the bridge.

March 31, 2008

old wooden bridge 290

A bridge is a construction or natural feature that spans a divide.

I started writing at this space not that long ago, and with a lot of hard work and encouragement from many hands, I will continue writing at my new space, 6 weeks.  The divide I am crossing is only a digital divide, but it is an important crossing in my journey, more so I would say than any physical divide I have ever crossed in recent memory.

What lies on the other side is of my making, but it is also of your making too.  As a writer in this medium, I cannot move forward without you, the reader and the commentator.  To you, all of you, I give thanks.

Not only is this post a bridge, but this entire blog has been a bridge for me, between my old life before I started to share my words with the world, and my new life that lies on the road ahead.

And while this bridge may be a digital bridge, rather than a physical one, it is not much different from those we have all encountered in one key way – it required many hands to build it:

Men with Pens – James & Harry, for the blog design and lots of help & encouragement, and the liveliest comments section around.

IttyBiz – Naomi, for introducing me to a lot of these great people, including the dynamic duo above, and for confusing Ron Paul and Ron Jeremy, just one example of your funny and honest writing style that I love.

The Writers Manifesto – Monika, for the inspiring story of how you followed your dreams, the virtual flat whites, and help with the thumbnails – Issue #1 of Fourex Girl is coming!

Write From Home – Amy, for the tireless late night chats and inspiration to think differently about my day job, and the opportunities it presents – the cook says “lady”.

Melissa Donovan – Melissa, for a great chat about freedom & life change, and a picture that is SFW, never mind what they said on Twitter.

Self Made Chick – Christine, for having the courage to quit your job, move into the desert, and follow your dreams – you make me want to do the same… if I follow everything in your book, I cannot fail.  I don’t think I’ll quit my job today though, my wife might get mad at me…

Michael Martine – Michael, for the encouragement to start a test blog – this blog – and for countless other insights.  You are the Remarkablogger.

Put Things Off – Nick, for the awesome Todoodlist book, inspiring words, and your love of paper, which I share.

The Writing Journey – Bob, for laughing at my tubular pigs joke, and for the very encouraging feedback about my writing.

Joohliah – for the lovely slippers, and for creating the Zoohliah – awesome – I still have to buy one!

sushi day – Allison, for the Darth Sushi, the encouragement, and the cool t-shirt… :)

eVentureBiz – John Hoff, charter member of the Tyler Durden fan club and all-around good guy – “Never say NO to Fluffy!”

Maximum Customer Experience – Kelly, for the voodoo dolls – yes, and we know you know nothing about fetishes – say hello to Little Pen by the way.

Life’s Little Inspirations – Wendi, for all of the kind words – we are traveling down the same road, I’m glad to be sharing the journey with you.

Curious Apricot – RJ at Wild Apricot Blog, for the VW Bus that will get all of us across the bridge, you can drive and pick the music!

Steve Pavlina – Steve, who probably doesn’t even know I’m out here yet, but I have to thank him for his words, especially his post on life purpose.

Eyeteaguy – Francis, my long-time friend, for the kick in the butt to start this blog, we need to have a beer.

The Deep Friar – Mike aka “The Friar”, for the DAF nights and “bitch ‘n stitch” lunches at work – keep up the painting.

My family – Cathryn my wife, and my children Cameron, Ian, Aimee, and Owen.  Thank you for filling my days with joy.

And everyone else who has read my words – if I have forgotten anyone who should be here – and I probably have, it is 4:35 am – I will return to add your name to this list.

All of you have contributed in one way or another.  All of you have encouraged me step by step.

And so I ask you to join me, to cross the bridge into the future – 6 weeks into the future.

PS – if anyone knows how to inject a single post from one blog to another one, let me know, as I want to move this post and the last to my new blog.  In fact, I’ll buy the winner a beer if he or she is within 8 hours drive (sub-light speed only)

the road ahead.

March 21, 2008

hot wheels - jack rabbit special

The other night my wife and I were laying on the living room floor in front of the fireplace, and our four kids were playing what they call “road”.

They drive little cars up and down all over us, and we listen to them tell stories.

I turned to my wife and said, “this is all I want, this is why I’m taking steps towards working for myself”.

I have written about the small choices we make in life at butterfly effect, how they have far reaching consequences, and the responses I received were encouraging.  Thank you again, everyone.  This is what it is all about.

There are many roads we can choose in life.  Naomi at IttyBiz wrote some time back about watching for the E’s and how the universe will give you a sign.

I honestly don’t hate the road I am on.  I just know I should be driving down a different road.  And I have seen the signs.

I had a great conversation about following your dreams with Monika at The Writers Manifesto, as she told us about her Journey to the Land Downunder.  It is a dream that I also share.

I have the map now thanks to the Men with Pens (thanks so much guys, and thanks for the help offline too – the “real thing” will be here soon, in no small part due to your efforts), and have planned out the journey.  There will be many obstacles, and you know what?  That is okay.  That is part of the fun.  After all, the point is to “fail early, fail often”.  I am filled with excitement.

We are all on this journey together – the journey that is life – and there are many different roads we can take.  The beautiful thing I’ve discovered is how willing people are to share it with you.

It is a pleasure to be sharing it with all of you.  Thank you, each and every one of you.

I look forward to the road we will travel together, just as I look forward to the “road” that my children will build tonight.

My next and final post at this space will be “the bridge”.  I hope that you will join me in crossing it.  I believe that the road ahead will be exciting.

the privilege of choice.

March 16, 2008

sunset joy 2 1

The ability to choose is not a right, it is a privilege we are given by life, until we either give up that privilege, or life takes it away from us.

I have written on a similar theme before, in my post rocks, but I feel the message deserves further consideration, based on recent events in my life.  If it sounds repetitive, I don’t care.  I want to scream it from the tallest mountain, at the top of my lungs.

I have two personal experiences to share today.

My neighbour committed suicide two days ago.  She was 18 years old, and had just broken up with her boyfriend.  I wish that she had chosen to speak with someone, to ask for help.  So much potential that the world will never see.  She is no longer free to choose what she wants to do with her life.

I also learned today that my cousin has cancer throughout her body.  She did everything right, worked hard throughout her life, saved her money, and retired four years ago, no doubt expecting to be able to enjoy her life for many years to come.  She has undergone treatment, but it has not worked, and she has been given only a short time to live.

Many people are not so lucky to be given the privilege of choice.  War, disease, hunger take them early.

Perhaps you are in a bad place, emotionally or otherwise.  You could just give up, and that would be a tragedy.

Or you could ask for help.  From anyone.  No matter how low you think you are, there is someone who has been lower, and has clawed back up from the darkness.

I have been there.  Many of us have, perhaps even you.  But there is healing.

My wife and I held our prematurely born daughter in our arms for an hour before she passed away, back in 2001.  Her twin brother survived, and is alive and well – a miracle.  We also survived, and have had three more children since then – triplets.

There is so much more to the story, and I will tell it in time.

If you are still alive, if you can still put one foot in front of the other, you are better off than many.  The sun will come up tomorrow.

Perhaps you don’t like your job, you would rather be doing something else.  You could just read these words, and go back to complaining.

Or you could decide, right now, to change.  Do it, for you might not get another chance.  Life might take the privilege away.  Someday, it will.

It is never too late, until the end.  And we know not when that comes.

Freedom of choice is a privilege.  Be thankful that you have it.  Do not give it up.  If you remember two things in life, remember this:

1. Exercise your freedom to choose your course in life, your actions and words.  And if you fall, get back up again.  Someone will help you.

2. Make your choices as early as possible – now! – and adjust your course as necessary.  It is never too late to change.  You may not get a second chance.

Today I chose to take a walk with my children, in the sunshine.  If it were my last day on earth, I’d have done the same thing.

To be continued…

Inspired by Bill Bull’s comment at Zen Habits in a post about focus.  I chose to turn a negative into a positive.  I am happy to have had the privilege of choice.

subterranean self worth.

March 11, 2008

TTC

“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet.” – Tyler Durden, Fight Club

September 16, 2003.  Petiu George Ciorau had finished up his night shift at a grocery store and was returning home on the Toronto subway.  The part-time 22-year old was walking on the central platform, with his head down, when he saw an elderly woman stumble and fall onto the tracks.

As hundreds of other people looked on, Mr. Ciorau jumped down onto the tracks, lifted up the frail woman, stepped over the third rail – which carried 550 volts DC – and pressed her up against the outer wall.

The train came to a halt a meter and a half from them.

Without a second thought, Mr. Ciorau had risked his life to save another.

Hundreds looked on, but did nothing.  Businessmen, executives, entrepreneurs, professionals of all types, the “leaders of tomorrow” – go-getters, action-oriented Type-A individuals.  None of them did anything, with their self-preservationist attitudes, their custom-tailored suits, their BlackBerries, their café lattes – the shining stars of Canadian society through and through.

No, it took the actions of a young, part-time grocery store employee.  Mr. Ciorau said he didn’t even remember taking off his backpack.

A Toronto firefighter at the scene said he would recommend Mr. Ciorau be hired as a firefighter, and that he deserved the Order of Canada for his amazing act of bravery.

I thought about that story for some time.  I asked myself if I would have done the same thing in that situation.

A month later my wife and I were having Thanksgiving dinner with her family, and some family friends.  As usual, the post dinner conversation was lively, but one of the guests said something that took me aback.

The speaker, an old family friend and university professor, was dominating the conversation as usual and was telling us that, in his honest opinion, you had to have a Ph.D. or he wouldn’t even consider hiring you for any position in his department, because you weren’t worthy.

I could see the hurt in my brother-in-law’s eyes from across the room.  He is a proud man, a family man, the hardest working man I know, and no, he does not have a Ph.D.  He drives a truck for a living, and would give you the shirt off his back.

So I spoke up.  I openly disagreed with the speaker, and told him this story of bravery.  I went on to say that had all of us been in that situation, the only one of us who would have likely done anything was my brother-in-law, the truck driver.  Not me.  And certainly not a fat old university professor with a Ph.D.

Self worth should not be measured by education, or financial wealth, or social status.  It is a very personal thing, and it should be measured by our actions and attitudes towards others.

No one will remember how much money you had, the car you drove, the clothes you wore.  They will remember how you treated them in your daily interactions, personal and professional.

Kurt Vonnegut once asked his son, Mark, about life.  His son said to him, “Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”

It is what you do with what you have been given that makes you stand out.

Mr. Ciorau understood this, and acted accordingly.  To my knowledge, he has not received the Order of Canada to this day.

Inspired by the great dialogue in the comments following“Are You Charging What You’re Worth?” at Men with Pens, and by the actions of Petiu George Ciorau.

butterfly effect.

March 6, 2008

Chaos Pattern

Butterfly effect:  “…the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that ultimately cause a tornado to appear (or prevent a tornado from appearing)…had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different.”  (from Wikipedia)

This post is about choices.  Small choices we make – what we eat, what we do, where we live, how we act, what we say, what we write – can have far reaching effects on our lives, and the lives of others.

This post is also about change.  It is never too late to change.  The path is not set in stone.  This I believe to be true.

We all make choices, practically every second of our waking lives.  Perhaps many, or even most of them may not seem important.  I ask you to take a moment, to pause and think again.

Small choices can and do lead to monumental changes.

A long time ago, I had a simple choice to make.  A friend asked me if I wanted to go to a party.  I met my wife at that party, and today we have four beautiful children together.  Those children would not exist today, had I made a different choice in that split second, and stayed in that night.

My life was forever changed by that simple choice, and for that I am grateful.

No matter how small your choice, how small your action may seem, it can have far reaching effects.  It can totally alter your life course.

And this is a beautiful thing.  It can start simply with an idea.  A positive idea for change.  A kind word to someone you know.  A helping hand.  And it can grow exponentially, into something much bigger than all of us.

More recently, I made another small choice.  For some time, I knew I was missing something.  I was not doing what I am meant to be doing.  I decided that I wanted to start writing again, for pleasure.  I started writing in my spare time, and I had some ideas, but I did nothing more with them.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to start participating actively in the blogging world, by commenting.  Just a small step.  The flap of a wing, so to speak.

Slowly, the wind started to pick up.  The leaves in the trees started moving, back and forth.  I started the blog you are now reading.  People started to encourage me.  And that is a great thing.

One small choice has made all the difference.  I decided to change, at that moment.  My path is forever altered, and for that I am grateful.

Decide, right now, to make a positive choice and take one small action.  It will forever change your life path.

Perhaps you agree with what I have said, or not – that is up to you.

I choose to believe that life is what we make of it.  And the small things can make all the difference.

rocks.

March 2, 2008

BalPyramidRockBeach362

The other day at work, a colleague stopped me in the hallway to ask why I was so happy.

I smiled at her and said, “What do you mean?”  She replied that I looked almost euphoric, like nothing could get me down.

I smiled again and said, “Oh, it must be that the sun is shining today!”  In actual fact, it was that and more.  While reading an awesome post about life change at Self Made Chick, I had discovered a video of Steve Jobs speaking at Stanford in 2005, and it may also be found here.  Steve Jobs is a pancreatic cancer survivor.

I had also recently watched a video of Dr. Randy Pausch, who is dying of pancreatic cancer.  Both Randy Pausch and Steve Jobs have faced their own mortality, and yet they have chosen to continue living each day to the fullest, for as long as they are able to do so.

They are rocks, standing up in the face of adversity.

kettlebell

Inertia: a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion unless acted upon by some external force.

Momentum: the product of the mass and velocity of an object (thus, momentum increases with mass and/or velocity).

Focus: directed attention.

Change: I’ll leave the definition of change up to you.  Feel free to add your own link in the comments.

Inertia may be thought of as “a tendency to maintain momentum”.  An object with greater mass is more difficult to get moving (inertia), and more difficult to stop (momentum).  And once moving, as velocity increases, it is also more difficult to stop the object (momentum increases).

I started a new exercise routine a while ago using something called a kettlebell, pictured above.

The workouts involve swinging motions with heavy unbalanced weights (36 pound weights for me, initially).  I learned very quickly about inertia and momentum!  I really had to direct my attention – to focus on each movement, each change.

Focus and planning are required to master each new motion.  At first, I was afraid to try new exercises, to make mistakes, as some of the motions are complicated.

While the complicated motions require forethought and positioning (focus) prior to each lift (inertia), once the weight is moving, it is easy to keep it moving through the range of motion (momentum).  The movement cannot be stopped.  The change is inevitable.

I no longer fear attempting a new motion.  I just pick up the weight, and try it.  The absolute worst thing that can happen, is that I drop the weight – and jump out of the way!  I simply pick it up again, and move towards my goals, again and again.

Some of the things we might wish to accomplish in life, some of the changes, are quite “heavy” and complicated.  They possess a lot of inertia, in a manner of speaking.

Focus and planning are required to get things moving.  But, once things are moving, the momentum builds.  It cannot be stopped.  The change is inevitable.

Mistakes will be made along the way, but should not be feared.

Sometimes, like with the weights, the best thing to do is just start.  The worst thing that can happen is that we fail.

Drop the weight, so to speak, and be sure to jump out of the way as it falls.

And then – pick it up again.  Lift the weight.  Keep moving towards your goals, again and again.

If you need some inspiration, have a look here, or here, or maybe here.

rapid prototyping life 2.0

February 26, 2008

RescenexRPCbody1

What is rapid prototyping?
Rapid prototyping is the automatic construction of physical objects using solid freeform fabrication (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid_prototyping).

Rapid prototyping machinery has largely replaced traditional prototyping techniques due to speed and cost advantages. 

It is often used in the automotive industry.

How does this apply to life?

Writing has always been in my blood.  I spent the first 15 years of my “working life” trying to fight it.

These days at work, I am writing about things *I do not care about*, on *someone else’s schedule*.  I am working for someone else, making lots of money for someone else, while someone else raises my children at daycare.  We cannot live where we choose to live, with the freedom we desire. 

I decided back at the very beginning of 2007 that I would become a professional writer.  I have several great ideas for books and stories.  If I did that, I said to myself, we could live anywhere in the world.

One day, I woke up – and it was 2008.

Like many, I allowed the minutia of life to interfere with my transition plans, and I let myself fall into an endless planning stage.  I had written a lot of material, but not gone anywhere with it.

No longer.  I launched myself out into the world, via this blog.  I am meeting many wonderful people through this experience.  I am interacting with them, learning at an exponential rate.

I have to thank many of these people for encouraging me to do this, people like the Men with Pens who encourage us to write our novels, like Michael Martine for the kick in the pants to try a starter blog, or Christine O’Kelly who challenges us to stop existing and take action.  Not only these people, but the many people who comment and interact.

Thank you.

Yesterday, I took “the machine” for a test drive.  I was at home, with two of my four children (they were ill with cold) and I was writing.  I was mind mapping my books, my blogs and my business plans.  I was also interacting with my friends from around the world, and it was amazing.

Sure, there were interruptions from the kids, but there were also interactions.  When they were playing together, I was amazingly productive.  It was like we knew how to take breaks together.  They are an inspiration.  They know not fear of failure.  They know only action.

It was a glimpse into the future I will build for myself.  I must build for myself.

Build your own rapid prototype – today.  Just start now.  It will not be perfect.  That is not the point.  Make some mistakes right away, you will learn quickly and in the end, the payoffs will more than outweigh the initial costs.  Test drive your machine, see how you like it, kick the tires, adjust the seat and the mirrors, try out the radio.

This is my rapid prototyping machine – from my thoughts, to the world.

reflective perception

February 24, 2008

alice_through_the_looking_glass

Take a look at yourself in the mirror.

Now imagine that your reflection, standing on the other side of that threshold, sees things differently from you.  And well it would, as it has a different perspective, thus a different perception.

Now.  Step through the Looking Glass, just as Alice did.

How does your life look now?  Remember, your reflection is freed from your fears, your limitations, your every mortal weakness – everything that may prevent you from achieving that which you desire to achieve most.

Think about all those things that you want to do in life, but have not done.  Do not think about why you have not done them, but think about how you will do them.  Further, imagine that you already have achieved your wildest dreams, but as that reflection.

Now step back across the threshold again.  Look at yourself, and smile.

Smile, for you are capable of achieving all of those things that you knew possible when you were playing the role of your reflection.

You can, and will achieve those things, for you are a real, thinking person, and that was but a mere reflection of you.

make "one day", today

February 21, 2008

waiheke

So I was chatting back and forth with some of my friends on one of my favourite blogs, Men with Pens, and the more I thought about something I said there, the more I thought it should be the cornerstone of what I am doing.

Of how I should live my life.

I have often said things like, “one day, I’ll be a writer”, or “one day, I’ll go to New Zealand”.  Well, I eventually did go to New Zealand, last year.  The picture above is one my wife took of me standing at Mudbrick, a restaurant and vineyard on Waiheke Island near Auckland, New Zealand.

“One day.”  I have used that line many times, as part of a never ending list of excuses for why I am not doing something.  Not why I can’t do something – no, why I *won’t* do something.  I might say, “one day, I’ll do this, but I have four children”.

Yes, I do have four children.  But they do not hold me back.  They inspire me, because when they want to do something, they just try it right away, fall, and get back up again.

Perhaps it may take longer to get things going with a full-time job and a large family, but that is okay.  It is all too easy to give up, unless you see that others who have had wild success did not do it overnight.

I honestly never thought I would get to stand atop that hill, by the vineyard.  But I did it.

Today, I am writing these words on my blog.  I had often said, “one day, I’ll have a blog”.  I have one, today, and I am on my way – I am a writer, and I will succeed.  I am writing two books as we speak.

I am personally inspired to write by two successful authors – John Grisham, who took three years of his spare time to write “A Time to Kill” – and J.K. Rowling, who took about five years to write “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, on a manual typewriter no less!

Both authors had their manuscripts initially rejected.  Both persevered, and became wildly successful.  They turned “one day” into today.

And I am inspired by all of you, who take the time to come here and read my words.

It is possible to find the time.  We are all given the same amount of time, it is what we make of it that counts.  In “The Assault on Reason”, Al Gore claims that the average American watches 4 hours 35 minutes of television every day.

I do not watch television much, but I spend a lot of time reading other people’s work on the web.  Much of it inspires me, but inspiration without action…

Now, if I took Harry’s 10 minute approach to any particular task, and turned it into 1 or 2 hours a day, imagine where I would end up.

I would turn “one day” into today.

And that is what I am doing, right now, today.  It works.  Thank you for the inspiration, my friends.

Take 10 minutes.  Write down whatever it is that you want to do “one day”.

Start doing it today.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.