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

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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…

My Life As A Bigoted, Elitist, Racist, Misogynist, Atheist

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Y

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ou could hate me. Maybe you should hate me.

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There is no doubt in my mind that I’ve done or said something in my lifetime that should enrage you… it’s inevitable that I’ve uttered undiplomatic comments about your gender, or sexuality, or ancestry, or intelligence, or religion.

I haven’t always been sensitive or “woke”. I can understand that you might hate me. I’ve had to erase many many words from my vocabulary that are laced with hidden, and often unintended, hatred.

I’ve lived the most privileged of privileged lives ever in history. I don’t have to buy a lottery ticket, because I won the biggest prize by merely being born a white-skinned male in North America in the 20th century. BINGO!

I’m a billionaire by universal standards of fortune. It’s both wonderful and challenging at the same time.

I’m living in a different world today than the one I was born into… and I’m adjusting and learning and trying… but I also know I’m living my days reading a road-map (without my reading glasses on) that doesn’t have clear cut directions.

In my early years, I said and did things that were hurtful and hateful and just plain stupid when I look back. Many people my age and in my circumstances did the same.

We echoed stuff our parents and grandparents said without understanding who we were mocking and knocking. I won’t give examples, but you probably know the kinds of things to which I’m referring.

It seems pretty clear to me now that making jokes about someone’s gender or sexuality or skin colour or religious beliefs – even hair colour – is crazy dumb and not helpful in any way.

Fortunately, my awareness factor has risen thanks to the resistance movements of Women’s Liberation, LGBTQ+, #MeToo, BLM, and a host of other trod-upon groups.

And yet… today I still get confused and make unintentional gaffes.

I know that no matter how much I try, I still stumble and hurt or offend. I take this for granted and carry the awareness or non-awareness around my neck like a scarf… one that tightens and restricts my breathing when I stray, and warms me when I’m on the right track.

The planet is growing smaller and smaller (metaphorically) and the privilege I was given as a birthright is one that everyone deserves no matter where they are born, no matter their skin colour or language, no matter their gender identification, no matter their choice of partner, no matter their belief or non-belief in a god.

I can’t change what I was or believed in my younger years, but today, we all can make a choice to accept and rejoice in the variety of humanity in much the same way I rejoice in eating delicious foods from India or China or Peru or France or even McDonald’s.

We ALL deserve a rightful and generous place in the world. At the very least, it’s a right we deserve to start out with and maintain if we live in a way that continues to earn this right. Does that make sense?

So, you can choose to hate me and I’ll get it.

But I’ll be a lot happier (and so will you I think) if you try… just try… to understand that I’m crawling, grasping my way out of this cocoon of ignorance, and will make slips and blunders as we wander this complex, cosmic road together.

I’m trying to leave my life as a bigoted, elitist, racist, misogynist, atheist behind… OK, perhaps not the atheist part!…

…and I will always wish for you and everyone the “billionaire” status I was given with my first crying breath, as a part of our birthright.

To Be A Millionaire by 35… NOT!

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Ay Ay Ay… I rocked my head in my hands.

It was a main course of gut punch accompanied with a side serving of humiliation and wounded pride. Nausea was my dessert.

I had just – overnight – lost about $25,000 on a publicly-traded company called YBM Magnex.

Not paper money, not Monopoly money… real money (or as real as the Canadian dollar gets).

I like money.

We should all like money to some degree… I know, I know, we could debate that degree until the cows come home… but I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me.

YBM was a not-inconsequential part of my family’s net worth when this happened about 30 years ago. It was a great company with wonderful financials…

WAS! More on this later.

I “dig” financial numbers and have a pretty decent understanding of what makes a company worthwhile when I’m looking to buy a chunk. YBM was definitely worthwhile.

This investing stuff might not mean a whole lot in your world, but whether you’re young or not-so-young (like me), let’s try to get you engaged for your future.

……….

Ah the hubris of my youth.

I told everyone far and wide in my 20’s and early 30’s that I’d retire by 35 and live comfortably on the millions I had invested and flourished upon.

In my heart I knew the map with directions to take me to the Land of Milk and Honey.

Turns out it was a semi-fictional map that led me to the Land O’ Skim Milk and Artificial Sweeteners!

I’m not complaining, just noting the true course of my investing ventures and adventures.

The investments I’ve made over the years have by-and-large been good ones, but honestly, the mega-blockbusters (the pros call them 10-baggers) have passed me by… nope, in re-thinking this, I’ve passed them by.

My biggest problem as I look back now is not the quality of my research and purchases, it was the quality of my “gut-strength”.

BUY LOW, SELL HIGH… you and I have both heard this maxim a hundred, maybe a thousand times. It’s kinda like saying, BE BORN YOUNG, DIE OLD. Easy to say, harder to do, right?…

You only really have a choice on one end of either of these equations with certainty. LOW and YOUNG both begin at 0… HIGH and OLD have no upside limit (OK… maybe OLD does have a finite point, but remember, bibilical Noah lived to 950).

I’ve been quite good at buying LOW… then too often sold high… but not high enough.

When my winners rose 15 or 20%, I started to feel the hair on the back of my neck creeping upwards … way too often I’ve sold for a modest profit rather than holding on to quality companies and letting them do what they do best… keep growing and adding big profits for themselves… and by osmosis… to me!

Well-run companies with great management have a way of thinking through the tough stuff and finding ways to continue to prosper regardless of the toughness of any economy, year after year.

My advice to myself AND to YOU?

If you should find yourself fortunate enough to own a bit of companies like Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Disney, Amazon, or McDonald’s, hold onto them tightly unless something dramatic occurs that will wound them irreparably… otherwise cling to them as they find a way to renew and carry on making you money hand over fist. (Full disclosure: I own Apple, Disney and Amazon, but sold both J&J and McDonald’s much too early)

It’s a test of our self-belief and “gut-strength”.

GUT strength AND balls…

If I could start all over with a small sum of money that I wanted to grow to a large sum of money, I would show more patience and resolve when the tides of a slowing economy or a rising share price have caused me to sell too soon.

Trust my research would become my mantra.

I’m not Bill Gates, I’m not Elon Musk, I’m not Catherine Wood, I’m not Warren Buffett… but as Larry Green I resolve to hold on to the investment rope when it gets a bit slippery – to trust my choices and decisions in the investing world.

Right… Back to YBM Magnex… remember them?… here’s the rest of the story.

YBM was a solid-appearing company with wonderful assets and sales and profits in producing and selling rare earth magnets to the technology industry. But there were worrisome whispers…

After a strong report from an internationally-renowned auditing firm that gave a green light to the quality of the company’s reporting standards, I stayed on board despite the various reports of fraud and money laundering.

WRONG! Early one morning, the FBI burst through the front doors of the company and uncovered proof of Russian Mafia money-laundering. Poof! My investment dollars disappeared like feathers in a hurricane.

My research had been fine, but my trust in “reputable” auditing companies took a big hit… expensive lesson learned.

Markets are close to highs right now. Riding a market tide-swell is a rush.

They might rise more, or… they might tumble mightily. I have no idea which will be the next stage. My crystal ball has always been murky.

But I will do my best to stay strong and ride whatever waves come my way. We survived (sort of) a period of Trump, and I trust that we can get through the next wave of worry, whatever it might be.

I know the map and the directions, now comes the trusting part.

PS. Despite my braggadocio, I did NOT retire at 35. I’ll never truly retire, but I DID leave my long-term medical lab career behind on my 57th Birthday!

PPS. Just one more thing… I’ve been a fan-boy of Australian acoustic guitarist Tommy Emmanuel for a few years (I have tickets to see him in-person once the pandemic undoes the handcuffs!). Stay Close To Me, the instrumental guitar piece I recorded (below) was written by Emmanuel… I use him as a source of incentive and motivation to work away at my guitar skills. If I can capture 25% of his skills, I will possess a million stars in my eyes (and fingertips)!

My Very Early Letter to Santa

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VROOM VROOM… I’d love to be a hybrid. All muscle, no fat.

Like my car, a Toyota Camry that switches back and forth between battery power and fossil fuel… a mix of all the eco-goodness with only a wee tiny snippet of the deplorable. Nothing’s perfect, yes?

What I’m getting at here is that while I appreciate ALL of my wonderful, amazing positive points – far too many to count in a short blog post (“Larry, people are sick of hearing about how humble you are”) -, like Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof wishing to be a rich man, or the Barenaked Ladies wanting a Million dollars (really? a million? only? amateurs!)…

… I’d like to Super-Size myself and morph into a superhero in all areas of my personal humanity.

Let’s go for a different version of Super-Size…

This could be a major makeover…

Areas such as:

  • physique-wise
  • intelligence
  • business/finance
  • compassion
  • philosophy
  • lover
  • fighter
  • musician
  • writer
  • philanthropy
  • teacher
  • learner…

Obviously, I’ll need help here (no need to nod your head in agreement!)

But who do I know with the power to transform me?

Tony Robbins is booked until 2027, Angela Merkel and Jacinda Ardern are tied up fighting the COVID threat, Oprah charges too much, even the Google doesn’t know God’s cell number or postal code.

BRAINSTORM!

Maybe a carefully-worded begging letter to Santa would do the trick. This is his downtime so the time to ask is now…

Santa is mystically powerful (his sleigh runs on hybrid reindeer) and knows all about me, he even sees me when I’m sleeping and knows when I’m awake. This is Idea Sex in its finest form.

My fingers are crossed… let’s put this missive together:

Dear Great Omnipotent Father Claus:

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Larry here… How are YOU? I am fine. How’s the Ms. and the People of Diminished Stature?

It’s been awhile since I’ve written to you.

It’s long overdue but firstly… I’m sorry about the letter of complaint I sent you in January 1962 when you brought me a Casper the Friendly Ghost doll instead of the GI Joe action figure I specifically asked you for, while sitting on your lap in the Centre Mall in Hamilton. It was a child’s rash outburst that I’ve felt really badly for all of these years. I hope you’ve found it in your heart to forgive me and refrain from shifting me onto the NAUGHTY list.

Still, I’ve been a huge admirer of yours since… well… since, forever. Will Ferrell sends his best too!

You’ve brought joy and happiness to billions of us mere humans, and never once been found to have diddled with children, or swindled grocery money out of grandmas, or instigated a violent riot against any government (you weren’t involved in the Cabbage Patch caper, right?).

I know it’s early in the Christmas Wishlist year but I kinda need your help.

I’m just a simple, modest, super humble guy. During these viral days I’m trying my best to make myself into a better, stronger, and smarter version. Vitamin C and Viagra have only taken me so far.

I’ve been thinking about all the people out there that excel in realms and spheres whom I admire and look up to.

As a perfect example Santa, I am in awe and desirous of your generous spirit and jolly good mirth, but sorry to say, I don’t want your “bowlful-of-jelly” tummy. I want the very best of my heroes without their drawbacks, I have plenty of those already.

You probably need to get back to your late-winter nap, so this is the crux of my note. Here’s what I’d like you to send my way ASAP with many thanks Mr. Big…

In no specific order, I’d like a teaspoon or 2 of the supernatural pixie dust from each of the following:

    • the physical prowess, mental strength, and skills of Jesse Owens, Patrick Mahomes, Clara Hughes, and Wayne Gretzky
    • the writing chops of Stephen King, Aaron Sorkin, John Steinbeck, and Nora Ephron
    • the investing acumen of Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch and Catherine Wood
    • the compassion genes of Mahatma Ghandi, Terry Fox, Harriet Tubman, and my Mom
    • the intellectual capacity of Barack Obama, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Yuval Noah Harari
    • the philanthropic know-how of Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, MacKenzie Scott, and Priscilla Chan
    • the oration skillset of Pete Buttigieg, Stephen Lewis, Winston Churchill, and Barack Obama
    • the balls of Elon Musk, Greta Thunberg, Steve Jobs, and the Chess girl from The Queen’s Gambit
    • the music magic of Tommy Emmanuel, Keith Urban, James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Harry Chapin, the Eagles, The Beach Boys

Thanks for helping me in my quest for perfection.

Oh… one last small thing… Do you think you can do something about this nasty virus so little kids don’t need to be nervous about going to school, or visiting their grandparents?

Is my list too much?

Well, just do the best you can and I’ll put whatever you can’t manage this year on next year’s list, OK? Delayed gratification is a virtue…

Mr. Claus… I think you’re the best… they should make you a Saint… too late?.. how about a movie? that too? for sure a bubblegum card… well deserved Big Guy!

Sincerely, your little friend, Larry

PS. Virginia O’Hanlon, as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, was surely right to look up to you.

BREAKING NEWS for MEN: 8 Tricks to Look Like George Clooney Beyond Middle Age…

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WELCOME to my

DIY Handsomeness Course

Last week I mentioned that I stopped aging at 19, but that was only partly true.

The rest of the story is below…

Full disclosure: I stopped MATURING at age 19… ie. my mental maturity got stuck in the mud like peanut butter on the roof of my mouth (this happens to men a lot). Bad news.

The physical side of me – my face and body – felt left out by the process, so in nasty retribution they went into a hyper-speed zone after I chronologically traversed the teenager divide into adulthood (this also happens to men a lot). More bad news.

Having the V-shaped physique that marks a virile, stud-muffin man can be a problem if the apex of the V begins at your neck and hits full wide-open stride at your waist. Yes, this too is bad news.

So here I am now, stuck with a juvenile mentality and looking for a physical reversal and rejuvenation, sort of a Benjamin Buttoning of my outward appearance.

For sure it’s an ego trip, a full-fledged vanity expedition, probably resulting from the unintended ingestion of too many late-night infomercials.

It’s akin to when I was a kid, when I believed the comic book ads, the cunning tripe that tried to sell me the magic scope that would allow me to see through women’s clothing… creepy stuff that flared a pre-hormonal boy’s wistful dreams. Boob city for only $1.00 + $ .25 S+H?

Sucker born every minute, right PT Barnum?

This week I’ve been doing a little extra GOOGLE research into male anti-aging solutions that will offer me more Sean Connery and less Mystical Connery.

Here are a few things I’ve been reading about and will sift to determine which I should try so that my face and body match my juvenile mentality.

*The Small Print Disclaimer*: Please don’t try ANY of these “solutions”- no one wants to look like me!

  1. NECK TAPE – my turkey neck syndrome is solved with this clear medical-grade tape that is placed on the back of the neck. The instructions are simple: Grab your neck skin at the nape, pull it back, tape it in place, and then cover the evidence with your hair. The result is a fairly slim and firm-looking neck. Maybe I can make this a part of my daily “manly” routine in addition to SSS (S*&t, Shower & Shave). Unintended positive side effect: ripping off the tape at the end of the day gets rid of the unwanted hair on the back of my neck… DOUBLE SCORE!
  2. URINE DRINK – Brit Harry Matadeen, 32, leaves his urine for up to a month, before drinking a glass every day and massaging it into his skin every morning. The health coach says the ‘free and powerful medicine that can cure all manner of diseases’ has made him healthier and smarter than ever before – and claims he now gets mistaken for a man in his 20’s thanks to its anti-aging qualities. I’m only sad knowing that I poured thousand of litres of urine down the sink in my career as a lab technologist. I could have had the skin of 6 month-old baby with early knowledge of this miracle drink! Forget those “green smoothies”, yellow has the power.
  3. BIRD POOP FACE MASK – Nightingale droppings have been used in facials since ancient Japanese times. The guano from the nightingale has a high concentration of urea and guanine. Because birds excrete a fecal and urine waste from a single opening, called the cloaca, the fecal-urine combination gives the droppings a high concentration of urea. Urea is sometimes found in cosmetics because it locks moisture into the skin. The guanine may produce shimmery, iridescent effects on the skin. It’s speculated that because of the short intestine of the nightingale, the droppings have protein, a fat-degrading enzyme, and a whitening enzyme that acts on fat and scurf to whiten skin and even out blemishes. Holy Shit… Sign me up!
  4. PONYTAIL or COMB-OVER?– OK, what dude doesn’t look great with a youthful ponytail, or better yet, a comb-over? I won’t even go into detail here because we all know that a semi-balding fella always looks more lusty and fertile with one of these age-defying trendy do’s.
  5. VIAGRA CREAM – Sagging jowls and eyelids got you down? Forget BOTOX. Forget the ED use of this solid wonder product. Viagra enhancement cream liberally smeared on the face daily will stiffen and engorge the skin with huge blood flow to bring a man’s face to attention in no time. Sure, it’s an off-label use, but I’ve heard it’s on the White House list of effective COVID treatments too. What could go wrong? Visit a doctor if your face goes stiff for more than 4 hours.
  6. WEAR A “BRO” – This is a no-brainer friends. No one wants to look at a cute older couple walking along the ocean boardwalk on a warm evening and try to determine if the man or woman has saggier hooters. If your 100 pushup per day routine just isn’t firming up those masculine pecs, then it’s time to try out the 2020 WonderBro. No separation, just lift. Keep the female eyes on your (Viagra’d) face and not your chest, boys.
  7. FULL BODY WAXING – Steve Carell had the right idea in The 40 Year-Old Virgin *cue the screams*. In today’s world, any body hair below the neck is too much body hair. Believe me, I know. Immersion in a warm, syrupy wax tank followed by a full body rip is the ultimate solution to the question “why haven’t I cried lately“?
  8. JAW CHISEL SURGERY – ever watched hip replacement surgery? It’s a joy to see the Home Depot saws and hammers and chisels emerge from Operating Room drawers after the patient is comatose. Those same miracle tools can be put to good use on your chin by all the Dr. Michelangelo’s out there. There’s no way that Clooney and Connery came by those chiselled chins naturally. The DAVID statue and Mount Rushmore had less work done than either of those two.

So guys, you should be feeling pretty pumped and well-equipped now to send your face and body into reverse gear.

You’re gonna love being a teenager again (except for the acne)!

Advice Column… Be The GOAT …

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Mommy! Mommy!!

Watch me Mommy… WATCH ME!!!

goose watch

I’m locked in and feel the need to give a lecture… maybe it’s because my adult kids roll their eyes when I launch into my spiel… or maybe it’s a viral side effect…

… will you be my soundboard for a couple of minutes?

I’ve opined and pondered about the magic of 10,000 hours and/or 1,000 hours as keys to prowess in whatever area(s) your greatness lies…. the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT).

It’s not my original idea, but it is magic. Hard work magic. Stinky, sweaty magic.

YOU have greatness of a kind that is unique to you. Your mother knows… FaceTime or Zoom with her and ask her… send flowers too, after all it is Mother’s Day.

Now is the time to strike. Be the GOAT.

One thousand hours is somewhere in the orbit of 42 days…

… which sounds almost biblical in terms of Noah and arks and making sure we keep at least 2 Unicorns and 2 Ogopogos and 2 “Murder Hornets” alive during the big rain (saying this feels eerily dramatic to me as I look out my window and see a water curtain, the first big rain occurring in Summerland in far more than 42 days).

1,000 hours. 42 days. Passion.

1000 hours free

OK, I’ll give you sleep and meal time… let’s be generous and say 84 days.

Over many decades, I’ve squandered my 1,000 hours a 1,000 times, so do as I say and not as I do. But I honestly Yoda try, now more than ever.

So… If you’re on an employment recess, a vacation from your vocation… thank your lucky stars (as long as you have food, shelter, and good health).

This is your chance… your once-in-a-lifetime – once-in-a-hundred years – opportunity.

And especially, if you’re on the south side of mid-life, say, under 40 or so, listen up because the coming years will slip past like a Midsummer Night’s Dream.

COVID-19 has passed a beautifully wrapped gift into your capable hands and is daring you to open it.

Just Do It. Open it…

Capture the glorious “infection” of energy and motivation… the call to action.

Don’t: squander the gift.

Don’t: delve further into the cavernous recesses of Netflix or AmazonHuluHbo-world.

Don’t: rollover in bed… burp, fart… then eat one last potato chip.

DO: Wake up every day and set aside at least 2 hours to work into the passion that you feel. You need time (it doesn’t have to be all in one session, split it up into 2 segments if you wish) to let the muses and folkloric and genetic powers rise to the surface.

DO: Get a little obsessed. Focus. Drill in. But don’t become a stalker, OK?… channel your obsession positively. I am not your accomplice in court!

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I’ve already served MY time in my younger days! That moustache is a crime!

Let’s sum up today’s mini-lecture, shall we?

You need patience and persistence.
You need confidence in yourself.
You need inspiration and cheerleading from any source you can find.

We all want to hear our Moms calling out to us telling us how wonderful we are… and if by chance you don’t have a Mom to tell you this… I’ll tell you… YOU are wonderful!

A year or two or three from now… I want you to look back and say to yourself… “as bad as the virus was, as worrisome as the time was, it gave me the gift to do important things that allowed me to explore my real self and find a fabulous path going forward.”

Make the 1,000 hours, these mere 42/84 days, your personal “ark building” moment and discover the GOAT gold at the end of the rainbow after the contagious rains let up.

Tomorrow, you might learn how to paint nudes, and NOT at PornHub!:

https://coursehorse.com/san-diego/classes/art/drawing/drawing-and-painting/live-model-

… and then …

…. move on to some group singing (Fleetwood Mac tonight!):  Choir!Choir!Choir! – check their FB page for details: https://www.facebook.com/choirx3/

OK…  now get out there (by which I mean stay in) and give your Mommy a big hug (by which I mean, from 2m away!)

moms day card 2020

Oscar and The Side Effects That Might Make You A Better Person

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AStarisBornBlackKKlansmanBohemianRhapsody

BlackPantherGreenBookRoma

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Frankly Scarlett, it’s almost Oscar time again.

I can’t wait to tear up during the In Memorium section. I love the melancholy, the bittersweet.

I’ve seen slightly more than half the 2019 Best Picture nominees so far, and it’s a rich crop this time around the sun.

But which movie made me a better person?

Aside from the sheer entertainment value of watching a great movie, what are the lingering side effects?

Over the years, I’ve learned not to eat a sandwich in a New York restaurant next to Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. I’ve learned that to escape the claws of police after a bank heist, one needs only race across the next State border (why a Canadian should know this is another question) in a depression-era Model T Ford. I’ve learned that a chance encounter with a famous drunken country rocker can lead to untold fame and wealth (but ultimate sorrow).

But should movies have side effects? Not hangovers and tummy aches but … positive side effects?

Of course they should. We pay money to see these artistic creations. There’s gotta be more than awe and catharsis and greasy popcorn fingers.

We often read books with the conscious notion of becoming more intelligent, rounded, complete people. We grow and become better people with each chapter consumed.

Should movies be any different?

Most films are like reading a trashy novel on the beach. Tawdry and easily defecated out the back door of the theatre as we leave.

But … some … some movies are epic and long-lasting, unforgettable, priceless and timeless in their message and format. Like a great song, they get inside your head and linger like the aroma of a beautiful bolognese sauce simmering on the stove.

A couple of positive side effects? Examples?

A Star is Born.jpg

I watched A Star is Born where Bradley Cooper (Jackson Maine) knocks Lady Gaga (Ally) out of her sleepy repose:

Look, talent comes everywhere, but having something to say and a way to say it so that people listen to it, that’s a whole other bag. And unless you get out and you try to do it, you’ll never know. That’s just the truth. And there’s one reason we’re supposed to be here is to say something so people want to hear. So you got to grab it, and you don’t apologize, and you don’t worry about why they’re listening, or how long they’re going to be listening for, you just tell them what you want to say.

That is a reminder, a reinforcement of a life lesson. The raw ingredients … talent, ability, intelligence are only the first steps to making a statement. Delivering that statement with confidence and balls, courage and sustained effort is what is needed.

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Green Book is a Shakespearean adventure where the “Fool” Bronx-born Tony Lip learns lessons of the world from his “colored” employer Dr. Don Shirley. In turn, Tony reflects back some unconventional teaching moments that inform the life of an “educated” man:

Dr. Don Shirley: Pull over.
Tony Lip: What?
Dr. Don Shirley: Pull over.
Tony Lip: I ain’t pulling over!
Dr. Don Shirley: Stop the car, Tony!
[Tony stops the car and Don gets out and starts walking in the rain]
Tony Lip: What? What are you doing?! Doc? Doc, what the hell are you doing? Doc, get back in the car!
Dr. Don Shirley: Yes, I live in a castle! Tony. Alone! And rich white people pay me to play piano for them, because it makes them feel cultured. But as soon as I step off that stage, I go right back to being just another n****r to them. Because that is their true culture. And I suffer that slight alone, because I’m not accepted by my own people, because I’m not like them either! So if I’m not black enough, and if I’m not white enough, and if I’m not man enough, then tell me Tony, what am I?!

Classic.

The side effect message? To make something special, something great, we have to accept the possibility of setting ourselves apart from our comfortable world. There is a bitter price to be paid for the exceptional.

Bohemain rhapsody

How about the flamboyant Freddie Mercury? Bohemian Rhapsody?

Filmmaker Bryan Singer presents Mercury’s father as having been disappointed with his son’s penchant for nightlife and theatricality, urging him over and over again to get serious about his life and follow his refrain:

Good thought, good word, good deed.

Mercury ends up living by his dad’s words, but in his own way. In one scene, the mercurial singer tells a potential manager that Queen is the champion of the oddball: “We’re misfits who don’t belong together, playing for the other misfits. The outcasts. The ones right at the back of the room. Who are pretty sure they don’t belong either. We belong to them.” His good thought, word and deed, in other words, is for them — the stigmatized, marginalized and misunderstood.

Finally, eventually, Mercury’s father seems to recognize that his son has lived up to his expectations in their last interaction on screen. Mercury goes home to introduce his family to his boyfriend, Jim Hutton, who remained his partner until the singer’s death from AIDS-related complications at 45, and tell them about his plans to perform in a charity concert (Live Aid) to raise money for famine relief in Africa.

Good thought, good word, good deed.

Just like you taught me, Papa.”

The resulting theme from each of these flicks? The life lesson? The side effect that can make you better?

It’s simple. Occam’s razor simple.

No matter the “size” of one’s existence, greatness is a Herculean struggle. To be better tomorrow than you are today takes effort and strain and pain.

It takes a sizable tub of popcorn to impart these side effects into my brain, because…

… Frankly dear, I do give a damn!

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8 Things I’ve Learned At Age 60+

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I’m how old? Get the f*** out… can’t be…

Or…. can it?

What’s that Serenity Prayer thing about “having the wisdom to accept what you cannot change…“, yeah, my age qualifies under that…

Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

Socrates was a clever man, but I’m not buying into his philosophical ditty there…

I know lots, but I also have the wisdom to know that I have a ton to learn…

I have so much to learn… my days may wither and shrivel on the vine, and still, I’ll never really truly know if a God exists (although I’m pretty heavily invested in Stephen Hawking’s NO side) … how to fold a fitted sheet… why women have to bleed every month just for the pleasure of having children… why McDonalds doesn’t sell hot dogs… or… if chocolate comes from a bean, how come it’s not in the vegetable group?

But still, I DO know lots. I’ve survived to this point through the school of hard knocks and picked up a few valuable tutorials along the tortuous passageway of years. I’ve come a long way from, “Larry, don’t touch the iron with your hand.” “Yes, Mommy.

I’m not an expert, just an observer and sifter. I sift and I weigh, I ponder and I sift some more. Then I make my conclusion which usually sits in a grey zone. Maybe that’s why my hair’s gone grey – the older I become the more grey zones that inhabit my inner space. Like right now … I can’t decide who to vote for in today’s municipal election.

voting ballot

But this doesn’t stop me from sharing my siftings anyway… sucks to be you, eh?

A few points that stand out for me in my continuous lifelong education? Try these:

    1. Don’t stop even if it hurts (a little). If you’re on the right track: physically, educationally, personally… don’t bail because things hurt a little. Perseverance and persistence are hallmarks of success in any endeavour. The price of this improvement often involves a modicum of pain… my body usually moans an achy-breaky ballad after a long run, my fingers are sore and dripping blood (just kidding) after a productive practice session on guitar.
    2. Be responsible for your own finances. No one cares about your financial health today and tomorrow with the same intensity as you. Don’t buy into something with your hard-earned and saved capital unless you understand it and its risks well. Market makers love to yell FIRE even when there’s barely the hint of smoke in the air. So when the market yells FIRE, don’t run for the exits. The one true time to run when it comes to investing and markets is when you hear the term, hot tip... HOT TIP = FAKE NEWS 90% of the time.
    3. Discipline is key. OK, it’s bloody cliche’ish but the way to get better at something you love is to do it, over and over, then over again, practice (with intent) like crazy… put in the 10,000 hours, the 1,000 hours. Your inner happiness soars when you do something you never believed possible. Do the tough stuff first, then relax.
    4. People need to be complimented. The world is full of walking wounded – I see this constantly when I’m bartending at the Greek restaurant, or dicing and chopping at the soup kitchen. People’s inner voices dwell on the negative about themselves so often, but we can give a great gift to anyone. Remind your family members, friends, and even minor acquaintances of what they’re good at, what makes them special. I was a Microbiologist in my lab career, dwelling on the tiny points of life… nowadays I’m drilling in on the personal micro level… there are those who like to be acknowledged and recognized on the grand stage – the macro- and still others that prefer privacy and humbly favour a micro acknowledgement… I’m trying to live like a Microbiologist in my personal relations today. Simple e-mail notes of recognition or appreciation can be huge in a person’s day. I try to do a least a couple of these each week.
    5. Forget who you think you are or were. Don’t become trapped in a vision of “you” that was created when you were 20, or 30, or 40. Orange may be the new black and you may be the new “________” (you fill in the blanks). Letting the preconceived notions and concepts that have been drilled into us by our family, friends, and society shouldn’t prevent us from reinventing, reimagining who we are and can be. A scientist’s occupational life doesn’t rule out an artistic vision in later years. A bean counter can find rejuvenation in bean cooking. Throw the gates open and allow new ideas to filter through.  Kudos to Val who now fundraises for the Sally Ann, Jim who grows his own medicinal herb garden, Betty who tutors a young El Salvadorian woman, Chris who runs from soup kitchen cooking – to Critteraid – to Okanagan Gleaners that prepare and send dried soup mixes around the world. All new life episodes.
    6. Don’t complain, whine and bitch. For God’s sake, take responsibility. Your life is yours and no one else’s. The hardships (and successes too) are what make us stronger and more flexible and understanding and compassionate. Complaining breeds anger and distrust. Whining holds us back from taking the positive steps to improve and move forward. Bitching, well, bitching is mere manure oozing out of an angry, frustrated mind.
    7. Be a mentor and an intern. Help others along their path. Share your wisdom and expertise (with permission) with those who will listen gratefully. At the same time, drop your own ego and allow others to help you along your path. Both giving, and receiving wisdom and knowledge are gifts.
    8. Google is in my head. I’m getting older and my “hard drive” (in my head, not my pants!) is overstuffed like Grandpa’s armchair, which means it takes longer to access names and numbers and Jeopardy answers. But the beauty lies in letting my subconscious do its thing and find answers in its own time. When I relax and allow my mind to process, answers are magically floated to the surface. Google may be the fast food of today’s world, but my slow food is far more satisfying.

Keep learning and growing… after all the Serenity Prayer also says, “grant me the courage to change the things I can.“… that includes ourselves… one day I may even learn how to fold that *&^$% fitted sheet!… ah hell, maybe I’ll Google it!

google is my brain

The Only Way To Get Smart Is To Look Stupid

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lookng stupid

I never asked a girl out on a first date and had the response of “NO“.

100% success … (just don’t ask about my success rate on 2nd and subsequent attempts!)

Aren’t I wonderful? On the surface this appears to be a good thing, yes?

After all, NO means rejection.

NO means hurt.

NO means I’m worthless.

NO means being thought less of.

NO means I look stupid.

YES is success…

But it wasn’t about success… it was about fear. Fear of being judged, fear of looking stupid.

A NO doesn’t make us worthless.

NO is an opportunity.

NO is a learning chance.

NO is a driving force.

Of course we MEN should know that some NO‘s mean NOOOOOOO! Interpreting THAT NO as a MAYBE is stupid.

But for a lot of us, NO brings out the fear of looking stupid.

In my younger years I was terrified of looking stupid. I look stupid all the time now.

ask on a date

The reason I never heard a NO when putting my fragile ego on the line and asking a girl out is that I waited, then waited more.

I probed and deliberated and spent whole nights awake… wondering, weighing, wishing… doing my “mental homework”.

I would flirt some. If she wasn’t flirting back like crazy, I knew the time wasn’t right.

I would wait and wait until the edge of the cliff was so enticingly close that the sweet young lady was almost set to ask me out in restless frustration. There were actually a couple of occasions when the gender-norm-of-the-time was flipped and she did ask me out.

But I also knew that if I waited too long, she might walk away in irritated exasperation… “… he’s cute, but he’s gutless. Time to move on …” 

Once my level of certainty was 99.8% of a positive response, I would finally make the societally expected masculine approach.

“I see that the new Star Wars movie is at the theatre this week…. would you like to come with me?

Of course that latter half of the statement was an added flirt… a double entendre to see if I could make her blush. Being nervous and provocative simultaneously aren’t mutually exclusive. A boy’s gotta have fun sometimes. BAD!

movie date

I wasted a lot of time – my own and young ladies’ –  too afraid to make a polite gesture and ask for a date even if I was only maybe 50% certain of the outcome (who can tell I’m a statistics’ and numbers’ nerd?).

I was afraid to look stupid.

If I was smart I would have realized much earlier that taking some measured risks not just in romance, but also in education or business or anything else I could think of, and taking the chance to appear stupid is OK. Really OK.

After looking stupid I can come up with 8 more plans of ideas I want to work on. I can use the experiences of failure to become a better person, to have a better chance at success, to maybe work with other people who will contribute to my success (and I to theirs) and to increase my odds of doing what I love.

Good people accept honest stupidity in others when they can see that they’re trying to better themselves. The not-so-good people should be happily ignored… they’re the arrogant stupid.

Smart people are lucky. Smart people are curious. Smart people are humble. Smart people ask “What if…?” Smart people learn from their mistakes and don’t blame others. Smart people learn new skills to enhance their old skills. Smart people don’t listen to what society tells them they should do. Smart people work the 10,000 hours and over-prepare.

Smart people aren’t afraid to look stupid.

I look stupid regularly now. I ask stupid questions. Unfortunately I too often say stupid things (but that’s another blog post!)

Stupid is good when it leads to better.

I don’t mind trying things where I’m likely to fail until I’ve practiced them over and over. I studied violin for 4 years as an adult.

I sounded stupid. My bowing technique was terrible.

I sounded and looked stupid but I carried on. After 4 years I still looked and sounded stupid. Stupid but sadly, not better. The stupid I could manage, the screechy sound and lack of “better” finally wore me down and I turned in my bow.

Yes YODA… I tried…

Psycho violin

Maybe stuck-stupid is still banging your head on a wall after wearing out the padding. Smart can be knowing when to move on.

Fear of looking stupid is a prison cell we lock ourselves inside. Those bars that imprison us sometimes are really just an illusion, a mirage.

Allowing ourselves to appear stupid is a measure of courage and confidence, maturity, self-acceptance, and finally, success.

Ultimately, looking stupid is a stage we pass through on the way to becoming better – a better date, a better guitarist, a better curler, a better therapist or surgeon or linguist or burger flipper.

Forrest Gump knew that…

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The Man From A.B.I… or… D.R.O.Y.L.

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boy improving

Yeah, that title’s a wee bit of a stretch. I do that sometimes when I want to draw you into my message.

So here’s the message…

Always Be Improving… akaDon’t Rest On Your Laurels…

I was at the beach late yesterday afternoon – the off-white sand of Sunoka Beach is sweetly satisfying in the blazing hot Okanagan August sunshine – and was stunned when I spotted a group of 4 – one man and three women – in their beach chairs beneath a blue shade umbrella at water’s edge.

No, I wasn’t stunned because they were stretched out naked, airing out their naughty bits (although I was in the buff – ok, maybe not), but because each, instead of eyes down into their iPhone or Samsung device, were eyes down into … wait for it… a book. Cue the piercing screams.

Four people. Together. Every one of them. Submerged. In a book!

I tried hard not to stare. Really hard. I felt myself drawn in to the bizarre visual like some creepy Peeping Tom.

I couldn’t tell for sure but it didn’t look like they were studying their scriptures or 50 Shades of Grey. 

Maybe they were exploring. Maybe they were learning. Maybe they were improving.

The sight ran against my expectation, like seeing a camel casually loping down Main Street in Vancouver.

camel in town

I felt shocked. I felt shocked that I would feel shocked. But I felt pleased too.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with perusing your phone. Communication is a good thing – to a point.

But an amoeba won’t likely ever grow into a Homo Sapien if it never improves and becomes a greater entity than its parent, its grandparent.

We’d probably all be amoeba still if we only carried phones. Hmmmm…. do you think amoebae could have invented an iPhone?

…………….

Henry Winkler “the Fonz”, in a later episode of TV’s Happy Days, gifted us the expression jumped the shark, that moment when we’ve crossed the dividing line into devastation, certain oblivion.

But “Eey… Correct-amundo“… the Fonz didn’t allow a momentary defeat to shape his life trajectory.

Today? Well, Winkler doesn’t look at all like the cool Fonz anymore. He has made himself over into a new popular character Gene Cousineau on the HBO show Barry.

winkler then and now

Winkler says: “When I was 27, I knew who I wanted to be as an actor, at 72, I am getting closer.”

Winkler learned, studied and grew.

I’ve jumped the shark too many times to count. When I was 19 I knew I wanted to write songs. I tried but I wasn’t ready. I’m not 91 yet but I too am getting closer to what I want to be.

Whaddya mean, closer?

Learning and trying and growing is the gunpowder in my head. Learning is how I’m getting closer.

We all traverse the spectrum of our lives like a Russian nesting doll. At different points through the years we grow and change and “unnest” a new entity of ourselves that carries us forward. Da

I’ll never be the boy wonder I’d like to be, but the effort put in to improving just a tiny bit every day keeps me both juvenile and rejuvenated.

Let’s face it. I’m just you sitting here in this chair, watching a tiny ant wandering around the desk surface, typing away with my host of worries and insecurities and ideas and dreams. I have lots of weaknesses and so I reach out… to learn.

We all open our doors in the morning and bravely head off into the world in different directions, the places we lead our lives, the places – hopefully- we love and want to be.

Reading good books, practicing and developing our skills and interests, keeping a keen focus on the important and not the trivial, attempting to be as fearless as possible and not worrying so much about what others think of us when we attempt and fail…

It’s the pursuit of ABI or DROYL that matters. We all need a sense of purpose – the desire to learn and improve. It’s our Northern Star.

It doesn’t matter where your focus, your passion lies. Learning and growing, always improving, inspires an inner flame of enthusiasm.

Always Be Improving is a lovely way to open your eyes to the morning each day.

It can be as individual as your fingerprint, the pattern of your iris, or even a beautifully romantic, wintry snowflake.

And… exactamundo… it just don’t matter whether the ABI inspiration hits in the midst of a marathon run… lounging in the bath… waterskiing over a voracious sea predator… or yes, better yet … while stretched out naked in the sun.

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