Eve of Tuesday 2016

This is the 10th annual Labour Day post.

At this time of year I typically think about, and write about the year that lies ahead. This Labour Day I find myself looking back more. The past twelve months have been the most amazing of my life. There was a great deal of travel, to see family, friends, and new places. I had the opportunity to take on a new role professionally and grow like never before. Last month I married my best friend, teammate, and partner. In the spring we welcomed a child.

As a part of this reflection, I find that I am calmer on this Eve of Tuesday than I can ever remember being. I am still incredibly excited for the year ahead. There will be many new people to meet and work with. There are a number of sport and health goals I want to pursue. There remains 99% of fatherhood for me to figure out. I am anticipating that there will be challenges and setbacks, along with positive surprises and successes. My imagination is running wild with all the possibilities ahead. Yet, I am serene.

I attribute this year’s perspective to a few things. Firstly, the new role of parenthood – as was foretold by everyone – changes one’s outlook. Secondly, the challenges of the previous year have allowed me to take new confidence in vulnerability and risk taking. Finally and most importantly, my heart is full. This is thanks to family, friends, my daughter and my wife. Throughout the entire year I never felt alone. The most outstanding support crew has steadied me. There are no small parts from each friend and family member. It is truly the collective, the community and the partnership that have allowed me to rest easier this evening.

This feeling of calm in the face of new adventures, and new possibilities is what I hope to be able to give back. As a colleague, as a teacher, as a learner, as a friend, as a partner, as a father, it is my hope to help others have full hearts through the challenges and joys ahead. Often this is found through simple, yet deliberate gestures, words, and deeds – acting with intent. On the eve of a fresh year I encourage us all to reflect on what makes our hearts full, and then go out to help others feel the same.

Thank you – merci.
Take care,
À bientôt,
IR

Previous Labour Day Posts: (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

ps – as a bonus and tribute to other events of the past year, here’s a return to a former tradition of the Labour Day post, and a song to send us out on:

Eve of Tuesday 2015

This is the 9th annual Labour Day post.

New seasons are upon us on this Eve of Tuesday. Fall in the North, spring in the South, are almost here, and a new season of school starts up in many places around the world. More locally, hockey season cannot be far from many people’s minds – getting on the ice more is in my list of resolutions. Also forefront in the consciousness of Canada is election season.

While the other seasons turn with more regularity, the opportunity to influence the direction of our nation comes around more slowly. No matter how frustrated we may be with our own democracy’s level of efficiency and priorities at times, or how removed we may feel from the actual decision making processes – the importance of participating as an informed voter cannot be overstated. I am hoping particular election season allows me to continue building on three areas that I’ve been working on within myself lately, as an informed citizen, and a reflective professional: breadth of perspective, questioning, and Reconciliation.

Often we fill our social media feeds, our news feeds, and our daily conversations with writers, speakers, videos, friends, and colleagues that share similar perspectives to the ones we already hold. Seeking out opinions and information that one does not agree with can be challenging. Yet, attempting to understand other perspectives and the role they have in our communities and country is important to our future. This season I’ll continue trying to broaden the media, opinions, and beliefs I encounter.

Linked with breadth of perspective is the importance of asking questions. While it may be easier to direct difficult questions to people one disagrees with, it is just as important to make challenging inquiries of those that are like-minded. In turn, this can broaden perspectives, strengthen ideas, and help make communities stronger. Growth cannot occur without difficult questions.

Finally, as a new school year starts, and with an election only weeks away, Reconciliation is also at the front of my mind. While it does not appear as often as the economy, jobs, or foreign affairs in election coverage, I feel Reconciliation is a crucial topic, and have been trying to be more aware of it in my professional work. Hopefully I can continue to build on this in the months to come. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission held its closing events in Ottawa this year, May 31-June 3. Many years of hearings and testimony around Canada’s residential school system resulted in 94 recommendations. For more information on the Commission’s work you may want to visit the TRC website, or read, listen and watch media reports on the Closing Event (I recommend this one, both article and sound files, from As It Happens).

Tomorrow, Tuesday, is almost upon us, but October 19 will be forty days away – plenty of time to broaden perspectives, ask questions, and consider Reconciliation. Wherever you find yourself on Tuesday, or in the weeks and months ahead I hope you are able to try new things, and build on areas you also feel are important. All the best in the seasons ahead – be sure to vote!

Thank you – merci.
Take care,
À bientôt,
IR

Previous Labour Day Posts: (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)

Eve of Tuesday 2011 (Transitions)

This post is now firmly an annual affair. However, the writing this year has been more challenging as there are a number of posts I have started in the past three weeks, but none have made it to completion. Thus, this post, somewhat unsuccessfully, bears the weight of those, while trying to stay true to the Labour Day theme established in previous years (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010). The result is the following.

The Tuesday is nearly upon us and transition is in our thoughts and actions. Each Eve of Tuesday post in years past has made some reference to transition (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010), but this year the concept seems to be a particular focus. As you approach tomorrow’s renewal you likely have some thoughts and feelings of transition as well. The academic year, and sport seasons that so many of us follow, reach a point of change on this date or in the approaching weeks. As usual, it is important to take stock of where we have been. I know that so many of you have been on adventures again this summer. Some have left for new homes. Some welcomed new family members. Some went abroad. Some of you volunteered. Some of you set goals around health and fitness. Some of you spent quality time with family and loved ones. Some of you went into the outdoors. Many of us took risks, and experienced new adventures. Congratulations! I am so fortunate to know so many extraordinary people who strike out and engage in adventures and renewal! We shall carry our summer with us into the coming transitions. This includes carrying its victories, defeats, experiences of growth, celebrations, and trials. New jobs, new challenges, new schools, new teams, new relationships, fresh starts – all of these we will face with greater courage because of our summer, the past twelve months, and all the preceding years that have brought us to this point. We face times of transition not with mysterious strength, or merely depending on luck to steer us through unchartered experiences. Instead, we enter with the strength we have built through our past experiences, relationships, and previous transitions.

Perhaps one of the important factors of transition we are getting at here is growth. It is a topic that has been on my mind quite a lot lately. I was fortunate to go on an adventure this summer that allowed me to experience a completely new type of interconnected growth. In working with teaching colleagues from Canada and Kenya to further professional development, I experienced personal, social, emotional and professional growth. At the same time I witnessed, and was a part of other people’s growth in all of these areas, as well as the growth of community. However, I believe the effectiveness of this growth would not be fully realized if I was not able to capitalize on some transition time between that adventure, and beginning a new adventure tomorrow. The reflections, conversations, recuperation, and questions of that transition time have allowed the growth to fully set in. Now, as I transition into tackling the challenges and adventures of the next few weeks and coming year I know that I will call upon the new resources that this growth has provided. (The complete analysis of how growth and transition are interconnected is best left to another time otherwise this Labour Day post would turn into chapters).

For now, let us look towards tomorrow, the coming weeks, the twelve months ahead, and the excitement, nervousness and challenges that we are all no doubt faced with on some level. As usual, the foremost reminder is to be willing to turn to those around you for help. Times of transition are better managed with support. Further than this though, is recognizing what type of support you can give yourself. A few minutes ago I read an email from a travel mate – one who was an integral aspect of some much needed transition time I spent in London a couple of weeks ago. With the Tuesday and all the busy times of the autumn looming, a line in his email clearly reminded me to ask myself “What do I need?” It’s a question we should all be asking ourselves when we face transition, adventure, and challenges. It is not selfish to make sure we take care of ourselves. Often we remind each other “take care of yourself” “watch out for yourself”, but often we do not heed our very own advice – as more than one of you have reminded me recently. Transitions can be a costly event, but if we do not pay the price in taking care of ourselves during the time of transition – emotionally, physically, socially and mentally – then we will pay the price later in exhaustion, stress, or disorganization. The result will be an inability to be at our best, either for ourselves, or those we care about. In other words, at the time of transition, at the time of change, is when one should take the most care to ensure optimal health, and optimal growth.

Have a wonderful Tuesday. Take care of yourself and each other. I look forward to hearing about your coming adventures and experiences – please keep me up to date. I am excited about this year. While it may be sounding cliché, the words are true: we will accomplish a lot this year, together.

As has become the custom, some music will conclude our Labour Day post. Two songs this year. The first, a classic, speaks of courage, as that’s what we need sometimes to take care of ourselves. (The video also, begrudgingly subtly recognizes the Cup champs). Then, even with the holiday ending for many that read here, the second song reminds us to have fun!! (Come’on youz gotz to smile at playing with baby animals, regardless of the safety factor). After all that blah blah blah above, it’s a good take home message for tomorrow and beyond: have fun!

The Tragically Hip and Wezzer take us out then…

Peace and love – a bientôt,
IR 🙂

Short Safari Reflection

The definition of the adjective awesome is inspiring awe. I recently completed a four day safari in Kenya that was utterly awesome on a number of counts. Many times I was given to complete speechlessness at the beauty of nature and wildlife. Having grown up in British Columbia this says a lot, as my home province holds a great deal of unparalleled beauty. At the same time, reflection during the four days often left me in awe of the complete imbalance there is in our world in terms of opportunities. While I have certainly been familiar and aware of this imbalance previously, this experience drove it home in new ways.

I am appreciative of the means that allowed me to have all of the experiences of the past four days. This includes both the experiences that left me in awe of the world created regardless of humans, and those that left me in awe of the world we ourselves create.

My introduction to Kenya has been amazing. The people have been wonderfully kind, and welcoming. So many people truly express that they would like the world to visit. Simply from my introduction I am convinced that the invitation is well warranted. I am very much looking forward to the next phase of this adventure with Education Beyond Borders and learning even more about Kenya.

Terry Fox Run – Sunday September 19th

Thirty years ago this month, Terry Fox had to stop outside Thunder Bay, Ontario. This Sunday, September 19, 2010, you’re the one who gets to keep going, so get out there to a Terry Fox Run. From the Terry Fox Foundation website:

When Terry recognized that he would not be able to complete his Marathon, he instead bequeathed his mission to those very Canadians who kept him going day in and day out.

Ezra Holland and Steve Nash’s new documentary on Fox is to premiere at the TIFF.

Unfortunately, I do not need to impress upon you how deep this disease cuts through our lives, families, communities, and culture. Nor is there much more to be said about the place this young man, and his mission has within our nation’s culture. Thus, I will either see you at my local run, or hear about you attending yours. It’s not a race, it’s a calling. Walk, jog, run, ride, roll, bring a child, bring a friend, bring a family member. You do not have to pre-register – just go. Use the links I have listed below to find a run or donate. Please remember that the Terry Fox Foundation is a world leader in directing the percentage of funds raised directly to research. Looking forward to your pics and stories of a Sunday September 19th well spent.

Thank you – Merci

Olympic Review and Crosby Mirrors Lemieux

In the summer of 2003 when the 2010 Winter Olympics were awarded to Vancouver I had recently returned from a near year away. During that time I had been to Salzburg and witnessed the beauty of what appeared to be an ideal place for a Winter Olympics. Vancouver always has, and always will be the most beautiful, and amazing city to live in, in my tainted opinion, but I was a little bit skeptical about us hosting in 2010. As the years ticked down and the event approached, the skepticism gave way to ambivalence to be completely honest. As one can note, there was certainly little to no mention of the Games on this blog. Many people around me found this interesting, as sport, the culture of sport, cultural connections, and dreaming – all things intricately intertwined with the Olympics – are passions of mine. Looking back, the ambivalence grew not out of spite, disgruntelement, and certainly not out of ignorance. Instead, there was no personal connection. If anything, the aspects of youth sport and physical activity participation that I felt so connected to and involved in were being overshadowed or skewed by the approach of the Games.

On Thursday February 11th my perception changed dramatically. It must have been building before that, but – to steal an overused phrase – it was certainly the tipping point. On that morning some colleagues and I roused ourselves early, walked in the rain, and watched the Olympic Torch go through a local community. I spoke with a torch bearer who was so genuinely enthusiastic that my ambivalence quickly started to wash away. People with flags cheered, horns honked, I snapped photos like crazy, and then I stopped. I clapped, and realized that we are all choosing to do something together here.

Over the next 17 days there was cheering, there was Canada gear, there was a visit from a very close friend, there was taking youth on a special experience they’d never had before and likely never will again, there was time and laughter with my sister, there was watching the opening ceremonies in a small BC community theatre and cheering, there was enthusiastic talk with my parents and grandmother, there were friends being able to show-off their passions to a world audience, there was more cheering, there was lots of photo taking, there were so many languages, and all of a sudden there was a definite personal connection. The city I love and nearly everyone in it had decided to get behind something, and whether they knew it or not, that something was them.

I went to a knock-out round hockey game between Slovakia and Norway. The play, and the connection the Norwegians struck with the fans reminded me of what I personally miss about European hockey. It also showed that Canadians are amazing hosts, and when I jumped to my feet and thanked the Norwegians (and the Slovaks) I did so with thousands of others, and I realized that we have something here, and it’s collective.

My sister and I went to the cauldron when it was still fenced too heavily and a person in a unique position of authority, who had no business helping us, kindly took her camera and got an amazing shot for us. There were smiles, and a connection that it was okay, because afterall this was in our backyard.

I spent an amazing sunny day with an incredible friend and there was consistent statements and proof about what an amazing part of the world this is.

I was with friends downtown to watch the semi-final game vs the Slovaks. We cheered for women’s curling. We roared for gold in speed skating. Then we high-fived more people than I ever had in my life after we advanced to the final. Amongst the tens of thousands I would run into an American with a huge smile and flag and we would congratulate each other and wish for a good game on Sunday. We were all doing it.

I refound an enthusiasm and respect from my teens that I had lost, for athletes who toil away in four-year cycles of obscurity, but are people like you and I with dreams, friends, and personal connections. I was explicitly proud to be Canadian when Bilodeau was humble beyond belief in every word he said. Then when Hollingsworth felt the need to apologise I became honestly sad, and wished I could have told her personally that no one felt let down, and I was personally reminded that sometimes sport can mean too much.

On the last day of the Olympics I was in the same room that I was in when I watched the final of the 1987 Canada Cup, and with the same people. Not having been alive in ’72, that tournament in 1987 still stands above all else in my mind as an incredible moment in not only hockey history, but Canadian history, and personal history. I was so ecstatic when Lemieux scored, and remember the entire sequence of play so vividly more than 20 years later. Then, in 2010, another young Pittsburgh Penguin has the stage set for him. During the first shift Iginla and Crosby had in overtime it was obvious they were going to be the ones. During the second shift they made it happen, and like Hawerchuck’s gritty yet key little face-off win, Iginla’s gritty yet little key little pass led to Crosby’s historic goal. We all jumped and cheered just as we had done so many years ago, and we were all personally proud to be Canadian.

Yet, it would have been alright if he hadn’t scored. It would have been alright no matter what the medal count. Just like we made it an incredible two plus weeks to remember with the memories above, and so many other personal ones you and I had, we would have made it alright, and realized what is truly important. For the most part, as Canadians, we typically have. Perhaps because of that, it was so much more rewarding that it all seemed a success. It’s just important to remember that success doesn’t come from medal counts, or goals, or having the best Games, it comes from our own personal interpretations. It comes from how we feel we were treated, and how we treated each other during our experiences.

Thus, we certainly had an incredible half month of experiences, and now on the eve of the Paralympics I hope there are more to come. When I reflected on how something I was so ambivalent towards had become such a collection of amazing experiences and memories the reason for it all lay in the personal connections that I had during the Games. In the end, it seems to be another example of fortune that this wonderful city, my home, had an event which served as an excuse to do things, and create memories with people I care about. Hmmm, caring about people – I’d like to think that that’s very Canadian.

I came across this piece by Stephen Brunt, and it seemed to have some similar points, but also a bit of a different take. I might not agree with his perspective exactly, and everything in it, but I think it’s a view worth considering as well.

Terry Fox School Run Day

Many students across Canada will be taking time out of their school day later this week to participate in the Terry Fox School Run. You can be a part of this day as well. Please sponsor a child’s participation in this national event. Any donation or pledge is greatly appreciated, and will help younger Canadians realize that we all support Terry’s dream. It won’t be hard for you to get involved as the majority of students in this country are collecting money this week for cancer research. You must know a family member, a friend’s child, or a student in your neighbourhood who is participating. Every dollar counts, and it sets a fantastic example that this is a cause our children can expect support in, and should continually offer their support to, for as long as it is needed.

More information about students participating in Terry Fox School Runs is here, including how to donate.

Thank you – Merci.