And Another Thing

Another thing that I don’t get is the zealousness with which some people celebrate October 31.  Well obviously not the date but the event associated with the date. We have neighbours who begin decorating their home with webs, pumpkins, skulls, tombstones and crows, rats and ghouls before Canadian Thanksgiving. Yesterday there were hundreds of cheerleaders, minions, ghosts, mad hatters and nursery Rhyme characters working 9-5 jobs in downtown Calgary.  For two days there have been parties taking place in bars and clubs with thousands of costumed merrymakers. (OK maybe I am beginning to understand) This was a kid’s event when I was growing up and I didn’t really get it then but I can’t imagine how helicopter parents can take the bubble wrap off their precious kiddies and send them out to beg for candy door to door.

The cultural phenomenon has become a $7 Billion industry according to Retail Food Federation. In an era of quasi concern about nutrition how have we found ourselves spending the annual  equivalent of $2.5 Trillion on junk food that is mostly consumed in 24 hours? Just considering the ‘ waste’ should have all of us cringing but we seem to be so desperate for something frivolous to connect with that this meaningless mass costume party has resonated.  (I think I see the appeal of the harmless hysterical hysteria)

Maybe we do need an annual mass event that allows all of us to choose to act foolish and gorge on sugar as an act of defiance towards doctors, dentists and our diet.  I don’t really understand the overboard, overblown approach to it all but just typing this short post has offered a glimpse of why we might need it.

Make Today Remarkable,  by joining the big party,

B

What is Normal?

There are people that I have met whose life choices I don’t understand. Their normal is so outside my frame of reference as to appear insane. I can’t imagine the journey that lead them to the worldview they espouse and demonstrate.

The normal might include a parent who deprives herself of basic necessities and enjoyment so she can ensure that her adult children will receive a generous inheritance. Our kids have been told that “if there is anything left when we die, it was a mistake.”

The normal might be a man in his early 60’s (I call him Vince) who gets out of bed at 5:30 and despite his physical and mental illness gets on a bus to downtown , regardless of weather, to stand on the same corner with his hat extended and a smile on his face. After the morning rush, he gets on the bus and heads home from his job only to return for a second shift later in the afternoon.

The normal might be an executive who hasn’t really seen nor talked to his children in months because he is working 10,11,12 hours every day to ‘make ends meet’.

The normal might be a single mom struggling to keep her three kids clothed and schooled who accesses a school lunch program and shops where she gets the best bang for her bucks.

It might be a couple in their later years who supplement their retirement with risky (some would say) behaviour. Or the young man who bets it all on the spin of a wheel. Or the young woman who bets it all on the spin of an idea.

Is normal just perspective? Is it  just adaptation in the face of circumstances? Is it just a defensive reaction to stressors?

I recognize that I am not normal but I am ok with that and likely foster abnormal quirks from my perspective and in order to adapt.

Make Today Normal, whatever that means for you,

B

Coffee, a Savior or a Curse

Full Disclaimer: I love coffee – full rich coffee. I like it black. I like it in lattes and mochas. I like it with cream. I like it with French Vanilla. I like it warm. I like it in the morning. I even like it crisp. I rarely drink coffee after 3pm and almost never drink iced coffees.

Coffee drinking goes back centuries. It was once associated with academic debate but now more than 400 Billion cups are consumed each year making it one of the most widely consumed  beverages.

It can pack a punch in the morning and depending on how you read studies it may reduce liver disease (including liver cancer), Parkinson’s, type 2 diabetes and reduce heart disease.  Drinking 5 cups a day may benefit your arteries.  It can reduce colon cancer. It may even be helpful as a natural remedy to erectile dysfunction. Sounds like it could be a savior.

Coffee can cause insomnia and restlessness. The morning boost can be dangerous and apparently we all have different caffeine sensitivity. Pregnant women should avoid coffee because babies have very high sensitivity. Some studies show that cafestol and kahweol, two ingredients that appear to raise LDL cholesterol levels. I found a study that said that coffee is bad for young kids because it can cause bed wetting. Seems weird that someone would have done that study.

As with most things some moderation is in order. I have 2-5 cups a day but 80-100 cups (23 litres) in a short session could be lethal.

I don’t consider myself an aficionado but know a couple (Thanks Phil and Sebastian and Nan and Michael) but appreciate the elixir and its properties as part of my day to day. How about you and your caffeine habits?

Make Today Rockin,

B

Ten Myths About Responsibility

  1. Someone else will do it. They might but that doesn’t make it right.
  2. If I own my mistakes, people will think I am a failure. They will likely think you are honest and have integrity.
  3. If I am free, I don’t have responsibility. The opposite is true, responsibility comes from freedom.
  4. Responsibility impedes independence.
  5. I know my rights! Every right implies a responsibility.
  6. Social issues aren’t my job. Individually and collectively, we all have a social responsibility to make the world a better place.
  7. I have employees who are responsible for that (whatever that is) Rank doesn’t absolve, it confers responsibility.
  8. I can’t make a difference. If each of us accepts responsibility for our intentions and actions, we can begin to change our world.
  9. That is the government’s (someone else) job. Democracy only survives if we participate.
  10. If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.

Make Today Remarkable, by being responsible,

B

Promises

In Alberta, where I live, the newly elected government is delivering their first budget. During the campaign they made numerous promise – like all political parties. Now we get to hear how the will honour those promises.

promise

It go me thinking about other pledges, guarantees and commitments. I hope and expect the new Finance Minister to keep the promises made, as best as he can in light of current economic circumstances. I also rely on the warranty/guarantee that GM made on our Chev two years ago. My new glasses have an unconditional replacement clause. I have a work contract and some ‘understood’ agreements. I pledged my love 40 years ago. I promised to be a good grandfather.

There is an implicit assurance that I will do my best work. I have a covenant with God because of my faith practice. I have sworn oaths and done pinky swears (of sorts). How am I doing in keeping my word. I would say mostly. Is mostly good enough? Are some promises more important than others? If one contradicts another – how do I reconcile both? Have you made a pledge and then didn’t/couldn’t make good on it?

There are so many times that a tacit commitment is made that goes beyond contractual obligations. In the new world of social media, is gossip a betrayal of confidence or allegiance? If my mostly was good enough yesterday, is it good enough today? Is a mostly from the Finance Minister the best that I can expect?

As always, your thoughts are appreciated,

B

Are We All Going Crazy?

How important is social media, really? I know, I have a platform and I can express my self and my creativity and sometimes engage with others but does it really make a difference. If I have 8000, 10,000 or 100,000 Twitter followers, does it make me a better person? If someone I admire accepts my Friend request, is my life or theirs improved? Can I ‘cultivate’ and nurture hundreds of LinkedIn contacts? Does any of it make a difference?

I don’t know the answer. Some days I imagine thousands of people reading this blog or posts on other sites. ( The highest daily readership was 2000 and average is 65). I am optimistic that someone will read one of the posts and it will make a small change in their lives. My delusions of grandeur hope that a monumental change will rise from a prompt or challenge that I issued. But do we hold onto anything if we are being bombarded with everything? Can the stream of social media be slowed enough so that relationship value can be gained? Does anyone who hears our ‘ shouts’ act on the challenges? Am I addicted to the idea that someone is listening? Again, I don’t know the answer.

I can point to case studies of successful campaigns and draw correlations between posts and change but am stretching reason if I think it is causal or conclusive. Yet, I continue to pound away, gather followers and ship a post, a few tweets, some retweets, FB snippets and linked in articles almost every day. Am I going crazy?

B

Sui Generis

“If you want to say “in a class by itself” with slightly more class, grab for this handy Latin phrase, which means literally “of its own kind.“” from Visual Thesaurus Word of the Day.

Can we think we are sui generis, speak like we are and act like we are, if we believe what we are doing is? Is the work you are doing best in class? Who is doing it better? What can I do to become that much better?

I see this in many organizations. They are doing remarkable work but no one knows it because they refuse to ‘blow their own horn’. They refuse to think about themselves as being the best in their field. If we become what we believe, is it possible that we become mediocre by not thinking, speaking and acting like we are amazing?

Do I need to  improve? -Sure I do on every front. But seeking to get better shouldn’t preclude me from believing in myself, telling others and then delivering the very best me that I can.

Choosing to Believe Changes the View. (2)

My challenge, for me, (and you) is to spend the next 168 hours believing, speaking and acting like I am top-notch, top-drawer, tip-top, a-one, five-star, first-rate and watching how it rubs off on me and others.

Be Sui Generis Today,

B

Where do the Haters Come From?

I have read a couple of articles this month on the demise of Twitter. Both really talk about the decline of courtesy on the platform. Any tweet can spur vitriol and derision. Most of the anonymous chatter is illogical and can be chalked up to trolls and ogres but the article authors suggest that there has been a shift in tone over the past year. Did Twitter give anger a home? Did twitter expose us to incessant conversation and provoke the insults and obscenity? Did Twitter attract the vicious because it was easy to sin on and stir up sh*t?

I continue to block, unfriend, unfollow and ignore those who make slanderous comments or post what I see  as illogical or obscene posts. My personal amendment is too choose whose conjectures and opinions  I read and consider. So far this has worked for me and I haven’t gotten too worked up. There are a few instances a month that I need to use restraint and not join the fray and fall into the trap being laid by haters. Since July, I haven’t commented or responded without consideration for how the words would impact others and reflect on me.

Decorum and courtesy may be naive and nostalgic and even highly personal but we do need to figure out how to balance debate with dignity, passion with politeness, and rebutting and respect.

Always remember that others may hate you but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself. ~ Richard Nixon

Fall is in the Air

I think autumn is my favorite season. I like the warmth of summer and the length of the days. Spring is full of promise and freshness. Crispness and cleanness are part of winter for me. But Fall has great light and amazing air. The scents of fall are unique (even though I have been sneezing a lot this year). I breathe deeply in the autumn. I am reminded to slow down and take in the colors and the reflections and the angles of sunlight through the trees. I take time to breathe in during this time of year.

Untitled design (2)

Breathing deeply helps me pause and reflect on the challenges we faced over the past few months, the opportunities that were presents and the possibilities of tomorrow. I am not a good meditator (or mediator for that matter). My mindfulness wanders to the next destination but I can appreciate the present if I let this season infiltrate all my senses. When I am observant, on the journey, I become aware of things I would likely have missed if I had rushed headlong towards the destination.

I saw a lot of the season and pathways from the seat of a bike this week and was thrilled to see so many others out enjoying the weather and celebrating their lives.

Make Today Remarkable, by celebrating fall,

B

Happiness

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition. ~ Martha Washington

I have been following Gretchin Rubin’s blog and podcast through her last two books ” The Happiness Project” and ” Better Than Before” On her blog , in 2009, she wrote “I’ve noticed that people often assume that everyone enjoys the same activities that they enjoy, because they believe those activities are inherently enjoyable.” (There is also an interesting happiness quiz in this post).

happy

I somehow connect Martha and Gretchen’s thoughts to conclude that our disposition isn’t inherently consistent. We become what we see. We see what we seek. We seek what we think makes us happy. We are happy when we believe we are happy or if we believe we are happy then we are.

It is that simple and that difficult. Every day we get to go on an adventure of our choosing (either in our life or in our imagination or both). As we seek happiness, it manifests itself in new ways. If observant new people appear with a smile or a chuckle. If watching a scene of glee plays out in front of you. If careful, you will take in an opportunity, small or large, to brighten another’s day. If diligent you will find purpose for today, which is where true happiness resides.

Make Today Remarkably Happy, for someone else,

B