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 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,

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

Stories Playlist

By chance I stumbled upon a TED playlist with the title: The Truth About Stories. http://blog.ted.com/2011/08/17/playlist-the-truth-about-stories/

This immediately recalled Thomas King’s Massey Lectures that carry the same title. Having thoroughly enjoyed King’s work, and since the phrase continues to give me a great deal to ponder, I was pulled in to watching the first talk on the playlist. As Elif Shafak’s nearly twenty minutes of speaking unfolded I was pulled deeper and deeper in. I am fortunate to know a few excellent storytellers, and to call them friends. As she speaks I started to make connections to them, their stories, to language, to education, to writing, to travel, and to community. There are a few constructive criticisms if you read the comments about her talk, and while these are valid, they also highlight that her talk gives us something tangible and credible to discuss, even in the counter points. Perhaps that is a sign of good storytelling.

I enjoyed the first so much I continued on to the second by Chimamanda Adichie: The Dangers of a Single Story. I soon made connections to Binyavanga Wainaina’s work, my time in Kenya this summer conversing with people about perception, and to theme of this blog: balance. Perhaps another sign of good storytelling is weaving a tapestry that allows the listener or reader to make numerous personal connections. Both of these first two talks in the playlist certainly did for me, and when they struck at balance I felt like sharing them with you.

The third talk has some interesting ideas and allows Jonathan Harris to share some very interesting projects, but I do not find it as compelling as the first two. I will let you be the final judge.

I encourage you to at least watch the first two – it’s a better way to spend 38 minutes or so than watching some reality TV this evening, and I do not doubt you will make some tangible and personal connections of your own.

Finally, listen and watch for two quotes in particular that strike at balance. They both made me smile, and reaffirmed that storytelling – from all sides – is valuable on a number of levels.

Shafak quotes Chekhov: “The solution to the problem and the correct way of posing the question were two completely separate things.”

Adichie ends with: “When we reject the single story, when we realize there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.”


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 🙂

Work-Life Balance – Nigel Marsh

Seeing as the primary theme of this blog is balance, and that the author is a big fan of TED Talks, it only makes sense that there be a post about a TED Talk that deals with balance. In the talk below, Nigel Marsh focuses on  Work-Life balance in particular. He makes four rather obvious points, nonetheless, compelling for many in our society. I’ll let you watch it first, and then offer a brief response.

Firstly, the “balanced” day he first proposes for himself does sound pretty good, doesn’t it?

Secondly, I must say that he is spot on with the distilling the fundamentals that must be addressed into four points. Our society should be a social structure, not a corporate structure, and the push and debate for balance must be taken away from corporations who are trying to brand balance. There is a subliminal message that runs through our culture now, that if you buy the right coffee, on you way to the right yoga class, while wearing the ethically made work-out clothes, and checking your friends’ status updates on your expensive phone, then you are on your way to leading a “balanced” life. This not to say that buying the right coffee, keeping in touch with your friends, or caring about where your clothes come from are bad things. Although, perhaps one should be more careful about who defines what is a “balanced” life actually is. In this way, his final point – approaching balance in a balanced way – links thoughtfully back to his first point. (Probably not the first time he has engaged in public speaking).

My personal reflection after watching him speak, was that I feel incredibly fortunate to have those that are close to me – family, friends, and co-workers – value balance in its non-corporate defined form. While I still feel I have a lot I am working on to improve my balance, I do not feel I am the direct audience he is appealing to. I have a “job” where I laugh every day, feel valued by the people I work directly with, and for the most part I feel a caring connection. I do not think this is the status-quo in society – but you will correct me in the comments section if I am wrong). At the same time however, I need to continually question myself to ascertain if I am being subconsciously pushed to unhealthy expectations by my work. It can happen anywhere, even so, perhaps especially, in a caring environment. In the end though, I do not feel he addresses how work and life can co-exist in unique caring environments. However, he only has ten minutes, and perhaps he would have gone on to address this more specifically if afforded more time.

The one glaring aspect that is not a part of balance in my life, that is integral to his talk, is having children. No doubt, some of your reading this will be able to chime in on your thoughts regrading that connection to balance, yet I believe the story of him and his son having the “best day” of his son’s life to spot-on, and there are family, friends, and little buddies in my life that I can always take more time for. This anecdote served as a good reminder, that while I have vacation time coming up, it is about the people I spend it with, not where I spend it, that will be most important.

I’m going to wrap-up this mediocre piece of writing with a less than mediocre conclusion, as I possess many other thoughts milling about in my head. However, balance for me includes going to do other things besides blogging. More than anything, just thought I would step in and share his talk, and a few thoughts.

Have a great week – hopefully a well-balanced one.

Blind Bike Balance

This is Matt Gilman. He rides a bike. As you see, he overcomes a particular challenge that you and I probably aren’t faced with, but does stuff – balance stuff – on a bike that most of us probably couldn’t do. There are always different tools, signs, senses, and mediators to help us balance, if we choose to go after them. When faced with something that throws you off balance from the things you find joy in what do you do? It certainly doesn’t stop Matt from going after what brings him joy. There’s more than one way to find balance in the things that bring us joy, even when at first they may appear lost. Are we willing to go after them, and not be afraid to fall while we do it? If you’re not into watching the whole thing at least watch the first couple of minutes, and then watch from about the 7:10 mark on to get a sense of how things don’t always go as planned. But maybe just watch the whole thing.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Blind Bike Balance“, posted with vodpod

If you dig this kind of stuff, then check out these guys from an old posting as well.

T. Linden

On Wednesday evening, the professional athlete who has had the most powerful impact on the city of Vancouver will be honoured. The Canucks will raise Trevor Linden’s number 16, and pay respect to a player who is more than deserving. It should be noted that I am well aware that professional hockey players are professional entertainers, not automatic role models or legends. Additionally, I never was, am not now, nor will I be a Canuck fan. However, Trevor Linden made me respect the Canuck franchise. Because of Linden I now wish the Canucks well, even if I am not a fan. I am a Trevor Linden fan.

It is inexplicable the connection that Linden has with Vancouver. I remember him joining that Canucks when I was in my youth, they were in yellow, and my gosh were they a bad hockey club. The Collesium was known as the mausoleum. Yet, an 18 year old began to change all that, and a city got behind him. He seemed to personify the classic Canadian hockey work ethic, and for Vancouver hockey fans it was a long time coming. It is apparent that every other Canadian professional team had their legend, or legends prior to 1988. Vancouver had to wait, but in the end they got all and more. Trevor has been, and will be, an example of exemplary sportsmanship, leadership, respect, responsibility, and caring. Yes, I am aware there are thousands of people that live up to these high standards in Vancover every day. But, I am also aware as a society and community we still look to athletes as leaders, and Linden was a true leader, off the ice even more so than on it. He lead by placing the priorities first. A whole hard shift rather than one flashy move. Representing all the players before himself. Taking the time to work with numerous charities rather than jet away. Meeting with kids after a game rather than heading to the Roxy. Doing all the little things that create balance even when the big things go off kilter. That is Trevor.

I was there the night he became the Canuck’s all-time points leader (latter eclipsed by Naslund). It was an assist. The arena would not go quiet. I remember the linesman pretending to fix a hole in the ice so he could delay the puck drop. I remember Sakic, the hometown boy, congratulating him, and I remember the infamy of that night being stolen from him by a then team-mate’s inexcusable actions. Linden has never once publicly noted how the other incident completely overshadowed what he achieved that night. Simply, he is class.

One is hard pressed to find a play of his generation that has meant more to the city he played in, and not just from a hockey standpoint. Linden is a leader in the community. When he speaks, people listen, where he goes, they follow. How did this happen? Trevor never got a Stanley Cup, never got an Olympic Gold, never got a World Cup, and was once chased from the city he loved. He fell short of all the top achievements in his sport, and wrongly branded an outsider for a period. Yet, he came back, always put the team first, and never once lamented falling short of the huge milestones in hockey. We all watched this happen. We saw how a hard working teenager grew up under our gaze, giving his all to never quite reach the pinnacle of his sport, and yet never became bitter or corrupted. Instead he only grew more noble and responsible. Perhaps we see him as a leader, because we see in him what we hope for ourselves in this regard, and hope for our children. He achieved this balance of playing the game he loved at a high level, but keeping it all in perspective, regardless of the outcome. He became bigger than the sport, because he realized it wasn’t about him being big, it was about being a better person. He kept it balanced.

Thanks Trevor.