December 9, 2013
The goal is 185!
December 6, 2013
It’s been just over a week since I pushed back from my desk and take time to regroup and readjust. First things first, to those who reached out, read my words, and offered an ear, a heart felt thank you.
I am not naive enough to believe that the my world can right itself in 9 days, but I do believe that the time afforded me, has yielded some tangible benefits. I took care of the ‘small things’ that have been neglected and acted as a constant reminder that I wasn’t taking care of my space.
My living room is now a room where I can sit back, turn on the radio, curl up in a chair and read 7 chapters of a book. This was a big win. There is no longer a TV in the living room. There is more open space, space I soon to have filled with friends and colleagues, as we listen to and share an appreciation for music and its vinyl incarnations.
I also spent some time putting together my wall of fame and honour. This wall serves as an homage to the personalities that I admire, that I have learnt from and that I respect. With yesterday’s news, there will soon be another photo to hang on the wall. No doubt my son will ask me questions about why this person and that person, and I can use this as an opportunity to share with him.
Speaking of family, there was the always uncomfortableness of a funeral, the stress, the questions and the tears it brings, last Friday. It serves as a reminder of the fragility of life and the need to nurture those familial relationships. In fact, I remember apologizing to my Mom for a remark I made on Saturday afternoon. She too apologized for her reaction. It was strange feeling, but it opened up a door for a deeper conversation about the importance and the need to deal with issues as they present themselves and not let them fester.
A special thank you to the friend who shared with me an article from George McKeown, ‘Reduce Your Stress in 2 Minutes a Day.’ If you have the time, or the inclination, please take the time to read this. The message and the suggestions provided are simple and reinforced one of the readings (‘‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’) I did while I was in Thailand. It’s amazing how quickly we can get out of rythm, out of practice and as a result out of balance.
One of the easy things that fell-off was my commitment to running. It was easy to make excuses. I was too busy. It was too late. You need to get to work early. However, they were simply roadblocks I had put in place. Thankfully, I have returned to running. I hold no illusions, and know it will take some time to get back into the habit of running, but it is something I know that I need to do. More running to come and I am looking forward to it.
My initial plan was to return to work on Monday, but a conversation with someone I respect, suggested that it takes a full week to decompress and another week to put in place a strategy, for how you will return to work. At first, this caught me off guard and I wasn’t quite sure how to react to the suggestion to take additional time. After a conversation with a good friend, over coffee, the more it made sense. There needs to be a plan in place.
One lesson that I will bring back with me, one that my friend shared with me a few years ago, is to ‘accomplish one thing for yourself each day.’ These need not be monumental accomplishments. The mundane and the pragmatic accomplishments can also work. I believe this can apply equally to both one’s personal and professional lives.
My friend also gave some sage advice as to handle some of the professional challenges. His advice, a different way of looking at my role, as a manager within the public service, provided a fresh outlook and an opportunity for me to not only question my role and my reactions, but also change the way in which I approach and address issues. Like with any skill, this will take continual practice, but I am looking forward to learning.
Looking forward to the week ahead, I will be focusing my thoughts on what I can do as a manager to better support my team. One of them is to be present, which ties in with the messages of Greg McKeown and Robin Sharma. I need to be there and being there is part of being successful.
November 27, 2013
I made a decision at work. For some it came as a surprise, for me, it has been brewing for some time now. Admittedly, I am one that naturally avoids conflict, one that is more likely to listen than to talk, one that generally provides advice, but fails to listen to my own words.
Today, out of the blue for most, I decided to step back, regroup and readjust. The decision to step away from the office, for an indefinite period of time, seems rash. As I sit here and type this, I question my own strength, my own resilience, and my own value.
With every fibre of my being, I truly believe in the honour and the humility that comes with being a public servant. This sentiment is echoed even more loudly as a manger within the public service. As a manager we have a duty to care, to nurture and to deliver.
For me, and I recognize this reflection comes mere hours after making the decision, I may just have taken on too much. By taking on too much, I let my team down, I let my department down and I let my family down.
Earlier today, I moderated a discussion between a group of young public servants and a senior leader within the organization. This senior leader shared some sage advice. He mentioned that you need to take chances, you need to be true to yourself – in effect, ‘you only live once’, but you have got to live it right.
His words gave me pause for reflection, coupled with the tragic loss of a family member on Sunday night, I realized that i needed to step back. I needed to regroup and readjust.
I had a conversation with two of my colleagues – two trusted friends – and let them know that I was going to take some time. They were supportive. And while they said they understood, I can’t help but feel I am taking the easy road out.
But at the end of the day, I know the work will go and we will deliver like we always do. During my conversation with my two friends, one of them remarked, ‘perhaps you care too much.’ Those words too gave me pause to look inside.
I understand and appreciate the sentiment As a public servant, and as a manager, I am not sure we can ever care enough.
There is a bigger lesson in here and it will take some time to uncover and learn from it, but for now, the decision to take some time away has been made.
Over the coming days, I will focus on these 3 small words: ‘Regroup and Readjust.’ If you have insight, I’d welcome the opportunity to listen…and to talk.
May 25, 2013
There is always something peculiar about the end of May. Well not really peculiar, more like a month’s reminder of an anniversary fast approaching.
I am sitting here in my living room, watching an episode of the West Wing. The episode, The Long Goodbye, has brought to the surface memories of my Dad.
Now these posts, which there have been far to few, were to focus on kindness and I will eventually get to the point of this one. Please be patient.
I remember the difficulty I had writing the words I was going to have to share with family, friends and people I didn’t know. I couldn’t get through the drafts, the countless drafts without being overcome with great sadness and tears.
I was taught that when writing, choose a theme and build your story around that central theme. So, for my Dad’s eulogy, I focused on his kindness.
I shared the story of how he helped out an elderly couple, whose car had broken down on a remote northern highway during a winter storm and how he drove them several hundred kilometres to their home. I shared the story of how we would wake up some mornings and have complete strangers at the breakfast table. These strangers were people my Dad had offered rides to up high in his 18-Wheeler.
I shared stories of how these strangers would stay for a few days or in some cases a few months. I shared stories of how my Dad made sure, when at the parting of ways, that they were not hungry or had enough money. In the main, I shared stories of my Dad’s kindness.
Tomorrow I will run my first 1/2 Marathon and my Dad will be on my mind. His kindness and what he shared with me will hopefully propel me towards the finish line. These thoughts of kindness and the gift my Dad gave me will be fuelled even more by the thousands of supporters, family, friends and strangers, who will be cheering on mass of runners.
These supporters and their kindness are much appreciated.
See you at the finish line.
May 19, 2013
I haven’t been as dedicated, committed or engaged as her and that has left me asking why.
It’s certainly not that I haven’t had the time – in fact – I know I have had the time. It’s not that I haven’t witnessed or read about wonderful acts of kindness. Almost daily – I see people doing wonderful, simple and kind things.
The more I thought about it, the more clear the potential answer / road block / hesitation revealed itself.
You see – I forgot about how simplicity and daily reflection can improve one’s spirits and one’s balance. In an attempt to share a grand story or reveal a previously unknown truth, I just didn’t take the time to ‘empty the bowl.’
I didn’t take the time to think back on my day, my interactions, both personal and professional, my successes and my failures. And that stood in the way.
Tomorrow may just be better…
July 16, 2010
But let me back up and share with you the start of a wonderful weekend in upstate New York. We left early Saturday morning and directed the GPS to take us to Malone, NY – home of the ‘2010 Redneck Games‘. We arrived early, as did the heat and the humidity, but all that meant was that we didn’t have to wait in line for the beer keg toss, the tire toss or the tup-r-ware coin toss. All good fun. Not only was there ‘Bessy Bingo’, there was a baseball game where the bases were made out of cow dung. We watched a game and saw an eager young man slide into home!
The Redneck Games were a fundraiser for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and apart from the games included the ‘Weird Al Yankovic’ of country music himself, Cletus T. Judd. His 45 minute show was succinct, satirical and funny. No doubt his early afternoon show was ‘G’rated with all the kids in the grandstands. This was the warm up for the main attraction – at least in the eyes of my son – Megasauras! The 3 story, transforming beast breathed fire and ate a Chevrolet Cavalier for lunch! This wowed and amazed my son and all those in attendance. .
Not to be outdone by songs of parody and car eating monsters, we also enjoyed some fine displays of driving skills. Both men and women showed what they had on tricked out lawnmower racing machines. These machines were loud and their noise was watch by the speed. While they don’t go as fast as the machines in NASCAR, it was clear that these drivers take their sport very seriously.
From Malone, NY, we headed to the Saranac Lake Region of Upstate New York to spend the rest of our day and stay overnight. Some sites refer to Saranac Lake as the ‘…heart of the Adirondack Mountains…’ Judging from the scenery, its mountain vistas, countless lakes and rivers, its easy to see understand why one would fall in love with this picturesque area. I counted myself lucky that I was able to find an interesting place to rest our heads and recharge our souls. I managed to reserve a lean-to at Cochran’s Cabin. The site was a nice mix of primitive back-woods camping and such ‘luxurious amenities’ as a hot and cold shower. The site also included an oversize fire-pit – I actually had to step into the pit to light the fire. While we could not swim from our dock, we enjoyed an afternoon and late night swim a short walk from our site.
After we had settled into camp life and enjoyed our afternoon swim, we were all hungry and decided to find some place to eat. Not wanting to settle for pizza or burgers, we decided to eat at the Tail of the Pup. TOTP bills itself as Adirondacks only lobster-bbq family restaurant. With live music, a play area and the smell of BBQ, we were sold. We settled in for what turned out to be a wonderful dining experience. The music, the atmosphere and the root beer floats made the night.
Simply – a wonderful day and superb evening. Morning broke and it started with a morning paddle where we watched a Heron find and eat its morning breakfast and paddled into a wonderful lake were we were silenced by the majestic mountain scenery. Truly – a wonderful morning. After another morning afternoon swim, we headed into Lake Placid for the morning. From there, we turned of the GPS and made our way (the long way) back home. Another stop at a local beach, where Jaxson and I canon-balled countless times, a huge lunch (we decided to take a pass on the Woodsmen Games in Tupper Lake) and we made our way back to ‘our home and native land’.
Although it was a quick trip, it did provide all the essentials of a wonderful family vacation. There was great food, great swimming and amazing Smores. What else could one ask for in a vacation?
July 4, 2010
This post has been overdue, but I find myself with time on my hand and thought I would put it to good use. In a Twitter conversation, I shared some thoughts on my experience at Canada’s newest waterpark – Calypso.
To celebrate Father’s Day – my son and I, along with Grandma, went to the $45M water park, located in Limoges, Ontario, just a short drive east of Ottawa. Jaxson, my son, was looking forward to this day for a long time. Although the weather was mixed, there was both sun and rain, we arrived at the park eager to get in a good day of sliding.
And sliding we did. Many times over. One thing I appreciated about the park is that they provide personal flotation devices (PFD) for all ages. The PFD allowed Jaxson, Grandma and I to go on many of the rides. While Jaxson is brave enough or fearless enough to try all of the runs, his stature, at this time, prohibits him from doing so. In retrospect, this is probably a good thing.
Here are some quick thoughts/observations:
1. You are allowed to bring in a cooler (no glass/no alcohol). It makes it easier to eat healthier and will also be easier on the pocket book.
2. Having even numbers will make it easier to get the most out of the park, without having one person be the odd one out.
3. You have the option of using a locker. It does make it easier to store your towel and a change of clothes for the drive home. It will cost you $5, but I found it useful.
4. It’s a waterpark, with moving water so leave the watches, bracelets, etc in the car or at home. Grandma learnt the hard way.
5. The line-ups moved quickly. I recognize that this is entirely dependent on the weather and the number of sliders, but found that the staff kept the operation running smoothly.
6. It’s a waterpark and it is not immune to men and women from wearing, in my opinion, ‘inappropriate swimwear’.
7. The weather was mixed, but sunscreen is a must.
8. Although, I don’t find them entirely fashionable, watersocks are a great alternative to sandals. The pavement can get slippery and we witnessed more then a few young children slip and bump their heads.
9. It’s a waterpark. Have fun!
10. Have lots of fun.
These are some quick thoughts, but should also let you know of some of the little irritants. These won’t keep me from returning, but I imagine will be worked on as the park matures:
1. I don’t understand the need to pay $5 for parking, when I have to pay over $100 to get into the park.
2. Healthier and vegetarian options were seemingly absent from the menu
3. There is no family pass option. This may need to change.
Overall we had a great time at the park. Jaxson enjoyed himself and before we left the park, he asked when we would be going back. I told him soon, real soon.