November 3, 2015 § 2 Comments
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Soccer star Pelé.
We took in the 36th GoodLife Victoria Marathon while vacationing in B.C.’s capital over the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend.
Although I’ve never been a runner, I was captivated by the many storylines associated with the event.
Some were entered to train for higher levels of competition such as the 2016 Summer Olympics. Others were preparing for this year’s Boston Marathon. Others were first timers just hoping to complete the course.
There were 9,081 runners entered in total. Of those, 1,569 were competing in the Marathon, 3,855 were participating in the half marathon, 2,570 signed up for the 8 km course and 1,087 were in the Thrifty Foods Kids Run.
The star athletes stood out like in any sport. You could tell by their routines and the way they carried themselves.
As someone who played slo-pitch and ball hockey for a few years, I felt more connected with the participants struggling to make it across the finish line.
I do walk our dog daily but my strongest association with sports now is jumping out of my chair cheering passionately for the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Blue Jays.
I’ve yet to set and fulfil fitness goals, having abandoned going to the gym on two occasions.
Therefore, setting a target to enter such a gruelling competition, regardless of whether it is a full-length marathon or a shorter distance and then reaching it is quite an achievement in my eyes.
Few reach Olympic glory. Some will enter competitions like this repeatedly to set better times and establish new fitness levels.
For a young friend, Jordan Skidnuk, it was a finish that would see him within two minutes of his personal best. But being one year removed from a broken leg, he was happy with the result.
Jordan has entered in marathons for several years, including being the youngest Canadian in the 2012 Boston Marathon.
His late father, Darrell, was a veteran marathoner.
Jordan’s girlfriend, Casey, eclipsed her previous best time in the half marathon by three minutes.
I’ve been thinking about writing these observations and how success will look different for each of us since returning from vacation.
This past Friday, I was inspired to push ahead.
I’d been invited, along with a couple of other colleagues, to share a talent at a teambuilding session with another department at work.
The department manager had heard I do readings of my writing.
Actually, it was the first time I’d had the opportunity to have a live audience for any of my creative work. I chose to read the story A Day in the life of Jasper, which I wrote for the Grande Prairie Public Library writing competition in 2010.
Since then, I have tinkered with turning the story into a book but have never made it past a second edit.
Another workmate, Arlene Karbashewski, read from her first book, The Treasure Kings.
I purchased a copy of the book and Arlene autographed it with the message, “May this inspire you to continue writing.”
This blog certainly hasn’t had the amount of entries from me over the last couple of years that I had hoped.
I learned that Arlene had only begun writing at age 40.
Sometimes people pick up talents later in life and, for others, it takes time for success to arrive.
Blue Jays fans were treated to the hitting exploits of outfielder/first baseman Chris Colabello this past season.
At age 32, he finally found his place in baseball after languishing in the minor leagues for several years.
Thankfully for the Blue Jays, he chose to sign on with Toronto and not take an offer to play in Korea this year.
Since turning that Jasper story into a book is a bucket list item, it was great timing to receive encouragement from another writer, a colleague who I discovered only recently is a published author.
It was also very cool to receive applause for a beloved story.
I couldn’t ask for better motivation.
June 22, 2015 § 2 Comments
Thirty-three years ago, I received my Diploma in Communications and Certificate in Journalism from what is now Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Richmond, B.C. Earlier this month, it was my turn to watch our son graduate from Okanagan College in Kelowna.
While it’s a milestone in our family to watch our only child take those next steps toward launching a career, thousands of other parents go through the same experience every year.
Countless other dads get to show their sons how to do a Windsor knot in a tie this year.
However, what I found remarkable was that all the speakers stepped to the podium combining to deliver essentially the same message I’ve already been sharing with young people – that youth today have more opportunities than ever before.
When I graduated to pursue work in journalism, you could find employment in print, television and radio.
I determined that I had a face for radio but not the voice and that sports writing was what I really wanted to do when I began my career.
In today’s world, you can specialize in social media and there are other numerous other niches such as green marketing. You can author copy in Canada about events in another country without stepping foot in that nation.
The range of other communications jobs that have emerged since my own graduation includes web content production and creating podcasts.
Even blogs were not yet a thing when I entered the workforce. Yes, there was life before the Internet.
And as graduates were reminded, jobs have been invented even since they began their college careers.
Pursuing a Writing and Publishing diploma wasn’t Peter’s first post-secondary choice. After trying a couple of terms at college, he decided to work in retail and construction before determining what he really wanted to pursue.
While Peter will be working in communications, something I can relate to, it’s much more important to me that he’s passionate about whatever he does.
I’m fond of the Confucius quote, “Find a job that you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.”
If I’ve inspired Peter and other young people about anything, it’s to find enjoyment in their employment and to think of what they do as more than a job.
That doesn’t mean being a workaholic – I’ve been called that – it’s more about considering what you’re doing fitting into the bigger picture, either for your current workplace or future opportunities.
I cringe when I hear people say they are bored or stuck in a rut at work. Even in a less predictable economy, we should still be masters of our own destiny.
That’s why the words of Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton, in particular, resonated with me. His key messages were:
Be present in all that you do. Take the time to engage with those around you – the best ideas are born of collaboration.
Be intentional about how you spend your time and about the work you choose to do. Follow your instincts and find a career and a life that aligns with your values – engage in work that is personally meaningful to you.
Give back. Use the skills you have acquired to transform yourself and your community.
Okanagan College graduates were told that most people will work in several careers in their working years.
A continuum of jobs has contributed to one career for me.
I began in journalism, moved on to corporate writing and editing, operated my own communications business, then returned to the public sector, first as a communications officer and now as a manager.
Okanagan College graduates would be wise to follow Mr. Hamilton’s advice.
Some sage words they might also heed come from the late Peter Drucker, management consultant, educator and author.
He once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
Son Peter will go as far as his ambition takes him. I wish him and all graduates much success in the next chapters of their lives.
June 1, 2015 § 3 Comments
Tuesday would have been my father’s 93rd birthday. He’s been gone for 26 years but a surprise reminder occurred when my older brother, Bob Jr., delivered our dad’s rolltop desk from Canmore, Alberta, recently.
The old piece of furniture has endured a tough life. When I first grew up, it remained at the old farmhouse where my father was raised in North Rolla, B.C. It was moved into Dawson Creek, thankfully, before vandals burned down all the buildings at the farm.
Once at our house, the desk, probably more than 100 years old, proved to be a landing spot for my father’s paperwork. I think I inherited my lack of filing prowess from him.
My father willed the desk to Bob and I snapped up the opportunity to take it when my brother began downsizing.
I remember always being fascinated with the desk – its many cubby holes, the deep drawers, the handiwork behind the rolltop, and the solid oak structure.
The arrival of the desk was an opportunity to connect with Bob, my sister-in-law, Louise, and their son, Logan. I hadn’t seen my nephew in a few years and memories of my dad rushed back into my head.
I’ve been without my father almost as long as I had him – I was 28 when he passed away.
The desk is a reminder of my father, beyond its physical presence. It is strong. It has character. Its dark stain makes it appear stoic. My father had an enduring quality, though he passed away much too young at age 66.
Although it needs some tender loving care, the desk is reminiscent of my dad’s relentless drive to excel as a highways foreman, a position in which he rarely missed a day’s work, even when seriously ill.
Dad might have been called a workaholic though that term wasn’t used widely in his generation.
I believe we share a lot of the same qualities – caring, compassion, generosity, a sense of fairness and justice, and a wry sense of humour. He was shy until he got to know people. I am the same, though my career choice has found me coming to grips with public speaking and schmoozing upon occasion.
He preferred talking one-on-one to people, often workmates about a project. Through practice, I have learned to be comfortable in crowds, though I like smaller groups, talking about shared interests like sports or music.
I gained my work ethic from Dad but also learned the value of playing hard, something he was just figuring out how to do when he passed away.
Ironically, he died on the way home after watching his first NHL hockey game in person. I have been to many professional sporting events live along with going to numerous concerts, another love of mine.
Dad’s idea of going on vacation was to get from points A to B as fast as possible. I enjoy compiling hordes of information and then plotting out a general plan, with room to be spontaneous.
I’m thrilled the arrival of the desk provided a new opportunity to think about my father.
Happy Birthday, Dad. We’ll take good care of your desk and continue thinking of you often.
March 16, 2015 § 3 Comments
I’ve been back in Canada for nearly two months after my year long adventure through 14 countries on 5 continents. I’m having a hard time grasping that year, it’s almost as though it didn’t really happen, like I kidnapped myself from my surroundings for just a brief second and then inserted myself back into my life–but with one difference.
All that baggage I held on to for so long, a lot of it isn’t there anymore.
I’ve come home and Calgary feels different. As I lay in bed this morning pondering what it’s become, it occurred to me that it might not be the city that has changed so much, the Wendy who left for Bangladesh in January, 2014 is not the one who returned from Costa Rica in January, 2015.
Somebody (me) messed with my insides last year, or rather, cleaned them all up!
The woman who has returned is a sharper version of myself, and one who’s developed a knack for standing up for herself and not putting up with my bullshit.
The biggest piece of me that’s missing (not to say that I miss it), is the guilt of being the sibling who lived after the accident that killed my brother. I grappled with that for many months, in fact I still have a lot of emotion tied into moving forward, but that’s more sadness and remorse for my former self, that I let her suffer with that guilt for as long as she did.
I know I’ve made a change in the way I take on guilt because I’m not switching one guilt only to shoulder another. I allow myself to feel emotion and find ways to move through it, sometimes that’s journalling, sometimes it’s giving myself a pj and junk food day, other days it’s treating myself to exercise and as many vitamin-packed foods as I can handle.
It also took me some time to figure out my process of letting go. Moving past the guilt involved feeling it first, and I mean bringing it right up close to me and embracing every ounce of it. Those are not my favourite moments, I can assure you. What drove me at first to stick it out was just being fed up with the way I had set up my life, the lack of support I nurtured for myself and trying to make up for a life that held so much promise, but that wasn’t even my own. I didn’t know if where I was headed was any better, but I knew it would be different. That was enough.
I spent time watching what happens when I physically let go of something. I’d hang on to a pen from my bag and let it drop onto the table or the bed, just to give my mind a visual of what letting go looks like. It’s quite literally a decision to relax and open up.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
– Mark Twain
Letting go in an emotional sense for me involves forgiveness, and has a lot to do with the tattoo I got in Bali last year. When I visited my step-sister, Laura, in Costa Rica, she shared a mantra that’s helped me take this further. She strives to simply meet people where they’re at, and wherever that is is just dandy.
Laura also shared a video interview of Wayne Dyer with me. The interview is about EFT tapping and has a lot of great points, but I found a different message in the video as Nick Ortner and Wayne Dyer talk about what emotion they’re beginning to release as they complete the EFT tapping:
Wayne Dyer: “I was thinking about someone else who has done some things that I’ve felt upset about…”
Nick Ortner: “You mean you still get upset at people?”
Wayne Dyer: “Absolutely.”
Nick Ortner: “I thought you had reached enlightenment.”
Wayne Dyer: “I have! Enlightenment is part of it.”
Woah, Wayne Dyer still gets annoyed with people? I drew a new conclusion and direction to my healing–and it’s made all the difference. Eradication of the emotion or the issue is not the way through. I will always have experiences that bring me happiness, sadness, guilt, pleasure and a plethora of feelings. But they’re just that, experiences to be lived through with as much of myself as I can muster and when they’ve ended, it’s time to let them go and to make room for more life to move through me.
February 23, 2015 § 3 Comments
The end of February is a favourite time of year. Winter is coming to a close and it’s a tradition in our family to watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Even Mica, our seven-month-old puppy, joined us this year, frequently gawking up at the TV with curiosity at the furkids running into our living room.
This year’s viewing was bittersweet. It’s a year ago later this week that we suddenly lost our beloved Jasper.
If there was ever an example of how much a pooch becomes part of the family, it was Jasper. I’ve written a few times about how Jasper thought he was a human.
My eyes welled up often as I watch the Dog Show as they described the role canines play in watching out for their families while providing amusements for adults and children.
It’s a cliché, but dogs really are humans’ best friends. They are loyal and don’t hold grudges. They’re always ready to make our day. They make you smile, even when you don’t feel like it. They provide comfort and are the best listeners, whether we have tales of woe or happy stories to share.
Shortly after we brought Mica into our home in September, a work colleague, Karry, shared the verse below by author Erica Jong. It perfectly describes what dogs mean to us:
Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love,
they depart to teach us about loss.
A new dog never replaces an old dog;
It merely expands the heart. If you have loved
many dogs your heart is very big.
Joyce and I have been married nearly 29 years and we’ve had a dog almost 27 of those.
First, there was Sammi. She was always nervous and traumatized from shoddy treatment prior to joining our family. She was smart-as-a-whip, the most patient big sister when Peter was a toddler, gnawing on her legs, and the most loyal dog ever.
Then there was Jasper, a golden lab/shepherd/mutt cross. He was once described diplomatically as rambunctious by a neighbour but he wanted to be everyone’s friend. His belief that he was a person was defined by taking up his full third share of our bed.
Mica, a Bouvier-Golden Retriever cross, is still forming her personality, which, much like her fur, is still trying to figure itself out – she was born completely black but now tufts of white are showing through.
Anyone who thinks dogs are just animals has never come home from a stressful day to a happy-faced puppy, wagging its tail, bounding up to greet you.
Here’s to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for reminding us of all the various breeds of these fine companions. And here’s to all the joy they bring my family and all the other furparents out there.