of many through our Facebook page… and each person there who is touched then reaches out to others and the ripples spread infinitely. I’ve learned that my strength emanates those connections and that I am never alone. Next I realized that everyone shows up to do the best that they can.

There is a tendency in society to point out the perceived weaknesses and in doing so nothing is accomplished.

We each need to play to our strengths, our passions, and to connect with others who are good at what we are not. Together we can accomplish anything! Last, though to me the most important lesson that I’ve learned is, that we all get to choose how we live our lives. We choose to be happy or miserable and just a slight tweak in our perspective makes all the difference.

5.) What are your sources of inspiration?

I’ve been on many roller coasters in my life and I’m sure there will be more. What I do when I hit a scary stretch is to allow myself to feel it. It is all part of the journey and I’m having the experience for a reason. I give myself no more than a day to process what has happened and then I consciously tell myself that I choose to be happy. It is in that exercise and space that I realize that this too shall pass. I learn what I am suppose to learn with the experience and use it to make my next steps simpler.

Another very powerful tool that I use is the word “No!”

If doubt, worry or even panic creeps into my day I will literally stop when I realize where I am and say, “No, I am not going to think that way.” Then I shift my thought to something more positive.

I am inspired by those who have gone through life’s challenges and triumphed and those who are passionate and calm in the face of anything that comes their way. Jack & I have been together for almost 32 years and he inspires me daily. When I met him his nickname was “no problem Jack.” He takes life in stride and yet when I watch him following his passion which is photography and creating our videos I am humbled by his passion.

Since creating our Facebook page and connecting with so many people around the world I am touched by the lives of so many who have overcome unthinkable challenges and emerge with hope and positivity. There are literally thousands of people who inspire me.

6.) Do cynics, doubters and pessimists affect you and your pursuits?

There are times where others’ negativity gets to me. What I find is that this usually happens when I’m feeling less than good about myself. It is then that I have to change my environment. Turn off the TV, walk away, find a quiet place where I can tune into a more positive experience or just pop onto our Facebook page and interact with others focusing on the positive.

Every day we encounter negative people. Those who focus on the negative aspects of life choose to do so.

The beauty of this life experience is that we all get to choose. I can’t make them happy… though perhaps something that I say will cause them to pause and think differently. In the end the best that I can do is bless them that they may find happiness.