The Vancouver Sun January 28th 2018
Malcolm Parry- Talk Town
Local Author Hits Bestselling ranks with Oprah and shares a view from the future
Sitting over a coffee with local bestselling author, entrepreneur & recent Oprah guest, Lydia Johnson shares how and why her life changed from ordinary to extraordinary. These are the kind of interviews that are not only fun, but enlightening to do and it’s a pleasure to share this coffee meetup with our readers….especially those of you still looking at your NEW New Years’ resolutions and wondering why you feel like the exact same way you did this time early into last year. Giving Up is Trading Up…..find out more….
Malcolm: So, Lydia what the heck happened for you over the past handful of years? You went from banking circles to bestselling author and world traveller on a mission. Was this a mid-life crisis or what?
Lydia: It sure has been a whirlwind of change, growth, adventure and joy, that’s for sure. After leaving the banking industry I knew I wanted something sizably more…something I had never done before, and some things that were going to connect deeply inside of me. It took me a while to discover what all that was, so I spent some time writing my first book…a business book, and then did some consulting which was all great. But, you know when you know, there has to be more? Well, I was blessed to be able to first feel that urge and then discover how to go about bringing it all into my life. WOW! I often wonder why I could not have had these feelings 20 or even 30 years sooner! I am often reminded of the old saying..” The teacher appears when the student is ready.” I was enjoying a different track at the time, so must not have been ready as a student.
Malcolm: Tell me about the urge you spoke of….how did you go about bringing it all into your life. I know you have had a very rewarding last 5 or so years. What have those years look liked you for you?
Lydia: Yes, these last 5 or so years in particular, have been an incredible journey, both personally and professionally. I was first of all most fortunate to discover the power of the word of mouth marketing model and knowing I had been doing this all my banking career, it made total sense to me. Soon into that business with a great company, I met a very successful couple who literally changed my life! Mark & Davene of Go90Grow fame but also leaders, facilitators and teachers of the Master Key System, not only impacted my own life, they impacted many others who joined in a deep dive personal growth challenge over several months.
It started with a firm DECISION….cutting off all other options…in other words, going down this path with the Master Key System of learning was it. I made that definite decision and so very glad I did. It was tough to reprogram my mind, my headspace from some old thinking patterns, and Mark & Davene helped every step of the way…they practically held hands with the virtual classroom of attendees from all over the world. I have followed Oprah for a number of years and I remember her once saying, “We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” I knew I wanted more and in fact, needed more to feel completed satisfied, so I knew that meant needing to up my personal ante and change to becoming more. Like living the width of life, not just the length of it. Good enough, wasn’t in fact, good enough…and so the journey began.
So let me share what in fact happened month after month and year after year. Back in 2013, I took the MasterKey System, as I mentioned and little by little, week by week, I was experiencing a renewed energy, new feelings of faith and belief and they became my normal ways of thinking and believing. Not knowing how I was going to achieve the accomplishments I set out to do was beginning to feel quite ok. Letting go of that how, was actually so relieving! It took a lot of the stress off . Mark taught us to stay focused on the what. So I did.
I kicked back and did some real deep thinking about how I wanted to leave this planet…so I imagined myself about 95 years old, sitting on my porch swing, surrounded by the many people I touched in some way or another during my life. It was strange but so uncovering. I wondered what would I most value in hearing from these people all surrounding me. What would I want to be thought of as to how I touched their lives. That really helped me decide the direction of the second half of my life and the pivotal needs I have. It turned out what resonated for me the most was liberty and legacy. They didn’t come as a surprise and as I considered what each would be like it helped me shape what I wanted to do with this second half of my life.
Malcolm: So how have you experienced liberty and tell me how leaving the legacies you have will impact your future?
Lydia: As you know, Malcolm I have 3 grandkids- Aiden is 15; Cadence is 12 and little Beckett is not so little any more, now 7. Travelling has always been a passion of mine and introducing new worlds to the grandkids gave me my dreams of travelling as well as sharing those very special times with each of them. We have had a blast touring so many countries! It has brought me so much joy to share these experiences with them. They can each speak a little of so many languages now. We first started our travels in Germany so they can see where I was born and where their roots are. Cadence found the castle she has had on her vision board for several years! She says she will live there….somehow I think she just might.
From there, Europe was country by country and our cameras could barely keep up with the views and the clicks! Aiden was always a keen history nut so being in places he studied about was an absolute thrill for him! Mark, who I mentioned, and I envisioned Aiden in front of the leaning tower of Pizza for years before, so finally taking a picture of him there was…well simply overwhelming. I remember I had a little tear of joy, of true accomplishment, when Aiden stood there with his gelato and looked just like I had imagined a million times before. Wow… Beckett said Rome has the best pizzas ever! No doubt. He also wondered when they were going to get around to finishing the Coliseum! Aiden, Cadence and I laughed so hard but tried not to embarrass him….then came the history lesson, of course from Aiden.
In the spring of 2015, Paris was a big hit for Cadence. Ever since she was a baby I told her we`d go shoe shopping there so she knew we would and of course came back with way too many shoes and had so fun and laughed our way from one end of Paris to the other….Cadence drizzled some warm chocolate sauce from the crepe she got from a street vender, right onto one of her new shoes! We cleaned it up just in time and decided to only do plain croissants from that day on. The boys really liked the museums and of course the Louvre…we spent a whole day there in awe. Europe was exceptional and so many great stories to share!
Another of our favourites was Australia. The kids had so much fun with the language and accents and because we went when it was winter here, we got to enjoy their best weather and summer. We went just before Xmas 2016, so arriving with flip-flops on was a real thrill for the kids. We didn’t miss the snow at all that Xmas and got pretty used to seeing Santa displays and snowmen on lawns where people were mowing around them. Travelling up the coast from Sydney was where we spent most of our time and then of course we flew to Alice Springs, to hike around Uluru. That was the day Beckett became a real hiker we all said! One evening we sat out under the stars and after a while we found the Southern Cross. Looking at life is completely different when you have seen the moon and the stars from the other side of the world. Cadence said that. She was so amazed by everything she saw on that trip. We even tried some kangaroo jerky, but the kids decided that wasn’t for them!
I could go on and on from country to country, but it would take forever to share the many details and exceptional feelings we all had when we gazed at all 7 wonders of the world and took in tiny villages and seascapes and mountain tops….We ended up covering every continent. Planes, trains, boats and even sidecars on motorcycles got us from one city and landmark to the next. Mapping it out in some details beforehand was part of the adventure and it helped the kids to learn about the countries and continents before we even got there. They felt they were part of the planning of each trip. Even their teachers said how much they learned about geography before even going on our adventures.
I have been thinking to write a book about the travels….from the kids`perspective with the kids`input as well as from an adult`s perspective. I will decide on that for my next book. In the meantime, Aiden, Cadence and Beckett have filled their passports and memories with exceptional experiences. They now love to travel too and it seems they each have some favourite places to get back to when they are older. I am so proud and so excited to have shared the world with each of the kids. When I flick through the pictures in the tabletop books we made to showcase our travels, I can’t help but think that having had the liberty of time and money to do this was a greatest gift in my life. I am so blessed to have had this experience.
Malcolm: And speaking of books, Oprah certainly gave you rave reviews on Surprise Lake. How did you go from writing a business book to such a personal story?
Lydia: I had the idea of the personal story on the backburner for about 7 years. It never felt like the right time in my life to write it. When the kids and I were in Spain, we came across a little village atop a mountain in Salara and I just knew that is where I needed to plant myself and write the book. So I booked a month there and in the spring of 2015 I let it all flow and came home with the makings of the book. Oprah has always been a big book fan and so I began the final stages of getting the book ready for publication. One thing led to another and through a contact of a contact, she read it and said it was going to be big! The thrill of hearing those words was incredible. I felt a sudden peace of having held the story in for all these years and a joy for being able to share it. The phone rang more than it had in years and next thing you know I was flown to be on Oprah`s show to tell my story about my story. Sitting there with someone I have admired for so many years was barely imaginable…..I remember having to pinch myself backstage, just checking it was really happening to me. My daughter was in the audience and front row so walking out to meet Oprah, Tracey was the first person I saw! I almost lost it right that second…I began to cry a little with the true peace and joy I was experiencing, and just in time, pulled it together. Oprah laughed a bit and her warm hug settled me down so I could open my mouth to speak. Wow…shivers were up one side of me and down the other. It felt so great to talk to her about the book and its origins and my past and mostly what I was able to do since the time of the book`s story taking place.
We also connected on some shared interests in Africa and South America. Her work with disadvantaged women was always something that I admired and had hoped to do. Once I was financially able to get involved with projects to support under privileged communities, one thing lead to another and I actually modelled some of her work. Of course this meant taking the grandkids again but with a purpose to making a positive difference in villages and towns where hope is all some people had. Oprah and I talked about what a life changing experience that was for the grandkids. It sure was. They still send messages to their new pen pals in about 4 different countries. I think Cadence will be going to her favourite country when she is older and maybe even working there. She knows she can be what she wills to be.
Malcolm: What are you working on now that keeps you so excited and wanting to do more?
Lydia: Back in 2014, I linked up with 2 business partners who also wanted to add value and make a difference in people’s lives, so I began facilitating workshops and focusing mostly on troubled teens- mostly girls and young women. The work touches my heart in so many ways. The young women inspire me with their own stories and I get a chance to give back in a way that means a lot to them but also allows me to do what matters and what gives me a return on heartbeats…so instead of an ROI, I get an ROH- Return On Heartbeats!
These are all part of the legacy I always wanted to leave for the grandkids. They all know they can be whatever they will to be and more than anything else, that is what I want to leave them with. So as I started by saying…..sitting on my porch at 95, rocking in my rocking chair, I know I can now leave a legacy of worldwide travel adventures, a bestselling book, work in the world that held deep passion and meaning and made differences in day to day lives of people and moved some young people to a place of hope, faith and discovery.
Malcolm: In closing, what did you mean about Giving Up is Trading Up?
Lydia: Well, you can’t do what you’ve always done, and expect something more. There is a price to pay for getting to one`s dreams, the lifelong accomplishments, I knew I had to give up a few things when making the decision for big rewards. It wasn’t tough at all, and before I knew it I was creating an incredible life with meaning, purpose and joy. Compared to what I gave up…huh….no comparison at all.
I’m very proud to have been able to do this in my life….because I made the decision.