The Recovering Farmer

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

See You Next Year

A lot of people take time between Christmas and New Years to think back to the year that was. So I will do the same. Or maybe not. See where this goes.

I suppose I could write about the roller coaster ride I have had. My daughter got married, my mother died, my son and daughter-in-law gave birth to a baby girl, we had Christmas, blah, blah, blah, blah. I could write about new opportunities but they are best left unsaid till I find out whether they actually are new opportunities. I could write about new found relationships over the Christmas season but really need to find out whether they are. I could reflect on a golf season that was, and it was.

Then when I actually think about it I wonder why. Why am I thinking of the past year? Just recently I was involved in a situation where I challenged the participants to look forward. I used the analogy of a car mirror. I went on to suggest that if we would view our world through the windshield rather than the rear view mirror we should be happier. With emphasis on we should be. Does not always happen that way.

Work with me. The rear view mirror on a car is small. 4 inches by 6 inches. (in metrics that is about the size of your hand.) We keep looking at it. See what is behind us. To the point where we miss what is current and what is ahead. If we remain fixated on the rear view mirror we may have a mishap. Actually, probably, almost guaranteed, we will have a mishap.

So that leaves us with this gigantic windshield in front of us. Enjoy the view. There are so many positives out there that we should be on the lookout for. Wait a minute. Literally and figuratively my windshield has some cracks. I have been told often enough that I should get it replaced. I always wonder why because as sure as night follows day as soon as I do that I will get another stone chip.

Perhaps that best describes my life. Resistant to change because it will all end up the same. Knowing full well what it takes to make things better but not doing it. Then again it is the end of the year. You think a fresh start will help?

Last night, as I lay awake for countless hours, I began to formulate a plan. When it is time to sleep I am wide awake. When I should be wide awake I feel like sleeping. When I should feel anxious I don’t. When I have no reason to be anxious I am. When I should eat I don’t feel hungry. When I am trying to sleep I feel hungry. I need a lobotomy. My brain is out of whack, to say the least.

Then it hit me. Just like my windshield, I need to make some changes. Out with the old. In with the new. Get rid of the cracks and the stone chips. Get something I can actually see through. Sure, I will get new stone chips, particularly on that gravel road between here and Oak Bluff where people have no concept of what it means to drive responsibly. . . . Oops. Sorry. Got carried away there. And as sure as I will get stone chips on my windshield life will throw some challenges at me. But I can do this. I need to quit looking in the rear view mirror. Tomorrow is a new beginning. I want to take advantage of that. I know what works. Been there before. Now to implement it. Take care and see you next year. Happy New Year. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

I feel like I am in a vacuum. I am sitting here on Christmas Eve thinking I need to take down the tree. Unplug the lights. Get back to work. No. Not because I am a Grinch, although some might argue that point. It is because we had our kids down this last weekend to celebrate the season. To celebrate family. So now they have left and it feels like Christmas is over.

Because we have kids that do shift work it was difficult to coordinate a get together. However our social convener, that being the minister of the interior, that being my better half, and the kid’s mother was able to establish that the weekend before Christmas would work for everyone. Our son’s girlfriend almost messed that up. You see she is an avid Curler and it so happened that zone playoffs were scheduled for the weekend. There too, we got lucky. Happened that the playoffs were in our hometown, a mere mile from our house. So we hardly missed a beat. The bonus was that she won.

As we reflected on the weekend that was my wife and I both felt good about what had all happened. You hear about the commercialization of Christmas. You hear about people spending far too much money. Not enough time spent building relationships. Our son-in-law’s father is out for Christmas. He came for the weekend. My sister joined us for part of the weekend. My niece and her husband came by for our Christmas dinner on Saturday. Our son’s girlfriend’s father dropped in for lunch on Sunday. It was a beehive of activity but so much fun. Thank goodness my wife loves cooking. There was lots of food, whenever food was needed.

Just saw a commercial done by Ikea (no, this is not an endorsement) that supposedly did an experiment with kids. Now understand, Ikea is a Swedish company. In Sweden kids write letters to the Three Kings rather than Santa Clause (that opens a whole new can of worms). In the commercial the kids are asked to write to the Three Kings. Each and every one made requests for toys. Then they were asked to send a letter to their parents. Those requests were significantly different. Those requests were much more in tune with what Christmas is about. The main request? “Please spend more time with me.” The irony was that when asked which letter they most wanted to happen the majority suggested the letter to their parents. (Truth be told I saw this on Facebook. No idea if it is true. Doesn’t really matter. The message is real.)

Here is wishing you a Merry Christmas. Hopefully, whether the week before, the day of, or the week following, you will have the opportunity to renew friendships and build on relationships. That is obviously what this time of year is for. Worked for me. Merry Christmas. Make it a good one.

P.S. Posting my favorite Christmas poem, again, because it really epitomizes how I feel.

Put your problems on probation
Run your troubles off the track,
Throw your worries out the window
Get the monkeys off your back.
Silence all your inner critics
With your conscience make amends,
And allow yourself some happiness
It's Christmas time again!

Call a truce with those who bother you
Let all the fighting cease,
Give your differences a breather
And declare a time of peace,
Don't let angry feelings taint
The precious time you have to spend,
And allow yourself some happiness
It's Christmas time again!

Like some cool refreshing water
Or a gentle summer breeze,
Like a fresh bouquet of flowers
Or the smell of autumn leaves,
It's a banquet for the spirit
Filled with family, food and friends,
So allow yourself some happiness
It's Christmas time again!
Bob Lazzar-Atwood

Monday, December 22, 2014

To Be or Not to Be

Just in time for the holidays I have been walloped by a cold. Now I could suggest that it is the mother of all colds, worse than ever, but my wife likes to remind me that I always say that when I get sick. I probably do. Perhaps it’s my age. After all that clock reared its head this week again. Apparently, based on someone’s wisdom, I am now closer to the next decade than the last decade. Make sense? Doesn’t matter. I am older.

I had a grandiose plan on Thursday. Had one meeting booked for the morning and another one for the afternoon. Between the meetings I was going to go grocery shopping. Get ready for the party at our house on the weekend. By the time my first meeting ended I decided that my plans would change. I was hacking, coughing, and sneezing. I felt miserable. So I decided to call in sick. Cancel the rest of my plans. Went home and crashed. Didn’t even feel guilty about it.

So I crashed on the couch. Switched on the TV. Was going to watch some golf. That always helps. Almost as effective as Tylenol or Advil. However it is the time of year when even professional golfers take a break. But I did get to watch an interesting story. A story of a person who made it through a life altering, to say the least, accident.

Mike Labrie was a mere toddler when he was involved in a horrific incident. A water heater blew up near where he was playing. An incident that forever changed his life. He suffered extensive burns to his entire body. He lost fingers. His face was severely burned. He went through 74 surgeries to get to where he is today. He has one layer of skin where most of us have seven. What struck me is the way that Mike adapted to ensure that he would enjoy life to the best of his abilities. Where many would have given up he persevered. He has not allowed his physical handicaps to get in the way of life. He plays piano, remember he lost some fingers. He plays golf, how does he grip that club? He has an unorthodox swing. But it works. He is a 9 handicapper. Something I strive for. (you can see his whole story if you go to the golf channel website)

His story got me thinking. How often do I allow negative events in life to control my future? I look back rather than forward. I become so wrapped up in negativity that even positive moments pass me by. I don’t notice. I am too busy commiserating the bad stuff in life. Life is not fair. That person has more money than I do. His car is nicer than mine. She can go on extended holidays. I would rather have their job. I don’t like my boss. Why is he a better golfer after all I try harder? Why is all of this for naught?

Towards the end of the show the host made an interesting comment. Something along the lines of the fact that our obstinateness holds us back. (I still think it is obstinance but the dictionary disagrees.) Really? So what he is saying is that my stubbornness, my refusal to change or adapt is getting in my way? So if I do adapt things may never be the same. Based on that story I am better off if things are not the same. The same has not worked. I need to adapt to the new me. It may change everything. That may be difficult. Wait a minute. Mike Labrie did and look at the life he has in spite of his handicaps. I need to get on that. For my own sake. Make it a good one.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Focus On The Positive

Noticed an article this morning where the Steinbach RCMP are on the lookout at stop signs. But instead of handing our tickets to drivers who don’t stop they will be handing out coupons to drivers who do. Focusing on the positive. Hoping that the positive will prevent the negative. I like the concept, as I will explain, but wonder about this particular method of delivery.

I had the privilege of co-facilitating a leadership/mediation workshop this week. Okay. That may be overstating it. Not sure I really added much to the mix except I did pick up the facilitator and delivered him to the workshop in one piece and on time. Surely that is worth something.

The workshop involved a group of people involved in a highly intensive environment. Situations where the best of us would snap under pressure. I mean really. I snap under pressure at home. Never mind in a situation with colleagues who all have a job to do in a time sensitive workplace. I was amazed at the resilience shown by these folks in spite of the pressure they are under.

As we debriefed the session on our way home I mentioned to my colleague that I felt the approach to the workshop had been excellent. What we did for the first hour or two was focus on all the positives the team had. And there were many. It was interesting to see, as the discussion evolved, how more and more participants became involved. I suspect that most participants had expected a session to deal with the negatives of that particular group. After all, that is what needed some work.

As we transitioned to the challenges, the negative stuff, participants approached it with a completely different mindset. There appeared to be a shift in attitude, a shift in perception. There came to be a realization that this in fact was a team. A team that was quite successful in spite of the pressure they were under. There appeared to be a better understanding of why there were particular flashpoints. The focus shifted from wanting to vent and lash out to one of cooperation and collaboration. It was incredible to watch. It provided another valuable life lesson for me.

In much of the literature I read there is a reference to “all or nothing” thinking. That simply means that when something negative happens in our life we are prone to having that event control our thoughts. We get wrapped up in the negativity. We lose focus of everything else. We become immersed in the negative and lose sight of the positive.

There needs to be a paradigm shift. Next time something bad happens, next time you feel overwhelmed on what life is throwing at you, next time you are convinced that life is unfair, take a moment to look at the positives in your life. Take it from someone who seems to thrive on focusing on the negative, there are positives. It may require some effort to shift our thinking. As one colleague likes to say, “quit your stinking thinking”. Preface your frustration, your anger, and your negativity with some positive thinking.

And for those of you that are wondering, I did manage to get my colleague home as well. I learned a lot that day. Now I am off to Steinbach to get myself a coupon. Might help with my Christmas shopping. Hope I don’t speed on the way. Then again, they might have an extra special reward for that. Make it a good one.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Do You Talk To Yourself?

I have come through a period of a certain amount of self-doubt and self-recrimination. This happens on a regular basis and I am convinced that this time of year makes it worse. So I talk to myself. May be when I lay awake at night. May come about me as I have my morning coffee. Can become a real issue when I spend too much time in the car. Usually the times when I reflect on who I am and what my life is all about.

Heard an interesting radio interview this week where the person talked about the self-talk many of us do. She questioned how we would feel if someone else talked to us in the same way we talk to ourselves. Think about it. I know for myself it would be traumatizing. It would be insulting. It would push me over the edge. I would be angry. I would want to lash back. Stand up for myself.

Two lessons I learned through this. The first is the fact that self-talk, self-recrimination can have a devastating effect on our persona. It can have the same effect on our mental health as trauma would. I found that rather troublesome. Only because I came to a quick realization that what I took as a normal course of action for myself, could have the detrimental effect of trauma.

The second lesson learned was more of a reminder of things I have learned in the past. Not only learned but also written about. Perhaps like many other life lessons I need reminders. Remember the saying; “experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want”? That means I am experienced. That means I have had many life lessons. Unfortunately I often forget what I have learned through my experience.

Self-compassion. The theory is quite simple. Do you know that as humans we have an innate desire to be understood by others particularly during periods of distress? We never outgrow that. Our pain and anxiety reduces the more others understand and care. Our physical health improves when others show they care, when they show they understand, when they reach out to help. Using that same principle on ourselves is just as important. Beating up on ourselves is not healthy. Giving ourselves a tongue lashing over events in our lives is self-defeating. This is where self-compassion is so important. We need to better understand ourselves. We need to be kinder to “me”. We need to be able to reach out and help “me”.

It goes without saying that we make mistakes. So does everyone else. That is part of being human. We are not perfect. So when we err against someone else we want them to understand, to forgive, and to forget. Do the same for yourself. When you have screwed up accept that as being normal. When you are able, accept the lesson you have learned and move on. If we spend too much time in beating ourselves up the world will pass us by. And as the world turns we will get lost in a cauldron of shame, self-remorse, and low self-esteem. Not something anyone needs. So be kind to yourself. Give yourself a compliment. Pat yourself on the back. And most of all forgive yourself. All of us are making positive contributions to an imperfect world. We all try. And quite frankly that is all that matters. And quit talking to yourself except if it is positive reinforcement. Make it a good one.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Would I know?

A number of years ago, when I began to share the story of my journey, I recall one of the first articles that were written about that. It mentioned that “On the outside, he was a successful Wawanesa-area farmer and pork industry leader. On the inside, he was drowning in a black hole.” I chuckled when I first read that. Perhaps a nervous chuckle. Perhaps a shameful chuckle. My first inclination was to declare victory. I had fooled people on both counts. Nobody knew. But then the reality of that statement sunk in.

As I “came out” I began the conversation with people around me. I came to a quick realization. I was able to mask the darkness I felt within. At least I thought I had. I really had not fooled anyone. Others recognized that there were issues. However most, if not all, had no idea on how to approach me or the situation. Concerned? Yes. Able to help? Not so much. Did they care? Absolutely, without any question.

There is a stigma about mental health. People that are experiencing mental health issues are loathe admitting it. People that see someone experiencing mental health issues feel helpless. Don’t know how they can help. Many times the signs are not clear. Someone you may know comes across as being lazy. They may seem withdrawn. They are irritable. They isolate themselves. There may be an increase in drug or alcohol use. They have a litany of physical ailments. Often times you feel like giving them a swift kick and telling them to “get over it”.

Allow me to bore you with some statistics. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association mental illness affects 1 in 5 people. In 1998 it is estimated that the cost to the economy was 7.9 billion dollars. That is mind boggling. An additional 6.3 billion dollars was spent on uninsured mental health services and days off work. And to think that 49% of those that feel they have had mental health issues have never sought help.

How would I know, whether at home, with extended family, friends or in the workplace, when someone does have mental health issues? How can I recognize the signs? With increased awareness many of us feel we should recognize it. We watch. We make our own diagnosis. We have this pressure on us to be a mental health expert. We feel an increased need to watch for it. And when we meet a friend or colleague who is not “up to par” we are quick to jump to conclusions and make the diagnosis.

Let me give you my two cents worth. Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. It is quite simple. When something is beyond our field of expertise, but we want to make it that, we have a tendency to become judgemental. Often times that is not helpful. Rather try to become curious. Part of being curious is to become interested. Become interested in others. Practice your listening skills. Become more adept at constructive communication.

I recall, and never quit telling the story, a neighbor who dropped by when I was going through an exceptionally bad time. He sensed that I was not okay. He asked a simple question. He asked how I was doing. Instead of giving him the usual “not bad” answer I spilled the beans. I told him why I was feeling down, why I was feeling helpless and alone. He listened. He did not pass judgement, and with my story he might well have, he normalized and validated my feelings. It felt good. It helped. It literally set me free.

There is a lesson here for all of us. Whether we are the one suffering in silence, or whether we know of someone who seems to be, we need to engage in conversation. We need to show curiosity. We need to recognize the benefits of curiosity, being interested. It is that simple. So if you know someone, or you are that someone, let’s get talking. It helps. I know. I have been there. Make it a good one.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Am I Ready For This

There have been a few headlines recently that have scared me. There was talk of an Arctic Vortex that was returning. I remember that monster from last year. Perhaps it is fitting that the threat comes the same week that finds Halloween on the calendar. I don’t think anyone has fond memories of the Arctic Vortex. It was brutal. It was long. It was ugly. It was scary.

Then I see a headline in the paper talking about old man winter making a return. Just a question. Why is it old man winter and not old woman winter? That, by the way, was a rhetorical question. Don’t answer that. I will get enough flak on that one as is. There is a threat of snow. Temperatures have plummeted. We are in for it.

On November 7th I saw a news story that brought back some strange memories. Perhaps it was fitting that I was involved in a workshop dealing with Trauma and PTSD. On November 7, 1986 Winnipeg received 35 centimeters of snow. That is significant. It was a blizzard not often experienced even in Manitoba. Interesting how I recall most of that day, that night and the following day. I recall being at my parents that evening for supper. I was going to be playing hockey that night but also knew I needed to venture home. There was livestock that needed caring for. As the snow fell my father asked what would happen if we did not make it home. In a facetious moment I made the comment that even if it took twenty four hours I would have to go home. Little did I know. The trip home was much more than I had bargained for.

Here we are years later. Feels like yesterday that last year’s winter ended. And now we are in for another one. There are all kinds of signs out there that it will be brutal again. Never mind what nature is telling us. Pine cones higher up in the trees than usual. More acorns. The warning from the Farmer’s Almanac. Climate change. El Nino or is it El Nina? Can’t remember which is worse. Even wood piles are higher (as if that has anything to do with it). All things point to a long and brutal affair. An affair I would just as soon avoid.

I suppose it could be worse. Just heard that Buffalo, NY has had 6 feet of snow and are expecting another 3 feet today. That is monumental, to say the least. Then their forecast calls for warm temperatures and rain on the weekend. They can have it.

Again, and I know I am singing a tired song, I feel a certain amount of dread. This week we have had more snow added to the skiff we had before. This morning the temperature dropped to a brisk -20. That means it has begun. When will it end? Perhaps not a question I should ask. In a sense I seem to be wishing away my life by hoping spring will soon arrive. I need to find some way to endure.

And endure I will. I will make it through another Manitoba winter. I have a grandson that helps me with a new perspective on life. As I write this I know another life has entered this world. A granddaughter. How can I not be enthused with what the world is offering me? I will survive. I will enjoy. As I circulated the news of this new arrival I lamented about the fact that being a grandpa the second time around aged me. One colleague responded that having grandkids at my young age, yes you heard right, gives me the opportunity to enjoy them for a long time. And enjoy them I will. They will help me survive. And, perhaps, a week in the sun will help. I will work towards that. Make it a good one.

Monday, November 10, 2014

It Is Within Us

Over the course of the years, dare I say over the course of my life, I have had countless conversations with a friend and mentor. As kids we used to spend holidays together. Sometimes at his house, other times at mine. His father was a teacher. My father was a preacher. He followed in his father’s footsteps. I did not. After high school we actually ended up in business together. We ran a construction company. Details will not be shared as they are probably sketchy at best and open to wrong interpretations at worst. Although we were only a year apart in age our maturity levels were significantly different. Due to varying factors in our lives he decided, in all his wisdom, and maturity, to get married at an early age. Me not so much.

I recall so vividly the day we decided to go into business together. We were sitting at G. Willikers in Winnipeg. We had actually gone for tux measurements that day. After all he was getting married and I had the distinct privilege of being the best man. Over some drinks, and I suspect they were Singapore Slings, we decided to go into business together. We were young. We were naïve. But our plans were grandiose. Perhaps we can blame it on the Slings.

We did go into business together. We did complete some projects. There were certain challenges on the way. I could tell you about the guy that wanted to pay us with pot. Might have made the journey more pleasant. I could tell you about the expertise that I brought to the company. Some worked, some did not. Through all of this my friend and colleague stuck with the program. Only now do I understand the difficulties that this arrangement created for him.

I will share a story with you, without his permission, because I know he will go with it or he will forgive me. That is just who he is. Earlier this summer he and his significant other joined us on our deck on PEI. They had ventured out for our daughter’s wedding. Tells you how close we are. Over drinks and pizza that night my wife asked him what had happened to the construction company that started so many years ago. His answer was quick. His answer was short. His answer answered the question. An answer that still elicits a chuckle.

You see, he was sick for a week that fall. Had a bad cold. The good news is he quit smoking. The bad news is he was not happy with the work that was done while he was sick. When my wife asked him about that he said he realized it was a lost cause when all I had accomplished that week was putting up two sheets of plywood. I now get it.

He has moved on. Good for him. He pursued a higher education and has become a teacher that is helping kids find their potential. He has written a book and I had the privilege to attend a book launch recently. It made me proud to be associated with him. Knowing he had influenced me in so many ways. In a weird way I was also happy I had only put up two sheets of plywood way back when. In some small way my ineptness helped him find a different career path, much more suited to his expertise. His wisdom.

A number of years ago, as we were sharing stories after a round of golf, I asked him about teaching. He shared with me the fact that he did not necessarily teach the kids; rather he helped them discover the knowledge within. That resonated with me. And through the years, as I have continued on a journey of recovery and discovery, I have come to realize that I have the knowledge in me to grow, to recover, and to learn. That knowledge comes from talking to others, sharing experiences and discovering anew, on a regular basis, that I know this stuff. I just need guidance to discover it and make it part of my life. He has helped me. You have helped me. And for that I am thankful. Make it a good one.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Two Containers

I attended a workshop this week that dealt with Trauma, particularly as it concerns PTSD. My quest to pursue further training started about a year ago. I felt that I needed to do something to stimulate further knowledge. To challenge me. To help me broaden my horizons. So earlier this year I registered to participate in training through the Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute. It has been an interesting venture. The good news is that I am now certified. Completed my obligations. The bad news is that I am having a difficult time remembering what I learned. Perhaps it is my age catching up to me.

In my training this week we talked about the stressors all of us have, whether we have experienced trauma, deal with people that have been traumatized, or simply live a life that has over whelming stress. The trainer used the example of a container. She had us visualize the container inside of us where we store the stressful or traumatic events of our life. As long as these events stay in the container we have the ability to cope. We have the ability to function. To live life as it was meant to be lived.

However there may come a time when that container overflows. That can happen for numerous reasons. Perhaps a container is smaller than most. (I suspect mine is) Perhaps some people experience an inordinate amount of stress. Perhaps it is a single traumatic event in life that is unbearable and difficult to deal with that causes the contents of the container to overflow. And when that happens a person goes into crisis. Recovering from that crisis can be an arduous task. Something that takes time and effort, and has the ability to overwhelm. Literally pushes us over the edge.

As I sat there and reflected on this analogy, I know, I should have been listening, I thought of something I wrote about back in January of 2011. My emotional gas tank. I talked about how a car needs to have gas in the tank to operate. Our bodies need fuel (nutrition) to operate effectively. Our minds need to be rejuvenated to think clearly. The point being that when the emotional gas tank runs dry we invariably cease to function. So we need to keep gas in the tank. This can be done through a variety of ways. Through involvement in support groups, participating in sports, becoming socially active, spending time with friends and family, taking a vacation. We all have our way. I like to golf. So for the next six months my tank will be running on empty unless I find another way to cope.

As I contemplated this further I realized that these two containers are directly related to each other. Bear with me. Picture two containers side by side. The emotional gas tank and the stress tank. Each one is half full of a liquid. Let’s assume that is the way we were born. May differ for different people. As we experience life the stress tank level goes up while the emotional tank goes down. As we utilize various tools we find the emotional tank filling up and the stress tank going down. (I suspect the concept of liquids in two containers connected like that was covered in grade 9 science. I didn’t listen back then either.) The danger we run into is when the stress tank starts overflowing and the emotional tank runs dry.

In a roundabout way, through an over simplified analogy, I am talking about creating balance in life. What does that look like? My stress tank maybe almost full when something really serious happens. How can I avoid that? For many of us it becomes a matter of being self-aware. Know what is going on in your body and in your mind. Take the steps necessary to maintain balance in your life. For others whose stress tank is overflowing take the time to seek help. It is out there. As I have often said, there is hope and there is relief. Make it a good one.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Third Person Approach

Sometime ago I heard an interesting discourse between my kids. One of them, trying to be silly, kept talking about himself in the third person. It can be funny as much as it may be irritating. Just imagine if you were having a conversation with me and each time I had something to share or ask I would begin the sentence with “Gerry is wondering.. . . . “ or Gerry would like. . . . “ or any other variation of that.

My grandson is getting quite vocal. He says so much with me understanding so little. He talks incessantly. It is neat to see. Parts of it are neat to hear. Other times you simply look at him and have no clue what he is saying. Because he repeats what others say it often comes across as a third person.

I have often alluded to the work I do. I deal with conflict. Simple. Two or more people in significant disagreement. So I listen. I explore. I counsel. Most anything that will help to resolve the conflict. That is what I do. If ever everyone in the world decides to get along, communicate properly and actually care about relationships, I will be out of work. I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. Perhaps I am okay till I retire or die. Whichever happens first.

Have you ever taken note that dealing with other people’s issues are simple? You recall sitting around the table with your partner, spouse, friend, neighbor? Sitting and passing judgement or suggesting helpful advice when others are in conflict? At least in your mind it is helpful. Bottom line? It is easier to solve conflict when you are removed from it.

So as a mediator you would think that Gerry would be able to deal and manage his own personal conflicts as well. For some strange reason that is not the case. Gerry’s wife will sometimes suggest that Gerry likes to create conflict. Whether that is true or not Gerry often finds himself frustrated, irritated, agitated, and even angry when having interactions on a one to one basis with others. The tools he utilizes in mediation seem to have been lost. If not lost left behind in his office.

As you will have noticed I wrote the last paragraph in “third person”. Quite honestly I found it much easier to characterize my conflict management styles by viewing them through the lens of a third person. It was easier to recognize who I was. Often after having been involved in conflict I will analyze what just happened. Normally I am filled with guilt and remorse because I see how that conflict could have been managed better and, perhaps, even avoided. In my analysis I am able to see where I went wrong. Where I could have done better.

Try this. Next time you are in a passionate discussion (read argument) remove yourself and view the conflict from the third person perspective. Perhaps at the outset you can analyze after the event. At some point you may want to call for a time out just to see where things are at and when you continue you are likely to have a completely different perspective. With enough practice you will be able to incorporate this approach in the heat of the moment. Try it. You may like it. As Dr. Douglas LaBier writes in The New Resilience, “. . . research found that you may think about a conflict more wisely if you consider it as an outside observer would”. Now if only I could teach this to the people I am in conflict with most. Might make Gerry’s life easier. Make it a good one.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Something to Carry Me Through

I sit here on a reasonably nice day towards the end of October. I have the opportunity to reflect on what has been and what may be. As we know the Farmer’s Almanac is calling for a brutal winter. I need something to help me through that. Normally I think, dare I say dream, of golf. It has provided me with my happy place. Not so much this year. The last round I played over a week ago was probably the worst round I have played in a long time. That does happen but does not leave lasting memories. Not something I can go to for my happy place.

So how do I rectify that? It would seem that a round or two this week might help that. So I snuck away this morning by myself. As I finished one golf course employee asked how it had been. Good walk or good score. I gave him a thumbs up. It was a good walk. Score not bad either.

The positive? I ended with the same ball I started with. That is really positive. For a few reasons. Number one is that I have a difficulty seeing balls in flight. So if I don’t see it and it goes off course, no pun intended, I am lost. Don’t know where to begin looking. Secondly, with all the leaves on the ground, it can be difficult finding a ball even if you are in the fairway. So the end result made me quite happy.

I didn’t break any records with my score but it went okay. I could provide some excuses, such as the greens have been aerated, but won’t. I have something to carry me through the winter. The problem now is will I try this again. The course is closing this next weekend. I don’t have any work lined up for tomorrow. The forecast sounds awesome. I probably should. I probably will. My song may change. We will wait and see.

So I did not go the next day. I chose not to because of the windy conditions. Thought that was only opening the door for a challenging round which would erase the pleasant memories from earlier in the week. Don’t want to jeopardize that. That first round has already helped in settling my thoughts and anxiety during my awake time at night.

The forecast does look reasonable for the end of the week and weekend. That may provide an opportunity to put another good game, at least a good walk, into the memory bank. I know most of you are thinking that that leaves me with slim pickings for the long winter we seem destined for. Similar to a bank account. It only lasts so and so long without continued deposits.

Thinking about it that way me thinks I may need to find other positives to deposit in my memory bank. And, quite frankly, that is easy to do when you make the effort to. Rather than dwell on negatives I need to focus on positives. I read earlier this week that one should write down five things you are thankful for before you go to bed each day. I know that would help. I need to try that. And now that golf season is over I also need to focus on daily exercise. I know that can work as well. Perhaps that can wait to see whether there is another golf game possible. I think that is a good excuse.

At a meeting on Thursday one participant mentioned that it was a mere 2 months and 2 days till Christmas. Not sure that anyone else in the room really wanted to think about that. Not sure that the person that said it really was looking at that as a positive. It rather appeared that all of us were trying to figure out how we would make it through. I keep going back to my last golf game. I look at the positives in my life. I seek out things I can be thankful for. I will survive. I think. Make it a good one.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Difference of Opinion

Some time ago I quit watching news. I had had enough. Kind of like supper this last weekend. And what a supper it was. I walked in feeling very hungry. I had a delicious meal set in front of me. I ate. It was awesome. The only disappointment was that I did not have room for more. Back to the news. Wait a minute. Another thanksgiving meal before I get to the point. Now I need to diet. Or exercise. Or both.

Why is it that I have become more aware of the difference of opinions? Perhaps it is the Municipal elections happening. Then again we only see coverage of the mayoral race in Winnipeg. Why is it that I am not aware of my own municipality, the area I live in? I suppose it boils down to media coverage. I get what I read.

We were not meant to agree. In fact, sometime ago, I was involved in a discussion on a particular verse in the Bible. And before you quit reading because you really are questioning what a recovering farmer really knows about anything biblical, rest assured, I don’t. However from the earliest memories I have anything biblical was quite important. That just happened to be the home I grew up in. I also fully understand that when it comes to biblical matters there are numerous and diverse translations and interpretations. And quite frankly I find myself agreeing with the following quote. “A dangerous book the Bible is. It can be made to say anything, its meaning in the eye of the beholder.”

I used the story of the tower of Babel to make my point. Long story short it pertains to the world a long time ago. A world where everyone seemed to agree. In their zest to achieve a deeper understanding of God the people decided to build a tower. A tower that would reach, dare I say penetrate, heaven. When God saw what was happening he put a quick halt to that. Suddenly people could not agree anymore. There was a difference of opinions. Even their language changed to the point that they could not understand each other. God did not see fit that people would be of one opinion, one language, or a common goal.

For some strange reason that story gives me some comfort in the fact that we do have a variety of opinions. There are two sides to every story. In fact, in my mediation work, I sometimes hear about three or four sides to a story. Sometimes our recollection changes. Sometimes our story changes. Is that bad? Me thinks not. We need to gain a better understanding of other people’s opinions. At times we even need to adjust our own thought patterns. Through understanding comes a deeper appreciation for others.

In that same vein many of us have a certain passion in life. Whether that is climate change, mental health issues, environmental issues, gender equality, or strife in different parts of the world. It can become frustrating when others don’t sign on. We find it difficult when others don’t “get it”.

What is my point? I have no idea. I once said that I wished for world peace. And I do. However, I fully understand that my work comes from people who do not agree. So I need to deal with it. I also fully understand that conflict will happen. At home, in the community, and in the world. However, we can all do a better job of being tolerant, respect each other, and gain a better understanding. We don’t need to agree. But we can still be friends. I think. Make it a good one.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Those Sleepless Nights

I have alluded to the fact that my anxiety levels have been somewhat over the top in the last number of weeks. At the same time I have also suggested reasons for that. The good news is that things are improving. In the last few nights I have been able to sleep better. What has changed? A less hectic life perhaps. Then again when that happens I get stressed out because I am not busy enough. Can’t seem to win in this game called life.

Let me tell you a story. For a number of weeks I have been awake for two hours a night. Happens after I have slept well for approximately four hours, give or take five minutes. Honestly. When my eyes open, and quite frankly they don’t just open they pop open, I can tell what time it is because that is the usual pattern. As a matter of fact, when I go to sleep I know exactly what time I will awake and I know exactly how long I will be awake. Weird situation, to say the least.

Last week, as I was reaching the end of my two hour lying awake worrying about life, I heard a phone ring. Really. It took me awhile to establish whether that actually had happened. Then I heard it again. At least I thought I did. Because I was awake I thought I would go check. My wife must have been monitoring the situation because as I got up she asked me where I was going. That came as a surprise because I could have sworn she was snoring. I told her I had heard the phone ring and exited quickly before she could question my sanity. Notice how I made that decision without realizing that at some point I would be going back to bed and knowing that I would have to answer for what I had just said?

I did get a phone call at 2:18 that morning. I did have a voice mail. I listened and realized the caller was not in jeopardy. He was awake, just like me. I took some comfort in that. Not sure why. However I realized, again, that there are others that experience the same type of issues that I do. That gave me a sense of comfort. I was not alone.

What is it that makes us feel better when we hear of others that are facing challenges? I certainly do not wish sleepless nights on anyone. They really are no fun. Perhaps it is that when anxiety, worries, dare I say melancholy, hits us we feel we are alone. We lose the ability to see, to recognize, and to understand that our problems are no more or no less than what many others are experiencing. We feel lost in the quagmire of shame, self-pity, anger, resentment, or, perhaps, self-righteous indignation that can hit us at any time, day or night.

I did not respond to the voice mail that night. After all it was time for me to get my beauty sleep. I know, that ship has sailed. When I did crawl back into bed that night my wife asked whether there had actually been a phone call or whether the ringing was in my head. Notice how she is right on side with my issues? She had not heard the ringing telephone. However, it was there, I heard it, and I felt a level of comfort knowing someone else was passing the time. Hoping for a better tomorrow.

That is what we do. We hope for a better tomorrow. And sometimes tomorrow is better. Other times not so much. In the meantime know you are not alone. There are countless others that are looking for answers. Looking for that restful sleep. But also realize and understand that there is hope. Work at it. Don’t give up. And by the way, I did return the phone call. Just not that night. Make it a good one.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Being Real

I had the opportunity to meet with an amazing group of people today. Some who I have known for a while, some who were my mediation trainers’ way back when, and some total strangers. All we had in common was the work we do. Conflict resolution.

A significant amount of time was spent in discussing vulnerability. How should we show vulnerability? How do we show vulnerability? Does it have a place in the work we do? Part of the morning included a video on Ted Talks. My son downloaded that app on my IPhone shortly after I got it. He enjoyed many of those, dare I say, podcasts. He felt they were worthwhile. Me being of little faith, and questioning the soundness of mind and body, had never taken advantage of that. Today I realized I must pursue those Ted Talks more often.

The one we watched was by Brene Brown. It covered vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. A lot of information to ingest and digest in twenty minutes. I felt myself agreeing with her on so many points. When she spoke about having revealed her own struggles in life, particularly as it concerns vulnerability, I had an ahha moment. I recalled when I started talking about personal issues. Talking about experiences I had. Opening myself to the shame that was sure to follow.

As I started down this path of openly sharing many of my challenges I realized, again and again, my shame was only a perception. What actually happened was that people, many who I had known for years, came forward and talked of their own experiences. Experiences that included anxiety, depression, and various other mental health challenges we experience. It literally opened a floodgate. So as much as I initially felt shame, I quickly came to an understanding of challenges many of us have. I came to the realization that I did not need to feel shame. I was not alone. It gave me a sense of comfort.

As we debriefed the video this morning I shared the struggles I have with the whole question of vulnerability. Do I share with clients that I have had, and continue to have, significant challenges? Do I share with a colleague when I feel uncomfortable or vulnerable? Can my vulnerability actually help others or should I leave it be?

Just in the last week or two a friend and colleague shared with me that they would like a better understanding of the way I opened up and talked about my vulnerabilities. I chuckled when I first read that email. It was a nervous chuckle. Why? Because I continuously feel that I am living a lie. I am out there trying to help people overcome conflict, interpersonal or intrapersonal. At the same time I am dealing with my own conflicts.

This morning, in a small group, one participant suggested “being real”. That resonated with me. When I do my job I need to be real. I have had many life experiences that help me in the work I do. I recall more than one person expressing the thought that had I not experienced my own journey I could not do the work I am doing. That means that I have stories to share. That means I can better understand. That means that I can have empathy for the people I deal with. I continue to experience life. I continue to deal with a variety of challenges. And channeled in the right way I can use those experiences, those challenges, to better help others. Be real. It helps me. It helps you. It helps others. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Fear of the Unknown

What is it that scares us most? Something we know will happen? Something we think may happen? Or something that we have nightmares about? Something that in all likely hood will never happen? Often times that becomes the question. What happens that we lay awake at night feeling anxious? What is it that fills us with a sense of doom when we travel on the highway? What is it that when we are feeling happy about our circumstances we have this dread of something bad happening?

For example. Sitting here the day after the September equinox, no clue what that means, but thinking about what it might mean. What I do know is the weather is fantastic. Leaves are turning color. We know fall is in the air. What we don’t know is what is to follow. The Farmer’s Almanac calls for a worse than normal winter. Excuse me. Did we not have that last winter? Will it be worse? Can it be? How can I deal with that? I keep reassuring myself that our day to day forecast is inaccurate. How can someone tell us that the winter will be worse than ever?

But what happens? We plan on lots of snow. Should I get winter tires? It will be horrible. Do I need a snow blower? The questions fly and before you know it you have conjured up a vision of snow falling and blowing. The windows are opaque from the extreme cold. Or is that because of snow drifts? Not sure. How will I survive? Help. I can’t take this anymore.

Then I take a deep breath and look out my window and realize that I have grass to mow. Some weed eating that needs to be done. A tee time in a few hours. Where did that panic come from? It came from runaway thoughts. Thoughts out of control.

Last night, as I lay awake, as I have far too often lately, I was intrigued by some of the thoughts I was having. Thoughts of a conflict I was involved in thirty years ago. A conflict that came and went. In fact, if memory serves me right, it was dealt with at the time. Then I thought further to other events that happened during that time. I became upset. Those thoughts led to others. It did not take long and I was ready to confront someone.

Then I realized that these experiences have come and gone. Most of the stuff I was upset about had either been dealt with or actually never happened. Why was I now losing sleep over this? Does this mean I have underlying issues that I need to deal with? Do I need help? Do I need counselling? Oh my God. I am so screwed.

I stopped myself. I realized my thoughts were out of control. I tried to find my happy place. You know where that is. The golf course. Even that did not work. Not sure why.

Then I thought back to my last month. My one and only daughter got married. We went on a trip to the east coast. We came back to plan a Manitoba reception for our daughter and her husband. My mother died. Had a funeral. Back to planning a happy event. No wonder my mind is in overdrive. It is just trying to keep up to my hectic life.

So the choice is mine. I can bury my head and stew about all the bad things that are about to happen to me or think will happen to me. Or I can look out the window, enjoy what the day has to offer, and actually worry about the unknown when it happens. Who knows, it may not. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Forgive my minor little rant here. I am frustrated. Actually I am mad. Because I did not have many meetings planned for this week I have been able to take advantage of having to deal with my mother’s estate. That involves a lot of phone calls. Particularly government agencies. With OAS and CPP and GST and numerous other acronyms that basically stand for; “you pay in and get didly squat back”, you make the calls and hope everything works out.

Quite frankly pulling up to a Timmies drive through these days is almost as painful.

“Hello, my name is blah blah blah. Would you like a breakfast sandwich this morning?”

“I would like a medium black coffee please”

“Could I interest you in a cookie?”

“NO, if I wanted a cookie I would have ordered a cookie. I want an effing medium black coffee.”

So you dial a government agency. It takes approximately 13 minutes to get to the prompt you need. Please press 1 to talk English. Okay. Now you go through a menu of choices. HELP. I get impatient. Hit the wrong button. Start all over. Please give me a person to talk to. Then you finally do get through and wait a minute. . . what country am I talking to? Sorry. Go figure.

Get through to OAS and CPP. Kind, understanding people. Express their condolences. Really helpful in what I need to do. Then I made the mistake of calling GST. Like honestly. CRA includes OAS, CPP, and GST. Why is this complicated? Does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing? That was a rhetorical question.

After a conversation with them that was enough to push me over the edge I hung up on them. The demands, now that I think back, were rather humorous. They needed a copy of the will. EXCUSE ME. Why? You think you might be beneficiary? Not likely. And while you are at it how much money are you actually sending my mother? Gosh, must be close to $43.67 every 3 months. So what do you need?

My apologies. Just got carried away for abit. I hung up on them. Their choice. Keep sending the cheques. At some point they will probably realize that this person has passed on. Cheques are not being cashed. Perhaps it will involve an investigation. I wish them well. Then again it makes me wonder how many cheques are sent out regularly to dead people. Don’t get me going on that. I know. There are some people paid by government that . . . . oh, never mind.

Thank God the weather has turned for this week. Giving me the opportunity to go out and hit some golf balls. It is amazing what a walk does. Sun warming the back. Good company. Hitting the ball well. As one golf partner said the other day, golfing can be good for the soul. It can be. But it is important to let go of the cares of the world just for a while. Enjoy the sun. Enjoy the company. Because as sure as night follows day the snow will soon fly and then we will wish we had taken advantage of nicer weather. In the meantime I will put you on hold. Just for a minute. Hope you enjoy the music. For quicker service please press 12. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Rollercoaster

I came across a news article today about the world’s tallest rollercoaster catching fire and collapsing. I never have been a rollercoaster fan. If I want that adrenaline rush I just turn or nod my head really fast. Provides for the same uncomfortable feeling. In days of old I could get the same feeling from drinking too much.

However, I find my life being similar to a rollercoaster. Ups and downs. Never sure what is waiting around the corner or over the next hill. But that is life. Those are adaptations we need to make. But, and I don’t like using that word because I have been taught it is a verbal eraser, sometimes adapting is difficult.

Three weeks ago we were celebrating our daughter’s wedding out east. I can’t say enough of the fun we had. Getting together with friends and family. Meeting new people. Re-establishing relationships that have been building over the years as we got to re-acquaint ourselves with our son-in-law’s family and friends.

Then, as you know, we came back to my mother being in the hospital, not doing well. She did pass on. That took me from on top of the coaster to the bottom. Though not unexpected it still takes its toll and thrusts you into another world where nothing seems right. Everything is out of balance. So the funeral needs to be planned and a home cleaned up. A flurry of activity that leaves very little time for reflection. Perhaps that can come now.

As a side note. Although the rollercoaster hit bottom there were certain things that helped with keeping perspective. The support shown by many was incredible. Flowers when you least expected them. Phone calls just to show support. Emails from friends. People stepping forward to help. Quite frankly, renewed my faith in people.

Now that the smoke has settled on that we need to get back to planning a wedding social taking place in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to that although we know it will be a pile of work. Also knowing that if all goes well I will be back on top of the rollercoaster.

I suppose that is simply a commentary on life. We have our ups and downs. Occasionally the ups take us higher than we expected which is a good thing. Occasionally the lows take us lower than we would like to go. Lower than we feel comfortable. Unfortunately we are on a ride that does not always allow us to get on or off. We need to go with the flow.

And as is often the case life does not allow us the luxury of deciding on which ride we are on. I recall many years ago going on the ride called “Drop of Doom” at the West Edmonton Mall. Probably a story for another day. However the point is that once you are strapped in you are there for the ride. I survived that ride although as tightly as my body was clenched I discovered muscles I didn’t know I had. I survived. That is the lesson I am taking from the ride I am on now.

My wife just asked me what had happened to the nights that we could lie on the couch and watch TV. Those days will come again. It will be relaxing. But till we get there we are on the ride. We are strapped in. Nothing can stop us now. Hang on baby. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


The return from the east coast has been bittersweet, to say the least. We had a wonderful time attending our daughter’s wedding. However, while we were there my mother was admitted to the hospital. Not entirely unexpected. Her hope was that the wedding could happen without her spoiling the fun. She can rest assured knowing it happened. Friday I spent some time with her. I showed her pictures of the wedding. When we were done she asked to see them again. A mere four days later she is gone. Passed on.

It is difficult to sit and watch a parent die. There seems to be so little justice in the process. A myriad of thoughts raced around my head. I recalled various memories as I sat there. Ironically I have been eating a lot of toasted tomato sandwiches. It is that time of year. But I also recall swearing off of those a number of years ago. Whether in my school lunches or later in life when my mother delivered meals to the field when we were combining. She had this thing for tomato sandwiches. Not complaining but I suspect you can well imagine the consistency of a tomato sandwich when it is prepared in the morning, wrapped in wax paper and unwrapped four hours later. Does the word soggy mean anything to you?

Monday afternoon my wife took our kids to see grandma. It was an emotional time for all of them. After the visit they all came down for dinner. I cannot say enough of the support I have felt from my kids and their partners. It is awesome. My wife has been amazing as she has watched me jump from emotion to emotion. Thank God for her support.

I really think my grandson noticed that I was feeling some pain. As everyone was eating I took him outside. We wandered aimlessly in my backyard. He insisted on holding my hand. What a gentle, warm reprieve from all the other emotions crowding my mind.

I reflected on the two very different scenarios. On the one hand we have a life that has come to an end. A long life. Filled with ups and downs like everyone else. A journey that involved various challenges. A mixture of cultures, an attempt at mission work in Mexico, (I screwed that up for them as that is where I was born and because of health reasons they had to return), a move to another part of Manitoba to start a farm from scratch, supporting a husband who really was not into farming and changed careers in midlife, to a life without a husband. The whole gambit.

On the other hand I see new life in my grandson. There are times I wonder about what that life will involve. We live in a fast paced, ever changing world. Then again I suspect my grandparents will have had similar thoughts.

In the meantime, rest in peace mom. I know it was difficult for you to leave. You felt that your kids needed you. You have been a support. A cheer leader as our paths took different twists and turns. As my sister said so well last night, we will be okay. Rest easy and say hi to dad. Make it a good one.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wasn’t That a Party

So in what could be considered to be the blink of an eye it is over. For so long we had planned, looked forward to, and prepared. Now the whole experience seems but a mere memory, already fading as thoughts about work take hold.

We left Prince Edward Island early this morning. Although, truth be told, we came close to spending another day there. For some strange reason I had not checked the itinerary and as a result showed up at the airport just as passengers were beginning to board. Thank goodness for small airports. We got on the flight. Made it to Toronto to barely catch our connecting flight. But we did. And were back in sunny Manitoba by morning coffee break. Wait a minute. There was nothing really pleasant about the weather we came back too. Cold and dreary. But we are home nonetheless.

For some reason travelling by air has lost its appeal for me. It probably didn’t help that I was not able to have my usual quota of coffee this morning. You finally get on the plane, find your seat, hoist carryon luggage into the overhead bin, I still don’t think it would have fit the rack they have in front to measure these things and I know for a fact it was overweight but who was I to argue, and throw yourself into a space that was meant for people much shorter than I. And before the plane had reached cruising altitude and I had had a chance for caffeine, the woman in front of me reclined her seat. Not gently but with an attitude. At that point I was ready to. . . . Not going there.

Ever wonder about the marvel of flight? I spent some time thinking about that this morning. I have always been intrigued with things that float and things that fly. The cottage we had rented sat on the shores of a bay that is utilized by cruise ships and freighters. Massive steel vessels that, for some strange reason, stay afloat and move through the water rather gracefully. It was neat to see.

Back to planes. Quite frankly you don’t want to think about it too much. It could be compared to sitting in a culvert with wings. Held together by rivets and silicone. Okay, I made that up. After speeding down the runway it hurls itself into the air. It was okay till we hit turbulence. Something that felt similar to driving too fast down a country road full of washboard, or most any street in Winnipeg. It made me really wonder what keeps those things together and in the air. Like I say. You really don’t want to think about it too much.

Here I am back on terra firma. Made it. Mission accomplished. Our daughter got married. It was a success. Provided us with the opportunity to see the culture, the community that helped shape our son-in-law’s life. Met his family. Met his friends. It was an awesome experience.

Also had the opportunity to connect and socialize with friends and family that made the trek out east for the festivities. To be able to sit back, enjoying the view, eating good food, and connecting with friends is the ultimate. There may be differing opinions, there may be certain passions that arise, but at the end of the night we can look back and say, “wasn’t that a party”. And here we are, back home, continuing with the reality called life. Make it a good one.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mind Boggling

Sitting on the shores of the Atlantic, in the beautiful province of PEI I am sending out the following thoughts. Tomorrow is the big day. It has truly been a whirlwind of activity. When our daughter first got engaged and they announced the wedding date it seemed like we had forever to get ready. Suddenly it is here. Just like the summer that never was. It has come and is almost gone. From the outset they have asked me to be involved. Obviously said yes and never gave it another thought. Now that we are getting close I am getting really worried. I have been particularly emotional. I wonder why. After all it is only my daughter getting married.

As part of the wedding I have been getting prepared to add my two cents worth as I alluded to some time ago. Found an interesting quote today when I was researching further the difference between men and women. I suppose some of you may think I am consumed by that. Not really. Just aware that there is a difference and I like to do what I can to help. “Men like to socialize by insulting each other but they don’t mean it. Women socialize by complimenting each other but they don’t mean it either.” I am leaving that one alone. Might get me in trouble, if it hasn’t already.

As part of the ceremony, as weddings go, there is always a unity ceremony. Some years ago when my son got married they used wine. Mixed a red wine with a white wine. Signified a relationship that could not be separated. This go around there is a plan to use sand. It was neat to take my future son-in-law back to the old stomping grounds. A place that I played at as a child, a place that my kids played at. A sand hill that has provided a ton of fun for a lot of people. You see, the decision was made to use sand as part of the ceremony. So in some way shape or form we will be taking that out to PEI where, during the course of the wedding, that sand will be mixed with some good old red sand from PEI.

That is all good and well. But research it. An estimation has been done that would suggest that there are (approximately) seven quintrillion five quadrillion grains of sand on all the beaches in the world (that’s a 75 with 17 zeros behind it; i.e., 7,500,000,000,000,000,000). And in case you have difficulty wrapping your heads around that it has further been suggested that there are 100 stars in the Universe for every grain of sand on the Earth’s beaches. That is truly mind boggling.

What is my point? I have no idea. I know that life is like shifting sand. Never sure where we will end up. I know that life is unpredictable. But I also know that time is passing us by. I wished someone a happy birthday the other day. He looked at me and asked whether I was aware that I had never been older than I was that very minute. That is mind boggling. That was a week ago. That means I am even older than I was then. That is scary. That puts things in perspective. I need to re-adjust.

Watching young people, the next generation, enter into long term relationships is both mind boggling and reassuring at the same time. For lack of a better term let me call it the magic of love. Good to see. As for the rest of us, remember, life is not about the number of breaths we take but about the moments that take our breath away. Looking forward to having my breath taken away in the next few days. Also hoping I will survive that. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

It came as quite a shock yesterday when one of my kids let me know that Robin Williams had died. Not only that he died, it appears to be a suicide. Perhaps it is because I seem to be able to relate to a lot of his stuff. Perhaps it is because I have, and keep having, to face similar struggles as him. Perhaps it is because I talked to someone the same age in the last few days who also is questioning his very existence. Maybe it is because when I would see Robin Williams, whether on screen or doing standup comedy, he always provided a laugh. Not many in show biz can lay claim to making me laugh on a regular basis. He did.

Maybe I feel a bond because he has obviously used humour to cover up many of his own struggles. I was reminded of a statement I make in my website. It goes like this; “Never short on humour, because after all humour can be a cover up for much deeper issues, . . . . “. Laughter is the best medicine. Laughter provides relief. But always know, laughter also covers sadness. Laughter can be a cover up for so many things. And as one headline said, “Behind the laughter was a harsh reality.”

Aside from Mrs Doubtfire, a movie I have watched more than once, Robin Williams provided entertainment in so many different ways. I will never forget his commentary on golf. In fact listened to it again last night. It has always been and remains absolutely priceless. Just google Robin Williams on golf. Beware of the language. But I suspect all the golfers out there can relate to the language. We hear (use) it every time we golf.

What makes me question so much of what has happened is the circumstances around his demise. He suffered from depression. He has had drug addiction issues in the past. He has been married more than once. He has had affairs. He admitted to being an alcoholic. (Excuse the side bar. The last rehab he checked into was in wine country. He wanted to keep his options open. That is good for a chuckle. Then again you may have had to walk in those steps to get it) Obviously he has been in the public eye. It would seem that money was of no consequence.

So what is it? What pushes people over the edge? A darkness that even his comedic personality could not fix. In the days to come I suspect we will hear more and more of what might have gone wrong. Perhaps we will never know. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. We just know that another person lost their way in the challenges life throws at us. Read a quote recently that went like this. “It is said that the spirit of man can endure only so much and when it is broken only a miracle can mend it.” (John Burroughs) I suspect Robin Williams did not experience that miracle. His struggles are over. He has silenced the demons.

So here is to you Mr. Williams. Thank you for making me laugh, and in that laughter, overcome many of my own challenges. May you have found the peace that eluded you here on earth. May you have found a golf course that works for you. May each stroke (watch the video) feel better than the stroke before. Because at times, quite frankly, it does feel like a stroke. For the rest of us? For God’s sake, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, if life is too much to bear, talk to someone. Anyone. It helps. Make it a good one.

Friday, August 8, 2014


My last few weeks have been somewhat hectic. After all there is a wedding coming up in two weeks. So preparations have been made, or are being made. So many things to think about. Particularly because we are venturing out to PEI for the festivities. Happens that my daughter’s boyfriend hails from that part of the country. It has been interesting to watch that relationship grow. Not that I had a choice. They had been living in my basement for the last two years. Been interesting nonetheless. How you can take a Mennonite from southern Manitoba and see that person in a committed relationship with a Newfie from PEI is both intriguing and interesting, all at the same time. (I suspect I will pay for that) It reiterates the power of Love. Then again many will question what I know about love. PERHAPS I should focus less on love and more on a relationship that is working.

As part of the fun they have asked me to officiate at their wedding. They wanted me to marry them but because the wedding is out of province different rules exist. To get my one day licence for PEI would have required me to fly out there in June for a one day workshop. I have a difficult time wrapping my head around that. How much training do you really need to say; “by the power vested in me by the province of . . . . .”? PERHAPS it doesn’t matter. I will get an opportunity to share my thoughts. That could be interesting. It should be a blast.

I attended a wedding this last weekend and, as weddings go, it was good. I normally don’t listen to what the officiating minister says. Often when sitting in a church I will be mesmerized by the architecture. This wedding was outside, on a farm. I enjoyed the aroma of the freshly cut hay. The sun was warm. The dynamics were interesting. Even the occasional whiff of cow poop added to the festivities. I have always assumed that what the minister said was for the sake of the couple getting married. But think about it, do you really think they are listening? PERHAPS it doesn’t matter. In this particular case I heard a reference to a Bible verse and it caught my attention.

If you venture back in some of the stuff I have written about previously you will find a quote I love to use. “Relationships provide us with identity, purpose and direction. In essence relationships, and therefore community, is a life giving, life defining and life nurturing process”. Takes awhile but if you think about it, it makes sense. The minister at the wedding read some verses from 1 Corinthians which is often referred to as the love chapter. The first verse he read resonated with me. So needless to say I did not hear the rest. What I did hear was enough.

When we got home from the wedding I went to my computer to check further on what I thought I had heard. Took me awhile but I did find it. The beauty of Google is you can search till you find the words that you need to address the situation you are dealing with. Even with Bible verses. (a story best left for another day) It simply says this. “If I could speak in any language . . . on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal.” I know some people like that.

We need relationships to flourish. Without relationships, without other people, without a support system, we have a tendency to slip backwards and often find ourselves mired in a bog of darkness, hopelessness, and loneliness. To be involved in a relationship requires open, honest communication and a real desire to understand the other person. When we communicate, when we show others the willingness to listen and understand, we are working positively on our relationship. That defines us. That gives us direction. That gives us purpose. PERHAPS that is love. PERHAPS it is that simple. Make it a good one.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What If

I often ponder what if. Perhaps it is my nature. To question why. To question what if. This becomes particularly important when I analyze my golf game. Just a few weeks ago I golfed with a colleague who was somewhat surprised that I could recall my shots after a round had ended. I told him that every night I could clearly recall every shot I had made that day. And keep doing that till my next round. Many of us have that same recall when we think back to many of life’s events.

That brings about a question in my mind. What would happen if we stopped and thought about a shot before we took it? What would happen if we took the time to think of all the various scenarios that could happen? I suspect we would change our approach. We would change our club selection. We would change the way we respond.

In years past I would reply to emails or phone messages at the earliest possible time. Is that not what we need to do? And how often when we do respond we realize later that that was a mistake. “By the way honey, so and so called and I invited them down for supper”. Yeah right. How did that work out for you? Quite often it can be beneficial to wait. Make sure you have thought through your response.

How often do we regret the way we respond to people around us? We get easily agitated. Irritated. We wonder how ignorant other people can be. And then when we stop to think our perspective changes.

How often when we drive down the road do we come close to having an accident? Why is that? The news these days mentions lots of incidences of distracted driving due to cellphone use. Quite frankly there are many things in life that become distracting.

We take so many things for granted. We say things on the spur of the moment without realizing the consequences. We act or react without realizing the consequences of our action. We do not stop to think.

People tell me, and I must agree, watching golf on TV can be very tedious. Why is that? Most of the time the player is assessing the shot. Which way is the wind blowing? What club should I use? Where is the best miss? What if? What if? What if? Happened to me last night. Approached the game with positive thoughts. Stood on the first tee box and envisioned a great game. Had my usual club in hand. The starter told us the yardage to my target. Did I listen? No. Did things go wrong? Yes. Found the ball today when I mowed my grass. That is the good news. You don’t want to hear the bad news.

I commiserated today that things could have gone better. If only I would have listened to the starter. If only I had reconsidered my club selection. If only I would have checked the wind direction. If only I would have stopped and thought about it.

So too is life. We run into scenarios where we act without thinking. We get caught up in the moment. We don’t take the time to think and plan. How many times do we look back with regret because we know things could have turned out differently if only we had planned better? I know I do.

Take the time to plan ahead. Are there any guarantees that life will always be fair, that things will always turn out well? No. But perhaps if we pause, if we take the time to think, if we plan ahead we may have fewer regrets. We may be more positive about the outcome of events in our lives. We may score better. I can only hope. Make it a good one.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

World Peace

For some strange reason the words World Peace came to mind. I am reminded, and not quite sure why, of beauty pageants where contestants talk about world peace. The desire to have world peace. Not that I watch beauty pageants. Perhaps I have heard it in another context. Not sure. For what I am about to say it really doesn’t matter.

Conflict has been and continues to play a significant role in life. In a global sense we watch as countries seek to find dominance in some way shape or form. We have the conflict involving Israel/Palestine. We have increased conflict in Iraq. Syria continues to make headlines. North Korea every so often raises its head. In Africa. In South America. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t learn of new conflict.

Closer to home we find conflict in how the flood is or isn’t being handled in the proper way. We hear of how people, not in power, criticize how issues are being dealt with. From the increase in provincial sales tax to the upkeep in streets. From municipal taxes for community centres to drainage regulations or the lack there of.

In our personal lives we see conflict happen with relationships. Parents running into problems with kids. Kids having problems with parents. Brothers and sisters fighting. Family members not getting along. Marriages breaking up. A debate over same sex relationships. Infighting in churches. Communities. The list becomes endless.

Even in moments of leisure we get involved in certain conflicts. GO BOMBERS. Will leave that one for the time being. Admit it. There are times when you watch hockey you find yourself hoping for a fight and when it happens you find yourself cheering. For one side or the other.

So I try to keep up with news. I like to know what is going on. However it seems that whichever news source I see there tends to be a certain political tilt to it. And I use the word tilt quite loosely. I check Facebook regularly and find people jumping on certain issues quite freely. They choose sides. I find that rather troublesome.

Perhaps it is my work. Trying to find solutions during the day and creating conflict at night. Oops. That is not what I meant, although my wife would be in full agreement with that sentence. Have you ever taken a moment to analyze what happens when you choose sides? Based on my experience one’s view becomes jaded. Obviously it would. In that moment of choosing sides we lose the ability to recognize, understand what the other side is all about. The natural response is to become consumed with all that is wrong. The injustices. It has the ability to blind us to the big picture. In fact, it can breed further hostilities.

So if you really want one side to win keep cheering for them. Extoll their virtues. (GO BOMBERS) But if we really want world peace, to stop the injustice, to stop the murder of innocent women, children and men, we need to take a different approach. Here is a novel idea. Instead of taking sides, instead of condemning the side we don’t agree with, take it upon yourself to embrace the side you love, agree with or are siding with. And in that embrace suggest to them that should they hold back, should they cease and desist, perhaps we can find an end to the conflict. Perhaps we can find peace. World peace. Make it a good one.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What’s That Sound

Mosquitos. Mosquitos have invaded Manitoba with a vengeance. Just last week I suggested to someone that it wasn’t too bad. That has changed. They are plentiful. They are big. They are vicious. A generous coating of Deep Woods Off lasts but a short while and then you have to spray yourself again. This is when stories are told of what the best way is to ward off this pesky insect. Some sound strange but I suppose I should not knock it till I’ve tried it.

I went golfing with my son last week. As we walked out the door my wife suggested to us that putting a Bounce dryer sheet in our pocket would do the trick. My son held up a small bottle of peppermint oil and stated that was all he needed. At the time I was not quite sure what he expected to do with it. Both ideas made me chuckle. Old wives tales perhaps? After all, I had my trusty can of Off in my golf bag.

Not long after we started the game I was hit by the aroma, and I use that term loosely as it was more of a stench, of peppermint oil. I noticed my son dabbing it on his arms. Seemed to work for him. Or for the mosquitos. Not sure. Made me think that perhaps I should try the Bounce dryer sheet. No harm in trying. Just make sure I have the spray can handy. You never know.

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop on Understanding Mental Illness. During that workshop there was significant discussion on how people have various levels of tolerance when it comes to stress in their lives. Sometimes the problems we hear about seem minor and yet they can have a devastating effect on the person’s life. Someone suggested that if we ever think that small things can’t drive us crazy we should try being locked up in a dark room with one mosquito. I get that. Have you ever found yourself lying in bed, in the dark, and you hear a mosquito? It is truly scary. Then you realize that hearing it is better than the alternative. Because when you don’t hear it, it means it has landed and is surely biting you. But where? It creates anxiety.

So it goes with real life issues as well. In many situations it is not one small issue that brings on anxiety or depression. Often times it is a culmination of events. However, a seemingly benign matter can push us over the edge. And then like the single mosquito in a dark room we begin to worry about what will happen. We become spooked. We lose our ability to cope. It gets to the point where we are afraid of being afraid. And as those fears, the anxiety sets in we become debilitated. We lose the ability to function. We lose hope.

There are times, and I speak from experience, where we need to step back. Reassess. Do an inventory. Come to a better understanding of what it is that is creating dysfunction. Deal with the stuff we are able to. I keep being reminded of the Serenity prayer. Need to have the wisdom to distinguish between what I can change and what I cannot do anything about. On top of all that be kind to yourself. Extend to yourself the same compassion you feel for others. And repeat after me; “May my heart be filled with loving kindness. May I be safe. May I be healthy in mind and body. May I be happy, truly happy. May I live my life with ease.” (Taken from Klinic’s brochure on self-compassion.)

As for the mosquitos? Avoid areas where they are at their worst. Do what you can to protect yourself whether that is peppermint oil, Bounce sheets, or spray. And then enjoy what is left of summer. Because as sure as day follows night winter is coming.(In stress management lingo that means one should avoid stressors as best possible, use available tools to cope with the stress that hangs around because we all know that life will throw more at us.) Make it a good one.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Practicing Mindfulness

Will it ever stop raining? This morning someone texted “it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, blah, blah, blah”. Based on my calculations I think that means a few more days of this. I hope not. A few months ago it was quite foggy. I remember telling some people that they could rest assured it would rain in 100 days from that foggy day. Quite frankly I had forgotten about that till a colleague reminded me about it. She had counted out the days and marked it on the calendar. The date happened to be June 28. I chuckled when I saw her earlier this week. She gave me “that” look. You see, June 28 was this last Saturday. Did it rain? Don’t answer that. That was a rhetorical question. It absolutely poured. Perhaps that lends some credence to what are commonly known as old wives tales.

I know in my selfish mind all I worry about is the fact that I can’t golf when the weather is this nasty. I suspect that there are many who would be happy if that was their only issue. The reports I have heard on rainfall amounts, the pictures I have seen of the damage done, is mind boggling. Not something seen in this part of the world on a normal basis.

First we had a record breaking winter. Cold, windy and lots of snow. It did not want to end. Then when it finally released its grip we end up with a summer that is anything but summer. Add to that all the rain we have had and you have a significant period of time where people simply have not had any reprieve from miserable weather. That has the potential to alter moods. Make people less friendly. Grumpy. Angry even.

Perhaps it is time to utilize some mindfulness techniques. I took a workshop last week that focused on mindfulness and the positive effect it can have on people who practice it. I even learned some new techniques. I know it can work. We all know that negative events, negative thoughts, resentment of past experiences, or worries of the future can have significant impacts on our mental health. The weather over the last number of months adds to that.

Studies have shown that at the very core of our well-being, physical and mental, we have the ability to regulate the body. This regulation assists in dealing with the over whelming stress we often feel and through that maintain a sense of balance. There are many benefits of mindfulness. It provides a self-awareness. It boosts the immune system and increases physical healing. It decreases time spent in rumination. It provides for a more positive emotional state. It improves relationships. It lessens anxiety and depression. It increases empathy. It decreases chronic pain. The list goes on. (Information taken from the training manual Mindfulness Counselling Strategies from the Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute)

When you see that list I am betting you see something in there that you wish for. Regardless of our level of pain, stress or anxiety, most of us, at some point in time, wish for relief. Wish for an improved life. A balance. Try mindfulness. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results. Through experience I know it works. The workshop provided further tools and applications that I can use in my life. Now if you find yourself passing by my place and you see me doing some weird physical exercise don’t laugh. Stop in and I will show you how this can be beneficial for your life. Trust me. It works. Make it a good one.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Have A Good One

Have you ever stopped and thought about what it means if someone tells you to have a good one? I wondered about that this week. I suppose it could mean many things. A good day. A good meal. A good sleep. A list too long to mention them all. Perhaps these salutations don’t even register with us. Similar to when we meet someone. We ask how they are. They ask how we are. Do we ever think about an honest answer to give others? Do we actually acknowledge when others answer us? Do we care? We hear them all the time and just return the same wish on them or, at minimum, some variation thereof, without further thought. It has even made me think about the last sentence in all my blog posts.

There is a story behind the fact that I actually stopped and thought about the aforementioned question. When asked why I had not posted a new blog this week I facetiously suggested to a friend what the highlight of my week had been and he suggested I write about that. I had thought about it but had resisted. You see, the highlight really was not a highlight.

Let me explain. My father died of colon cancer. So based on that I need to be checked out every five years. Make sure I don’t fall prey to the same dreadful disease. So I go through the process. And like I say the procedure itself is not bad. The twelve hours before hand are enough to make a grown man cry. I know. I was reminded more than once that what I was going through was nothing compared to child birth. Perhaps it isn’t. I have never given birth to a child. However I was there in a supporting role for all three of our kids. That should give me some knowledge.

For twenty four hours prior to the procedure you are not allowed to eat. The first twelve hours are survivable. That is when the fun begins. In a starvation induced fog, or it might have been all the jello I had eaten, I went to the local pharmacy to pick up a certain medication that is required to clean out the system. I could tell the pharmacist felt my pain. As I turned to leave he said to me; “have a good one”. The irony of that worked its way through my fog and I turned around and suggested that it would appear that I would have numerous good ones. He did laugh but I don’t think he will ever say that again particularly to anyone picking up what I had just picked up.

Through modern technology, particularly as it concerns emailing, social media, and other means of communication, we seem to have lost the ability to communicate. We are lost in a fog of trying to stay connected on a 24/7 basis. One on one, face to face communication has gone the way of the dodo bird. We seem to have lost the personal touch. Perhaps there are times we need to “disconnect” from all the gadgets in our life and get reconnected on the personal level.

Take the time to chat with others. Take note of how others respond when you ask them how they are. Become engaged. Become more curious. And when others ask you how you are respond in a thoughtful, honest way. And next time someone wishes you a good one stop and think what it actually might mean to you for that day. It might be interesting. It might put a smile on your face. In the meantime? Make it a good one. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Give Me Strength

Finally it is here. And, I might add, I am giving it some credit where credit is not due. It is not here every day but most days. I am talking summer. Finally the leaves are out. The grass is green. The birds are chirping. The sun comes up early in the morning. You get lots of sunlight in the evening. This is it. Summer has arrived. Now to enjoy it. Oh, and by the way, in just over a week the days start getting shorter, so you better start enjoying it.

Over the course of the last week or two I have seen and heard about so much heartache. A niece that was deported from a country where she was helping so many. A friend of a friend who died much too early in life because of the dreaded C. A mother who is slowly but surely losing her fight with life. A friend who cannot overcome the debilitating effects of surgery. A friend who struggles to get over a debilitating financial loss. In a much more publicized event you have the cops that were murdered in cold blood on the east coast. I suspect one and all could list numerous people who are fighting difficult challenges.

I sometimes wonder whether it is my age. Do these “bad things” seem to occur more often than they used to? Is it because our world is shrinking, in large part because of technology, and we know more people than we used to? Are issues getting more serious? So many questions. So few answers.

Each one of us that is facing challenges feels alone. Feels isolated. Wondering how anyone could relate. And, often times, it is difficult to relate. How can I feel the pain if I have never been there? I recall in early 2010 talking to people about stress. One person suggested that their stress was nothing compared to what Haiti was experiencing after their devastating earthquake. We must be careful when we go down that road.

Regardless of what is happening in other countries, regardless of what other people are going through, the reality is that we may be feeling an unbearable pain. Physical and emotional pain. Pain brought on by circumstances way beyond our control. And it matters not what the other person may be experiencing, our pain feels bad. It becomes an overwhelming burden to bear. We are not sure how to overcome.

Read an interesting article today about realistic thinking. I find myself often filled with anxiety and worry, not because of today, because of tomorrow. The future. What will it bring? All the “what ifs”. We desire answers to these “what if” questions because we think without those answers we are lost. Doomed.

The article explains why we don’t find the answers we want or need. It talks about “catastrophizing about the future”. We dwell on a perceived future. A future that appears to be hopeless. We feel but don’t think. There are times we must acknowledge that our future will not be what we want it to be but that we do have a future nonetheless. We must allow ourselves to think. That gives us the power to cope. That will provide the opportunity to thrive rather than to merely survive. Make it a good one.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mistakes Do Happen

Sometimes you have no choice but to sit back and laugh. I have been telling you about my makeover. Okay. Let’s be clear. Not the physical me. That would be an impossible task. This getting older does have certain drawbacks. Looking in the mirror, particularly in the morning, is a scary thought. Who exactly is that looking back at me? Not sure. Quickly look away so I don’t recognize the face. Wait a minute. That was my father looking at me. That may be a good thing or it may not. I remember someone telling my wife, before we were married, that she should picture walking down the sidewalk with her prospective father in law. If she was okay with that she should go ahead and marry me. Not sure she ever envisioned that but, truth be told, that is where things are at. Not going any further with that.

So my website was redone. In fact, added a second website. Took some time. Took some patience. Even a photo shoot. Attended a trade show. Set up a booth. Spent a day travelling the streets of Winnipeg. Handed out business cards whenever and wherever I could.

This week I was invited for lunch with someone who was wondering about me becoming involved with some of their work. This person and I have often chatted in the past and so lunch was a great idea, even if it meant catching up on old times. We had a great conversation. After lunch she asked for my card. Wanted to give it to her partners so they could contact me to pursue further business interests.

She contacted me later that afternoon. She felt bad doing it but felt compelled, as I suspect she would want if the tables were turned. She pointed out a typo on my card. It took me a while and then I saw it. It left me befuddled. How could one possibly have missed that? It was proof read time and time again. Accuracy was important. It went to the print shop. Even they missed it.

So here I sit. Hundreds of cards waiting to be handed out. All for not. I was rather disappointed, dare I say upset, when I found out. Perhaps even humiliated. What would all those people think? The ones we had been trying to advertise to. The ones we would hope would provide some opportunities.

I called my son that evening, the one that has helped me through this makeover. I told him. He cracked up laughing. He put it in perspective for me. He suggested it was both maddening and hilarious all at the same time. Talk about perspective. That was good. It got me chuckling about the error.

Not sure anyone else has noticed. Perhaps that is a good thing. Perhaps that is why my phone is not ringing. It is always good to keep things in perspective. Cards can be reprinted. And they will be. In the meantime, I suppose, I have become the town’s latest drug dealer. The mistake on my card was that my webpage had been noted as “medication” rather than “mediation”. Most times in the past when I have given out my website or email address people make the mistake of writing “meditation” rather than “mediation”. This is a first. The mistake does make me wonder if I could take advantage of this. Increase my income. Sell some drugs. Then again I may not want the consequences of that venture. Perhaps I will simply get the mistake corrected and carry on with what I am doing. Perhaps I will meditate. Might be best. Make it a good one.