Every now and then I get the urge to go through my
cluttered office in an effort to get rid of some of the “junk”
that has accumulated over time. There are so many things lying
around that I haven’t needed in years and I can always use the
space that would be created by throwing out stuff I don’t need. A
few weeks ago I got that urge to do some “cleaning”.
I decided to
start with the bottom drawer in my desk. This is what I refer to as
my “junk drawer” simply because whenever I don’t have a
specific place to put something, I toss it into the “junk
drawer” where it tends to remain forever. At first glance, the
contents looked exactly like a collection of odds and ends that one
would certainly classify as junk. However, as I picked up each item,
giving serious consideration to tossing it into the garbage can, I
found myself unable to part with it. For you see, each item
contained memories of experiences and treasured moments in my life.
After a couple of hours looking over the memorabilia and replacing
each one back into the drawer, I realized this was an impossible
task. I hadn’t thrown a single item out. All I had done was
rearrange the items neatly in the drawer.
As it turned out,
later that evening I came across a little story written by Robert
Fulghum about his seven year old daughter, Molly.
It was Molly's
job to hand her father his brown paper lunch bag each morning before
he headed off to work. One morning, in addition to his usual lunch
bag, Molly handed him a second paper bag. This one was worn and held
together with duct tape, staples, and paper clips.
bags" Fulghum asked.
answered. "Just some stuff. Take it with you."
Fulghum stuffed both sacks into his briefcase, kissed Molly and
rushed off. At
, while hurriedly downing his real lunch, he tore open Molly's bag
and shook out the contents: two hair ribbons, three small stones, a
plastic dinosaur, a pencil stub, a tiny sea shell, two animal
crackers, a marble, a used lipstick, a small doll, two chocolate
kisses, and 13 pennies.
finished eating, and swept the desk clean - into the wastebasket -
leftover lunch, Molly's junk and all. That evening,
Molly ran up behind him as he read the paper.
the one I gave you this morning."
"I left it
at the office. Why?"
"I forgot to
put this note in it," she said. "And, besides, those are
my things in the bag, Daddy, the ones I really like. I thought you
might like to play with them, but now I want them back. You didn't
lose the bag, did you, Daddy?"
no," he said, lying. "I just forgot to bring it home. I'll
bring it tomorrow."
hugged her father's neck, he unfolded the note that had not made it
into the sack: "I love you, Daddy."
Molly had given
him her treasures - all that a 7-year-old held dear. Love in a paper
sack, and he missed it - not only missed it, but had thrown it in
the wastebasket. So back he went to the office. Just ahead of the
night janitor, he picked up the wastebasket and poured the contents
on his desk.
After washing the
mustard off the dinosaurs and spraying the whole thing with
breath-freshener to kill the smell of onions, he carefully smoothed
out the wadded ball of brown paper, put the treasures inside and
carried it home gingerly, like an injured kitten. The bag didn't
look so good, but the stuff was all there and that's what counted.
After dinner, he
asked Molly to tell him about the stuff in the sack. It took a long
time to tell. Everything had a story or a memory or was attached to
dreams and imaginary friends. Fairies had brought some of the
things. He had given her the chocolate kisses, and she had kept them
for when she needed them.
As I finished
reading the story, I realized how important those things in my desk
drawer were to me. That drawer was just like Molly’s bag of
treasures. There were the two dried up dandelions that my
granddaughter had picked for me two summers ago. I kept them because
she was so excited about giving Grandpa some flowers. Then there was
the old photo of me standing in my backyard holding in my hands the
very first pay cheque I ever received when I started my first summer
job. There was the old hockey puck that my son gave me in
when he came off the ice after officiating his very first OHL hockey
game. For two hours I picked up item after item and each brought
back fond memories. I just couldn’t throw them away. I would be
throwing away those special moments in my life.
Molly and I
seemed to have a lot in common. My problem is that my treasures have
been collected and accumulated over a much longer period of time
than seven years. Everywhere I turn I see treasures that have a
great deal of significance to me and in many cases, to me alone.
They may not seem like much to others, but they mean a lot to me.
So the next time
you get the urge to “clean up and declutter”, forget about what
the experts say about throwing out things you no longer use. Most of
those things meant something special to you at one time in your
life.We must all
remember that it's not the destination that counts in life - it's
the journey. The journey with the people we love is all that really
matters. And the things in that bottom drawer in my desk remind me
about those people. I don’t think that drawer will ever get
cleaned out, so I guess I should just buy myself a bigger desk. You
should see my garage.
Have a good week.
“When Are We Ever Going To Need This?”
by Robert Kirwan
“When are we ever going to need this?” If
you are a teacher or a parent, you have most certainly already been
asked this question on more than one occasion. If your children are
still fairly young, believe me; the question will eventually come up
and it will put you on the spot.
been asking this question since the beginning of time. Indeed, I
wondered the same thing on many occasions as I sat through boring
lecture after boring lecture while my teachers and professors went
on and on about what at the time seemed like nonsense.
The school curriculum
contains topics that often seem completely out of touch with
reality. Children are expected to learn material that appears
meaningless, especially when it comes to some of the more complex
mathematical concepts. Whenever I was faced with the question as a
professional classroom teacher for 28 years, I found myself
struggling to come up with credible explanations that would satisfy
my probing pupils. Needless to say my attempts at finding a suitable
answer often proved futile and I usually had to fall back on the
long-established defense used by most teachers that went something
like, “Because I am the teacher and this is on the course
Now that I may
never again have an opportunity to face that same question from
another student, I have discovered the ultimate answer. Admittedly,
it may be too late for me, but it isn’t too late for the rest of
you who may be teachers and parents.
The answer to the
question comes from a story that I would like to share with you. It
is about a high school algebra teacher named Dean Sherman. He tells
us that his grade 9 students were having difficulty appreciating the
usefulness of the Standard Form of the equation of a line, prompting
them to ask, “When are we ever going to need this?”
The question used
to really bother
and he would look for justification for everything he taught. Until
one day he simply blurted out, “Never. You will never use this.”
then went on to remind his students that people don’t lift weights
so that they will be prepared when one day someone knocks them over
on the street and lays a barbell across their chest. He stated that
you lift weights so that you can knock over a defensive lineman, or
hand out a body check during a hockey game, or carry your groceries
or lift your grandchildren without being sore the next day. He told
his students that you do math exercises so that you can improve your
ability to think logically, so that you can be a better lawyer,
doctor, architect, prison guard or parent. He cleverly explained
that math is mental weight training. It is a means to an end, not an
end in itself. Therefore, whether you actually use the particular
skills you are developing is not important. What is important is
that you do your best so that you get the most out of your “mental
when you are lifting weights, as it becomes easier for you to lift
the bar; you add more weight so that your muscles become even
stronger. Therefore, your math exercises increase in difficulty as
you become more and more skilled so that your become stronger
mentally. This mental training allows you to become more effective
at solving all of the problems and challenges that come up during
the course of your day.
When I came
across this story I wondered, “Where has this answer been all my
life? Where was this when I needed it in my own math classes?” I
could think of hundreds of times during my career when I could have
used that explanation and put an end to the continuous questioning
about the usefulness of school assignments.
I encourage all
teachers and parents to practice this response and also come up with
further examples to prove the point. Think of all the things we do
on a daily basis in the name of fitness and exercise that we will
never need to use. Things like walking on a treadmill; using a
rowing machine; or doing sit-ups and push-ups. These are all
exercises that are preparing our muscles for things we do everyday.
These are exercises that will help us carry out daily routines much
No matter what
the subject area may be, you can now easily come up with an
explanation when asked “When are we ever going to need this?” A
great deal of the skills we learn in school are nothing more than
“mental exercise” that will help us in other areas of our life.
These mental exercises are needed in order for us to perform other
tasks with relative ease. From a student’s point of view, it is
helpful to think of school as “mental weight training”. Do this
and everything you are asked to learn will make a whole lot more
sense. This attitude may even result in higher marks. Go figure!
Have a good week!
Is Going To Be Here Before You Know It.
I am now going through that transitional stage of life where
one moves from being a healthy, robust middle aged person into what
is commonly referred to as the “senior” years. Strange as it may
sound, I never gave much thought about how I would feel once it was
time for me to enter the ranks of “seniors”. When I was younger
I thought that a senior was anyone over the age of 50. But with each
passing birthday, I began to think of seniors as being much older
Now, as I
approach the age of 60, I am discovering that being a “senior
adult” is more of a “state of mind” or a “state of health”
than just counting the number of candles on your birthday cake. For
example, I see a lot of people in their 40’s who I would define as
being more senior than I am right now if you consider their physical
and emotional health. And I also see a lot of people in their 70’s
who one would never know they are “senior” unless you knew their
forget a message that was given to me by an older gentleman I once
knew about 30 years ago. I was still a young teacher at the
beginning of my career and he definitely was well into his
“senior” years. At that time of my life my wife and were raising
three young children, playing badminton three times a week and were
always on the go with hockey, baseball and soccer. We never gave a
moment’s thought to how old we were. We just went on and on with
energy to spare. I can’t recall how I came to know this older man,
but one day we sat down to have a coffee and he gave me the
following message. It was a message that didn’t have a lot of
impact on me at the time. It just seemed like an “old man” doing
some reflective thinking about life.But now that I am a grandfather and I am about to enter my
“senior stage of life”, his words are beginning to make sense.
The man started out
with a profound statement when he said, “You know, Bob, time has a
way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.
seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and
embarking on my new life with my mate. And yet in a way, it
seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I
know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then
and of all my hopes and dreams, but, here it is. The winter of my
life and it caught me by surprise. How did I get here so fast? Where
did the years go and where did my babies go? And where did my youth
He continued to
reflect, “I remember well seeing older people through the years
and thinking that those older people were years away from me and
that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine
fully what it would be like. But, here it is. My friends are retired
and really getting gray. They move slower and I see an older person
when I look in the mirror now. Lots of my friends are in better
shape than me, but I see the great change. They are not like
the friends that I remember who were young and vibrant, but
like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older
folks that we used to see and never thought we'd be.”
“Each day now,
I find that just taking a shower is a real target for the day!
And taking a nap is not a treat anymore; it's mandatory! Because
if I don't, on my own free will, I just fall asleep where I sit!”
“And so, now I
enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches
and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do the
things I wish I had done but never did!! At least I know,
that though the winter has come, and I'm not sure how long it will
last, when it's over, it’s over.”
“Yes, I have
regrets. There are things I wish I hadn't done; things I should have
done; but indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done.
It's all in a lifetime.”
gentleman then proceeded to give me some advice I have never
forgotten, “Bob, you're not even close to your winter yet, but let
me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So,
whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it
quickly! Don't put things off too long! Life goes by quickly.
So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether
this is your winter or not!”
As we finished
off our coffee, he looked at me very seriously and proceeded to pour
out his wisdom. I listened carefully to his final words. “Make no
mistake. There is no promise that you will ever see all the seasons
of your life, so live well for today. Say all the things you
want your loved ones to remember. Hope that they appreciate and love
you for all the things you have done for them in all the years
past! Life is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift
to those who follow after you. Make it a fantastic one."
He gave me that
message 30 years ago. I don’t think my winter has come yet, but I
now understand what he meant when he said that “there is no
promise that you will see all the seasons of your life.” I have
known far too many people who died before their winter had arrived.
I also know many people for whom winter came on suddenly and
unexpectedly at a young age. As for myself, I know that my winter is
certainly much closer that it was the day I had coffee with this
wise old man. But there are many more things I want to accomplish in
my life, so I intend to heed the man’s advice well. No more
putting things off. No more regrets. No more fear! Life goes by
quickly and I am not sure when my winter will arrive.
that older gentleman’s winter ended shortly after he talked to me,
but he certainly left an impression on me that has lasted a
Life is a gift
and I do not intend to waste it.
Have a good week!
Advantage of Opportunity
May Require Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone And Taking Personal
me start off this week’s article with a little riddle.
In one local business there were five employees who were not
happy with their particular situation. If two of the employees
decided that they would quit their job, go to school to get a
diploma and get into a more satisfying career, how many of the
original five employees were still working for the company?
The answer is five.
Deciding that you are going to do something to improve your
life and begin a new career is one thing, but actually doing it is
another. Anyone can talk about self-improvement. As a matter of
fact, I am sure that we all engage in such conversations from time
to time. It takes a lot of courage to actually risk stepping out of
your comfort zone to do something about it.
Many of us might be finding ourselves at a crossroads in our
life right now with unemployment rate in the Greater Sudbury Area at
the highest level in decades. While the actual number of persons
collecting employment insurance is high, there are many more people
who have had their hours reduced and must live on less income. There
are also thousands of people in our community who are on strike.
I’m sure that a large number of people who have had their
employment interrupted or wages reduced are thinking seriously about
their future. In fact, the whole question of job security is
foremost on the minds of many employees as they watch companies
downsize, shut down and contract out.
Nevertheless, instead of looking at the current situation in
Greater Sudbury negatively, some people are considering this the
opportunity they have been waiting for to “do something about
It brings to mind one of my favourite stories about a very
devout Christian who lived in an area that was being flooded by
heavy rain.All of the people in the town were told to leave their homes
so that they would avoid certain death from the flood. A large truck
stopped outside the man’s door and the driver told him to get on
board. The Christian yelled out, “Don’t worry. I am staying
here.God will take care of me.” The rain continued and the water
rose, flooding the entire first floor of the man’s house. A person
in a boat came by and called to the man to get on board. The
Christian yelled out, “Don’t worry. I am staying here.God will take care of me.” The rain continued to fall until
the only thing the Christian could do was climb to the top of the
roof. Suddenly a helicopter came by and the pilot called down to the
Christian to grab onto the rope and climb to safety. The Christian
yelled out, “Don’t worry. I am staying here.God will take care of me.” Sadly, the water continued to
rise and the Christian drowned.
When the Christian arrived at the Gates of Heaven, he looked
up at God and asked, “Why did you not save me? I had faith in you
and I prayed that you would take care of me. Why did you let me
die?” God looked at the Christian and declared, “What more could
I do for you? I sent you a truck, a boat and a helicopter and you
turned them all away.”
So if you are like one of those two employees who “decided
to do something to improve their current situation”, now that the
opportunity may have actually arrived, don’t be like the Christian
in the story above. Don’t pass up a perfectly good opportunity to
change your life forever. Consider your options and take a personal
risk. Step out of your comfort zone!
| Have a good week.
A Very Special Thanksgiving
weekend we celebrate Thanksgiving, a time of the year that has
always been special to me. Usually I find myself working out in the
yard putting things away for the winter with plenty of time to think
about life in general. This is going to be a very special
Thanksgiving for many of us because things don’t appear to be
going very well for a lot of people right now.
The global recession has affected just about every aspect of
society. The labour dispute between Vale Inco and the USW is making
the recession even worse and could lead to serious financial
distress for many families in the area. In particular, the strike
which directly involves over 3000 unionized employees has resulted
in thousands of additional layoffs and workforce reductions among
the hundreds of mining service companies and retail outlets in the
region. It is not a pretty picture locally this year, so a lot of us
may not think there is much to be thankful for. Perhaps this weekend is coming at a good time. We all need to
stop for a moment and take a good look at our own situation to see
if it really is as bad as it looks. Admittedly, we may have to make
some serious adjustments in our way of life for a while, but when it
is all over maybe our priorities will have shifted and we will
emerge from these difficult times with a new perspective on life.
Let me share a story with you about an old man who showed up
at the back door of the house rented by a couple of college
students. This will give you a good example of perspective. As the
students cracked open the door, they saw his that his eyes were
glassy and his face unshaven. He said hello to them and offered to
sell them some apples and oranges he was carrying in an old basket.
Although they had all the fruit they needed already, the students
made a purchase, mostly because they felt pity for the old man and
partly because they were afraid of him.
The visits became more regular. The students began to realize
the glaze on his eyes was the result of cataracts, not alcohol. They
became accustomed to sound of his shuffling feet every morning.
Sometimes he wore mismatched shoes. He would often pull out a
harmonica and begin playing sad, gospel tunes in the middle of
conversations with the students.
students realized that the old man didn’t have many friends.
Perhaps they were the only people who paid any attention to him. He
showed them the old shack where he lived and continued to sell
apples and oranges to the students almost every single day.
On one visit he said to the students, “What a day! I came
out of my shack this morning and found a bag full of shoes and
clothing on my porch.”
The students celebrated with him, not letting on that it was
they who had purchased the shoes and clothes and placed them on the
porch as a gift. They wanted to remain anonymous.
really glad for you,” they exclaimed.
Then the old man added, “You know what’s even more
wonderful? Just yesterday I met some people who could really use
The old man taught the students something very important
about life that day. No matter how little you have or how little you
know, you still have something you can do for both yourself and for
others. The old man enjoyed the life he was living and was grateful
for the shoes, clothing and friendships he had with others. He was
thankful for the opportunity to share his good fortune with someone
less fortunate than himself.
This weekend I am going to spend a few moments in quiet
reflection about what is truly important to me. I extend an
invitation to all of my readers to do the same. Make a list of all
the things in your life that you could live without. Be honest and
true to your self. For example, if, for some reason, you were taken
off the face of the earth today, what would you miss the most? We have all accumulated many possessions over the years, but
when all is said and done, I think you will discover that what you
would miss the most are not things at all. You will miss the people
in your life and the loving relationships you developed most of all.
The expensive cars, clothes and houses will mean nothing when you
look back on your life. What you will miss the most are your loved
ones. The people who truly care about you and the people with whom
you look forward to sharing your precious moments on this earth.
And so as we head into this very special Thanksgiving
Weekend, let’s all take a little bit of time to look at the things
in our life that others would consider valuable but for which we may
have long taken for granted. Let’s also spend some time looking
closely at the people around us and see what “makes their life so
rich”. Things will get better for everyone before long. The
economy will improve. The labour dispute will end. And people will
be back at work. I don’t think life will ever return to the same
as it was before all of the troubles started, but that too may be a
good thing. Above all, let’s all show appreciation for the parts of our
life that we would miss the most if they were taken away from us.
And let’s tell the people who are closest to us just how much we
appreciate their love.
Have a good week!
Are Never Too Old To Live Out Your Dreams
If I had a dollar for every time someone came up to me and
asked, “How are you enjoying retirement?” I might actually be
able to retire! Even though I finished my formal career as a
classroom teacher after 28 years in 2001, I would never say that I
“retired” from teaching. I merely ended one part of my life and
entered into a new stage, utilizing all of the skills that I had
developed up until that point in time. I’ve moved in a different
direction since leaving the classroom and have now established a
private practice as an independent education, training and career
development consultant. This is something that I can continue to do
for the rest of my life and is something that I find very fulfilling
and enriching. So for me, the word “retirement” has completely
disappeared from my vocabulary. God willing I will remain healthy
enough physically and mentally to work well into my 70’s or
More and more we find ourselves running into someone we know
who has begun a new career or a new hobby or opened up a new
business at an age when most others would be thinking about
retirement. The initial reaction to such news is often one of
astonishment that the person would want to ‘waste so much time and
energy’ during the final stage of his/her life instead of sitting
back and soaking up the sunshine. Often it is easier for an older
person to deny him/herself the pleasure of living out a dream rather
than face the pressures from loved ones who provide all sorts of
advice about ‘how to enjoy retirement’.
Whenever you find yourself wondering if you are “too old”
to begin something new, think about the following story about Rose.
As you read it I think you will develop a whole new appreciation for
older people who are living out their dream.
The first day of school the professor introduced himself and
challenged the students to get to know someone they didn’t already
Jim stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched his
shoulder. He turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady
beaming up at him with a smile that lit up her entire being. She
said, “Hi, handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years
old. Can I give you a hug?”
Jim laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you
may!” and she gave him a giant squeeze.
“Why are you in university at such a young, innocent
age?” Jim asked.
She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband,
get married, have a couple of children, and then retire and
“No, seriously,” Jim asked. He was curious to find out
what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her
“I always dreamed of having a university education and now
I’m getting one!” she told him. After class Jim and Rose walked
to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. They
became instant friends. Every day for the next three months they
would leave class together and talk non-stop.
Jim was always mesmerized listening to this time machine as
she shared her wisdom and experience with him. Over the course of
the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends
wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she revelled in the
attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living
At the end of the semester Jim and his teammates invited Rose
to speak at their football banquet. She was introduced and stepped
up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she
dropped her three-by-five cards on the floor.
Frustrated and a little embarrassed, she leaned into the
microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave
up drinking beer and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my
speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know”.
As we all laughed, she cleared her throat and began.” We do
not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop
playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy
and achieving success.
First, you have to laugh and find humour every day.
Second, you’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your
dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead
and don’t even know it.”
Third, there is a huge difference between growing older and
growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one
full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty
years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year
and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow
older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to
grow up by always finding the opportunity in change.
Finally, have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have
regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The
only people who fear death are those with regrets.”
finished her speech by challenging each of us to live out these
secrets in our daily lives.
At the year’s end, Rose finished the university degree she
had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation, Rose died
peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand university students
attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by
example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.
The next time you find yourself wondering if you should work
at fulfilling a dream of yours, remember what Rose said to the
football players. “It’s never too late to be all you can
possibly be.” A year from now you will still be a year older. Take
advantage of all the opportunities that come knocking during the
next twelve months.
Have a good week.
Teachers and Coaches Must Learn How To Deal With The Curse of
During my 28 year career as a classroom teacher I was always
puzzled with how difficult I found it to teach my students
mathematics. It wasn’t as if I didn’t know anything about math.
After all, I graduated with a degree in Mathematics and Economics
from Laurentian University and I have always loved working on math
problems and theories. As a result, I thought it would be relatively
easy to be a good math teacher. It wasn’t. As a matter of fact, I
often became extremely frustrated when my pupils failed to grasp the
“simplest of concepts” no matter how hard I tried to explain.
On the other
hand, I wasn’t much of a reader or writer while I was growing up
myself. Nevertheless, I always found it easy to communicate with
others. For the past twenty five years I have been writing
editorials and publishing magazines and web sites. Reading
and writing are as natural for me today as walking. I am no expert
at writing, but I am able to communicate my feelings and people seem
to enjoy my articles.
What amazed me
the most as a classroom teacher is that I never had any difficulty
or anxiety when it came to teaching my students how to write. Former
students comment on how patient and encouraging I was and how I
provided them all with a love of writing that has remained with them
years after they left my class. I often became frustrated when
teaching math, but I do not recall experiencing that feeling while
The reason for
this strange phenomenon became crystal clear to me when I read about
the “Curse of Knowledge”. With the beginning of school just
around the corner, and with most of the minor sports seasons about
to get under way, I just have to share it with you today. If you
know a teacher, a coach or a parent, please send them a copy of this
article. Believe me, they will appreciate it.
In order to help
you understand what the “Curse of Knowledge” is all about, let
me explain how in 1990, a lady by the name of Elizabeth Newton
earned a Ph. D. in psychology at Stanford University by studying a
simple game in which she assigned people to one of two roles:
“tappers” or “listeners”. Tappers received a list of
twenty-five well-known songs, such as “Happy Birthday to You”
and the “Star Spangled Banner”. Each tapper was asked to pick a
song and tap out the rhythm to a listener by knocking on a table.
The listener’s job was to guess the song, based on the rhythm
job in this game is quite difficult. Over the course of Newton’s
experiment, 120 songs were tapped out. Listeners guessed only 2.5
percent of the songs. That’s right! They could only identify 3 of
the songs out of a total of 120.
But what Newton
discovered next is truly remarkable and made me think of my own
involvement in teaching, coaching or parenting young people. Before
the listeners guessed the name of the song, Newton
asked the tappers to predict the odds that the listeners would guess
correctly. The tappers predicted that the odds would be 50 percent.
got their message across one time in 40, but they thought they were
getting their message across one time in two. Newton
explained that when a tapper taps, she is “hearing the song in her
head”. Try it yourself. Think about a familiar song and tap it out
with your finger. You will find that it is impossible to avoid
hearing the tune in your head. Meanwhile, as Newton
discovered during her experiment, the listeners are not hearing the
same thing at all. All they can hear is a bunch of disconnected taps
very much like a strange Morse Code.
In the experiment
noticed that the tappers were flabbergasted at how hard the
listeners seemed to be working to pick up the tune. The tappers were
thinking, “Isn’t the song obvious?” The tappers looked
disgusted when a listener guessed “Happy Birthday” for “The
Star Spangled Banner”.
pointed out that it is hard to be a tapper. The biggest problem is
that tappers have been given knowledge (the song title) that makes
it impossible for them to imagine what it’s like to lack that
knowledge. When they are tapping, they can’t imagine what it is
like for the listeners to hear isolated taps rather than a song.
This is the “Curse of Knowledge”
This “Curse of
Knowledge” has been with me during my entire career when it came
to teaching mathematics to students. According to Newton,
“Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was
like not to know it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. And it
becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because
we can’t readily re-create our listener’s state of mind.”
So when it came
to teaching mathematics, I had so much more knowledge than my
students that it was extremely difficult for me to remember what it
was like for me when I was first learning the concepts myself. But
when it came to teaching writing, my “lack of knowledge” allowed
me to better appreciate where my students were coming from. It
enabled me to teach them in a way that they could better understand
and I showed more appreciation for their struggles. I had an easier
time identifying where they were coming from.
The same thing
applies to coaching and helps to explain why so many of the star
players in hockey or any other sport for that matter, make such poor
coaches. The best coaches are usually people who were skilled
players, but were not considered superstars. For example, Tiger
Woods might not be a very good golf coach because it would be hard
for him to imagine what it would be like not to be a good golfer.
And so, for all
of my readers who from time to time engage in teaching, coaching or
parenting, the next time you find yourself feeling frustrated
because your “students” are just not picking up what it is that
you are presenting, remember that just because you “can hear the
song in your head”your
“listener” is not likely hearing the same tune. You will have to
transform your ideas into something that your listeners can
understand and appreciate in order for them to learn. If you
don’t, you will continue to be a victim of the “Curse of
Have a good week!
Is A Good Time To Change Your Focus And Make Things Better In Your
Many of us are going to remember 2009 as a major
turning point in our life. Not only is the global recession forcing
everyone to make significant changes, we find ourselves now immersed
in the middle of a work
stoppage at Vale Inco which is having huge economic implications
across the region. People are losing their jobs, being laid off or
having their hours reduced. Moreover, it is forcing us all to take a
good hard look at our spending habits. In particular, many of us are
thinking twice about making purchases that we don’t absolutely
need. The only consolation is that no matter what your own
particular challenges may be right now, everyone else is in the same
boat as well.
It is therefore
extremely important for all of us to remember that no matter how
difficult the situation may be, there is no problem that cannot be
solved. It might just mean that you have to take a step back and
approach your problem from a different angle. A change in focus may
very well enable you to discover a simple solution which was there
all along. For example,
consider the lesson a man named Joe learned one day from a moth he
discovered in his garage.As
Joe was preparing to travel to his office, he opened the garage door
and startled a large moth which immediately tried to escape by
flying to the circle-topped window of the door. It tried frantically
to exit through the invisible wall of closed glass. Joe tried
raising the garage door higher in hopes of aiding its escape. That
caused the moth to fly higher and become entangled in a spider web.
Fearful that it would remain entangled in the web, Joe took a
long-handled broom to assist him in helping the moth escape the
tangled threads. The moth then returned to furiously pumping his
wings and banging into the glass, which was, in his perspective, the
pathway of escape, but instead the moth remained captive.
By simply turning
its focus to one side, the moth would have easily exited its prison.
Rather, due to the moth’s stubborn commitment to this one escape
route, it remained confined, captive and perhaps doomed.
I have often
found myself in situations where I felt very much like the moth in
the story. For example, there have been times when I have been so
sure of myself that I refused to even consider giving consideration
to other alternatives in tackling major problems. In many of those
situations I experienced failure when a simple change of focus might
have resulted in success.
Another story I would like to share is about a
mother who was engaged in a discussion with her daughter who was
telling her how everything in her life was going wrong. The
daughter was failing algebra, her boyfriend broke up with her and
her best friend was moving away.
happened to be baking a cake at the time and instead of consoling
the girl, asked her daughter if she would like a snack. The daughter
replied, "Absolutely Mom, I love your cakes."
Here, have some
cooking oil," her Mother offered. "Yuck" said her
"How about a
couple of raw eggs?" "Gross" Mom!"
like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?"
are all yucky!"
To which the
mother replied: "Yes, those things seem bad all by themselves.
But when they are put together in the right way, they make a
wonderfully delicious cake!
It’s funny how
life is similar to baking a cake. Many times we are faced with
impossible challenges in our life. Everything seems to be going
wrong and there doesn’t seem to be any way out of our
difficulties. But if you change your focus just a bit, and if you
“mix” all of the ingredients of your life together in just the
right way, things often work out for the best. We just have to be
patient, accept our responsibilities and have faith that things will
turn out fine in the end. It’s just like baking a cake. You have
to trust that when the cake is baked, the bad taste of all the
ingredients taken by themselves will not taste so bad when they are
It is very much
like the old farmer who had plowed around a large rock in one of his
fields for more years than he could remember. He had broken several
plowshares and a cultivator on it and had grown rather morbid about
the old rock. After breaking another plowshare one day, and
recalling all the trouble the rock had caused him through the years,
he finally decided to do something about it. When he put the crowbar
under the rock, he was surprised to discover that it was only about
six inches thick and that he could break it up easily with a
sledgehammer. As he was carting the pieces away he had to smile,
remembering all the trouble that the rock had caused him over the
years and how easy it would have been to get rid of it sooner, if
only he had taken the time to try.
So no matter what
problems you are facing today, before you get too discouraged,
remember the moth banging into the glass. Remember the farmer who
finally decided to put a crowbar under the rock and discovered a
simple solution. Don’t give up. Just try changing your focus
slightly. By approaching the problem from a different angle and
viewpoint, the solution may be easier than you thought.
Have a good week!
is Like Choosing Food In A Cafeteria
community of Valley East is experiencing
a remarkable turning point in our evolution which has been largely
brought about by a global recession that has gripped the world in a
stranglehold the likes of which could never have been imagined a few
short years ago.
As we struggle to
emerge from the devastation brought about by a collapsed economy we
are going to be left with a large number of casualties.
Unfortunately, many of the victims will be young people who are
attempting to start out in new careers. Clearly, our entire future
as a community will depend on the courage and tenacity of young
people who are able to endure the challenges which lay ahead.
Many of our youth
today have talents and skills that will serve them well in meeting
the needs of the local market. However, with so many small,
independent businesses struggling themselves to survive in a
weakened economy, there are going to be fewer and fewer
opportunities for young adults to get that first break they need to
launch their careers. As a result, a significant number of young
people are discovering that they must find ways to sell their
talents as independent entrepreneurs and contractors in order to
survive. They are being forced to improvise and be creative in the
marketplace in order to earn both income and experience. This is not
an easy task.
reminds me of a story told by a gentleman named, Neil Eskelin. He
once said that the way to understand adversity is to take two
identical acorns from the same oak tree and plant them in two
different locations. Plant the first one in the middle of a dense
forest, and the other one on a hill by itself. The oak standing on a
hillside is exposed to every storm and gale. As a result, its roots
plunge deep into the earth and spread in every direction, even
wrapping themselves around giant boulders. At times it may seem the
tree isn’t growing fast enough, but the growth is happening under
ground. It’s as if the roots know they must protect the tree from
threatening elements. On the other hand, the acorn planted in the
forest becomes a weak, frail sapling - having to compete with giant
oaks for nutrients and space. And since it is protected by its
neighbours, the little oak doesn’t sense the need to spread its
roots for support.
young person, or even an older adult for that matter, who decides to
open a business today is well aware of adversity and challenges. The
business will face many “storms”, especially in the early going.
Business owners will have to be more aware than ever of
opportunities and be willing to change direction often in an attempt
to establish strong roots in the form of relationships and
associations. The young entrepreneur will have to pay a great deal
of attention to their quality of work and accept responsibility for
providing only the very best of service to customers. At times, it
may seem as if the business is doomed to failure, and the long, hard
hours of dedication and work will be difficult manage. Growth will
also be very slow as the business spreads its roots throughout the
community in order to survive.
In the face of
adversity, you should always remember the immigrant
who came to Sudbury from Europe many years ago.
He became a successful businessman after he learned a very important
lesson when he first arrived in town.He sat down in a cafeteria-style restaurant and waited for
someone to take his order. Of course, nobody did. Finally a woman
with a tray of food sat down opposite him and informed the man how a
cafeteria worked. She told him to start at one end and then go along
the line picking out what he wanted. At the end of the line a person
would tell him how much he had to pay.
explained, “I soon learned that’s how everything works in the
world. Life is like a cafeteria. You can get anything you want as
long as you are willing to pay the price. You can even have success,
but you’ll never get it if you wait for someone to bring it to
you. You have to get up and get it yourself.”
There are two
very important lessons here, not only for young entrepreneurs, but
for anyone who has the courage to set up a business in Sudbury, and in
particular, Valley East. First of all,
don’t be afraid of disappointments, frustration and adversity. It
will make you stronger and help you develop a solid root system
which will enable you to survive the many storms you will face over
the years. Secondly, don’t wait for someone to bring you success.
You have to get up and get it yourself.
to meet the needs of consumers while at the same time engaging in a
personally satisfying and rewarding career will be a huge challenge
for many young people in the years to come.They must find a way of using their skills and talents to
meet the needs of consumers, and not simply look for careers that
meet their own personal goals and ambitions.And they must be willing to pay the price. However, those who
are able to persevere will be like the acorn that was planted on the
Good luck to you
all. It is going to be quite a ride, just never forget that in this
world you have to get up and make your own success. No one is going
to do it for you.
Have a good week!
All About Attitude!"
William James, one of the founders of modern psychology, said
"The greatest discovery of this generation is that a human
being can alter their life by altering their attitude."
What James said over a century ago applies just as much today
as it did then. Each day we wake up in the morning, we choose our
clothes, we choose our breakfast but, most importantly, we
choose our attitudes.
In his book, The Power of Attitude, author Mac Anderson told
the story about his experiences while going into a convenience store
to get a newspaper and a pack a gum.
The young women at the check-out counter said, "That 'll
be five dollars please." As he reached into his wallet, the
thought occurred to Mac that a newspaper and gum didn't quite make
it to five dollars.
When Mac looked up to get a "re-quote", she had a
big smile on her face and said, "Gotcha! I got to get my
tip in there somehow!"
Mac Anderson laughed when he knew he'd been had. She then
glanced down at the paper he was buying and said, "I'm sick and
tired of all this negative stuff on the front pages. I want to read
some good news for a change."
She then said, "In fact, I think someone should just
publish a Good News newspaper - a paper with wonderful, inspiring
stories about people overcoming adversity and doing good things for
others. I'd buy one everyday!"
She then thanked Mac for coming in and said, "Maybe
we'll get lucky tomorrow; maybe we'll get some good news," and
she laughed. She made Mac’s day.
The following day, after his business appointments, Mac
dropped by the same store again to pick up a bottle of water, but a
different young lady was behind the counter.
As he checked out he said, "Good afternoon," and
handed her the money for the water. She said nothing - not a word,
not a smile...nothing. She just handed Mac his change and in a
negative tone ordered...."Next!"
Two people, same age; one made Mac feel great, and the other,
well, made him feel that he had inconvenienced her by showing up.
That story simply proves that by the choices we make and by
the attitudes we exhibit, we are influencing lives every day .in
positive or negative ways...our family, our peers, our friends, and
even strangers we’ve never met before and may never meet
Last week a friend and I had a breakfast business meeting at
a local restaurant where we were served by a young girl who was very
much like the second girl in the story. She never once smiled, was
very abrupt, and made us feel as if we were bothering her by coming
to the restaurant for something to eat.
For the rest of the week I paid particular attention to young
people I met who were working at a variety of jobs serving the
public. Some were full of enthusiasm about what they were doing.
They exhibited a healthy zest for life that was contagious and you
felt good about meeting them. I also came across far too many
others, who seemed to truly hate what they were doing and did
nothing to hide their feelings from customers. As a
“Professional Career Coach” I try to impress upon young and old
that attitude is everything in the world today. Regardless of how
you feel about your job or your career, you must maintain a positive
attitude and demonstrate it in all of your dealings with people. It
is the little things that count and that get noticed by others. This
is a lesson that you must learn if you want to succeed in life.
I’ll never forget the advice that my youngest son, Marty,
received from Dave Newell, the former supervisor of referees for the
National Hockey League. Newell told Marty that when he evaluated
referees he always looked for little things that demonstrated the
official had a positive attitude. He looked at how clean the
referee’s uniform was. How the referee stood by the boards, not
leaning, but standing with authority. He looked at the facial
expressions when the referee talked to the players and how they
listened to the players. He looked for signs of how the referee
showed respect for the players and also looked for signs of respect
‘from’ the players. But most of all, Newell told Marty that he
looked at the referee’s skates. If the laces were white and
didn’t show any ‘ring marks’ or signs of damage and if the
skates were clean and free of scuff marks, then Newell stayed to
watch the rest of the game. He felt that a referee’s skates were a
sure sign of the referee’s attitude and if he couldn’t care less
about his skates, then he wasn’t worth watching. Marty took Mr.
Newell’s advice. Today Marty is a referee in the Ontario Hockey
League and has often been told that he “looks” like a referee.
That he is a natural. It is all about attitude.
The message for all young people is simple. And it is a
message for older people as well. Pay attention to the little
details and show that you care about what you are doing, no matter
how menial you may think it is at the time. Your rewards will come.
People will take notice of how you made them feel. Make sure you
leave them with the right impression. Have a good week!
True Meaning of Fatherhood"
by Robert Kirwan
This coming Sunday, June 21, 2009 will be the 35th
Father’s Day I have celebrated as a father and the 4th
as a grandfather. Once again I expect to be spending a good part of
the day in quiet reflection about the tremendous responsibility I
took on when I became a father for the first time. I will have to
once again have to admit to myself that I wasn’t always as good a
father as I should have been.
fathers are not always completely sensitive to the needs of our
children. Most of us would never do anything to deliberately hurt
our children, but sometimes we just don’t realize how our actions
or inactions are being perceived by our sons and daughters.
For example, I cringe every time I read the story of Howard,
a man who thought he was in tune with the times. When his four-year
old son David acquired a taste for “The Three Little Pigs” and
demanded that his father read it to him night after night, Howard
took action. He purchased a child’s easy-to-use tape recorder and
read the story onto tape for him.
The next time David asked for the story to be read, Howard
switched on the recorder. David was fascinated at the novelty of his
father’s voice reading his favorite book from a ‘machine’. The
following night when he asked for “Free Li’l Pigs”, Howard
went a step further. He showed David how to work the playback on the
recorder for himself.
This makes me think of the methods I too tried to employ to
find ways of keeping my own kids busy so that they wouldn’t bother
me. And then I continue reading the story and I find out that the
following evening, when David arrived and pushed the storybook at
him, Howard said, “Now, David, you know how to turn on the
recorder.” He smiled and said sweetly but insistently, “Yes.”
Then he added, “But I can’t sit on its lap.”
Just this past weekend, Hailee, my five year old
granddaughter, who I am coming to realize has already given me more
insight into life than anyone else I have ever known, interrupted me
while I was working in the yard and asked me to take her for a walk
down the street. As I spent the next unplanned sixty minutes away
from my “urgent” yard work to look at familiar scenery along my
street though the eyes of a child, I thought about one afternoon
about 25 years ago when I was raking leaves in the back yard. My
three sons were playing soccer on the grass and then decided to jump
on the piles of leaves that I had worked so hard to rake up. As I
turned to scold them for messing up my leaves my wife stepped
forward to take a few pictures of them playing and tossing the
leaves into the air. It was a reminder that my wife and I were not
put on earth to keep our yard clean. We were put here to raise
children. We still have the picture of the boys playing in those
leaves. It is hanging up in the house where I can see it every day
to remind me about my true purpose in life.
I would like to share a little story that has always been one of my
favourites. It is about two little boys whose father had promised to
take them to the circus that afternoon. They had been ready to go
for over an hour and were only minutes away from leaving the house.
As planned, Dad
came home from work early that day, right after lunch and quickly
changed into casual clothing. Then, just as the three of them were
about to leave the house, the phone rang.
The boys listened
intently as their father talked with the person at the other end of
the line. Bit by bit, their faces began to fall. This was obviously
a business call, and some urgent matter was requiring their
father’s attention back at work.
rolled into the room like a dark cloud. Their mother also overheard
what she thought was the inevitable change of plans, and looked
consolingly at her sons. She went over and stroked their hair,
hugging them closely to her sides. She knew how terribly
disappointed they would be when her husband got off the phone.
And then, to the
surprise of everyone, they heard Dad say, “No, I won’t be coming
back in today. It will just have to wait until the morning.”
Hanging up the phone he called for the boys to meet him at the car
as he turned to kiss his wife good-bye. She smiled and with a twinge
of fear that he may have made the wrong decision, she said, “The
circus keeps coming back, you know.”
replied, “Yes, I know. But childhood doesn’t.”
I didn’t get a
chance to finish my yard work that Saturday afternoon when Hailee
dragged me away for a walk. At the time the yard work didn’t seem
all that important.I
knew it could wait until the next day to get done.But the chance to go for a walk down the street hand-in-hand
with my five year old granddaughter may never come again. I missed
too many of those moments with my own children and I don’t intend
to miss them as a grandfather.
closing, there are two things that I wish I would have learned
earlier in life, and each year I use this column to pass this
message along to all of the young fathers out there. First, don’t
ever feel that spending time with your children is less important
than anything else you have to do in your life. Absolutely nothing
is more important than spending time, even if it is just for a few
moments with your children. Secondly, never pass up an opportunity
to make your children realize that you are extremely proud to be
a good week!
There are not many things you can be certain about in the
world around us today. Just when you think you have things figured
out something happens to add to the confusion. However, there is one
thing you can be absolutely sure of time and time again.That one thing is that in order for you to be successful in
anything of importance in this life, you must have personal passion
and an undying commitment to an ultimate goal or vision. Vince
Lombardi, a Hall of Fame NFL football coach best summed it up when
he said, “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion
to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field
Walt Disney, one
of the most famous dreamers who ever lived said, “When you believe
in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and
people fail to achieve their goals, not because they are lazy or
lack self-motivation, but because they were never fully committed to
succeed in the first place. All of the people who achieve great
things begin with a plan of action and then an unshakable commitment
to its accomplishment. It is commitment that makes the difference
between success and failure.
never forget a story I read about ancient Greek warriors. These
warriors developed a tremendous reputation for bravery and an
unshakable commitment to victory. The Greeks were master motivators
and their leaders had discovered a powerful strategy that instantly
infused a spirit of commitment in the heart of every warrior.
they had to go into battle, the Greek commanders would arrive at the
shores of their enemies and lead their warriors on to the land to
prepare for battle. Then the commanders would give their first
order, “Burn the boats!”
Greek warriors would look back at the sight of the burning boats and
any thoughts of surrender were quickly erased from their heads. As
they watched their boats burn and sink into the water, they knew
there was no turning back. The only way home was through victory.
They could not retreat, so defeat was not an option. There was no
turning back! This was commitment.
I head into a new venture, I too have learned to give myself the
command to “Burn the Boats!” I don’t allow negative thoughts,
fear, anxiety or self-doubt to enter into the picture. I have always
said that whatever I get involved in; there is only one goal – to
be the best – second best is not an option. It’s all the way or
no way!I have witnessed
the same level of passion and commitment in many people I have come
across over the years. So have you. And I am sure that when you meet
someone with that kind of commitment, you know it!
If you are currently thinking about taking on a new project,
starting a new career, going back to school, making a major change
in lifestyle, or any thing else that will help you improve your
quality of life, don’t put it off any longer. Have the courage,
the passion and commitment to step out of your comfort zone and take
a leap of faith – faith in yourself!
If you have any
doubts or second thoughts, just think about processionary
caterpillars that travel in long, twisting lines, one behind the
other. A famous social scientist once lead a group of these
caterpillars on to the rim of a large flowerpot so that the leader
of the procession eventually found itself nose to tail with the last
caterpillar in the procession, forming a circle without end or
force of habit and, of course, instinct, the ring of caterpillars
circled the flowerpot for seven days and seven nights, until they
died from exhaustion and starvation. An ample supply of food was
close at hand and plainly visible for all to see, but it was outside
the range of the circle, so the caterpillars continued along the
beaten path until they all died.
It is hard to get
emotional about a small group of caterpillars, but they can teach us
a very important lesson about life. For you see, the key to their
survival was simply a matter of breaking out of the line and moving
over to the food that was within sight. Unfortunately, human beings
often behave in a similar manner. Habit patterns and ways of
thinking become so deeply established that it seems easier and more
comforting to follow them than to cope with change and uncertainty,
even when that change may give you a good chance for freedom,
achievement, and success.
difficult for most of us to accept that only a small minority of
people ever really develop a true vision about life, about living
abundantly and successfully. For some strange reason most people are
content to wait passively for success to come to them - like the
caterpillars going around in circles, waiting for sustenance,
following nose to tail.
Let me leave you
with a quote that you can tape to your computer or to your fridge:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get
what you’ve always got.”
If there is
something you truly want to do with your life, and if you have the
passion to succeed, then stop being a caterpillar. Step out of line
and go after that success. And if you really want be motivated,
“burn your boats” so that you can’t turn back. If it is too
easy to fall back into your old routines the first time you face a
challenge, you will never succeed. However, if you “burn your
boats” so that there is no retreat possible, then you only have
one way to go. That is the level of commitment you are seeking. That
is the motivation you need to succeed. As Walt Disney said,
“Believe in it all the way.” And by all means, believe in
Have a good week!
Philosophy of Life That Can Be Adopted By Everyone"
other morning I was sitting at my computer in the office, looking
out the window at the bright blue sky and watching the birds
enjoying a meal at the feeder which hangs from my soffit. I had just
arrived back home from helping my granddaughter get on her school
bus and found myself reflecting upon the event.
There was nothing
unusual about the occasion. It goes on each and every morning at
hundreds of bus stops in the community as parents and caregivers
make sure children get a safe start to the day. Nevertheless, as I
watched my fragile five year old granddaughter struggle up the
stairs of the bus with her school bag strapped to her back, I was
overcome with a tremendous sense of peace and fulfillment. At first
you might think, “He was only helping a little kid on to a bus.
What’s the big deal?” But let me explain.
years ago I decided that I would adopt the "What if this is the
last time..." philosophy of life. I discovered that this
approach to life enables me to adopt a healthy perspective on all
events that take place in my life. Admittedly, it is difficult at
times to maintain this philosophy of life, and every so often I find
myself regretting some action or comment that I have made. At those
times I say to myself, "What if this is the last time I ever
see that person? Is that how I want to be remembered, or how I want
to remember him/her?"
after I saw Hailee step on to the bus and stood there watching as it
pulled away down the road, I walked back to the house feeling pretty
good. If anything tragic happened to me today, I knew that I had
enjoyed my last experience with my oldest granddaughter. I also knew
how excited she was to have Grandpa bring her to the bus and saw her
smile back at me as she took her seat. I was at peace. She was
happy. It was a perfect moment.
I then walked
back to the house and saw that Hannah, my three year old
granddaughter had a sad look on her face. She was disappointed that
Grandpa hadn’t hugged her before taking Hailee to the bus stop. I
was only gone for a few minutes, but for Hannah, if that had been
the last time she ever saw her Grandpa it would have left a very
sad, lasting memory. As I looked upon her sad, drooping face I felt
as if a knife had gone through my heart. How could I hurt this
innocent little princess? I held out my arms and gave her a long,
warm embrace, apologizing for making her feel sad. Then she smiled
and was happy again as she kissed me good bye. I then turned to my
grandson, six-month old Baby Cade, and spent a few moments making
him laugh and smile at me before leaving.
When I pulled out
of their driveway, I realized that if this was the last time my
grandchildren ever saw me, it was exactly the way I would want to be
remembered. For me, no matter how much turmoil was going on in the
world, my world was perfect – exactly as it should be.
As I gazed out my
window that morning I couldn’t help thinking about what a
wonderful world this would be if everyone treated each other as if
it might just be the last time they would ever see each other.
Imagine how your approach to life would change if you adopt this
philosophy of life. Imagine how much more at peace you would be with
the world in which you live. You can change your approach to life if
you really want. It just requires a few simple choices.
For example, when
you tuck your child in tonight, ask yourself what you would do
differently if you knew this might be the last time you ever saw
your child fall asleep. Would you give him/her an extra hug? Would
you take a few extra minutes to lie quietly beside your child? Would
you be in such a hurry to get back to the living room to watch your
favourite television show or to clean up the kitchen?
you leave for work in the morning, if you knew this might be the
last time you ever said good-bye, would you get up a few minutes
earlier so that you would have time to say good-bye to everyone and
wish them all the best for the day? Would you say, "I love
you" one extra time to your spouse? Would you get upset because
your favourite shirt wasn’t ironed? Would you smile and wave as
you were pulling out of the driveway?
you have an argument or disagreement with a friend, a co-worker, or
a loved one, if you knew this might be the last time you would see
that person, would you make an extra effort to solve the problem
before you left and not let the problem linger and fester? Would you
apologize for your actions or comments before you left? Would you
roll over and go to sleep at night knowing that you have upset your
spouse if you knew this was going to be the last time the two of you
ever spoke to each other?
As I get older
and wiser I find myself accepting that tomorrow
is not promised to anyone. Today may be the last day of your life or
the last day in the life of a loved one. You may never get a second
chance to say "I love you"; to spend time with your
children or grandchildren; to spend time with your spouse; or to
spend time with your parents.
if you are waiting until tomorrow to do something special for a
loved one, why not do it today? If you want to say you are sorry for
something you did, why not say it today? If you have been trying to
find time to make that phone call or write that letter, why not do
it today? For if tomorrow never comes, you will surely regret that
you didn’t take the extra time.
Have a good week!
Education is What You Are Left With When You Forget What You Were
education is what you are left with when you forget what you were
When I heard the
above quote on a television show recently,I immediately thought back to the beginning of my career as a
teacher and recalled how excited I was to finally have an
opportunity to ‘teach’ children. In my new, extended
“career” as a tutoring agent, I have had the opportunity to meet
many wonderful young men and women who are currently attending
Teacher’s College and I can sense that same level of excitement
among them. They have not yet begun their careers, yet they seem so
energized from the anticipation of how they imagine it to be. It is
most refreshing to see this kind of enthusiasm and passion.
reminds me of a story I once heard about a group called “The
is a story about a group of men were surrounded by streams and lakes
full of hungry fish, but not one of them had ever gone fishing.
met regularly to discuss the call to fish, and the thrill of
catching fish and eventually they really got excited about fishing!
Something like I felt about teaching when I first started out in my
career. Something I am sure that students in Teachers’ College
today can identify with.
in the group suggested that they needed a philosophy of fishing, so
they carefully defined and redefined fishing, and the purpose of
fishing. They developed fishing strategies and tactics. Then they
realized that they had been going about it backwards. They had
approached fishing from the point of view of the fisherman, and not
from the point of view of the fish. How do fish view the world? How
does the fisherman appear to the fish? What do fish eat, and when?
These are all good things to know. So they began research studies,
and attended conferences on fishing. Some travelled to far away
places to study different kinds of fish, with different habits. Some
got PhD’s in fishology.
no one had yet gone fishing.
a committee was formed to send out fishermen.
the prospective fishing places outnumbered fishermen, the committee
needed to determine priorities. A priority list of fishing places
was posted on bulletin boards in all of the fellowship halls.
still, no one was fishing. A survey was launched, to find out why.
Most did not answer the survey, but from those that did, it was
discovered that some felt called to study fish, a few to furnish
fishing equipment, and several to go around encouraging the
with meetings, conferences, and seminars, they just simply didn’t
have time to actually fish.
day, Jake, a newcomer to the Fisherman’s Fellowship was so moved
by a stirring meeting that he actually went fishing. He tried a few
things, got the hang of it, and caught a nice fish.
the next meeting, Jake told his story, and was honoured for his
catch. He was then scheduled to speak at all of the Fellowship
chapters and tell how he did it. Now, because of all the speaking
invitations and his election to the Board of Directors of the
Fisherman’s Fellowship, Jake no longer had time to go fishing.
soon, Jake began to feel restless and empty. He longed to feel the
tug on the line once again. So he cut the speaking, resigned from
the Board of Directors and said to a friend, “Let’s go
fishing.” And they did. Just the two of them, and they caught
members of the Fisherman’s Fellowship were many, the fish were
plentiful, but the fishers were few.
Every time I read
this story I hear the same message. If
we want to keep the excitement in teachers, maybe we should just let
them teach. Forget about all of the curriculum reviews,
certification courses, professional development programs, provincial
testing and just let them teach! Let them organize meaningful
experiences every day for the children in their class and let us
focus more on what they will be left with when they forget what we
taught them in their individual lessons.
can’t remember what my primary grade teachers taught me when I was
learning to read. I don’t remember the specific lessons. But I
love to read! And I love working with numbers! I don’t remember
what I was taught, nor do I remember the marks I received on my
report cards. I love reading, mathematics and I love learning. I
also love helping people become successful. I
am without question, the result of the thousands of lessons during
which I was taught content and material that I no longer remember.
At the end of the day, however, it doesn’t matter what the
curriculum guides said or what I was taught. What does matter how
I’ve turned out as a person. This is what education is all about
and it is why I find the statement below so fascinating.
is what you are left with when you forget what you were taught.”
And so, during
this Education Week 2009, let there be time for all teachers and
parents to reflect upon their own “education” and deliver the
really important curriculum. Give children lessons in life that will
stay with them forever. Use the curriculum and the content of your
lessons to reinforce the “education” that they will be left with
long after they forget the lesson they were taught.
My wish to all
teachers is simple. Think about Jake and the Fisherman’s
Fellowship whenever you feel overwhelmed and overloaded with paper
work and reports. Put
everything aside for a day and spend it with the children.
Rediscover the excitement and passion which first brought you to
this profession. Just for a change, go and teach the children with
no thought about evaluation, special needs or reports. Be with the
children and give them an education.
Have a good week!
Longing For Your Childhood Dreams And Enjoy The Life You Were Given"
many people have had their dreams dashed as a result of the deep
recession the world is experiencing today. You may know of family
and friends who have been so affected in some way.
Some have lost
their jobs and must now look into a different career route to get
back on their feet. They have to start all over again and may even
have to go back to school for re-training. Others have seen their
life savings devastated as a result of investments that have tanked.
Retirement plans may have to be revised because of this. Others
still may soon be forced to give up their large homes, sell their
vehicles and may even face bankruptcy because of a debt load that is
too hard to handle.
The truth is that even
when the economy was in good shape during the past several years,
there were still many unhappy people in our society. In fact many
people have always been unhappy because of disappointment in the
size of their house, their income level, their family relationships,
their physical appearance, their jobs, and the list goes on and on.
Look around you
today and you will quickly see for yourself. Perhaps you can even
look in the mirror. Everywhere you look you see the strained faces
of people rushing through life in a constant struggle to either get
ahead or stay afloat. Personal debt levels have risen to an all-time
high as people use their credit cards and borrow money to ‘buy
their dreams’. Others are just scraping by, hoping to survive the
next financial disaster that comes their way.
It often makes me wonder what happened to our childhood
dreams. You know the one where you lay on the cool grass looking at
the clouds floating by, dreaming about how your life would be when
you grew up.
Life can hardly
be called a dream today, no matter what your situation may be. Certainly
there are moments when we can forget about our problems and enjoy
peaceful times with the ones we love, but then there are many other
times when we find ourselves wishing for that lottery win; that big
gain in the stock market; or that big break which will allow us to
buy a bigger house and the car of our dreams.
Every time I begin to wonder about the dreams I had as a
young boy and even as a young man, I think of the story about a boy
who said to God, “I’ve been thinking, and I know what I want
when I become a man.”
He proceeded to give God his list: “to live in a big house
with two Saint Bernards and a garden; to marry a blue-eyed, tall,
beautiful woman; to have three sons, one who will be a doctor, one a
scientist, and one a professional hockey player. He also wanted to
be an adventurer who climbed tall mountains, and to drive a red
As it turned out, the boy hurt his knee one day while playing
football. He could no longer climb trees, much less mountains. He
married a beautiful and kind woman who was short with brown eyes.
Because of his business, he lived in a city apartment, took cabs,
and rode subways. He had three loving daughters, and they adopted a
fluffy cat. One daughter became a nurse, another became an artist,
and the third a music teacher.
One morning the man awoke and remembered his boyhood dream.
Even though he was quite happy and satisfied with his life, he
suddenly realized how differently his life had turned out and he
became extremely depressed, so depressed that he became very ill.
Close to death from a broken heart, he called out to God,
“Remember when I was a boy and told You all the things I wanted?
Why didn’t you give me those things?”
“I could have,” said God, “but I wanted to make you
God’s answer to this man reminds us that true happiness
comes from accepting the life with which we have been provided and
by living that life to the fullest. Happiness does not come from big
homes and fancy cars. True happiness comes from your attitude
towards your own unique situation in life and the relationships you
develop with the loving people around you.
I will always remember the birth of our first son. The lady
in the bed beside my wife had just given birth to her first child as
well... a beautiful, healthy baby girl. However, her husband was
absolutely distraught. He wanted a son so badly that he wouldn’t
even hold his daughter when he came to visit. I even brought him a
gown one evening, hoping that he might hold his marvellous daughter.
Yet, he still would have nothing to do with her. The mother was so
depressed that she even asked my wife if they could trade her
daughter for our son.
Here was a time in this young couple’s life when they
should have been so happy with their first born, and yet, because of
their ‘dream’ of having a son, they couldn’t see the
that one day she and her husband too will look up to God and ask why
He didn’t make their dream come true.
I wonder how many of us will also look up to God and ask why
he didn’t make our dreams come true. Perhaps we will all be
surprised when he answers, “Because I wanted to make you happy.”
Let’s not spend so much time longing for our childhood
dreams that we miss out on the happiness that we have been given.
When God tells us that he didn’t make the dreams come true because
He wanted to make us happy, let’s hope we don’t have to hang our
heads in regret because we were too blind to enjoy the happiness we
were given in our own life.
Have a good week.
Can Learn A Lot
About Life By Squeezing A Sponge"
I am a firm believer that a person’s life is the sum total
of his/her experiences – ALL of his/her experiences. For example,
there are a lot of things that have happened to me during my
lifetime that I wish would have turned out differently. However,
when I examine my situation today there are so many positive things
that I wouldn’t give up for the world.
I am sure that
there are certain parts of your own life today that you are
extremely satisfied with and which you would never want to change.
And yet, if we truly believe that a person’s life is the sum total
of his/her experiences, then you must also accept that everything
positive about your life today is the result of a unique blend of
the good, the bad and the ugly that has happened to you as you
travelled along your own personal journey. You got over the
difficult times and were able to overcome your challenges to enjoy
the good things today.
At the same time,
if there are things you don’t like about your life today, then
they too are the result of your past experiences. Perhaps you
exercised bad judgement in some of your previous choices that are
coming back to haunt you today. For example, you may be happy and
successful in your career, but you may be overweight and out of
shape. If you had followed a disciplined exercise program and ate a
healthy diet you may have found yourself not only happy and
successful in your career but you would also be in good shape and
Therefore, if we
accept the fact that our life is the sum total of all of our
previous experiences, and if we also accept that we may have been
able to eliminate some of the negative aspects of our life by making
better choices along the way, then we have to wonder why so many of
us are engaging in practices and activities today which we know are
negative and will actually hurt us in the future.
I have also
noticed over the years, and I am sure you too may have noticed this
about yourself or the people with whom you have contact, that many
people appear normal and well adjusted on the surface as long as
things are going along well for them. It is only when they face
serious challenges in their life that their true character emerges
and we begin to see what they were made from all along. I think the
best way to explain what I mean is by sharing a story with you
called, “The Sponge”.
One day a family
of five decided to each clean a different area of the home. They
each took a sponge, did the cleaning, and then placed the sponges
back on the kitchen counter top. The sponges all looked the same
after the cleaning.
Later that day a
visitor came along who was curious as to what was cleaned in the
home, but couldn’t tell by looking since the sponges all looked
the same. So, in order to satisfy his curiosity, he decided to
squeeze each sponge to see what came out.
the first sponge was squeezed, some milk came out, so the visitor
decided that someone cleaned the kitchen with that one.
squeezing the second sponge, he found tub and tile cleaner and
concluded that this sponge was used to clean the bathtub.
third sponge produced motor oil when squeezed, so obviously, someone
was cleaning the garage.
the fourth sponge, baby powder came puffing out when it was
squeezed, which meant that the baby’s nursery was done with that
finally, in the last one was floor wax, which was used on the hall
the visitor lay down the last sponge, he again remarked at their
similarity. He pointed out that they all look the same until
they’re squeezed. It is only when they are squeezed that you can
find out where they’ve been and what is inside of them.
are the same way.
we encounter the wide variety of events in our journey through life,
we too are squeezed just like the sponge and different things come
out. Some people get angry; some seek revenge; some shed tears; some
laugh; some look upon life as wonderful; others have a negative view
of everything; some show their love for one another; others think
only of themselves.
The main lesson
of this story is that as individuals we
must all remember that we are not much different from a sponge. We
can only squeeze out what is put in. As babies, we are born into
this world empty. We are like a new sponge. As we go through life,
our ‘sponge’ is filled with things that we absorb through
If we look for
the good in others and try to carry a positive attitude around with
us wherever we go, then as life squeezes us we will have a better
chance of coping. If we are constantly finding fault with others and
forever look for excuses for our behaviour, when life squeezes us we
may not like what comes out.
When you line
people up side by side, they all look similar. Just as it is with
the sponges on the kitchen counter, you don’t know where they’ve
been or what they’re made of until you squeeze them. Once
squeezed, the secret is out. You can rest assured that on the
journey of life we will all be squeezed many times. All we can do is
make sure that what we put into our life is what we want to come out
whenever we are squeezed.
Have a good week!
Greatest Gift: The Power To Choose Your Own Destiny
I don’t get much of a chance to read poetry, but I came
across one recently that was written by a wise old person who goes
by the name of Hafiz. The poem is called, Gifts, and it speaks about
the potential we all have when we first come into this world.
There are so many gifts
Still unopened from your birthday.
There are so many hand-crafted presents
That have been sent to you by God.
The Beloved does not mind repeating,
“Everything I have is also yours.”
There are so many gifts, my dear,
Still unopened from your birthday.
Hafiz was of course referring to the fact that all children
are given magnificent birth-gifts – talents, capacities,
intelligences – that would remain unopened were it not for their
own decisions and efforts as they make their way through life’s
journey. At birth, we have no idea about the potential of a child.
The possibilities are endless.
And yet, even though every parent who has ever held a newborn
baby acknowledges the potential of their child, it saddens me to
know that there is a lot of truth to what Buckminister Fuller said
in one of his books, “All children are born geniuses; 9,999 out of
every 10,000 are swiftly, inadvertently degeniusized by grownups.”
I witnessed my own children grow and develop into adulthood,
each one making choices that have shaped their destiny, and I
continue to watch as they make more choices in adulthood that will
further determine their journey in life. William Jennings Bryan, an
American politician and diplomat who lived from 1860 to 1925 said it
best when he stated that “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is
a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a
thing to be achieved.”
Author Marianne Williamson expressed how we are often fearful
of our own capacities. She writes “Our deepest fear is not that we
are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond
measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask
ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your
playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing
enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel
insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We
were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our
own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do
the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence
automatically liberates others.”
And so I find myself looking at my grandchildren and wonder
how the choices they are about to make in their lives will shape
their destiny during the years to come.
I look at the people I meet in my own travels and wonder what
choices they have made to bring them to the place they are at right
And I have come to realize that the most important gift we
are given as human beings when we are born into this world is the
freedom and power to choose.
Steven Covey states in his book, “The 8th
Habit” that “next to life itself, the power to choose is your
greatest gift.” He goes on to explain that “Your power to choose
the direction of your life allows you to reinvent yourself, to
change your future, and to powerfully influence the rest of
creation. It is the one gift that enables all the gifts to be used;
it is the one gift that enables us to elevate our life to higher and
I have often found tremendous motivation and personal courage
from the words of Covey as he states, “This power of choice means
that we are not merely a product of our past or of our genes;
we are not a product of how other people treat us. They
unquestionably influence us, but they do not determine us. We
are self-determining through our choices. If we have given away our
present to the past, do we need to give away our future also?”
And so I leave you with a thought I have every time I find
myself in a situation with which I am not totally satisfied or
fulfilled. I remind myself that I am a product of choice. I am where
I am because I so choose to be there. In other words, I am
responsible for my current situation. I cannot blame anyone else if
I am not happy. If I am not satisfied with my current situation,
then I can choose otherwise.
The challenge I make to all of my readers today is to
acknowledge and recognize that you are without a doubt a product of
every single choice you have made in your life to date. If you have
indeed given away your present to the past, then make a decision to
take back your future. Do not be afraid of the power you have within
you to achieve dreams you thought were out of reach. And by all
means, make sure that you pass this message on to each and every
child you encounter along the way.
Always remember that you can achieve anything you want in
life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a
realistic plan, and the will to see that plan through to the end.
Make a choice today that will allow you to experience the future
like never before.
Have a good week!
Time For Each Of Us To Recreate Our Life"
March 9, 2009
My wife and I
were watching a documentary on TVO recently that was originally
intended as a warning about the consequences of rising oil prices.
We both watch CNN quite a bit, so the comments being made by the
experts didn’t seem that outrageous, considering the global
economic crisis we are experiencing in all corners of the world
today. After a few minutes I clicked the information button on the
converter to see the description of the program and was amazed that
the show was produced in 2005.
We continued to watch in total amazement at the incredible
predictions that these people were making. Much of what they said
back in 2005 is actually happening today as the global economy comes
crashing down around us. They said the world couldn’t maintain for
much longer the level of consumerism to which we had all become
accustomed. The accelerating consumption levels of energy needed in
order to satisfy the insatiable materialistic desires of people
around the globe for was taking us down a slippery slope to certain
disaster, according to these experts. They predicted that the oil
producing countries would continue to increase the cost of oil as
demand increased, creating a ripple effect that would result in the
escalation of the cost of living to the point where one day people
would run out of money and they would no longer be able to access
credit to buy the things they wanted. Eventually people would stop
buying and the economy would come crumbling down around us. They
warned that the “global economy” and our growing dependence on
foreign trade would become our Achilles tendon that would bring
everything to a screeching halt.
The experts back in 2005 were trying to warn us about what
was to come, but we didn’t take the time to listen. We were too
busy travelling down the wonderful road of life in our own little
world of greed and consumption until the storm hit us and washed out
our road. We are now faced with the daunting task of building a
bridge to a better road before we can continue on our life journey.
The fact that it took such a drastic event to make us sit up and
take notice reminded me of the situation in which the main character
of the following story found himself. See if you can see the
similarities on a global scale.
day a successful executive was travelling down a neighbourhood
street going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for
kids darting out from between parked cars as he drove along, when
all of a sudden, a brick smashed into the Jag=s
side door! He slammed on the brakes and spun the Jag back to the
spot where the brick had been thrown. He jumped out of the car,
grabbed some kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, AWhat
was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you
Building up a head of steam, he went on, AThat=s
a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money.
Why did you do it?@
mister, please. I=m
sorry, I didn=t
know what else to do,@
pleaded the youngster. AI
threw the brick because no one else would stop...@
Tears were dripping down the boy=s
chin as he pointed around the parked car. AIt=s
he said. AHe
rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can=t
lift him up.@
Sobbing, the boy asked the executive, AWould
you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He=s
hurt and he=s
too heavy for me.@
Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly
swelling lump in his throat. He lifted the young man back into the
wheelchair and took out his handkerchief to clean the scrapes and
told the boys everything was going to be okay.
the grateful child said to him. The man watched the little boy push
his brother down the sidewalk toward his home. He never did repair
the side door. He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life
so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your
As I speak to people during my daily travels I am finding
that many of us feel just like the driver of that Jaguar. We have
been all so busy accumulating and consuming with little regard about
how long the “gravy train” was going to continue. We buried our
heads in the sand, pretending that we could go on like we had
forever, yet knowing that the end would surely arrive one day. We
just were not prepared for it to hit us so quickly and so
What has happened to the world economy today is very much
like the brick hitting the Jaguar. We have all been shocked back to
reality. We needed to be reminded to slow down. We needed to be
reminded that the most important things in life are not things at
all but the relationships we develop and how we treat our friends,
neighbours and family members.
It is time for each of us to seriously consider the steps
that are necessary to recreate our own life. We will have to take on
a whole new approach to consumerism. We are entering a world in
which discretionary spending will be limited. We will have to learn
to use our limited financial resources to purchase the things we
really need. The things we “want” may have to wait. Hopefully,
we will emerge from this experience as a much more compassionate and
caring people, where our priorities in life are not determined by
greed and consumerism but rather by our need to be loved and to love
the people who are important in our life.
We will build that bridge and we will be allowed to continue
on our journey, but it will be a much different road than the one we
were on before.
Have a good week!
Are Five Birds Sitting On A Wire. One Decides To Fly Away. How Many
February 23, 2009
The Valley East
Community Development Initiative was launched on Friday, February 6,
2009 by a group of business persons who attended a special meeting
held at the Grill Marks Bistro, Golf & Conference Centre. I had
the privilege of organizing and chairing the event and can honestly
say that I came away from the meeting full of hope and excitement
about the future of Valley East as a growing
The stage was set
right from the beginning when the following question was put to the
group. “There are five
birds sitting on a telephone wire. One decides to fly away. How many
are left?” While there are
several obvious answers you may come up with, the correct answer is five
(5). Read the question again and you will see that it did not say
that one bird actually “flew away”. The information you are
provided with is that one bird merely “decided to fly away”. In
fact, deciding to fly away and actually flying away are two
completely different things.
There is a life lesson for us all within this riddle. It is
that you’ll never get where you want to go in your life until you
point yourself in the right direction, jump off the wire, and flap
deciding what you want to do is not enough. You must take action
that is consistent with your desired goals.
We referred back to this story about the birds several times
during the course of our meeting at Grill Marks as we considered a
variety of interesting ideas and options that would help improve our
community. We all realized that if we are going to meet the goals
and objectives of the Community Development Initiative, we must make
sure that this was not just going to turn into another group
of people from Valley East getting together to come up with more
“ideas”. It was evident that we needed to point ourselves in the
right direction and then “jump off the wire” to make it happen.
After all, in the end, it’s not our goals that determine our
success or quality of life. It’s the results of our actions upon
which we will be judged.
The main purpose
of holding the meeting in the first place was to explore the
feasibility of developing a strategic plan of action that might
create an effective communication network which will enable
residents of Valley East to become much more
aware of the tremendous benefits of living in Greater Sudbury’s
most progressive community. The Community Development Initiative
will not only result in a greater degree of community spirit, it
will also stimulate economic growth among goods and service
providers operating in Valley East.
The ultimate goal is to help connect the schools, churches,
groups, organizations and clubs that are currently involved in their
own special events and activities during the year. We want to create
awareness of the “big” picture to capture the full magnitude and
scope of what Valley East has to offer its
The truth is that
Valley East has an enormous
number of activities going on at any given time during the course of
the year! When you put it all together there is no other town that
could possibly offer such a wide & diverse variety of
opportunities for the benefit of people of all ages and backgrounds.
It is our belief that once people become fully aware of the whole
picture our community pride and community spirit will reach
fantastic new heights. This will surely result in Valley East becoming even more
attractive to newcomers who are seeking a place to buy or build a
new home in the Greater Sudbury Area, thus stimulating our local
economy even further.
I am proud to say
that this small group of individuals decided to do more than just
come up with ideas. We actually jumped off the wire and are
providing another opportunity for people from the community to come
together and talk about this extremely important initiative.
The next meeting
will once again be held at the Grill Marks Bistro, Golf &
Conference Centre at the top of the hill in Val Caron. It is open to
everyone interested in helping make the community the best it can
be. This includes all residents, all business owners and
professional service providers; teachers and parent council reps
from schools; and representatives of churches, organizations, clubs
and service groups operating in Valley East. We want you to share
your ideas with us or just be there to listen to what others have to
say. Your attendance at the meeting will say a lot.
On behalf of the rest of the people who were part of the
first meeting, I am extending an invitation to all of my readers to
make a special effort to join us at the next meeting. You even have
your choice of two times. For people who prefer evenings, you may
attend on Thursday, March 5, 2009 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. A second
meeting will be held the following morning, Friday, March 6, 2009
from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for those of you who cannot make it in
the evening. Advance registration is not necessary. Just drop in and
listen or share your thoughts. There is no charge to anyone to take
part in this initiative. We just want you to show up and provide
your input as we determine the next steps in the Valley East
Community Development Initiative. Mark the date and time in your
calendar right now so you don’t forget.
Have a good week!
"Have the Courage to
February 9, 2009
time you have a chance to watch people surfboarding, either in real
life or on television, spend some time observing them and perhaps
you will get some insight into what is happening in our world today.
all go out on their boards and wait for a wave. Some of them sit on
their board waiting and waiting for just the right wave. A few of
them end up sitting there all day and never get a chance to surf
because the wind dies down before they find what they are looking
for. Others take
whatever wave comes along and just get up and ride. The ones who get
up and ride every wave they can sometimes end up with a weak wave
and their run is soon over. Others get on a wave that is too large
and they are unable to stay up, crashing to the water after a while.
And then there are the ones who get up on a wave and ride it with
precision and skill all the way to the shore. For them, that is the
moment they were waiting for. Everything comes together just right
and they experience the thrill of a perfect ride. Spectators on the
shore as well as fellow surfers on the water look with envy at the
surfers who can stay up on their wave and ride it out with so much
The truth of the
matter is that the surfer who finds just the right wave and rides it
to perfection may not even have been the surfer with the most
experience or talent. He just happened to be in the right place at
the right time and took advantage of getting up on the wave. He RODE
THE WAVE that was provided. He did not create the wave.
And so it is with
most successful people in the world today.
We often look up to highly successful business people or
athletes as if their “surfboards” were making the waves they
rode. They know, and we often overlook, that they’re just riding
the waves of circumstances and situations that came their way. They
have taken advantage of the opportunities that crossed their paths
and have made the best of it.
example, Bill Gates is recognized as one of the best-known
entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. Do you think Bill
Gates “created his own wave”?
computer age really took off in the mid-70’s. Bill Gates and his
partner, Paul Allen both dropped out of university to write software
programs and form their own little company that they called
Microsoft. There were many people like Bill Gates who also, around
that time, began computer companies. And, like Bill Gates, most of
them were born in the mid-50’s.Bill Gates was born in 1955. Paul Allen as born in 1953. They
were born in the right place at the right time.
Bill Gates and
Paul Allen, along with several other famously successful people in
the computer industry, were no different from all of the others who
started up similar businesses. In much the same way as the
surfboarder who rode the wave perfectly and captured the attention
and admiration of all on shore for his demonstration of skill
wasn’t the only one on a board waiting for the right wave to come
along, Bill Gates was the one who ended up on just the right
computer wave at just the right time.
If Bill Gates would have been born in 1951 or 1959, would he
still have been as successful? Would he still be one of the richest
men in the world? Not likely. Someone else would have seized the
opportunity and taken hold of it. That someone else would have been
ready to get on the perfect wave when it came and Bill Gates
wouldn’t have been there to take advantage of the momentum. Bill
Gates didn’t create the computer revolution. He was in the right
place at the right time and was able to use his personal skills and
talents to maintain his balance and make all the right moves. The
rest is history.
The secret of
success is to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities that
come your way. Just like the surfer – when a wave comes along, you
must be ready and have the courage to get up and ride it. It just
might turn out to be the wave you were waiting for all along. If
not, then get up on the next one and ride it. One of these times you
will end up on the right wave and you will be successful. Don’t be
like the surfboarder who simply sits on his board on the water
passing up wave after wave waiting for the right one to come along.
When a wave comes – get up! When an opportunity comes along –
We are all sent many opportunities
in our life. The secret to success is to take advantage of those
opportunities and “go along for the ride”. It may not be the one
were waiting for, but unless we get up and try, we’ll never know
what might be in store.
The Prep School
that Bill Gates went to was one of the few schools in the nation
that had one of the first computers. If he had gone to a school that
didn’t have a computer he may never have even become interested in
them. And he was born at just the right time. What if he would have
turned down the request of his partner and stayed in school to
graduate from Harvard instead of dropping out to form a company?
We’ll never know because Bill Gates was satisfied in “riding the
wave” of opportunity and rode it successfully.
Be ready! The next wave is coming along soon. Don’t let it
pass you by.
Have a good week.
Optimist Sees The Opportunity In Every Difficulty
February 2, 2009
Everyone knows that this is not going to be one of the
most prosperous years we’ve ever experienced. The truth is that we
are trapped in one of the worse recessions in recent memory and just
about every segment of the community is being affected in some way
by the global meltdown. It may be hard for us to think positive at a
time like this, but whenever I find myself drifting off into
“negative-thinking mode” I take out my favourite quote by
Winston Churchill as he explained the difference between a pessimist
and an optimist. He said, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees
the opportunity in every difficulty."
While it is true
that we may be living in a particularly challenging time, consider
how the following story demonstrates that there are always two ways
of looking at any given situation – even if that situation appears
on the surface as if things couldn’t get any worse.
As the story
goes, a shoe company sent two
representatives to a remote island in the tropics where people
don’t wear shoes. Now imagine yourself working for a company that
sells shoes and how you would feel if you were sent to an island
where people don’t wear shoes.
One of the reps
called the boss the day he arrived on the island and said,
"Boss, I need to come home.People
don't wear shoes here".
The other rep
also called the boss the day he arrived and said,
"Boss, send the entire warehouse. I need to stay for one more
wear shoes here."
Both reps arrived on
the island at the same time and both witnessed the exact same
conditions. However, one of them saw a tremendous opportunity to
make sales because none of the potential customers were wearing
shoes. He took that the position that since not a single person was
wearing shoes, they were all potential customers in that they could
all use shoes. That was the optimistic point of view and he was very
excited about the prospects.
The other rep, on
the other hand, took the pessimistic point of view and concluded
that the situation was futile. He assumed that since none of the
people were wearing shoes at the time, there wasn’t any sense in
even trying to sell them shoes. Which of the two reps best describes
how you view adversity and challenges?
And so, today, we
find ourselves in the middle of what experts are calling a global
downturn in the economy. International companies are shedding jobs
and closing stores all over the world. Consumers have cut back on
spending to try to avoid going further into debt and this change in
spending habits is simply making the situation worse for retail
companies and manufacturers. It is getting so bad that many people
are refusing to watch the news or read daily papers because all they
hear is more doom and gloom.
the problems that we are facing, there are tremendous opportunities
at hand as well. If you are forced to cut back on your expenditures,
look at it as an excellent opportunity to spend more time walking
with your family members or hiking in the woods. It may be an
opportunity for you to adopt a healthier lifestyle by improving your
diet and exercise habits. If you find yourself out of work look at
it as an opportunity to change careers and get into something that
will be more satisfying and rewarding in the long run.
As you get older
you realize that no matter how hard we try to protect ourself, life
is going to throw us all some pretty serious challenges from time to
time. The true test is how we react to these challenges and how we
approach each difficulty as an opportunity for growth. We must all
remember how important it is to never give up and never despair.
Things will get better and we tend to become stronger persons for
the experience. Remember the words of Winston Churchill. “An
optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Life is much
easier to take if you adopt the optimistic approach.
So the next time
you feel the world caving in on you, don’t look at things
negatively. Just picture the two shoe salespersons on that island
looking at all of those people walking around in bare feet. You can
either give up and go home or you can look at all of those bare feet
and get excited about the prospects of selling them shoes. Just keep
your eyes open and be ready to jump on the next opportunity that
Have a good week!
January 26, 2009
I have to admit that over the last few years I have
officially become a CNNite. I imagine that there are many others
like me who tend to spend many hours each week tuned into the
American news channel CNN to get caught up with the latest
“Breaking News”. For the past several months the focus has
obviously been on how Barack Obama has come to lead us all to the
Promised Land. The whole thing has been awe inspiring and of a
magnitude that this world has never seen.
at first this may seem completely unrelated, butall of the hype over Obama and his inauguration actually
reminds me of the time I saw a mother and her three-year-old
daughter walking in the parking at the shopping centre one day. The
little girl was holding on to a string that was attached to a helium
balloon. It looked like a birthday balloon. It was quite windy so I
imagine you can guess what happened next. Yes. A gust of wind pulled
the balloon from the little girl’s hand and carried it high into
the air. I felt so bad for the little girl. Then I noticed that she
wasn’t crying or screaming. Her mother wasn’t admonishing her
over having lost a balloon that must have just cost a few dollars.
Instead the little girl just stood there watching the balloon go
skyward. She tugged on her mom’s arm and said, “Wow Mom. Look at
it go!”The two of
them watched the balloon dance higher and higher until it could no
longer be seen. Then they walked the rest of the way to their car,
absolutely ecstatic at having experienced such a wonderous moment
and smiling as they described how amazing it was to see their
balloon fly away like that.
It made me
realize that there are so many wonderful things that happen in our
lives for which we should feel blessed and for which we should take
time to enjoy the moment. Sometimes these things appear at first to
be negative, but upon closer examination and upon accepting that
nothing much can be done about it, one may as well simply find
something to enjoy about the experience. For example, standing in a
long line at the grocery store gives you time to talk to the people
in line with you. Usually we are too rushed to give each other the
time of day. A snow storm may confine people to their homes, but it
gives everyone time to be together and perhaps play a few games to
pass the time away. When the computer is broken it gives you time to
relax with a book.
though we may complain a lot about high gas prices, low wage
increases, or high taxes, there is still so much to be thankful for
in our life. The truth is that there are a lot of people in the
world who would trade places with us in an instant, even with all of
the things that are wrong with
and Greater Sudbury.
For example, if
you woke up this morning in good health, you are in much better
shape than the one million people around the world who will die of
sickness and disease before the end of the week.
If you can attend church without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or
death... you are more blessed than three billion people in the
If you have food
in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a
place to sleep... you are richer than 75% of this world!
If you have money
in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace
... you are among the top 8% of the world’s most wealthy people.
No matter what
you thing about the current condition of your home or apartment, 80%
of the people in the world who live in substandard housing would
love to trade places with you.
of the people in the world suffer today from malnutrition. Would
they appreciate what you have in your fridge right now?
And so, I think
back to my time in front of the television set tuned in to CNN last
week. I think about a section of Barack Obama’s inaugural speech
that very few news people have commented about.Obama said, “To the people
of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms
flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and
feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy
relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to
suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's
resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and
we must change with it.”
I will continue watching CNN to see if we are indeed prepared
to change with the world. In the meantime, when you lose your
“balloon”, try to react like the little girl and see it not as a
tragedy, but rather as a “WOW MOMENT”.
Have a good week!
"Working Together For
The Good of Our Community"
January 19, 2009
have time to reflect on my feelings about living in the
and whether or not I might enjoy living elsewhere, I recall a
story I once read about a farmer who had lived in the same
home all his life. It was a good farm with fertile soil, but
with the passing of the years, the farmer began to think that
maybe there was something better for him. Every day he found a
new reason for criticizing some feature of his old farm.
Finally, he decided to sell. He listed the farm with a real
estate broker who promptly prepared an advertisement
emphasizing all the many advantages of the acreage: ideal
location, modern equipment, healthy stock, acres of fertile
ground, high yields on crops, well-kept barns and pens, nice
two-story house on a hill above the pasture.
When the real estate agent called to read the ad to the
farmer for his approval prior to placing it in the local
paper, the farmer listened carefully. When the real estate
agent had finished, the farmer cried out, AHold
changed my mind. I=m
not going to sell. Why, I=ve
been looking for a place just like that all my life!”
I’m sure there are many people like myself who feel
is one of the finest places in which to live and raise a
family. Indeed, there are over 25,000 people who must feel the
same way since they have chosen to live in
as well. And, whereas we happen to be one of the fastest
growing sections of the City of
, there must be something that has drawn so many people to
The owners of Grill Marks Bistro, Golf & Conference
Centre, formerly Clearview Golf Club, are people who saw the
and who have established a business in this community. They
have witnessed first hand just how supportive local residents
can be and are convinced that this is indeed the place where
they want to make their dreams come true. I was very pleased
to find out that Grill Marks has joined forces with The Vision
Paper to organize the first ever Valley East Today Business
Conference on Friday, February 6, 2009.
In announcing the decision to support this initiative,
Christina Allsop, one of the owners of the club, stated,
“There is no way we are going to allow the current state of
the economy to prevent the continued growth of this community.
We’ve worked too hard to get where we are today to simply
roll over and quit. We know that there are hundreds of other
businesses in this town that deserve better that what some of
the experts are predicting. That is why we decided to put on
the Valley East Today Business Conference. We want to provide
an opportunity for other business leaders to sit down together
for a day and come up with some “outside-the-box”
strategies that will help everyone in
deal with these challenging times. We know we can get through
this ‘recession’. We just need to work together and come
up with a plan that will involve the entire community and
maintain the confidence local residents have in our ability to
I was even more thrilled when Grill Marks asked if I
would be willing to organize and facilitate the program on
their behalf. Living in
for the past 34 years has given me a personal perspective on
where we’ve been and where we were heading. I am proud to be
part of what I consider to be the most important gathering of
local business leaders that has ever taken place in this
The Valley East Today Business Conference is open to
anyone who operates a business or professional service in
. This includes everyone from managers of major retail
establishments to professionals to home-based entrepreneurs
and consultants. Furthermore, because Grill Marks has
generously offered to cover all of the costs, there is
absolutely no cost to attend the conference.
The main event will run from
Friday, February 6, 2009
at Grill Marks Bistro, Golf & Conference Centre at the top
of the hill in Val Caron. We have a very ambitious agenda that
starts off with a continental breakfast from
in The Bistro. After that the morning will consist of small
group sessions to identify and understand some of the major
issues and challenges facing
today. The afternoon will be spent in small groups again as
participants put their heads together to come up with a
strategic plan of action that can be implemented in the
community to help everyone cope with the challenges.
It promises to be a very worthwhile event and should
produce some very interesting ideas that will enable
to move forward as one of the most preferred communities of
Greater Sudbury. We have a lot going for us. Now all we have
to do is find a way to work together to support each other
while we move past these troubling economic times into a much
You can find out more about the conference by going to
the web sites at www.valleyeasttoday.ca
You can also find out more about the conference by listening
to a special edition of my radio show each Monday from
on CKLU 96.7 FM. Or, if you wish to register for the
conference, call me at 969-7215. Call soon. We expect the
spaces to fill up quickly.
I ask all of the residents of
to wish us luck during this very important day. The shape of
our community may well be determined by the outcome of this
Have a good week!
Among Us Have Been Living In A Recession
January 12, 2009
has been a lot of talk about how bad the economy is today and
many experts are predicting that things are going to get worse
before they get better. Government leaders are puzzled at how
the bubble could burst so quickly, but it really doesn’t
take a rocket scientist to know that things couldn’t
continue the way they were.
Not so long ago gasoline prices were increasing every
week despite the fact that oil companies continued to make an
outlandish amount of profits for investors. Not so long ago
interest rates and bank service charges kept increasing
despite the fact that banks and financial institutions
continued to make billions of dollars in profit. Not so long
ago it was easy to get financing for new cars and trucks,
despite the fact that you may not really be able to afford to
buy such an expensive vehicle. The desire for bigger and
fancier cars created a huge demand which resulted in rapidly
rising prices for new vehicles. Not so long ago the cost of
housing reached ridiculous levels as people jumped at the
chance to get into long term mortgagesthat were offered to them with little concern about
their ability to pay in the future.
We soon found ourselves living in a world where the
rich got fabulously richer and the poor got critically poorer
and then all of a sudden the ordinary working people could no
longer afford to buy as much of the high priced gasoline and
had to cut back; people were struggling to keep up with
payments on their loans and credit cards; people stopped
buying new cars; people stopped buying new houses and some
were unable to pay their mortgages.
ALL OF A SUDDEN, people realized that they could no
longer continue this reckless spending spree on borrowed
money. They realized that they had to be more careful with the
little money they had left and soon people were only buying
what they NEEDED, and not what they WANTED. We simply ran out
of money to spend.
As a result, the oil companies have had to drastically
reduce their prices, resulting in a tremendous loss of profit.
The banks don’t have as much money to lend out because
people no longer have money to put into their savings
accounts. Credit cards are not being used as much since people
are only buying what they NEED not what they WANT. Car
manufacturers have cut prices and production since people are
not buying vehicles. The price of houses is dropping rapidly
as the supply begins to outweigh the demand. Many people who
once were employed in high paying jobs find themselves
unemployed or working part-time as companies cut back or close
up all together.
AND NOW, the experts tell us that we are in a
Just what exactly is a recession? The experts define a
recession as a period of “economic decline”. Therefore,
since the oil companies, the banks, the credit card companies,
the automobile industry and the housing industry are all
facing economic difficulties, we are told that we are now in a
If you really want to know about “economic
decline”, talk to the estimated 60% of people employed in
Sudbury today who make $10 per hour or less about how they
have been affected by rising prices during the past few years.
Talk to the single parents who have to balance work and home
life around two or more part-time jobs just to make ends meet.
Talk to the people on fixed incomes who have noticed that they
have less money left over at the end of each month as goods
and services keep increasing in price, eating away at their
The truth is that many of the people in our community
have been living a “personal economic recession” for years
as corporations helped individuals with high paying jobs drive
up the cost of everything from bread to homes. The price of
all goods and services increased beyond reach for a lot of
people because of the cost of gasoline for transportation or
the cost of borrowing money for business loans or the rising
cost of salaries and bonuses.
Unfortunately, there will be a lot of new people on the
unemployment lines for a while. For the most part these will
be the people who once made huge salaries and who will quickly
find out what it means to live a life where you may only have
enough money to buy what you truly NEED and not what you WANT.
Retail companies and manufacturers will have to accept a much
lower profit margin on their goods and services. Banks and
credit card companies will have to reduce their borrowing
rates and service charges while increasing the rates they pay
On the other hand, people on fixed retirement incomes
and those working in minimum wage jobs have already developed
the habit of buying only what they NEED. Now that prices are
going down the money they have available for spending on gas,
food, clothing and transportation will go much farther than
before. The government leaders, the corporations, and the
wealthy are declaring that the country is in a recession, but
the ordinary people living in our community may finally have a
bit of a break for a while from their “personal
It is going to be a much different world from now on.
But somehow, I think it is going to be a much more civil
society. Smaller independent retailers may soon discover that
their customer base is increasing as local residents return to
local stores to satisfy their NEEDS; the gap between rich and
poor may be reduced; and our priorities in life may finally
get straight. This is a CORRECTION that had to happen. Now we
just have to make the best of it and support our friends and
neighbours who need us more than ever.
Have a good week!
Don’t Ever Forget It!"
January 5, 2009
A long time ago I attended a conference where a
speaker started off his seminar by holding up a brand new
crisp $20 bill. He
looked over the crowd of close to 200 business persons in
attendance and asked, “Who
would like this $20 bill?" As
expected, all of the hands went up. He
then said, "I am going to give this $20 to someone in the
audience but first, let me do this." He proceeded to
crumple the dollar bill up. He
then asked, "Who still wants it?" All of the
hands went back up into the air.
he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it
on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his
shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty.
who still wants it?" Still all of the hands went into the
gazed around all of the people in the room and then said, "My
friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No
matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it
did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20." The point
the speaker was trying to make through this simple example is
that many times in our own
life, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by
the decisions we make and the consequences we face as a result
of those choices. At times we may feel as though we are
no matter what has happened or what will yet happen, you will
never lose your value as a person. You are special. Don’t
ever forget it!
repeat that! No matter what happens to you; No matter what
choices you make; No matter how many times you falter or fail;
you will never lose your value as a person. Furthermore, there
are many key people in your life who will recognize your value
as an individual regardless of what you have gone through. The
people at the seminar didn’t care what the speaker did to
the $20 bill. They still knew that it was worth $20 regardless
of what it had gone through. They knew that it was just as
valuable as before.
Christmas wish for each of my readers is that you make some
time during the holidays for personal reflection. Do you still
value yourself as a person as much as you ever have? Are you
going through a difficult period of your life or are you
facing some serious challenges at this time? Do you sometimes
doubt your abilities? Is your self confidence as positive as
it should be? As you ponder these and other questions,
remember the $20 bill.
I leave you
with another story about a mother eagle that gently
coaxed her offspring toward the edge of the nest. Her heart
quivered with conflicting emotions as she felt their
resistance to her persistent nudging. “Why does the thrill
of soaring have to begin with the fear of falling?” she
in the tradition of the species, her nest was located high
upon the shelf of a sheer rock face. Below there was nothing
but air to support the wings of each child. “Is it possible
that this time it will not work?” she thought. Despite her
fears, the eagle knew it was time. Her parental mission was
all but complete. There remained one final task – the push. The
eagle drew courage from an innate wisdom. Until her children
discovered their wings, there was no purpose for their lives.
Until they learned how to soar, they would fail to understand
the privilege of having been born an eagle. The push was the
greatest gift she had to offer. It was her supreme act of
love. And so, one by one, she pushed them and they flew. As
human beings we are often guilty of taking the path of least
all want to live life to the fullest and achieve our true
potential, but at times we may lack the confidence needed to
take that final leap. We may start out like the “crisp”
$20 bill in the story at the beginning of this editorial, but
after being crumpled and stepped on a few times, we may doubt
our ability to succeed.
forget that one of your greatest responsibilities to yourself
and to those who depend upon you for leadership and support is
to be all you can be. This coming year make a commitment to
spend more time around the people who truly love you. See for
yourself that they still see you as the “crisp $20 bill”.
They don’t care if you’ve been crumpled or stamped upon.
They still value you as the person you have always been to
them. They have confidence in your ability to succeed in
anything you put your mind to. Now go ahead and give yourself
“the push” that will allow you to soar like the eagles.
When the doors of opportunity open up during the next twelve
months, go through them with confidence and be the best you
Two little boys were dressed and ready to go. In fact, they
had been ready now for more than an hour. Excitement flooded their faces
and all their talk was about only one thing: their father had promised to
take them to the circus that afternoon and they were only minutes away
from leaving. For More>>>>
many years ago, I was standing in the hallway at a local
elementary school watching a teacher bring her class to
the gym when I overheard the most philosophical question
I have ever encountered in my life. For
my Father-in-law, Ignace Starcevic, passed away in 1982,
my wife asked me to come up with something nice to have
engraved on his tombstone. I was only 32 at the
time and we were in the process of raising three young
sons, aged 3, 5 and 7.It was a hectic time of our lives and we were
typical parents – running ourselves ragged as we
encountered all of the normal experiences and challenges
faced by all other young parents. For
has often been said that a person’s life is the sum total of his/her
experiences. On the surface that seems like a simple enough statement, but
if one accepts this premise, then why do so many of us engage in practices
and activities which are negative and actually hurt us.Consider
the family of five who decided one day to each clean a different area of
the home. They each took a sponge, did the cleaning, and then placed the
sponges back on the kitchen counter top. The sponges all looked the same. For
are a lot of things I like about my life right now. I could spend the
entire editorial discussing my family, my career and how I have enjoyed
living in Val Therese for the past 32 years. But other than things to do
with my family, the thing I like best about my life is the fact that
through all of my work and personal interactions with the various parts of
the community, I get to meet so many wonderful people who are devoted to
improving the quality of life for others in need. For
Norman Vincent Peale once wrote, “In her the creative
genius of God attains His highest skill. What a charming blend she is of
the most lovable and moving qualities of human nature. From the moment in
youth when she holds her first baby in her arms until in life’s evening
time she looks tenderly upon her grandchild, her life is one of dedicated
service and love. Loving us; believing in us; fighting for us; praying for
us; to her we are always her dear child – life of her life.” For
other day I overheard two teenage girls in the mall complaining about
their parents. One of them was upset because her parents wouldn’t let
her go out on a date with a guy named Fred, who was three years older than
her. The girls were making plans to trick her parents into thinking they
were having a sleep-over. For
A number of years ago, while attending a circus with my
children, I noticed a group of elephants in an open area. Each of these
gigantic beasts was being held by only a small rope tied to their front
leg. There were no chains and no fences around them. It was pretty obvious
that the elephants could break away from their bonds at any time, but for
some reason they did not. I went over to one of the trainers and asked why
these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt
to get away. For More>>>>
We all casually leave lasting impressions on others who
come into our life. The least, little courtesy, the simplest, kind word,
perhaps a bit of time spent "just being there," or even, I
suppose, the most fleeting, careless kindness, like fixing a wheel for a
stranger could be a gesture that someone else remembers for the rest of
his or her life. For More>>>>
I’ve met a lot of people
over the course of my lifetime. Some I remember with fondness and some I
would rather forget. A little over two years ago, when I began working as
the Marketing Manager for the Hanmer Valley Shopping Centre, I met a
quiet, unassuming gentleman who has taught me a lot more about life than
he can ever imagine. For More>>>>
What would you say if I told you that it was impossible for you to
ever make a wrong decision? You may not always be happy with the results
of some of your decisions, but it is impossible to make a ‘wrong
“What is wrong with the younger generation today?”
any adult that question and inevitably the answer will boil down to the
fact that, in general, kids just seem to have a serious lack of respect
today. Not all kids display this character flaw, but a large number of
them certainly do. And the ones who demonstrate a lack of respect for
people, property and themselves tend to be the most vocal and the most
latest data we have available shows that the jobless rate in Sudbury
is anywhere from 7 to 10%. This is a serious situation which has been
getting worse over the years as the rest of the country shows employment
and economic growth. For more>>>>
strange how you sometimes get the best advice from the most unusual
places. The other day I met a young man who was a former student of mine. He told
me a story about the birth of his daughter that touched my heart.The
baby was born with a minor problem that caused enough concern for the doctor
to order a test the next morning. For
consider myself to have been very fortunate in life. Sure there have been
days I would like to forget and I have suffered a lot of set backs and
disappointments like anyone else, but, for the most part, my life has been
pretty good. One of the reasons I
feel this way is that many years ago I learned to accept the principle
that where I am today is the sum total of every single thing that has ever
happened to me along this journey. For
The other day I reviewed the results of an international
survey which concluded that
has one of the most serious shortages of skilled labour in the industrial
world. That didn’t surprise me much. We’ve been hearing for years that
our schools must begin to produce more skilled graduates in the trades.
What did surprise me, however, is
the survey found that employers in
are not just having trouble finding employees in the skilled trades field.
of the most important lessons we learn in life is usually due to problems
we’ve encountered because we’ve failed to adhere to the following very
simple, basic rule. “If You Want To Accomplish Anything, You Must Pay
Attention To The Little Details.” More>>>>
day two young brothers were in the backyard when their father came home
and saw them digging in a hole that was already waist deep. The father
came up to them and asked for an explanation. More>>>>
story goes, one day a long time ago, a young mother walked into her 5-year
old daughter’s bedroom and was extremely upset to see that the little
girl had used almost a whole roll of expensive gold wrapping paper to
decorate a small package about the size of a shoe box. While severely
scolding her daughter, the mother quickly gathered the remaining paper,
scotch tape and scissors. The child was told to get her pajamas on and go
to bed immediately without watching TV or getting her usual bedtime snack.
never ceases to amaze me that people who have been through some of the
most horrendous challenges this world can throw at them seem to have the
most positive outlook towards life. I met a wonderful lady the other day
who taught me a great deal about what it means to live one day at a time
and how happy you can be if you focus on what is truly important. More>>>
I want to thank Cindi Cooke for sending me the following
email which clearly demonstrates the one thing that we all take for
granted, but that is definitely our most valued possession. I don't think
the story needs any introduction. The message is clear. More>>>>
to hold on to the memories of how good you feel during the next few weeks
whenever you are around people who liven things up with happiness. See how
quickly a room full of quiet people can break into laughter when one
person brightens up the room. Happiness is contagious, and all it takes is
one person to lift up everyone’s spirit. More
This is my favourite time of the
year, and I know that most of you likely feel the same way. However, at
the risk of putting a damper on your “Christmas Spirit”, it is also
the time of year when I get the most discouraged about the future of this
great community. More>>>
The other day I came across a short article that clearly
explained why it is so difficult to get people to change their habits and
beliefs. The article showed me that a simple creature like the "processionary
caterpillar" can teach us all a lot about life if we are only willing
to listen. More>>>>
other day I was typing an article on my computer when I was interrupted by
the sound of someone speaking a language which I must admit I am beginning
to understand. It was my 15-month old granddaughter tugging at my shirt
wanting me to play with her. More>>>
Many of my acquaintances often
ask me how I come up with ideas for my editorials every week. I tell them
that it is easy when you are around people all of the time. You just have
to watch and listen. Life happens and stories evolve on their own. More>>>>
As one grows older you would
expect that there would be fewer and fewer new things to experience about
life. You know the expression, “Been there, done that!”So imagine how I felt, when, for the first time in my 55 years on
this earth, I found myself standing by in a lonely hospital room last week
watching my mother-in-law die. More>>>>
Parenting is an art! Ask any
mother or father and they will quickly tell you that there is nothing that
fully prepares you for the role, but you soon discover that there is no
job in the world that is more satisfying or more challenging. More>>>>
There are certain things you stumble across in this life
that hit you like a brick. A few weeks ago I saw the quotation above and
it almost knocked me over. It was on one of those days when I was
questioning whether or not I was making any difference at all in the
things I was doing. More>>>>>
to share a story with you that makes me feel just a little bit of pain
every time I read it. As a father, a teacher, and a husband, I have often
found myself in a situation where I “failed to see the cake” and I
know I missed out on some pretty special moments. More>>>
I once met a farmer who had lived on the same farm all his
life. It was a good farm with fertile soil, but with the passing of the
years, the farmer began to think that maybe there was something better for
Every now and then Christians are challenged to justify
their faith in God. Some people just do not believe things they can’t
understand. Here is a little story that may help you the next time you
find yourself in a conversation with a person who is trying to put you on
the spot. More>>>>
A long time ago there was a young man who was going through
a very difficult period in his life. He worked extremely hard and just
couldn’t find any time to spend with his wife and children. He went to
confide in his father, who was the wisest man he knew. More>>>
Several centuries ago, the Emperor of Japan asked a
Japanese artist to paint a picture of a particular species of bird. Many
years later, the Emperor paid a personal visit to the artist’s studio to
ask for an explanation as to why his painting had not yet been delivered. More>>>
I feel sorry for the next generation. Admittedly, I am not
very old myself, but as I look back over my life I realize that the times
during which I really appreciated what I had were the times when I didn=t
really have very much. It seems that the more we have, the more we want,
and the more we take for granted what we have. Many of us spend our entire
life searching for something that we had right in front of us all along. More
I was recently reminded of a golf tournament I played in
way back in August 2000. I was on a team with my son and two of his
friends. When we took our place on the tee to begin our quest for the
championship, little did I realize that I was taking part in one of those
significant life experiences that we all look back upon with fondness over
the ever increasing years of our life. More
Too often we come across individuals who are so sure of
them self that they refuse to change their focus. They would rather
continue in one direction without changing focus or giving consideration
to other alternatives. How often we have witnessed failure, when a simple
change of direction would have resulted in success. More
One of the things you learn as you are going through the
various stages of life is that no matter what you are involved in, life
has a way of throwing obstacles at you. Our ability to cope with
change and disruption determines, to a great degree, our peace, happiness
and contentment in life. But how do we develop this ability to cope with
change? How do we help children learn this skill? More
The "Daffodil Garden" was located on the side of
a mountain. It was a magnificent scene. One of the most beautiful sights
you could imagine. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of
gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes where it had run
into every crevice and over every rise. The mountainside was radiant,
clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils. More
I read an article the other day which was written by a man
named Jeff Keller. After I finished the article, I realized that the
title, "There’s A Lot More Left In The Tube", is one of those
motivational quotations that you would like to hang up in every room to
remind you that you should never give up too soon. We have all experienced
frustration and despair at various times in our lives when we felt we had
done everything we possibly could to achieve a particular goal. It may be
something as simple as trying to grow flowers in your garden, or as
serious as how to cultivate a better relationship with your child or
spouse, or something to do with your job. Whatever the case, there comes a
point when you simply feel you can’t go on any further. More>>>>>
Many times we, as flawed human beings, make a personal
comment, or react to a situation in anger, only to wish we could take back
our words or say what we really wanted to say in a different manner? Human
beings are, by nature, confrontational animals. We like to get in the last
word! We are quick to strike back with a negative comment when we are
angry or when we are insulted! We don’t like to sit back and take
criticism! Many times, our verbal attacks make us feel good for the
moment, but then we feel a sense of remorse and regret afterwards when we
realize that what we actually said may have inflicted great pain on those
around us. Consider the valuable lesson about life a father taught his son
in this little story and see if there is a lesson for all of us. More>>>>>
One day a little red hen scratched about in the
barnyard until she gathered some grains of wheat. She called her
neighbours and said, "If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to
eat. Who will help me plant?" More>>>>>
The other morning I stopped for a hot chocolate at the drive
through of Tim Horton’s. It was early, and the line-up was unusually
long. By the time I got to the window for my single cup of hot chocolate I
was more than a little annoyed at the waiting time. The glass door lifted,
and there to greet my frowning face was a young lady with a sincerely
friendly smile and a cheery, "Good morning, sir. Here is your hot
chocolate. That will be $1.24 please." More>>>>>
Christmas is a wonderful time of year, filled with so much
joy and happiness. Everyone is attending parties, shopping for gifts,
making plans to visit friends and relatives, and generally just trying to
keep up with the hectic pace of the holiday season. However, no matter how
happy we are or how much we enjoy the Christmas festivities, most of will
experience a few sad moments at this time of year as well. More>>>>
There are certain things you stumble across in this
life that hit you like a brick. A few weeks ago I saw the quotation above
and it almost knocked me over. It was on one of those days when I was
questioning whether or not I was making any difference at all in the
things I was doing. More>>>>
The Tipping Point philosophy is based on the belief that
changes in behaviour or perception can reach a critical mass and then
suddenly create a whole new reality. The most important thing in trying to
analyse whether something is at the verge of a tipping point is whether it
(an event) causes people to reframe an issue. More>>>>
By reaching out to help each other - that is with residents
who are willing to support local businesses and with businesses who are
willing to provide local residents with good value for the goods and
services purchases - we will all benefit from the power of this Community
Circle of Support and move forward into a brighter future with the
confidence that we are all in this together. More
Have you ever watched geese flying along in the sky in a
“V” formation? They fly like that because as each bird in front flaps
its wings it creates an updraft for the bird immediately following. By
flying together in a “V” formation, it has been estimated that the
whole flock adds over 70% to its flying range than if each bird flew on
its own. This means that the flock can cover their journey much more
quickly and with much less of an effort by working together. More
the community of Valley East continues to struggle in the face of a large
economic slow-down, it is becoming clear that our entire future will
depend on the courage and tenacity of young people who are willing to
avoid the lure of greener pastures in the south. The difficulties they
overcome will make them stronger. More
It takes a lot of hard work to bring you publications
like The Vision Paper and valleyeasttoday.ca. This hard work must be
supported by local businesses and local organizations. Individuals must
contribute stories and let us know about events that are going on so that
they can be covered. Take pride in your community and make a sincere
effort to "look through the windows" More
Whether you own a business; participate in a service
group; belong to a sports organization, a church or a school; have a
garden you wish to share ; or if you just want to express your opinions on
Valley East, take action now! More
Thousands of gardeners from
Valley East work extremely hard during the short summer months bringing
life to their yards. When you have a chance to visit these backyard
wonderlands you are truly amazed at the creativity and beautiful landscape
designs that have been created by your friends and neighbours. These are
not magazine layouts. They are real, live gardens, existing right here in
our own community.