Week 25,Whitehorse and Further

I flew up to Whitehorse on June 8th to visit Olivia and had a great few days in the north. I was a little shocked at first because they were experiencing a 50 year record for heat on the 8th and 9th , the 10th was decent and by the 11th it was a normal ,cool ,northern spring day ! But June 9th was 29 C and I had a hotel room that didn’t have any A/C. I survived. The lack of darkness was another thing I had forgotten about and. It was only dark from about 2 am to 4 am.It looks like high noon at 8 pm!

I had a great time though hanging out with Olivia and touring the north with her. We walked and talked around town on Thursday after I arrived and she showed me the city. The mighty Yukon River runs through Whitehorse and I was impressed. We decided to go for dinner around 6 and went to Klondike Rib and Salmon which is one of the best places I have eaten in quite awhile. It’s been on the Food Networks show “You Gotta Eat here” and deserves to be.

 

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Me and Olivia at Mile’s Canyon

 

On Friday Olivia took me on a road trip to Skagway Alaska. It’s only a 2-hour drive and in the summer there is no shortage of daylight, so there’s no need to rush the drive. One thing that immediately struck me as unusual is that we would be driving south to get to Skagway! I just assume Alaska is north. The drive to Skagway was beautiful. We were on the Klondike Highway and there were so many lakes and rivers and mountains. But first we stopped 70 km from Whitehorse at a community called Carcross which is home to the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, with a population of about 250.They have a terrific small but unique boardwalk commercial area set up for the summer tourist season with food and many crafts for sale.

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Pole at Carcross

After this , we were Alaska bound with a few stops for some great pictures.

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Tagish Lake

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Tutshi Lake, a larger image to appreciate the mountains

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I could have taken a picture every kilometer of the drive , it was so awesome

Our last stop before Skagway was Dyea a former town with just a few small homesteads left. It’s at the convergence of the Taiya River and Taiya Inlet and it is the south trail-head for the Chilkoot Pass. Dyea was abandoned for the offering of deeper port waters at Skagway a hundred years ago. The Chilkoot Pass and Dyea are U.S. National Historic Landmarks. When Lori and I were planning our West Coast Trail hike that we completed in July 2016 we talked about doing the Chilkoot Trail. Now that I have been up in this country, seen how beautiful it is, I am going to revive the conversation.

The links for the Chilkoot Trail and the Chilkoot Pass are different if you’re checking them out.

 

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The south trail-head at Dyea

 

It was now on to Skagway, a mere 10 miles away. Skagway was a surprise for me to see and totally captivating. The main street and the side streets off main have all been restored and maintained to their original appearance of 130 years ago. The population is only 1,060 but it doubles in the summer to handle upwards of 900,000 visitors, most of who arrive on the cruise ships. During the Klondike Gold Rush the town was virtually lawless and was described at that time by a North West Mounted Policeman as “hell on earth”. People came from all over America and Canada, up the pacific coast to Skagway before heading for the Yukon gold via the Chilkoot Trail. I have fallen for Skagway and I need to get back there. From Skagway you can catch a ferry to Juneau and Haines if you wanted. Skagway had more than enough to keep me busy for awhile taking pictures and snooping around before we settled down to the reason we had come to Skagway;the promise of a big, fresh ,crab dinner

 

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State Street , Skagway

 

We had a fantastic 1lb crab dinner each with ice tea to drink and hot melted butter for the crab meat! I don’t even remember the name of the restaurant or I would cite it here because the staff were so friendly, and service was good. I could have eaten another. I was stuffed though. After dinner, we hit the streets again and Olivia treated me to a t-shirt!  We bought some candy for the drive back to Whitehorse and we headed home but we had to take 4 tries to get out of town, as I was filming a snap chat and had to get it perfect,while even just correct. Olivia has more patience than I remember her having.Ha

Another thing to mention is the weather. It was 29 when we left Whitehorse and 9 when we got to Skagway and 27 again when we got back to Whitehorse ,at 9 pm.

 

Saturday, we stayed around Whitehorse and one of the things we did was go to the Pride Parade. That was my first Pride parade and although not as big as Calgary’s it was bigger than I expected. Also, you can see by the picture that this has to be the coolest Pride sticker ever.

 

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Sunday, we drove a couple of hours up to Haines Junction and into Kluane National Park. At Haines Junction, you can choose to continue on the Alaska Highway towards Anchorage or you can carry on through Kluane and to Haines Alaska. Kluane was beautiful, windy and cold. All at the same time. We saw a couple of bears in the park and got some good photos of the one guy who was not interested in us at all. He just tried his best to ignore us and carry on his way.

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Mr. Black Bear above and Kathleen Lake,Kluane National Park

 

 

 

On our way home, we stopped at Haines Junction at their famous little bakery and we both had a drink and I added a cinnamon bun before we made the trek back to Whitehorse. I was leaving for Calgary the next day and the thought came to mind as to why so many people want to drive the Alaska Highway each summer. It’s been added to my list of things to accomplish. I had a great time and great time hanging out with Olivia.

 

Whitehorse is a pretty nice little city and I have always loved the north. I’ll be back.

 

Finished the Willie Nelson autobiography this week and I’m a little disappointed in it.Compared to the Gregg Allman autobiography and Stephen King memoirs I’ve recently read, I felt like Willie glossed over a lot of things that did or might have happened that I would have been interested in. It was very clean. Not one story from the bus! I felt like he wrote it and was far too careful not to offend an ex wife or a friend and it seemed like he possibly was hiding things from his adult children.That being said,it was Willie Nelson and it was still an interesting story.

 

The song this week is from Bonnie Raitt who Lori and I saw on Friday the 16th. 

She is as good today as she was 40 years ago! This is her singing one of my favorite songs  written by John Prine, another favorite.

 

 

 

The quote this week is from Howard Zinn.

“The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll drop back next week………….

 

Week 23 & Mental Health

I could hear it in her voice when she said hello. How are you? I was returning my daughters call from 30 minutes earlier. Olivia is an addictions counselor and she moved up north at the beginning of January to do this. One of the young men she has been working with for quite awhile had committed suicide the day before. She was hurt and she was sad. One of the deals about being a parent is that when your kid hurts, you hurt. I never asked his name so I know I’ll sound clinical when I call him “her client”. Her client was a 23-year-old male addict who struggled with his addictions. We talked about him for awhile and the progress he was seemingly making but that progress can disappear quickly with an incident or set back. I have always been proud of Olivia for choosing Social work  and I commend her and all Social Workers for what they do and what they contribute to  our society. I knew when she became a Social Worker that this day would happen and unfortunately it will happen again. I know my daughter well and if we have Social Workers then I am very glad she is one of them. She’s awesome at her job and we need people in this line of work who care about people, society and their belief that they can and will make a change. She’s been doing this since she was in Junior High when she and some friends put on a fundraiser at school to help the victims of the disastrous tsunami of 2004.In a few years, in between grade 11 and 12 her and her friend Emily would spend their summer in Mozambique, working in an orphanage for children who had AIDS or had lost their parents to AIDS. I was hurting for my daughter but at the same time I knew there was no one better suited for this work than she is. I’m flying up to see her this Thursday for the weekend and I know we’ll discuss this more.

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The unfortunate thing is she will see this again. I have spent 25 years in the rooms of recovery and I have seen too many suicides. One is too many. I’ve seen more than that. Most of us, in recovery or not in recovery, have been touched sometime in our life, by suicide. It’s a human condition. I don’t judge anyone who has committed suicide and contrary to some others I don’t believe it’s a selfish act. My pal, Tim M committed suicide on an Easter Sunday at his home. Tim and I came into the rooms together about 1 week apart.  We even had the same sponsor. I had no idea Tim was even close to this. There were no signs, no cry for help, it was his final act. It happened a year and a half after we first met. So often the people left behind ask why and what could I have done? Nothing could be done. The signs are often camouflaged by an outward appearance that is a lie. I feel for these people who do not see an alternative. Imagine the desperation and hopelessness someone feels when suicide, to them, is their best option. I don’t believe it’s a selfish act nor do I believe there is a lot of thought into the ones left behind. It’s an act of insanity and sadly it’s temporary insanity. I have heard the phrase so many times, “a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. I hold hope that the person contemplating suicide will have a moment of clarity and get to an emergency room where a temporary commitment can be enforced and hopefully there can begin something new and different that offers them hope.

 

This video of a famous Ali speech is a must watch and at only 3:21,why not? This is not about boxing or about sports. This is about something far higher than that.It’s so good!

 

The song this week is from Coldplay

 

The quote this week is :

Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.
Rumi

Week 22 and There is a Solution

On Saturday it occurred to me that most people think I showed up to A.A., quit drinking, worked the 12 Steps and here I am 24 years later. But that’s not how it happened and I was reminded of that when I saw Conrad D. at the Cochrane Roundup this past Saturday. I always love to see Conrad and have the opportunity to catch up with him. Conrad was the greatest influence on me to get into the 12 Steps of recovery.

I had quit drinking January 7th 1993 and haven’t had a drink since. However I never went to a 12 Step meeting for my recovery. Why would I? I had quit drinking hadn’t I? As the days and weeks passed my life started to suck. Months passed and it got worse. My anxiety was through the roof. My temper was out of control. My patience was nil. I was angry at the world, 24/7.I had quit drinking so didn’t the world owe me something? This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.No wonder I was angry.

I would run into Conrad on the streets of downtown Calgary a couple of times a week during this stage of my sobriety. He was in the drilling industry and so was I.I looked up to Conrad. He was genuine, funny, and he was successful and had been sober quite a number of years at this time. I wanted to be a lot more like Conrad. When I ran into him on the streets I would have an opportunity to complain to him about how horrible my life had become since I quit drinking. He would listen to me for a few minutes, sometimes he would mention A.A. and always he would walk away when I still had more to say. I was slowly becoming delusional and paranoid. I was messed up in my head. In September of 1993 I ran into Conrad as usual but as I was approaching him he put his hand up in that halt, or stop sign motion. So I stopped and before I could say anything Conrad said the words that I will never forget. “You may have not had a drink in a few months but you’re a bigger ass_________   than you were when you were drinking”. I was stunned. I was frozen in place and time seemed to have stopped. I think I stood there for about 30 seconds before I shook myself only to see Conrad had already walked ¼ of a block away. I was very hurt by those words.

I was so hurt that I went to an A.A. meeting that night. I called central office and there was a meeting that night at St. Michael’s Church on Bow Trail and 45st.I went to that meeting with the intent to join A.A. and change my life. There had to be more to life than the existence I was living. In my eyes Conrad was living proof that those 12 Steps worked. I showed up to The Bow Trail Group that Wednesday night and for the first time in longer than I can remember I had some Faith. Faith that A.A. worked.When they asked if there were any newcomers I stuck my hand up and when they asked if I wanted a newcomer’s package ,I said yes. I bought a Big Book that night and although the first man I asked to be my sponsor said no, the second one I asked said that he would. Something felt different that night and that feeling was hope. For so long my life had been hopeless but on this Wednesday night I had some hope that maybe I could make a life worth living. That I could find happiness and contentment.

Prior to that meeting I had become what is known as a dry drunk. Unbeknownst to me I had untreated alcoholism. Alcohol was only a symptom of my alcoholism. Alcohol was my solution to life and without it I had to find something different as a solution to my problems. I have since found my solution and it is far more than I had ever dreamed of.In A.A. I didn’t learn how to stop drinking. I learned how to live peacefully.

I have this, thanks to my good friend, Conrad D., who cared for me enough to tell me the truth, at the expense of, and despite my feelings. I have no idea where I would have ended up had I not gone through those doors of St Mike’s that night. It scares me to think about it.

I hope that each and everyone one of you has someone in your life that will help you find your truth when you’re too blinded at the moment, to see it yourself.

 

Was there any doubt that the song this week would be from Gregg Allman? If you know me then you saw this one coming. I was hurt when I got the news Saturday that Gregg Allman had passed on. Some of you might recall that Lori and I flew to Vegas last October to see him. He was on the venue with ZZ Top but he had to withdraw due to illness. Recently I did a search to see where he was going to play in 2017 only to find out he had cancelled all his gigs to build up his strength. He was able to keep me guessing and hoping to the end. He died on May 27 from complications due to liver cancer.I spent my teenage years listening to Southern Rock and The Allman Brothers were the pioneers of the genre. I’ve read today that fans have been asked to line the funeral procession route but the family will have a private ceremony. He’ll be buried next to his brother Duane, who was killed in 1971 in a motorcycle accident. This weeks song seems most fitting for the circumstances.

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This is Soulshine , released in 1994.

 

 

The quote this week is from the same man, Gregg Allman

 

I would like to be remembered as a – somebody who could rock your soul or make you cry with a song. And somebody who’s kind, who loved to laugh, and loved his God.

RIP

 

Thanks for checking out the blog and I hope you’ll drop by again next week………………….

Week 21, Long Weekends and Richard Rohr

The sun was shining every day of this past Victoria Day weekend and I can’t remember the last time that happened. We usually prepare for a spring snowfall on this May long weekend but not so this year. Every day was a beautiful,sunny and warm day. I pressure washed the outside of the house, the deck, the patio, the garage and the parking pad and cleaned off a couple shelves in the garage too.  Lori did a lot of work in the garden and yard. I also went through an old trunk of mine that is full of “stuff”. Mostly it’s all knickknacks’ and pictures from the past. These are things that only have sentimental value, which I want my kids to have, later. You know, when I’m gone. Ha-ha.  There’s crayon coloured placemats and tickets from concerts and sporting events that we attended. It’s just a bunch of “stuff”. I got caught up in it though.

Saturday night we met Samir and Kim at Aladdin’s Casbah .We had a fantastic supper and a visit that matched. Aladdin’s is a must if you’re from Calgary. Its south on MacLeod Trail at Avenida and worth the drive. This is not just the best Lebanese food in town this clearly some of the best food I’ve had in Calgary. If you’re not sure what to have I recommend starting with the tabouli and baba ganoush for appetizers and then order the mixed grill for a main course. If you go on Saturday night the belly dancer starts around 830-9 and you definitely want to be there for that! The food, the staff and the restaurant will have you planning your next visit to Aladdin’s .

I have a spot by some framed jerseys that needed some chairs but they had to be the right chairs to fit in with the sports jerseys. I said to Lori that I thought a couple of leather chairs would be the right fit. She got on Facebook ,checked into Calgary buy and Sell and immediately found two, brown distressed leather chairs that fit perfectly and I won’t say the price because it was such a good deal I almost feel guilty.

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This picture of me and the kids is from 1996. I found this while cleaning the garage on the weekend. Pure gold! It looks like we’re at Elbow Falls

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one of the pictures I found cleaning the garage. Emma,Me,Liam and Olivia

 

I’m presently taking a 9 week course from the Center for Action and Contemplation  . The course is “Breathing Underwater” and it’s to enhance the book by Father Richard Rohr titled Breathing Under Water ; Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. It’s been a great course and it’s given me a considerable amount of spiritual goods to reflect on. This is the second time this year I will have read this book. It’s been well worth my time.

I’m also reading Stephen King’s book , On Writing , Wayne Gretzky’s book Stories of the Game and I’m dabbling in a book of poetry my sister Nancy gave me for my birthday 2 weeks ago. It’s a book of poetry all based on Canada’s game, hockey! It’s called Hero of the Play I’ll get the first three finished by the first week of June and I’ll continue to dabble in the poetry book.

Cheers to the Nashville Predators for getting past Anaheim to be the first team in the Stanley Cup Final this year. This is their first ever appearance in a cup final in the 19 years they have been in the NHL. I’m really happy for the city and their fans and hope they do well. They now await the winner of game 7 between Ottawa and Pittsburgh. I would think if Ottawa ended up in the final it would be a nightmare for the NHL since Nashville and Ottawa are both small market teams and I can’t imagine there would be quite the TV interest that you might see in a NY Rangers versus Los Angeles Kings final. So I’m pulling for Ottawa and maybe we’ll see these two small market teams play for the Stanley Cup. Ottawa has won a Stanley Cup before but their last win was in 1927, long before the modern era.

 

The song this week is from the band Deer Tick and is titled Song About a Man

 

 

The quote this week is something I have had stored away in my file and I have no idea where I got it. But I like it.

If you had $86,400 in your account and someone stole $10 from you, would you be upset and throw the remaining amount $86,390 away at the person who took your $10? Of course not! The same way we have 86,400 seconds each day. Don’t let someone’s negative 10 seconds ruin the remaining 86,390 seconds of your day.

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope to see you next week……………..

 

 

 

Week 20 & I Love To Write

I enjoy writing this blog. If no one dropped by, I would still do it but it’s far more enjoyable and rewarding to write when I know someone is reading it.

My weekly posts have now slowed down to every second week. Slowed is a misnomer.  I’m very busy and right now I’m not able to find the time to write on a weekly basis. I would like to but I am short on time every day.

We’ve been very busy at work this year, I’m very busy with other commitments after work and I am taking a course right now too. And I need an hour a day for the gym, for myself. I am hoping that soon I will be able to get back to once a week postings.

I love writing and could do it full time but I still have to send money to the bank every month for my home. I enjoy writing my blog and I am enjoying writing a couple of stories I am working on. I have always had a love for writing, prose, and poetry. It rivals my appreciation of music.

I quit school when I was 16 but I had already completed, with great marks, Grade 11 English.  I had a passion for English. My Grade 11 English teacher was an overweight and unusual character of a man named Mr. Loob. He wore clean pressed white shirts, short sleeves and a bow tie. Same thing every day. He too had a great appreciation for literature. He was like a cheerleader for books such as the Lord of the Flies and his enthusiasm pushed my love for literature even further. I’ll never forget Mr. Loob and how supportive and encouraging he was for all my work and projects. He was not only an interesting character he was a nice man. He’s one of the few school teachers who impacted my life.

But I left school at 16. I was bored and annoyed with school so I left. At 17 I was working on my first drilling rig, Westburne #17, outside of Grimshaw, Alberta. The rigs were a harsh place for a 17-year-old but I took to them quickly and I’ve been in that industry ever since. Through everything though I never lost my appreciation for literature.

I have taken some writing courses in the last 5 years. They’ve been in person at The Alexandra Writing Center in Calgary and some online course work. I have also taken courses from Athabasca University which is a distance, online University here in the province of Alberta. I’m applying those credits towards and English Degree but it’s likely I won’t pursue the degree again until I retire. I just can’t commit the time right now. I would have to take the time from somewhere else and I’m not prepared to do that.

I’m reading Stephen King’s book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”. My friend Liz L. lent it to me and I am about ¾ the way completed. It’s a slower read because it is some of Stephen King’s life but also it’s a great book about how to write!

So, I will get back to posting once a week I just don’t know when. I don’t want to create some disappointment in myself by not meeting a deadline today, that I can’t reach later.I’ll continue to concentrate on subject matter I know and enjoy and as Stephen King has said, I’m still trying to find my voice.

 

Just when I think I know something about hockey I look back a month at my playoff predictions and am reminded why I work in the drilling business. We’re down to 4 teams and it’s awesome hockey. Pittsburgh is playing Ottawa and the other division has Anaheim against Nashville. For the sake of hockey,small markets and unconventional hockey hotbeds everywhere I hope to see Nashville in the Stanley Cup Final. It’d be great for hockey everywhere. Enjoy the clip below where Nashville is becoming known as Smashville.

 

The song this week is from Willie Nelson from his new album, Gods Problem Child and its a song about his old buddy Merle Haggard who passed on , April 6 , 2016. The song’s called He Won’t Ever Be Gone.

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The quote this week is from Father Richard Rohr.

“The human ego will always try to name, categorize, fix, control and ensure all its experiences. For the ego everything is a commodity. It lives inside of self-manufactured boundaries instead of inside the boundaries of the Godself. It lives out of its own superior image instead of mirroring the image of God. With the Western isolated self in a state of immense insecurity today, we are flailing about, searching for any solid identity.”

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll do the same again next time I post………

Week 12 , Expectations & Resentments

“Unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments”

It is our job to identify our needs, and then determine a balanced way of getting those needs met. We expect our Higher Power and the Universe – not one person – to be our source.

I believe it’s unreasonable to expect anyone to be able or willing to meet our every request. We are responsible for asking for what we want and need. It’s the other person’s responsibility to freely choose whether to respond to our request. If we try to coerce or force another to be there for us, that’s controlling.
There’s a difference between asking and demanding. We want love that is freely given.
It is unreasonable and unhealthy to expect one person to be the source meeting all our needs. Ultimately, we will become angry and resentful, maybe even punishing, toward that person for not supporting us as we expected.
It is reasonable to have certain and well-defined expectations of our spouse, children, and friends.
If a person cannot or will not be there for us, then we need to take responsibility for ourselves in that relationship. We may need to set a boundary, alter our expectations, or change the limits of the relationship to accommodate that person’s unavailability. We do this for ourselves.
It is reasonable to sprinkle our wants and needs around and to be realistic about how much we ask or expect of any person. We can trust ourselves to know what’s reasonable.
The issue of expectations goes back to knowing that we are responsible for identifying our needs, believing they deserve to get met, and discover an appropriate, satisfactory way to do that in our life.

 

I had a wonderful day last Saturday with my oldest daughter, Emma. When she was 3 years old I took an afternoon off from work to take her to watch her first movie in a movie theatre. The movie was “Beauty and the Beast”. I remember how awe struck she was by the huge screen and booming speakers. That was a very happy dad moment for me and I won’t ever forget it. That was 25 years ago and now Disney has released a new, live-action remake of the original.

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I had initially thought it was just something fun and silly and nostalgic to do with Emma and we could have a few laughs together. Well the movie is very well done and I was a little shocked to discover that I was enjoying the movie. It was great and I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying it. Well done Disney. We kicked around the mall for awhile and then went for a nice dinner at Eau Claire. My Saturdays can’t get much better than that.

 

I got home from work Wednesday and bumped into my neighbour, in the back lane. I asked her how she was doing. Her reply was “shitty”. So I stopped to talk to her and found out that her dog, a black Labrador, had died on Saturday. Vader was his name and he and my dog Hoover always had time to bark at each other through the fences and the shrubs and sniff each other’s butts, as dogs do, when they were on the sidewalk together. He was a year younger than Hoover and died from the cancer that was discovered in him only 3 weeks prior. It’s quite sad actually and makes me appreciate the time I have with Hoover, just a little more.

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Hoover The Dog

Here’s a Ted Talk I recently watched that touched a nerve with me. It’s about finding the courage to speak up against prejudice and bigotry. It’s only 4:18 if you want to take the time to watch it.

 

The song this week is Hey Bebe from Rhiannon Giddens new album, Freedom Highway

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The quote this week:

“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.”

M.K. Clinton
Thanks for dropping by…….I appreciate it……

Week 10 & God

 

If you forget everything but God you have remembered everything that matters

 

from Mitch Teemley

 

My daughter Olivia has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in the Faculty of Social Work for September 2017 at University of Calgary and I am very proud of her and happy for her!

Lori and I were at the Jubilee Auditorium last Thursday to take in Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt, for not just an evening of great music but one that included a great deal of banter between the two which was often very funny,but always entertaining. They have turned their travelling music show into theater

The song this week is White Boy Lost in the Blues , by Lovett and Hiatt.

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Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt

The quote this week is the following from Mother Teresa.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you’ll check it out again next week! Have a great day and week ahead……….

Week 8 & Expectations of Self

 

Expectations of myself . I need them. Reasonable and achievable expectations of myself sets a tone for personal growth and improvement.

I deem these expectations of self to be necessary for my physical , emotional and spiritual growth. They’re all essential if I am to grow,as a person. Most of us strive to be better. Most of us want to be better. It could be at work. It could be as a leader , a follower , a husband or wife, a son, a daughter , a friend.

Imagine going to work and saying to yourself “yesterday was a very mediocre day . I think I will shoot for another mediocre day”. To me it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.But imagine you come into work and say ” I had a good day yesterday but I know I can do better”. What a simple concept. I can be better today than I was yesterday. Simple.

I use work as an example because that’s the place where so many of us derive much of our self worth and unfortunately,  self indulgent negative thought .So to counter this I want to give myself opportunity to do well;to do good and be better.I can apply this to any job , any situation , any relationship and anything in my life I want to be better at.
My expectations of myself must be realistic if I am going to incorporate this practise in to my life. If they aren’t realistic expectations then I only set myself up for failure which is a feeling I don’t need to create for myself. I want to improve , so I’ll feel good about myself,not bad.There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having some expectations of myself and to work towards achieving them.

I’m going to share one of my favorite stories on this topic and to get to the point quicker, I will paraphrase.

This exchange took place between the famous Trappist Monk , Thomas Merton and his old friend and renowned poet Robert Lax. They were walking down the streets in Lexington Kentucky one day when this exchange took place. They had just finished a small argument as great friends often do.

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The above pictures are both of the beloved Thomas Merton

“What do you want to be anyway? ” said Lax to his friend. “I don’t know; I guess what I want to be is a good Catholic” replied Merton. “what do you mean you want to be a good Catholic?” said Lax  Lax was not impressed with the lame answer given him by his old friend Thomas.
Lax responded ” Why don’t you aspire to be a saint , Thomas?” Merton responded with a laugh and replied “I can never be a saint !”,  to which Lax replied” I didn’t say you would be a saint ,Thomas. I only said aspire to be one”

Taken from Thomas Merton’s autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain , page 260

 

 

The song this week is from Old 97’s , an alt-country band from Dallas who’ve been around since 1993. They never disappoint me. This song is titled Good With God.

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Old 97’s

 

The quote this week is from Bruce Lee.

I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll check it out again next week……………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 7 & Change

We cannot change the past. We can try as hard as we want (think), but we will not change the past. That was the gist of a discussion I had with a friend today while we grabbed a quick coffee at Starbucks. We cannot change the past. So stop dwelling on it. Stop beating yourself up over the things you did that today,you can’t change. If you had character flaws, as I did and I do, as we all do, then you have done some things that you wished you hadn’t. These things are done,behind us and can’t be undone. You can make an amends for them ,you can seek forgiveness but you can not undo the action.Here’s what I know we can do.We can change our future ; we can change our attitudes, our perceptions and our actions. So don’t torture yourself over the things that you have done in the past that you find to be objectionable to you today but instead use those things, those wrongdoings ,as your guide to what you DON’T want to be or do, going forward. Every one of us can change if we want to change. I don’t know what it is about you that you would like to change but I do know what it is about me that I would like to change and I work on those things. I’ve done many things in the past that I find very displeasing to me today. Some of them embarrass me and some of them still hurt. So I don’t anchor myself there. My past does not and will not define me; unless I allow it. So I told my friend, at coffee, why dwell on these things in the past that you have done that you cannot change? Why not use this energy in a positive fashion and dwell on the thing(s) you want to change as you grow forward? So take a moment, look at your past and say goodbye to those character flaws and start being the change you want to grow into.

 

The song this week is from a US indie-folk singer whose star is rising swiftly. Her name is Angel Olsen and if you’re in the Seattle area you can catch her performance at the Neptune this Saturday the 18th.

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The quote this week is from the GOAT Muhammad Ali

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll do the same next week…….

Week 6 & Conscious Contact

Last weekend I was on silent retreat  ,west of Caroline Alberta, at Sanctum Retreat Center.

There were 29 men who attended and the retreat was a 12 step retreat although Sanctum itself holds many retreats for many groups or organizations. It’s a beautiful center with great facilities and rooms and the food itself is definitely a spiritual experience. Check them out.

I love the silent retreat. I might pick it up to a 2 a year pace this year and get in a summer retreat also. It is an excellent opportunity to de-stress, rest, reflect and think ,or a number of other things you might want to do with the time. This year I enjoyed the silence, read a book I have wanted to read and got a good start on another book. With 29 men the silence is huge and it’s far more noticeable with that many men around than if there were just a handful. Saturday night I went into the dining hall to have a cup of tea and read my book. After about 15 minutes I realized the room was quite busy so I looked up, and counted 13 men in the room. Some men were snacking on an orange or an apple, some men were having a coffee or tea and some were just sitting. One table had 3 men sitting together, but not a word was spoken. That was a very cool moment. Everyone has their own private room at the retreat ,which was small, but very comfortable with a small table to write on if you wished to. The silence is in effect from dinner on Friday to lunch on Sunday. There was guided meditations on Friday night, Saturday morning and Saturday night and Sunday morning. Nothing is mandatory and all of it is up to the individual. I highly recommend taking it all in though if you ever choose to go on retreat. It was like getting my battery pack recharged! There are many types of retreats and retreats centers everywhere and I suggest it to anyone to take an opportunity and retreat; even if you only do it once.

The following is from Andrew Holecek who completed a 3 year Zen retreat and is the author of Dream Yoga.

 

Retreat is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage to stop and face one’s mind so directly. But if you want to be unconditionally happy, which is one way to talk about enlightenment, there is no other way. Sooner or later you have to relate to your mind instead of from it. Otherwise you will forever be held captive by the contents of your mind, shackling yourself to every shiny thought that pops up,a prisoner of your own making.

To be truly free, to cut the shackles, you have to block all the conventional exits and be with yourself, retreat into yourself. Once the initial hurdles are crossed and the mind begins to settle in retreat, the benefits unfold. The mind sharpens and the heart opens. Stability and equanimity develop. Kindness and compassion blossom. The world softens because you soften. Discipline, patience and accommodation mature.”

 

I had a nice chat today with my good friend Dan who lives in Kelowna. He sent me, via Facebook, the funeral card from our old friend Ivor Lundin who was killed in an industrial accident on Okanagan Lake on Monday the 30th. Ivor ran a boom boat on the lake pushing logs into the mill. He went down with his boat that night. Rest In Peace Ivor.

 

What a wild Super Bowl game! Congrats to Tom Brady who, like him or not , has to be the best QB ever. He deserves all the records he set. It pains me to say it but he is great! Looks like hockey and the NHL are now front and center for me until baseball season begins.

 

The song this week is from one of my favourites, The Felice Brothers. Their journey began in the NYC subway system where they played for change and now they tour the country. Painting pictures for my mind with their lyrics. I would love to see these guys live and I will, first chance I get. This is the title song from their latest album, Life In The Dark

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The quote this week is from Richard Rohr

“You have to find some way to not become a cynical or negative person, a person who keeps walking around and opening your eyes in the outside world but inside you close down, a person who stops expecting tomorrow to be better than today. “

 

 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope I’ll see you next week………….