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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.

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.

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.

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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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.

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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2020 - 10 years later Be The Best.

Fort Langley Forest

What you are about to watch is a fake movie trailer.

Yes, fake news – but not really.

The actors are very real. Chris had lacrosse buds, family, family friends and then a tight knit group of school and Langley friends. These guys were so awesome to our family in the months and years after Chris passed and I still remember this day from 9 years ago. A bunch of teen aged guys willing to spend their afternoon on a walk (we called it a hike!) with a couple of parents.

As a Dad, Chris’ memory and thoughts of him are part of every single day. I know for many of his friends, teammates and coaches, they feel the same. He was a great kid, an amazing human. The sentiment from that hike and many other interactions with these young people have stayed with us all these years later and still bring feelings of warmth, love and support that we hope are echoed back to others as they go through their own various journeys through life.

All the best as you Be The Best this week.

Without further ado, I present the fake movie trailer from 2011 that never made it to the theaters (US spelling on US soil in Detroit…).