July 6, 2006, Vol. IV Issue 14
Over the years of listening and watching motivational speakers, both in person and on tape, I’ve noticed that those with theatrical training or musical talent, bring a very special quality to their programs. Perhaps it is their love for performing, as much as it is the training itself. When applied to a heartfelt program, it is a powerful combination.
Megon McDonough is an actress and musical performer who brings all of these gifts to her keynote presentations and workshops. In fact, she’s turned her love of improv into a workshop that helps people be in the moment and make each other look good. That is certainly something we can use more of in the world.
Speaking of the world, there’s something you can do to contribute to the health of our planet. It all starts by going to the movies.
Megon McDonough: Saved By The Beatles
“You will do amazing things,” Megon McDonough sings, “with the choice each new days brings.”
Who would have guessed that her melodic, soulful lyrics and inspirational messages have roots in a Beatles awakening?
She was 10 years old when Megon says she was saved by The Beatles debut in America. She was brought up in a large Irish-Catholic family in Illinois. It was 1963 and the nuns had been trying to convince all of the girls in her second grade class of their calling. She’d nodded yes out of duty and then feared being caught in her lie. Guilt, guilt, guilt. When The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, her heart and vocal chords made a connection. She heard another calling loud and clear. The choice was made.
“People come up to me all the time,” Megon told me, “and relate how The Beatles affected their lives. Actually, everybody has a Beatles moment – calling you to do what you are meant to do with your life.”
Following your heart’s desire, is a topic Megon holds dear. Though she knew there was music in her soul, she had to beg her parents for a guitar and then overcome her siblings incessant complaining about her incessant practicing. She, however, was not to be deterred.
She wrote her first song at age 11, (so naturally, it was a love song) and won the Chicago-style 60’s equivalent of American Idol at age 14. Her winnings included big rock Gibson amps, Ludwig Drums, and a recording contract with Mercury Records. She made her first record at Universal Studios in Chicago at 14. She’s been singing, writing, recording, touring and loving it all ever since.
Today she adds professional speaking to her repertoire, bringing her witty insights about life’s ironies and lessons to light as she helps audiences cope with and conquer everyday challenges. “My goal is to bring out the best in people,” she says, “because I know it’s in there and we’re all under-acknowledged and under-appreciated.”
“Most people don’t recognize all the amazing things they do every day. It’s not about painting a picture or creating a sculpture or writing a play. It’s about the little things, the amazing things people accomplish every day and don’t stop to acknowledge. I help them credit themselves for those things.”
In the past two weeks, Megon shared her ideas with nurses at a conference in Wisconsin and teachers at a wellness conference in Maine.
“We LOVED Megon,” Cynthia Wheeler of Nursingmatters Magazine said, “First of all, she is so talented with her beautiful voice and captivating style. Secondly, she was really able to relate to her audience, all nurses, pulling from her own background, and talking to nurses as if she was one of them.
“Third, in her workshop, she developed a wonderful rapport with the participants, creating a sense of intimacy,” Cynthia continued. “I told her later it was like spending the afternoon with my best girlfriend. We’re inviting her to another conference.”
“I love to use improv to help people be in the moment,” Megon said. “I actually wasn’t telling them anything they didn’t already know. Nurses have to think on their feet every day, make decisions quickly. They are experts at this. They are improvising all the time. I remind them of this. Improv helps you keep things light and in the moment instead of jumping into the future.
“Improv started as childrens’ games, as a way of helping immigrant kids socialize into American culture,” she continued. “It was never created to be funny, it was created as a way of accessing the present moment and working with a partner. It’s about making your partner look good. Now is that a great prescription for a working relationship or a marriage or what?”
In these experiential workshops, Megon is the facilitator of fun and games. She creates a safe space, getting people familiar with their surroundings and feeling safe so they can relax and have fun. “Using exercises and play, we reconnect with our creativity,” she told me. “It’s about accessing one’s imagination, the untapped part of ourselves we lose touch with in the process of doing our jobs and taking care of our families. Everyone walks away refreshed, with something they can apply in their everyday life.”
On the other hand, when she takes the stage for a performance, such as her program, “Her Way – An Interesting Bunch of Gals,” or in “An Evening with Megon McDonough,” the powerhouse musical performer emerges.
In “Bunch of Gals,” which is best performed with a band, she honors some of the wonderful women who paved the way for every young girl who has dreamed of a singing career. She sings the songs and shares the stories of eight of her favorite divas, the women who preceded her: Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday, Doris Day, Connie Francis, Patsy Cline , Karen Carpenter, Cher, and Joni Mitchell. Fun, entertaining and insightful, she has crafted a moving program that brings back memories while creating new ones.
Armed with a “magic guitar” that never seems to go out of tune, some rather decent piano chops, a few CD backtracks, and more funny stories than you could remember for the water cooler, Megon would love to make your event as special and memorable as it should be.
As the song goes, “And with every breath you take, bless the progress that you make. Love your life – love your dreams. You will do Amazing Things.”
For more information about Megon, her singing and acting background, and speaking programs, click here.
For The Health Of Our Planet:
An Inconvenient Truth
Photo Courtesy of NASA
Recycling, sustainability, peak oil, global warming and alternative energy are all everyday words in my household because my husband is a passionate environmentalist. While my health and wellness interests rub off on him – in a healthy way he appreciates, I might add – my awareness of the issues important to him has risen. I love this planet, and protecting, if not rescuing it from the daunting changes that are occurring because of human-caused global warming has to become a priority in everyone’s lives. Without our planet and its natural pulse sustaining our lives, everything else is meaningless.
The magnitude of our situation seems overwhelming, yet I’ve come to understand that I can do an amazing thing, as Megon would acknowledge. Even, little ol’ non-political me can get involved. I’ve noticed that in encouraging people to go see the movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” they often respond they’re avoiding it because they think it will be depressing. I did not find it depressing at all. Depressing is helplessness.
In Roger Ebert’s June 2nd review, he stated, “In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to.”
So, in the name of doing an amazing thing, I encourage you to get out and see “An Inconvenient Truth,” spread the word and get involved in saving our planet. If you have already seen it, I’m sure you are already telling your friends and taking action. You’re doing an amazing thing. Thank you very much.
Until next time, take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.