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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.

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Be The Best.

Leaf it to me.

Inspiration: (kind of) https://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/leaves/process

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.

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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. 😉

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Be The Best.

Falling All Over Again

It happens each year so you’d think I’d get used to it.

You know, it gets colder, rains more and leaves are blown by changing winds. Yes, it’s the Fall. Fall in Michigan is a special time. So, in the middle of COVID, political unease, economic uncertainty and everything else, there is a wonderful ‘known’ that seasons do change, winters do come but with that the hope of spring and summer arrive once more.

As written many times year over the years and in this 10 year retrospective, grief and loss is never forgotten and Chris will never be forgotten, but seasons do change and beauty can be found in the change, just as the fall leaves remind us each year.

Have a great week.

All photos shot Oct 11, 2020. Oakland County – Michigan, USA
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Be The Best.

Boo Who?

Date: Oct 3

Halloween is in full production and display mode. Did you know that in the USA, Halloween is 2nd only to Christmas in dollars spent each year? Try 8.8 BILLION in 2019.

In the States, everything seems a little larger than life. Like why wouldn’t you want a pair of 20 foot tall skeletons in your front yard? This is not a stock photo. It’s a 3 minute walk from my house and it scares me every time I go by. Boo Who? The Who is 172 million people that participate in Halloween in the USA alone. Canada isn’t far behind as a percentage of population. If you need more detail, Stats Canada is here to help.

This year will be different, of course. The 4 million children looking to trick or treat in Canada will be making the rounds from the kitchen to the family room I presume, looking for an internal treasure.

Thanks to the great scrapbooking skills of my good wife, I found these precious photos and snapped a few shots so I could share with you. Chris in a bumble bee costume is the winner. 4 years old in 1997. You can see by 2002, it was wild hair, a pig’s nose and hockey jersey. What? I know. Max went with the classic ghost in 1997 and Mike Reno from Loverboy or something for 2002. (YAH, LOOK IT UP – the kid is hot tonight etc. Think 80’s!!) Editor note: After lengthy discussion with final judge and wife, we could not remember exactly what that costume was. Most likely grab anything you can wear and grab some candy.

THOSE are memories that I’m looking for and if takes 20ft skeletons to remind me of the cutest 4 year old bumble bee I’ve ever seen, so be it. 😉

Have a great week.

Amazing time trick or treating with our good family friends, the Funks.
Neighbourhood pals Derek and Fraser join Max (far right) and Chris (Devils jersey)
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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.