Friday, July 31, 2009

Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is the idea that the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its contribution to happiness or pleasure among all people. This ethical doctrine is credited to Jeremy Bentham who found pain and pleasure to be the only intrinsic values in the world. Basing it’s ideals on the notion of “the greatest good for the greatest number of people”, utilitarianism is a reductionist (oversimplifying of something complex) and quantitative (relating to the amount of something) approach to ethics.

In deriving the rule of utility, Bentham was on the right track in thinking that action should bring great happiness to a great number of people. When stated as an ideal, utilitarianism is brilliant thought, but in the context of ethical theory we always must take account of the wisdom, experience, social skills, and life skills of the person acting. When the idea of morality is at stake two people will potentially have two completely different ideas about what action will create the greatest good for whom.


Reality dictates that through action we will not be able to please everyone, which is why decisions are at times hard to make. Many times we take the utilitarian approach to a decision even when that decision hurts us in our ability to advance. While noble and moral in purpose, if the people we are benefitting are accepting the benefit to take advantage of us, we enter a lose/lose proposition.


More than just the greatest good for the greatest amount of people must be considered when deciding to act, especially when your ability to maximize your impact is dependant on the action you choose to take. By no means am I saying that utilitarianism is an incorrect principle and selfishness is the moral way to excel, but many times we do need to act with our best interest at heart now in order to make the moral decision later. Ultimately if we are not happy with ourselves first, we will not have the ability to bestow happiness on to others.


An example of this is the morbidly obese person who has a family. Their obesity is potentially cutting into their family’s happiness by cutting their lifespan short. In order to become fit, they must invest in themselves first, ignoring some of the needs of their family now, so that they can focus on themselves and become more capable to meet their families future needs. This is a selfish act in the beginning with the intent of creating greater happiness to more people once they gain control of themselves.


It is through the personal understanding that my best self has greater potential than my current self that must lead our decision making process, not utilitarianism. If our goal is to provide the greatest good to the greatest amount of people; to take the approach utilitarianism; we must first understand that our role is the most important role in the process. Simply providing good for a great number of people, therefore making them happy, does nothing internally when we do not possess the ability to harvest internal happiness.


We have the ability to provide pleasure without being internally happy, but pleasure is not the greatest good because it is a desire. The greatest good is happiness, a virtue that can only be passed to the masses once we obtain it ourselves first. Essentially, utilitarianism is a great ideal worth striving for; just not at the expense of your own personal individual need for happiness and good.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Win as a team


Today begins with a thank you. There are too many people to thank you all by name individually, but I want to start with a few thank yous and move on to some great take-aways from this past weekend.

As many of you know, this past Saturday Matt Young and I rode our bikes from Edmonton, AB to Calgary, AB in 1 day to raise money for a friend battling cancer for the second time. I won't go into all the details - if you haven't read the back story read more here (http://www.airdriecityview.com/pdf_pages/July03/ACV01A05P.pdf)

Obviously a big thanks goes out to Matt who, busy as he is just says "I'm in" at first notice of the event, and stepped up to 335km with 2 months notice (obviously cancer isn't considerate of schedules). Likewise, Kaitlyn Van Mastrigt, Anna Prokiw, and Dale Sutherland Graciously offered their weekend, especially all day Saturday, to serve as race support. They did a great job and without their support I'd be in a ditch near Blackfalds, AB.

In order for me to be there I needed a team starting with my wife who very quickly had to adjust to me putting in 10+ hours a week on the bike while she took care of our son. Our team here at the Innovative Health Group was also a huge help from massage to physio to chiro to yoga to our fitness strainers - I needed all their help to show up in 1 piece and in shape for the event.

I'm not sure if I can call this the toughest event I've ever done. One of, but it was one of the most rewarding for a number of reasons...

- It was the first event I've done 1 on 1 with Matt, despite 5 and a half years of being involved in the same culture and many of the same destinations
- It was another goal off of the before I die list checked off
- I saw a ton of support from 2 key coaches in our business, plus even some lateral accountability when I 'had my moments' (read: bonked)
- It felt good to be able to make even a small difference in the life of someone who has more than their share of adversity thrust on them at an early age (22).
- It is always a great feeling to be surrounded by like-minded people. When you are in the Innovative culture you are often surrounded by so many people championing great challenges and great causes, sometimes defining your own legacy can be challenging. It was a great feeling to be bringing this to the table and seeing the event grow from there.
- The kind words, thoughts, emails, messages, donations, calls, seeing my team at the finish... are memories I'll have forever
- Seeing the big picture about how much we are really in control of our lives - how this event was another step in creating exactly the life I want.


- How much team really helps. I'd anticipated 14 - 15 hours to complete this event. With Matt there to encourage, 2 support vehicles instead of 1 (which I'd originally planned) so we could draft behind one, and a capable team who handled a flat tire in about 5 minutes plus who even filled my water at every stop - I exceeded the plan by 3 - 4 hours. In retrospect, without them, I would have been home at midnight.
- How instead of asking if it's okay for some people to do more - the right people are eager to take on more and this is how we won on Saturday.

I am lucky to be surrounded by the right kind of people who want to step up,
I am lucky to be surrounded by the kind of people who've been there before & can offer insight,
and I am lucky to be in a position to help others due to my good fortune.

We ALL have a team by our side already, or can choose to be the right kind of teammate and earn our way on to a championship team.

I get to ask myself where I am headed, and who is coming along with - and right now, I love the answer because of the team in my life.

Where are you headed, who's helping you get there, and who are you helping to lead?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No trip like it!

Go try something new! Thanks to Jen Segger for sharing her little adventure






Words don’t describe how amazing and unique our stand up paddleboard trip to the Great Bear Rainforest (GBR) was. This past week of exploration and adventure to one of the most remote places on BC’s west coast is one of the coolest experiences that I have ever had.

The 17hr drive to Prince Rupert was something that I have always wanted to do too so I consider the lengthly travel just icing on the cake. I had never driven past Prince George so finally getting to see Smithers and Terrace and all the small towns in between was awesome. There are playgrounds here that I MUST come back to see.Thursday night was spent in Rupert packing food and meeting up with Masa and Taylor (our Explore Magazine journalist and photographer.) Friday morning I snuck in a rainy run in the residential area around where we were staying before we loaded all of our SUP’s and drybags onto the ferry. 4hrs of boat travel later, we were greeted by the folks of Hartley Bay. Everyone was so excited to see Norm back in the community and I got introduced to many of them. Cam and Eva opened their doors to us and we feasted on an amazing fresh salmon dinner and all kinds of dried salmon, seaweed and fishes.

Saturday morning – time to get going. We loaded up Cam’s boat and set out for Cornwall Inlet, a solid 30minute boat ride away from Hartley Bay. And then from there…..well…it was 5 days of incredible exploration on the SUP boards. Loaded with all our gear and food, we paddled and explored everything via the SUP. This my friends is the way to travel and see everything. We brought 2 South Points and the new wooded red cedar board made by Andy in Pemberton. Norm had outfitted the boards with decking and tie downs and it worked great. It’s actually incredible to see the amount of gear and weight that these boards can handle. We stayed in a longhouse at the back of Cornwall Inlet on night 1 and then at various cabins in both Bernard Harbor and MacDonald Bay on the other nights. Long days of paddling, lots of board time and a few good sections of against current travel to make for some added adventure. We saw bears, killer whales, hump backs, wolves and a huge abundance of sea life. Wednesday afternoon we were picked up by Marvin and brought back to Hartley Bay to enjoy THE BEST traditional west coast dinner that I have ever had. Fresh crab, crab cakes, octopus, halibut and sea cucumber among the other fixings were prepared. Unreal – we ate so much, way more than I needed but stopping was not an option! Just before bed time we managed a 30minute run around the community, making me feel somewhat better. Thursday morning I got in another run before we were invited over to Lynn and Ernie’s place for a traditional fried bread breakfast! Oh my gosh – so good but, well, I had to put the reigns on myself, I’ve got to be able to fit into my bike shorts in a few days time J

I can’t explain this trip in the detail that it deserves so I hope these pictures give a little glimpse. If you truly want a remote trip that is 100% unique, come to the GBR and see it on the SUP. Norm knows these waters so well and is very connected to it’s people. It’s the kind of place that is not easily accessible on your own so I feel very honored to have had this experience. We will be running trips here in September when chances of seeing the White Spirit Bear are high and the fish are spawning – I’m already excited to return. It's the trip of a lifetime.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Destinations


The health and fitness industry has evolved with something that every person is capable of doing that along with fitness-based results also brings the experience of personal victory. This new phenomenon is what people are calling ‘Destinations’. In the physical sense, a destination is a challenge you take on that will lead you to your fitness goals. In a more holistic view a destination not only makes you physically fit but also can facilitate personal growth.

A destination is any physical challenge that is outside your comfort zone and requiring a little more effort then just going to the gym and sitting on the stationary bike for 30min. It is something that you may feel are unable to do like learn to run 10km after not having run more than 10min or it could be to learning to ride a bike again so that you can experience the fun with your grandchildren. Destinations are different depending on the person and can be any challenge from eating healthy for 1mos to being able to walk up a hill nonstop to completing a marathon to testing yourself in a triathlon. The main thing to remember is that a destination must present an upfront challenge that brings with is some level of adversity. Feelings such as doubt, apprehension and fear are common when taking on a destination. Do not turn away from these signs as they are not warnings but arrows pointing you in the right direction towards a personal challenge - your chance to reinvent yourself.

With challenge there comes adversity, the opportunity to grow personally and ultimately become better than when you started. Think for example, the challenge of taking on a new job. It often is a difficult transition learning new skills that can test things such as your attitude, your time management, and leadership skills. If you chose not to accept the offer you may have never learned better communication skills or daily planning that directly benefited your personal life at home. A destination is the same idea - a challenge to make you better yet also getting you towards your initial goals of losing those extra pounds and putting on some lean muscle mass.

Every person out there wants to become more fit than they are and many start working out in effort to achieve their goals. The harsh reality is that many people become bored without a challenge, loose the drive they once had and end up quitting the routine that they were once so excited to start. Goals therefore are not being met and it can be a continuous losing battle to always go through the same negative cycle year after year. Having a destination on the other hand does the exact opposite by providing constant stimulus preventing us from going through the same motions and ultimately bringing our goals into fruition. Without challenges in life we are not thinking at a higher level or coming up with solutions to meet goals and destinations are no different. If we turn down doing a destination then we say no to trying new things and ultimately learning more about ourselves in the process. It is very similar in our careers environments where employers go to great lengths ensuring challenges are set so that employees end up sticking with the job.

If you want to get fit, loose weight, feel better and at the same time instill healthy lifestyle habits then train for a destination. Gone are the days of being asked how much you can bench press or how much weight did you lose last week. Here are the days where people want to accomplish more and will ask you what destination are you training for? Stop doing the same thing you have been doing, challenge yourself, embrace adversity and experience your own personal victory with a destination of your choice.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Energy

In physics, the term energy describes the amount of work which may potentially be done by forces within a system. The amazing thing about energy is that within a system it may be transformed so that it resides in a different state. This means that whatever energy is being built up within a system can be transferred into another venue while maintaining the same amounts of energy previously accumulated.

Generically, an internal combustion engine converts the potential chemical energy in gasoline and oxygen into heat, which is then transformed into propulsive energy. Propulsive energy is kinetic energy or energy in a system that may be transferred so that it resides in a different state. Having gained energy during its acceleration, the system maintains its kinetic energy unless its speed changes.

For example, a cyclist uses the chemical energy from food to accelerate the bicycle to its desired speed. Without air resistance or friction, this speed would be maintained without further work due to the kinetic energy accumulated. Because we live in a world with resistance and friction, this cyclist could potentially face a hill where they could come to a slow crawl and the kinetic energy would be replaced by gravitational potential energy. This gravitational energy can then be released as the cyclist freewheels down the other side of the hill, never destroying the energy, only recreating it into another form.

So why is this important? On any given day we are faced with many forces of energy and these forces dictate our mood, ability to function, and directly relate to our performance. So the negative energy that is accumulated through our morning commute has the ability to build and dictate the rest of our day when gone unchecked. In fact, we are much better built psychologically to pass negative energy on than we are positive energy. Our bad day very easily builds up kinetic energy internally and is passed onto others through our interactions with them externally starting a cycle where we are surrounded by negative energy.

What we forget is that energy can be transferred into a different state, so the negative energy we carry with us can easily be turned into productive/positive energy when we allow ourselves to be aware of what we are feeling internally before interacting externally. Great athletes do this all the time. The nervous energy created before a performance is channeled into positive energy that will facilitate, not debilitate, performance.

The first thing that needs to happen is introspection, or a detailed mental examination of your feelings, thoughts, and motives. Life is filled with transitional periods, and these transitional periods are where we have the time to internally check what types of energy we are detaining, question what type of energy is needed for the task at hand, and then transfer the energy into what we want it to be.

Much like the cyclist, we have the ability to go from complete rest to movement, face a challenge and overcome it, and then build up the necessary speed to face our next challenge. This work is all accomplished by the same forces transferred into different dimensions of energy which are to be thoughtfully transformed into productive states that will allow us to excel. It is when we as individuals refuse to transfer energy into its correct venue that we deny the process of turning potential energy into propulsive energy, where we allow external negative energy to become internal (or vice versa), and when we allow our surroundings to control our personal environment.

In fully understanding the scope by which our thoughts initiate our actions we must become aware of how the energy we hold is either facilitating or debilitating our efforts. Through understanding how energy works within us we then have the ability to choose which energy we need to use for the desired results we seek.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bullet Point Principals

Today's entry may be seen as anecdotal, or it may be seen as fundamental in terms of the tips below. In any event - below are some of the key principals to follow if you hope to be thought of, spoken of, and remembered fondly as a person of high principal. In no particular order, but each critical to living your principals.

- Identify your principals. You can only know what is truly important to you, and that which you'll never compromise on - if you know yourself and you know your story. Getting to know you is the only way to truly BE you.

- As per above, know thyself

- Underpromise and over-deliver. If you think there is a hint of a chance you won't be able to follow through on a promise to someone - keep your mouth shut and turn a completed deed into a nice surprise instead of turning a nice gesture into disappointing people.

- Be 100% into whatever you are doing. Don't be with your kids and think about work, and don't waste time at work on facebook or instant chat. Better to hammer out 6 hours and leave than 'put in' 10 hours and get the same or less done as the girl who leaves early every day but is never behind.

- Your attitude in anything is your attitude in everything. If you pose as a leader at work or at church and then commit fraud, make excuses for your victim-like behaviour, or mentally or physically abuse your spouse - you will eventually be defined by your lowest moments, not your flashes of brilliance. Define yourself not by your weakest skill, but by your weakest attitude you display - and then work daily to improve your attitude in all aspects of your life.

- Follow through

- Surround yourself with people you like AND want to be like; not just people who are easy and comfortable to hang out with. Surround yourself with the people who will take you where you want and need to go, even if it isn't always a pleasant journey.

- Give back to your family, your community, the world in at least some capacity

- Learn to put yourself first at times

- Learn to support, facilitate, and celebrate other's success - even if there's nothing directly apparent in it for you

- Learn how to make yourself happy on a deep spiritual level

- Discover a purpose for your life

- Try new things and don't stop doing this, ever.

- Challenge yourself to be better and to achieve more than you are currently able.

- Learn to celebrate life as you imagine your grandparents did during a simpler time.

- Learn what points you will add to this list below to make this list of principals YOURS and then do your best to live them as consistently as possible every day.

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- Come back to this list regularly to make sure your are living it, and that each of the principals are still important to you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Keep your enemies close?



Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Everyone knows the saying, everyone likes to say almost everyone doesn't know what it really means.

Keeping your enemies close doesn't eliminate the problem of having enemies in the first place, it doesn’t mean you have to go around thinking ‘he’s an enemy, so is she, etc etc.’ It’s just a reality of being human. And if you're sitting thinking you don't have enemies – you're wrong, you do. If you actually don't have enemies, it's because no one thinks you're significant enough to worry about. So first off – realize you are significant; you are important; Hence there are people out there who are jealous, will take any small thread they can, etc. Any person with direction in their life will have enemies. AND It doesn't take a smart person to figure out that the toughest and most destructive blow comes when it's unexpected.

Before you waste time keeping close tabs on certain people, figure out who qualifies to be on your exclusive enemy list. Summing it up - an enemy is anyone who doesn't support you in a positive direction. Not rocket science. It can be a friend, business partner or even family. The more influential you become, the bigger the list of enemies, because you become a bigger target or opponent for someone else. The more successful you are, the more people there will be lining up with baseball bats earmarked for your head, and the harder you'll fall if you don't keep track of what your enemies are up to. Just about everyone can be a potential enemy or backstabber. In fact, the guy with the biggest smile and the largest slap on your back is usually the one with the sharpest knife.

Now, let's be realistic. We can't all keep our enemies close. But most enemies (especially the ones that cause the most damage) come from your inner circle. I’m not saying be ‘friends’ because it’s important you surround yourself with positive people; but as a by-product of your career, relationships, etc – they will be in your inner circle. Don’t avoid; meet your enemies because it gives you the chance to look into their eyes and see if they have the slightest smirk of smugness (usually a sign that they're up to something, or know something they think you don't). Of course, we don't all have the luxury of brainless opponents. You might have enemies that are smart, and who'll wipe the floor with you if you make any hint of a false move.Regardless, treat your enemies well (sometimes karma is a great thing here), but never let your guard down. Realize you’re the bigger person for not getting sucked into the pettiness of ‘fighting.’ Understand that, by being aware and prepared for anything that comes your way – you can’t lose.

At the end of the day – Just be aware who can and can not be trusted based on previous dealings. If someone shows their true colors once; it takes a fool to trust them again – and in that case, the blame lies on you when it happens the 2nd time around. Don’t be surprised when as you become more successful in the game of life that there will be more wanting to pull you back.. and with more to gain on their part. But because you’ll have more to lose – act the cool part, be non-chalant, and don’t let it get to you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Prisms

In optics, a prism is a transparent optical element with flat polished surfaces that reflect light. Light is made up of a collection of many colors and when in contacts with a prism, normal white light becomes a rainbow. The dispersion of colors in a prism occurs because of refractive index, or the measure of how much the speed of light is reduced inside a medium. When light enters a prism the difference in the refractive index of air and glass causes the light to bend creating the angle of bending. The speed of light reduced, coupled with the angle of bending, is what creates the rainbow we all see coming out of the prism.

We are all prisms despite not being flat or optically transparent. We do not take in white light and make it colorful, but we do take in information and disperse it in whatever way we see fit. The way we take in information is in fact very similar to the way a prism accepts light, and we also disperse what we take in much in the same manner as well. Our ability to successfully emit information into action, or make white light colorful, depends on our ability consciously act more prism like and less human like.

Received information is made up of a collection of many messages and when it comes into contact with our brains, words gain meaning and lead to action. The dispersion of this information into action primarily depends on the speed information is reduced inside of its medium (us), creating the prism equivalent of a refractive index. When information enters our brain, the difference in refractive index of comprehension and thought causes us to bend the information into what we decide is the appropriate action response (our equivalent of the angle of bending). In slowing the speed of information received, coupled with our ability to comprehend and think, we create the ability to act appropriately within an event.

In order for others to see the rainbow within our actions two things are instrumental in being understood through our actions; 1) reducing the speed of information coming at us so that we have the time to process the information, and 2) being transparent.

If we really want our actions to be understood by others and create action for everyone to appreciate we need to make sure that we are taking the time to understand the information that is being sent to us. This includes listening, understanding the other persons meaning of what they are saying, asking the appropriate questions to form a correct judgment, and then acting. This is only possible when we allow ourselves to be completely transparent in our intent and purpose for why we are considering action. Transparency in the sense of containing no hidden agendas allows others to not only see the meaning behind our actions, but also gives them the chance to enjoy the output of those actions (our rainbow).

Too many times we hear what we want to hear and act on our own unshared agenda. In doing so, we open ourselves to unnecessary scrutiny because we only emit color for few people to enjoy. Because we bend the information received in our favor and not based on reality, we lose the ability to turn white light into color. In rushing information to our own biased opinion, we don’t allow information to turn into anything other than what we originally wanted it to be in the first place.

When we learn to create a refractive index of the information received and allow it to bend in the way reality intended it to bend we can create wonder through our actions. In doing this, we allow others to appreciate our actions even if they do not agree with our actions. A rainbow cannot be appreciated in the dark, just like our actions cannot be appreciated when we leave others in the dark as well.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

crossing the finish line for someone else in 31 hrs 12 min


This all started when I applied for "the toughest foot race on earth" Bad Water Ultra marathon.
Thousands of people apply each year and with only 80 people being accepted, I unfortunately did not get in. I could of cried all year but that would of not get me anywhere.  So when Mary Betts said let's get on the internet and offer our crew services to racers that have been accepted, it was a great opportunity to be part of the race and make someone else's dream of finishing this race come true.

Mary, Barb Sweeney and myself were able to confirm support for Sharon Gayter, a running machine from the UK.  What a funny feeling to get to the race and have never met who we were going to support. Can't imagine how she felt! The first meeting went well, she showed us what she wanted and we took it over from there. Her husband was going to support as well so he would be the one telling us how she felt since we had no idea of her moods and  what she needed when she was tired.

The night before the race I couldn't believe I was actually here! People on the internet and people that have done the race talked about the heat but it is not until you are in it that you realize how hot it is. Here's a few things that happen that made me realize I was in 116 temperature in the middle of nowhere!

- I was sweating doing nothing
- the pack of gum in my bag was melting
- I was talking to one of the racer and someone just passed out on the ground from heat exhaustion and it was like it was the regular thing that had been happening all day.
- I couldn't walk bare-feet on the road or in the sand...
- the cheese melted (twice) because we didn't learn the first time
just to name a few.

the way the race works: it is 135 miles run, all on road from death Valley California all the way to Mtn Whitney. It starts at 280 below see level and climbs up to 8360 feet above sea level.




Each racer has a support crew of max 6 people and has to cross the finish line within the 60 hour time limit.

Our job, to make sure she stayed cool, hydrated, awake and motivated to push through the pain to complete this race.

We agreed that every mile and 1/2 we would set up our 2 cars by the side of the road as a little station. Each time she came in we made sure

- we exchanged her drink
- gave her little bit of food is she needed it
- put ice in her hat
- gave her wet sponges
- sprayed her for about 1 minute to make sure all of her pieces of clothing were wet.
- made sure she kept moving and tried to make her smile a little.

We repeated this routine 89 more times in the 31 hours it took her to do the race. We wanted her to keep moving when she saw us since it can get pretty comfortable to be around your support. Like you can see from the first picture, we all had a job to do. It worked out really good and she was able to communicate really well what she wanted. Once she was through, it was back in the car and drive 1.5 miles.

A 135miles run is not the hardest thing to do but it is the fact that racers are out there in extreme heat condition. No shade, windy, hot then it gets hotter, blisters that can cover the entire bottom of your foot.

As you can see here by her face expression, it is getting harder and harder to take her shoes off because of the blister that is covering the bottom of her foot. 


Each year, some crew members end up in the hospital because they forget to take care of themselves. We had to make sure we didn't!! Mary injured herself in a bad fall 2 days before but we took care of it when we had a few seconds.

A fun part of the race was to adopt racers that were going by. You see the same racers over and over again and it becomes fun for them and something they can look forward to.

So here we were, at the bottom of the last climb to mtn Whitney. A few hours to go and it was all over! we were able to walk down a little bit and be beside her as she crossed the finish line. 31 hours and 12 minutes. She finished 4 th female, 14th overall and is now the fastest UK person to ever finish Bad Water. The finish line was the best! No big crowds, just the race director, his staff, the support crew and a few others that just happened to be there. It was not for fame that this racers put their bodies through such pain, it was for their own victory. 

After talking to some of the racers, they said it was not the most beautiful run they've ever done and by far not the most fun but it was the hardest. The course is there to punish you. It is something they needed to cross off their list. One of them said "It is a race that starts below the sea, goes to hell and slowly makes you go to heaven as you cross the finish line, I will never do this again but ask me again tomorrow, you never know!" 


This was an amazing experience that I found very hard to explain since we did the same thing over and over again for 31 hours. There was just a crazy vibe on the course. It is one of those things that you can say " you had to be there to understand" 

At the end of the day, it is not always about ourselves crossing the finish line. It feels just as good to be a part of someone's success of crossing that finish line. I truly hope everyone gets to experience being support for someone in a race one day. It is a great way to be part of a race when you are, for some reason, not able to be the racer. Thank you for a great opportunity Sharon. I learned a lot and hope to see you again one day! You have inspired me in many different ways.



If you have one true friend...


"If you have one true friend you have more than your share" - Thomas Fuller

A few months ago a friend of mine who had already overcome cancer and rode across Canada to raise money (almost a quarter of a million dollars) for the Childhood Cancer Foundation let me know his cancer was back and it was aggressive. As we are friends, it was a given that he had a great attitude about the whole process, and had faith in his abilities to win a second battle with cancer. As his friend, I told him I'd ride from Edmonton to Calgary in 1 day as a charity ride so he could pay his medical bills and groceries while neither he nor his wife were working.

The route I was approved for is a largely inconvenient 360km along secondary highways. In 10 days I take those 360kms on rain or shine, feeling great or feeling terrible.

Like any great fitness destination, and like any worthwhile undertaking in business or any other discipline, there are moments of self doubt, and times when you'd honestly rather not (like last weekend when I missed a wedding and a teambuilder because I was putting 9 hours in on my bike for training).

There are these struggles, and there is extra pressure on my wife and I regarding watching our son and dividing our time I've had to compromise while still managing time together so we still feed our relationship.

And then there are my friends - as Tim has myself riding for him and one of our training coaches Willie Williams shaving his famous dreadlocks for him (plus Kaitlyn, Anna, and Dale taking their time to drive and support the ride).

"A true friend is there for you when he'd rather be anywhere else" - Len Wein

My friends Chad & Sylvia Nunweiler are expecting their second child and his professional future is in limbo pending whether or not his employer is bought by foreign investors... yet they felt connected enough and are good enough friends to disadvantage themselves for someone else they've never met because they are friends to me, and donate to the cause.

Matt Young is flying out (at his expense) to ride Edmonton to Calgary with me on 1 good knee because he is a great friend and knows at hour 11 (and 12,13,14, etc) I might appreciate someone to draft behind and encourage me.

Other friends have understood that during summer, I won't be camping, parting with or possibly even seeing them for months while I take on something that requires a very high level of focus and discipline.

This ride that started out as going over and above I know realize is my duty - I have more blessing in my life than most people in the world, and as such I have an absolute obligation to give back.

Because to end on one final quote on friendship...
"In order to have friends, you must first be one" - Elbert Hubbard

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Determination






Determination..
Written by Innovative Fitness Coach Jeff Iwanaka.


Here is a story about a lady who kept her dream alive by her determination, strength and courage. Understand that to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe. Ardath is a lady who just had that quality in her. She believed in herself that anything is possible with determination. In the beginning of 2009 I challenged Ardath to ride her bike from Seattle to Portland. Without much hesitation or resistance she started her 6 month journey. This was one of the first challenges in life where she felt totally out of her comfort zone. In life Ardath was a leader, leading others; but in this instance she was being lead, something Ardath is not used to. Biking was relatively new for Ardath so along the way she had many falls. After each fall, she got back on her bike without looking back or getting discouraged. Not only did this make her stronger….it made her more determined. She practiced more and more over the months and knew that with practice she will only get better, something few people do after many failed attempts. Well she became better and better as the weeks went on. She was more determined than ever, came out for the weekly rides with a positive attitude and surrounded herself with the right people who believed in her. Mentally at this point she was stronger than ever, had the trust of the Innovative Fitness team, her weekly riding group and her family that she was going to cross the finish line.





Day 1 fast approaches and she has her eyes set to get through the day. 170+km’s down and mission accomplished. Rest, eat, celebrate, sleep, wake up, eat and back on the bikes ready to attack day 2. Morning arises and the weather is cold, gloomy and wet. Within minutes into the ride the unexpected happens. Lightening, thunder, hail and wind all happening at once. We were caught in a storm. Lightening is one of her biggest fears as well she was very uncomfortable riding in the rain. This is where her strength, committment and determination kicked it. This was the day she was going to battle her fear and close this chapter.

At 3:30pm Ardath crossed the finish line in Portland and celebrated “Victory”. In life, far too often we are scared to step out of our comfort zone and take a risk in challenging themselves. STP was a prime example of Ardath stepping out of her comfort zone in more than just one way. Congratulations Ardath!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Beyond The Physical


I have to admit that I care a great deal about my physical health. How I feel and how I look is so important that like most people, I will do almost anything to take good care of my body. I exercise at least five times a week, I eat healthy, I get plenty of rest and I take other necessary precautions to avoid disease and illness. The physical body has significance to me also because I work in the health and fitness industry helping others take care of their physical. We only get one body in our lifetime so it makes sense to take care of it so that we can be functionally feeling good.

While many of us are spending much time on our physical looks by working out, eating right, getting facials and sometimes even reconstructive surgery we often overlook what it takes to make a healthy mind and soul. We hear so much about the connection between body, mind and soul yet most people don’t spend nearly as much time building their mind or soul as they do on their body. Thinking about it, I am one who probably does not put much effort to grow my inner being. For some reason I seem to get caught up in the happenings of the physical world. While I do believe that a healthy physical can lead to a healthier mind and soul I am also trying to take a more active approach in cultivating my inner being. Below is a short story I read a while ago that made me think more about the soul. I share it with you in hopes it will do the same for you. Enjoy.

”Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul.” – Mark Twain

There was a rich merchant who had 4 wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to delicacies. He took great care of her and gave her nothing but the best. He also loved the 3rd wife very much. He's very proud of her and always wanted to show her off to his friends. However, the merchant is always in great fear that she might run away with some other men. He too, loved his 2nd wife. She is a very considerate person, always patient and in fact is the merchant's confidante. Whenever the merchant faced some problems, he always turned to his 2nd wife and she would always help him out and tide him through difficult times. Now, the merchant's 1st wife is a very loyal partner and has made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and business as well as taking care of the household. However, the merchant did not love the first wife and although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her.

One day, the merchant fell ill. Before long, he knew that he was going to die soon. He thought of his luxurious life and told himself, "I have 4 wives with me. But when I die, I'll be alone. How lonely I'll be!" Thus, he asked the 4th wife, "I loved you most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No way!" replied the 4th wife and she walked away without another word.

The answer cut like a sharp knife right into the merchant's heart. The sad merchant then asked the 3rd wife, "I have loved you so much for all my life. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No!" replied the 3rd wife. "Life is so good over here! I'm going to remarry when you die!" The merchant's heart sank and turned cold.

He then asked the 2nd wife, "I always turned to you for help and you've always helped me out. Now I need your help again. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?" "I'm sorry, I can't help you out this time!" replied the 2nd wife. "At the very most, I can only go as far as your grave." The answer came like a bolt of thunder and the merchant was devastated.

Then a voice called out: "I'll leave with you. I'll follow you no matter where you go." The merchant looked up and there was his first wife. She was so skinny, almost like she suffered from malnutrition. Greatly grieved, the merchant said, "I should have taken much better care of you while I could have!"

For many of us, our lives are not that different than that of the merchants. We tend to neglect the one who will go with us no matter where it is we go even when we die. In this story, the 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it'll leave us when we die. The 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, they all go to others. The 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how close they had been there for us when we're alive, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave. The 1st wife is in fact our soul, often neglected in our pursuit of material, wealth and sensual pleasure. And it is the only thing that follows us wherever we go. Perhaps it's a good idea to cultivate and strengthen it now rather than to wait until we're on our deathbed to lament.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Listening

If you are looking for one area of focus that will make an immediate positive impact on your life; learn how to listen. Listening is the most important aspect in effective communication, and as we all know, communication is what makes life function. Yes, listening is more important than action because without knowing exactly what we are acting upon we are wasting time.

Studies show that we retain about 25 to 50% of what we hear, meaning that 50 to 75% of what is said to us goes to waste. Put this into productivity measures and we are acting upon 50% of what we are capable of at best. Now imagine if we were able to be at least 50% more productive during our day how much simpler our lives would be. The numbers always provide a clearer reality, and our reality dictates that we are half as talented as we can be simply because we don’t invest in a learned skill.

Listening is more than hearing the words that are being sent to you, it involves deciphering the message that is being sent as well. Within the message is the meaning of what is being told. It is the story consisting of many useless words and innuendo of which we must learn to make sense of so we can create proper action. In many ways an effective listener must also be able to crack code. In order to crack code we must be willing to speak less and take in more.

Our ability to listen correctly is primarily disrupted because we are thinking of what to say next instead of taking in information. Our ego has the desire to debate when our brain is trying to comprehend. This battle between the ears causes a distraction so large that we miss whole segments of information so that we can get our response out before we lose the idea.

This is not just an external exercise because we don’t listen to ourselves either. Our internal dialogue is disrupted the same way. Our bodies send us messages all the time and we spend countless amounts of effort negating what we are saying to ourselves. Again, our ego is the main culprit in our neglect. That twinge we feel when push ourselves physically is our bodies way of communicating to us, so to ignore it or put it into the 25 percentile is actually detrimental to our ability to succeed. The voice within saying that this might not be the best idea is our bodies way of saying caution is needed, yet we ignore it only to feel regret later for doing something we knew we shouldn’t have.

Our positive impact in this world is directly related to action, but it is action through attentiveness. The time we spend out of exercise from injury because we did not listen to our bodies is no different than the time we spend redoing something because we did not pay enough attention the first time. In either instance we are the cause of our own ineffectiveness. You can enhance your life today by making the internal and external decision to talk less, ask more questions, and understand the meaning before acting. Essentially slow down and comprehend before you act, 50% of your productivity is dependant on it.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Enjoy Every Step


One thing about success is that you can't get there without goals.
Goals, both in the visualization of their achievement, and the vision of what your like will look like in their pursuit, can drive you.

Ordering your life in alignment to achieve these goals, ensuring your actions are consistent with the attainment of them, is a key facet in success. You don't hang out in bars every weekend if your goal is to meet marriage material, and you don't smoke if you hope to be in the Olympic games.

While working towards goals brings a sense of purpose, and while hard work can be it's own reward - it is important to be motivated both by the process of goal setting and acheivement; not just the attainment of what you set out.

Many people can lose focus of their life's pursuit and chase a larger paycheck rather than job satisfaction and passion - it is very common to accept a promotion for a job you don't even want (even if it takes you away from a position you love) simply because it pays more in the short term. The adage of success equally passion PLUS skillset and attitude may not prove true right away, but that doesn't mean it is any less true.

Speaking with a multi-millionaire just last week, I was informed that he was the happiest 20 years ago when he had no money but tons of purpose and challenges to look forward to every day.

It really speaks to finding purpose in our lives, and serves as a reminder to all that it's not just what we acheive... it's the way we live our lives and how we treat each other that gives us meaning (not that we don't have to work our butts off along the way, however!)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

BE stronger than your fear.



This is not a long story but I wanted to share because I think too many people let their fear control their life.
Yesterday I had the chance to take someone up the Grouse Grind for the first time. Andrea, has been living in Vancouver  for about 14 years and has never hiked up there before. She heard lots about it, took the gondola up a few times but was always afraid of hiking it. "Might be too hard, might not finish it, what if I can't catch my breath".... She finally decided that enough was enough and it was time to face her fear. We set up a date for it, July 6th was going to be our Grind day! No rain or anything else was going to get in our way.

Our goal was not to race up but enjoy ourselves and finish it in one piece. Really, all you need to do when it's your first time doing something outside your comfort zone is that, enjoy it! No need to add stress in the event! We started nice and slow and had a few good laughs along the way with other hikers. Everyone talks about the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 mark and try to describe them along the way. Funny how they are playing with their own mind. Andrea was looking strong and we were controlling her heart rate like a U.S border officer on the job!!! Things were good.


We were about 15minutes from the top and music was going to help for the final push. She put the ipod on and went for it. Next thing you know, we were done!! She had overcome something that she never thought she could do. 

Thanks Andrea for letting me be part of this hike with you.

BE STRONGER THAN YOUR FEAR, go do something you are scared of, You might find out how easy it actually is and how great of a feeling it gives you.

I'm proud of you Andrea :)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Save your life..



Gastro-intestinal bypass surgery. The Atkins Diet. The Zone Diet. The South Beach Diet. The Cabbage Soup Diet. The Jenni Craig Diet. Liposuction.

Obesity is as American as apple pie. (Alamode, of course!)

It's been said that 2/3rds of Americans are overweight. The truth of the matter, of course, is that we're not overweight. One cannot be overweight…you weigh what you weigh, whether it's over or under someone else's ideals.

But if we're not overweight then, what are we?

We are, quite simply, fat…

America is full of fat people. Land of the Free (free to shove anything in our mouths) and Home of the Brave (brave enough to keep doing it). There's a serious downslide taking place in contemporary America---a nation swamped by data and worthless video images, with sales pitches and deceitful political ads. The economy is also heading south (not that that is news). But none of the nationwide troubles can compare to our individual health, or lack thereof. We are a land full of people with little regard for their personal well-being, seemingly stuck with low levels of self-esteem and self-respect. And how can we earn one another's respect if we don't even respect our own selves---our bodies---the only thing we'll possess from birth to death?

Though you'd think we’d be used to it by now I still gaze in utter disbelief at those who walk from their oversized cars to their oversized Mondo-Marts, filling their oversized carts with oversized containers of crap. And crap it is! I truly believe if people ate as they were designed to they'd never get this fat. If people ate as though their life depended on it – they’d stop eating just because they can.

Yes, many have emotional problems attached to the eating (to which I say please get help for that – you can not do it on your own). But many just eat because it tastes good and they are greedy.. It’s the greedy ones this blog post is geared towards.

So the save your life diet.. Here's how it works…

1) You exercise. A lot. Naturally, a lot, when you've been doing none whatsoever, might be very little. All the same, you need to at least attempt to work up a sweat. Sweat, after all, is a good indicator of work, just as panting is. Start panting and drop a pant size! Of course, in order to exercise, you must "find the time". But this is the thing: the time is there, all right. And if it isn't, your time will run out that much sooner.

2) When you're hungry, you eat. But! There's a catch! You're only allowed to ingest real food. "Real food" is food that was recently ALIVE and was available only to our caveman brethren: vegetables, meats, eggs, fish, fruit, nuts, seeds and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. I kid about that last one, of course.

3) When you're not hungry - get this - you DON'T eat. Hunger is a signal that you should probably eat. Appetite, on the other hand, is not..Requiring and desiring calories are two distinctly different things. Develop an understanding on the difference between the two and recognize when you require food, not when you desire it. By the way, you NEVER require chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

4) You are to drink lots of water, and only water. Frappuccinos, soda pops, smoothies, shakes, teas, alcohol, juices and other liquids should not replace your daily water requirements. Your body is nearly 2/3rds water and you need to maintain this balance.

There it is… Four straightforward points that may SAVE YOUR LIFE. And if it doesn't it's probably because you waited too long to start..

Friday, July 03, 2009

Sharing

I just finished a 6 hour drive with my wife and five month old daughter to spend the weekend at my in-laws. The trip is actually much longer when you consider the 3am wake up and pack to leave at 4. As I drove through California, I had a moment where everyone was asleep and there were no cars on the road, there was actually silence, and I realized two things; 1) I was only half way to my destination (halfway closer to my finish for those of you who did not get up at 3am), and 2) why are we doing this when we just have to turn around and do the trip again 48 hours later.

The pity party lasted about five minutes and then I gave into the silence and my thoughts. It came to me that this trip as much about life as anything I will ever do because it is about sharing. In this case we are sharing the 4th of July with our Southern California family, sharing our daughter with her extended family that she does not get to see very often, and giving my wife the chance to spend time with her immediate family whom she adores.

As my thoughts went on, I began to think about all that must be shared in order to be appreciated and to give appreciation. In success we need to share excellence, to love we must share our heart, to withstand failure we must share our fears, and trust requires that we share our ego.

Sharing is the piece of life that allows fulfillment from birth to death. We have the ability to experience many things solo, but there is no meaning attached to it when we don’t have someone else to benefit from our experience. The common bond in sharing is that no matter how old you are, it is difficult to do. For children it means watching someone enjoy something that is rightfully yours, and for adults is means exposing yourself for who you really are and hope that acceptance is waiting at the other end. In either age bracket there is a nervousness associated with the opportunity to share that highlights our insecurities and plays into our fears.

When we allow ourselves to overcome us, we give others a pathway into who we really are. This is a great opening because we all have amazing stories to bless onto others as well as learn from those around us. If we allow ourselves to believe that life is as much about learning as it is about teaching, then we open ourselves to the idea of sharing and all the power that comes with this transparency.

Without anyone knowing who we are and how we got here, does it really matter? If we deny others the right to share with us, do we really matter? Our life’s fulfillment lies in our ability to share our toys, thoughts, heart, and selves with those around us, as well as giving others the chance to return the blessing. In doing so, our impact can be felt beyond what we see in the mirror and extended onto those who we both teach and are taught by.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Oliver 1/2 ironman. We knew you could....














This past June, we had a very succesful event up in Oliver competing or supporting the Half Iron Man. I would like to share one particular story of Val Samson from West Van, who challenged herself in January to take on this epic event, overcoming adversity by learning how to swim and finally celebrating the victory with her completing her first Half Iron Man. 

Her story below is one of true dedication, determination and overall inspirational to all of us.

Kate Perry 



Hi All, 

As you know, I have been training for the Oliver Half Ironman and, although I took swimming lessons and spent a lot of time in the water, I just haven’t been able to get over my fear (yet). Two weeks before the race I went to Oliver for training with the Innovative Fitness (IF) group. The ride was beautiful and I really wanted to do it again on race day, but the swim was a catastrophe. I was so afraid, I was disoriented in the open water and I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it 2,000 metres in open water. I made the decision that I wasn’t ready. I really wanted to do that ride though….so I kept it in the back of mind to keep considering. Then a couple days after the Oliver training, vertigo set in. It’s scary to not have your balance, especially is you are going into open water, or riding a bike. That made it difficult to get out on my bike or into the pool for any further training, or worse, open water. 

To be honest, it didn’t bother me when I decided I wasn’t ready for Oliver like it would many others. I felt so good about my training and the people I met and learned to know better, that was reward enough. However, it seemed others did not feel the same. I soon started to receive phone calls and e-mails in support, encouragement and, well, STRONGLY suggesting that I couldn’t just give up, I had to at least try. When I told my sister Bonny that I wasn’t going to try the race, she surprised me by saying “Why not?” I thought she would say something like, “It’s OK, you’ll know when you are ready.” I started to realize that I was talking myself out of it, when I should have been talking myself into it. By Thursday before race weekend, I received a call from Justine (the manager at IF) and, along with everyone else’s support, she had me seriously thinking that I should at least give this a shot. I realized that I had been spending more time rationalizing why I shouldn’t do it, than why I should. I also realized how many people would be disappointed that I didn’t at least give it a shot. I later learned (after the race) that because I made the decision to do it (technically I didn’t mentally decide until Saturday night), another gal that had been training but was going to pull out decided to do it as well. She did do it and crossed the finish line beaming!! I’m so happy for her. 

Going back to when I decided not to compete, I still wanted to go to Oliver and support all those that would be competing in our group. I wanted to give each of them a hug of encouragement before the race and see their big smiles as they crossed that finish line. (Instead, they did this for me.) So I lucked out and was able to get a camp site reserved at the Lakeside Resort, right beside the race start. Very lucky as I am sure it was sold out – I just happened to call after they just had a cancellation. Hmmmm, that may have been a sign? Anyway, my sisters and I drove up Saturday morning and arrived at around 11am. The one thing that would stop me from at least trying the swim was the wind. The lake we would swim in is very small and when the wind kicks up, as it seems to do in Oliver, the lake can get very rough. Well, Saturday this was the case. The wind was so strong that we had to tie extra ropes to our tent so that it would not collapse. The tents around us were literally flattened to the ground, and the water was churning. Not a good sign. 

After setting up camp, we met the group for a big pasta enriched lunch at a winery in Osoyoos. We ate outside, the view was beautiful, but I had a hard time concentrating on anything but what was to come the next morning. There I was met with yet more people who would encourage me to give this a try. So much support and enthusiasm, how could I not? I was told that the forecast was for calm winds by Sunday morning and, sure enough, by the time we were finished our dinner, the wind had subsided and by the time the campsite went to bed at 9:30pm, it was calm. I think most everyone camping that weekend was either in the race or there to support, so we all had the same idea to get a good nights rest. That was not to be for me. I laid awake the entire night. This is typical for me before any event, so I wasn’t upset about it, I just used the time to visualize and think about how I would make this happen. In the morning I methodically went thru pre race rituals and preparation. Double checking my gear, ensuring I kept focused and positive. 

I made my way to the transition area where I would see several people in our group. All so happy that I was there and decided to give this a try. I buddied up with Deb, another competitor who is plagued by knee and shoulder injuries, but was still going to do the race. That made me think that all I was having to do was get over the fear, I wouldn’t have to deal with injury (or so I thought). We made our way down to the water and at some point I lost sight of Deb. I did meet up with several others in the group who took the time to seek me out and provide last words of encouragement, a quick hug and a big smile saying “have fun!”. What more could I ask for? I wasn’t nervous, I was doubtful. I had told myself I’ll give this my best and if that isn’t enough, then I pull out. 

The first heat started with all the young guys (the blue capped swimmers). Our group was next, all women under 50. I thought I was in the back of the bunch but when we got going people started swimming over me. That didn’t last long and after the initial rush we thinned out and I was able to get some room to myself. I set a course and realized that the only stroke that I was comfortable with was the side stroke. However, I’m way stronger on my right side and that meant I was facing away from the course boeys. I kept going off course and by the time I reached 700 metres I was doubting my ability to do it. I put my hand up for assistance and swam to the closest kayak. You are allowed to hang on, you just can’t move forward. So I grabbed on and told him I didn’t think I could do this. He asked me what the problem was and I said that I was afraid, and that I’m not a swimmer. In my head I was saying that I had no right to be there. I kept trying to shove that thought out, but out in the middle of the lake, it was difficult. He simply said “You’re hear though, right?” He told me we had two options: I could hang on and think about for a minute, or he could call the lifeguard over and they would pull me out. Just the thought of having assistance getting out made me realize I couldn’t just give up. I told him I would get around that first corner boey (the course was a triangle, so we had two corners) and then I would see how it goes. He ended up following me along the course the whole way, taking breaks to watch others from time to time, but always catching up with me. The rest of the swim was a mix of trying to think about good things, and trying to talk myself into taking one more stroke. Because I was doing the side stroke on only one side, my neck started to ache and I knew that I was blowing my legs up using a tonne of energy I should have been saving for the ride and run. I tried the back stroke, but became so disoriented that at one point I was actually going in the opposite direction. So side stroke it was and I finally made it to dry land. I tried to stand up but the vertigo was enormous. I staggered as though I had just drunk two bottles of wine, but eventually made it to the suit stripping area. Thanks to that gal that was so patient with me and managed to get my suit off! There was quite a run from the swim to transition in bare feet but to be honest, I didn’t even notice it. I was so happy to be out of that water and looking forward to the ride. 

The ride was great, albeit windy, but I really enjoyed it. Transition from bike to run has got to be the hardest part of the race (not counting the actual swim). Getting your legs to move is very difficult (liken it to that feeling after a good hard snow shoe trek or getting off a horse). By the time I hit the 1km mark I would feel the effects of doing the side stroke for 2,000 metres. My back went into spasm and would not let up. I stopped and stretched, walked, jogged a bit, stopped and stretched. This went on for 6 km. Then the Advil that I took at transition kicked in and thankfully I was able to get into a consistent, slow lope, favouring my back. I wouldn’t really even call it a jog because I was trying not to move my torso or my back would spasm. Somehow my body worked itself out and I pushed on. When I had 6kms left I met up with two other runners. I knew one of them from IF, Matt. He trained there from time to time, but we hadn’t really talked much. The three of us stayed together and talked our way to the finish line encouraging each other and those we knew along the way. I was so grateful for having them with me. It helped to push me to finish strong and it was a welcome distraction to all of the thoughts that would have been running in my head at the end of such a tough race. 

It felt good to finish. Everyone was there to congratulate us on achieving this huge milestone. After the race I made a pact with myself that I needed to conquer my fear of swimming, not unlike how I have overcome the fear of going fast downhill on my bike, or running hard up a steep hill to the point where you think your heart will explode. 

Thanks to all of you for your generous support, either telling me to “go for it” or to take the time I needed to get comfortable with it. Either way you supported me, and it is wonderful to know you care. Thanks to my sisters for being there to support, and to drive me home!! Thanks to the coaches and clients with Innovative who wouldn’t give up on me. The phone calls and e-mails (right to the race start!), the smiles and hugs and strength you shared with me. I hope that I can provide the same encouragement and support for you at some point. 

Hugs, 
Val
 

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Our Home Is A Gift To All of Us


Having just returned from a Canada Day pancake brunch in our neighborhood, it was refreshing to see what Canada means to many of our nation's citizens.

True, there were a few people out there who will wake and rest today with little thought to what it means to be Canadian, but there were also;

- babies, toddlers, kids, parents, and grandparents wearing red, or even adorned with "I love Canada" clothing.
- veterans there who fought for our Independence there to appreciate the happiness and freedom enjoyed by their descendants
- communities brought together by the notion that we are connected not just by geography, but by ideals and principals
- a feeling that this is what society is supposed to look like and feel like - it's not about everybody for themselves; but there is acceptance, the appreciation of differences, and the freedom to pursue your dreams and sleep safely in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Happy 142nd Canada - thank you to all of you whose sacrifices have helped shape what many of us have only to cross the street to find; and may all of us alive to experience what Canada has to offer today appreciate her beauty and not take her for granted.

Whether you wear red, recycle, pick up some litter, or become part of a block watch today - do something to appreciate how lucky we all are to live where we do when we do... we are all extremely blessed!