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Be The Best.

Oh Brother

Ten years ago today I wrote a blog about brothers. You can read it here.

It included one of my favourite pictures of the boys on a family road-trip to California.

Chris is 11 and Max is 13. Disneyland circa 2004.

From the post:

I remember when we had both Max and Chris as young dudes in piano lessons. One night, they had a piano recital.  They were both scared.  It was sort of comical.  Here’s why.

Brothers are brothers.  That means always a punch or comment or wedgie or attempted wedgie or something.

That’s what brothers do.

Here’s what else brothers do.  They have each others’ backs.

During this piano recital, the fooling around was over for the night or at least until the ‘stupid’ recital was over.  It was simply, ‘I’m gonna support you and you’re gonna support me’ and we’ll get through this horrific event of playing this instrument in front of people we don’t know.

As part of the 10 year retrospective and reading blog posts from years ago, brothers and family relationships are a common theme. We are thankful as a family that those kinds of brotherhood relationships have grown beyond just blood relatives to a bond with friends (along with family!) that we will have for life through the good and the bad. Have a good week.

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Be The Best.

Hockey is over.

Ok, that’s rather dramatic.

Hockey is over for the season for the Vancouver Canucks. That’s more accurate. Editor’s note: The writer was too despondent to write about this last weekend when it happened. He needed some time to absorb and adjust to a schedule without Canucks hockey games starting at 10pm.

Ok, back to hockey being over. What is also accurate is that the ‘season’ for this young group of players should have a 3-5 year potential of making a lot of noise. Season is quite a contextual word. This year has a season but the Canucks are in a season of youth driven winning – at least that is my strong prognostication and inner belief. That season of winning could last 3-5 years, maybe more.

Our lives have seasons of course as well. Each year we go through the four seasons, although in Detroit those seasons are: Winter, Winter, Summer, Winter, but you get my point. Then years can clump together and we see seasonal patterns that span multi year periods. If you find yourself in a season of grief, recognize that what happened won’t change but seasons do. That doesn’t mean you forget!!! I always say loss is like losing an arm or leg in a way – it’s obvious that those limbs don’t grow back – unfortunately. However, with time and the power of making decisions on a regular basis, the seasons do change and you learn to manage, succeed and even be happy.

Regardless of the season, there is always hope. And one thing I learned long ago is that hope is an action word. That’s from an old post that I’ll link here.

Have a great week.

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Be The Best.

The Devil Wears Chipmunk

You may have seen the movie or read the book (sorry, neither for me – or at least I won’t admit it), The Devil Wears Prada. From Wikipedia:

The Devil Wears Prada is a 2003 novel by Lauren Weisberger about a young woman who is hired as a personal assistant to a powerful fashion magazine editor, a job that becomes nightmarish as she struggles to keep up with her boss’s grueling schedule and demeaning demands.

Ok – so Prada is a high end Italian clothing brand worn by the ‘devil boss’ – basically akin to a wolf in sheep’s clothing. So in essence, regardless of what things look like on the surface, the true nature of the person or situation or chipmunk lies beneath. This little guy looks very cute. However, as he’s ripped up the yard, dug holes through the flowerbeds and eaten the bird food on a continual basis despite mutliple attempts at behaviour adjustment, this Devil wears Chipmunk. Cute but a bad dude.

You built these planters for me to dig right?
Who me? Bad? What?

The point is, things aren’t always what they seem. Yah, I know even right now, you’re empathizing with this creature but if you saw his/her (who knows?) evil ways you would come to my defense very quickly.

We live in a world where opinions and judgments are being made so quickly I get nervous we’re not really getting to know people. I know when folks didn’t understand who Chris was and his ‘body of work’, they could easily make judgments. In most situations if we truly find out more about a situation we will find common ground or understanding. In the odd case, we’ll also see the devil in a chipmunk – but that’s much more rare than usual. (Editor’s note: Yes, I’ve named it Lucy Fur)

See, this is what happens when I have to many observational/thinking moments drinking coffee (or whatever) in the backyard. 😉

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Be The Best.

Strange Time

I have been profoundly impacted by the power of choice over the past 10 years. Every day we are offered hundreds of choices.  In most cases, if we don’t like where the previous choice has taken us, we can simply make another one.

One thing being more separated physically has done with my own thinking is to push alternate forms of connection that I may have overlooked in the past. In practical terms for me that means sending notes to folks I haven’t connected with in a while or having video catch ups like we’ve done virtually with friends with a very real glass of wine in hand!

It is hard to harvest the resource of time when feeling it is not an asset but a hindrance – something that is amplifying the separation from where you want to be. I am always conscious of those reading this blog who have suffered loss and of course our instinct is to have our loved ones with us – now. It took me a long time (years) to really gain perspective and understanding for myself – recognizing every journey is different. My own belief is I will see Chris (our son) again and if I really believe that I should maximize this time of strange separation away from him. Strange time. Strange times. Time can intensify the feeling of separation and at the same time provide opportunities for creativity of connection and reinvention.

As we all travel through the world of coronavirus together, this strange time of more physical distance will eventually end or transition with the advent of vaccines, testing protocols, technology and organized systems. Until then, the practise of harvesting time is something I want to continue to work on even though the feeling of separation will never be completely normal.

Have a good week.

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2020 - 10 years later Be The Best.

This is how it feels.

As the Vancouver Canucks are on an epic playoff run unseen since 2011, bear with me as the topic of hockey continues to weave into this 2020 blog experience!

I remember so distinctly sitting with Max and Chris watching the Canucks getting eliminated by the BlackHawks in May of 2009. That happened again in 2010 a few months after Chris’ passing. It felt even worse. Back in 2009 as this despondent fan sat with two teenagers ready for glory and excitement but being exposed to the opposite, it was a key moment. In that snapshot of sadness I stated, ‘Boys, you now know how it feels to be a Canucks fan’.

Chris at Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto repping our home province of BC at a national lacrosse tournie.

Of course things stated at low moments don’t reflect the entire body of work or the overarching thinking because as soon as the puck dropped for the next season we were cheering as loud as ever only to have Chicago bounce the Nux again. That ended in 2011 with the historic run to the Stanley Cup Finals that I wrote about last week with Max and I present for Game 7 to watch the Canucks slay the dragon and move forward.

The point today, aside from being able to write about hockey, is that at the moment of loss in 2009 the boys understood what loss felt like, even though it is ultimately just sport. However, for those who have lost a child, you know that deep feeling of loss on an entirely different level. Something we would never wish on anyone. 10 years later, that feeling is still very present and can be brought back in an instant. I personally don’t believe in ‘recovery’ from grief or loss. It is part of our history, part of the present and helps shape the future although it doesn’t need to define the future. We don’t ‘move on’, but you move FORWARD, one decision at a time, building for the future but never forgetting the past.

Have a good week and GO CANUCKS GO!!!! As a public service, I’ve included all game times below. 😉

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Be The Best.

All Hail the Whale

As some of you may well know, the Vancouver Canucks (hockey for those international readers!) are near and dear to my heart. Their logo uses an orca (killer whale) so therefore the whale nickname for the Canucks which is already a nickname for the team and for Canadians in general as opposed to the Canadiens who are the hockey team from Montreal who also go by the Habs. Following this? 😉

Ok, the Canucks are on a little run as the covid influenced Stanley Cup playoffs are underway. I can’t think about the Canucks without thinking about Max and Chris and tons of friends and events that intertwines sport and relationships in such a deep way. I am hoping for a long run by a young team and I LOVE what I see not only for this year but years to come.

Does any of this have anything to do with Dads and grief? Oh yah. Read this post from 2011 for some deeper insight. Have a great week.

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2020 - 10 years later Be The Best.

Life’s a Sprint Marathon

Life goes by in a blink.

Sometimes in the middle of a situation (like a pandemic let’s say…) it may feel a bit more like a marathon.

With just a little distance and time, many things in life seem to go (and have gone) faster and faster.

Check out this post from August 2011. Max personifies the Be The Best attitude as he tackles a Sprint Triathlon.

Excerpt:

It’s really Be The Best principle personified.

What I mean by that is Be The Best is about so much more than winning.  It’s about competing.  It’s about trying something new.  It’s about not letting the fear of the unknown get in your way.

IT’S ABOUT NOT KNOWING EXACTLY HOW YOU’RE GOING TO REACH A GOAL, BUT SETTING THE GOAL AND THEN STARTING FORWARD ANYWAYS!

Here’s the full post.

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Be The Best.

Nomenclature Culture

If you’ve read a blog post or two of mine you might pick up that I like words. I like word play and also the history of words. Scrabble was a family favourite and my Mom (Chris’ Grandma) loved to play although she was ‘creative’ with some words she would put down on the board. ‘I’m sure this is a word’, she would say with a devious twinkle in her eye. In the days before Google, that was an easier path! We had many laughs about those games and Chris, Max and other grandkids were learning all the while.

Nomenclature is a body of names in a particular field and really a systematic approach for definition and creation of terms. The fields of medicine and geography are some leading examples. In essence it allows a broad group of people to speak the same language even if they don’t speak the same language. This kind of systematic coding allows for quicker digestion and understanding which builds on communication.

I believe there is a lot of cross over from scientific thinking like this into the business/management world as well as personal and family development. For example, if an airline starts to refer to ‘passengers’ as ‘customers’, this can evoke an entirely different view of who and what that entity is. You can see in this simple example it FORCES the viewpoint of humanity into what previous nomenclature would have categorized as a more functional asset without evoking the same emotion.

The nomenclature of a family or business is the approach to the creation and use of language that builds culture over time.

Words have never been more powerful. Why? Words force you to associate meaning with that word and from that meaning comes emotion and from that emotion comes action. In these times of worldwide stress we may feel less than able to invoke change. That’s not true. With every ‘thank you’, quick reach out or touch base with a friend, support to a community group or other form of specifically chosen word and deed we are imposing a more positive nomenclature into the fabric of our network. That in turn creates a ripple effect.

I’ve been both on the receiving and giving end and it is powerful. When Chris passed there was an avalanche of support (words and actions) for our family. Words are powerful. The use of a specific body of words that are positive and thankful and sincere in intent, ignites understanding, emotion and action – and is the true power of communication – regardless of language.

Ok – way too deep. Probably too much coffee on a rainy Sunday morning. I’m going back to watching some NHL playoff hockey in August where key nomenclature includes PIM, Penalty Box (Sin Bin) and GAA. Have a great week.

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Be The Best.

Biking Birmingham (video)

A day does not go by without thinking of Chris that is for sure. Over ten years later – that does not change. For anyone going through loss – yes it stays with you but YES you can be happy again too. It is one of many paradoxes that are very real.

One thing you learn early on is that you gotta get up, make coffee and get rolling…some days more literally than others.

Birmingham, Michigan is a beautiful mini city and we took advantage today of the amazing weather. Hope you are enjoying your summer too – and for those in the Southern Hemisphere – your Winter days!

Of course Ingrid, always thinking, took some water in her Be The Best water bottle. If you want one of your own, you can choose from a variety of colours/colors with all proceeds going towards Chris’ fund. We have a bunch of stuff there paid for by the family so you can enjoy, remember Chris and have the money go directly to Chris’ fund with tremendous help and support of the crew at Martket Branding .

Have a great week.

Be The Best store link.

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Be The Best.

Let’s face it.

Part of this ’10 years later’ thing is that I read a few posts from the past. One I was thinking about this week came to mind as I was watching a little Premier League action last weekend. With no crowds and manufactured crowd noise it was an interesting watch but great to see live sports in any event. The way you face – is an expression I learned from Davie B (you know who you are) on the soccer pitch. The main point is that you may be turned around and facing away from your goal. That’s ok. That’s the direction you should play at the moment. Going backwards is a powerful method to move forward. Kinda sounds like pandemic recovery to me. Many times since 2010, we’ve had to play the way we faced. We needed to make a defensive move so we didn’t lose control. Ten years later, I see the wisdom from those words more than ever. Here’s the original post from 2011.

Football (Soccer ball)
Image via Wikipedia

One of the things I love about Saturday mornings is watching a little Premier League Soccer as the schedule permits.  With games as early as 5 and 7am, the timing works well with the newspaper and a good cup of coffee.

I love the skill, the speed, the set-up and I love those British announcers use of the English language.  Their phrasing and commentary adds a poetic quality to the experience.

We’ve played a lot of noon hour soccer with my work gang over the years.

It’s not quite at Premier League level…but you wouldn’t know it from the locker room stories told just after the match.

When you play sports and you are in the heat of the moment field-of-play one thing you’ll hear is players shouting to other players.  Usually instructions come in bursts of 2 or 3 repeats.  Move the ball, move the ball, MOVE THE BALL…all increasing in urgency.

Ok, that last one is what gets yelled at me a lot, so maybe I’m just sensitive.  Joking aside, I’ve wondered about this form of communication and liken it to military instruction in the heat of the battle.  You want to be clear about your communication and there’s no time to waste with niceties.

One of the most interesting lines I’ve heard a million times on the soccer pitch is, ‘the way you face’.

When you are playing soccer the objective is pretty clear.  You need to score on the opponent’s goal.  In order to do this you should be moving the ball forward toward the enemy’s net.

However, many times you don’t receive the ball in a position where going forward makes the most sense.

In other words, if you receive the ball and you happen to be turned towards your own goal, your natural instinct may be to make an immediate turn and try to push the ball forward.

That could be the worst move.

When you hear, ‘the way you face’, ‘the way you face’, ‘the way you face’, it’s a reminder from your teammate to gain control of the ball and move the ball in the direction you are facing at the time which may appear counterproductive but ultimately allows your team to go forward.

I’ve thought about that phrase a lot in the game of life.

Sometimes turning too quickly and trying to push forward to the opponent’s goal is not the right move.

Playing the way you face, ie passing the ball ‘backwards’ before your team moves the play forward again protects possession and ultimately provides a greater opportunity to score.

Too heavy on the soccer analogies?

I think I may get another Americano and watch game 2 of the Premier League.