Be The Best.

The Beginning’s the End

Well – this is it.

The last blog post for now.

What does ‘now’ mean? 1 month, 1 year or another decade?

Not sure. That’s the thing about the future.

My favourite quote this year – Plans are worthless. Planning is everything. (President Eisenhower) Having lived through 2020 with all of you and the entire planet, I think we can all relate. Pandemics and lockdowns weren’t part of anyone’s plans. I hope.

The big ‘take away’ however, is by having had a plan, the very act of planning puts you in the right mindset to review, PIVOT (2020 mega word) and then move forward.

As I’ve put in probably 100 blog posts over the years, DECISIONS propel us forward. If a decision I make doesn’t get me closer to my goal, I am fully empowered to make another one. And again and again.

Chris passed away March 25, 2010. We think of him and miss him every single day. Holidays like Christmas only emphasize that. We’ve thought about the thousands across the world who have experienced their first Christmas without parents, grandparents and yes even children this week because of COVID. If you are reading this blog and that is your situation, we empathize and know how tough all those ‘firsts’ are. (continued below pics)

I will not try to candy coat things and say that ‘time heals all’ which is a phrase I disagree with having lived without my son for over 10 years. Time doesn’t heal. Time allows you perspective and gives you the amazingly wonderful opportunity to make choices. In the next 24 hours of my life, I will be able to make dozens of choices that can propel me forward or send me backward. Be The Best was what Chris was aiming to achieve. Aiming to be. His vision. His body of work showed us that the mix of vision and hard work paved that road. Although his journey was cut way too short, we’ll aim to live with that same thinking. That won’t bring Chris back. That won’t make us miss him less or wonder every day where life would have taken him. It will, however, propel us forward with purpose and encouragement to make choices that propel us forward and hopefully those around us as well.

All the very best to you until the next post – whenever that may be. 😉 This end is simply another beginning. And so it goes! Decision made.

Chris’ is remembered forever with a memorial fund at Simon Fraser University that provides lacrosse playing student athletes a monetary award each year. The fund itself will live in perpetuity. Donations are tax deductible and can be made direct through SFU. The family has also pre-purchased Be The Best merch that allows all moneys raised to go directly to the SFU fund (minus handling expenses)

Be The Best.

11 days left and then everything will be perfect.

If you have read a blog or two over the years you’ll know I have a penchant for tongue-in-cheek titles. Today is no different. Yes, 11 days left in 2020. That is true if you read this today. If tomorrow, 10. I think we’re on the same page there. The ‘everything will be perfect’ part is another story. If you haven’t updated yourself on the Stockdale Parardox in a while, now is your chance.

This rusted metal ‘ornament’ says it all. Made by Mike and Amelia. Check out their shop.

Face the brutal facts. Move forward. We will win. It may not be January 1, 2021, but we WILL move beyond the pandemic. For now, we have some brutal facts to face including cancelled trips, separation from family and not being allowed to go to the mall. Ok that last one is really a solid gift from covid – from my male perspective. 😉

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end
—which you can never afford to lose —with the discipline
to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality,
whatever they might be.” 
~ James Stockdale

We’ve all had some brutal facts to face in 2020. You face them and then make the next decision. When you lose a loved one you have to go through the same process. One of the decisions we made was to honour Chris’ memory with a memorial fund at Simon Fraser University. To date the fund has awarded over $21,000 and we’re just starting as this fund will never end paying out only the interest on investments each year. Congrats to each recipient and I encourage you all to continue to make decision after decision to ‘Be The Best’ as that is an amazing way to remember Chris’ body of work over his 17 years and push you forward toward your individual goals.

All the best for the Christmas week ahead.

Christian Friesen Memorial Award Endowment Recipients

Genereux, Luke2012-01-26ScholarshipSpring 2012
Weselowski, Kevin2012-03-14ScholarshipSpring 2012
Clare, Samuel2013-02-14ScholarshipSpring 2013
Bosquet, Bayne2014-03-27ScholarshipSpring 2014
Vickars, Iain2015-02-19ScholarshipSpring 2015
Lashar, Jordan2016-02-17ScholarshipSpring 2016
Stroup, Jordan S.2017-02-16ScholarshipSpring 2017
Lashar, Jeremy A.2017-02-16ScholarshipSpring 2017
Lunde, Gregory2018-02-15ScholarshipSpring 2018
Terrio, Mackenzie B.2018-02-15ScholarshipSpring 2018
Turnbull, Tim2019-02-15ScholarshipSpring 2019
Hicks, Mason R.2019-02-15ScholarshipSpring 2019
Hicks, Mason R.2020-02-25ScholarshipSpring 2020
Way, Cameron A.2020-02-25ScholarshipSpring 2020
Total Disbursed$21,605.00  
Stats via SFU
Be The Best.

Shake it up – 10 years later

Part of this 10 year retrospective is looking at posts from 10 years ago. Kinda makes sense seeing that this is a retrospective. Anyhoo – I read this post this morning:

I’ve pasted in the bulk of it below as I can save you a click. Dec 2010 was a tough time. No doubt. Months removed from Chris’ loss in March 2010 but entering the first Christmas without him. Nothing I would wish on anyone.

As I reflect back on this post, I remember the gratitude of that day and remembering the generosity of hundreds of people who provided cards, food and words of encouragement and the several thousand who attended his funeral. That show of force, if you will, was so powerful for me and our family. Tangible support without a word spoken. So – if you are thinking of someone who has suffered loss because of COVID, an accident or health issue – any token of connection, concern – and yes, even a quick email – are all felt by the families even if they are not able to properly let you know that. I still feel the support 10 years later. By the way, as we assembled the products in Chris’ honor this year, we included a shaker bottle under the advice of Brent Hoskins, one of Chris’ lacrosse mentors and life guides. Good choice. Shake it up. I’ll include the link with the reminder that anything purchased from the store has already been paid for by our family so the proceeds of your purchase roll into Chris’ fund at SFU which will live forever in support of student athletes who are aiming to Be The Best.

Have a good week.

From December 2010:

I made a shake today for breakfast.

I hadn’t made one in a while…a long while…months, actually.

Chris loved these morning protein shakes.  He wrote the recipe down one time.

Dad’s Jacked Shakes he called it.

The recipe is very simple….a little orange juice, frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, yogurt and a little protein mix.

I’m not sure how long frozen strawberries last, but guess what we still had in the freezer.  Yup, those strawberries all cut up from the funeral on April 1 and frozen.  They were even sweeter today.

It reminded me again of the generosity of so many and I re-read the More Soup for You blog post that was so early in this journey.

You never know the impact of your actions.  We appreciate every bouquet, card, cleaning service, thought, prayer, food item and word of encouragement that has come our way.

I’m looking forward to a few more of those shakes…maybe again tomorrow.

Be The Best.

Numbers that Count.

There’s a lot of numbers out there these days.

COVID infections. COVID hospitalizations. COVID deaths.

We don’t know the future. We can minimize risk by choices we make, but still – things can just happen.

The only thing we ultimately control is our next decision. With that in mind, we can choose to make a difference each day and do something positive each day. Of course we have jobs and school and other stuff. That’s called the ‘whirlwind’. The key is to do just ONE thing beyond the whirlwind each day or week. How many days do we have? That’s interesting.

My Dad, Rev Jake, (Chris’ Grandpa) will be 90 in February 2021. He had calculated how many days he had been alive. Quick – what do you think that number is? 100,000? 50,000? 1 million? Could be.

Wait – let’s do the math – Even at 89 years young – that is only 32,485 days. A mere 4,640 weeks. And yes, you can calculate interesting numbers for yourself at this linked website. (Rev Jake says he’s good for 110 btw – so a good sign!) I’m encouraging 120. Why not? Tennis, ping pong, biking, driving, walking, reading, studying, connecting with multiple people per day – perfect.

We used to do this calculation for time management training. Take your current age. Ok, I’m 55. Calculate a comfortable end of days number. I know – a bit morose – but, let’s say 100 even. That’s 45 years. That is 16,425 days. A paltry 2,346 weeks!! Yikes. I better get moving!! Ten years is only 3,650 days. We all know a year is 365 days – but many times don’t think beyond that.

Tree Hunting in 2005 (Chris, Ingrid and Max)

Time can crawl and time can fly. It can’t come back however. Chris had 6,279 days on this earth. Not nearly enough but enough to be remembered forever and to make a massive impact on those of us around him that strive to Be The Best in his memory.

Chris’ brother Max had some sage insight on this topic. When you lose someone close, it’s never a count down – it’s a count up – until you see that person again on the other side.

I wish you all 100 years or more and trust that every day can produce a step forward towards the realization of goals, development of relationships and contribution to making this little earth we call home a better place for now and the future.

Have a good week.

Be The Best.

Back to the Future

Who can forget Marty McFly in Back to the Future, when he was transported ahead to 2015 (from 1985) and experienced flying cars, drones that took dogs for walks and self-lacing shoes. Self lacing shoes are getting close (yah, I follow that on a Google alert) but I sleep better at night knowing there’s always Velcro shoes for my upcoming senior years. Oh and if you have 7 hours and want to go down an interesting internet rabbit hole, you can check out the Back to the Future timelines in chart form. Really. As a public service, I’ve provided a picture and link.

Great memories and some fun for the upcoming holidays when the weather or a certain virus keeps us more inside binge watching almost anything.

Anyhooo – what’s up with Back to the Future? Michael J Fox is a fantastic actor and just a good Canadian kid from Vancouver, BC, (yes, Burnaby for all those fact checkers) so there’s that. His comedic timing and affable nature combined with sharp wit and a sly grin made him an American TV and movie staple.

Then – he was hit with early onset Parkinson’s. He just released a new book so this interview caught my eye this past week. It’s a long read but well worth it if you have a good cup of coffee and your favourite reading chair.

The journalist remembers back to a previous interview with Fox in 2013 where his optimism was strong. A cure would be found in his lifetime. He wasn’t lying. He believed that. Fast forward to 2020 and he is certainly still optimistic but he believes now a cure will not be found – in his lifetime and he continues to deal with the reality of his situation with the wit, charm and humour that makes me proud of his Canadian roots and overall candor as he continues to navigate his future.

Here is a major difference. Being an OPTIMIST doesn’t mean you have to believe everything is going to be perfect or fixed or transformed today or tomorrow, next month or next year. I really believe in being a REALISTIC OPTMIST, which may seem like a paradox, but one that resonates with the melding of life experience and time.

We all have things that cannot change. Of course the theme of this blog is remembering Chris 10 years later, a bitter sweet Back to the Future if there ever was one!! Of course I would pay anything or do anything to have him back. That will not happen. Acceptance of these facts don’t make you a pessimist. In fact, as strange as it sounds, the acceptance allows for your mind to determine the decisions today and tomorrow which will bring us to a new future, even if I have to tie my own shoes till I’m 100. And yes, I’ve confirmed that shoe tying thing for my long suffering wife who is very concerned that I have a fixation for the Velcro strapped shoes that only increases with age. (and so what if I do…) 😉

Have a great week.

Be The Best.

Leaf it to me.

Inspiration: (kind of)

I have never read a more scientific document on how and why leaves change color. Completely non-emotional. Just the facts.

Take this nugget. “All leaves gradually lose chlorophyll during the growing season, and this loss accelerates before leaf fall. Under optimal conditions this process of chlorophyll loss is very orderly and allows the plants to resorb much of the nitrogen in the structure of the pigment molecule. Carotenoid pigments are also lost from the plastids during aging, but some of them are retained in the plastids after the chlorophyll is removed; this produces autumn leaves with yellow colors.”

Does this inspire you with amazing thoughts of color and nature’s beauty? Didn’t think so. How about the picture of the red maple? The maple leaf? Hopefully a bit better. Yah, I know I’ve probably written way too many blog posts about the Fall but it’s my favourite season. Part of it is the color of the season but a growing fascination with Fall is the science behind the season. The loss of leaves is a part of nature’s way of readying the tree for the winter and preparing to grow again in the spring. The act of dormancy and shedding of the very things that symbolize life in the shape of leaves, is part of the longer term vision of healthy growth over time.

To gain further insight, I needed something much simpler, so I watched this video aimed at 8 year old kids. The key take away – trees shut down the food factory going into Winter. Ok, that’s a great way to see it. A season is over and the tree must get ready for winter and hunker down.

Whether you are experiencing loss or like all of us, preparing for a COVID inspired winter season ahead, I wish you well in the preparations. Strangely, even in loss and working through tough transitions, there can be beautiful moments as the colored leaves remind us each year.

Be The Best.

The Path Forward

The hills of Michigan. Nov 2020.

On a hike this weekend I was reminded of advice we use a lot in business circles – but is equally applicable to every day life. Think about where you’ve been (the past) 10% of the time and where you’re going 90%. As the November leaves covered much of the trail, going downhill could be a little slippery. I thought of a modification to that thinking.

Understanding where you’ve been is important. But don’t spend a lot of time there. 10% is good. 90% looking forward is also good, but the breakdown that hit me is that I needed to look down at my immediate next step about 45% of the time and look forward and around 45% of the time. Ok, that is probably too much math in a 10 year retrospective blog, but bear with me. If I don’t keep looking at my immediate future, I’ll lose my footing or not see an immediate danger and could fall. Then I’m out. That means the immediate is important. However, if I spend all my time on the immediate, I’ll never truly understand where I’m going. I need to see the fork in the road, the signs up ahead, the traffic coming towards me. This thought, like many things in life, seems contradictory but the paradox is powerful.

To see where you are going, you need to understand where you've been, pay close attention to your next step and lift your head constantly to see the path forward. 
This is the original ‘Be The Best’ picture and Chris was not happy I wanted him to pose for it after coming home from a lacrosse game. I like silhouettes however and I’m so happy he complied…under duress.

Chris would be 27 years old this year. Of course we think about that and where he would have gone to University, played lacrosse and what his career would be. Would he be married? Have a girlfriend? Ten years since his passing, he is in our thoughts every single day and probably 100 times per day. I don’t think that ever changes. We can’t bring him back to life here on earth and that is the 10% that we need to acknowledge but not stay there. Our decisions that we make day after day represents the present and immediate steps. The review of the future and making plans for the future, even though never forgetting, is the part that connects with lifting our heads and looking forward.

Who knew a hike through the woods could be so philosophical. Have a good week. 😉

Be The Best.

When life gives you hurdles…

So we had this crazy idea back in July. Why not take up jogging in our mid 50’s. Sure. Next thing you know we had an ‘app’ because you can’t do anything in 2020 without one. Couch to 5k became our coach and nemesis over the past few months. However in October, we made our goal of running 5km without stopping. Yeah us.

On Saturday we took the adventure to the local high school track. There was no one there except for a squirrel and this 10 year old kid that lapped us a couple of times. I tried to be polite but really kinda wanted to trip him, in a kind Canadian way, of course.

So this squirrel. Just chilling on the fence. Our only real fan. Not sure if he was mocking or cheering as we came by every 7.5 minutes or so. In any event him (or her!) looking at the hurdles made me laugh. Life gives you hurdles. You could just sit on the fence and watch them or you can get running and find your way around them – because I can assure you, we weren’t going to jump them.

And that’s how life goes. Hurdles get put in your way but jumping over them is only one option. Whichever way you tackle the hurdles is good – aside from maybe just sitting on the fence.

Be The Best.

Straight as a Curve

The Oct 24, 2020 Saturday Night Live had a skit of young patrons visiting a Psychic (Kate McKinnon) imagined at the end of 2019 going into 2020. It was pretty funny as the ‘visions’ were completely outlandish for 2019 as we all were unprepared for the events of 2020 just around the corner. We all remember the toilet paper shortage of just a few months ago – who saw that coming?

SNL screen grab – Oct 24, 2020

The path in life is rarely a straight line. One of my favourite quotes is ‘plans are useless but planning is everything’. (Dwight D. Eisenhower
34th President of the United States)

We need to plan. We need to set our direction which mainly is a straight line to where we’re going. We can’t see the unforeseen unlike the SNL spoof on reality and time travel!

Along the way, things are going to change. Some will change because we make decisions and some things will change because STUFF (or insert stronger S word) happens!

THAT is when we must regroup, face our brutal facts and move forward one decision at a time. When we look back at our life charts they will probably look much more up and down with interesting curves back and forth as we move forward. In the end, however, we WILL be moving forward and that is what it’s all about.

Have a great week ahead.

Be The Best.

A little look back and a lot look forward

Interesting rereading this blog post from Oct 2010. Stair into Space.

It talks about a painting I had just received. Interestingly enough I’m looking at that same painting as I type, 10 years later on a different wall, in a much different home and country but still the feeling remains.

There is a past and you need to review your steps, but the focus MUST be the future. 10% where I’ve been – 90% where I’m going. We’ve aimed to make that the motto as we’ve made decisions again and again fine tuning the path ahead, drawing on history but marching forward, towards the light.

From the 2010 blog:

I’m looking at a painting tonight that I was given last month.

It’s a watercolour showing a wooden pathway through a forest leading to a glorious sunrise or sunset.  You really can’t tell which one it is.

It’s called ‘into the light’ and reflects an image from Long Beach on Vancouver Island.

I love that picture.

The picture below is another view of the Fall colors in Michigan and also symbolizes the path to the light. I include simply because I can. 😉 I can’t get enough of these colors – and yes, that is the correct US spelling. And yes, I maintained the Canadian spelling of ‘watercolour’ from the 2010 blog post. It’s tough to ‘live’ on both sides of the border. Have a great week.