Match.com

My friend had a broken heart and decided to get back out there to hasten the mending process. He’d heard my tales from people I know that have found love on Match.com. I was thrilled he was going to take the leap and sign up.

I didn’t foresee he would ask me to join him.

But a friend in need… well yes, is a friend indeed.

And that’s how I ended up on Match.com

It isn’t because I suddenly decided to start dating. There was no epiphany that I needed a partner. I have no such agenda. Really, have you met me?

I’m just supporting my friend.

And before you jump in with the bit of wisdom that I’ve heard so many times in the last few weeks… “It’s when you aren’t looking for someone that your soulmate comes along.”

Stop.

That is a platitude that doesn’t work here.

Again I’ll ask, “Have you met me?”

But… a friend in need…

So I signed up.

And what have I learned about diving into this pool of wants and needs and hopes?

58 years old isn’t a very dateable number.

Most older men on Match say they love to drink wine.

My humour might not translate well on this type of platform.

Most older men on Match own motorcycles.

I draw the line at camping.

Most older men on Match love to say they are honest and compassionate.

I now realize I’m not very good at explaining my wants and needs and hopes.

Most older men on Match aren’t good judges of acceptable photos of themselves.

I also found out that there are some really lovely men just looking for someone to share their lives with. It’s hard to put yourself out there for people to judge. I’ve started to feel very protective of some of the people I’ve chatted with. I hope they find the perfect person to make them happy. And if that woman loves wine and can’t wait to ride on their motorcycle… then all the better.

As for me…

I’m happy and content with my life.

Watching People Watching

I love to walk. And as I write this blog I realize I probably got it from my Dad. He walked.

Anyone that has the habit of going for long walks knows it’s more than just moving your feet. It’s time to think, and for me, the space to contemplate almost anything.

My greatest walk was my trek the length of Scotland. That’s where I found out who I was. It cemented my love of walking.

I like to wear reflective sunglasses while I walk so I can watch people. This makes it much easier to spy on them. I’m ridiculously curious about what others are thinking. This is heightened when I see people out on the same paths I tread. What secrets are you mulling over? What mundane facts fill your head while you stride along? Everyone is thinking about something. Is it a lie? Is it an untold truth? Or maybe it’s just a boring fact.

I always wonder.

Then I took the first picture of someone I didn’t know while they were looking at a horizon. It was my window into their mind. If I could see what they were seeing maybe I could get a glimpse of what they were thinking.

The method never worked. I am still left to wonder what fills people’s soul.

But the picture idea survived.

So I started taking photos of people watching things. Then I started giving them away. At first I was a little nervous with the approach. Then it became my norm.

“Excuse me, I just took this picture of you… can I email it to you?”

Very few say no and last year 67 people said yes.

When asked why I do it I’ve said it’s just a little gift of happiness that’s easy to give.

And it gives me joy.

I have a pile of email replies about how much my images are loved. I get to hear how they have been turned into Christmas cards, used on Facebook headers and shared with friends.

I’ve discovered these pictures serve as reminders of a time and place.

So I may not know what these people are thinking when they crossed my path, but I see what they are looking at and that is close enough.

 

 

 

 

 

Step Up

I’ve always volunteered. It’s become part of my life. It’s also an easy way to meet interesting people and do different things.

Big jobs or little projects, it doesn’t matter.

Early on I was manning phones at the Variety Club Telethon. Then I did a stint at the Vancouver Triathlon. For a couple of years I helped serve Christmas dinners to the homeless at the Carnegie Centre. There have been lots of others in between.

Something catches my eye and I jump in.

A once in a lifetime experience was volunteering at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Nothing will beat that for pure joy and a sense that you are part of something huge. Working to help put on the opening and closing ceremonies was epic (and I rarely use that word!).

On May 14, 2007 I signed up to volunteer at the BC Highland Games. The night before that year’s event I helped put up tents. Who knew how much that “sure I can do that” would change my life?

Last night I stepped down as the President of the St. Andrew’s and Caledonian Society and handed in my medal.

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The end of an era for me.

The society is part of the Scottish Cultural Centre that runs the BC Highland Games. Over the years I’ve been VP of the Centre, Marketing Coordinator for the Games, and have been a Director for 8 years. I’ve met some amazing people. I would not have been there without Angus MacPherson and Rob MacNeil; two outstanding men that have the ability to inspire the people around them. This volunteer work led to my job with the SFU Centre for Scottish Studies, the Robbie Burns Marathon, and of course, the Haggis Hunt.

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It also immersed me into my Scottish roots.

Volunteering can change your life.

For me, it all comes down to the human element. That’s what makes the experience rich and makes it worth the time and effort. My best advice is to volunteer to work with good people that have integrity. It also helps if they’re fun and make you laugh.

It’s also the reason that these days my time has been filled with the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. The people running that show tick all the boxes.

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Step up and see where it takes you.

In the end we are all using up our precious time.

Choose well.

Pooh and Penguin

There were many stories crowding the headlines this week.

Bowls of Skittles, The Megga Breakup, Dancing with the Rioters, Platitudes at the UN, Hillary’s Dead Again and the one that annoyed me the most, Gord Downie is back for another concert.

When will we start to notice the things that really matter?

When will we stop accepting the press releases about “Late Breaking News.”

There was one story that captured my attention. I really really hoped it was true and not someone playing a stupid internet game with the intent to make people look stupid.

I don’t want to look stupid.

The reason I wonder if it’s true? I have asked at least 15 people about the big news and I seem to be the only person to hear about it.

Which makes me wonder who my friends follow on Twitter.

Everyone has said it cannot be real. Some are appalled. One person said she was deeply offended.

I think it’s the best piece of literary news I’ve seen in months, maybe years.

This is better than any Harry Potter rumour.

I’m starting to suspect it’s a hoax but fear googling for the facts.

Instead I’ll just enjoy this picture and bask in a world that loves penguins.

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“It’s very nice to walk with you Pooh.”

Sleep and Water

There are only two things your body needs on a daily basis.

Everything else we can do without for days and even weeks.

But you must have water and sleep. No that’s wrong. You must have sleep and some sort of liquid. You won’t last long without them. You will die.

And even if you don’t die because of dehydration or sleep deprivation, you will die because going without will make you stupid and then you will do something that will kill you.

Today, that’s my message.

Now I could be telling you this because I have just been through a week of birthday celebrations and have barely squeezed by with enough of the essentials.

And I hate to be a hypocrite. I blabber on and on to my clients about water and sleep. I’d be a fool not to listen to my own advice.

But I’m human… and I’ve been in celebration mode.

So as I got back from eating my last “birthday” blizzard, served up by one of my favourite caristas (that is someone that makes great ice cream treats… and yes, I just made up the word.)

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I reflected on two things….

One.  I need to get more sleep and drink tons more water every day.

Two.  If I wrote a health and wellness book it would only have these 8 words on each page…

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OK, there is a number three.  This birthday has been fun and endless.

Yes, we all need sleep and water but…

Now I have enough whisky to last until I finish the first draft of my next book.

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I never knew how beautiful red roses could be.

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And I’ve been reminded that great friends are priceless.

My only wish would be that one of the lottery tickets that those friends gave me had been the winner.

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60 Years Old

“Soon I’ll be 60 years old …”

That’s a line in the song I’ve been listening to lately.

I started this blog three years ago and commented on the merits and drawbacks of turning 55. Nothing could foretell I would be here again, on my birthday, writing another week’s blog.

And before you jump in with comments about me not looking my age, let’s just agree that this is what a 58 year old looks like.

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I can prove it with my driver’s license (which if you saw it makes me look like a 68 year old convict.)

I believe people can’t guess my age because of my immature actions and style.

But I digress.

Or maybe not.

Back to the song.

It’s Lukas Graham’s 7 YEARS  (you can watch it here)

My favourite line is, “I made a man so happy when I wrote a letter once.”

I don’t know who Lukas was thinking about but I love the way he throws the line in and then moves on.

Have you ever done this, written a letter just to make someone happy? And the trick is; the letter doesn’t have to be to that person. It could be written on their behalf. It could right a wrong. It could change a mind. Or maybe make up a mind.

Here’s an idea… if you want to do something for me to celebrate my birthday, write a letter to make someone happy. I don’t mean write a letter to me, though that would be nice. Write one to make someone else happy.

It’s simple to do. I am confident you will do it well.

All this talk has made me think about my most popular blogs. They are always the ones that tell someone else’s story.

Sometimes the story will make you cry.

I hope most of them make someone happy.

In the end that’s all that matters because…

“Soon I’ll be 60 years old.”

 

Haggis Hunt

It’s hard to believe I was the person that discovered these mythical little creatures eight years ago. Until then, people didn’t Haggis Hunt at the BC Highland Games. Until then, we didn’t have kids running around Percy Perry Stadium searching for these wild, wee animals. Until then, I didn’t spend my day surrounded by Haggis Wranglers.

Who knows how I conjured up the hunt? Like so many thoughts, you can only feel blessed when your mind comes up with this kind of idea. I was thrilled that Angus MacPherson and his team, approved the concept.

The Haggis Hunt was born!

I was even luckier that a long drawn out search and a trip to Seattle led me to K-Mart. Apparently that’s where most of the Haggis lived back then. (Insert big wink here)

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The Haggis Hunt debuted on June 27, 2009.

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Since then we’ve been making lots of children very, very happy.

We even had a TV star, Brendan Meyer, join the Hunt one year!

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Then last year, Nic Brand of Men In Kilts stepped up to sponsor the Hunt.

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We decided to make searching for Haggis even better and Men In Kilts made that happen!

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Now it’s time to pass the torch.

Yes, all my friends and clients and acquaintances and neighbours and even random people on the street will be happy they won’t hear me endlessly talking about the wee Haggis for the entire month leading up to the Games. Everyone will be happy I won’t beg them to come and volunteer for the day.

And I’ll be happy because the Hunt will continue with the Men In Kilts as the official Haggis Wranglers.

Of course I will still be there every year. How could I not?

The look on those children’s faces when they spot a Haggis, find enough to fill their stamp page, and then receive their official pin is fantastic.

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The joy of knowing the hunt is in good hands and will carry on? Relief.

The joy of awarding the winner a wee Haggis each year? Priceless.

The joy of having one of these little guys forever by my side? Beyond words.

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Behind The Smile

I just got back from the doctor’s office. His last words to me were, “Now you can stop worrying.” Dr. Ho knew I had been going crazy with the stress of “what if…”  Dr. Ho can sometimes read my mind.

I hadn’t shared my health scare with the people around me. Right now it seems that everyone is dealing with some sort of loss, so there was no sense in adding in my little issue.

But this did remind me of a blog I wrote a couple years ago… and since I’m sore from today’s very minor medical procedure, I thought I would just re-post one of my favourite blogs…

Raise Your Hand

The only good thing about a loss is what it might teach you. I hate that we are meant to look for the lesson when things go bad. Fuck that. When things go bad there is nothing good to say. Bad is bad.

While you wallow, it might dawn on you how much crap there is all around us. There is pain behind so many smiles. People go through shit all the time. Sometimes it’s easier to deal with and sometimes the pain will cripple forever.

I watch myself cry each day. And I’ve done that for the last 97 days. No one else knows. The world only sees me carry on. I work, I play, I write, I even laugh. Then when I least expect it there is a flash of what I’ve lost and the tears come. My grief has become a silent pursuit. It’s not that I believe no one cares but I believe no one needs to be a witness. My story has become boring and not worth the counsel or examination people offered three months ago.

I inwardly cringe when asked how I am. There is no need to tell the truth. Lying is the way to cover the grief. On my worst days I feel anger at having to carry on and pretend all is fine. Quit asking me questions and forcing me to lie to you. Please stop. My wave of self-pity can easily turn to thoughts of hate and revenge.

When is the line, “I will never be happy again” not a cry for help but a simple statement?

So what am I learning? I am not alone. At least I’m not alone in what I’m going through. Now when I look at people I try to grasp what devastation is behind their smiling face. I can’t stop taking the extra second to search for a glimmer of truth of what is really going on inside each person I meet. What pain are you hiding? Have you had to cry today? Is your heart so broken you may never be whole? Is your loss stealing every ounce of joy? How are you surviving? And what the hell do you answer when asked “How are you today?”

One day I’ll ask for a show of hands of who is hiding their pain.

Behind the Smile Blog

Olympic Gold Medal

He gave me a little smile and said, “I don’t know if you’re serious or not.”

“What? Of course I’m serious! As far as I’m concerned, we’re going to compete and probably win a gold medal at the next Winter Olympics.”

Then I gave my classic, disbelieving, shake of the head. I do this to show how offended I am when someone questions my intent. I use it often.

His wife said, “And that’s why your company is called Go Big Or Go Home?”

“Correct.”

I’ve only known him for 4 months. He’s a new client, 83 years old, with Parkinson’s. My job is to make him stronger. We’re getting there… slowly.

Pretty early on I added in this idea of the Olympics. Everyone needs a goal. Why not aim for an Olympic Gold medal?

I thought the two-man bobsled was our obvious sport. He said we should ski. I told him that is ridiculous since it’s a solo sport AND I don’t know how to ski. He just shrugged his shoulders.

I pushed for the bobsled idea. He said I was an idiot.

It is our on-going conversation.

I will not give up. We’re doing the bobsled.

“We can get Brad Fay to interview us. He’s the big Sportsnet Olympic host! He follows me on Twitter. We’ll be fantastic on TV.”

This comment gets a big smile. Maybe people just like Brad Fay?

At our next workout session he tells me I’m delusional.

Maybe I am.

But my history has told me that dreams do come true.

The trick is to aim high. Know what you want. Work hard. And throw in a little good karma.

Then sit back and appreciate the journey.

Many people spent this past week talking about Mohamed Ali. They spoke about his courage and how he battled against this debilitating disease. The grace in how he handled his decline.

I spend two hours a week with someone still waging the war. Every day he must fight to move. To me he’s a hero in how he handles himself with grace and a stubborn resilience. He does not give up and pushes when all hope is draining away. What more defines an Olympian than that?

I bet there are people all around you that are fighting. Some are winning, some are just hanging on.

And some are thinking about a gold medal.

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My Little Brother

Forty-three years ago I gave my brother a hug before I walked out of his life. I was 15 and he was 10. It was a quick grasp without much meaning. Little did I know it would haunt me for decades.

Life rarely gives us a “do-over” or a chance to make something better.

Last week I got to do both.

Last week I got to hug my little brother again.

For all the complaints about the internet, it can be pretty darn amazing.

And because of a random late night google search and a few haphazard clicks, I connected with my long-lost brother.

A few more clicks and a couple of emails and my brother was back. Or should I say, I was back.

It wasn’t until we met in person that I realized how much my casual goodbye had crippled me.

I was young and stupid and had no idea how much I would miss my closest companion.

It wasn’t until I saw his face that I understood my own guilt in having left.

Yes… I was young and stupid and only looking after myself.

Now I am wiser.

And my little brother has grown into a handsome, successful, and kind man.

What a relief.  I can breathe again.

The collateral damage from the adults that surrounded us back then was horrendous. We still have the scars. My brother and I didn’t have to explain or hide our wounds. They bond us.

We survived.

Have you ever wondered “what if”? Have you ever wished you had the second chance to say what you were thinking? Have you ever wanted a “do-over”?

If it’s not too late to get off your ass… get off your ass. Make the call, send the email, knock on the door.

It might not work out, but then again, it might.

Last week I got to hug my little brother again.

This time I held him for a really long time.

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