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,

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 2012

This is the 6th annual post for this time of year. Previous entries may provide some background understanding and more complete explanation of some points mentioned below. They can be found here: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.

This Labour Day weekend has been filled with family, friends, traditions and celebrations. All of these are connected closely with a common theme of previous Eve of Tuesday posts: support.

In addition to support, those closest to us also offer perspective. Sometimes the perspective can be agreement and affirmation. Other times, those who care about us can offer differing perspectives. An obvious example is the differing perspectives on this time of year. It has been suggested here multiple times that the Tuesday after Labour Day marks the beginning of a “new year”. There can be many other perspectives on when the “new year” occurs most naturally. Learning and growth can happen through changing one’s perspective. This does not mean that decisions, values, attitudes and practices need to change when entertaining every different viewpoint. Often, prior knowledge and beliefs can be strengthened by coming to understand different views.

As Labour Day drifts away, and we begin a time of year that is filled with new beginnings for so many of us, it may be time to reflect upon the importance of perspectives – those that are common to our own, and those that are different.

At this point, I am afraid I will repeat much of the same expressions that have been written in Labour Day posts of the past. However, it seems that these sentiments only get stronger each year, so please forgive the reinforcement. It has been an amazing year, filled with adventures for all of us. The past year has finished with a summer that was busy, and full of stories from friends that still beg to be told.

As usual, it is a time of year where there are thoughts of appreciation. I am extremely grateful to those I shared adventures with during the past year, and those who supported me. I am all too fortunate to have many people in my life who broaden my perspective and make me a better person. In turn, the summer has finished with reconnecting and celebrating. Thanks to J, D & family for continuing with a long standing fun tradition. Thanks to L, R & their family for continually being so welcoming. Thanks to E & T for continuing with a new tradition.  Congratulations to A & T, and a special thanks to them for hosting a wonderful evening filled with caring people!

Finally, as this season of renewal gets underway I wish us all the best. As always, there are new challenges, adventures, and perspectives that await. A particular note and word of encouragement go to Kenyan colleagues who are presently amidst a challenge.

The years are passing a little quicker now – I’m sure of it. No matter what the challenge or adventure ahead, let’s face each of them with youthful energy, and caring support of others. In so doing, let us hope and expect caring support in return…. and as the autumn advances, take the time for some smiles, and maybe a little dancing.

Below, Death Cab for Cutie take us out this year. Have a great Tuesday – no matter what your perspective!

Take care,
Peace and love – à bientôt,
IR 🙂

ps – thanks to R. for the edits.

Lights Out: The Power Surge Tour

Nearly a month in Kenya is coming to an end.

I have a number of pieces of writing in the works about occurrences, thoughts, and reflections since my last post, but it is going to take a bit longer to see if any of them come to complete fruition. In the meantime, it seems only appropriate to mark the last few hours of this adventure with a quick look back, and some thanks.

It became known as Lights Out: The NK & IR Power Surge Tour. Stops and visits included:

  • Kakamega – July 20-28
  • Kisumu – July 29
  • Nairobi – July 29-30
  • Nanyuki – July 31-Aug 3
  • Gilgil Aug 3-6
  • Nakuru Aug 6-10
  • Gilgil Aug 10-13

Nearly all of the stops included disruptions in electrical power – of various severity and duration. With a grin and a shrug we began to consider that  our mere presence was altering the flow of electricity wherever we ventured. However, it did nothing to dampen the experiences. In fact, it became the norm, and whenever the electricity went out, smiles came on. That’s because there was no shortage of power. We were surrounded by the power of amazing educators, fantastic friends, and a wealth of caring. We were welcomed wholeheartedly and with compassion in to meetings, in to workshops, in to schools, in to classrooms, and in to homes throughout our journey. In all of these adventures we were consistently among colleagues who care more than anything about their students. That’s real power.

Once again I leave Kenya having grown as a professional, and having strengthened bonds of friendship. I am so very grateful to my new friends, and my old friends in each of the locations we visited. At the risk of forgetting someone, I will not attempt an exhaustive list. Simply: thank you – asante! While I have learned at every stop along our tour, I will briefly mention that those I have worked closely with in Gilgil these past two years have given me so much. They are simply outstanding friends and colleagues. Asante sana.

I intentionally speak in the present tense. These are my friends, these are my colleagues, even as I depart Kenya.

Finally – a large debt of gratitude to NK as my tour partner. A great teammate, an inspiring educator.

Hopefully more photos to come on flickr, and more writing to come on this blog. In the meantime…

Asante sana – tutaonana siku nyingine!

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 🙂

Callin’ It A ‘Cade

Apparently we are going to turn the lights out on a decade tonight. As you may know I personally find September to serve as a more appropriate annual turn-over point, but everybody loves the neatness of numbers and lists, so at the end of 2009, at the end of a decade we’ll do a quick reflection – certainly not conclusive or complete.

A few nights ago it was posed to a group I was with: what single world event had the most impact on my personal life in the past decade? It remains 9/11. Foremost was the emotional impact that reverberated through the world; a host of different emotions filled the world, and no sentient person could have avoided being impacted in some way. Then the repercussions for many personal lives that were not actually directly involved in the event. Every time I, or anyone else I know travels, their experiences have been altered by that event. A nouveau lexicon that everyone uses emerged in both political and popular culture as a result. Canada has made the choice in this decade to spend billions of dollars in Afghanistan. This post is not to make a decision on the rights or wrongs of that decision, just to recognize that those billions in turn effected domestic decisions that in turn effected every Canadian’s personal life, including mine. Much more importantly, with four new deaths today, and one journalist also being killed, on the very last day of this decade, 138 Canadian soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan in the 2000’s, thus bringing back a more personal nature of veterans and Remembrance Day. All of these factors, and many more came as a result of 9/11.

Time magazine recently called this first decade of the 21st Century to be a complete downer in comparison to the last of the 20th. While there were certainly a host of world events, and many notable U.S. events that led them to make that call, I don’t share the same pessimistic view overall. Although there is credence for some sober reflection when climate change, war, poverty, disease, and the economy is considered, I look back and see a lot of positive events in the past decade, and look forward with hope, as does the same article.

There are some great organizations doing some amazing things to fight what I believe to be one of our most important global battles: overcoming poverty. Kiva, Oxfam, Make Poverty History, and so many more have really grown in this past decade. I believe that most of us have become more worldly, and environmentally aware in the last 10 years and that is a good thing. The advances we have made in health care, and the support and awareness for causes like AIDS, prostate cancer and breast cancer have grown in leaps and bounds. The progression in Education, particularly educational tools and technology has been incredible. The list of positive highlights and changes could go on depending on your penchant for popular culture, sports, politics, literature, music, or any area.

While each of us personally dealt with sadness and there were those who left us in the past decade, it was also one filled with births, and with partners confirming their love. I smile when I think of some personal events of the preceding ten years, and many of them are just simple, yet joyful events, spent with family and friends that I care about. I hope that you can look back and smile as well.

In the next ten years we’re going to face some challenges, some of which are unpredictable at this point. While we’ve made progress in the areas I mentioned above, there is still a long, long way to go in each of these and with many other causes. Whether they be global, local, or personal, please remember that you are not in this alone so long as you strengthen the ties of your relationships. We’ll have hope and joy in the next 10 years if we work on our peace and love. I know that those four words seem airy fairy to some of you, but maybe you just haven’t thought deeply about what those words actually mean, for they are not just words, there are meanings, signs, and tools within each of them. It is up to you and those closest to you to get into those meanings, signs and tools for yourself though. Be open to those around you when they need you, and be ready to turn for help when you need it.

Finally, I think back on the past decade and I am bombarded with images and amazing deeds of the awesome people I call family and friends. I must be the most fortunate person alive to know so many incredible people that have done so many incredible things in the past 10 years – personal and worldly – in the areas of family, community-building, social-work, health-care, education, journalism, literature, writing, photography, music, film, politics, sport, travel, and charity. The list could go on, for I am actually beyond fortunate to know amazing people in so many areas, and that they make the choice to include me in their incredible lives. It actually makes my head hurt just a little bit to think about what so many of you have accomplished. 😉 Keep it going!

We’ll let the Kings of Leon, and then David Gray take us out then. With KoL we recognize how uber successful one can become, even in a relatively short period of time, and it’s a bit of a tune about sticking together. Then with Gray we have a tune that might seem like a downer, but it’s actually about hope and going forwards. It’s also one of my all time fav’s.

“Through the windows of midnight, all moanfoam and silver.”

Take care, take care of each other…. Bonne Année!!

Happy Thanksgiving 2009

Thanksgiving just might be my favourite holiday. This statement has been met with a few quizzical looks lately, but I am prepared to back it up. It is a celebration that combines tradition and flexibility. Friends and family gather or connect without the stress of gift giving or pressure of other holidays. It is of a secular nature, but can be recognized as important for any number of faiths. Most of all, it emphasizes something that is explicitly simple, yet overwhelmingly important: reflection on and expression of thanks. In other words, it has a sublime balance to it.

While it is important to be grateful throughout the year, this weekend’s holiday helps us draw attention to those things we are thankful for. Relationships, particularly family and friends, are consistently first on my list of things I am thankful for. Last year’s Thanksgiving post was focused on relationships, and a year later I am even more appreciative and fortunate to have people in my life that make me a better person. However, on this Thanksgiving I want to note that I am thankful for my health and physical condition. We often say we are glad to have good health, and wish good health on those we care about, but I find recently that I am rather humbled and extremely grateful to do so much that I probably take for granted. Without being healthy I would not have been able to visit so many of the places I have been to in this word. I would not have been able to engage in so many of the activities that bring me joy. Many of the relationships in my life are fostered by activities that would be impossible if I was not healthy. Finally, my day to day existence is completely easy due to my state of fitness. In short, I am extremely fortunate, and as a result, extremely thankful.

From this extends thanks to specific people. I am thankful to my parents who instilled within me a priority for health and fitness. I am thankful to my friends and family who inquire after my health and encourage me to take care of myself (yes, even though I am stubborn). I am thankful to those friends who I go on outdoor physical adventures with as they place safety and health above accomplishments, records, and summits.

On a specific note, I am thankful for everything I have been, and will be involved in this weekend: spending time with a number of close friends I care about, listening to live music, laughing with friends and family, being active outdoors with awesome people I care about, spending time with family, spending time with little buddies I care about, playing hockey, perhaps watching some film, enjoying a fantastic meal, and having the time to reflect and be thankful. What a great Thanksgiving, filled with so many things that bring me joy, and it’s mainly due to some of you who are reading. I don’t think I could ask for a better one.

I hope you get to spend time with people you care about this weekend.

Merci – Thank you – Happy Thanksgiving!

Eve of Tuesday 2009

Sneaking Home

Originally uploaded by irober.

We’ve been favoured with seven days of September prior to Labour Day this year, yet here it is once again: The Eve of Tuesday. For many of us we sit at the cusp of beginnings, changes, and adventures at this time of year. As a result, and as I’ve mentioned before (and before), it seems a natural, and pertinent, time for a little reflection. Maybe not too much mind you, but just a little. We’ve pulled off a lot these past twelve months, and it’s interesting to think that many of the adventures of the preceding 52 weeks were set in motion, at least in some small way, during the days following Labour Day. Travel, relationships, sports, employment, school, and other adventures were all set-in motion a year ago. If you think back, can you recall any that made your past year special, challenging, or meaningful?

This type of post has become a bit of a repetitive annual affair, but some things deserve emphasis, especially as many of us have faced recent adventures and challenges. As the summer closes out, we look back upon the season that is often filled with play, travel, and other adventures. Others look back on goals completed, or milestones reached in the past season, and the past year. The start of September, the change of the season, allows us to realize just how much we have accomplished recently – most of it with each other. It’s also exciting to think that in the next few days and weeks the seeds will likely be planted for the adventures to come, or the near future will provide the setting, people, or tools to allow recently started adventures to come to fruition. As I sneak back into town, on the brink of The Tuesday, I find this long weekend has served as a reminder that it is our relationships that will be our most powerful ally – even if some are our greatest challenges – in the year to come after Labour Day.

As I sit and see today’s sun fade across the water and into the west, I smile when I think of what we will accomplish in these days after Labour Day – the new adventures to come, and so many of them still unknown. I am fortunate and thankful to have amazing friends that will be there in the adventures and challenges. Thus, the usual call goes out at this time of year. Be ready to help those who are lost in their challenges of the next 12 months. Yet, also be ready to turn to friends when you are lost or challenged – it will come, and not always in the form expected. However, that’s exciting, and if we didn’t open the door to the excitement of success and setbacks, then joy wouldn’t be able to come in. Be ready, be open, be friendly, and be a friend to your friends.

I might not be around these interweb parts so much this coming season, so two things. (1) Go to a Terry Fox run on Sunday. (2) I’ll wish you all the best now, and suggest that I might return with more regularity at some point. I’ll never be too far though, and for those of you who know where to reach me, please never hesitate to drop a line or give a ring. We’ll see you soon no doubt.

I’ll let the White Stripes take us into this next yearly cycle. A song filled with hope, smiles, friendship and a bit of the unknown – key characteristics for a successful run at the adventures that are ahead for us this time of year.

Take care,
Peace and love – a bientôt,
IR 🙂