Oct 122009

I don’t know where this finds you; but in Canada, it’s Thanksgiving Day.

Actually, I woke early this morning to find this question beckoning me for an answer.

Of course, I’d like to think of myself as being grateful for my health and that of my family; but I normally just take my health for granted. It’s not until its upfront and personal – say a health problem with a family member for example – that it hits home. And yes, there have been some recent issues; but fortunately, although close, it has not been life or death.   

Mostly what I’ve been grateful for however, is how our family members have stuck together to pitch in, in whatever way they could, to take care of afflicted family members.

Now, you may say that that’s to be expected of family; but when it’s your family ‘that’s got your back’, it means so much more. This is especially so since family members: took days off work, showed up just days after surgery themselves and even had a 5 month old baby to take care of at the same time … and in all cases meant travelling out of town to do so.

 I’m also grateful for lost sons returning, second chances and, yes, forgiveness.

My wish for you is that you have a satisfactory answer to this question for yourself.


Oct 092009

Although I appreciate the comment; I wonder if the real question should be – professional or not, paid or not – is our writing adding anything to the common good? Or, are we at times, allowing our bitterness’s, intolerance’s and overall aloofness weigh us down? And, isn’t the reason we get hooked, in this way, is that we see in others, our own insecurities and fears trying to strike us down.

For every action there’s a re-action and before you know it, we’re ‘… just another brick in the wall’.

How can we stop this chain of events? We can start by seeing the positive in others, despite how they have acted. I mean, someone has to stop. It’s really a choice we make; and actually most of the time, I find I’m wrong about the intentions of others. Whether actions triggered from thoughts about the past, present or future, it’s irrational because we can’t do a thing to change others – we can only change our own reaction. We have to check the emotional bad habits within us; but like ‘freedom’, it takes a constant vigil to keep ourselves free.    

So, whether you wield a poison pen or a poisonous attitude, you determine if you’re a builder or someone who tears things down. Check it out, ‘by their fruits you will know them’. And, we don’t often like what we see in that mirror.      

By all means, we should always exhibit critical, as well as, creative thinking; but too often we turn a blind eye to the turmoil we create, by giving into the worst within our nature. And, is there anyone so blind that will not see?  .

An ancient Oriental story tells of a tiger meeting a panther in the jungle – each knowing it has the potential to kill the other – yet one slowly backs away. Why? This is not a display of fear; it’s a love of life. Maybe that’s what happens when we choose to respond with kindness and understanding, when others are failing in their fight to be true to their real self. Looking back … being really honest … how many times could others have inflicted serious (and deserving) hurt to us, but never did?  

Maybe a better question: What’s our own reality … right now?


Sep 292009

This question made me smile, and since I don’t know in what context it was asked, I’m going to make the leap (Isn’t that the creative prerogative of a writer?) to suggest it has more to do with the business article (Leadership in 2009: A Different Way at Looking at Things) you’ll also find on this blog.


 You see, I’ve always felt that if you’re not the same person in your personal life, as you are in your business life, then you’re missing out on a whole lot of what life has to offer.


You notice I didn’t say ‘successful’. I mean, if you’re having heart surgery, do you really care if your physician is a jerk to the nursing team and/or his family?  I think not! I mean its all relative, isn’t it? … Or is it? Where is the self-fulfillment in saving a life and yet crushing the ‘life’ out of everyone else around?


In his book, ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’, Viktor E. Frankl, a practising psychiatrist who was incarcerated into the Nazi death camps of WW II and was ‘strip naked of everything – loss of wife, father, mother, brother … every possession lost, every value destroyed, suffering from hunger, cold and brutality, hourly expecting extermination – how could he find life worth preserving’?

His answer: ‘… to live is to suffer; to survive is to find meaning in the suffering … Each must find out for himself, and must accept the responsibility that his answer prescribes.


You ask me, “How much money has passed thru my hands?” … plenty. More importantly, how much money has passed through the hands of those who I’ve had the pleasure to serve? …  Plenty more! But no man can tell another what his purpose is. In this regard, author Salman Rushdie remarked,’ Sooner or later, we all have to take responsibility for our own fate.  And, although, by monetary standards, I’ve done reasonably well; it was hardly the point of my purpose in life – then or now.


Again, this theme is echoed in the Bible where we find that: ’… things that are considered of great value by man are worth nothing in God’s sight’.


 You ask me, ‘How much money has passed thru my hands?’ but I ask how much more in positive seeds have been planted? … God only knows … but why not plant a few more inspirational seeds of your own? You’ll be in good company!



Aug 262009

“I was born in a small town … guess I’ll die in a small town.” John Mellencamp

What is it about small towns that folks from the big cities find appealing?

Consider ‘Bob’ from New York, a guy I met at the downtown New Hamburg annual Cruise Night. He likes the friendliness of the people and the area charm. He normally comes to attend the big weekend Moparfest of vintage Chrysler-made cars; but this year he also brought some friends to catch the car action a day earlier downtown. (I wonder if he knows about Expressway Ford’s car cruise, a few days later.(?)


In any event, this type of enthusiasm makes you appreciate what many of us take for granted. And nothing says ‘Happy Days’ like an old car or an old song. In fact, the number of people I met that evening – affecting many aspects of my life – was truly amazing. These included:


·         Meredith, of MeMe’s Cafe; discussed a Marketing presentation to my night class.

·         Kristen, of Upper Case Books; graciously offering wisdom regarding literature and research

·         Les, of the licence office; a funny guy who can cut through red tape like nobody else

·         Gary, with wife, (‘be nice’) Bernice: a great car guy and neighbour who will be looking after our property when we’re on vacation.

Some family members showed up: Jessica and Wade, my daughter and her husband, along with our new grandson Kolton. (Somehow when my wife Judi arrived, the men got the assignment of pushing the stroller, while the ladies enjoyed the car show from the dining comfort of the Puddicombe House veranda!)

Of course, all communities, big and small, have also seen their share of trials – adversely affecting the lives of family, friends and neighbours.   However in small towns, the awareness happens much faster and as a result so is the response – helping hands that often times overwhelm the recipients. It’s just our way; and that makes all the difference.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, internationally renowned author and speaker, has said:

“Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.”     

I guess it’s all the way you look at it. Or again, as Mellencamp sings: ‘Got nothing against a big town … (but) I can breathe in a small town … Oh, and that’s good enough for me.’ 


Aug 092009

In Memory of Alexander Martinez


John Lennon reminded us in a song that ‘Life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans’. This week ‘life’ happened with the news of the death of Alexander Martinez – an adult student attending a college night course that I teach.

Alexander was a real gentleman and a genuine person. Originally from El Salvador, he told us, in a recent class presentation, how he had been a 3rd year law student who was forced to leave school in order to make a living.

His life was a series of stories, each with a rise and fall ending … being forced down, only to succeed later. As he talked (needlessly apologizing for his command of English) I was able to see the picture of a man who was ‘worthy of his suffering’ – choosing not to give in to defeat.   

Listening intently, I wondered how it was that a man like Alexander could find it so difficult to obtain meaningful employment in Canada. Was it his English? It certainly wasn’t his ability to communicate.

Nor, was it for lack of effort, as I had met him in one of my classes some 2 years earlier, working on completing yet another college certificate.

The night I passed on the sad news of his sudden death to his fellow classmates, we were consoled in the memory of the spontaneous group exercise we did for him after his class presentation. Together, we conducted a brainstorming session to develop ideas that would help him gain employment. We listed these on large board sheets which we all signed, along with our best wishes. Later that night, towards the end of our class, I glanced over to see Alexander re-reading those sheets. He seemed moved that we took the time to care.

Maybe that’s what Canada is all about. Maybe, we should demonstrate that more often.

Good bye Alexander. And, on behalf of your classmates, thank you for choosing Canada!

Your life decision has helped re-confirm mine. Or as one of Charles Dickens’ immortal characters said best: “Mankind was my business!”