Everything In Its Time

December 4, 2017 § 1 Comment

Dandelion seeds in the morning sunlightAt the end of October, I authored a blog that had taken months to complete, and even then, the eventual inspiration came from wanting to pay tribute to a former supervisor. While it was a struggle to finish off, I wasn’t frustrated or discouraged. I knew the piece came together the way it should. It had its time and place.

I was immediately re-energized to start work on another blog that had also been in the back of my mind for some time – and this turn of events was most fitting. I wanted to express how there isn’t necessarily a right time for things to happen in life, whether it’s doing something you’re passionate about like writing, checking off a bucket list item, a career achievement, or a life decision, like when to get married.

Perhaps that spark came from highlighting my memories of Bill Scott, former editor of the Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune, who’d passed away earlier in the month.

It may have also been our mutual joy of writing that reminded me not to focus on how many blogs I write but rather on the fulfillment I get as well as the reason Wendy and I started The Muse and Views eight years ago.

Our goal is to build content from our musings and reader comments for a motivational/inspirational book(s). There’s no doubt we have more than enough writing to fill a couple of books – themes have developed on topics ranging from goal setting to meaningful people to our love of music.

Wendy and I need to meet up again soon to sort through all of our work and go from there.

It will happen in its time. The finished product may not be the traditional book we originally contemplated. It may be an online publication and some podcasts or a combination of mediums. There are no limits to the possibilities. The fact we both continue to write in this space, albeit intermittently, will give rise to more food for thought and means that goal remains very much alive.

Ultimately, we need to decide what success looks like.

American businesswoman Anne Sweeney helps to put things in perspective with this quote: “Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.”

Writing a book isn’t the only item on my bucket list (I also continue to tinker with the short story on my late dog Jasper who had a penchant for demonstrating he thought he was human). Among other things is my desire to have a flat tummy.

Though that goal is health related, it’s another thing where I have taken steps in the right direction, but admittedly haven’t made a full commitment. I work out twice a week with a personal trainer who even comes by my house to capitalize on the workout equipment in our basement.

Often I finish Thursday’s workout thinking I am going to exercise at least three times by the following Tuesday and typically it turns out to be once or none.

So, to really accomplish that bucket list item, and achieve even higher levels of fitness in the process, I need to work out at least twice more per week.

Again, I could get down on myself for not doing more, but then I ask myself if I was working out a year ago. The answer is no. Were my blood sugars higher? Yes.

So, there is always more we can do toward a goal, but I think of it as success if we continue to move towards that target, whether the steps are large or small.

As Nido Qubein, motivational speaker and president of High Point University said, “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”

 I met Edmonton colleague and friend Elizabeth Severson several years ago at an economic development conference in Yellowknife. She’s documented on Facebook her challenges of staying on course with a healthy regimen.

Here’s a post from Oct. 30 that shows how progress is often an ebb and flow affair: “When I started my weight loss journey a few months ago, I weighed the heaviest I had ever been … I finally said enough is enough and started making some drastic changes to my lifestyle…less junk food, less eating out. More portion control, meal prep, healthier choices and going to the gym. The result of these changes: more energy (for the most part lol), less headaches, less body aches, and not needing as much medication around cold/flu season. I sleep better too!

“The biggest change however is that I am down 16 lbs!! And while I have another 50 lbs to go, I know I can do it! Yes, it’s tough, I have my ups and downs, over-indulge at times, but I am human am trying not to beat myself up over it. I am grateful for the supports I have in my life (my husband, my family and friends) and look forward to being the healthiest version of me.”

Since this post, Elizabeth has shared news of how she’s faring. Sometimes, there have been setbacks but then I encourage her to look at other good things that have happened in the meantime, like her husband getting partial custody of his daughter.

Our success towards goals also have to be put into perspective with what else is happening in life.

For Jackie Dawson, another Edmonton friend, getting married wasn’t something to do just because her friends were getting hitched. If that meant waiting until age 36 to say yes, so be it.

“I could have been married in my 20s, I was proposed to, but I knew I wasn’t ready. I had lots I wanted to do still and I was still trying to figure out who I was,” she says.

But I waited…then I figured it would never happen because I hadn’t met the right guy. Then when I met my fiancé I knew right away that I’d marry him.

I’m glad I waited and didn’t settle. When you know, you know. Some people are lucky enough to find that person early on but I was never 100% on seeing myself with any guy I dated for the rest of my life.”

Jackie and I are both huge sports fans, so I thought it fitting to sum up with this quote by former NBA coach John Wooden who once said, “There’s a choice in everything you do, but in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”


Success is Different For Everyone

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. 

The Mentor in Me

April 12, 2013 § 1 Comment

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” ~ Bob Proctor, Author, Speaker and Success Coach

It recently occurred that the first two letters in the word mentor are ME. I was musing on that after a colleague told me she sees me as a mentor and thanked me or my support.

When Angie Saltman, who operates Saltmedia, a web development company in Grande Prairie, mentioned this, I hadn’t realized I’d had an impact through our discussions about business.

But that’s the way it is with mentoring. You can be teaching without necessarily realizing it. It was particularly noteworthy because Angie is someone out in the community as there was no thought of providing anything more than casual advice.

“When we first met, I was taken with how confident you are and I realized I needed to work on that part of me,” Angie told me. Saltmedia has been in operation for three years. “I appreciated how you’ve taken time to share your career and business experience.”

That’s why I love the Bob Procter quote. It’s truly a thrill to recognize someone will thrive at an undertaking even with limited experience and confidence, and then watching them flourish.

Now I’ve won awards for my work and led a fruitful career. I’ve supervised numerous people, including employees with my own communications business. I certainly know I’ve made a difference to several people’s futures if by no other measure than the number of references I’ve provided. I know, of course, it has gone way beyond that and for someone to outright tell me how I’ve helped them is touching.

Although I’m not about to slow down, this feedback has happened enough lately from younger co-workers and associates that I feel at the pinnacle of my career.

Having colleagues recognize my role in shaping their careers is acknowledgement that I’ve invested time and energy as they find their way in the world. I think of it as my own way of giving back to a life that’s been rewarding to me.

What I have learned and pass on to others becomes the foresight of those with less experience. The true joy comes when mentees challenge and question what I have said and offer their own ideas. Even more thrilling are the times when I know I am learning from my younger colleagues.

A mentorship doesn’t have to involve someone in the same community or even direct involvement in their day-today work. I met Mary Leong, a student at UBC, three years ago while she was working in Grande Prairie. She’d been assigned to visit me to at City Hall to discuss a partnership with the agency employing her during the summer.

We’ve kept in touch over the last couple of years and I always enjoy hearing Mary’s latest news. She’s one of those people who you know will go as far as their ambition takes them. I look forward to saying, “I knew Mary Leong when …”

She wanted to contribute to what I had to say on this topic since she felt I’d influenced her career direction.

“To me, David is a long-distance mentor who checks in every once in a while to deliver news and information on the new initiatives he’s working on, but also to provide encouragement and support in a sometimes very rocky field.”
She recalls travelling to Grande Prairie to pursue a career path which she soon realized was ill-suited to her personality and interests. At the same time, she was discovering an interest in new media and communications.

“Our initial conversation was brief, but the topic of communications in a changing media landscape was brought up. I was surprised when David followed up with information about how the city was using new media and technology to connect with its citizens, which I found fascinating. That, for me, was the turning point as I realized that someone was taking an interest in my career development and providing information that could support my journey.

“These discussions provided a holistic view of the day-to-day tasks in a communications job, and spurred me to seek out opportunities to grow in the field.”

Mary is completing her Political Science and Psychology degree at UBC, and will be working for a year before starting the Politics and Communication Master’s program at the London School of Economics in September 2014.

Her goal is to work in the field of media and communications for a non-profit she’s passionate about to help enact policy change.

Mary’s own passion is to be a mentor to young minority girls to ensure they have the tools to succeed at whatever they set out to do, whether as a CEO, a politician or an entrepreneur.

Knowing Mary, those young ladies will be fortunate to have that leadership.

I thought this quote would be a most appropriate way to end this post:
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter. Going to bed knowing we have done something wonderful is what matters to me.” ~ Steve Jobs

Be Bold. Be Beautiful. Be Undeniably You.

February 18, 2013 § 3 Comments

It’s been some weeks since I started the Year of the External Me. Focusing on myself like that, on the things I want to achieve, the people I want in my life, it’s intimidating how quickly everything begins falling into place. Before any of it did, however, there was one key factor I was missing.

English: Charles the Bold

English: Charles the Bold (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last month was community manager appreciation day. It’s a day I love because, well, I’m a community manager! I was pondering community building and what it really boils down to. Building community is creating something that people want to be a part of. I brought that down a level further to my own life. How can I create a life full of genuine connection with people I love? By creating a life and a space that they want to be a part of. In that, it’s something I’ve got to love so deeply and so strongly that I never want to leave it and that I can’t help but want to bring more people into.

Though I’ve enjoyed many parts of my life to date, I wasn’t in that space at the beginning of the year. I had some work to do learning to love everything about who I am now and where I’m at. Meaning participating fully in the friendships and relationships (both personal and professional) that I’m engaged in and to just, excuse the language, but stop giving a shit what any of them think. Instead, I began operating from a space where my approval is the only one that matters. It’s powerful stuff!

Note: It doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped caring about the wants and needs of others, just that I put mine first. If I can meet theirs after that? Cool! But never to my detriment.

Almost as soon as I started focusing on internal rather than external approval, the domino effect began. The first result? I relaxed. Like, really relaxed. I remember a time last year where I’d wake up in the morning and my jaw would be clenched. Now, I still get tense, but I use that as a signal from my body that there’s something that requires my immediate attention. As soon as it’s taken care of, we’re on our merry way. Other noticeable changes? I sleep solidly. The time I never felt I had to spend with friends and family is suddenly there. The help I was looking for before is showing up. And I’m experiencing a shift in my relationships. The ones that don’t serve me are either falling by the wayside or evolving into something deeper and more supportive. I feel like I’ve become a part of something bigger than just myself. Like I’m contributing, but I’m not doing it alone.

And to think, it’s all because I’ve given myself permission to be bad at the things I’m bad at (like a perfect inbox. That’s just not in my cards) and to shine as brightly as I can shine where it’s easiest (writing and people!). So if you’re struggling or things in your life just aren’t falling into place like you keep wanting them to, I really have only one piece of advice for you:

Stop whatever it is you’re doing, whoever it is you’re trying to be. Instead, focus on who you actually are and accepting every single piece of you, whether you think it’s a flaw or a gift. Go for the glory, reach for the stars. Be bold. Be beautiful. Be undeniably you.

The Buck Starts Here…

November 30, 2009 § 12 Comments

The more I continue to learn and observe and grow and share, the more apparent it is to me that there is at least one fundamental, undeniable truth about life. That anything in my life is happening because of me.  I really am at the centre of my own universe.  That isn’t meant in an egotistical way… but everything that I am, everything that I believe, every choice that I make impacts my path into the future in some way.  And just as I have the control to create certain scenarios in my life, I also have the control to stop them.

Part of being in control of my own life and my own destiny is being aware of myself, my triggers, my actions, my desires, my needs, my wants, my current situation and where I want to go, the disconnects, the bridges built, celebrating successes, appreciating the present and still moving towards the future.  Everything is so interconnected, and it all flows out from one place.  Me.

Granted, there are elements outside of my control that contribute to where I am in a particular moment.  But I truly believe that what is crossing my path today is a result of something I put out into the world yesterday.  With this thought in mind, the choices I am making today reflect where I want to be tomorrow.

I ran into an old employer once who asked me how I was doing and my reply was something along the lines of “still changing the world.”  He laughed and responded “young people always think they’re going to change the world.  Let me know how it’s going in another 10 years.”

Well, it’s not 10 years later, but it’s 2 years later.  And I think I’m changing the world more now than I was then.  Because each of us has an impact on where the world goes. I’ve been surprised recently with the changes others are inspired to make in their own lives as a result of the changes I’ve made in mine and my willingness and openness to share my experiences as I’m doing them.

And so, I’m moving forward, at the centre of my own universe, making positive changes in myself that then ripple out and change the world around me.  And those changes create new situations and present me with new paths to explore and new choices I can make. All because I figured out that the buck doesn’t just stop here… it starts here too.

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