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ALL IN!

ALL IN!ALL IN is an expression that I learned when I started cycling about a year ago. When we are riding in a group it is the last person at the end of the line of cyclists who yells out ALL IN when the group is a cohesive bunch of riders and we are ready to move out or if we have spread out riding up a hill and we are all back in line once we get to the top of the hill. The last rider calls out ALL IN! and we pass it forward so the leader knows we are all together.

There is safety in those two words for me; I know that I am not alone and that all is well. ALL IN has started to mean much more to me than just when our group of riders is all together, I have come to realize that those two words could be used in my daily life and there are times when I would like to be yelling it even when I am not cycling:

  • In my business I am grateful to have a passionate team that loves what they do as much as I do. We could make our motto: ALL IN!
  • This week I am away on holidays and we have had friends coming and going; dinners where there are not enough seats and far too many deserts. I look around at everyone and see the smiles and the laughter and I want to yell: ALL IN!
  • To my partner who helps me and goes above and beyond what I am expecting; I realize that I often do not see all the love and support that is always there from him and I see that his vision of us as a couple is always: ALL IN!
  • And when I finished my meditation this morning and I looked out over the lake and listened to the birds and the squirrels and I realized all I had to be thankful for, I thought to myself, that I am never alone, that all is well no matter what and I said quietly to myself: ALL IN!

I am grateful to everyone that is on this journey with me and allows me to feel so safe, leads me when I need to be led, puts me in the middle when I need that, or allows me to be there and to watch and make sure that we are ALL IN!

 

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How will you be generous today?

Tomorrow I will get on my bike and ride to Quebec City to raise money for cancer care and research. I am riding with a few thousand others in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. It is like so many big charity events that we see these days where we need to raise a minimum amount to participate and through corporate donations and individual sponsorship large amounts of money are raised. This event takes place in four provinces in Canada and raises millions. It is called charity. But I don’t want to write about charity, I want to write about generosity.

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Charity is being moved to give and generosity is being moved to change.

This is not the first time I am doing this ride, I did this ride last year when I joined a team called, Hope & Gratitude. The team was started by a man named Rob Callard, a cancer survivor himself. I joined the team because I lost a very close friend to cancer and my friend had done a ride and somehow it seemed fitting to do this.

Rob & I at last year's ride.

Rob & I at last year’s ride.

Rob had made a post on FaceBook asking if anyone wanted to join and I remember reading the post and wanting to but not sure I could. I didn’t have a bike, I hadn’t really ridden a bike since I had a Peugeot 10 speed 30 years ago, and on top of that I had to raise $2500 to participate. What was making me hesitate though wasn’t any of that.

In Being Generous, One Becomes Generous.

What is it that makes most of us uncomfortable when we are presented with the opportunity to give, to being generous? As people, we are asked to give on a daily basis and in a charity situation we are being asked to make a difference in our communities, to overcome our fears and to make change. In this process we are forced to push ourselves beyond what we may think we are capable of doing. Yet true generosity is generative, it allows for change, for opportunity and it may go so far as being transformative. It goes far beyond charity.

I grew up in a family where giving and charity were done quietly and without the need for recognition. After working for so many years in an industry where profit and recognition was the norm I was shown a different vision, where the idea of your name on a hospital wing or in the newspaper became the goal. There seemed to have to be a reward for any giving done and somehow that did not seem right to me. Yet I saw the benefits of what power and influence could do to raise money. In the end, it was always at the grass roots level that I saw true generosity.

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Generous acts, will allow for generous responses.

This year to raise money there haven been spin-a-thons and bake sales, movie nights and workout events, and then just plain old asking for donations, in person, by e-mail and of course on Facebook. This year our team Hope & Gratitude has over 20 riders many of which I will only meet tomorrow. I enlisted one friend to ride with me last year and two more this year. What I have seen and heard from them and from the other riders in our training rides is always the same. They are amazed at the response from those they asked to sponsor them, they have been touched by the stories of those who were lost to cancer, and they were sometimes uncomfortable by the show of gratitude for what they are doing. They loved the hugs and thank-you’s that were bestowed on them and yet all that anyone has done is to be generous.

People give what they can to charity; we are generous with what is important to us.

There is one thing that I have learned in all my years of charity, we all want to give. I believe that it is innate in ourselves; we just need to be given the chance. That is what charity allows for, if we truly understand what it is to be generous.

In the end, the Enbridge Ride we will do tomorrow will raise millions of dollars and it will make a difference and allow much needed funding for research and patient care, but what we all achieved through our generous acts has no measure. The friend that was allowed to tell her story of losing her sister and sharing her loss, the child that baked cookies to help her mother raise $20, the co-worker that helped plan a mini fundraising event, the gift of knowing that we allowed someone to give has no value.

When we give because we want to make a difference we allow for the possibility to make change and our actions will have far greater consequences than any money donated to charity. It is not that money does not matter; it is to remember to put love into our giving. I say that generosity is not really optional and we must not do it now and then. It is when we do it on a daily basis that we will see it’s transformative power. I repeat: How will you be generous today?

If you would like to support my ride to benefit the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, click here.

Did you take the dare?

GenerosityLast year on this date I posted I Dare You  – click here to view the post, and I asked you and myself: What do you want to do?

The big picture answer.

I asked: If you were given the opportunity to do something that you have always wanted to do what would it be? 


The only requirement was that it could not be about you, that you had to look beyond yourself and your own goals to a bigger vision.

If you look back over the year of 2012, did you do it?

I have always thought that unless I was out there saving the world in some way that my life had no meaning. So I tried that and I took a few years off and I did a lot of volunteer work. Did I save the world? No, as you can see it is still as messed up as before. Perhaps as my days were concentrated on working for a cause I felt better about myself but is that not just my perception? Is there not a way to take that same idea of giving and bring it in to our everyday lives no matter what we do?

At first glance it may not seem that easy to do, but if I look back over this past year I can see how I started to look at things differently. I run my own business and I am not out there saving the world in any way. We sell skin care products and perfume. But we have a choice in how we do that and I have a choice in how I work with my team, as well as our vendors and anyone I come in to contact with each day.

What is Generosity?

Generosity is about not only giving but also about generating. It is a creative act rather than a handout, an attitude or ethos rather than an exchange between someone who has too much and someone who has too little. 
From Being Generous Lucinda Vardey & John Dalla Costa

I love this quote because it reminds me that each day I have an opportunity to be generous. That I can look beyond my needs and wants to those I live with, work with and interact with and decide what my attitude will be and how I will give to them in whatever I do. I find that very hard. I don’t seem to be programmed to give naturally, I have to work at it. It may not always seem that way to those that know me, but it is constant work. I have to think about what the goals and passions are for those I work with to see if I can help them reach those goals. It means not taking for granted my friends and family and pushing myself to see them as people. For it is often those closest to us we seem to forget are people too.

What will I choose?

It is automatic and easy for me to make each day about financial goals and profit, but I have a choice if I want to do that. I can look beyond the obvious to what I may do to give back to my team, our customers and the vendors that we work with and in turn to the community that surrounds us.

As another year comes to an end, I look back with gratitude for all that I have learned and the people that are in my life. Each one of them has taught me something. Some of them made me angry and resentful. Those people are the ones that often taught me the most, if I was willing to let them. The ones that gave me love and friendship helped buffer me from the others, allowed me to turn to them for help, and allowed me in the end to give and be generous.

I see now that my dare was not something to be done once a year as we turn from one year to the next. It is a dare to be taken each day upon rising. The possibilities seem endless if we were all to take that dare to do what we have always wanted to do each day, one day at a time.

What do you think?

I dare you.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer Montreal 2013: Come Ride With Me!

I am going on ride, a ride that is supposed to conquer cancer. Impossible?
I don’t know. The word impossible doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. All I know is that from July 6th to 7th in 2013 I will be riding from Montreal to Quebec City to raise money for cancer research and cancer care at the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and throughout Quebec.

How it all started!

How did this happen and why am I doing this? Well the short answer is I saw a post on Facebook from my friend Rob Callard, who is a cancer survivor himself and has done two of these rides, saying that he was looking for people to join his team called Gratitude & Hope 2013 and participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, and I heard myself saying: “Hmmmm….”. Actually, that is exactly what I wrote in the comments section of his post. Then Rob and I spoke, I signed up, and here I am.

The long answer is that a friend of mine, a very dear special friend of mine, Sam Pelc, did this ride back in 2009. But Sam died of cancer in the fall of 2010 and somehow when I read Rob’s post I felt that I owed this to Sam and I just had to do it.

For you see, Sam taught me everything that I know about charity and more importantly about giving. We worked together on different charity events and projects and I learned many things from him, and here are a few:

1. Impossible doesn’t exist
2. There is no limit to what you can do
3. Don’t be shy to ask for help or donations
4. Allow people the opportunity to give, they want to, it is in our very human nature
5. It is our responsibility to give back to our family, our friends and to our community with no questions asked, and for nothing in return, including applause
6. Allow whatever you do in your everyday life to include giving back, for that is our true reason for being here on this earth

Going for the yellow JerseySam made this ride because he had cancer and wanted to help others. Here is a link to the blog that he wrote before, during and after the ride: GOING FOR THE YELLOW JERSEY. There is much to be learned from what he wrote for all of us to better understand what it is to live with cancer and what that journey was all about for him.

This journey will be very different for me. I started my training by attending a spinning class at the YMCA last weekend and as I climbed on that bike and started to pedal I knew that the next six months were going to be a challenge to say the least.

There is a lot ahead. I have to get a bike. Yes, I am not a cyclist, more of a runner than a cyclist, but I am up for the challenge of those tiny seats and funny shoes. I have to get into some spandex that makes me less than excited especially at this time of year after one too many Christmas cookies. I have to train and get myself into shape and ready for this ride, which to me will be the easiest part and the part I am looking forward to the most. I have to reach out to those around me to ask for sponsorship to help me reach my goal. I have to raise $2,500 to be able to participate in the ride, but I have set my goal as $10,000. Why? I guess $2,500 just doesn’t seem like enough, it’s as simple as that. If I read through those six points above, then my goal should have even more zeroes, or no end to them at all.

And so here I go and I hope you will follow along, because I know I am going to need you there with me. Then again, I know that Sam will somehow be there too as my journey for the Yellow Jersey unfolds…..

If you would like to donate, click here.
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Dad, This Moustache is For You

Movember 2012

Down below, maybe I better start this again considering the subject matter, is a post that I wrote two years ago when I first participated in Movember. I didn’t participate last year because I found out that my father had prostate cancer at about this time of year and my father was a very private man and it would have been hard for me to have participated without mentioning that the doctors had found it and he was only given a few months to live. He was 91 years old when he passed away last January. He lived a full and incredible life, but if they had found the prostate cancer earlier who knows. It doesn’t matter now. My father had a moustache all of his life and I miss him.

I thought a lot about posting this because  public versus private sharing of information like this was the one thing that my dad and I didn’t always agree on. I am pretty open and out there when it comes to helping and he always did it quietly. Perhaps that is the one thing I never quite got right from all that he taught me.  A different generation you may say? I think though, that he would understand that I am telling all of you this because I just don’t want what happened to him, to happen to your father, or to happen to you. There is so much that can be done for prostate cancer now if it is caught early.

If you would like to help out, and I say it every time I ask for a donation for any charity, any amount helps. I am a member of the Movemboys team and my store Etiket has sponsored the team (all money goes to Movember) and my amazing staff at the store are participating as well. See them here: Etiket Bares All for Movember and then once they did ‘bare all’: We Did It For Movember!

The Fabulous Etiket Team for Movember 2012 (Photo: Jonny Rueda for Movemboys)

Sponsor me: Simon Tooley
Sponsor the girls: Équipe Etiket Mo Sistas
Sponsor the team: Movemboys
For more information on the cause and where the money goes: MOVEMBER

The below post is from my old blog A Charmed Life post on November 3rd, 2010

Move over November, here comes MOVEMBER

What?
For those of you who don’t know, MOVEMBER (the month formerly know as November) is a moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men’s health and specifically prostate cancer.
Why am I writing about it? You can’t tell by the Day 3 stubble on my upper lip?
Yes, I am participating! I am a man and I uh, well have a prostate.
(Dad, you were worried about me swearing? Watch me walk on eggshells with this one!)
I mean really, we talk about anything these days, but talk about ‘that’? Talk about, you know ‘what’. Because you know where ‘it’ is right? And you know what you have to do to get ‘it’ examined don’t you? Forget it. Let’s go back to another topic. My moustache.
I am thinking handlebar, except I only have a month.
A thin fine line a la Rhett Butler? Not a great idea as my facial hair is blond and you won’t see it? And how many people know who Rhett Butler is these days, he doesn’t have a Facebook page.
Then again, I could grow a gringo except I think I am a gringo.
Let’s go back to why we are here. We don’t want to talk about prostate cancer; we certainly don’t want to get examined for it. Above all, we don’t want to die of it. Plain and simple.
That means we need to talk about it. Get it examined and deal with it.
Now I am not going to go through the details because when I went to the Prostate Cancer Canada site I started to feel a little queasy. Then again, I am usually the one the doctor is looking after when I go to visit anyone in the hospital. It is us 6’2” 200 pounders that are the worst.
Go to the site yourself and check it out. Then get checked out. I am going to. And no, I won’t write about that. The reality is, these days there are different ways to test for prostate cancer. A physical exam is just one of them.
If you just want to watch the progress of my moustache that is okay too. Just do us men a favour and spread the word about Movember, you just don’t know who you may help. And if we don’t talk about ‘it’ we can’t help.

What Do I Want To Do with My Life?

I want you to go and find a mirror, look at yourself and ask the question: What do I want to do with my life?

If your answer is:
Exactly what I am doing.
Then don’t read any further.

If that is not your answer then stop doing what you are doing. NOW.

Stop complaining.
Stop whining.
Stop being afraid.

Start working.
Start hustling.

Then kill it.
You heard me: KILL IT!

Are you going to wait until you are looking back on your life with your partner or your kids or grandkids and have regrets?

I can’t right now.
I have responsibilities.

Really?
To who?

Excuses.
If you have something you want to do, something that you know is going to make you the happiest person in the world, then why aren’t you doing it? It doesn’t matter what it is just DO IT!

Patience and passion
I worked for twenty-five years doing something I didn’t love. I hated looking in the mirror every morning. That’s the truth. I tried to quit many times and I was too afraid. I had too many responsibilities and too many excuses. I finally did it. I finally stopped whining and crying and blaming others and stopped being afraid.

Now I get up in the morning with a smile on my face and go to bed with a bigger one. I have never worked so hard in my life except I would never call it work. My days are absolutely perfect in every way even when everything goes wrong. Shit happens. Shit makes life fun. Life is fun. No, life ROCKS!

This isn’t anything new. Go back a few hundred years to our good old friend Shakespeare and his friend Polonius. He was telling us the same thing:

Polonius:
This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78–82

If you take care of yourself, and find the happiness that is there for each and every one of us, then you will pass that same happiness and love on to those around you.

Realize your perfection and live with it.

Now let’s start this day again. Go back to the mirror and be honest with that person starting back at you. It’s about time isn’t it?

Blow me one last kiss…..

As I have been on my Mr. Feisty journey I find I have been reciting the words to Pink’s latest song more and more:

Now this is some sort of a love song, or the end of a love affair but sometimes the words seem to be just right for what is going on in my day.

I think I’ve finally had enough, I think I maybe think too much…

You know what I mean? People driving you crazy? Lack of respect? People’s ego running rampant and it is all about them all the time?

Just when it can’t get worse, I’ve had a shit day
Have you had a shit day? We’ve had a shit day
I think that life’s too short for this, I want back my ignorance and bliss…

I mean how can everyone be like that? Why isn’t everyone doing things my way. Then everything would be so much easier. I mean I am so totally perfect all of the time.

I will do what I please, anything that I want
I will breathe, I will breathe, I won’t worry at all
You will pay for your sins, you’ll be sorry my dear…

Except you know what I found as I kept turning up Pink every time I heard her on the radio? I wasn’t happy. I was angry. Resentful. Anything but at peace.

Then for whatever reason I remembered these lines from the Lord’s prayer:

…give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us….

Where did this come from? Am I getting religious? Actually I wouldn’t call the Lord’s Prayer religious, more spiritual if you do a little study of it. It is something I don’t remind myself of often enough, or at least I haven’t been lately. In other words:

Whatever comes my way I will be able to handle and I hope those around me forgive me for my imperfections as I do the same for them….

I need to do the same for others….

But I don’t want to do that. I want to be right. I want to stand on my high horse and let those around me see me up there and have them bow to me. Really? No, not really. But sometimes that feels way easier and safer. I don’t want to remember that we all make mistakes and can be caught up in our own selves far too much. Who am I to judge others when I do the same?

I still turn Pink up on the radio but then I stop and remind myself it’s just a song that tells a story.
And I can choose what my story is going to be each day.
And then I do what may not be the most natural of things for me to do.
I forgive those who trespass against me.
And joy replaces anger and resentment.
And then the world seems to fall into sync……

Na na na na – da da da da
Na na na na – da da da da
Na na na na – da da da da

Renewal

I haven’t written here in a very long time. The last time was just after the New Year in fact. Then recently I received an e-mail from WordPress asking me to renew the domain for this blog. I had to make a decision if I should continue this blog or close it down. I have been doing what I am quick to criticize everyone else of doing: nothing. Well not nothing exactly, but I have been so busy wrapped up with work that I haven’t been doing anything else. Sound familiar?

I have been in the garden watering and weeding over the last few days. It has been hot and beautiful, perfect weather to be a gardener. I love the process of the planting and I love looking after the garden once it is done – the weeding and the watering. For me it is like meditation. There is sitting and walking meditation, could there be gardening meditation too?

I learned how to garden from my father over forty years ago as a child. I had my own garden in our backyard and he would help me plant pansies and marigolds. He showed me how to take the seedlings out of the pots, how far apart to put them, and then how to dig the hole, put the young plants in, and then fill in with the earth and finally to water them. It’s what we would do my Dad and I in the early spring after the May long weekend in sunny old Winnipeg.

I usually forgot about the garden as the summer progressed and we headed down to the lake for July and August. When I would come back after the Labour Day long weekend for school I would run down to see the garden and it would be bright with pansies and the marigolds would be strong and high. My Dad looked after it all summer for me.

My father passed away in January and I am wondering if that is why I stopped writing my blog. I think I always wrote it for him. I don’t really like to admit that, but I know it is the truth. It gave us something to talk about, something that kept us connected as we each grew older. I know that he didn’t always agree with what I wrote but he loved that I wrote. When my brothers and I were cleaning up his things we found files of everything that I had ever written. Not strange for a parent to do that, but I found it strange for my father. It was not how I thought of him: sentimental. Perhaps I didn’t know him as I thought I did, or I am more like him than I thought.

My garden this year is quite spectacular. There aren’t any pansies or marigolds, but I planted it exactly the way my Dad taught me to. I get out there on the weekends and I prune, deadhead, weed and I water. Just as I know my father did when I was down at the lake for the summer. He was there making sure it would be there for me when I came home.

I am not sure that writing this blog, or life, for that matter is any different. We need to be consistent, and work at it and give it the love and respect that it deserves.  A garden, a blog, or life: You water it and weed it and give it some love. You work at it. I thought my father was showing me how to garden when I was a child, I think now that he was simply showing me how to live.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

What would you do?
Really?
Would you change your job?
Go back to school?
Go on a trip?
Do something that you have always wanted to do?
What?
Say it.
Better yet do it.
We all spend a lot of time here on the computer.
Surfing.
Reading.
Looking.
Watching.
For what?
Since I started The Social Effect I have done a lot of things I never thought I would do.
Things I thought I was too afraid to do is the real answer.
I have learned that there really is nothing to be afraid of.
Nothing.
It has also taught me that if I let go of my fears then I help others.
Givers gain. Always.
That’s all we have to do.
Is give.
Of ourselves.
Why be afraid of that?

Wanna hug?

Last week for the International Day of Peace I hit the streets with a few other huggers to give away Free Hugs. For those of you who don’t know about Free Hugs, watch the below video, it explains it all.
But how did I end up giving away Free Hugs for the International Day of Peace?
In surfing the pages of Facebook I came across an event for Free Hugs for World Peace, I checked to see if it was being done in Montreal and when I didn’t see anything I said to myself, “Why not?”
It seems I keep doing that these days!
I contacted Vincent Marx who had started this initiative through his site 1 True Spirit dedicated to revealing the 1 TRUE SPIRIT that exists in every one of us, in all life, and in all things and I was off to the races.
Actually, I was off to the art store to get poster paper and felt pens.
First I launched the event on Facebook, and then the night before (yes, I am one of those people that pulled all nighter before the exam), I enlisted the help of my friend Eric to make posters with me. Well he made the posters and I watched him.
Wednesday, September 21st 2011 was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky for the International Day of Peace. I packed up the car with my posters and my meditation pillow – I had organized a MedMob (Meditation FlashMob) from 12 to 12:30 and from 12:30 to 1 PM we would give away Free Hugs.
The location was in the centre of downtown Montreal (Phillips Square across from The Bay for any of you that know the city) and after negotiating with a band that was playing a little too loud for us to meditate, and finding a spot on the pavement between the kiosks and a photography exhibit that had popped up since I had first chosen the location, a group of twenty or so of us of sat in meditation.
After the meditation, I asked for anyone who wanted to join in for the Free Hugs. Anne, Marilyn and Karen were ready to give it a hug, and we hit the streets to offer a little free love to complete strangers during a busy lunchtime in Montreal.
I hope you can see from the video (thanks Carl and Joanne) we had a lot of fun. What you can’t see is what it feels like when someone you don’t know trusts you enough to let them take you in your arms and give them a real hug. What does it feel like? It just feels right. It feels like there is no fear, no hate, no anger, that we really are all brothers and sisters, from one family, and that there is one true spirit that exists in all of us.
We did this for the International Day of Peace, but I will tell you a secret, I kept the signs. You may just see me sometime standing on the corner giving out Free Hugs. If you see me, don’t be shy, come and get one, they are free, and I promise, they don’t hurt.
And by the way, you don’t need a sign to give a hug away. Why not give someone you know a hug today, you may be surprised at how good it feels.
For information on 1 TRUE SPIRIT, click here.

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