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Be The Best.

What I believe

I was sent a link to a letter written by the President of Harvard University. (Thanks Grant!)

Lawrence (Larry) S. Bacow wrote a poignant piece identifying what he believes. This was written May 30, 2020 in light of the recent protests and violence in the US following the death of George Floyd. For me currently living near Detroit, his words (he references Detroit from the 60’s) are profound as we are living through history repeating itself in 2020. If you have 5 min, read through his entire letter. Here are some key statements:

I believe in the goodness of the people of this country—and in their resilience.

I believe that America should be a beacon of light to the rest of the world.

I believe that our strength as a nation is due in no small measure to our tradition of welcoming those who come to our shores in search of freedom and opportunity, individuals who repay us multiple times over through their hard work, creativity, and devotion to their new home. 

I believe in the American Dream.

https://www.harvard.edu/president/news/2020/what-i-believe

It is the final paragraph, however, that is extremely important for all of us; Canadian, American or any other citizen of the world. It is a call to action.

What we believe is important. Acting on our beliefs is critical. ESPECIALLY when we must believe that there are many more people in this world who believe in equality, respect and fair treatment for all – regardless of race, gender or political leanings.

As I continue to remember Chris in a more direct and public way throughout this year, I am thinking continually of what Be The Best really means. If I believe that, what are the actions that bring that belief to life? One simple one is to follow through on acts of kindness – not just think about them. Could be a spending time as a mentor, writing a note of support, or simply saying thank-you. Ok – and doing push-ups. That was a big part of the Be The Best thinking that Chris worked on. Those are the simple things that can bring beliefs to life. I’ll leave the closing to President Bacow. He’s stated it perfectly below.

I hope you will pause during these troubled times to ask what you believe. Even more importantly, I hope you will find the strength and determination to act on your beliefs—to repair and perfect this imperfect world.

This tribute video for Chris was put together for the Langley Thunder Lacrosse team and played in Chris’ honor. At about 1 minute 29 seconds you see a few seconds of an interview I did with Chris in prepping for college recruitment activity. If you want to see what he believed, have a view. Have a good week.

Originally put together April 2010.
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Be The Best.

Plans don’t work.

For those of you who know me you may be immediately question my mental state. What? This guy is all about planning. Has he had a mid life crisis and reversed his position? Ok, I did look at a massive gold chain and convertible mustang full of Detroit muscle, but I didn’t do either. 😉

And spoiler alert – I haven’t changed my position about planning – but I’m growing more interested in paradoxes and this is a great one.

The more you plan, the more pigs you may see flying. Just sayin. It’s that powerful.

A business colleague passed on a fantastic article about Dwight Eisenhower. A statement he used to use a lot was:

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

How many times have you set a plan and then things change? If I’m honest, a lot or maybe always! However, having the plan in the first place has already forced us to think about WHY we are doing something. The HOW can change, the WHY should remain the same.

If you want more on the WHY – Simon Sinek is a great author and resource on that topic.

So – do plans change? YES

Should we stop planning? NO

Planning is an action word. It produces momentum. You can adjust along the way. We know about that as a family. We ALL know about that through this COVID19 crisis.

Stay safe and keep planning – even though things may not work out exactly as you imagined.

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Be The Best.

Oh Mama.

I confess. I still watch Family Guy from time to time. Totally inappropriate and outrageous, it was a show that us three boys (Chris, Max and me) would utilize to work on our father/sons bonding while containing our misguided laughter. I hope that passes as enough of an excuse…

There was a scene that became hilarious in our home because it became real life. Remember that bit where Stewie couldn’t get his Mom, Lois’ attention? Here’s the quick clip to remind you. Ok, Ingrid (Max and Chris’ Mom and my long suffering wife!) had developed a unique skill living in a house with just guys. She could tune us out. I mean TOTALLY tune us out. She would be quietly reading a book while the three of us would be watching hockey, munching snacks, exuding bodily noises, laughing and even talking to her – she totally blocked it out. Big skill for sure.

So…Chris started doing the routine. Mom, Mum, ingrid, mommy, mamma, louder and louder – then INGRID! That usually got her attention. That ‘bit’ became comedy gold in the Friesen household multiple times per month. Author’s note: I never encouraged or endorsed this behavior. (mostly)

Just watching the clip again makes me smile as I think of Chris’ routine. The love that Chris and Max and Ingrid have is one that only exists with Moms and sons. Totally special and unique. To Ingrid and all the Moms out there – a very Happy Mother’s Day. May your memories bring you smiles and warmth as only a deep love can create.

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Be The Best.

Good Grief – v2

One of the most read blog posts over the years was about Charlie Brown and that other Charlie, Charles Dickens. I reread that blog post recently almost 10 years to the day it was written. All of it true in 2020. The massive UPS and DOWNS we are all feeling through COVID are very similar to the feelings of loss. Is grief good? No – it sucks, just to be clear. However grief doesn’t exist if a deep love didn’t exist first. Here’s a reproduction of that post:

I was thinking about Charlie Brown today.  Not really about Snoopy or Lucy or that piano dude…remember?  Schroeder. I was remembering one of Charlie Brown’s catch phrases….’good grief’.  After my extensive (4 minute) search on the history of ‘good grief’ I found….not much.  A euphemism for “Good God”, dating back to the 1900’s and of course an ‘Arrested Development’ TV episode from 2004?

I also thought about this quote…ok, you Grade 11 and 12’s…you should know this one.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way..

Got it?  Yes, that Charles Dickens from A Tale of Two Cities.  Sure, that was written in the 1800’s, but it is a pretty accurate description of grief I think.  I’ve seen a lot about stages of grief and I’m sure that is probably true, but right now it is more like a pretty big yo-yo.  You go up and down between the extremes of the ‘best of times’ remembering, laughing, joking, smiling and dive down to the ‘worst of times’, missing, aching, dreaming of the missed future etc.

Good Grief? Maybe that Charlie Brown was a lot smarter than I ever thought…but I think Lucy knew that all along.

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Be The Best.

Snow way

I told you I was going to throw every pun I could into the 2020 version of the blog and combine with as many Dad jokes as possible.

April 17, 2020. Yup.

Snow in April? Snow way! Yup, it’s true. For those of you on the West Coast – yah, you are laughing as you read this, physical distancing your way around Vancouver’s Seawall. I get it. I used to snicker at the weather in the east as well. I’m paying a heavy price now for all those years of jokes. 😉

In all reality, snow is not that uncommon in April – it just doesn’t feel right. That said, it comes and goes and we know that warmer spring and summer weather will follow. In recent weeks, I’ve had a chance to reflect and discuss Jim Collin’s leadership concept of facing the brutal facts, using Winston Churchill as an epic example. If you have 3 minutes, read this excerpt. If we are overly optimistic and have our hearts set on a date or outcome we have a much higher probability of being highly disappointed or worse. From a leadership perspective this can be a bigger concern. Leadership by personality will generally not be as lasting as leadership by facing the facts with the team. If we force ourselves to face the BRUTAL FACTS, we are more likely to be able to address those issues and then find a way to win today and then again tomorrow. It is a strange combination (duality) of having a longer term positive outcome (ie, we’ll get out of COVID, we’ll be happy again after loss) with the immediacy of dealing with the facts of today, ie, my income is dropping by x and I need to do three things per day to push forward and see how I can address that…or, I will not see my son again in this lifetime – how am I going to live the rest of my life? I know that’s blunt, but that is the kind of thing we must do, in my opinion. (Remember, I ain’t a doctor and I don’t even play one on TV).

So, weather (see what I did there?) you are facing sun, cloud, rain or snow today, I trust you can face any brutal facts in your situation and then prepare an action plan for dealing with those things.

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Be The Best.

And so it begins – The Commencement – Part 3

Two years ago, on Easter Sunday, I began this blog.

I thought it might go for a month, then two months, then six, then for sure end at 12, then it kept going.

Although these past few months the posts have been more in my head then typed onto the screen, it’s not for lack of topics.   Along this pathway/journey/road/highway/trail you have ups and you have downs.  You have valleys and you have views.  You learn to laugh with a broken heart.  You learn to live with a hole in your heart.  You even learn to win and conquer with an altered existence.

That’s the REAL secret of Sunday.

It’s not about the razzle dazzle.

It’s about the amazing reality that there is life with tragedy.  There is hope with sorrow.  There is bitter and there is sweet, mixed and stirred.

Sunday is about hope.

Sunday is about future.

Sunday is about change.

After 21 years at an amazing post secondary school that has become a home not just a job…I am taking a leave.

I’m heading to the private sector working to assist entrepreneurs build their businesses.

A big change.

I’m not sure I would have done it without the Be The Best thinking part of my every waking minute.

Now, I’m not encouraging anyone to quit their jobs or do anything crazy, but I will challenge all of you to Be The Best!

What does that mean to you?

What are your dreams?

What are your goals?

How are you putting those into measurable pieces, sliced up by months and days?

Chris’ passion fuels me.  Chris’ passion to Be The Best fuels all of us, even those who never met him.

It’s Sunday…but it’s early Sunday morning.

Hope is on the horizon, but the road ahead is still very unknown.

But one thing I know is that Sunday’s here, and by making one decision at a time we’ll be more ‘Be The Best’ then if we just sit back and let things happen.

Sunday’s here, hope is here and HOPE is an action word.

Be The Best.

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Be The Best.

The Commencement – Part 2

So it’s Saturday.  The trauma and drama of the cross is behind us, but now what?  Historical accounts indicate a lot of second guessing and doubting about what the future would be without the Son of Man around physically.  Sort of like living in a suspended state.

We know what Saturday is like.  That’s where you live for a long long time.

But Sunday’s coming.

Quite literally as I type this, our dear friends, the Funks, who stood by us like soldiers for weeks and weeks, are in a suspended animation state with their family, specifically, their daughter Jessica (20).

As you read this, please offer a thot and prayer for her as she fights a flu-like infection that has forced her into a stable but critical state in a Vancouver area hospital.

As a group, we didn’t need any more lessons about how precious life was, but we got one anyways.

When it’s Saturday you think…did that thing just happen?  to us?  really?

Did we just lose Chris? really?

You can’t comprehend for a long time what actually happened.

Saturday is a day where those thoughts can come and topple you over.

I don’t know if you remember the blog post back about a year or so ago how astronauts (and others) are trained to compartmentalize their grief and emotions.  That’s the only way they can make it through traumatic situations and still land the plane, save people from burning buildings, deal with trauma etc.  You can read that post here.

I was also struck by the psychology professor commenting on the story indicating that compartmentalization makes sense but it can have severe impacts as well.  In other words you can’t compartmentalize forever.

So…what does that mean?  Saturday is a time when the doubts and questions come…you MUST compartmentalize to keep working, living and moving ahead BUT (and it’s a big BUT – insert your own joke here), if you only compartmentalize, you will pay a HUGE price.

Saturday is also for doubting.

Saturday is also for questioning.

Saturday is for being angry and confused.

Saturday is for letting those thoughts come to the door, you answer, chat a minute or two and then close the door.

That’s why there is a Saturday.

But Sunday’s coming.

To conclude, the blog post I wrote this past Christmas about Bob Ross the painter, has really stuck with me for months.  He’s that quirky public television personality with a cult-like-following who always looked like he destroyed his painting about 3/4 of the way through…only to have the final image always blow you away.  You can read that post here.

What’s the point you say?  Early on in our Saturday, the questions outweighed the answers, the pain outweighed any positive feelings of the future and I couldn’t understand how any pieces fit together.

I still don’t, actually, but I do know this.

The Joy of Painting
The Joy of Painting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I believe very strongly that we ARE part of a larger painting.  We don’t understand all the Master Painter does or is doing.  PERSPECTIVE is a thing that is not quite available on Saturday, but even as Satur-day turns into Saturday-night, that perspective grows.

And I know one thing…Sunday’s coming.

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Be The Best.

Chris’ new pet.

My little niece Emily (3) had a pet gerbil, or hamster or something like that.

I should really have more details on these things.

All I know is that it was fluffy and sat around in the cage a lot.

As things go, her little pet passed away.

Was she sad?

No, she said, ‘Fluffy’ (not his or her real name, not to protect the hamster/gerbil, but because I just forget what the name was) would be with Chris.

Now that’s beautiful, cute and sort of funny too.

I can image Chris and Dylan up there working hard and then chatting up some young angels when this gerbil thing just sort of appears.  ‘What the whip?’, Chris would say.

And then the head Pet Angel would inform Chris that Emily had made the request.

Chris and his new pet hamster thing. 

Love it.

Do you really have to still clean the cages up in heaven?  Are there cages?

Anyhoo Chris, be good to Emily’s pet…I know you will!

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Be The Best.

CFMA Y2 2012

Acronyms are so warm aren’t they?

Chris hoists BMS teammate Jamie Spagnuolo at Florida tournie.

Tonight is the 2nd annual Christian Friesen Memorial Award presentation.

As a family we are so proud to be associated with the BMS (Burnaby Mountain Selects) program and SFU (Simon Fraser University).

If you’ve read this blog over time you’ve seen many references to both of these organizations.

It’s worth mentioning again the MEGA MAJOR (MM) impact that the BMS camp had on Chris as a young teen.

He saw these university athletes and how hard they worked and it shaped his entire focus on eating habits, studying habits and work-out habits.

In so many ways, the Be The Best thinking started right there…and it didn’t stop.

SFU and the SFU Foundation office have been simply wonderful (understatement) to Ingrid, Max and I.

We are proud to have Chris’ memorial fund help push the dreams of a lacrosse athlete attending SFU.

So if you’ve just joined us, what is BTB (Be The Best)?

Be The Best is a way to live our lives.

It’s using Chris’ passion to fuel us.

It’s making positive decisions about fitness, education and life.

It’s not settling for second best.

To this year’s award winner (still a secret at the time of writing), this award goes way beyond the financial implications.  It’s about carrying the Be The Best banner.  It’s about being associated with a kid who would pound out 200 push-ups a day at 16.  It’s about setting goals, breaking them down into measurable tasks and then working hard.  It’s all of that and more.

We were so proud when Luke Genereaux won the award last year.  He had coached Chris and was one of these young college-age guys that had helped shape Chris’ world.

btw, this is not a commercial for the BMS program, but I guess it might as well be!  If your kid places lacrosse in British Columbia, it’s an amazing program that help takes kids and form them into young men.  To see a number of these players now enter university at SFU and beyond, is super cool.  Jamie, (in picture above) is a great example as he’s in his first of McGill University in Montreal.

You see, at that point it becomes way more than just lacrosse.  This is really about changing lives in a positive way and continuing to make the world a better place…but I think you sort of got that already.

TWITA (That’s what I’m talking about)

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Be The Best.

The picture and the painting.

I wrote about Christmas Day and my trips to the cemetery.

At 9am, a gentle fog floated on the open field.

With so many places closed on Christmas (and rightfully so), I was so thankful for the Township staff and contracted staff who faithfully open the gates and keep the grounds so immaculate for families of loved ones.

In the afternoon a giant ray of sun pushed past a blanket of cloud and lit the late day winter sky with the brush strokes of a master painter.

At just over 21 months, I still can’t say I understand the picture.  I’m not sure if I’m holding the painting upside down or if I’m looking at a portrait or a landscape.

I’m gaining some understanding however that this painting we call life is a combination of brush strokes, paint colour and the elements all combining to form an image we see here and I believe one that will only be fully understood when we see it from the Painter’s perspective.

I’ve written many times about perspective and still am learning.  Remember the TV show featuring painter extraordinaire, Bob Ross.  Love that guy.  Here’s a video of him doing a painting with time-lapse.  Whenever I would watch Bob paint, I would get squeamish at about the 75% complete mark when he would plop down a big blob of paint on the canvas.  No….!!  This will never work.  Moments letter, the ‘blob’ becomes a beautiful tree or something providing depth to the entire scene.

I had never watched Bob Ross in time-lapse before tonight, but that was very interesting.

You saw the potential ‘issues’, but they vanished in seconds as the master painter directed the creation.

Then more quickly than humanly possible, you saw the transformation of a bit of paint on canvas turn into a masterpiece.

I can’t say I understand the painting we’re a part of.

But…I do think I’m gaining some perspective that we’re actually in one and a Master Painter must be continuing the work.