Jump Into The Frying Pan

Sometimes big life lessons present themselves in quirky little ways.

Another beautiful morning, everyone in the house – in some form or another – and no place to go. The coffee is hot, good insightful articles in the life section of the paper, all is great.

A wonderful moment to appreciate the simple things in life that maybe some of us take for granted. A time to be grateful for everything in our lives. A brief moment in time to remind myself of everything I have.

In stark contrast, I am aware of the technologies around me. My phones ability to send music to a speaker, situated in a separate room. A thermostat that senses our movement and adjusts to our pre-program request. A conversation with my son, who is eight hours away. My IPad sits on the hearth in front of our fireplace, family face time for everyone in the room to converse with my son who lives 850 km away. Just his head, no torso, arms or legs – a kind of ‘Max Headroom’ experience (for anyone around in the mid-80’s).

Just out of the corner of my eye, I witness my daughter practising her UFC fighting skills on our nonstick frying pan. Maybe to the younger generation, nonstick hardly seems innovated compared to my son’s head vicariously floating in space in front of the fireplace. However, nonstick was cutting edge back in the day. Evan today you can’t put the TV on without an informercial preaching the virtuous properties of a non-stick pan. Just imagine how all of our chaotic lives would be saved if only our frying pans could be wiped clean in one easy swipe. Imagine what we could accomplish in our time-sensitive lives if we could free ourselves from cookware clean up. These pans are indestructive. Marketing to our sense of logic, they do everything to these frying pans – burn stuff, broil ball bearings, chip chunks of cement or hit it with a hammer. All the things we generally want to do with our cookware right!

Nevertheless, on this day, something more subtle happens. A unique and somewhat unbelievable phenomenal occurred. The eggs stuck to our nonstick frying pan! My daughter was scrubbing the frying pan as if she were going to release a genie from a bottle. “You used the wrong pan” I murmured. “How is there a better nonstick pan dad” she replied. Our family conundrum was at a full standstill. Something was sticking to the non-stick frying pan. It’s not supposed to, the commercials say so. The order of life, as we know it to be, has been flipped upside down.

Lots of life lessons ran through my head at that time. First and foremost not everything in life works the way it’s supposed to. Sometimes, we don’t get to slide through life. It takes hard work to unstick ourselves at times. Second, what’s promise to us doesn’t always occur. Learning to manage your expectations when things don’t turn out the way you want is part of everyone’s personal development. Perseverance to overcome life’s hiccups is, in essence, life itself.

However we may slide or glide through life’s journey, inevitably one thing is certain – we are going to feel stuck from time to time. There are always lessons to learn if we choose to see them. There is still something positive hidden in all you’re life’s sticky situations. It’s your willingness to seek the positives and learn from your experiences. And, remember when the next time you feel like you are in the wrong frying pan – consider your options.

Gratitude

Her commitment to personal excellence is infectious. It’s innate. It is what makes her one of a kind. Lots of people try hard to be kind and loving, but some of their attempts are diluted with a hint of insincerity.    In contrast, we all know people who just emit energy of positivity. Genuine goodness.  They are real and not pretentious.  Everything they do and say seems to come from a place of authentic, loving interest.  They draw you in with their attentiveness and empathy, all the while you are sure you are the centre of their universe.  They are not fake in their connections with others.  They represent all that is genuinely great about humanity through and through.

The New Year is a time to self reflect, self assess and take stock of who we are and what we have become.  Evan for those who acknowledge their lack of interest in resolutions, there isn’t a doubt their internal self-talk (post to follow) isn’t flickering.  But, for the truly gifted some things just come naturally. That does not mean that there is no room for improvement.  We all can think of someone gifted in their field of endeavour. Whether it’s a musician, sports athlete, or the smart kid we grew up with that never seemed to study or do homework and still got A’s. Some genuinely have a gift. I think the power of her kind, caring, loving gifts are lost in her humility.

There are no barriers to her spirit – young, old and everything in between.  Her family, friends and students are lucky to have her in their lives.  She indeed is one of a kind. Time never interferes with her energy, and there is never an inconvenient moment to share her caring, loving ways. 

When we reflect on our new selves do we superficially glaze over the supposed to layer? Or, do we assess ourselves at a deeper level?  So, our commitment to personal growth and a place of peaceful and loving care lends to a simple question.  How can I be a little better today than it was yesterday?

You see the person I am writing about is my wife. She exudes a positive, loving energy vibe all the time. However, she continues to challenge herself make herself better. So, as part of her personal growth, she forwards to me gratitude. For me, I am blessed to have her in my life.  She makes me a better man.  I sometimes feel responding to her daily gratitude with one of my own would seem contrived, made up or fake.  

At hot yoga class, entering into Shavasana, the instructor asked what we are most grateful for? In that very moment every cell of my body, without hesitation, felt my wife’s presence.  That’s not sweat rolling down my cheeks; it’s a tear. 

 Everything she is and represents is what I am grateful for. So, it only makes sense that I write it down and share. Hopefully, she can feel the love, know that I am grateful to have her in my life. 

Where to begin – again

His death is my beginning – again.

As if it were yesterday  I remember the day it didn’t make sense to him or anyone else in the family.  A simple check up and a statement from the doctor and it was like the begining of a track race, the starters pistol loud and direct – the race begins.  The race was different this time; everyone knew there would be no gold medal at the end. They were unsure whether it would be a sprint or a marathon.  It is hard to prepare for something when you are unsure of how it will take shape.  One thing is for sure, I will be better at being present.

You see it was a few years ago now that my father-in-law had his drivers licence taken away.  He was getting a little older and some of his memory faculties were failing.  I am uncertain why this had such a lasting impression on me.  Maybe it’s a reminder that I have a male ego, maybe I felt his loss of identity, maybe it was the fact that times are changing and so is my health. Or, maybe it was the reality of the state of health my father-in-law was entering.

As a kid I loved to play with my cars. I would roll out my car carpet and I was immediatley transported to another world of a colourful, one-dimensional city.  It was complete with roads, buildings, police stations, hospital, parking lots and any other idea I could muster up in my kid brain. It was endless what my mind could come up with.  Any car and every car was sacred to me. I did not have a 3D television, electronic devices or an iPad to play on.  I am still the guy that reads the automotive section of the newspaper.  I am the guy that loves to drive in all types of weather and for as long as possible.  The 22-hour straight drive to Florida has never been an issue.  Sometimes I think my independence and enjoyment is from the simple ability to drive my car.  I am required to stay present (see previous post “Smash up Derby”). He lost his driving privilege that day and I imagined the day when I will lose mine.

For the next couple of years I supported my wife and her family the best way anyone can as we watched her father transform slowly in front of us.  His demise was insidious and fascinating all at the same time.  My wifes’ gracious, caring, patience and unselfish abundance of love reassured me that I am in great hands if I were ever to enter that race of my life. And, she can rest assure I will be there for her.

Our imagination and/or lack of it, makes us human. To be human gives us the capacity to care and love for others. We have choices to make along our journey. Why not make great choices for ourselves before we are unable to – like my father-in-law?

Alzheimer’s and dementia are harrowing diseases.  To help give peace to the families and to attempt to help us understand the disease, the doctor acquainted it to erasing your memory backwards. It is a loss of memory of the simple day to day activities, followed by bigger events in the past and ultimately forgetting who we are.

The brain is amazing; fascinating to say the least. Trillions of signals on a daily basis automatically regulate our bodies, creating thoughts both consciously and subconsciously. Researchers are still trying to figure out how it works and, for that matter, how it doesn’t.

In a fascinating decline of my father-in-laws brain function, too a disease we are still trying to understand, I marvelled at the brain and how it functions. So in honour of his disease I ask you this:

“If we don’t really understand this fascinating decline of our brains, is it possible we are interfering with the fascinating potential of our brains.”

To commemorate all of those who have suffered a tragic, uncontrollable loss of brain function – I have a new beginning.

My new beginning. I will reunite myself to practice, share, give, receive everything that is mindful. A dedication to exercising the brain. I will immerse myself in what has always fascinated me – the brain, human behaviour and personal development.

Join the journey and stayed tuned.

What I Learned from ‘Smash up Derby’

“Pay attention!” I screamed. Who do I think could hear me? I was sitting in the car by myself. When I pushed my car horn, metaphorically through my front bumper, I am  certain the driver in front of me soiled themselves.

We have all heard many times before that it’s important to stay present. Live in the moment. Be here now. For such a simple statement, the present moment seems to allude us all at times. Sure, we have to learn from the past and plan for the future. But our thoughts can race by the thousands.

Similar to the practice of meditation, we are foolish to think for a moment that we can suppress our running thoughts. But, by not paying attention, there is no guarantee that the thousands of ‘thought blinks’ – as I like to call them – won’t interfere with your present experience.

When I watched the driver behind me look down as we were in start and stop traffic, I screamed, “pay attention!” To no avail.  Although some have suggested I have a big mouth,  I couldn’t voice my command through the rear window of my car to the driver behind me and snap their attention back to the present reality. 

There was 2-3 seconds before impact. 

‘Ground control to Major Tom’ – crash!

It would be fair to say that we were all present in the moment then. “I’m sorry. I have to pick up my kids,” they said.  Even then I was not convinced they were in the present moment. We had just had a car accident.

Just like in the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” where the lead character is played by Ben Stiller, would often drift into a trance like state allowing his imagination to bring him on a wild ride of his alter ego and aspiring personality. I too, felt like drifting into a daydream state of an altered personality to dispense the virtues of paying attention. But, hold on a second. The driver was neither of my children so I will have to shelve my lecture. What I wanted to say and what  I ended up saying were two different things. 

As we were assessing the damage, the shear volume of traffic that my new friend (kid picker upper) and I had created was astonishing.  Three days before Christmas – 4:30 rush hour – how selfish of us.  

Just then a third party driver, who was instantly enrolled in the “inconvenience club” of the day, leaned on his horn and flipped me the finger. It was close to Christmas so I took his gesture as a thank you gift.  The horn blast upset ‘kid picker upper.” I, on the other hand, wondered what was so wrong in his life that he felt he had to lash out at us? Did he really believe that my plan, when I woke up that morning, was that I wanted to meet ‘kid picker upper’, smash our cars, create a traffic jam and more importantly – personally make his day miserable? 

Driving, similar to meditation is one of those places were being present matters. Sure, things are going to float into our minds.   What we do with them and how we acknowledge them is what being present and mindful is all about.

Driving, like personal development requires you to pay attention, not ignore and not to suppress. It is to be present. See all, here all and stay focused on the task at hand.

Personal development requires you to stay present with your thoughts. Drive first and THEN pick up your kids. Don’t succumb to the temptation of the next moment (looking down at your phone while driving). Be here and now. 

So, this is what I learned that day:

  • to show compassion to ‘finger flipper’
  • to have forgiveness to ‘child picker upper’
  • to learn to be thankful no one was really hurt
  • to have gratitude for the gifts you are given.
  • And maybe one day, when someone smashes into you, you can be the person you want to see in others.

  • Beginnings

    How many times have the same patternS of your behaviour brought about the same results?

    The new year brings optimism and the sense of a fresh start. The chance to begin something new. A marker in time that represents a new beginning. We often see the ending. We feel exhilaration with the thought of our new self, but swiftly remind ourselves of our previous failures and our shortcomings.

    It’s a cycle of the same pattern over and over; whether it’s getting more fit, losing weight, meditating or changing our lives in some small manner to live as our more authentic, true selves. When we continue to recycle the same thoughts and beliefs about ourselves we continue to bring the same occurrences, outcomes and results we have had in the past.

    Buddhism refers to this pattern of behaviour as Samsara. Einstein refers to it as insanity; keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different results.

    After a long deliberation with my ‘internal self’ – I have decided to resurrect my Change4Life personal development program.

    Join me on a personal journey of self discovery and growth. I will be hosting a series of talks, discussions and I will be posting insightful information to challenge your conventional thinking and open up your heart and mind to all that is possible.

     

    Stay tuned