When I was in a youth group in Greenfield Park Quebec at the local Pentecostal church we had a church secretary, Saskia, who once said that we needed to bloom where we are planted. My first thought was, what are you kidding me, does this mean someone is going to water me like a plant in a pot? As you can guess I hand no idea that the imagery of us as plant and God as gardener tending his plants meant he'd shower us with the water and other nutrients that would help us grow into the people he wants us to be. Fast forward to 2009 and as I was searching the net for the next Candid Conversation I came across a press release for a book by author Koreen Simon, interestingly titled Thrive Like a Dandelion. The Dandelion is one tough plant wherever it can it will grow despite numerous attempts to eradicate it. A very interesting choice given the current times we are living in. Ms. Simon thanks for taking time to discuss your book with me and my readers on Candid Conversations.
Koreen Simon: Thank you. I am happy that Saskia’s message touched you and helped you take a closer look at the press release. I hope that through your blog you will be able to touch many people.
Cliff T.: When did you first discover the Dandelion?
Koreen Simon: I’ve been observing the battle between lawn owners and dandelions for quite some time. Some people will take care of their lawns themselves, but they will schedule visits by weed specialists who are responsible for eradicating dandelions. Because the dandelion is so resilient, these specialists would have to visit several times to ensure that the plant is eradicated. If your lawn becomes dandelion-free and your neighbour’s has dandelions, it is likely that they will return. Dandelion seeds are attached to tiny parachutes, which enable them to spread far and wide. It is only about two years ago that I seriously began observing and researching the dandelion and I’ve become a fan ever since. I’ve been asked what kind of car I would be if I were a car or what kind of tree I would be if I were a tree and I decided that if I am ever asked what kind of flower I would be if I were a flower, I would say a dandelion, because a dandelion is strong and resilient and it always finds a place to grow, develop and thrive. I did get the opportunity to say it at a workshop I attended, and I could tell that what I said made an impact.
Cliff T.: How are we like Dandelions, or how can we be like Dandelions?
Koreen Simon: We are all like dandelions because like dandelions, we all have value and we all have intrinsic with survival instincts. Some of us are better at surviving than others because our life experiences have made us better survivors. Some people have no other choice but to use their wits to survive while others are not fully aware of their survival instincts because they were never in the kind of situation that required them to use it. Some people see the dandelion as a weed that needs to be eradicated, while others see its medicinal and culinary value and celebrate it every year at springtime.
Cliff T.: Did you ever imagine writing and then publishing a book about personal growth and self improvement in what is considerably one of the worst economic downturns known to modern humanity?
Koreen Simon: I actually started writing the book in the midst of the recession, but even before that I had observed a few trends that I found troubling. I observed that highly skilled immigrants would come to this country hoping for a better life than the one they left behind and be disappointed. In their own countries and even in other developed countries like Canada, they would have been saving lives or making a difference, but here they are, driving taxis or working for close to minimum wage and just thinking about their own survival and the survival of their families. I had also observed that the job market keeps changing and you might be in a career today that is in demand, but it could be quite different in the future. I’ve met highly skilled people who had become jobless after the technology boom and had no choice but to start over at entry-level positions in which their strengths are not utilized. The downturn is affecting people worldwide. I wish everyone affected would keep looking within themselves and searching for creative ways to use the skills they already have to get themselves out of their situations.
Cliff T.: In your description of the book you mention that we all have value, is there a first step to finding what value one has that is spoken about in your book?
Koreen Simon: We all have value because we have all touched the people around us in some way. In my book, I did mention a process that would help readers to determine what their special value, mission, skill or talent is. This is something that has to be constantly explored and I don’t expect that everyone would be able to determine what it is after reading my book. I hope that they will continue thinking about it and trying to find it.
Cliff T.: Ms. Simon, I gather from the fact that you have 52 steps in the book that this is meant to be a year long journey?
Koreen Simon: Yes. It is meant to be a year-long journey, with a challenge per week that is based on the week’s lesson. You get a week to think about the challenge and work on it so that it becomes a part of your experience that you can build on later in life.
Cliff T.: Ms. Simon, during the journey are you going to encourage collaboration and feedback as readers work through each of the 52 steps?
Koreen Simon: Certainly. I encourage readers to get together in groups, whether in-person or online and share your journeys. I myself have started The Dandelion Movement on Facebook, which I hope readers will join and utilize to share their journeys. For each of the fifty-two weeks I will be posting a challenge from the book on Twitter and with The Dandelion Movement group on Facebook. Of course, you can start the challenge anytime and still share your journey.
Cliff T.: Can you give us a sneak preview of some of the steps you'll have readers take?
Koreen Simon: For example, the step for Week 14 is “Choose a Mentor.” I ask readers to think about the people who have inspired them so far and think about the qualities they admire about them. They are to research their mentor, and think about how they can emulate them. It would have more relevance, of course if they first read the lesson for Week 14 first which explains what they need to do in more detail.
Cliff T.: Have you done the steps yourself?
Koreen Simon: I think I’ve done all of the steps myself in some way as part of my own journey, and starting the first full week in January and for each of the fifty-two weeks, I will do the challenge of the week.
Cliff T.: One of the interesting things I noted was the fact that you want people to pass on what they learn in the book and to go beyond just doing the steps. I am curious do you think we need a shift from the me to the we kind of thinking and is that what this book is really about, going past ourselves and improving not only our lives but others?
Koreen Simon: I believe that there is strength in numbers. If everyone shares their journey, others can learn from it and be motivated and inspired by it. For those who need moral support, they will find it from the people who have embarked on that same journey and have decided to share their experiences.
Cliff T.: What was the deciding factor in writing this book, what led you to decide to write Thrive Like a Dandelion?
Koreen Simon: A number of factors caused me to write Thrive Like a Dandelion. I’ve had to start over several times and each time I found myself heading in a different career direction. I also found myself with skills that I wasn’t using. I invested a lot of time, effort and resources on those skills and I was determined to find an outlet. Each year I would set major goals for myself, and the year I wrote Thrive Like a Dandelion I was finding it difficult to come up with a major goal. It took me three months to think about what I could do, and once I realized that I would be using the skills I enjoy most, I started writing the book. Of course, being a member of Toastmasters International helped tremendously. It helped me to use my communication and leadership skills in getting my message across. I hope that everyone would be able to see the dandelion as a symbol of personal growth and development, strength, resilience and self-empowerment and that with the help of this symbol and my book, they will be able to empower themselves.
Cliff T.: Ms. Simon Who is this book written for?
Koreen Simon: Thrive Like a Dandelion is written for a diverse readership. Its messages and challenges are equally relevant to new potentialists in search of the kind of fulfillment they don’t get at work as it is to individuals who are starting over and searching for new direction after a significant life-changing event.
Cliff T.: Where can people get the book?
Koreen Simon: You can get Thrive Like a Dandelion from the publisher, Virtualbookworm.com Publishing, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com.
Cliff T: Ms. Simon it was a pleasure to get in touch with you re this fascinating book and the concept behind it. I hope you have a great journey with your readers.
Koreen Simon: Thank you. I enjoyed your interview. I hope you have much success touching others through your blog.
Cliff T.: Koreen A. Simon is a resident of Toronto and she has worked in a number of roles, the include working on policy issues at the diplomatic level in relation to peace, the environment, human rights and sustainable development. She is also a skilled communicator and is a member of Toastmasters. For more information on Thrive like a Dandelion visit http://www.thrivelikeadandelion.com