Good morning, friends – we haven’t caught up in awhile…Happy New Year! Hope your 2022 is exactly what you want it to be – back in the day, we all would’ve had massive resolutions and promises of change for the new year, but after the past couple of years, I think we’ve all really been through it, so expecting grand transformation seems like it’s just too much. Putting on pants some days now is just too much, amIright? Whatever you’re doing to be your best you, JUST DO IT. I wish good things for you. ✨
I didn’t set any resolutions this year, because I’m only going to break them anyway because I’m human, so…why bother? Instead, I’ve set some goals for myself: I will read a minimum of 60 books this year (13 days in and four books are already done – woot! woot!); I will do some yoga at least three times a week (I hurt my back before the holidays so was hindered from starting this, but I’m finally walking properly – and not like I shit my pants – so it’s go time for this one!); I will write more; and I will make my family and myself – and our lives/happiness/joy my TOP priority. Work can wait, everyone outside of our love bubble can wait – we.come.first. ALWAYS. I predict this attitudinal change will make a huge difference in our year. Stay tuned! 🙌
My last goal for the year is to learn a bunch of new things. I’ve not put a number on it, but I am going to learn some stuff. Yesterday, I learned how to make a whiteboard animation video – I love those! It was fun to learn and im excited to learn more – I will make one to share here soon. Prepare to be dazzled! (Okay, maybe dazzled is a strong word, but…let’s go with it, shall we?)
I hope your 2022 is off to a great start – I can’t wait for us to catch up and spend some more time together. Sending you buckets of love and hugs! ✨
What days do you live for? I don’t chase Fridays, which is a good thing…there’s nothing worse than wishing your life away. It’s difficult to balance the life stuff with the business stuff, but it’s critical. In the end, it all comes down to prioritizing and finding ways to maximize your time – easier said than done, I know.
This past summer was one of transformation for me – I decided that I needed a new job as I wasn’t feeling any joy in my current position, and I felt like the job deserved better than me. I applied myself to hustling, to finding new opportunities – and today marks the end of my first month in my new position. YES!!! 🙌 It’s bloody amazing to me the kind of change that you can make happen when you apply yourself and put yourself out to the world. The first month on the job has been great, I love the pace, my office (with its own private shitter OMG), and I really dig the work. I hope this will be a good fit and I can stay here – it feels like a good place for me to be. ✨
Anyway, enough about me – back to the topic at hand! When focusing on the ideal balance between the business life and personal life, try to remember the following things:
Pace yourself – We are the type of people who tend to go 120mph for 22 hours a day, expecting everyone around us to keep up that pace as well. You know what? That gets real old, real quick. We need to pace ourselves, be consistent, schedule time for a personal life the same way that we would schedule a business meeting – and keep those personal appointments. It’s important.
Prioritize what really matters – Speaking of what’s important, it’s critical to make the things that really matter a priority….but first you have to figure out what those are. The old adage says, ‘Work smarter, not harder’, and there’s something to be said for that. We need to be discerning about the things that we do, and we can’t say yes to every single thing that comes our way. We need to focus, and hone in on what our essential skills are, and become the very, very best at those. When you can prioritize what really matters and focus on that, you will find that things become a lot more successful, much more streamlined – and it will make the quality of your life better, too. Don’t try to be everything to everyone – it never works.
Set boundaries, and respect them – Decide what your parameters for your work life will be, and respect them. Be firm about time, and share your boundaries with those around you. It’s hard in the beginning to set these restrictions, but sometimes you need to learn to just say no. Develop a routine, and personally respect your own boundaries – if you don’t, nobody else will, either.
Unplug – All of your technology has an off button….use it! Shut things down, unplug, and embrace the quiet time. When you take a day off from your job, take the day off – the emails will wait until tomorrow, and your business will not fall to pieces without you. All of it will wait. The more you can relinquish control and show your employees that you trust them, the more they will grow in pressure situations, and the more you will be able to regain control of yourself and your own life. As you try to hang on to every detail, it’s okay to give it a day, to let everything go for a minute – and trust and believe that the world – and your business – will keep turning without you. Things may go wrong, and that’s okay -it’s a learning experience. Find a way in your business to take a day off – it’ll put the business under a bit of pressure and help your employees to learn and grow…and it’ll free up some energy and space in your brain so that you will return to the work re-energized and ready to go.
The bottom line is this: prioritize what matters, focus on your niche, leave the other topics alone, and find ways to maximize our time. No matter how tired you are, and I get that you are tired, we need to keep moving – don’t be stagnant! Try to make constant improvements, and slowly get better. You got this!
Do you know the Canadian band the Tragically Hip. If not, you should…they’re something so very special. Here’s one of my favorites for you to listen to (the words are pasted below if you want to sing along):
First thing we’d climb a tree And maybe then we’d talk Or sit silently And listen to our thoughts With illusions of someday Cast in a golden light No dress rehearsal This is our life
And that’s where the hornet stung me And I had a feverish dream With revenge and doubt Tonight, we smoke them outYou are ahead by a century You are ahead by a century You are ahead by a century
Stare in the morning shroud And then the day began I tilted your cloud You tilted my hand Rain falls in real time And rain fell through the night No dress rehearsal, this is our lifeBut that’s when the hornet stung me And I had a serious dream With revenge and doubt Tonight, we smoked them outYou are ahead by a century You are ahead by a century You are ahead by a centuryYou are ahead by a century You are ahead by a century You are ahead by a century And disappointing you is gettin’ me down
Beautiful, eh? I know. ♥️ I came across this article recently and wanted to share it with you:
As an immigrant, I wanted to understand Canada’s fascination with the Tragically Hip. This is what I found
How the Hip gave writer Lindsay Pereira the key to understanding not just a culture, but a people
CBC Music – CBC Music
Posted: March 04, 2021 Last Updated: March 05, 2021
Images of a weeping prime minister are what alerted me to the existence of the Tragically Hip, undoubtedly my most absurd introduction to a rock band.
I see now that it was also fitting for a group fronted by someone as unusual as Gordon Edgar Downie. He died exactly one month and 17 days after I set foot in Canada, so most early impressions of my newly adopted country were crowded with people on the subway wearing T-shirts proclaiming “In Gord we Trust.” I couldn’t wrap my head around it.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wept on television as he delivered his tribute on Oct. 18, 2017, the day after Downie died, and one of the things he said prompted me to take a closer look at these musicians: “Gord loved every hidden corner,” said Trudeau, “every story, every aspect of this country that he celebrated his whole life.”
All around me that week, local venues dimmed their lights and audiences at hockey games stood in dedicated silence. It was the sort of respect traditionally reserved for heads of state, so I began spending as much time reading about the Hip as I did on job hunting. Who were these people, I wondered, and why had they left an entire country so bereft?
I had arrived in Toronto from Mumbai to spend more time with family members who lived here. What I had listened to while growing up reflected only what music companies thought we would all like to hear. There was Michael Jackson, of course, and Madonna, as well as bands like Guns ‘N’ Roses and Scorpions. Bryan Adams was a rare example from Canada, but one so successful that he would eventually add India as a stop on every one of his world tours. Anyone and anything that was commercially successful in America or Britain would inadvertently find its way to our shores, which meant that musicians doing anything out of the ordinary didn’t stand a chance until the internet arrived to save us.
Every rock band I knew — from Aerosmith to Nirvana — had been created by young people trying to connect with their peers. Few had anything new to say after their third or fourth album, let alone their 10th. What the Hip had done, almost effortlessly, was tap into the collective consciousness of a generation and take them along on a journey as enriching when it ended as when it began. I could list the number of bands with that kind of influence on one hand: maybe the Grateful Dead, the Fall or Phish. If the Hip wasn’t as famous in Asia, was it simply because they didn’t tour that part of the world as often as their peers did? Was it because Gord knew he already had a huge audience for everything he had to say?
The first surprise, once I started diving in, was how prolific the Hip had been. How could a band that had performed for more than three decades, with more than 13 studio albums and 50 singles to its credit, not be world famous? How could I have heard of lesser groups that imploded soon after their debuts and not know about the Hip? The more time I spent looking for an answer, the easier it became to see why these unassuming rock stars from Ontario had turned their back on celebrity.
Over the months that followed, as I adjusted to a new life, two specific songs gave me glimpses of what made Downie so special. The first was “Ahead by a Century” from 1996’s Trouble at the Henhouse, which I was first drawn to by a cover version performed by Tori Amos while she was on tour in Canada. By the time I heard the original and watched the quietly absorbing music video, I knew this was something I wouldn’t forget in a hurry. It was the deceptive simplicity of the writing that moved me, an image of two young people sitting in a tree and celebrating the moment they were in. “No dress rehearsal, this is our life.”
The second song that gripped me was “It’s a Good Life if you Don’t Weaken,” off the Hip’s eighth album, In Violet Light. I was familiar with the book that had inspired it, a gorgeous graphic novel by Canadian cartoonist Seth, but what Downie had created felt like a peculiar list of directives for a way of living worth aspiring to.
“Find somewhere to go,” he sang. “Let’s get friendship right,” and “Let’s swear that we will get with the times.” It was hypnotic, with phrases like “improvisational skills” and “countervailing woes” thrown in. I had no idea a rock song could do that. This was careful writing, the words cherry-picked by someone attempting to pin down the intangible, the way only hardworking poets managed to do.
Strewn across the band’s discography were also references to things that were quintessentially Canadian. “I think it was Algonquin Park, it was so cold and winter dark,” Downie sang on “The Bear,” from 2000’s Music @ Work. On “A Beautiful Thing” from In Violet Light, there was, “So randomly somebody calls, the phone rings and it brings Niagara Falls.” “Fifty Mission Cap” from Fully Completely spoke about the disappearance of hockey icon Bill Barilko. Everywhere else were local names and places, from Millhaven Maximum Security in Bath, Ont., to the city of Sault Ste. Marie; Ontario’s Regent Theatre to Quebec’s Lake Memphremagog; Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland to the 100th meridian west through Manitoba and Nunavut.
After months spent listening to this music, I watched Long Time Running, the 2017 documentary chronicling the Man Machine Poemtour. It was legendary, culminating in the band’s final performance on Aug. 20, 2016, in Kingston. Nothing prepared me for the naked outpouring of emotion, with fans singing along at every venue, stopping only to wipe their eyes. It showed me what it must have been like to witness the Hip in the flesh, to watch these unassuming men play the music they had created over 30 years, growing up and old alongside the people who gathered to watch them.
What the Hip gave me, eventually, was a key to understanding not just a culture but a people. The band’s songs reflected the hopes and aspirations of city dwellers as well as small towners, recognising a commonality in this shared experience that I began to appreciate as an outsider. The people wearing “In Gord we Trust” T-shirts weren’t just fans; they were identifying themselves as members of a club that had used this music as a soundtrack to their lives.
The songs were like sonic milestones, marking loves, losses and a thousand tiny, incendiary moments. The Hip sang about what it knew, which made its music deeply, intensely personal. Everything the band played celebrated the notion of something eternal tucked away within the perfectly ordinary, which is probably why the Hip’s music resonates with as many people as it continues to. It’s why Justin Trudeau wept.
The nicest thing about the Hip, for me, is how I slowly began to treat the band’s music less as an artifact and more like a living companion. To be able to hum along made me happy, and feel a part of something bigger. That may be what fandom has always been about, of course, but I had never felt that need more than when I found myself in a country and culture radically different from what I had once called home.
It has been three years since I encountered Downie, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois, and Gord Sinclair, and I now find myself turning to these songs with the kind of regularity one reserves for comfort food. Snatches of their music now come to mind when I find myself outside Toronto, on long, empty streets bookended by farmland, where it seems as if the big cities have ceased to exist. There is a strange and intoxicating beauty in those moments, as I think of quiet lives being lived behind the townhouses and detached homes that fly past. This is the elusive essence of what Downie spent his life trying to turn into a song; now and again, it feels as if I almost get it.
A week ago, I saw a profile on a dating app with the request, “Will go out with anyone who can converse in Hip lyrics.”
Yes, I thought to myself. I can see why that makes sense.
I miss him madly. I think of him all the time and wonder what he would be like now, and what I would be like if I hadn’t lost him. I wonder what he would think of the person that I’ve become, and I often wonder what he would think of my beautiful Muppet of a child. I think he would dig her – who wouldn’t? She’s a cool kid. ✨
Losing him that early in my life had a tremendous impact on me, and completely altered the person that I was on course to becoming. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s shortly after I started university (I had just turned 17), and I must confess to not handling it all terribly well. I went through all of the expected reactions (and a few not-so-expected), and I found it hard to engage in the business of school. I wanted out, I didn’t do much, and it remains one of life’s great mysteries how I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree at all…but thankfully I did. After university, my acceptance of the situation with my dad only got worse as I faced all of the shitty milestones of dealing with a parent with Alzheimer’s: taking their license away, arranging home care assistance, and eventually moving him into a full-time Care Home facility. The stress and pressure that I felt was massive, and I struggled to deal with it, to find balance in my life. I acted out in a series of bad decisions, forever making shitty relationship decisions that defined most of my 20s (and 30s, let’s be real). I struggled to find my way, never staying too long in any one place, never letting anyone get too close…just in case they ended up leaving me as well. It was messy – I WAS MESSY. Yet I put on such a great outward appearance, pretending that all was cool and I was good – I was anything but good. 😫
Then things started to change. I turned 40 and finally felt like somewhat of a grown up (sort of). I started settling into the life that I had made for myself, and I began to treasure it, instead of taking shit for granted and trying to sabotage every single bloody thing. I quit chasing stupid decisions, I started choosing ME first, and low and behold….things got better. I got better. I felt better, it was amazing! 🙌
When I started choosing me, doors opened that I hadn’t even noticed before. I made my way through them boldly, done with a lifetime of pussyfooting around. I learned to say no a whole big bunch – and had zero remorse about it. (Note: still don’t) I focused on making the house I had bought into a real home, filling it with things and animals that I love (I’m a proud fish parent now, and my pups love looking at their Fishie siblings, hurray!). I’m happy here, I’m comfortable now…I used to feel so restless, but those feelings are mostly gone. And I love it. ♥️
I’m at a point in life where things will be changing again soon – nothing big, all good stuff….and I feel so absolutely at ease with things these days. It’s beautiful. I’ve taken up Transcendental Meditation, and spend 20 minutes twice a day on that – and I love it. Prioritizing myself and the things that make me feel good is great for everyone around me – I wish I had figured this out earlier in life. I probably wasn’t ready then – good thing I am now.
I’ve come so far since I lost my dad, and I hope he would be proud of me. I chat with him sometimes, and it brings great comfort to my soul to think of him chillin’ with the angels, watching over me. ♥️
Happy Birthday to my long term love William Shakespeare!! (it’s also the anniversary of his death, but….we don’t focus on the negative ’round these parts) Our love affair began with me reading “Romeo and Juliet” when I was 8 years old (and yes, naysayers, I totally understood it!)…and continues to this day. We get each other – it’s a pretty deep and real love thing. 🙂 To honor him, I give you some of his finest…. 🙂
Someone I know posted this online, and I had to share it with you – I seem to think it’s something Drew Barrymore posted on Instagram, but I could be wrong (it’s been known to happen):
How’s that for some truth? My life je more than half over, sadly…and I really feel this need to make the second act the BEST act. I’ve got to enjoy what health I’ve got going on, I’ve got to prioritize the things and people that matter, I need to simplify simplify simplify…and I need to forgive myself for all my wrongdoings. I’ve not turned out THAT bad – but why not use the time I have left to be the very, very best version of me that I can be?
I’ve never been a fan of Jessica Simpson’s music – I didn’t have anything against her, but she just wasn’t on my listening radar. I didn’t see her show on MTV either, but I was certainly aware of it (of the chicken v. tuna controversy, I recall exclaiming at the time that she had to be putting that shit on for TV as nobody could be grown and not know the difference between chicken and tuna). She was always covered in the magazines and pop culture media, so I suppose that my first real awareness of her came from the press discussing how “fat” she was, which I couldn’t understand for the life of me. Fat? Excuse me?? In what world was that tiny little slip of a woman fat? What bullshit. It’s no wonder that the majority of women these days are raised to hate themselves – the media can be so vile.
Anyway, I came across her book recently and decided to check it out – and, somewhat surprisingly, I’m so glad that I did. She tells the tale of her life with bracing honesty, something that is frankly refreshing as hell. She admits to feelings of jealousy and to her own shitty behavior in a way that so many celebs avoid…I loved that. She shared excerpts of her journals (I don’t think I would be brave enough to broadcast some of the tales I’ve committed to the page of my journals over the years!), she talked frequently about the process of journaling and what that’s meant to her – all good stuff.
I can’t imagine a life like hers – she has taken her GED, singing talent, and good looks and managed to make all of that into a billion dollar business. I respect the shit out of that, you know? Some folks have the kind of mind that sees opportunity at every door…I am sadly not that kind of folk. I LONG for a way to make a living that’s not ‘working for the man’…I want to work for myself, find things that are exhilarating and fulfilling – and make enough money to live comfortably without worry. I haven’t found that thing for me yet, and, at the ripe old age of 47, I fear that I never will. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and I think it may be too late to forge a new path and start a new career, which stinks. I’ve got about 18-20 years of working left (that’s so gross…I wish I was on the Freedom 55 retirement plan!), and I would like for them to be pleasant, enriching years for me. I just don’t think that’s going to happen. 😔
By choosing education – and now education within the non-profit arena – I’ve guaranteed myself a life that will never be rich. I won’t have the million(s) needed for retirement unless I win a lotto, which seems rather unlikely, sadly. I know that I can take great personal satisfaction in the work that I’ve done and the difference I’ve made – and I do – but some compensation would be nice. ♥️
Instead, I will continue to dream of working for myself, of coming up with one really good idea that sets the world on fire 🔥, that one thing that will get me out of this rut of making ends meet and catapult me into a life of less stress and so much more fulfillment. Until then? I’m going to keep dreaming. That idea is out there waiting for me, I just know it. ✨
Words from a true leader whose vision and compass continue to be a beacon for all that’s right in this world. The jury in Minneapolis did get it right today, thank goodness…but it’s a drop in the bucket. Society has so much to reckon for – and, while this is a step in the right direction, we’ve many miles to go before we sleep.
May Mr Floyd rest in peace. Sending love to his family. ♥️✨
This is one of my very favorites – I’m not cool enough to be on TikTok, but I’ve had friends send me the amazing chanteuse Nati Dreddd – this here is one of the best. It combines the things I love – a drunken Scotsman, a kilt, saucy fun….and it sounds like a sea shanty. Love. ♥️
Our days need to start without reading headlines like this:
FED EX SHOOTING: At least eight people have been killed in a mass shooting at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis overnight, police said. Several others were injured and the gunman appears to have killed himself. Authorities say it’s too early to know whether he was an employee of the facility. It’s the third mass shooting this year in Indianapolis alone, and at least the fifth in the U.S. in as many weeks. News Source: Indy Star
And we absolutely need to not have shit like this in our news:
ADAM TOLEDO: The city of Chicago released body-cam footage of the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was killed last month. The grainy and jumpy video appears to show Toledo carrying a gun as he’s being chased down an alley by police but then dropping it and raising his hands to comply with an officer’s orders, just before the officer fires a single shot. News Source: Chicago Tribune
People in the United States need to collectively get themselves together. Yes, I know that the majority of people are good, decent folks who don’t engage in this kind of madness – but the fact that there are SO many of these incidents? It’s disgusting. It’s pathetic. We as a society are regressing rather than progressing…and where will that get us? Nowhere. Fast.
I can’t imagine the terror that Black people, specifically Black males, must feel in America these days. It’s heartbreaking – and it has to stop. Where is the humanity?
Please read this story:
Being a Black man in America ‘is exhausting’: One dad’s take
I bought a house in a nice Los Angeles suburb in 2017, and it didn’t take long to notice that none of my neighbors looked like me.
As a matter of fact, to this day I’m still the only Black man who lives on my entire block. Sure, I haven’t had anyone call me the N-word to my face and I haven’t witnessed any of them rocking white KKK robes during my years here — but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been on the receiving end of racism and negative racial bias during my time here.
During my first week in my new neighborhood, a white man who lives on my street introduced himself and wanted to learn more about me — but for some reason, he thought it would be funny to play a guessing game as to what my profession was.
Professional athlete? Well, I had been a basketball player in college, but I don’t pay my bills that way today. (More on this later.)
Actor? Ha. No.
Definitely a musician, right? If you ever heard me on the karaoke stage, you would never make that guess.
I was starting to get annoyed at this point, so I decided to tell him that I was an author, keynote speaker and anti-racism facilitator for corporations and schools. His reaction was hardly surprising to someone like me when he said, “No way! I never would’ve guessed that.”
Of course he wouldn’t have guessed it — and that’s the problem. It could be easy to dismiss my experience as a one-off, but a recent study by Dove Men+Care reveals that it’s a trend in America. According to the research, when white men are shown a photo of a Black man, they are more likely to describe him as an athlete over any other profession. Black men are rarely viewed as professionals who use our minds to make the world a better place instead of our bodies.
The study also reveals that when a preconceived bias exists for Black men, we are statistically more likely to be seen as criminals. This is something I’m painfully aware of as I’ve engaged in some soul-crushing behaviors with the sole purpose of making white people feel comfortable around me. For example, in my recent TEDx Talk I mentioned how I’ve whistled songs from Disney’s “Frozen” when I’m around white people in a dimly lit parking garage or passing them on a sidewalk at night so they don’t think I’m a threat. If you think that’s utterly ridiculous, it’s because it is. Being a Black man in America nowadays means that I constantly have my guard up, and it’s exhausting.
My two daughters are 10 and seven, and they’re aware of the toll all of this takes on me. It’s not just the incorrect assumptions of who I am, it’s the people who roll their eyes whenever it’s talked about because they don’t believe it. Trust me, it’s not enjoyable to talk about this — but if it’s ignored, nothing will change. We have to confront these uncomfortable truths so my kids and other kids of color can grow up to be whatever they want to be without being placed in a box that doesn’t suit them. In other words, I want them to grow up in a world where people aren’t shocked if they become doctors, lawyers, politicians, entrepreneurs or marine biologists.
It’s not just about Black men. A recent speaking engagement I had at an elementary school will remain etched in my mind forever. After talking to the kids about my profession, all six of the Black boys who listened to me speak approached me to say how much they wanted to be like me someday. One of them said that he didn’t know that Black people “were allowed” to be authors and speakers. It was heartbreaking and eye-opening.
The Dove study sheds light on this by illustrating how the positive self-identity of Black boys narrows as they grow older due to negative portrayals in the media and entertainment. In other words, representation matters — and it’s difficult to be it if you can’t see it.
There’s no question that we have a lot of work to do to bridge the racial divide in America, because many Black people in this country are living in fear. Many of us feel uncomfortable in our own neighborhoods and in our own skin — and our kids are noticing it. More importantly, it’s not good enough to quietly sit on the sidelines and hope it improves, because it won’t. I’ve often said that fighting racism feels like trying to empty the ocean with a spoon. If that’s the case, I hope everyone in America and beyond will show up at the beach to help me, because the humanity of millions of people in this country is on the line. Are you in?
Doyin Richards is a best-selling author, keynote speaker and founder of the Anti-Racism Fight Club, which offers workshops to help corporations and families identify and address racial issues in constructive ways. His most recent book, ”Watch Me,” tells the story of his own father after he came to the United States from West Africa.
We need to get our spoons and join Mr Richards at the beach. Our future as a country, as a society – as HUMANS – depends on it.