Be The Best.

What’s the future?

December 2009.

I had been contacted by a writer to answer some questions for a profile on a blog/website.

I hadn’t reread this until last week when circumstances caused me to find it in my sent file.

This was only 3 months before we lost Chris.

Obviously there is some irony in the answers…looking forward to the future, kids in college etc.

However…and it’s a BIG HOWEVER, the core of these answers remains as true today as the 2009 December evening on which they were written

The questions are not mine.  The answers are…and I stand by each one even today as we journey forward.

We don’t know our exact futures, but I do believe we can know why we do what we do.

We can know what’s important to us.

Here’s an exact word for word excerpt with professional/education/work related questions and answers removed for the sake of brevity.


What is your proudest accomplishment?
My family. Through the ups and downs of babies, young kids and now young men (18 and 16), my wife and I are seeing our boys begin their adult journeys that we believe will help change the world positively through their actions and relationships.  My family is truly my greatest accomplishment and everything else to me is icing on the cake!

What is your foremost passion?
Creating art with music, watercolour and people.  I used to think my passions and hobbies were very diverse and perhaps they are, but the core is very similar.  I find myself again and again playing the role of a conductor, arranger, or producer.  With music and art, I mix music tracks or colours…each on their own telling only part of the story, but absolutely integral to the story.  The same is true for my management style, I believe.  Each person and relationship is integral to the overall success of the department, division or organization.  When you have the different components working together, that is when you have achieved a song, painting or highly functional working environment.

What are three random things no one knows about you?
That I have a music album on
I used to clean carpets for a living
I will squash you at ping pong

What do you want people to know about you that they don’t already?
My masters thesis centered on the topic of the interplay between change management and knowledge management. What? Yah, I didn’t understand it much either.  I’ve worked a lot in the area of change in my career.  I’ve found that we (managers, business owners) often underestimate the human element and the human power when change is present.  Relationships are the key to everything.  You can systemize, model, and even lead, but ultimately if the people are not ready and willing to come with you, change will be short lived or non-existent.  I believe we all have a HUGE impact on people’s lives.  Simple words and actions followed with consistent behaviour over time are the real ingredients to successful change.

Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years?
5 years – BCIT classrooms overflowing with students, my clients prospering, my kids solidly in college.
10 years – Readying for early ‘retirement’ from day job to concentrate on writing, teaching, speaking and the arts….oh and wife says we have to go to Europe for 6 months
20 years – 4 months in Hawaii, 8 months in Canada – changing the world, one relationship at a time.

Be The Best.

On my mind

AC, my sister Cathy, aka Auntie Cathy to Chris and many others wrote a very cool post on her blog today.

She has experienced the loss of a young teen-aged nephew on both sides of her family.  You can read the full post, but here’s an excerpt.

The question has come to me – how will you then live?  How will we all live?
There is a quote by St. Irenaeus that has come to reside deep within me –

‘The glory of God is a human being fully alive’

To be fully alive is perhaps the best answer I can give….to choose to be present, to choose life, to choose gratefulness, to choose to take risks in following dreams and passions…to fully live….is how I can say to these two boys I love…….Trevor & Chris… are on my mind

I love that concept of being fully alive.

People ask us how we carry on.  How can you deal with this kind of tragedy?

I tell them that first you choose to live and live with purpose.

We’ve said that Chris’ passion will fuel us.

I’m still discovering what that means, but living with purpose and being fully alive is certainly part of that equation.

I can’t believe it’s 11 months.

I simply can’t tell you what an aching heart feels like, but I know many of you also have known the pain of loss.

The thought that is continually in our minds and hearts is the knowledge that a pain so deep only exists because of a love so deep.  And because of that love, we will live our lives with purpose using Chris’ passion and others to fuel our journeys.

Have a Be The Best weekend…oh and Go Canucks Go against Boston tomorrow.

I’m allowed to say that right?  Oh yah, it’s my blog.

Be The Best.


I’ve been thinking about circles lately.

You know I love sunsets, but did you know this?  The sun’s diameter is 1.4 million kilometers.

That’s a big circle, or I guess sphere would be the more appropriate word.

I’ve thought so many times of Chris’ beautiful eyes and how they are living on and helping to give a young transplant patient improved sight.  I love those small circles of light.

I looked down last week at the desk on which I write this tonight.  There are salty circles that have stained the table, the sometimes unavoidable outcome of overflowing eyes.

I also think of the circle of life and sometimes how big and sometimes how small it can be.

Our hearts break for the family of 12-year-old budding hockey player Coleton Nelson who was killed in a car accident this weekend here in Valley.

That circle of life was way too short.

So was Chris’.  A short circle of life, but oh so big.

Circles.  Big.

Circles.  Small.


Do me a favour and give your kids a great big hug tonight!

If you’re a kid reading this, it’s ok to tell your folks you sorta luv them too!!

Be The Best.

Be The Best.

An intro to two.

I’m going to intro you to a couple of people that I don’t know.

But..with the world of social media, the web CAN be an amazing place to connect on the journey of the new normal.

The first is Steve Ewen.

I’ve never met him.

He’s a reporter with the Vancouver Province and he’s battling cancer.  It’s a tough battle.  He’s called his blog, ‘I’m sad and mad about getting cancer’.  Actually no…he hasn’t.  His blog is called, Crush the Tumour with Humour.

It’s some amazing stories of someone going through a very tough fight but remaining positive and using humour to negotiate the new normal he and his wife find themselves living.  If I can figure it out, I’ll add it to my ‘links’ section, but here’s a quick direct link if you want to check it out.  Here’s an excerpt from today:

The bad news is that the new stitches in my back has led to our surgeon, Dr. Robert Lee, limiting my arm movements for the next two weeks. The really bad news, at least for the people at G.F. Strong and the general public around King Ed and Laurel in Vancouver, is that they’ve given me a power wheelchair.
Oh. Mercy. Think of the havoc I can cause with a motor and wheels?

Keep rockin it Steve!

The second link is from Gillian Berg, the Mission mom who lost her husband and father of their four children at Christmas.  Her writing is deep, spiritual and an amazing work of strength and vulnerability rolled into one.  An excerpt from her latest:

Last night, as my daughter asked for help, begged for prayers that would take her fear away, the fear that something else might happen, the fear that she is still in danger, I realized again that like the work needed to heal the physical wounds, there was going to be gruelling work needed to heal the emotional ones.

We, each one of us, will have to choose to stand slowly, painfully upon the limbs of our broken dreams; to endure the attacks of relentless discouragement of working towards something new; to fight for something better, something healthier.

To Steve and Gillian I would say, we all haven’t chosen our situations.  It happened.  Life happens. There is no big answer to the ‘why’ question….at least not one that may be evident in this lifetime.  We”ll simply stand with you on your journey of the new normal as so many have and are standing with us.  This is a link to the first time the term ‘the new normal’ entered our lexicon.  It’s been a fixture ever since.

Be The Best.

Be The Best – Andrew Bromley

When you turn on the TV and watch the news, you usually don’t get a great story about a young adult doing great stuff.

But that doesn’t mean those stories don’t exist!

The Burnaby Mountain Selects gang have started putting together profiles of local athletes who are going on to college…and then on to changing their worlds!

I LOVE to think about the impact of hundreds of these lacrosse players over time getting their educations, finding rewarding careers and then helping to change the world around them in a positive way.

The story that I’ll link you to specifically is about Andrew Bromley, a local player off to college and doing great things.  Chris and Andrew would have been together in the BMS system in 2008.


What role did your family have in helping you get to where you are now?

The only reason I am where I am really. From immediate family, my mom making the paper work happen (important), my dad for pushing me, my little brothers (trying to show them the way), and the endless support from extended family from my irreplaceable grandmother to my aunts and uncles who would always pump my tires up a bit when I was feeling stressed or down.

What is the best piece of advice that you have ever received?

Man that’s a really tough question, I have been a part of many, many big speeches with meanings too long for this piece. I am going to have to say a piece of advice from Gord Lawton, “Its going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done kid, go to the net like no ones going to stop you, play within the team, but don’t lose your individuality” or a line said by many of the great enforcers of the previous NHL era’s, “Be for the boys, there all you’ve got in here, no one ever questioned the integrity of a guy who would drop ‘em for a team mate”


That’s Be The Best.

And for all of us parents and coaches and relatives and friends out there…we can never underestimate the positive power of our words and actions with the future generation.

Congrats Andrew.  Great stuff!

Here’s the link to the full article and other stories.

Be The Best.

55, 65 and 80

There was a great story in yesterday’s Province Newspaper about Zoe and Bob Longshaw.  They’ve been married 65 years and the story of their relationship reads like a slice of history.  It’s a great story and I’ve linked it here.

It reminded me of another couple I know who’ve been married over 50 years…I think 55 this September if my memory serves.  (If it doesn’t I’m sure my sisters will correct me in short order.)  Their names are Jake and Leona Friesen…aka my Mom and Dad.

They were down over Christmas and I had shot some video at Blackie Spit which I had written about at that time, but only put the video clips into a little movie this weekend.

The occasion?  A bit of Valentine’s Day and a bit of a birthday…an 80th birthday to be exact.



You’ve given your family and so many others a great example of long-lasting relationships.

As has been said many times here, Max and Chris LOVED going to Grandma and Grandpa’s.  We are so thankful for all the fantastic memories together.

So with that quick intro, here’s a little peek at a relationship that has stood the test of time.

Be The Best.

Valentine’s Day

This is as simple as it gets!

Our love to all and a great big bear hug and kiss on the head to Chris!  We luv ya kid.

And yes, I know Chris is saying right now, Dad, REALLY??  A freakin valentine’s heart?  REALLY?

Yup.  Really.


Be The Best.

If you like sunsets, you’re in luck.

I can’t tell you how many sunsets I took in last year through the months of April, May, June, July and August.

They were like medicine for me.  Whether it was the feeling of the closing of a day is the reminder of a new one to come, the powerful display of dark and light with the clouds or simply getting a little glimpse of life beyond this earth and a connection with Chris.  All of those and more.

As we all know our Vancouver weather doesn’t provide us with too many great sunsets between Oct and March and so Ingrid and I set off to find some.

If sunsets bore you, close your browser now!  If you like em, here’s a few that happened this past week…so they’re ‘fresh’!

PS You can click on each pic to see a larger view. Feel free to use or share.

Be The Best.

Silver linings?

A recent escape has allowed us to take in some amazing sunsets.

They are a constant reminder to us of a Presence bigger than ourselves and a reminder that even though clouds may be dark, there IS blue sky behind even the darkest skies.

That’s a silver lining you can even see in the dark.

Be The Best.

Space shuttles and family crisis?

SVG version of PNG Space Shuttle Logo/Patch.
Image via Wikipedia

I read and watched with interest the recent news stories about Mark Kelly, the NASA astronaut and husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  Congresswoman Giffords is showing how amazingly strong she is by continuing to improve at a rapid rate from an assassination attempt a mere month ago.

The recent news that I’m writing about here is Kelly’s announcement that he is continuing with his shuttle mission.  Questions arose about how he could focus on such an incredibly difficult mission while his wife is recovering from a life threatening event and the trauma surrounding that situation.

Quoting from an Associated Press article on Feb 8,

“The key word there is being able to compartmentalize things,” he said.

Putting aside problems and feelings in little boxes and zeroing in on the tough task at hand — compartmentalizing — is what astronauts, military officers, firefighters, surgeons and presidents do all the time. It’s a good coping technique that works, especially for people like Kelly who is dealing with a family crisis, psychologists say.

You can read the full article here. It’s very interesting and it’s safe to say this is an extraordinary family and we wish the Governor a very speedy recovery and Commander Kelly a stellar and safe mission.

A psychology professor is quoted at the end of the article with his viewpoint.

In some ways people who “are very successful and high achievers” generally feel better because of this well-honed compartmentalizing skills, said Virgil Zeigler-Hill, a University of Southern Mississippi psychology professor. But they also can pay a big price later with an emotional rebound that can hit hard.

“It’s kind of a roller coaster,” he said.

That is probably what I found the most interesting.

Compartmentalizing is what gets these astronauts through a crisis scenario, but the ’emotional rebound’ can be significant.  I’m sure that point could be countered by other psychology professors and of course the journalist is doing their job by getting both sides of the issue.

As I relate this back to what we’ve been through as a family and many of you with us who knew and loved Chris and quite frankly for those who have only got to know him through this blog…I think some of the best advice we received was to not completely compartmentalize or to completely melt into the thoughts of loss.

I’m not a doctor, but I can say this from experience that spending too much time with the thoughts of loss is simply overwhelming and not sustainable.  Spending no time there…ie, complete compartmentalization is also a no-go in the longterm.  I see compartmentalization as a key tool to continue to move forward, but to do so without spending time thinking and grieving and processing could produce long-term negative side effects.  This blog has been a significant tool for me.  Daily for over 100 days and multiple times per week since then, I have put thoughts to words and words to ‘paper’ via the blog.  That has been a strong emotional connection to the healing process and a strong counter balance to the compartmentalization that is also a vital part of continuing to operate at a high level professionally.

Again, it appears that balance is the key.  A radical balance perhaps.

I’m guessing if you ever had a private conversation with Mark Kelly, he’d let you know he was compartmentalizing for now, but fully prepared to deal with the events of his personal life post mission.

Even for those of us not flying space shuttles for a living, there’s some interesting thoughts here and I’m convinced as ever we can continue to learn from diverse and unexpected sources…like space shuttle commanders!