Oct 10

Memories can be painful. Should you feel guilty for sharing?

November 26, 1986 - October 10, 2010Painful memories, we all have them.

We live in a very “social” world today and often don’t think twice about sharing what used to be very private thoughts in a public space. This blog is exactly that. I share for two reasons. One, to release some of my own pain. Two, to let others know they are not alone and it’s OK to grieve. 

Do I feel guilty for sharing? Not in the least, nor should you.

Painful Memories

granddaughter in the forestI don’t know about you, but I try to avoid painful memories. Except, there are some that are actually beautiful and lead to healing. Today is a trigger.

10-10-10 is day I will never forget and the anniversary of that day often compels me to want to release some of the pain associated with Thanksgiving.

Today is the six year anniversary of the death of our son at the age of 23. He would be turning 30 on November 26th of this year. This day always reminds us that we lost a beautiful soul and our granddaughter was left without her father. She was five when he passed away. I can distinctly remember her asking “please don’t close the door” when we went to close the coffin. Now, that’s a painful memory.

father, son and babyI use a trick to get myself through those moments. Those painful memories trigger the many beautiful memories that his 23 years in this world brought us. Our first Christmas together and throwing socks at the kids to wake them up. Learning to ski so I could ski with him. Him holding his younger sister when she was born and being so proud he was a BIG brother now. Traveling to soccer tournaments all over Ontario with him. Becoming a young father and watching him do some of the things with his daughter that we used to do. And the list goes on…

Thanksgiving

red bushIt’s rather ironic that our son left us Thanksgiving weekend in 2010. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for the 23 years God gave us with our son. I’m thankful for a beautiful granddaughter who will be a lasting testament to her father. I’m thankful for my faith that helps me through these times.

Maybe it was God’s design that he took our son on this day. Thanksgiving is about focusing on what we are thankful for. We could wallow in self pity but our son would be very disappointed in us. He said to his mother “Don’t cry too long”.

Just like today, Thanksgiving 2010 was beautiful and sunny. We were surrounded by loving family and friends. I remember that one friend in particular said don’t worry about dinner and she showed up with a complete roast turkey dinner. We fed two families that day and shared some wonderful memories together in celebration of the life just lost. The picture here is one of a bush that friends gave us in memory of him. The red bush beside the lilacs was about two feet high when we planted it. Today, it’s over 15 feet!

Biking with dogAs I sit here writing this blog, my wife is talking with our younger son who headed out a couple of days ago on The Great Trail. Him and his sister’s dog are biking this trail from Tweed, Ontario to Mont Tremblant in Quebec. I wonder if he subconsciously chose this time? He has traveled multiple countries and learned two languages in the last six years since his brother died.

We believe his brother guides and protects him. Many beautiful memories are being made as a result of his passing. For this, we are thankful.

To Share or Not to Share

Memories can be very painful. Is it OK to share when you are hurting? Of course it is! In fairness to others, try to share the positive with the painful. We hurt when we think about our loss but we are so thankful for the 23 years we had and the legacy he left us. He has had a very positive impact on our lives and left us a beautiful granddaughter. I can only hope to leave a legacy like he has.

For now, I hold onto the thought that he plays “The Beautiful Game” whenever he wants and his pain is gone. He watches over us and his daughter and I’m sure he puts a smile on my mother’s face (she left us three months before).

Until we meet again son…Happy Thanksgiving.

Love,

Dad

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for my faith. I’m thankful for my wonderful, supportive wife. I’m thankful for all of my children.

What are you thankful for today?

Jul 25

Pokémon Go – What’s with this thing?

While visiting Oklahoma City recently, we became aware of Pokémon Go

Pokémon People

Bricktown CanalWalking along the Bricktown Canal, we noticed a lot of people staring at their cell phones. Many were in groups. At first, I thought how sad is that. All these people walking around ignoring each other. Then, I remembered reading about this new phenomenon, Pokémon Go

We overheard a woman near our age saying something about Pokémon Go, so we asked her, “what’s with this craze?”. She proceeded to tell us a little about how the app works and that her and her husband had been out walking more in the preceding couple of days than they had in months. Let’s see, husband and wife working toward a common goal and getting exercise. Communicating to find whatever it is they need to find and working together to protect a gym? Whatever. They were together doing something they could both enjoy and getting fresh air and exercise!

Now that we are back at home, I’m starting to see evidence of this addiction everywhere! For example, I picked my daughter up at the bus terminal in Barrie, Ontario and on the way home I noticed at least a couple hundred people gathered on two corners by the MacLaren Art Centre. I mentioned it to my son who advised me that corner is a hot spot and they weren’t “kids”, there were adults in at least their thirties that night. He also says you can buy lures?! I have a lot to learn.

Pokémon Etiquette

I would have to say that there is quickly becoming a need for Pokémon Go etiquette. People are trespassing to collect whatever it is they collect and the large crowds can be intimidating. Is there somewhere that people can find guidelines? Here are a few:

What are your thoughts on the Pokémon Go craze? Is it a fad? Is it healthy?

Use the comments to let me know what you think!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for beautiful areas to walk, for people to talk to and I’m thankful for time with my wife.

What are you thankful for today?

May 15

Forgiveness is about you, not the offender.

Forgiveness is for your own benefit, not those who offend you. When we hold onto past wrongs against us, they eat away at our happiness and distract us from moving forward. By holding onto the wish for revenge, for them to get what they deserve, we give them power over us. Forgive those who offend you and take away their power over you.

Why Forgiveness?

Photo of person worrying about forgiveness.When you don’t forgive and maybe even seek revenge, you give power to the person who offended you and the people around you suffer your depression or ill temper. Not only is that not fair to your loved ones, you are allowing someone else to steal your happiness.

Have you ever been in pain, physical or emotional, and lashed out against someone who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Take the time to walk around to the other side and see where that person was coming from. See if you might be able to find empathy and let that take you on the path to forgiveness.

Don’t forget what happened or how it made you feel. Sometimes you need to remember the pain in order to help you find forgiveness and peace. This doesn’t mean you condone or agree with their actions. It means you can find forgiveness in order to regain your power.

“When you don’t forgive, it’s like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” – From Bad Blood, Holding on by Clay Scroggins.

Finding Empathy

Seek forgiveness by finding empathy. Take the time to walk around to the other person’s side. Look to understand why they did what they did. As I said before, it’s not to agree with them or condone their actions but to understand how they may have acted out of their own hurt or sadness. Could it be that they had no real intent to cause you pain or harm? I like to believe most of us don’t intentionally set out to hurt others.

I’ll use an example of when my son died. We noticed that good friends of ours didn’t come to the funeral. We were offended that they wouldn’t take the time in our darkest hour. These aren’t things I dwell on but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel hurt. I could only assume there must have been something going on in their life that prevented them coming. Imagine my surprise, five years later, when I was having a beer with my friend and he told me they didn’t know my son had passed until after the funeral was over. He was upset that no one had told him. I didn’t tell him either. Now who needed forgiveness?

Moving on

By giving forgiveness to others, we free ourselves to move forward with our lives. Holding onto thoughts of revenge, we let ourselves be stuck in the past.

What will you choose? The choice is yours to make.

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for my faith. I’m thankful for Connexus and St. Mary’s. I’m thankful for the love of my life.

What are you thankful for today?

Mar 26

Labels and words: The words you use matter.

Your words end up being used as labels. Be careful how you mean what you say.

Words

What people mean with their words may be much different than how they are interpreted. An article written by The Eyeopener about Ryerson’s “dropouts” is a great example. When a student makes a decision to change direction, take a different career path, they may need to “drop out” of a class or possibly even need to drop out of an institution because there is a more appropriate program elsewhere. This can result in a label of “dropout” being applied to the student. When you hear that reference, does that create a biased impression of the person?

Labels Wordle

Another example is a personal experience. I was having a discussion about someone with autism. I referred to a person as autistic. Luckily, the person I was speaking with was very attuned to the words and corrected me. There is no such thing as an autistic person. Rather, there are people with autism. We were discussing the effects of the condition on the person, not labeling the person.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about someone recently diagnosed with a mental health issue and referred to them having been put in a “rubber room”. Worse, it was a text chat and no way for them to interpret my body language and understand that I was actually hurting because the person in the mental health facility is very close to me. My friend was quick to respond “Rubber room…Only the really well adjusted can afford to use terminology like that. And you all wonder why we, the injured, don’t ask for help.” So insensitive of me, especially when the person I was chatting with was a close friend and I knew they had experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Mean what you say and remember words matter.

Meaning

I believe that most people have no malice or mean intent with their words. We occasionally slip back to a time in our lives when words had much different connotations than today. Keep in mind that your meaning may not be received the way you intended. We all have different life experiences and apply filters through which we see and hear.

Picture of wood cut with wordsTake the word retarded in the context of a person’s mental development. When someone called you “a retard”, it was meant to be an insult. Eventually, that became the standard interpretation. Over time, “retarded” became developmentally delayed and today, we recognize everyone’s personal learning styles are different and we respect that everyone has different skills to offer.

Today, we would say people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Although personally, I don’t like to say disability. What may appear disabled can lead to strengths in other areas beyond what “normal” people are capable of. Maybe a term like “people with exceptional abilities” would be a better moniker.

Labels

No labelWords like “Retard, Schizo, Autistic,” quickly become labels applied to individuals. Next time you find yourself labeling a person with a symptom or condition, think about how you would feel if someone identified you by something other than your name.

For example, Refugees. People are coming to Canada to seek refuge and find safe haven. The want to be able to dream of a future where their families can live without the fear of armies who are trying to eliminate a whole demographic. Sure, New Canadians bring some challenges with them. Just like our grand parents and great grand parents who came from places like Europe, Korea and other countries over the years and are now part of the Canadian fabric. These people who “threatened our jobs” in fact created opportunities for ALL Canadians.

What’s that old saying? “Don’t judge lest ye be judged“. Think twice before you start applying labels to others.

Mar 04

1991, March 4 was a magical day!

March 4, 1991 was a scary yet magical day.

March 4, 1991

I was working in Mississauga, Ontario and living in Barrie. In those days, I was the night leader at an A&P store. My shift was 11pm to 8am. It was a little over an hour’s drive to work on a good day. Going to work was fine but then the weather turned bad. Snow and freezing rain. It was getting messy. And then the call came, it was time!

My wife had gone into labour. Her past experience was 37 and 27 hours labour. Plenty of time to get home? What was supposed to be an hour and bit drive took 4 and half hours. Luckily, my friends were able to get Denise to the hospital and took the older two children home with them. By the time I got to the hospital, it was after 6am. By then, Denise was in hard labour. 

Ashley, Brett and Dana in March 1991.We had gone to pre-natal classes because this would be my first time as a natural father and it would help me know what to expect. For the most part, it did. Except, I had no idea my wife had such an extensive vocabulary and now it was all my fault!

A Miracle Happens

Ashley born 1991 and now an adult.Ashley Danielle Clermont came into the world. At approximately 4pm March 4, 1991 my daughter was born. Ironically, what I remember most is she had a mouth full of crap! Hmm…some things never change? 🙂

I changed that day. I believe I started to become a better father. I now had more of an understanding of what my wife was feeling when dealing with the children. It’s amazing what God does in your life. Ashley was a gift from God that would change my world forever.

Happy Birthday

All of that to say, happy birthday princess!

Lot’s of love,

Daddy

 

Jan 23

Traffic Flow, who should come first, people or vehicles?

Traffic flow is a challenge these days. Who should be priority? Pedestrians or vehicles?

Traffic Flow

New York City trafficThere are three types of traffic flow to consider:

  1. People
  2. Motorized vehicles
  3. Bicycles

 

Who takes priority?

When I was young, it was rare for families to have one car. These days, there are often more than two in many driveways. Apartment buildings were rarely more than 10 stories. Now, they are often three or more times taller. Bicycles were one gear and now more likely have 21 gears. With such exponential growth, we’re all fighting for space and priority.

People

Photo of pedestriansAs cities run out of space to expand, the only way to go is up. Apartment buildings are now almost cities within a city. In metropolitan areas, a city block seem like a half kilometer long. For many senior citizens and people with challenges walking, going to the next cross walk can take “forever”.

We hear of pedestrians who are hit by cars because they were crossing in the middle of the block. A motorist may feel that it’s the pedestrian’s fault but would you want to take a half hour to get to the other side of the street?

We need to find a way to make city streets safer for pedestrians.

Motorized Vehicles

When I started driving in 1979, we thought there were a lot of cars then! I would love to know the numbers but I believe there are at least twice as many cars today or more. Back in those days, I could travel from one end of Hamilton, Ontario to the other and never hit a red light if I got the timing right. There were four main arteries running east and west that I used, and the speeds varied by 1 or 2 miles per hour. You just had to remember which road you were on. North and south didn’t work as well until the expressways were built in the last few years.

I work in Toronto now and live in Barrie and have never had that non stop experience in either of those cities. I can actually still do it in Hamilton. If the speeds were adjusted like that in Toronto, I wonder if it would actually work?

Bicycles

In larger metropolitan areas like Toronto, bikes are becoming more common and I believe should be encouraged. How do we do that? Increasing the number of bike lanes?

Personally, I believe they are a vehicle like any car. In the city, many go just as fast. What I resent is that many seem to believe they are above the law. I have almost been run into on paths and in crosswalks. If you live in Toronto, how many times have you seen bikes run through crosswalks to make a left turn into a bike lane?

Pedestrians or vehicles?

Something needs to be done to protect pedestrians before someone is hurt badly or even killed. It’s time someone started coming up with new ideas. For example, when Weber’s had a problem on Highway 11 north of Orillia, the company bought a bridge from the province and moved it to facilitate pedestrians crossing above highway to get safely to their store.

What if local Chambers of Commerce worked with businesses to build bridges for pedestrians? Do you have other ideas? Don’t just complain about problems. Take ideas to your municipal government representative and business organizations!

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for people who run for government positions. I’m thankful for people who offers solutions rather than just complaining. I’m thankful for the bus drivers who relieve me of the stress of commuting.

What are you thankful for today?

 

Jan 03

Fake it until you become it.

Fake it until you become it. Confidence isn’t something you are born with. It’s a learned behaviour. What are you willing to do to become more confident and successful?

Confidence

Confidence is the feeling that you can do something well or succeed at something.

Fake it!

Success quoteMelanie Pinola gathered some great TED Talks in a post on lifehacker.com. The first one, number 10 at the top of the post is by Amy Cuddy and she does a great job of discussing the importance of “faking it” for as little as two minutes and how it can change your life.

There are many books on personal development with great suggestions on changes you can make that will lead to a change in you. All require you being willing to “fake it” until the behaviours become part of you, or fake it until you become it. Many people spend so much time debunking these authors and I believe it’s because they fail to “fake it” with any consistency.

Here are 5 of my favourite books:

  1. Awaken The Giant Within, Tony Robbins.
  2. The Leader Who Had No Title, Robin Sharma.
  3. Start With Why, Simon Sinek
  4. The Secret Language of Leadership, Steve Denning.
  5. 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell.

None of these books are the definitive answer. Each of these books have great suggestions. It’s up to you to find those nuggets of information that will help you become the person you want to attract.

Don’t fake it until you make it, fake it until you become it! Whether it’s to attract people to your business or that special someone into your life, the change starts with you. What are you willing to do?

Become that person you want to attract into your life.

Make it a great day!

How much justice can you afford?

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for four seasons. I’m thankful for the people in my life. I’m thankful for opportunity to grow.

What are you thankful for today?

Dec 04

Relationships and Communication: Make It Safe.

In order to have good communication in relationships, you need to create a safe environment where all are comfortable enough to be honest and speak their minds without fear of repercussion.

Relationships

We have many different relationships:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Romance
  • Business
  • Work

Parents with daughterWhether we like it or not, relationships require work. Each has a different dynamic. It’s ironic that we typically give a lot of attention to building romantic relationships that lead to developing family and friends. When we start a new business, we work hard to develop relationships with our clients to further our goals and objectives. We develop relationships with our co-workers and employees to achieve combined goals and objectives. 

Over time, we often become complacent, or lazy, in relationships and forget the importance of good communication. We start to expect people to just understand. When we reach that time that we recognize a problem, do we make communication safe?

 

 

Communication Ground Rules

  1. Shut up and listen.
  2. Do NOT judge.
  3. Seek understanding. (That means questions without judgement!)
  4. Watch your mouth. (I recommend reading the “Secret Language of Leadership by Stephen Denning.)
  5. Watch your body language. (See point #2.)

Listen.

ListenOften, people that think they are great communicators are actually the worst. They think they communicate more because they always hear themselves talking. Truly effective communicators do far more listening. Have you ever caught yourself thinking “this is nuts and makes no sense at all”? We make judgements because we either are so focused on being right or we don’t understand the other person’s perspective. Take the time to understand the other perspective and you may even find yourself taking the other side. That’s OK!

Watch Your Mouth

Words matter. We understand the words we hear because we frame the context with our experiences. For example: “Well, that really blew up in my face!” may mean a work project failed badly to you but someone from a war torn country may subconsciously relate that to a very physical memory and produce such a strong reaction that they miss some of the message while they process their feelings. While you may have been acknowledging an error you made, you may have triggered a “fight or flight” reaction in someone else.

Be Aware Of Your Body Language

Words are important but is your body language congruent with your words? Your conscious mind will tell you that you are willing to hear the other person’s point of view but your subconscious mind may well send a different message through your body. Is your body tense? Are your arms folded across your chest? Although your words are telling the other person you are willing to hear their perspective, your body just told them you are ready to pounce and not really receptive to what they have to say. Again, I recommend Stephen Denning’s “Secret Language of Leadership”.

Make it Safe

In an ideal world, take your critical conversations to a neutral environment. Try to find a place that isn’t perceived as being one person’s domain.  If there are tables, try to make sure they are round. Regardless of the shape of the table, ensure there isn’t the perception of a position of power. For example, if it’s a boardroom situation, put people in positions of authority on the long side, not at the “head” of the table.

Communication is difficult at the best of times. Are you really open? Pay attention to the other people and be aware of their reactions to you and your words. Cede control of the situation to someone else so that all can feel safe and not be as wary of how “the boss” is going to react.

Show me you value my input. Help me feel safe enough to express myself without fear of repercussion.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for honest input. I’m thankful for my ears. I’m thankful for you.

What are you thankful for today?

 

Oct 30

It’s Just A Word! Except, it’s not.

It’s NOT just a word!!!!

What’s in a word?

Consider these two sentences:

  1. I could kill you right now. 
  2. I’m really frustrated with you right now. 

Some would say they mean the same thing. No they don’t. Say the words and really think about how they make you feel.  Your rational mind will tell you they mean the same thing but your feelings are a better reflection of what your subconscious mind is thinking. 

I think George Carlin’s “Seven words you can’t say on TV” example of the “f” word is a great example.  He replaces the word kill with the “f” word.  “Sherrif, I’m going to kill you now.  I’m going to kill you real slow.  Now substitute the “f” word and all of a sudden the whole situation is actually hilarious!

Just words.The point I’m trying to make is that a word is not just a word.  Each has it’s own meaning and is powerfull in it’s own right.  Words change how you feel and therefore how you act.  Don’t be careless with your words, they could cost you your life both literally and figuratively. I highly recommend reading Tony Robbins’ “Awaken The Giant Within” for a detailed discussion of this subject.

Remember, the next time you are in a heated discussion, the words matter.  It’s NOT just a word!

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful my wife is safe at convention.  I’m thankful I’ll see my grand daughter tomorrow!  I’m thankful for the fresh cut grass. What are you thankful for today?

Oct 22

MLM: System v Style

MLM or Multi-level Marketing companies have a system in place that should make it easier to achieve success. The challenge is how to make the system work with your individual style.

System

Any successful MLM company must have a system in place that will duplicate easily if they are to achieve any level of success. In order for the company to succeed, they need you to succeed.

An example of a system might be:

  1. Expose someone to your product or service using a tool.
  2. Put your prospect on a three way call with someone who will invite them to sign up or come to the next event.
  3. Invite people to a local business meeting where they can learn more.
  4. Invite them to a major regional event where they can meet successful people in the business and learn more.
  5. Invite them to the next national or international event.

Follow the system and the work is easier.Most systems are similar but all MLM’s have one. Remember that when you are exposing someone to your business opportunity, it has to be something they can see themselves doing. At the end of an exposure, they will ask what they have to do. The answer should be “Can you do what I just did to you?”. If the answer is no, there are two possibilities. Either the business is not for them or maybe you didn’t follow the system as well as you think you did.

Style

The system is the system and you really shouldn’t mess with it. Style, on the other hand, is very individual. Most systems leave room for style. For example, the tools and delivery systems could vary.

Tools

  • Flip books
  • Online Video
  • Brochures
  • PowerPoint Shows

Delivery

  • One on one, in person
  • Social Media
  • Email
  • Networking groups

We all have a personal style. Don’t make the mistake of trying to be someone you are not.

Your business sponsor may have a preference for meeting groups and using PowerPoint Shows. Their sponsor may prefer meeting one on one with a flip book. Maybe you grew up in the digital age and are used to less than 180 character Tweets.

Decide what style you are comfortable with and then choose the tools and delivery methods that work for you. Keep enough of an open mind to consider making changes in your choice of tools and delivery methods but whatever you do, use those within the system.

Leadership style

What will your style be?

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for individuality. I’m thankful for great leadership. I’m thankful for opportunity.

What are you thankful for today?

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