Home

What Will Be Your One-Hit Wonder?

4 Comments

.

ONE-HIT WONDER… Talk about another oxymoron (I wrote about oxymorons here a few weeks back)

I’ve been described as One-HOT Wonder but you knew that already, right? I said RIGHT??? Fine, don’t answer…

Calling someone or something a one-hit wonder is normally thought of as a passive-aggressive insult, or at the very least, a back-handed compliment.

One-hit wonders are failures, yes?

Let’s look at this anew: Out of the now 8 billion peeps trodding this blue orb… how many of us have EVER accomplished something of universal note? Just one thing? How does None-Hit Wonder sound to you?

If my crude math is correct (and sadly, it rarely is)… the number of those who accomplish even ONE… a mere one… Wonder… is 0.000125% of the world’s population.

That miniscule number makes me feel very humble, and I don’t want to second-guess your many accomplishments, but you should be humbled as well.

Typically we associate the words one-hit wonder with music, but really, why can’t it explain a whole collection of acts, deeds, feats? Even the flapping of one butterfly’s wings can have a powerful impact.

.

Any of us possess the power to be THAT butterfly.

Of course that doesn’t make it easy; easy will never give you the sugar high that comes with eating a whole box of chocolates. nor will attaining one-hit wonder’hood.

You can produce something that stirs the hearts or minds of millions in just about any field, any endeavour.

Reaching skyward means overcoming great resistance, and often, the most powerful struggles are from within.

Here’s just a few real world examples for you to chew on, of those who caught lightning in a bottle, just once…

Music: Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers (Monster Mash), Steam (Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye), Wild Cherry (Play That Funky Music), a personal favourite of mine, Starland Vocal Band (Afternoon Delight), The Proclaimers (I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), Macy Gray (I Try), The Surfari’s (Wipe Out), Looking Glass (Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)), Musical Youth (Pass the Dutchie), Bobby McFerrin (Don’t Worry, Be Happy), Los del Rio (Macarena).

Actors: Michael Richards (Seinfeld), Kristen Davis (Sex and the City), Matthew Perry (Friends), Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee), Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Linda Blair (The Exorcist), Anthony Perkins (Psycho), Adam West (Batman)

Writers: Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird), Margaret Mitchell (Gone With The Wind), JD Salinger (The Catcher In The Rye), Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights), Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar), Mary Ann Shaffer (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society), Kathryn Stockett (The Help), Boris Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago)

Movie Directors: Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter), Hugh Hudson (Chariots of Fire), Paul Brickman (Risky Business), Stuart Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke), Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves), Lana and Lilly Wachowski (The Matrix)

Artists: Harvey Bell, graphic artist who created the iconic smiley face in 1963 for State Mutual Life Assurance Company.

.

One-hit wonders all, but failures? Nope. No at all… how many of us have reached the heights of their elevator shoes?

The examples I’ve given above all revolve around the arts, but let’s face it, one-time greatness can be engineered in any field, any endeavour. The Guinness World Book of Records is a testament to one-shot renown, despite its often silly rep.

Maybe we should be prodding… encouraging… our children, our family, our friends, our neighbours… to strive towards becoming a one-hit wonder in whatever interest stirs their desire, their passion, their own breath of delight…

To become a one-hit wonder is a lofty goal, and not an insult or something to deride. You deserve to be a One-Hit Wonder…

Getting there usually means having to improve our anti-resistance forces; strengthening our focus muscle is a self-discipline that, in our world of huge and ugly distractions, is a one-hit wonder all in itself…

And finally, the one-time, one-hit quote that has stuck with It-girl and famed philosopher Miss Piggy throughout her illustrious career:

Who’s The Boss Of Your Housework?

Leave a comment

.

In my next life, I’m coming back as a rich SOM (Son Of A Moose… so much more polite than SOB)…

… a Jay Gatsby, Tony Stark, or Bruce Wayne-type who never has to work another day in his life…

  • someone whose clothes are precisely laid on the settee at the end of the bed for me each morning (with a valet to dress me like Lord Grantham)
  • someone whose windows and bathrooms are meticulously cleaned and polished each week
  • someone whose sumptuous meals are set at the table when I return from my tennis match and dirty martini afterwards
  • someone who breathes for recreation rather than need.

My appeal is modest really.

I’m not asking for much in a world that houses Bezos, Gates, Musk, the Kardashians, and Putin (why do we ALWAYS compare our lives UP the wealth scale rather than downwards into poverty?)

Happily, I acknowledge that I live like a king by historic standards… my food is plentiful in quality and quantity, health well-tended, housing comfortable year-round, free time to enjoy “toys”.

But every self-respecting king or queen aspires to live higher, to reside at the Mount Everest of human existence moneywise. It’s natural and I try my very best to live my life in harmony with nature. Call me a financial environmentalist!

Bottom line here is that I want to do: what I want, when I want, where I want, whenever I want.

Want. Want. Want.

.

Waste not want not, the idiom goes… ie. if you do not waste that which you have (waste not), you will not later want that which you have wasted (want not).

NO.. that is how the IDIOT goes

But why are you talking so flippantly today Larry? Where does all this spoiled nonsense come from?

Simply, it’s comes down to housework.

Not homework where you learn valuable and fascinating things, enriching things… no… housework, where you spend hour upon hour doing those things that merely get you back to the beginning of the spinning rat wheel, turning and turning to only end back in the same spot where you began. To everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn…

Tajine making in Marrakesh, Morocco

Don’t get me wrong here… I actually enjoy handwashing dishes, vacuuming floors, ironing shirts, and cooking (but please don’t ask me to clean a toilet), and I really love cooking … these can be stressless distractions to a busy mind… BUT…

… I’m also a spoiled First World guy… I ONLY want to do all these housework chores (see definition of chore: an unpleasant but necessary task) when it suits me and my timetable.

I do not want to do any of these merely because they dictate to me that it must be done.

I want to be boss and do them on MY terms.

Of course, this doesn’t bode well for a mere plebeian… a middle-class lout like me.

It’s a paradox, a conundrum… maybe even an inner frustration, because…

Upon further introspection, while I pine for the ultimate freedom to do what I want when I want…

I also realize that my very human nature knows that given the extra “free” time to do my desirables, that freedom would likely end up squandered by: social media distractions, deciding which pyjamas I’ll put on at 5 pm, checking the colour of my pee to see if I’m hydrated, or reading labels on every wine bottle at the liquor store.

Maybe, after all, this SOM just isn’t cut out for the giddy freedom of mega-rich’dom…

… sometimes the life we lead is really the one we deserve.

What Would YOU Say to You in YOUR Valedictorian Speech?

4 Comments

Time travelling time… close your eyes and settle back into the days when you were first an “adult”… living on your own, supporting yourself, making your own life decisions, taking responsibility.

Look closely at the picture of young you, a you without wrinkles or sore joints, a brain not totally cluttered with information overload, a full head of hair that doesn’t resemble thinned cotton batting, firm of voice and musculature.

You consist of all those desirable things that physically are optimum, humming along at peak operation, a brand new Tesla with a full battery… BUT…

… you are green and inexperienced, naive and over-confident, perhaps supercilious even?

Now, imagine yourself in a cozy chair by a warming fire, sipping a cup of tea and chatting with the YOU that was THEN.

.

What would you say to yourself? What words of reflected wisdom would you share from a life lived through an additional decade or two, perhaps 5 or 6?

This is deep stuff to mull over; to review those things you would like to change or strengthen or eliminate, or… hopefully celebrate… in the choices you’ve made, the directions you’ve taken.

I remember reading a book a number of years back titled Letters From A Businessman to His Son… I don’t recall it really well other than I liked it and took away some helpful ideas to digest. There are a number of other books out there of a similar nature… notes of wisdom learned and earned through life lived.

To take on this introspection is akin to giving a Valedictorian Speech to yourself… ponder yourself as someone like David Foster Wallace (This Is Water) or Steve Jobs or Mother Teresa, people who had immense life experience and made not only great successes, but also terrible mistakes. To live is to be HUMAN, in both the good and bad.

Today, I’m going to give a brief “Valedictorian Speech” to myself with 8 small thoughts on just a few of the things I think of as important in what I’ve done and what I could have done, knowing then what I know now. Too, some are reminders of what I should be doing today where I continue to slip despite knowing better.

.

None of this is new or original, but repetition is always helpful, right? So let’s go…

  1. SLOW DOWN/SHOW PATIENCE – I’ve generally tended towards living life in a rush. My inner to-do list each day typically includes 3 more items than I can reasonably do and do well, so I run from one item (or one person) to the next so that when my head hits the pillow at night, I feel like I’ve checked most of them off my list. So I say, slow down just a bit young man and yes, “smell the roses”… revel a bit in the moment… see the smiles or frowns, taste the tastes, hear and see the nuance in so much of what you are involved with. You may accomplish less, yes, but you will appreciate more. Appreciation of all that is good and feeling more deeply the less good, makes for a richer life.
  2. FOCUS – this has connection to the point above. By slowing down and focussing, by taking time and patience to work hard and intently at fewer things that you feel passionately about will give you a greater connection and sense of satisfaction and well-being. I’ve learned this over a long period of time through my love of making music, but I also know that it extends to anything that is truly important for us. FOCUS, for me, has been my great A-HA discovery in life.
  3. LISTEN AND APPRECIATE – If I have a “beef” with my fellow humans (and I won’t exclude myself from the category), it is the lack of true listening and attempts at understanding that keeps us at a distance from a better, more humane world. Listening intently to each other is a lifetime learning quest that EVERY ONE of us should work at daily.
  4. HELP AND PROTECT THOSE WHO ARE WEAKER – despite all the talk of us being created equal, we remain fathoms away from any true resemblance to equality, which means that we, as individuals, and as a world, need to strive to protect those who for whatever reason are thrown into the world with unintended disadvantage(s). I’ve said many times here in this blog and to myself that I won a lottery prize in where and when I was born. I’d be foolish to suggest that we all deserve exactly the same life and benefits, but the ideal to move more in that direction would benefit us all.
  5. BE WILLING TO LOOK STUPID IN ORDER TO BECOME SMARTER – as a young man I know you hate to look stupid in front of others, to ask the dumb questions. But you know what? Very few others can look outside their own internal thoughts and worries to care much if you look dumb. Worry not – so long as you have an honest intent to grow smarter by asking and doing the dumb things to better yourself, then DON’T WORRY BE HAPPY!
  6. REMEMBER TO SEE THE WORLD IN GREY – EVEN TECHNICOLOUR – AND NOT SOLELY IN BLACK AND WHITE – the world is filled with nuance and complexity… don’t let yourself fall into the trap of seeing only the surface of what is said and done around you. Many will spew opinions (or what they believe are facts) with only a tiny understanding and no wish to know more. Take your time in weighing the meaning of those things that look simple but in fact have so many more aspects and ripples. Showing how convoluted and contradictory life can be, also heed OCCAM’S RAZOR that says, often the simplest, obvious solution to a problem is the best solution.
  7. BALANCE LIFE – try to avoid a seriously concentrated life that focuses only on one or two aspects of a complete set of human traits. Health and happiness will follow…. Belonging. Community. Creativity. Curiosity. Family. Love. Mental and Physical Health. Purpose. Fun.
  8. ACCEPT THAT CHANGE IS CONSTANT AND INEVITABLE – the world is a metamorphic thing… change always has, and always will be with you, day after day after day. Accept it, and don’t let it make you bitter or disillusioned. The world you know as a young person will not be the same world you live in 30 or 40 years from now. Your children and grandchildren will experience the world differently from you. Some things will be worse, and some will be better, so get used to it. Be willing to listen, learn and change your mind a hundred times during your years as you discover more along the path. Learn from the changes, interpret and resist if it makes real sense to resist, but don’t resist merely because something is different. Learn to tell the difference. Enjoy fully the positives.

FINAL CAVEAT: Unless the “positive” above is a positive result for a sexually transmitted disease, then don’t enjoy fully.

The Unbearable Suffering of the Dog and the Underdog

5 Comments

It’s DOGGY Day!

I dig in a lot on this blog site about fighting hard to stay positive.

It’s a pep talk I push at you and also send back at myself, because it’s so difficult and takes a lot of reminding.

So, like a good Jewish mother, remind I will.

There are tsunamis of negativity out there in the news and in our daily experience that could drag us into a pit of despair, frustration, and anger; it takes huge energy and eternal optimism to remain at the surface of an ocean of negativity.

Making this even more challenging is that all my life I’ve felt like a lucky guy who both somehow attracts, and is attracted to, the melancholy couture of the underdogs of humanity and also the suffering of dogs and all other animals.

I have a positive and a negative pole of mourning.

I want everyone to feel like they’ve experienced the luck and good fortune that I have in their brief shot in the billions-to-one lottery win that is life.

I identified with the underdog and felt empathy for those who were tossed in fate’s storms. In early grade school, I would encourage the outcasts to sit beside me on the bus during school trips.

I love this empathy and I hate it simultaneously because I want to play God and relieve the anguish that so many endure… and most times… I can’t.

To attempt at being a superhero to those in need, while dealing with my inner narcissist, is a nasty duel that doesn’t often turn out as I hope.

Early this morning I was standing in the checkout line at my local Superstore, and there was a pair of men right in front of me, unloading their groceries onto the conveyor belt. Honestly, I felt a bit nervous and threatened by their appearance.

Mid 30’s, unkempt, small tears in their dirty t-shirts, gaps in their teeth, some even blackened with decay.

One looked like he may have been First Nations, I can’t be sure. He fidgeted a lot as his items were put through the scanner.

After all the items were through and totalled up, he decided he needed a lighter, so I slid my cart back so he could reach the shelf where chocolate bars and miscellaneous things (like lighters) were held. He grabbed one and put it on the conveyor belt. The cashier scanned it and told him his updated total.

He looked back and forth nervously and said he wanted a chocolate bar. I slid my cart back again and he reached for a Kit Kat but changed his mind and turned to another shelf where he struggled to decide, before slowly picking up two packs of gum and putting them on the conveyor. Once again his total was read out.

He pulled a charge/debit card from his jean’s pocket and held it to the reader. It let out a loud CLONK sound. Payment REFUSED. He did it again… same CLONK. The cashier suggested he try putting the card inside the reader and enter his PIN code.

Head hung low facing the ground, he shook his head, turned first left, then right, then wordlessly walked towards and out the exit door, his three full, plastic grocery bags remained sitting to the left of the cashier.

I could almost feel tears in my eyes as I sensed his shame and disappointment, maybe even rage, I’m just guessing.

Quickly, my emotions turned to anger and disgust when the woman shopper in her 50’s behind me shook her head and muttered disdainfully… “Those people“.

Her judgment utterance was instantaneous and I felt shame again but in a different vein than the shame I held inside just seconds earlier.

She judged the fellow (as did I but in a sad and not critical way). And now I was judging her and making assumptions about her. Talk about a vicious circle and one that highlights so much of what we all see in the world today.

“The practice – Catch yourself before you are judgmental. How do you stand in awe at what people have to carry rather than in judgment at how they carry it? You are catching yourself all the time.”   
Father Gregory Boyle (NYT Times bestselling author)

.

We all judge at times (I do frequently), and see the other as a problem.

One little lesson I take away from my years of working in a lab and collecting blood samples from patients goes like this…

The people I encountered everyday were more than likely struggling with an internal worry and fear.

They may have had anemia, or leukemia, or cancer of a thousand varieties, or just an annoying vaginal itch that wouldn’t stop irritating.

Yes, they may have looked normal and healthy, but, with few exceptions, these folks were brawling with an inner voice that said over and over to them that they could be very sick or even dying.

If they snapped at me or didn’t respond to niceties, my negative judgment evolved over time from irritation to patience and compassion. I wasn’t walking in their shoes, and if I was, I would likely act in the same manner I told myself.

So nowadays when I’m in the supermarket and something a bit unusual happens like the incident I’ve talked about above (and no one is in danger), I (YODA)- try to find my inner compassion (and I’m not always successful), because I don’t know the story of their life or this moment.

All the dogs out there, whether two-legged or four-legged deserve my best attempt at understanding.

The Wondrous Beauty of Being AND Doing

Leave a comment

I get confused when I hear the expression, “we’re human beings, not human doings.

I like to think of myself as BOTH a noun AND a verb… yes, this one thing I can multitask in a focused way!

You got it… I’m part sloth, part puma…. grrrrrr….

Here’s how I maintain myself as a human being and a human doing…

My desktop – the real physical one I can touch and spill my latte all over – is filled with sheets of foolscap and lined paper pads … papers that run top-to-bottom and side-to-side with my daily scribbled LISTS!

Without lists, without a calendar, without the morning sunrise… I’m solely a human being… you just might as well take me to my grandson’s daycare each morning and show me which toys to play with because I will have ABSOLUTELY NO Direction.

None, nada, zilch… you catch my drift? I get “LISTLESS”.

…………………

Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it.

~Marcus Aurelius, Stoic philosopher

…………………

The three greatest hallmarks I possess (*one of which used to be my hair*) are

  • 1. my calendar
  • 2. my lists, and
  • 3. a slave-like devotion to “Own The Morning”… getting the most important things done early in the day.

I get it. I understand that we don’t want to become automatons enslaved to “do do do“, but I also understand that I don’t want to imprison myself in a philosophy of “idleness, indolence and inertia“.

     (Aside: Pet Peeve: It drives me nuts when I see men (it's almost always XY chromosome creatures) who think that earning a living ie. being the hunky breadwinner, is sufficient excuse to collapse on a couch after a workday. 
     Meanwhile, the (usually) woman partner: works, cleans house, grocery shops, prepares meals, looks after children.
     Any relationship where one partner believes that doing only 20% of the daily work involved is equitable, is stuck in Slave-holder Plantation-Master mode. Beware the Underground Railroad!  

OK, where was I?

Right. As part human doing, I’m not advocating for non-stop busy work or a compulsive need to be constantly accomplishing stuff… yes, rest and recovery are important. My human being part needs regular refreshing.

But a life well-lived, in my books, is one where we experience things directly, by doing… we learn, we try out all kinds of things both easy and difficult, we meditate and sweat, we love and hate, we laugh and cry, we eat and fast … doing and experiencing= invigoration.

…it’s part of the ancient stoic philosophy of overall self-improvement blended with healthy balance.

It’s no accident that my daily practice of making lists, checking my calendar, and owning the morning, allows me to revert to a partially relaxed and satisfied form of slothdom later in the day. However, if you happen to flip the day on its head and Own The Night, well, good on you too!

When life’s critical doohickeys are done, my head becomes clear and unbothered, my body trained and physically tested, my spirit able to enjoy and absorb.

I’m an ordinary Tale of Two Humans and that’s a wondrously wonderful thing.

A Man With A Shrug…

2 Comments

Yes, I shrug… maybe I’m the wrong colour…

My last name should be Grey, not Green.

I see grey everywhere in a world that is often painted and presented to me in binary form… yes or no… black or white.

I change my mind at almost every corner.

You could call me Mr. Wishy-Washy, but you know, I take this as a point of pride.

I’d even humbly suggest it’s a sign of later-life wisdom.

In my late teens and early twenties, my favourite book was Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, a book promoting Rand’s political philosophy of individualism. I bought her whole storyline of Darwinian survival of the strongest individual, screw the rest of the weak world. I was strong. I was invincible. I was just like Helen Reddy, minus woman parts!

OK, I lied… my favourite “read” was actually A Man with a Maid, an early Victorian porno version of 50 Shades of Grey.

For a young dude it was erotically titillating with the use of shackles and seductive feathers in a man’s quest to rape women, although it was never laid out as rape; girls really just needed an education in how their bodies could be pleasured.

Seen exclusively through a man’s eyes, women in this tale came around to loving him and embracing their hidden sexual soul once they learned the charming and sensuous ways of his lust. *Nope, sorry fella, it’s just rape*

Today, neither Atlas Shrugged, nor A Man with a Maid find an exalted place on my book reading list. They’re in my remainder bin because…

I’ve changed.

I almost shrug in embarrassment to think that I enjoyed either novel, or welcomed things into my head that I now see as repugnant.

But, along the unending road to understanding, compassion, and seeing the world through the eyes of others, I can take some satisfaction in knowing that maybe, just maybe, I’m smart enough and flexible enough to change my opinion, any opinion, based on new insights or facts brought to my attention.

At times the metamorphosis I undergo is just so GD clear and obvious, while at other times it happens with me flailing on the floor, kicking and screaming. Whichever way it occurs doesn’t really matter so long as the change takes place.

Whether its Rand’s individualism, A Man With A Maid’s rape culture, drug laws, or LGBTQA+ rights, … whether it’s politics or philosophy, science or climate change, human rights or economics, or anything else you might name, the critically important point I aim for is to keep an openness to ideas.

An openness to saying… I think I’m right, but I might not be; I need to consider the issue from many angles.

A wide-eyed openness to scrutinize and question, evaluate and internally debate…continually learn… it’s too easy and lazy and bullheaded to merely rationalize with this is what I’ve always believed, or this is what my parents or teachers or clergy taught me.

And of course, to be fair, it’s equally important to recognize, after reflecting as calmly as a Hindu cow, when a change truly isn’t necessary or desirable when the only good reason is… because… it just is.

Because is kindergarten thinking.

Sure, I’m Mr. Wishy-Washy.

I even get frustrated with myself at times because of my vision of “greyness” in so much of the world.

Oh well…*shrug*… sucks to be ME!! Or does it?

Another Year of the Non-Marathon – 8 Anti-Pandemic Motivating Ideas for YOU…

4 Comments

It’s spring, at least for us northern hemisphere’ites… and all feels blissfully… normal…

… the birdies are totally randy and twitterpated (way too many PDA’s! even PDF’s!)… houses are selling above asking price within milliseconds of being listed for sale… daffodils and snowdrops and daphne are all in sunny rainbow bloom …

Springtime, and the acacias are blooming”… (The Eagles)

… but of course, not EVERYTHING is normal, not anywhere, at least not on this small blue planet that Elon Musk is trying to escape. Dark ominous shades of COVID clouds persist, for a little while more anyways.

We’re all finding NEW adventures and new ways of doing things we love because many of the old adventures and old ways have been subtracted from our daily arithmetic.

Maybe you’ve made 5,000 sourdough loaves, or crocheted 75 doilies, or binge-watched Bridgerton sex-scenes 6 times, and ZOOM’ed 10,000 work meetings or chatted with family members…

… in my case, I’ve spent my COVID sabbatical year writing and recording probably a dozen new songs, which is WAY above my normal productivity.

Sure there have been changes, and I really do miss helping out at the soup kitchen, but… most of the things I love to do haven’t been profoundly affected by this year of closures and partial re-openings followed by more closures, and then more re-openings followed by… you get the idea.

However, the one thing that I’ve missed the most is external motivation.

I thrive on motivation which is why I’m constantly searching for mentors and leaders and thinkers who inspire me to get off my butt and JUST DO IT!

Once again this year, for the second year “running” (thank you COVID), I’m missing my spring Half Marathon race in Vancouver (first Sunday of May) that typically pushes me hard – physically and mentally hard – in training from January to May each year.

It’s a beautiful spring run – surrounded by 10,000 other crazies like me – with fresh, early morning ocean air, and gorgeous snowy mountain vistas that blunt the mountain of advancing pain in the waning kilometres of the race.

Training preparation is the motivational voice whispering in my head that tells me to run a little farther, a little faster. I’m the dog with his ear listening intently to his master’s voice on the RCA Victrola machine.

Now, if you’re a strong self-motivator and don’t need a looming deadline, I hereby award you a gold star and applaud your discipline and energy; I bow to you humbly.

You’ve already graduated and can leave the classroom now. But, if you’re at all like me and need a reminder and a push… especially in viral times like these…

… well, let’s work together and push ourselves forward until this pandemic is in our rear-view mirrors!

In the “tips and pushes” I’m listing below, I’ve largely focussed on physical exercise for my examples… but they can just as easily apply to gardening or reading, piano or sewing, or a hundred other pursuits that get your heart rate or enthusiasm gene excited…

*8 Ways to Inspire and Motivate Your Way Through A Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Pandemic*

  1. My biggest personal item… JUST start. Don’t wait and wonder when the motivation or inspirational moment will arrive. For me, the stimulus occurs when I decide to make it occur. It ain’t magic, it’s simple (but ironically difficult) perspiration and dedication.
  2. EAT the elephant one bite at a time. Sure, a terrible cliche, you say? So true. It’s super easy to be dissuaded from starting a big project because it’s … well… BIG! Broken down into a bunch of tiny steps, it’s amazing how the big can be tamed by focussing in on the small stuff and taking one teensy step after another. When I run a half-marathon, I don’t cross the start line with the entire 21.1 kilometres coursing through my head… instead I focus on one kilometre at a time… first kilometre goal in 5 minutes and 15 seconds. Kilometre 2, can I closely match the first kilometre time? When I reach the final 5 or 6 kilometres, my mind tells me to try and only slow by no more than 5 seconds per each kilometre. Yup, one bite or kilometre at a time.
  3. FIND your focus – it’s easy (so so easy) to be distracted by a dozen or more things on your TO-DO list. It takes a lot of discipline to narrow your focus and decide on the most important stuff to tackle. This is why I usually do my run training early in the day, so I’ve accomplished this and can let my TO-DO monster go wild for the remainder of the day.
  4. TALK up your ideas and desires – by sharing your goals and plans with others you build in a voluntary “peer pressure” system for yourself. Many of us like to show our relatives and friends that when we say we’ll do something, we follow through and do it. YOU have sticktoitiveness… YES!
  5. MUSIC – this works even when I’m looking to motivate myself to write… music! Listening to music we love has a magical power to excite, energize, and motivate us when we need a lift. Today, 30 years after I first heard it, John Parr’s song MAN IN MOTION (also the theme song for Rick Hansen’s wheelchair-around-the-world-tour to raise money for spinal injury research) still pushes me to go much harder than I would otherwise, when running a track interval training session. Music is a genie in a bottle that needs a release… if you only let it…
  6. FIND your competitive spirit – no, not in the way we normally think of competitiveness. The approach that I’m looking for here is the internal drive to go beyond what we have done before. Maybe a friendly competition with yourself to, for example, finish a boring or routine task. Repeating a single line of a guitar lick in practice literally 100 or more times isn’t always fun, but eventually carries me to where I want to be. The routine things are often what we have to surmount to get to the greatness of our overall goal. Call it a necessary evil.
  7. AVOID the ruts… yes, ruts can and will kill motivation. And ruts, like SH*T… happen. Change and variety can bring you a freshness and new approach to your task, so mix things up. Try varying what you do instead of just going through the motions. As an example, when preparing for a half marathon, I mix up my types of exercise so it’s not only running. I bike or swim, or play some soccer for the mental break away from only running. Try listening to music and podcasts that you usually don’t listen to. A refreshed mind is a good way to keep the enthusiasm up. Rah rah!!

  8. REWARDS – this is the super fun part. If you’re really looking forward to a nice reward after you’re done with a task or a project, then your motivation tends to go up. Tea or latte break. Exercise break. CBD or THC oil break. Cookie or ice cream break. Martini or Margarita break. One minute “self-appreciation” break. OK, a Bridgerton sex-scene break! During the half marathon run, I readily admit that I begin to hallucinate and fantasize about the food table set up after the FINISH banner… cookies, muffins, donuts, bananas, juices. Dangle those carrots *ahem, more like chocolate Larry* in front of your nose and celebrate to keep your motivation up.

Congratulations… we’re fired up and ready to get going. Let’s not let this golden moment pass us by while we await our “old” world – somewhere over the rainbow – to return…

A New Forking Year…

2 Comments

What to do… What to do…

OK, I didn’t anticipate the year we’re just finishing.

You did?

Well, I bow in homage to you Nostradamus… maybe I didn’t read my Chinese horoscope closely enough as we leave the Rat behind us and enter the Ox’s domain!

I placed no DoorDash or SkipTheDishes order of COVID virus for 2020.

Traditionally, starting out a new year, I’d think and ponder about Christmas bills, my running and swimming goals, and if stock markets would rise or fall through the year and how my and my kids’ investments would fare… silly me…

… because… then came the virus. 1918 redux.

All of our lives changed immediately… overnight.

Millions were and are affected. Tragedies and near tragedies abounded in every nook and cranny of the globe.

It just happened and we’ve all had to whip ourselves into a different pretzel contortion of ourselves each week to adjust to the “new” world.

Another set of protocols for daily life were pronounced regularly, sometimes every few days.

Every country, every province/state/county, every town and city had its own set of rules du jour. We’d slog to the top of Mount Sinai and pick up our updated slate of Ten Commandments… depending on the current bend of the “curve”.

Looking back to pre-COVID time, my normal ADHD-based world was filled with lots of activities and social interactions in a swath of different directions. I typically thrive on a cornucopia of varied pursuits.

Not in 2020, nope nope nope.

But away to the window they flew like a flash… yes, Santa’s research elves went right to work in their North Pole labs …

… and through the miracle of today’s research, technologies and communications, science’d the shit out of this virus, and here we are in less than one year with a solution in a syringe, set to reverse the tide of this microscopic demon.

Despite our worldly problems and challenges, we are so very fortunate to live in 2020 and not 1918.

Fortunate that in only six months or a year from now, we’ll open our doors, rip off our masks, and step out into the sunshine of the world-as-we-once-knew-it… and clocks will start to tick once more.

Which begs a big question of us all.

Should we return to the old “me” or… is it a chance to create a new “me”? It can be our version of New Year’s resolutions.

Let the inner debate begin. What have we learned about ourselves during this period?

Isn’t the inner dialogue best faced now while in the throes of isolation, before the push and pull, the swell of the tides drags us back into the sea of “normality”?

I can’t answer the questions for you.

For myself, I know I have a tendency to over-schedule my life. It’s a blessing and a curse of having many interests and desires. I want to do everything that grabs my inner passion.

But I also know that as a semi-introvert (I guess the true term is omni-vert), I’m also beginning to feel a minor pulse of uneasiness rising.

As much as I enjoy the outside world, I also enjoy solitude, and the need to reflect and just let my mind wander aimlessly into corners and alleys where I discover inner worlds that no airliner can carry me.

Isolation has given me time and permission to focus so much more intensely on one of my great interests, music. Practising, writing, playing, creating, experimenting.

Almost 2,500 years ago, Socrates gave us his guidance: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Occasionally old white guys have wise messages (but ONLY occasionally!)

So, entering 2021, I’ll challenge you to examine your trajectory as will I.

Will the road you journey be the same as before… or will the Ox lead you to a courageous turn down the fork of a road unknown, novel, and undiscovered?

Whichever path you trek, make it YOUR path.

And in a nod to a year’s end and your new beginning… a song for Old Times Sake, a reminder of longstanding friendships: remember to take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Here’s a little guitar instrumental based on Robert Burns poem that I put together this week.

The Week That Was In A Year That Is…

7 Comments

I don’t have to explain… You get it, right?

I will hold my tongue over the many surreal things that have occurred in the last 7 days… because… TEAM?…

*hear the swelling roar*

… it’s time for the coach’s pep talk! Let’s go…

You’ve been scared. You’ve been stressed. Your permanent press is gone and you’ve been tumbled dry.

The U.S. election and coronavirus have sucked the gall out of our gallbladders, the storm out of our brains, the oysters out of our shells, the prick out of our boils (Larry, that’s too far…), the life force out of so many of us.

It’s been a week of numbers galore and I am a Number’s Guy but…

TIME OUT!

• It’s recess time.

• It’s time to get past the pity party.

• It’s time for self-care and self-repair.

• It’s time to be our own leader.

• It’s time to refresh and reset on Desiderata and become centred once again.

Ommmmmmmm…. that’s better.

It’s time to get back to the things you have control over (like wearing a simple mask for a few more months); become your own lighthouse in the dark night that surrounds us for the moment, remembering that THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

It’s time to listen to beautiful music that enervates and relaxes. Here’s a pretty James Taylor/Mark Knopfler song to help (Sailing to Philadelphia); a cup of awe-inspiring guitar by Knopfler, a handful of superb harmony vocals, blended with a side of history lesson included gratis.

Get out there and bake some fancy sourdough bread… or make a Curried Shepherd’s Pie like I did this week… yup, look for some Idea Sex in whatever you love to do. I love curries, I love Shepherd’s Pie…. so why not Curried Shepherd’s Pie… here’s a recipe link.

Take care of yourself both mentally and physically. YouTube has tons of yoga and boot camp classes. There are free seminars, university and college courses to be had online (Coursera is a good example).

Try to focus on the positive things you hear and read. We all have the human tendency to focus 10 times more on the negative. It’s a part of our neanderthal survival mechanism.

We have a long way to go team but let me remind you of a few of the positive forces in our world.

1. Global life expectancy (Our World in Data) has been rising steadily since the turn of the 20th century, and has increased nearly 3 years in the last decade alone. It’s now 72.6 years old, compared to life expectancy just a century ago when most people didn’t make it to 40. No country in the world today has a lower life expectancy than the countries with the highest life expectancy in 1800.

2. Child mortality in the world is in dramatic decline (United Nations)- Global child mortality fell from 19% in 1960 to just below 4% in 2017. Average rates in Africa are now lower than the European average in 1950. In the last decade alone, child mortality fell 26%. This number will continue to dwindle.

3. Today, nearly 60% of the world’s population has access to the internet (World Bank). We passed the 50% milestone in 2018 and the trend is accelerating. With such rapid progress, internet access may soon become a universal human right.

4. More people have access to reliable electricity today than at any point in history. In 1990, around 71% of the world’s population had access; this increased to 87% in 2016. Over a billion people have gained access in the last decade. Today, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 90% of the world’s population has the use of electricity.

5. Rapid growth of solar and wind energy (Our World in Data) – solar energy generation increased twenty-fold from 2010 to 2019. During that same period, renewable energy generated by wind increased three-fold to 1,430 gigawatts. Fossil fuels will be relegated to the buggy whip makers’ museum before our grandchildren grow old.

6. The number of people in extreme poverty has fallen from nearly 1.9 billion in 1990 to about 650 million in 2018. In the last ten years, we have reduced global extreme poverty by nearly half to 9.3% in 2020 (World Bank). If it weren’t for COVID-19, that number would be even lower. For example, the World Bank estimates that if the pandemic hadn’t ravaged the world economy, the global extreme poverty rate in 2020 would be 7.9%.

Listen up. I’m not Pollyanna. I’m merely hopeful.

The world has it’s work cut out for it, but there is ample reason for hope going forward…

… hope is what we all need not just this week but everyday and every year.

Now come on in and give me a cheer on three … one, two, (oh Larry, you’re such an idiot).

The BOLDNESS of Stepping Over Fear

Leave a comment

Do you ever wonder who that person inside you is that calls him/her/themself YOU?

The wonder seems surreal… maybe dream-like… or perhaps even an ephemeral but distant memory.

Surreal and real are mirror images if we summon the courage and boldness to make them so. Today I feel this even more deeply with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I’ll miss her immense courage, her intelligence, her boldness…

A life with a rich garden of special treasured moments, I believe, takes a willingness to harness the BOLD when you would so much rather run in the opposite direction.

I’m a self-professed introvert… OK, maybe I cross the line a bit, so let’s call me an ambivert (anything but a pervert!)

I was not a bold person in my youth, and honestly, I’m not overtly a bold person now. But I’m surely bolder today than I once was. You can be too.

I’ve known a few fearlessly confident types, and I don’t pretend that I’m one of them. I lean towards equating boldness with extroversion. A small life lesson: it doesn’t have to be.

Hell, I remember sobbing in the aisles of Towers department store when I was 4 or 5 years old when I lost sight of my Mommy. It’s likely that we reunited in less than 2 minutes, but I was a nervous child.

I loved reading and the idea of adventure, a voyage… it’s wired into the construct of what it means to be human. To live vicariously through the eyes of others is entertaining and enjoyable but it doesn’t linger and tingle in the same way as personal experience.

I didn’t believe I was daring enough to set out on my own adventure, but I was pretty sure I wanted to experience it all the same. I just wasn’t convinced it was in me to make it happen.

Fast forward to today and I’ve done some bold *cough cough some might say foolish/crazy* things; this hubris allows me to close my eyes and visualize myself in the mirror wearing a “mini” cape.

Looking back, it’s a mere two seemingly small steps I took in one short period of time of my early adulthood that freed up the inner BOLD guy inside me, giving me the confidence to push ahead despite fear.

Yes, they were infinitesimally small steps in mankind’s history of courage, but they taught me the lesson that many small fears overcome are the path to larger, bolder ones.

What were these steps?

1. September 1977 – roaming around the small apartment I shared in downtown Hamilton with my sister, preparing to head off for a job interview for my first professional position as a lab technologist. The job: Immunohematology (simply put: Blood Banker) technologist at the hospital where I had recently finished my internship year to qualify as a “tech”. I showered and dressed for the interview for a job I really didn’t relish, but one that stroked my young male ego and offered stability and security. If offered the position, I knew it was the easy choice and I would be on my way in life and adulthood.

Then the phone rang: Hello? “Larry Green?” Yes it is. “This is ____ at the hospital laboratory in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. We have an unexpected opening for a technologist and wondered if you’d be interested in the position?” (Voice in my head: you sent me a letter just 2 weeks ago saying there were no jobs available). Ummm, I’m interested but need some time to think about this. “OK, but could you let us know of your decision in the next day or two?” Yes, I can do that. Thank you for your call.

The voltage in my heart skyrocketed like a defibrillator with this unexpected offer. Yellowknife… 4900 km. away and located in the cold, dark Arctic. Land of Inuit and Igloos. I figured I was crazy… but… I’ll let you guess which choice I made that day with 2 very different job offers burning in my head?

(Aside: when I prepared to venture off to Yellowknife for the job, I was told to book a flight with PWA (Pacific Western Airlines). This naive/ignorant eastern Canadian lad had never heard of PWA and thought I was told to book with TWA (TransWorld Air). I phoned TWA to book my flight and the operator there said not only did they not have any scheduled flights to “Yellowknife”, but she had never even heard of the place! At this juncture, I envisioned a dog-sled trip to my new northern posting…)

2. Not long after stepping over the fear of the unknown and flying off into the Great White North to work in a small Arctic hospital, I had an unexpected message from a high school friend, Richard. Was I interested in flying off on a backpacking trip through Europe?

Three months of daily travel and adventure? Hostels and train trips? Eiffel Tower and Checkpoint Charlie? Hell… that sounds scary I heard the voice in my head saying. A hundred decisions to make every day of where to go, where to stay, which alleys to avoid, which foods to eat.

My head filled with frightening scenarios of strange people speaking to me in a dozen different languages when I knew only English and a modest amount of French. My comfort zone +1,000. I went over the “on one hand” and “on the other hand” debates in my mind… before swallowing hard and saying … YES! Three incredible months followed.

But… more than the excitement and adventure and the inner fears… those two hugely small decisions launched me on a life journey that showed me the strength I hadn’t known existed inside me.

Somehow I found a way to step over the often paralyzing dread. I now knew that fear was to be respected and accepted, but not a home of prison bars and roadblocks.

I’ve stepped over the unease a hundred times since and it always gives me the knot in my stomach, the race in my heart.

Each step forward can build on the one before.

Here’s a fairly recent example. A few years back, playing my guitar and singing other peoples’ songs on stage was a giant obstacle. Today, I still feel the nerve-racking butterflies as I climb the stairs to the stage and see the audience faces before me… and then launch into playing my very own songs. Despite the initial fear.

And to be perfectly honest, I’ve stepped back occasionally because in the moment – feeling almost like when I cried with separation anxiety as a child – I lacked the mental strength to go forward… absolutely… but…

… most times, I recognize that I’ve been to this cliff-edge before and made the step over fear… and…

… COWABUNGA!

R.I.P. Ruth Bader Ginsburg – your wisdom will be sorely missed.

Older Entries