I’m Coming Out of the Closet … Again.

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Hand of a child opening a cupboard door

A year ago in this blog I came out of the INTROVERSION closet. And so in this, my 2nd annual coming-out post, I’ve selected a different closet from which to emerge.

Yin Yang, Hot Cold, Vanilla Chocolate.

The attraction of opposites is common and complementary.

I’m more like the repelling blend of oil and water within the world of gender roles. After all, what kind of real man likes romantic, sappy, poignant movies that tell stories of love lost and won, lost again and then re-won?

What kind of real man can endure Katherine Heigl or Rachel McAdams playing the hard-nosed but oh-so-soft female executive in a man’s world?

Most men’s heads are a vortex of sports, beer, cars, and sex. Real men thrive on action and violence and muscle cars. Real men don’t like quiche. Real men spit and swear.

I’m not a Harlequin romance reader or cheesy soap opera fan but I must — somewhat reluctantly — thrust my hand out of the macho-closet into the tissue-ready Chick-Flick world.

I’m the oil slick on the surface of this water-world of REAL men.


I like CHICK-FLICKS. Bite me.

Give me sweetly-saccharine Sandra, give me Blonde Reese (Legal or Illegal!), give me Chicago-syrupy Renee and Serendipitously-seductive Kate and Castaway Tom and Silver-lined Bradley and cutesy-Sleepless Meg.

Hold the Terminating Arnold, hold the Die-Hard Bruce, hold the Rambo Sylvester and Delta-Force Chuck.

I embrace this frilly feminine turf filled with feelings, relationships, and emotions. The rise and swell of sorrowful violins is tender therapy.

But really, chick-flicks are all about finding two hours of vicarious love in the form of a charismatic leading man or winsome heroine.

Like in a well-written novel, a clever chick-flick puts us squarely in the starring role — we peer from behind Audrey Hepburn’s neckline or Paul Newman’s blue eyes for a short time.

Let me recall some Chick-Flick history as a chart of my story:


1960’s  “Honest to goodness it’s the absolute ultimate!” — Gidget (Sandra Dee)

Sandra Dee in GIDGET and Annette Funicello in the series of Beach movies were my early chick-flick loves. They were wholesome but in an ever-so-slightly slutty way. Men like wholesome sluts. It’s walking on the carnal ledge without cruising the dark side streets seeking the perfect hooker for 5 minutes (or 2 maybe) of fun and pleasure.

Julie Andrews sang, twirled, and beguiled us through the Salzburg mountains in THE SOUND OF MUSIC. She teased us and made a nun’s habit vaguely naughty and sexy.

1970’s. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” — LOVE STORY (Ali McGraw)

One of my favourite 1970’s movies was LOVE STORY. I had a mad crush on Jennifer Cavilleri (Ali McGraw) with her pouty, intellectually preppy attitude. She also had a vulnerability that melted me into liquid chocolate.

1980’s “I’ll have what she’s having.” — When Harry Met Sally (Meg Ryan)

The decade began with AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN when Debra Winger wooed me with her blue-collar longings and husky voice and ended  WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. Meg Ryan was the perfect chick-flick lead — she pulled at my heartstrings with her neurotic tendencies and operatic restaurant orgasms. Why is quirkiness so appealing?

1990’s “Go to the Mattresses.” — You’ve Got Mail (Tom Hanks)

1995  brought us WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING. Sandra Bullock was my girl of the decade with her crush on comatose hunk Peter Gallagher while honourable Bill Pullman drooled all over her back. Meg Ryan’s cute-vulnerable act continued in a close second place with YOU’VE GOT MAIL and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE.

2000’s “You know the Greeks didn’t write obituaries. They only asked one question after a man died: “Did he have passion?”  — Serendipity (Jeremy Piven)

The new millenium began and a new cinematic crush walked into my life as Kate Beckinsale brought a serendipitous attraction into SERENDIPITY in 2001. A year later, Mandy Moore sang and stole my heart in A WALK TO REMEMBER Like Ali McGraw in LOVE STORY, this movie reminded me that dying girls can be hot.

2010’s “I don’t want to fall asleep. Okay? Don’t let me fall asleep. Promise.” — SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (Keira Knightley)

We’re barely into the second decade of the 2000’s but already I’ve been smitten with Keira Knightley in SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD. Once again, the quirky factor drew me in. I may be detecting a trend here — quirky + dying = irresistible.


So there you have it, I’ve outed myself … again. But I am egalitarian. It’s not only the female leads that make a chick-flick eminently watchable.

Strangely, I’ve developed man crushes on Tom Hanks (YOU’VE GOT MAIL),  John Cusack (SERENDIPITY), and Steve Carell (SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD / DAN IN REAL LIFE) too. The easy humour and vulnerability of the male leading man roles remind me that masculinity is far more than the stereotypical grunting and rutting of the penis owner.

Love ’em or Hate ’em, chick-flicks encompass the meaning of human existence. We work to live, but we love in order to breathe and feel and experience the depths of our emotional consciousness.

I’ve lived and loved my life to the passionate background beat of cinematic romance for more than five decades.

The greater fear that rises within me now is how I might survive the upcoming Chick-Lit-Flick armageddon 50 SHADES OF GREY. Don’t get me started on that one…


Just Another Thursday? … The Day My Mother Died


The sun rose that morning the same as every day before but at the end of the day it set on a totally different world than I had ever known.

Bird at sunrise

It was a lovely Thursday April morning, very springlike and mild. The sun struck the young ash tree just starting to leaf out, casting a long shadow across the grass at the front of our house.

Our small, brown-brick home looked across the street at the expansive grassy school yard and field that housed my three childhood educational homes: Glen Echo, Glen Brae, and Glendale schools – there sure wasn’t a lot of naming creativity at the school board in Hamilton’s 1950’s era.

I was 15 years old and in the last of the three schools, Glendale, nearing the end of my Grade 11 year. I was biting at the bit for three months to pass quickly when I would turn 16 and could get my beginner’s licence for driving a car. I couldn’t wait.

The morning routine went along as normal. My father had retired 8 months earlier at his 65th birthday, and my 5-years younger Mom was getting herself ready to go off to her clerical job at an “Office Overload” temp hiring office.

Dad had experienced a heart attack while shovelling heavy snow ten years earlier. As a result, the entire family had become laser-focused on the state of his health and even a decade later still worried about a reoccurrence. Mom was always making sure that none of us siblings said or did anything that might upset him.

I personally worried more about my Mom’s health. She was a smoker, she was moderately overweight, and when she climbed up the dozen or so stairs from the basement laundry room, she was often wheezing and completely out of breath.

My night dreams were regularly filled with dark visions of her lying peacefully in a casket.

Like my mother, I was a worrier. I would lie in my bed, tearing up before I nodded off, brooding about her and how losing her would affect me.

dying dream

The morning pattern that day was disturbed when I came into the kitchen to get some breakfast and Mom was bent over the kitchen sink, vomiting.

Mom was never sick. This was pretty surprising.

Are you OK?“, I asked.

She deflected my concerns in her calm motherly way.

I’m fine. I’ll feel better in a few.

A few minutes later she was being driven off to work by my father and I was heading across the road to my classes where I fully expected to get a red reward peg from Mr. Mason in French class for answering some minor question correctly. “Tres bien Larry“, he would say, but with a quirky look on his face. Mr. Mason was an eccentric.

The work/schoolday finished and we all returned to our place at home. Mom took a few minutes to make some filterless cigarettes.

She used a little rolling machine that made about 6 cigarettes at a time in one long cylinder. She would lick her finger over and over and smooth her saliva across the glue edge before the final turn of the knobs on the sides that would pop out the completed smoke tubes. After turning the machine over and setting the tobacco roll into the little mitre tray on the backside, she would then cut the long tube into individual cigarettes using a razor blade.

They were just like machine-made except they had no filter on the end. When she smoked one, little bits of tobacco would leak out the end into her mouth and she would have to fish them off the tip of her tongue using her thumb and forefinger like tweezers.

A classic home-grown cigarette-making machine…

Homemade cigarettes saved the family money, and the household budget was usually tight.

My family culture was to begin working from the moment you could walk. This meant taking on paper routes or magazine delivery jobs, or orchard fruit-picking from the start of elementary school onwards. I was the 5th and last in a 5-person lineup of siblings who delivered the Hamilton Spectator newspaper.

At 15, I was not just sick and tired of delivering newspapers but also feeling much too mature for such juvenile work, so I quit the “family” firm.

The idleness of being jobless at 15 was too much for my parents to understand or accept, so on her way out the door to go for dinner that evening with my Dad’s sister Nina and brother-in-law Dwight, Mom popped her head inside my bedroom door where I was laid out on my bed.

“Larry, you might want to drop by McDonalds and fill in an application form.”

Those were her last words to me. 

Not very exciting.

It sounded like a polite request, but I knew it was much closer to a General’s command.

I was scared silly at the thought of seeking out a “real” job. It was like going to the dentist. There were managers at the local McDonalds who extracted teeth without freezing when asked about job openings and I knew it. So when I said, “Yeah, I will soon Mom”, I really meant “Yeah, when Hell freezes over”.

McDonalds Stoney Creek

Hell DID Freeze Over! This McDonalds became my teenage work home for 4 years after my Mom died…

A few hours passed. I continued to laze around unproductively throughout the evening until I heard a sharp knocking and a muffled yelling voice coming from the front door.

What the hell?

Startled, I hurriedly opened the front door where my Aunt Nina stood, “Your mother has fainted in the driveway.”

I followed her to the side of the house, adrenalin already surging, heart pounding.

Coming around the corner in the twilight, just behind our Ford Meteor car, I spotted my mother laid out on her back on the asphalt surface of the driveway, eyes closed, skin ashen-toned, her dress askew from the sudden tumble.

I wanted so badly to believe that she had just fainted as Aunt Nina said, but my inner soul told me this was far more serious than a simple faint. This was death, or close to it, laying on the ground, and it was my Mom.

My Dad and aunt and uncle were too shocked to know what to do.

I didn’t know what to do either when I bent over her and could hear only a very slight, quiet gasping intake of breath. None of us knew the slightest about medical resuscitation, CPR or artifical respiration.

We were all in a state of denial, but I knew we needed outside help. I ran into the house and dialled 0 for an Operator (911? No such thing in 1973). The Operator patched me through to ambulance dispatch and even though I could scarcely breathe through my fear, I blurted out that my Mom had fainted or  – I finally admitted it out loud – had a heart attack.

The lady calmly asked for my address and said an ambulance would arrive shortly.

I returned outside and in the confusion and panic we picked my mother up by the shoulders and legs and carried her into the house and laid her on the living room couch. The same couch we had sat together on a couple of years earlier on a hot July night to watch Neil Armstrong step onto the moon for the first time.

Helplessly – hopefully –  we waited the 3 or 4 minutes before an ambulance backed into the driveway. The 2 male attendants came in and did a quick assessment and then strapped an oxygen mask to my mother’s face as they lifted her onto the wheeled stretcher.

The shallow, raspy breathing sounds I’d heard her making earlier had disappeared now.

Lifting her into the ambulance, they climbed aboard along with my father and headed off with sirens in full wailing song.

My aunt, uncle, and I jumped into our family car and drove in pursuit of the siren’s din towards the Hamilton General Hospital Emergency room. The siren’s sound faded and disappeared in the distance. We couldn’t race through red lights the way an ambulance in full flight could.

Hamilton General Hospital

It was dark, the air was still when we pulled into the hospital parking lot.  Hurriedly, we rushed past the now-familiar ambulance parked by the entrance to the ER and through the whoosh of the sliding glass doors. The small waiting room just inside and to our right was empty of anyone except for my Dad.

He stood when he saw us and walked the few feet to where we stopped.

His face was red with a desperate look of anguish.

He simply said, “She’s gone.”

She’s Gone …


We like to think that each day is different and special, like little individual snowflakes wafting gently from the winter sky… unique.

In truth, most days just blend into the rest and we can’t remember what happened last Wednesday, much less October 19, 2002.

But the occasional day stands alone in our mind as memorable, and we remember the sun, the trees, the sweet, pungent smell of lilac in the air at the corner of our street.

Days like Tuesday, September 11, 2001 or Friday, November 22, 1963 or Thursday, September 28, 1972 (bonus points if you can name the events of these 3 dates!).

For me, Thursday, April 12, 1973 was a day like no other. The day my mother died.

It replays in my mind from time to time and the vision, the memory, becomes slightly more translucent as each year passes. But the emotions and heart-pounding I felt that day remain strong and intense.

I don’t want to lose them, as painful as they can be because they remind me of the special place my mother held in my life, my heart.

Her voice, her laughter, and her warmth live inside me.


WHEN I GROW UP … Sailing Away in Your Dreams …

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Ain’t never gonna happen –  growing up, that is.

They say that boys mature later than girls … well, we don’t truly mature … EVER!

I know I’m trying hard not to!

Most of us boys retain a big chunk of our childhood immaturity, especially when it comes to bodily-related things like farting, and sex.  Anyway, that’s not important here.

I want to talk to you about the childhood dreams we have for ourselves.


It’s not far to never-never land, no reason to pretend
And if the wind is right you can find the joy of innocence again
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see
Believe me      

Christopher Cross- Sailing


As youngsters, we lie half-awake in our beds, the hall light peeking in through the door cracked a hair.  Our little heads are filled with swirling thoughts and emotions and longings that we conjure up ourselves or are implanted into our heads by our parents, siblings, friends, and probably more often the media.

All of those influences jumble together and after blenderizing for a few years, out pours the smoothie that is us.

Boy Dreaming

As a 10 year-old I wanted – like so many many others – to be a doctor.

I’m not sure where the idea originated for me (it may have been playing doctor with Diane Dawson when we were 4 years old), but by the time I was in middle school, I was fascinated (academically only!) by illicit drugs and resuscitation and excitements of the medical variety. I wrote and pasted school projects together about heroin and other hard drug overdoses. I wanted to wear a cool white coat and save lives.

The idea that medicine might be a financial goldmine didn’t even seep under the door into my thinking, it was strictly the lure of blood and hard-pounding excitement.

And then in the early 1970’s along came a TV show called EMERGENCY!.

It chronicled two Los Angeles paramedics roaring around the California highways and freeways, saving hundreds of poor helpless souls with their blend of IV’s, and oxygen bottles and CPR. It was super-exciting, wet-dream stuff to a young pubescent boy.

There was nothing more I wanted than to jump into a red and white Paramedic vehicle that resembled a Good Humor ice cream truck but instead of ice cream delights it would be loaded with cases of bandages, and splints and stethoscopes and drawers and compartments filled with life-saving devices.

I would race to the scene of a car accident. Sirens and flashing lights ablaze.

Rivers of blood and broken, shattered limbs would be scattered across the freeway. I would jump out of the truck in my pristine white uniform and spring into frenzied activity like a superhero. The adrenaline rush would carry me from victim to victim as I diagnosed and miraculously saved each in turn. And look, when all is done, my uniform is still white and pristine.

Beautiful, sexy women and pets would fawn like fleas on a dog over my abilities to save lives, God’s power in my hands.

emergency!! TV Show

Yup, it was either a doctor or a paramedic.

So I became a medical lab technologist.

Huh, you ask? What happened?

The swirling dreams of childhood were just that as I adjusted to my personal perceived reality. In truth, I was a good, but fairly lazy student.

Becoming a doctor required a diligence and dedication to study and long working hours that I wasn’t prepared to commit. I wanted the dream, but only if I could attain it by sending in 2 cereal box tops and $1.49, whereupon I would receive my special MD certificate and stethoscope in the return mail. Easy peasy, but my own reality show was made of fewer fantasies and more real world truth … maybe I WAS into hard drugs!

The paramedic dream was dumped into the trash can when I realized that Canada offered no such training (at the time). I could be a “lowly” ambulance attendant and pick up fractured bodies discarded by the side of the road, but there would be no IV’s and electrical heart-shocking paddles, no heroic resuscitation efforts. It was just scoop ’em and deliver ’em to the real doctors who did the fun stuff.

What to do, what to do.

X-ray technology?  Black and white images shining through on light boxes? BORING!

Pharmacist? No paddles or IV’s there either. BORING AGAIN!!

LAB? Hmmm… there were needles and blood, and machines that had flashing lights and beeped. This could be it. It was almost being a doctor without 5 extra years of school and countless study hours.

Just two full years of college training and you had a certificate that gave you permission to poke needles into people and attach wires to read their heart beating. This was sounding better by the minute.

The pay rates kind of sucked but the counter-balance was that a lot of girls were enrolled in the course… instant dating material.

Blood, needles, machines, heart wires, girls, sex in hospital closets with nurses in white-starched uniforms …YES, this was it!


Sign me up! I wanna be a lab tech…

I signed on and before I could take another breath I was living the dream. I wore a white lab coat. I poked people with needles. I hooked wires to people’s chests. I was surrounded by cute girls. I was living the dream and living in the far north of Canada, saving lives of the miners and Inuit.

Working in a lab has given me a good life and I’ve had many wonderful moments. I’ve had a ton of laughs with some great colleagues.

But mostly, for me, it’s a job.

Like so many dreams, reality crashed the party.

  • Hours and hours looking down microscopes at drops of urine and blood.
  • Smearing smelly stool samples onto agar culture plates.
  • Call-backs in the middle of the night were adrenalin rushes for my junkie fixes but sending cross-matched blood to real blood-gushing patients had its stresses.
  • Analysis machines that flashed and beeped frequently broke down and were often uncooperative. I remembered how unmechanically-minded I truly was.
  • Hooking wires to the chests of 300 pound elderly ladies with gooey, fetid growth beneath their breasts was … well … EWWWW!

The chocolate cake that looks so good in the TV commercial ends up tasting like thick shortening and chemicals. The crisp, refreshing beer that attracts girls in bikinis by the harem-load tastes like every other beer minus the hotties. The car with leather heated seats that zooms and screeches around corners with a ferocious roar, breaks down on the side of the highway.

Not all dreams play out perfectly in real life.

Our dreams are like candy. They give us a sugar high that is elating. They sustain us when we feel crushed or low.

We’re mesmerized by dreams, and as Martha Stewart might say, “This is good”.

Whether fulfilled or not, life should be filled with dreams and wonder. Hope and promise are delights of the human spirit. Dreams refresh and inspire us to carry on through tough, painful times and are as important to us as Santa Claus is to Virginia.

To paraphrase a little,

dreams exist as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no dreams.

Yes Virginia, there are dreams.

And we are the dreamers, both as children and adults.

And I promise you, good reader, that as long as there are dreams to be dreamed, I’ll continue to let a dim shaft of light enter my bedroom. I’ll enjoy the endless swirling eddy of thoughts and emotions and longings that sustain me through the long night with a child’s openness and sense of wonder.

I ain’t never growing up!

Santa and Virginia

State of the Nation “My Half-Year” Address … The Tortures I Inflict on Myself!


You'll make a great Dad someday!

GOOD JOB…You’ll make a great Dad someday!

When a woman is pregnant, all her friends touch her swelling belly and say, “Congrats”.

But … none of them come and touch the man’s penis and say, “Good job”.

Moral of the story?

“Hard work is never appreciated.”


I’d like to thank you for coming here today to share in my semi-annual State of the Half-Year Address.

I appreciate that it’s summertime; it’s hard to focus on serious matters during the hazy, crazy, lazy days of summer. I’ll try to keep my speechifying short and let you get back to your Sangria on the poolside deck ASAP, está bien?

I’m swimming laps in the Sea of Inspiration.

Cousin-in-law John is writing music with Nashville songwriters, 71 year-old brother-in-law Jim swims 100 laps in the pool each day, my friend Angus is writing novels,  my co-worker Dave is in the top ranks of senior golfers in B.C. with a 1 handicap, my friend Denise is a big-whig in the laboratory Blood Banking world.

Sometimes I hate these people and many others for what they achieve, knowing that I’ll likely never be able to accomplish what they have. But mostly – when I’m my better self – they’re beacons of motivation and inspiration who fire me up to push forward in the things that make my pulse pick up.

We all have our areas of passion and strength. Your’s might be in Sailing, or Snowboarding, or Sudoku, or Horse Dressage, or Dragon Boating, or learning Japanese. I don’t know. We’re all remarkable individuals with unique fires burning.

Setting and achieving goals can be hard and torturous, but so often rewarding – just like getting pregnant in the example I mention in my opening.

At the beginning of this year 2013, I scrawled a post outlining my goals for the coming 12 months. And here we are now past the halfway mark, so I thought this would be a good time to review where things stand so far. You might do the same for yourself.

So, following is the list I created at the end of 2012, with an update on each. Here’s where I’m at:


  • Pay off investment loans in anticipation of debt-free retirement in 2014

Right on track. I paid 20% down on the smallest of my 3 investment loans this week and will do the same for another in October. I’ve sold some REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) units to make this happen. In a year or so these investment loans should be totally retired (as should I!) and the cash flow bubbling over will then be going directly into my pockets and not the bank’s!

I’m still hoping that REIT’s rebound in the markets as they’ve taken quite a negative hit this year because of worries over central bank interest rate increases that have hit the REIT sector generally. They’re good investments, just down in value for the moment. PATIENCE!!

  • Bring blog posting total to 100 and views to 7,500.

Well, I began the year at post #39 and this is blog post #71 so I’m slipping back from my goal of 100 posts by year end just a bit. With one post per week for the remainder of the year I will only make it to 90 posts or so.

I’d like to pick up the pace and make my goal but the game has been altered a touch and I don’t think it will come to be. I’m not upset or distressed by this as I feel I’m showing sufficient discipline to keep writing the one post weekly. My writing road has split into different paths – I’m now working 2 pathways. Blog posts AND songwriting (see: next goal).

Viewings of this blog will surge well past the 7,500 mark mainly due to the surprising popularity of one post “Your Castration Awaits – 8 Reasons Women Will Dominate Men in the 21st-Century”. This blog post gets almost half of all viewings on a day-in day-out basis. Who knew that women lording over men was such a popular item?

  • Write 12 songs

This is a really exciting addition to my personal treasury.

Adding in songwriting has been a pleasant, long-overdue alternative to straight prose writing.  I really believe my prose benefits by the addition of the poetry produced in songwriting.

I’ve struggled mightily for years with the ideas needed to make a go of songwriting. After taking a free online course from Berklee School of Music in Boston, I’m moving forward and loving the different variety of approaches needed for musical and poetic movement. It’s hard work but getting easier each day as I do and practice more.

I want to tell stories in my music and this is very challenging in song format.

But 12 Songs? I’m at 5 right now, so 12 could be a stretch. I MAY have 12 songs in progress by the end of the year, but I find that I need to ruminate and reflect and edit a lot, so I doubt I’ll have 12 completed songs.

Writing songs, for me, is more a marathon, not a sprint.

  • 20 Pullups Non-Stop.

KILLER!! This is going to be a tough one to conquer. I injured my shoulder last December while struggling to reach my goal of 10 pullups for 2012 (which I barely eked out!). It’s been a slow recovery and I’m just now finding that my shoulder is pain-free. I’ve got my work cut out for me.

The REAL truth here is if I set a goal to lose 20 pounds, this pullup goal would be SOOO much easier.

I hate it when they take photos of me without my shirt on...

I hate it when they take photos of me without my shirt on…

  • Take cooking classes in Spanish-speaking country (Argentina?/Costa Rica?)

OK, I may miss this objective but only by a hair. I have plans simmering for us to head to southern Spain and then Morocco in January 2014. The cooking classes part will more likely happen in Morocco … couscous and tagine anyone? But spending time in southern Spain will allow lots of opportunity to practice Spanish while just touring around. AND, hitting Morocco will mean stepping foot on the African continent for the first time, satisfying part of my life-list goal of visiting each continent.

  • Try 2 more “new-to-me”sports (eg. kettlebells, curling, paddleboarding)

I’m now a truly masterful paddleboarder…NOT! But I have stood on a paddleboard for a full hour and only tumbled into Okanagan Lake once … so far! It’s not a sport I would do regularly as a passion, but I can see that it will be a fun way to get out on the lake from time to time and peer down at the fish as they peer back up at me.

Charlie, a friend of mine, is a kettlebell instructor and so I took a 1 hour session with him on swinging these weighty suckers properly.

Adding kettlebells into my strengthening and fitness routine is a nice bit of variety and gives a pretty good overall workout in a short period of time. But to only do this for long periods would be severely boring!

Are you sure this how you do it?

Are you sure this is how you do it?

  • 100 pushups Non-stop

OUCH! Like anything challenging, this is a work-in-progress. Each week, I’m adding a couple of additional reps to my pushup pain threshold. Right now I can pull off 100 pushups if I divide the work effort into 4 sets of 25.

Now I just need to sweat a  river big enough to put it all together as one effort by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

  • Purchase 12-string guitar

I may have to defer this to next year’s list. It takes time to investigate and try out a lot of guitar models.

Buying a musical instrument is like finding nice clothes that fit you as an individual. You spend a lot of time in the changeroom robing, disrobing, and then discarding over and over. What suits one person just isn’t right for another.

My nephew Mike builds guitars called Riversong using a neat new technology. I’ll have to check out his stock before making the final decision.

It is kind of a fun exercise to test drive a bunch of fine instruments.

  • Overall Net Worth Return of >15%

Right on track here. This has been a good year with a return to this point of 8.3% on my starting net worth from January 1. I’ve put most of my investment dollars into lower- risk technology companies that are underappreciated by Mr. Market and have a ton of cash on their balance sheets eg. Intel, Microsoft, Apple.

Plus the exchange rate with the US dollar has provided some tailwinds.

I haven’t made any major blunders so far this year, although paying $500 per share for Apple may have been a bit optimistic on my part (although it’s worth $500 and more in reality).

I have to remind myself that I’m not completed or destroyed by the financial return on investments.

  • Increase Charitable Contributions by 10%

This one was easy and was taken care of in January by just phoning up the charities we contribute to each month and adding a 10% top up to each. We have a monthly contribution that comes out automatically from our chequing account and goes directly to PLAN International and UNICEF.

After I finish up work next year, I’ll have to become more active on the charity front and add some sweat equity into this area. I’m still feeling some burnout after-effects from years I spent on a charity board, but it’s time to step up to the plate once again.

  • Grow larger vegetable garden and process more for winter use.

I hate to use the word failure, but I have so much more enthusiasm for planting vegetables and fruit than I do for harvesting and processing them. Each season, I plant a variety of lettuce, tomatoes, beans, potatoes and carrots, etc. I baby them to maturity and then just when they’re ready… I lose my zeal for the harvest and canning, drying, or whatever preparation is needed to carry them into the colder months.

I think this relates to my utter weakness at finishing projects of any sort – it’s all a part of my ADHD. A few years of counselling and drug therapy and I can probably see past this debility!

On the plus side, I did do some succession planting, sowing seeds of beets, lettuce and carrots in July. This gives me another chance to work on my follow through.

  • Run 2 Half Marathon races (sub 2 hrs)

Done … sort of. I have competed in 2 half marathons. One in Vancouver in early May and another in Penticton in late May. In Vancouver, it was a beautiful day and I finished in 1:57 ie sub 2 hours. Penticton was going well until I strained my calf muscle at about the halfway point of the race. My running pace slowed as the pain increased. I did complete the run but my finish time was 2:04 – I was disappointed.

I’m going to declare this goal complete, although I may make one more half marathon attempt in the fall.

Vancouver Half Marathon May 2013

Vancouver Half Marathon May 2013 – I’m the red runner…

So, this concludes my State of the Half-Year Address. I won’t be accepting any questions today (although your comments are just fine!) as the helicopter is waiting on the back lawn to whisk me off to my summer estate.

Thank you for your patience and enjoy the progress on goals you’ve set for yourself – appreciating those things you’ve improved or achieved, and gently accepting those areas where you’ve stumbled or faltered.

The Sea of Inspiration is warm and inviting. Why not jump in and we can swim through the swells and breakers of this challenging, frustrating, fulfilling, exhilarating, pain-inducing, endorphin-filled expanse together?