Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Emotional IQ

i was talking with a friend about my interview process thoughts that i've noted in recent posts and she brought up the idea of Emotional IQ as a means of interviewing people.

so i thought i'd try a little test around it. here's the one i found and took.

and here are the results.

Snapshot Report
Emotional Identification, Perception, and Expression
73

You are reasonably skilled when it comes to the core ability of identifying, perceiving and expressing emotions in yourself and others. There is still, however, room for growth. Overall, your skills in this area of emotional intelligence aid you in the process of reading others, understanding how they feel, and effectively identifying your own emotions. These skills form the basis of your ability to relate to the emotions of others as well as well as your ability to understand yourself. Review the results below for further information on areas that could use further improvement.

i don't really know what any of that means although the score is out of 100. i guess that's a decent score, but i also don't really know.

i'll do a little more reading on the subject and see if there's much i can learn and add to myself in the process.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Personality Types, Self Awareness and the Interview Process

i recently submitted this document to my supervisor just because many of those thoughts where perculating in my head after my recent job interview. right now as things stand this document will only go as far as my supervisor although i am considering sending it to another supervisor and my director as well.

Personality Types, Self Awareness and the Interview Process

I recently was a part of an interview process to board for an SP3 position in the Job Centre and I left the experience with the thought that the process favours particular personality types or people who process their environment a particular way.
Under Myers-Briggs I am an ISFP which means that I am a reluctant leader who relies on loyalty as a means of motivation, I persuade by tapping into other’s good intentions, I offer more praise than criticism and I rise to the occasion and adapt to what is needed. I’m very much about relationships in the workplace and working cooperatively and flexibly with compatible people. All of that means that I’m a bit of a schmoozer who infuses joy into his work and acts to ensure others’ well-being. I pay attention to how people are treated and I do my very best to use what power I have to make some change for the sake of justice.
It does me little good to try and express WHAT I do at work in a given scenario because I’m all about WHY I do it. In the interview process the department is interested in acquired skills and the strength of my resume while I’m mostly interested in my passions and motivations within my work. My acquired skills and the strength of my resume are secondary and unimportant from where I stand. In an interview I would want the department to know what others say about me, what my supervisor thinks of the job that I do, and what testimonials to my work are in place. In a sense, my relationships are my resume and the people I have served are the result of my acquired skills.
It’s difficult for me to discuss the WHAT of my work, it’s like a foreign language. In an interview someone of my personality type would need to focus on relationship issues, cooperative and flexible approaches to working together, and the passions and motivations for doing whatever job I do. I didn’t get any chance to express those thoughts in my interview and I believe them to be viable and integral thoughts that must be expressed. I bank on my likeability at work, I engage people and I get them to trust me, I give them hope and I dispense hope on a regular basis so that I can help an individual to a better place. For me to spend whatever period of time in an interview talking about acquired skills doesn’t let me inject humanity into my discussions and my most recent board left me thinking that the interview process was very sterile and cold.
Most of my self-awareness work over the last several years has been by using the Enneagram as a tool for my study. The Enneagram is a spiritual exercise that looks into personality types and trends of coping that people employ. I won’t get too indepth in what I say here but I will say that in the Enneagram study I am a Type 9 (there are 9 types in total). The 9 is well versed and capable at many things and he is at his best when motivated into action. He’s steady, stable, genial and accommodating but at his worst he’s so laid-back that it looks like he’s done or is doing nothing while being completely content with his inaction. A 9 is at his best when he’s spurred on by something and for me I’m at my best when I’m ambitious and creative in my approach to solving problems. When a 9 is motivated he’s a world changer.
Now having said all that I’ll be a little more general as to how the Enneagram relates to my discussion of the interview process. The Enneagram categorizes the 9 types into 3 categories of relating to the world. There is the Head, the Heart and the Gut. I fall into the Gut way of relating to the world. I’m spontaneous, imaginative, sensitive and very creative. A major question when I’m dealing with participants in my job has little to do with whether or not they’re eligible or not, it’s more related to “do I believe you? Does your story hold water with me?” because if I believe a person I know that I can move mountains to advocate, teach and defend their rights.
The interview process didn’t/doesn’t allow much freedom for an intuitive or sensing approach to the world since it’s only focus is a regurgitation of facts as it relates to acquired skills. It provides an advantage to those who relate to the world from a Head space since the process requires someone to regurgitate a list of buzz words. If you can mention more words that ring bells on the scoresheet then an individual succeeds. It also seems to create a bit of a “groupthink” phenomenon. The same type of individual succeeds because they hit all the buzz words and we end up with the same sorts of thinkers or world relaters at the top of the department as they succeed.
As a 9 I find life for myself when I’m motivated, when I’m ambitious. I want very much to talk about my motivations and my passions because I want to nurture what gives me life. The interview process does next to nothing for me in that area because I cannot process my relationships with participants, co-workers and other agencies in a detached way. I tell myself to be likeable but professional at the same time. I want to be engaging but respectful of people’s needs at the same time. Some studies have been done recently talk about the sorts of things elderly people remember when they look back at their life and one of the main responses has been that they remember how well or how poorly they were treated by service agencies whose only job was to help them with their life goals. I never want to be the sort that someone looks back and says that they were treated badly or unfairly by me, but I also have to guard against taking matters too personally within my own personality type.
In a job like ours that is so up-front with the public I truly believe that personality and energy needs to be an integral part of the job. How believable is the caseworker when he or she is dealing with the public? How supportive is that person? How does that person motivate someone who does not want to move, to move? It has to be more than the pointy end of the stick when dealing with people.
So, what can I recommend within the process? What’s the point of rambling on about personality types and how to affect some change in the process? I do want to make some suggestions about how we could do it better although I don’t know if all the suggestions are workable or practical. It would require more legwork on the part of an interview board to accomplish what I’m suggesting here.
1) Consider Myers-Briggs testing for employees as part of learning plans, annual employee appraisals or at the point of application for boards. The purpose of this is not to screen out individuals for jobs based on their personality types but rather to explore a more varied questioning that allows other personality types to succeed more often.
2) Consider requiring some sort of self awareness exercises as part of personal growth within the workplace. I have found the Enneagram to be very helpful for me and I have a few contacts that could be used if an optional seminar could be arranged.
3) Weigh the opinion and evaluation of the direct supervisor more than or equal to the presentation in an interview so that learning styles and working styles can be taken into account. Have management more versed in personality typing so that they can understand better the effective ways employees relate to their world and their jobs.
4) Ask different questions in an interview. Every personality type relates to the world differently so the questions asked need to allow an individual to express themselves in the way they’re most accustomed to. Instead of so many “what” questions try to ask a few “why” and “how” questions. Someone with a Gut energy like myself will want to discuss motivations and passions as well as skills and strengths. I’m confident that you’ll see some different folks shine as they relate those things that they’re passionate about in the work they do. In order to accomplish something like this management would have to know more about an individual’s personality type BEFORE the interview happens.
5) Encourage ambition in your employees. Encourage creativity and support it strongly in anyone showing it. Dare to let people think of ways to solve problems with an eye that may not fit the stringent box set out by the Act and policy. I just think that this approach encourages employees to inject more humanity into their work and I know this gives me LIFE.


Respectfully submitted,

Ian Fergusson

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Hobbit




you just KNOW that i'm going to want to be checking that out pretty quickly

Wendy's Words of Wisdom

"Ian, there's a good chance that at least one of your parents is homozygous."

i don't know what she's saying here but she better not be saying what i think she's saying.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

some Christmas trivia for you

See if you can give me the answers without looking anything up. Yes there “may” be some trick questions for you here.

1) Name the three wise men. You won’t find their names in the Bible in case you’re thinking of looking for it there. By the way, these aren’t their actual names because it can’t even be confirmed that there were 3 of them. I’ll give you a hint ... Wallace.
2) Name 10 of Santa’s reindeer. Yes I said 10. No part marks awarded so if you don’t have 10 names then you have nothing.
3) What’s the name of the horse in Jingle Bells.

I don’t have a prize for anyone who has the answers except the knowledge that I realize you're brilliant.

define necessity



h/t Opinionated Vicar

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

while we sing



via alan knox

not sure that i agree with everything here theologically but there are certainly some big things that resonate pretty stongly through it all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

i didn't get the job

it's disappointing.
i have to figure out what it all means in terms of my own ambitions and who i want to be vocationally. there are some philosophical views that i have within the work that i want to do and the supervisor who interviewed me has challenged me to expand some of my views so that my creativity can allow for more ways to help people. that's actually a fantastic concept because my own personal growth will be birthed out of my own creativity. if i can provide a solution in my own mind then i have that much more tools for knocking down walls and barriers.
still, no is a difficult answer to hear. i'm a bit pissed but i'm also motivated to be more of who i am. it's not really much consolation to realize that my boss knows i'm on the radar because it's part of the boss's job to recognize people on the radar.
i'm not done in this area. i got skills that are going to burst on to the scene. if i continue to get a shot then i'm going to do some incredible things.
it's ok to be pissed, it's also a bit motivating.
you haven't heard the last of me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

45

i'm 45 today.

the last year has been more than a little bit difficult. i never thought that i would be the victim of a mid-age crisis but essentially that has been my lot over the last year. i haven't been longing after Ferraris, gold chains and silk shirts unbuttoned to my navel but i have very much struggled with a lot of self worth feelings over the last year. i have regularly looked in the mirror and wondered if i still had any game, if i was appreciated, if i was doing a good job with what i've been given and if i'd ever be able to elicit a two syllable da-amn whenever i came on the scene. i've wondered what the next 20 years held in store and also what the next 6 months had in store. it hasn't helped that i've struggled with an anxiety disorder for most of the last year while Wendy has struggled with all sorts of health stuff over the same period. it also hasn't helped that my joints get creakier and creakier as the days go on. the wisdom of my hair follicles becomes my best selling point whenever i get tested against the speed and power of a younger person's skills; it used to be that my own speed and power were my best selling points.

i am loved, i know that but i still need to hear that. i need to hear about how the world around those that are closest and dearest to me is devastated whenever i'm not there. i need to be wanted even if its only to stand there and be seen as integral.

is that ... selfish? self-absorbed? needy?

it probably is.

i still need it though.

its a damn shame that a compliment given and an encouragement with a touch of the hand is seen as a rarity that would only embarrass the other. i suspect that we're all sitting in a lonely circle of one. the unsaid things are not said because we do not wish to offend and so we remain silent because we think that a risk may damage a friendship and status quo is better than a loss. status quo may really be better than a loss but kind words and a friendly touch shouldn't create a loss ... ever.

i'm trying to lay myself bare a little bit. i want to be more honest and to live more honestly and part of that involves the expression of need.

so ... 45 years ago today i started screaming in need in this world and i still have need i suppose.

still, i am loved. i do love you too. i should say that more because i want to hear that more. i do love you.

we each bring our own light into the circle. you're a bright light to me, whoever you are. shine for me and i'll bask in glory for a bit. i appreciate bright lights who sometimes stand alone and say, "this is who i am, deal with it." i guess i just like bright lights and shiny things.

i do love you. laugh with me. cry with me. shine for me. because its my birthday.

i'm 45 today.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

hockey days in Winnipeg

Winnipeg is once again a hockey city and my bus stop to return home is right in front of one of the swankiest hotels in the city. during the month of November i have seen several hockey folks as they have strolled their way through their day. it may mean nothing to you but i don't write this stuff for your sake anyway. in November i have seen Bruce Boudreau (fired yesterday from his post as coach of the Washington Capitals), John Carlson (star D in waiting for the Capitals), Chris Pronger (captain of the Philadelphia Flyers), Daniel Briere (alternate captain of the Philadelphia Flyers), and Brian Murray (General Manager of the Ottawa Senators).

i know, pretty cool eh?

Monday, November 28, 2011

now, where was i?

it has been ... almost 2 weeks since i have logged into this account. there is also a very good reason for that. in some posts i mentioned the fact that Wendy had some significant medical appts upcoming and that's all i said about it. actually those medical appts were in Nova Scotia so that meant that the two of us had to travel halfway across the country so that Wendy could have numerous conversations about her chemical/environmental sensitivities while i sat in the waiting room and did Sodokus for a week. it was a boring week for me for the most part but that isn't the point, i was only trying to act as a support for Wendy amidst all the stress she has been under. i probably could been more of a support actually than i actually was. i should've been more proactive in all the arrangements that had to be made and i could've done more than just try to keep everything in cruise control over the week. in some fairly major ways i failed this past couple weeks since the stress levels obviously make life nearly unbearable for Wendy and yet i'm way too uninvolved in the process.
i can't believe how poorly i'm coping with the idea of helping Wendy in this area.
that's only the most front and center issue for me though. i also think i have a pinched nerve in my neck or something. it has made my left shoulder and entire left arm throb and ache for most of the day, everyday. i'm hoping to go to the chiro today and maybe get some relief.
a heightened sense awareness is a concept that i guess i never understood was so freaking MAJOR for Wendy. i always knew that she paid really close attention to things that were happening around her but i guess it never really hit me the plethora of sensory things that bombard her in every given moment. she was relating an example to me and she listed 10 things that she thinks about and notices when she walks into our kitchen while my only thought is, "ah, this is our kitchen". you know how they say that people who lose one sense have other senses improve and magnify to compensate? it's like Wendy's senses are all dialed to 11 all the time. can you imagine how frustrating that is? can you imagine how tired she becomes of being completely bombarded by sensory information? can you imagine how frustrating life is for her?
we were in Nova Scotia for an entire week and we were completely unable to do any sightseeing over the course of the week. we had to fly there and then rent a car and stay in a strange B&B where scents and sensitivities await at every corner to trip Wendy up. the airplane trip affected her sensitivities, as well as our luggage which in turn is also affected by airplane scents and fumes plus every form of perfume and recycled air flowing through the cabin or hold of a plane. essentially we were locked into a bubble for 4 hours at 30,000 feet. we arrive in Nova Scotia and rent a vehicle that is bathed in its own scents at the same time and we travel to a B&B that comes with its own scent hurdles. Wendy did indicate that she felt better than she had felt in years during the time we were actually at the clinic for the week since they actually take seriously the idea of a "scent-free" facility. of course now we have to figure out how to incorporate all the suggestions into our own lives.
there's a "lad" who grew up in our church community and now does some IVCF work in Nova Scotia so i sent him an email while we were down there. i didn't tell him that we'd be in the neighbourhood until we were actually down there because i had no idea what the schedule would look like and i didn't want to make any promises that would fall through because i couldn't be available. it turns out we were about an hour apart but the schedule wouldn't have allowed for much time to visit anyway. it was good to email back and forth briefly and to "bless" him in my prayers from an hour's distance instead of the usual half a country's distance.
i haven't heard about the job interview yet, in case anyone's interested. i wasn't expecting to have heard by now anyway.
there was a fundraiser for Anna's House which is an orphanage in Ethiopia that was started by the mother of a couple in our church community. it was a fantastic evening where i would guess that 350 people attended. i hear that a significant amount was raised and we're all thrilled for the progress and the joy that people in Canada can create for children a half a world away.
the Blue Bombers lost the Grey Cup yesterday. they needed Fred Reid pretty badly if you ask me.
we sat in the Toronto airport on Saturday morning for a couple of hours. my brother lives about a 10 minute drive away but i didn't call because i knew he'd try to come meet with us. i would've loved to meet with him but the logistics would've been next to impossible as we would have to go through security again. so Dale if you read this, sorry but it was something that just wasn't going to be possible to happen for us.
i did send an email to my parents telling them that we were in Nova Scotia but i didn't receive an email back so i'm not even sure they got the message.
i watched "Willow" while sitting in the waiting room. it featured a very young Val Kilmer and i remembered it being a much better story than it was as i watched it for the 5th time (or whatever it is). it was actually pretty close to a Lord of the Rings storyline but maybe it's all the swords and magic that gets me thinking that.
i made a hockey trade last week in my dynasty keeper league. i traded a vastly overperforming Steven Weiss to get a vastly underperforming Eric Staal. you have no idea how much a steal that trade was for me. i'm still giddy about it.
i'm sure there's plenty of stuff that i've thought about over the past couple weeks that when i did think about it i said to myself that i must remember to blog about that. no matter though, this space is to help me process a bunch of those thoughts. if something hits my brain about it then i'll just have fodder for future posts.
oh by the way, it dumped 30 cm of snow on our heads over a 24 hr period on Thursday last week. at one point we sat unmoving on the highway for an hour and a half while they cleared a couple transports out of the way. we're safe though.
heaven help us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Job Interview

i had a very important interview this morning. i received a lot of encouragement before i went in the room, many friends shared kind wishes for good things, prayers, and good thoughts. after the interview i returned to work to find an email from my dear one saying "rock on Ian", she's really cool. i actually had to walk 6 blocks or so in order to get to the HR building where the interview would be held and it had started to snow earlier in the morning so my stroll was such that there was some bite in the air and butterflies in my stomach. i arrived at the waiting room a full half hour before my interview was to happen and i was asked for another copy of my work references, which i had actually forgotten to bring (not a good start) but was fortunate that i could remember all the contact information for them. they provided a sheet where the information could be submitted so of course i sat to record the information for them.
around mid-morning on any given day my body starts to realize that it hasn't had any nourishment for 4 hours, my blood sugar drops a little and my hands start to shake a bit. i'm there trying to print the appropriate information on a form while my hand shakes because i've only had coffee since 630 that morning. on top of that i'm also a bit nervous over the gravity of the situation and how much i really want to be able to express myself to these people.
at about 1015am the receptionist takes a call and then advises me that i can get on the elevator, go down a floor so that i can go to my interview. "Ian just be flexible", i say to myself and i grab my coat and my badly printed form and i head to the elevator. i end up standing in a lobby on the 3rd floor until the lady from HR comes to get me to take me into the torture chamber, i mean interview room. as i sit down i find my potential boss and his boss in the room with pencils poised. i knew both of them would be conducting the interviews so i wasn't surprised to see them but then they had to go through the painful exercise of introducing themselves, to me even though i've known them for years. they point out that "nothing can be assumed" in this interview and i should keep that in mind that they won't fill in the blanks for me as i try to explain my position during the interview.
HR lady explains to me that she will be chairing the interview but all three of them will take turns asking questions of me. she states that we'll take about 45 minutes to finish the interview and then we start into the first question.
i wasn't allowed any notes for myself to keep me on track so i had to put away all my prep material right off the hop. i was provided with a sheet of paper and a pencil if i wanted to take some notes to remind myself of what i wanted to say over the course of each question. i knew that each question was going to be convoluted with several parts to it and i wanted to be sure that i covered every part of each question when i answered so as each question came out i wrote notes to remind myself before i proceeded to answer.
the first question had 2 parts to it and it took HR lady a full 20 seconds to read the entire question to me. so i started with notes, i asked her to repeat the question, i clarified the question and when i was ready i started to answer. it must've been 30 seconds before i started to answer the first question and i felt completely comfortable in the silence while they waited for me to respond. i then started into my answer and i talked for SEVERAL minutes straight about my perspective and style and how i related to individuals in a counselling setting when i'm trying to put together an assessment and recommendations for people with barriers to employment. it was probably the easiest question of the 5 that i dealt with. there were a couple clarifying questions which i fielded easily and then we moved on to question 2.
question 2 was a 3 part question. question 3 was a 2 part question. question 4 was a 4 part question and question 5 was a 2 part question. after each question was asked i repeated the question as i took notes, i asked clarifying questions to be sure i had the idea behind the question, i paused and then i talked for minutes on end about what i thought my take on the answer would be.
overall, i think i did rather well. i'd like to think that i'm at least in the running for the job. i think that my boss's boss seemed relatively well engaged with my thoughts and i think that perhaps HR lady was less engaged. i couldn't really get a read on my boss which is ironic because i know him best of anyone in the room.
i was quickly into the interview when i realized i wasn't nervous any longer. it was like i was just vomiting information out for minutes on end and everyone kept writing a lot so perhaps i had some good thoughts.
when the interview ended i took my first look at my watch and my 45 minute interview had lasted an hour and a quarter. i had talked straight for an hour and a quarter and i'm not sure what to take from the idea that they weren't cutting me off to say that we needed to move on to the next question. they just let me go for the most part. perhaps that means that they were pleased with my thoughts and wanted me to continue or perhaps they just let me ramble on because i still hadn't given the answer to the question. i'm kind of hoping for the former.
as i left the building for the 15 minute walk back to work i was grateful that i could have 15 minutes of fresh air to settle and clear my head. my first thought was that it was all a very sterile experience. for a man with so much gut energy to be forced to express himself from a head energy space for an hour i was frustrated that i couldn't inject more humanity, more heart into my answers. it was an exercise in blurting out experiences and examples when i would rather spend my time trying to express my passions and motives in my work. i didn't really get to say "why" it is that i do what i do, it was much more about "what" do i do and "how" do i do it. i get it that they only want to know what skills i have at my disposal but i'm in a space where i want to wax poetic about who i am, my history and influences and how well i'm suited for the chairs i sit in. i was hoping to WOW them a little and i didn't really get the rope i needed to run with that type of thought.
anyway, i hope i'm in the running. by mid afternoon i could taste my desire to get this job but i'm also trying very hard not to expect too much. if i don't get the position then it's not like i'm unhappy where i am, i just want more challenges, a bigger soapbox from which to teach and to advocate.
i'm hopeful. it's good to be past the anxiety and stress of it sitting on the horizon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

stress levels, coping mechanisms and spiritual funks

when things are stressiest (that is too a word) then i'm probably at my worst. i suppose that's normal. Wendy has a whole whack of medical appts coming up and the stress from that is making her more than a little bit anxious, unfortunately when she's anxious then i start to go into a hole of anxiety of my own. i have to fight the lack of ambition a whole ton and i'm very poor at finding motivation for the last week. there's stuff around the house that i've completely neglected and that just has driven Wendy up the wall as winter is around the corner while i'm not ready for it to happen. i have clean up all the brush beside and behind the fence and i wasn't able to get far enough with it so that the job isn't done yet. unfortunately my first reaction to stress and conflict ... is avoidance. that's one of the reasons why i do officiating because it gets me away from my first inclination whenever i come across conflict. there's no way to avoid conflict when you're umping a baseball game or reffing a football game, every decision is going to have 50% of the people around you hating your guts. but still, the stress has been extra high amidst all the health stuff going on for Wendy right now and i have coped poorly.
oh, and of course i have a job interview this week for a job that i've been positioning myself for over the last 2 years. if i don't sell myself well in that interview and i fail to get the job then i'll be in some trouble vocationally since it'll be a significant emotional setback not to get the position. i'm worried that i won't be the passionate dreamer that i need to be since my nervousness and anxiety will get in the way of the passion and rationality that i'll need to put across in that interview. i also don't know how to pray about all of that. i'm in a spiritual funk that is essentially "i just don't give a shit" and how can i possibly be passionate and philosophical about the reasons i'm in the job i'm in and why i'm living the life i live when i'm stuck in a spiritual, depressive funk? if you're the praying sort then say a prayer for me or at least think some good thoughts. i suppose if i do not get the job then at least i can still be happy where i am, doing what i have done for the last 9 years.
i've told a few around me about the importance of this stuff but i haven't been nearly indepth enough about what's going on for me. the lostness is pretty deep right now and i haven't even confided with Wendy about this stuff. i just can't seem to find the words right now since i know the pressure and worry she's under. i'm surrounded by people who love me so i will be talking about this. don't worry my friend, i'm in no danger for myself or someone else. it's just stressful and i do need to step forward with some motivation to affect some change for us.
worship was hard for me yesterday. i know it has been hard for Wendy for a lot of months now too. there were only a couple instances where i felt some connection to God during worship. first of all, i didn't really want to go to worship but we did go, then Wendy got a headache about a half hour in so i had to take her home. at that stage i had to decide if i wanted to return to worship or not, i even called a friend to see if maybe he wanted to go out instead but he wasn't home, he was probably at church himself. so i went back to worship. we sang a liturgy tune before we heard the scriptures and it nearly brought me to tears because it was a cry out to God and later i received communion and that has lasted as a bastion of faith and hope for me even when the rest of my spiritual life has been a wilderness experience.
i have a community in common. i have support. i am loved deeply and i am really well liked at the same time.
but i'm also under an abnormal amount of stress. i'll need to motivate myself out of this funk. there is growth for me in activity, in ambition. if i can be in a space of ambition then i'll reduce the stress on my love and i'll be able to be passionate about my own goals and life. it's just a funk and it does me no good so sit on my hands and hope that my troubles just go away. there is strength for me in community and in a life together. sometimes i forget that.
thanks for letting me process that much in this space.
i love you Wendy.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

search for poetry

i just want to be poetic, i said.

then be poetic, was his reply.

it was a simple statement to a quiet cry in the dark. he is one of the most thoughtful, poetic men i know and yet i don't know if he realizes the gravity of the task he laid down.

i'm a dreamer. i create little worlds for myself and i very much want to see them come to light but then when reality falls short of poetry i get disheartened. i have all of these philosophical thoughts about how and why things should be different than they are but i seem to lack the fortitude to create some of the practical bridges to bring philosophy to light.

still, i dream. i hope for better things. i make plans and i try to spur myself on toward picking up a hammer and building a bridge.

poetry can be found in many ways.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

how hot is the person beside you - Part 2

hot women I know - socializing at a party

X had her 35th birthday party last week. it was the day before some fundamentalist dude had said would be the end of the world so she celebrated that she was turning 35 right at the end of the world. it was an "End of the World" party. i had been thinking that most people i know don't even get all that interesting until they turn 35 or so but X might be the exception to that rule because she's already been interesting to me for years now. she's had her struggles, we all do, but she has PRESENCE. she stands up and says, "I'm important. I'm hot. I'm caring and classy and brilliant and you need to pay attention to me." but at the same time i've never heard any of those words come out of her mouth in the decade or so that i've known her. X is hot. her husband is a very lucky man and a good, caring friend in his own right. still X, you are hot and i'm proud to know you.

Z has been a fellow cyclist and member of my church community that i have loved to meet with as we both commute home from work. she recently moved to a different part of town so we won't get to commute together anymore and we have both regretted that won't be possible any longer. we were just socializing in the kitchen at the party when someone commented that the hi-lites in her hair were very pretty. i was right in the middle of my "how hot is the person beside you" thoughts so i promptly chimed in that she was hot, and i used that word. Z looked at me with her kind eyes and thanked me for the compliment. she seemed flattered. Z, you are definitely hot. you have a strong, confident and stunning air about you that people notice. it's what i call, presence.

this is just a sampling of the hot folks around me. i'm a truly blessed man.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Red Flag



i had to put this on here because Wendy kept laughing whenever she saw it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

how hot is the person next to you?

how hot is the person next to you? don't let that person actually be your partner because we know you already think they're hot otherwise why are you with them? seriously, it's stuff like this that gets me into trouble sometimes because i'm kinda unafraid to ask questions like this. there is definitely a time when you should not be asking that sort of question so if your filter is temporarily off then think for a second before you do ask it.
i got into trouble a few months ago because i didn't let my filter stop me from asking that sort of question. some pics from my football official's association dinner (which i hadn't attended) came around and as i looked at the pics it struck me just how old and fugly my association is. so i sent out an email cracking wise on how we were a bunch of middle aged sourpusses who looked so unnatural in pictures because we didn't smile as a general rule in case our faces would crack. i did make sure to say that i thought all of our dates/partners/girlfriends/wives were beautiful but i couldn't fathom how they ended up with whatever loser they were sitting with.
apparently, that wasn't very "professional". i guess the emails were flying around the executive of our association because i had the audacity to say that middle-aged, overweight, sullen-jowled men who didn't smile was somehow less than appealing to look at. in the end i sent out an email apologizing for the offense if any was taken but i was careful not to apologize for actually saying what i had said. i thought it was funny actually but ... i guess that some don't appreciate it when the elephant in the room is pointed to. it's not like i have any illusions that i'm still the 25 year old stud that i used to be, but i do still have a little game left.
i know i'm not the only one that stuff like this happens to. i'm not. we're all social klutzes if i read my social cues correctly, some are just better at hiding things like that.
so seriously, how hot is the person next to you right now? on a scale of 1 to 10. right now for me? 6.5

as i've aged i've noticed that i don't see very many beautiful people anymore. my opinions of beauty have changed too. for me a REAL woman is one who has lived through the wars of life. 20 something? not a chance. beauty is seen in the scars and hard knocks of life so just because you're pretty doesn't mean you're beautiful. hotness is seen for me in the mishaps while you continue on your journey.
several weeks ago i sat out front of a doctor's office and waited for my wife to come out of an appt and i just people-watched for about 20 minutes. i was just wondering how many beautiful people i could see. some 20 yr old guy walked by with his hat on backward and that "don't mess with me" walk and all i could think about was that he's pretty but not beautiful. some python armed dude rode by on a bike and i thought he probably needed to read more instead of testing how much he could bench ten times in sets of three.
then a woman in her late 40's with salt and pepper hair and a flowing skirt sauntered down the sidewalk. she wasn't anything close to a supermodel but she was absolutely stunning in her presence. she was window shopping and in no particular hurry but i couldn't stop from staring at her for the few seconds she was near the same businesses on a busy Portage Ave afternoon day.
i guess what i'm saying is that presence is HOT. there are women and men in my church community who are just plain hot because they've been through the wars and their presence is such that i love and respect them a great deal. i've never got the idea that grey hair should be dyed, and i don't personally dye my greys because i've earned every single one of those shoots of wisdom. there are women that i know whose wisdom adds to their hotness even though they're already stunning.

want me to think you're hot? have some presence. we all know that we're mostly messed up anyway but at least we can confidently say, "this is me. i'm hot, now deal with it".

another co-worker just returned from his lunch. 7.5

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

my mission field

My first degree was in Theology with a Missions major. Short of a couple stints south of the border into the United States I haven't left Canada in the over 20 years since I got that degree. I used to be scared that God would send me to Africa and I would be miserable there. I did try to go on missions once but when my wife and I applied to go to Russia we were told that they had concerns for our marriage since I was too laid back and my dear one was not the quiet submissive type. I had me a strong independant woman and apparently that meant that our marriage was in danger.
Next I thought I would work in the church as a youth pastor or something but I quickly learned that adults in churches expected youth pastors to make their rebellious teens into holy monks and if it didn't turn out that way then it couldn't possibly be their responsibility.
All I wanted was to help people. If I could help them spiritually then I'd be pleased, if I could show a little bit of Jesus to people then that would be a success story and if I could just offer some hope to someone then I was the hands of Jesus in a very needy world. I started to work in jails, group homes, high schools and in social programs. As I did this I went back to school and got my second degree in Social Development Studies.
20 years later and I'm a welfare worker. I see the poor everyday and I spend most of my time trying to dispense hope. Hope is essential when you have nothing left. People give up when its bleakest out and I've learned the system enough that I've determined that I'm going to help. If no one else is there to help then I'm going to find some way to say "YES" to someone without options. I'll knock down walls and barriers to try and get to the core of a situation because if I can't get to the core then saying yes will have little impact on a hopeless situation.
A philosophy of "I just want to help people" has morphed a little into "I just want to give some hope to people", and I find great joy and life in trying to be the hands of Jesus in my world.
I'm still married to that strong independant woman and she dreams her way to good things while I try to to spur this laid back personality into areas of ambition and growth. We have joined a church community that has given us love, life and support for 15 years and we continue in our little circles of mission. We never left the country but as I age I learn more and more that I could reach out right here at home without having to go to Africa to dig wells or to Russia to teach English. The thought that God would send me to Africa no longer scares the crap out of me because I know that I can be useful wherever I'm planted.
My mission field is an urban street full of yuppies where I search in the dark corners for the folks without options. It's a very cool life and I'm blessed and fulfilled more than I can tell you.

protest sign

LOVE this!



ht Jesus or Squirrel?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Election Day

there are a number of Provincial elections happening this week in Canada and today is election day in Manitoba. i'm going to mention a few things about political philosophy that i've mentioned in this space before. if you agree or disagree then that's fine but i'm pretty much set in my ways and i'm not really of a mind to change my philosophies so i'll pretty much ignore arguments that disagree with my slant but get posted in the comments.

i vote on the left of the political spectrum. people may call me a liberal politically but i suppose i view myself as more of a Social Democrat. in Canada i vote for the New Democratic Party and if i were in the US then i'd be more in line with the Democratic Party. i have some fairly simple reasons for my political views and i'll try to lay them out for you.

trickle down economic theory doesn't work. there are some moral policies that i could agree with on the right of the political spectrum but there area slew of economic and societal policies that vex me. the political right is mostly concerned with the bottom line. they help the rich guy so that the rich guy will carry the little guy along with him as he makes his money. that's good in theory, if the rich guy decides to pay the little guy a deserving, livable wage. the era of the union has improved this for many folks over the last 100 yrs or so but there still remains a segment of society who are underemployed and underpaid for the work they do. it's those folks who bear the weight of living in a rich society while working 2 or 3 jobs to try and stay above the poverty line. if the political right is in power then it is the poor who see funding and programming cut in order to maintain the bottom line. the political right cuts programming in the interest of smaller government and the bottom line while it is the poor who are cut out.

there aren't moral policies on the table to be renegotiated. some folks vote on the right because they're anti-abortion and the political right is more likely to be in favour of "family values" or more stringent abortion laws. let me ask this, is abortion on the horizon to be repealed? no it isn't. those laws won't be changing anytime soon and yet some still vote along lines to repeal something that won't be repealed while they're supporting other policies that they also shouldn't like but could still be repealed. what end of the political spectrum would help the poor in our society? the left. what end of the spectrum would be more inclined to bring troops home from a war overseas? the left. so why are people voting for parties that will not change abortion laws while ignoring parties that would be fully willing to change laws affecting poverty and wars. if we're moral people then we need to ask who it is that can affect change in areas where change is possible and needed.

i see no reason why a poor person would be voting for a party on the political right. too often people of faith see themselves as conservative in nature and they vote for parties that run under a Conservative moniker. conservative farmers are trying to eek out a living and they vote for parties that are going to favour banks and big business while squeezing the independant little guy for all they can get. the political right gives massive tax breaks to large companies so that they would in turn create or keep jobs here but then the massive company pays its employees at minimum wage while they pocket their millions daily. and how dare employees even mention the idea of a union before the same company threatens to take their factory to Mexico or Asia where they can pay much less for labour and only have to worry about shipping costs.

the poor you will always have with you. this is a true statement but let me ask further, what sort of society do we want to create? one that looks out only for themselves or one that gives folks with barriers to a better life some help toward self sufficiency? i know what sort of society i want and i realize that programming is going to cost dollars. the person who is down and out will need an option, the poor will need a way out of a social sausage grinder that is the cycle of poverty and what supports will we as a society provide for people without options? is the worry about crime solved by putting more police officers on the streets? maybe, or perhaps there would be less crime if we provided more or better job training for people who are frustrated with their situation. what good does it really do to cut and slash supports in favour of pursuing a more balanced budget? maybe safer streets happen by providing people with a job not by putting 50 more cops on the streets to catch the bad guy doing what he's doing because he's out of options. if that means a budget deficit then i realize that there is a cost to my political philosophies and we who are rich(yes, i'm definitely in the rich category when looked at Canadian society as a whole) need to carry the weight of tax required in order to build a better life for us all.

i don't like paying taxes as much as the next guy but i also see more than my good share of people on the down and out. i think that i'm uniquely placed to affect some change in my world. where i can be a "Catcher in the Rye". Holden Caulfield was telling his little sister about a dream that he has where there are thousands of little children playing in a field of Rye next to a very tall cliff. Holden's job in the dream is to race out and catch any child when they got too close to the cliff edge. it's a hero dream that is experienced by many, including me. i want to do good in this world. i want to provide options. i want to give out hope. i want to find a way to say "yes" whenever i can.

all of that will cost me, and i'll pay the price because that is who i want to be.

so today is election day and i'll exercise my right to speak into a growing void of darkness in society. i will keep saying out loud that there is hope, there is help and if i'm the only one out there willing to help the i will do all i can to help. today my help will come in a vote for supports for the poor and hope for those without options. i'm voting on the left.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Coming Rains

i've had a bit of an infatuation with this tune for ... i don't know ... a year? i get particularly pensive over the line,

"In my heart I hold your photograph
and the thought of you comes on like the feel
of the coming rains..."

the song has an earthy, non-North American feel that i've become more comfortable with as i've aged and a romantic texture that captivates me with,

"If I had wings like those there'd be no waiting
I'd come panting to your door,
slide like smoke into your room"



All day the mountains rose behind
the veil of smoke from burning fields
And road dust dyeing black skin bronze
and the road rolling like a rough sea
It's quiet now, just crickets and
a dog fight somewhere in the far away
In my heart I hold your photograph
and the thought of you comes on like the feel
of the coming rains...
Hot breeze ran its fingers through
the long grass of the thatched roof eave
They stuck me in the only chair
while they cooked casaba and a luckless hen
They asked for one well, three lanterns and
200 litres of fuel and I said,"Who, me?"
And the time for planting's coming soon
and the thought of you comes on like the feel
of the coming rains
In the town neon flickers in the ruins
Seven crows swoop past a luscious moon
If I had wings like those there'd be no waiting
I'd come panting to your door,
slide like smoke into your room
All day the mountains rose behind
the veil of smoke from burning fields
And road dust dyeing black skin bronze
and the road rolling like a rough sea
It's quiet now, just crickets and
a dog fight somewhere in the far away
In my heart I hold your photograph
and the thought of you comes on like the feel
of the coming rains
And the time for planting's coming soon
and the thought of you comes on like the feel
of the coming rains

Monday, September 12, 2011

who plays you in the movie of your life?

i'm not saying it'd be a terribly "interesting" movie, or maybe it would but i'd like to know who you figure would get to play you in the movie of your life?



i'd like to think that George Clooney would get the role of me but maybe that's just the full of himself me that thinks he's better looking than the rest of you may think he is. naw, i really am that good looking. i love me.



with my luck it'd end up being French Stuart who got the role of me.



i suppose a happy medium that i could live with might be Ed Norton ... in a couple years when he's more grey. Norton's just way cool by the way, not sure he's dweeby enough to play me but i'm sure he'd enjoy the acting challenge that i'd pose for him.

what say you? who would you want to play you? who are you likely to get instead and then who's your compromise choice?

hee hee

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

excellent advice




via 22 words

i've got to admit that i HATE it when someone i don't know refers to me as bro or bud or anything outside the not-even-acquaintance relationship that we have, particularly if they're just trying to "play" me for a favour. it's just better to treat me with more respect off the top so that i can discover if we'll ever be "bro's".

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Peace

peace is not the absence of war, that's just a truce. if you want true peace you have address the underlying issues that started the fighting in the first place.

- Ian Fergusson

that's right, i just linked myself.

i consider myself to be relatively peaceful. in truth though, i'm not very peaceful at all because i don't often find the courage and fortitude to do the heavy lifting involved in crafting peace in my relationships.

i live in truce.

i need peace.

peace requires a self awareness that is too often beyond me. sometimes i find the fortitude for finding peace but it's always sweat or tear provoking as well as rewarding.

God, let me find the strength to go beyond relationships of truce. let me dig deeper and address those issues that create growth in me so that i can in turn craft peace.

i want to be better. i want to be healed.

i want peace.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

fierce



via Lisa

sarcasm

When we're good at sarcasm, it creates the illusion that we are cool and suave and in control of a situation, that we have power, that we are the "insider" in the situation and the "outsider" is to be scorned. It strokes our ego because people laugh and think you're clever.

But truthfully, a person who relies on sarcasm is really a scared two-bit hoodlum backed in a dark corner, stabbing outward with a switchblade at everyone who comes near, without first even bothering to check if the person wants to harm or hug them.

KIRKEPISCATOID on sarcasm. Great stuff!

via Of course I could be wrong

Friday, August 26, 2011

prayers

“God has editing rights over our prayers. He will . . . edit them, correct them, bring them in line with His will and then hand them back to us to be resubmitted.”

- Stephen Crotts

via The Ironic Catholic

Thursday, August 25, 2011

aboriginal culture and things that cross my path

when is something a "sign" to be noticed and when is it simply superstitious coincidence? i try to be sensitive to those things that happen around me as i look for some meaning. i truly believe that God can speak to you in the things that happen around you and i have also been exposed to a little bit of Aboriginal spirituality over the years on this earth. in the past i've experienced some wildlife in my travels where such wildlife does not belong and sometimes it has given me pause.

one day years ago we came home and there was an owl perched on a wire near our door and i wondered a little bit if such a thing had any significance to our journey. it turns out that an owl has a dark significance in aboriginal spirituality because of the significance of night and darkness that is equated with an owl. i didn't explore that meaning very much and i don't think i've mentioned it anywhere until now.

last year i was seeing rabbits near my workplace and in fact they would run alongside me as i came into work on my bike or they would even cut right in front of me as they tried to get where they were going. in Aboriginal culture a rabbit is a symbol of change that is coming because of how skittish the rabbit is in its travels.

a couple weeks ago we were driving down our street when a squirrel fell out of a tree and landed right in front of us. he wasnt even dazed and he quickly ran off to scurry back up his tree. here is what i've found that squirrel says to us:

Squirrel’s message teaches us to plan ahead and prepare for the future. Squirrel tells us to save for a rainy day. Don’t use up all of your resources. We must put something away to help us get through the bad times. Prepare also for seasonal changes. In periods of plenty save a little something for future use. However, if you have been hoarding things, get ready to release and let go. Take inventory! Donate your time, energy and resources to a worthy cause. Phone a charitable organization and share your abundance with others. Open a savings account. Test your discipline and control. If you are spending too much money, find out where it is going? It may also be a good opportunity to temporary withdraw from the world, count your blessings and wait for better times.

via Lily Therese

that's good advice best i can tell.

earlier this week another rabbit cut me off on my bike as i came into work. now it could just be that there are loads of rabbits that get in the way as we shuffle along but it could also be that i need to be more alert, and change is on the horizon. here's what i could find about jackrabbit as a sign:

You always plan for an escape exit, should the need arise. You are quick-witted, peaceful, talented and a survivor. The role of the victim is not appropriate in your business or personal relationships. Jackrabbit’s message is, always be alert. When walking in a strange neighborhood pay attention to your surroundings . Keep away from your enemies; you know who they are. Change your fears into faith. Learn to "freeze" when you want to avoid detection. Develop clairaudience to hear psychic messages. You are fertile with new ideas and now is the time to act on them.

via Lily Therese

do i know if any of this has significance? no i don't but i also don't want to be afraid of the question and i'm willing to be sensitive to those things that are around me.

it has been giving me a little pause however.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

here i am reffing football

look for #12 in stripes, sometimes i'm the ref with the white hat and sometimes i'm some other position with the black hat.



i'm in the frame for all of that clip. i don't do anything but i'm still in there the whole time. i actually make a mistake by running away at the end of the clip, they're supposed to kick the convert next and my position is supposed to be 40 yards away from i actually ended up.



here i'm the Head Linesman so you see my head flash by as i try to cover these guys downfield. you shouldn't see me til very late in that clip and all i do is mark the spot where the play stops but i do it so very professionally.



here i'm back in the white hat again (that means i'm the ref) and i pretty much wave time in on the play and they score.



here i'm the umpire, which means i'm the fatman in the middle of the field (umpire is where all the old slow guys officiate). the run goes up the middle and i simply rotate and follow the play.



finally i'm the back umpire which means that i'm the deep guy. the rule for that position is just don't get beat deep because there's nobody else behind you to cover your butt if you make a mistake.



Friday, August 19, 2011

up all night


up all night studying for a blood test. it was nothing like i thought it was going to be and not once did they ask me for my type. i think that maybe i failed and i might need a makeup.

it required me to fast for 12 hours so i wasn't allowed to eat breakfast either. not cool to be biking to work with no nourishment in my body.

i never was much good at tests.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jericho

as usual, i didn't want to go to member's meeting but Wendy wanted to go and so since i'm pretty much a puppy dog i decided i could join her. the stroll to church was really very nice. we chatted and she made a backhanded compliment about how i looked like Bono in my shades, ugly dude that he is. she later admitted that she doesn't think Bono is ugly at all and it pleased me that she could love me enough to tease me.

in the past as we've sat in the circle i've thought, this is my tribe, these are my people ... but i couldn't find it in me to think those things this time. we had a discussion about camp ministry and how this season had progressed at the 3 camps we're affiliated with. i thought about the moments of coming off the high of camp and how i would seek to try and maintain that feeling beyond its time. i thought about the superstitious things that i would do to make it seem like i was maintaining that level of community high even though i knew i was having no impact on the feelings of the loss of those times. it was disenheartening back in those days and it seemed foolish to try and maintain that as i look back at it now.

then she began to share. R is a wife and mother whose husband was diagnosed with a genetic disorder last year that will one day cause his death. presently there is life but one day the absence of life even while life endures will be a horrible burden. R has mourned this diagnosis and it has led her into depression. her children have mourned it also. her husband has lived with this possibility all his life but she has only come to terms with it in the last year. she saw his mother fall into this deep pit, in fact that was all that she had experienced of his mother. she has looked at this oncoming train and mourned that it was on its way. i listened to her and i realized that i had said some of these same words and cried some of these same tears. i had seen this hopelessness in my own life and i had walked these very paths, sometimes i have crawled.

where do we find hope in this bleakness? we prayed together. people cried with her and comforted her and i sat and wondered where we could find hope ... but i was at a loss.

on the very odd occasion i have little visions as i pray. i sometimes think that i must've moved on to old man status because i no longer dream dreams, i see visions. i suppose i can take solace in the fact that it doesn't happen often so maybe i could still be kept from the old man cubbyhole, at least in my own mind.

as we prayed i could see no hope but eventually i decided that i needed to search for it. it was then that the vision popped into my head. i was standing outside and i looked up at a very very high city wall. i nearly couldn't see to the very top the wall was so high. i then started to yell.

that was my vision. i stood outside in the heat of the day and i yelled at a wall.

i began to think about it afterward and i thought of Jericho. the people of God stood in a circle and yelled at a wall. why would they yell? what good were they thinking they could do?

these were a people who had seen the angel of death pass by their doors, the parting of the Sea, manna from heaven, a pillar and a cloud, water from a rock and the preserving hand of God but now they stood outside of a city and yelled.

i've got to think they yelled out of expectation of what was to come.

i await the rumble and broken bits of clay, mud and stone that is to come. otherwise, why would i be yelling?

i've done a lot of yelling in the last year. i'm hoping that yelling with expectation will bring results. hope does not disappoint.

Meaning

When I die, I will see the lining of the world.
The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.
The true meaning, ready to be decoded.
What never added up will add Up,
What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.
- And if there is no lining to the world?
If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,
But just a thrush on the branch? If night and day
Make no sense following each other?
And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?
- Even if that is so, there will remain
A word wakened by lips that perish,
A tireless messenger who runs and runs
Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,
And calls out, protests, screams.

Czeslaw Milosz

via Peer Pressure is Forever

Thursday, August 11, 2011

how do i fix a bike?


i recently got a flat on my bike. we used to fix our own flats when i was a kid so it's not like i'm entirely lost when it comes to fixing up my bike. there are a couple complications though. when i was a kid i wasn't living with someone with extensive chemical and environmental sensitivities. i could just go about patching up the tube, put it all back together and inflate but now i have to consider how the smell of the patch glue is going to affect my dear one. what if i get it on my clothes? what if the smell alone could be noticed after the tube is all fixed?

i tried my bike guy for a little advice. Colin has some "attachments" to our church-community but in truth his family is important to me because he's my bike guy. he's also got a young family and he's very busy with life et al so i certainly don't want to go to the well too often during the course of bike season. i tap him on the shoulder in the spring for a tune-up and then i hope that i don't have to bother him after that so as not to ruin my chances for a tune-up next season. i've actually had to call Colin a couple times this year to get some advice and that's what i first tried to do in this situation. Colin was so busy that he couldn't even call me back and there's no way i'm trying again since i know i'll need him again sometime soon.

i was thinking i could do it myself. Wendy called me after work yesterday to tell me that she'd be biking home from her doctor's appt and i should go ahead and prepare some potatoes for dinner. i told her that i could do that but i also wanted to fix my tire. Wendy immediately suggested that i just take it to the local bike shop to get the work done so that there would be no environmental issues that may cause a migraine or worse, the dissolving of our marriage (that's a joke folks, don't worry too much there).

i called the shop and determined that it'd cost me around $20 to get the work done. that's more than i wanted to pay but at least it's a local, small business that i'd be supporting.

so, how do i fix a bike? i let the pros take care of it. i'll be a happier boy tomorrow when i finally get back to biking back and forth to work.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

life as i know it


everything is ok, i just haven't been able to blog much at all. since the last time i wrote something here i've reffed most of a football tourney for teams from across the country, a baseball qualifier tournament for the Provincial Championships, and then i umped the actual Provincial Championships. i'm really tired. well, mostly i'm sun-baked from all that time out in the sun but at least this time i bothered to wear sunscreen. at least i'm not lobster-boy although the sun sure does sap your energy when you put in 14 hr days outside. beside being a little sapped out, i feel pretty good.

i talk a lot about baseball off the top of this post but i do move on to other things so stick with me through the stuff that may only mean something to me.

i was chatting with one of the parents for a local team that i've been umping all season and she told this story about her husband who was a world class athlete back in the day. he's apparently also very humble. she was saying that when they were dating they had agreed not to take the troubles of competition home with them so they could just enjoy life together. this woman was cleaning up some boxes recently and she found a box with all sorts of medals in it from World Championships and even one Olympic Silver Medal. the husband had NEVER told her that he had won all of these medals. i just couldn't wrap my brain around the idea that someone wouldn't just "happen" to mention to his girlfriend and later his wife, "oh by the way, i'm an Olympic Silver Medalist". there's no way that i could be so humble as to keep from mentioning that fact in every casual conversation at any party i go to or even every fight that i get into with my wife. "no dear, you can't possibly be right here because i'm an Olympic Silver Medalist and that trumps any opinion you have in this moment!" well ok, maybe that wouldn't be so cool after all. after something like that i'd find myself sleeping on the couch with only my medal to keep me warm.

i love to talk about baseball theory. most of the time i like it best when i'm chatting with a catcher who only wants to learn more about how to do it better. i had several opportunities to talk with catchers after a game this past weekend and i went into teacher mode. one kid i pretty much said that he doesn't want me calling the high strike since then guys will swing at it and if they swing at it they'll start tomahawking it all over the field. the mantra is keep the ball down, down, down. that is, if you want to get guys out and what catcher doesn't want to get guys out?

i took a foul ball in the mask on Friday night that cracked the plastic housing around the metal. i may have to buy a new mask now. not cool. i also took a foul ball on the right forearm just below the elbow on Sunday (in my last game of the season) and i quite literally couldn't feel my arm for way longer than i admitted in front of 100 people watching. lots of people were asking "you ok blue?" (because you either call an ump by either "ump", "Mr. Umpire" or "blue" due to the colour of his jersey) and i answered "yeah, i'm fine thanks" even though its now two days later and my arm still hurts. i figure its just some bruising of the muscle but still i'll milk this and continue to whine about it just in case it gets me some sympathy.

these tourneys are the absolute best because you can just sit and tell baseball stories in your off time. you laugh a lot on these sorts of weekends.

it turns out that Wendy and I are being audited by Revenue Canada. we have so many medical bills that haven't been covered by insurance so we've been applying for every tax break we could qualify for. we're hoping that all goes well but it's still a lot of work for Wendy to put everything together since ... i'd be sure to miss a few thousand details if i tried to take care of this ... plus Wendy did the taxes so she already knows everything she applied for.

i have a flat tire on my bike so that means i'm on the bus to work. i have to take some time to fix that up since i very much would rather be on the bike. there's a lot of joy in my day when i'm biking back and forth to work.

Wendy and i were going on LONG bike rides together before my flat. they were actually quite nice even though they were really long but it was great just to spend time together doing something we both enjoy.

i've been helping with some training for a couple newbies at work. it really is a good space for me to be a mentor/teacher. i have significant gifts in that space that i can use and help to mold people into the sorts of workers they want to be. it's a major reason why i think i'd be a good selection for a supervisor around here. we'll see if that ever comes about though.

football season starts for me in 2 weeks.

one of the parents for a local team that i've been umping all season saw me without all my gear on and asked if i had lost a lot of weight recently. i have lost a lot of weight over the last few months but also when you only see an ump wearing all his plate gear you'll naturally think he's lost a ton of weight when you don't see him without all the gear. a plate umpire wears about 15 lbs of padding when he's working the plate. it makes me look all bulked up but i was also more on the pudgy side after the winter.

several people have mentioned my weight loss recently. all the dietary changes for Wendy has meant that i'm eating a lot less processed stuff and more salads too. my philosophy around weight loss is just about eating good food and getting some exercise. given all the health struggles in our household i can't afford to get all neurotic about weight loss though. still, i look good and people are noticing. yes, it really is all about me.

the dog next door was our pup's best friend and a couple days ago she wanted to come over to our yard for a visit. she was actually pretty cuddly when she came over which is fairly new for her to warm up to me like that. it made me miss Maddie a good bunch but it was also very nice to have a friendly pup around the yard for a little while.

i've been taking care of a group presentation for a co-worker while he's been on holidays. today is the last presentation i'll need to do for that coverage. it'll look good on the resume though since i've been spreading my wings more and more around here over the last couple of years. in terms of my own self-awareness i'm discovering more and more that since i'm so laid-back in my natural state that there really is some life for me when i'm ambitious and accomplishing more. if you know anything about enneagrams it's when a 9 space (like me) moves to a 3 space which is a healthy transition for me. an unhealthy transition is when i move to 6 space and i get locked away in my fears and doubts. i highly recommend a little bit of enneagram study into some self-awareness and spiritual exercises. seriously, go look into it for yourself, i'm sure you'll get some value there.

i had one day last week where i thought, "somebody needs to say something nice to me today" ... and it happened. be affirming.

the position at work that i've been wanting to apply for still has not been posted even though the chair has been empty for a month now. i've got to think that i'd be near the front of the line for that job when it gets posted but i'll still need to interview for the position. oh well, i'll jump through the hoops because it's what i want.

i sit on a housing board affiliated with my church-community. things are finally beginning to proceed with permits and funding. it'll mean significant renovations as we turn a 100 year old Anglican church into a much smaller church and low-income housing throughout the building. it's pretty exciting actually and i'm glad to be a part of it.

my buddy Bob's birthday is coming up this month. must remember to hang out with him and go do something.

Wendy has found a clinic where she can go address the significant chemical and environmental sensitivities that she deals with daily. the clinic is in Nova Scotia though so we'll be visiting there to get a whack of testing done this November. i've been to Nova Scotia but i was 5 so i don't remember anything about it. i hear its beautiful so i'm excited about that.

got a little bit of time to play the guitar so far this week. lotsa life for me there too, especially when i try to tackle new tunes. i started playing Bruce Cockburn's "Closer to the Light" recently and although it's still a bit rough trying to get a good sound on Csusp it doesn't sound TOO awful.

i write for 2 fantasy sports websites and i recently finished a baseball article over at www.dobberbaseball.com . it's a niche that i like and enjoy. i think it's related to the whole "be a mentor/teacher" mentality that i want to be in.

well, i think i've run short on my own ramblings for now. thanks for bearing with me this far.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

the funny thing here



via Lisa

i was rolling in laughter over this one because i didn't get it at all until Wendy explained it to me. from there she was just laughing at how much of an idiot i am sometimes. that's my lot in life sometimes.

somebody out there fess up that they don't get it either. or perhaps i'm the only idiot out here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

tenacity

it's just so damn sexy.

Wendy has endured a fight for health for her entire adult life. endometriosis, an eating disorder, depression, chronic pain, migraines, chemical sensitivities, food allergies, fibromyalgia and the weight of a husband who doesn't know how to help the situation whatsoever. she has been fighting the start of a migraine for a solid week now while the mercury on the thermometer rises daily and she endures hot flashes from being thrown into premature menopause from a partial hysterectomy to rid herself of the endometriosis problem.

and she still gets up everyday and continues the fight.

i have always LOVED Wendy's heart. it encourages me no end because she constantly fights for better things. her heart was a major thing that attracted me to her oh so many years ago and it keeps me coming back. when she is in good spaces she laughs readily and it thrills my soul to hear her cackle from anywhere nearby.

she's just so damn sexy.

Wendy, i love you. you're like my favourite type of pitcher, the kind that comes right at you and says if you're going to beat me then you'll have to beat the best stuff i have. you're a bulldog, a very cute one. your tenacity inspires me.



you're just so damn sexy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

mental problems



via of all the liars in the world

there's also a dyslexia comment on that link that i don't get but i suspect that it may be a guy thing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

take off your shoes




I plead the blood of Jesus over you
I plead the blood of Jesus over you
And over every f---ing thing you do
Seven times I plead the blood of Jesus over you

Take off your shoes - you're on hallowed ground
Even you can't lie when I'm around
Take off your shoes - you're on hallowed ground

Behold on the last lamp light at the very end of your street
I'm whispering something
Come closer to me
Come closer to me

I say you're running out of battery, you're running out of battery
And I don't see no bunnies around here

If you believed at all in your breviary, if you believed even in just the ghost of me, you wouldn't now be so surprised to see me

In vanity you took the name of me
You brought me into infamy
And now you're so surprised to see me, and now you're so surprised to see me

Friday, July 15, 2011

a devastating thing

we live in a part of town where every house (it seems) is close to 100 yrs old, i know ours is. lining the streets of our beautiful section of town are elm trees that are as old as the house. we have had 2 beautiful octogenarian elms on either front corner of our property for the 15 yrs we have lived where we are. i cannot express my mourning this week to come home from work and see the tree that we don't share with our neighbour having been tagged for removal due to Dutch Elm Disease. my first thought was "there's nothing wrong with that tree, it's just old, why can't they just leave the old guy alone?" and then i saw the literature that accompanied our devastating loss. the symptoms of Dutch Elm are typically a withering of leaves near the top of the tree in the height of what should be their prime growing time. that's exactly what has happened to the old fella.

i very literally mourned. it will affect our property values and much of the shade of our home will be lost but i wasn't mourning any of that. i was mourning the loss of a living thing that had brought joy and comfort to us. a tree is a beautiful and majestic thing and when you live in a city in a forest which is what Winnipeg is then you sometimes forget to look at the trees while they surround you. this old guy is a gnarled veteran who has seen more history than i ever will. he isn't a pretty tree but he obviously used to be and there is still plenty of majesty there in those limbs and a solid trunk.

i was nearly moved to tears to see it marked like it was. i will mourn his loss when he goes. i may need the day off even, and i'm not joking.

it's just plain devastating.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lutestring

you wrote some words recently that i wholeheartedly agree with.

as a man of faith let me try to explain some faith things that i react to when i see it.

God is not a magic genie in a bottle, he doesn't respond to superstitious little prayers because you want all the best for yourself, and he doesn't stand by with a club in his hand waiting for you to step out of line. In fact I think it's the folks who aren't toe-ing the line that have something going on that God is pleased with. If you don't have your toe to the line, you're free ... and freedom is truly a beautiful thing in a spiritual being. Freedom speaks to the point that God was making when he introduced the concept of grace in the first place. Freedom is the intent of God when we were wandering around the garden and it will continue to be his intent when we end up in whatever garden in the end.

Scream! Go ahead and let me join you. Let people be locked away in their theological boxes if that's what they want but if they're willing to come out in the sun with you then encourage them to do so also.

Come out in the sun and let's remove our shoes and run out of sheer joy. Freedom is a beautiful thing and we can be free indeed.

Blessings on your journey.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

was i rude?

sometimes i just don't know.

i was on a transit bus from central Winnipeg to a Community Center in north Winnipeg so that i could umpire for the day at the City Championships. as i neared the bus stop i wanted, i came up to the front of the bus and asked "can i get out at the corner here instead of the bus stop?" the bus driver looks at me and says rather forcefully, "well don't you think that please isn't too much to ask?" i was actually caught off guard by this reaction so i simply responded "no". quite frankly i felt like he was treating me disrespectfully with his response ... and i decided that i wouldn't say the word please in that moment. the driver heard my response of "no" and simply drove to the bus stop without opening the door for me to get off the bus at the corner. i left the bus without saying another word. he didn't say a word either.

was my question rude? did i behave wrongly? i don't think it's unreasonable to ask to get off a bus where its most convenient for me, especially if he has to stop the bus for a stop sign anyway. there was no safety issue to worry about, in case you're wondering.

how do i get into these situations? i'm a nice guy, really i am. maybe he was just having a bad day, i know i certainly wasn't and didn't. it was just an odd little interaction in my day.

sometimes i just don't know.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

yeah, i know i'm supposed to stop

yesterday i'm biking home and i come to a lazy little 4 way stop about 6 blocks from home. it's a quiet, muggy day and as i approach the corner there is a car coming in the opposite direction from me and nobody else around. the car i'm facing is going straight and so am i.

as i approach the stop sign on my bike i realize that i'm not in the way of the car coming in the opposite direction, there are no pedestrians or any reason to stop at this stop sign. it's a quiet lazy street and i've built up a lot of kinetic energy that i don't want to cancel around the corner from my house. as i reach the stop sign the car across from me decides to put his left turn signal on right in front of me and i lay on the brakes to avoid the collision that apparently i'm about to get into.

i stop in time and the car proceeds into the intersection going straight ahead, turns his signal off and rolls his window down to tell me that i'm supposed to stop.

yes i realize that i'm supposed to stop at a stop sign but at the same time i wasn't in anyone's way and there was no danger of me getting hurt ... until you turned on your signal. so i laid on the brakes, nearly killed myself just so that you could tell me that i'm supposed to stop. you didn't even have to turn, and you didn't turn so i still wasn't in your way.

i'm supposed to stop. hear me when i say that. but you sir, are an ass. thanks for nearly breaking my neck when i wasn't in your way or anyone else's way. i'm so glad that the heart attack you gave me taught me a lesson.

the lesson i learned though wasn't about stopping for stop signs, it's that people are vindictive jerks who will go out of their way to prove that assumptions shouldn't be made. i assumed i was not in your way and you proved that you would just rather force me to learn a lesson i didn't actually have to learn.

whatever, i learned. i learned not to assume anything because you know what happens when you assume? you make an ass out of you ...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

nobody does that

nobody gets frustrated with some kid who's trying to be funny and doesn't realize that comments and actions can be taken personally.

nobody stares into a mirror and wonders who the guy on the other side is.

nobody wonders if his life is going where he wants it to go.

nobody gets sad because life is just hard sometimes.

nobody wonders if he's still good looking anymore.

nobody wonders where the 20 yr old kid full of life went, or the 30 yr old dreamer disappeared to.

nobody questions if there's still a future out there worth chasing.

nobody wonders if he's still got it or he ever had it.

nobody pushes to be better anymore.

nobody wants to know that he's loved still.

nobody feels like he's wandering around in a fog where everything is going in slow motion because his brain won't process things as quickly as he used to.

nobody creaks and groans as joints ache.

nobody questions whether the day to day stuff has to get done.

nobody does that.

liar.

Monday, July 4, 2011

the last thing she said as i headed out the door

it was bright and sunny and i had scored some tickets to the minor league baseball team in our fair city. the park is beautiful and i have a special love for baseball that i cannot begin to express. i had coerced 3 friends into joining me for the game and i brought my own peanuts to share with the buds over the course of what was sure to be a lazy summer day at the ballpark. i have this tradition whenever i go to watch a ballgame i need peanuts, a hot dog, and a beverage; and no substitutions allowed. i was really looking forward to enjoying this day.

i watch a lot of baseball. usually i have the best seat in the house as i ump from about 5 feet behind home plate but this was very different. i wouldn't have to carry around an extra 15 lbs of equipment, i could wear shorts and shades and i could kick back and bask in the sun. little did i realize the differences in this day than any other day that i usually spend while umping. when i ump most of my body is covered in material, it's sweaty and warm but there's little chance of roasting.

as i headed out the door Wendy said, "don't you think you should put some sunscreen on?" my first thought was, no. i should never go with my first thought when Wendy is making a suggestion.

we got to the park and there was a rain delay for an hour and a half. no worries then, i thought. when the clouds cleared and we took our seats on wet plastic chairs it then became painfully clear that we were about to be baked for the next several hours. did i do anything about it? of course not, what am i? prudent? cautious? smart?

not even close.

i did get to enjoy my hot dog, my peanuts and my beverage. we discussed the game as it wore on and the home team got smoked. and i basked ... and baked. no hat, no sunscreen, white pasty legs that hardly ever see the light of day.

i now have the worst burn on my knees than i have had in many years. my face looks like a racoon where my shades have blocked out the burn that the rest of my face endured.

it was a fine day at the park ... but boy will i be paying for it. i've already doused my face and legs with aloe several times and it still stings whenever i bend my knees, smile ... or breathe. maybe i should just stop doing that stuff eh? it'll probably just be a lot easier to take my wife's advice.

i can't believe i have to learn the same lesson over and over and over again.

not only that but i have to deal with all the "i told you so" attitude if i dare to complain about my sunburn. so no complaining allowed ... except here of course. you won't tell Wendy that i'm complaining about it though, right? right? seriously, don't tell her.

Friday, July 1, 2011

baseball update

it seems that July is going to be a busy month for me.

first of all i scored some tix for 2 free Goldeyes games and i'm hoping a few friends will join me there.

secondly i've been locked into playoffs for the City Championships over the course of the entire month. in particular i'll be doing a lot of plate playoff games for the Peewee AAA division (aged 12-13) nearly every night for most of the month. i'll also be doing Bantam AA (aged 14-16) or Midget A (aged 17 -18) playoffs over the course of next weekend. i was also asked to be the Peewee A Umpire in Chief but it seems that'll conflict with the other playoffs so i may have to bow out of that.

finally, i have been told that i will be recommended to ump the Peewee AAA Provincial Championships at the long weekend in the beginning of August. it has been several years since i have been to a Provincial Championships but they have always been amazing experiences in the past.

it'll mean a lot of late nights for me if these lads can't hit the strikezone.

good times.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the need for affirmation

i need affirmation. i don't like that i need affirmation and yet, i still need affirmation. like Sally Field i long to say "you like me! you really like me!" and i kinda live for those moments. my relationships are full of many folks who obviously like me and i still reach out and ask people to tell me so on a regular basis. it comes off as very needy and i get pretty appalled with myself about this on a regular basis. it goes to some pretty deep self worth issues in me that i'm exploring my way through.

a dear friend of mine is a woman that i work with named Christine. she's very affirming and patient with me but she's moving on to bigger and better things as she takes on a new job after tomorrow. Christine will be moving to another office and there's a good chance that i won't see her again. i'm mourning that loss of relationship today. i've known this was coming for a long time now but there's really no way to prepare for a friend to leave your little social circle.

the 12 yr old insecure Ian mourns the loss of a friendship and once again questions his need for affirmation.

i try to be as encouraging as i can be. it gets me in trouble sometimes because it can easily be seen as flirty to the opposite sex. it's not about flirtation though, it's about my need for affirmation. in many ways i encourage because i want to be encouraged. i bless because i long to be blessed.

Christine, be blessed. take on those sorts of things that give you life. you will be missed and i thank you for the friend that you are to me.