In The Meantime

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

Yesterday walking up the moist front steps Tammy sniffed some mineral earthy air that her memory associated with the white quartz.  

‘Let’s rent a car.  Take the day off.’ Tammy offers Malik to agree with her fresh idea as she walks in the front door.

Malik stands up straight from his work desk, takes in a big breath and looks her dead in the eyes.

‘Tammy ..?’ His voice, simply saying her name, went through a 2 – part process of getting her attention with a strong ’T’ and dipping at the end trying to bring her back to earth.  Her spontaneous whims always threw him for a loop.  What’s wrong with planning? He says with his eyes.

‘Malik ..?’A It’s-all-part-of-the-package look was how she responded to his need for a plan.

After a two hour drive out of town the next morning they set off on a five km hike into the forest following the curving river lined with attentive cedar and spruce.  On the riverbank the cedars’ gnarly roots suction themselves to the iron infused sedimentary rock that frames the river.  On the forest side of the river bank tree roots delve quickly into the forest floor littered with spongy, green rock cap moss.

It’s a good 5 degrees cooler under all the verdant trees where the river quickly narrows and drops four feet through the effervescent rapids.  Just past the brief rapids as the river widens again slightly is a massive white quartz.   Although radiant and striking, it is so ensconced in the place it can be confusingly easy to miss. Tammy can’t remember how they found out about it.  Malik remembers and relishes holding the mystery. 

A mystery that the quartz holds is its size.  The carpet of bright green moss acts like a receding hairline on the top and also grows on one side hiding where the quartz meets the riverbank rock.  The outlines of the massive white boulder hinted that the beautiful crystal extended some metres beyond what was visible.   In his enthusiasm to find out how far it reached Malik confused it with the pockets of snow clinging to winter under the tree skirts; playing hide and seek with the invigorating rays of the spring sun.  

They came to dwell with the quartz, to remain in its presence, seeking to be transported deeper within and higher up.  The quartz made you wonder. Wonder with confidence. Wonder up.   The massive cool fresh quartz engages you as if you were on time and up to speed on your life trajectory.  It draws your truth out of you.

They agreed to eat lunch in an hour and served themselves some steaming tea.  They sat cross-legged on their yoga mats 10 metres apart on the river bank.  Once settled in, breathing and clear of mind Malik found his faculties subtly intrigued.  He was being pulled to grasp what was going on:  it was the rapids.  As the rapids bounced the water all over the place, they were challenging the river, asking the river how important the flow of water was to it.  The river, regaining its composure a few metres downriver, always answered the same:  I may bend but I will never break.   

Tammy didn’t like a sudden burst of her bubble of connection when they were in nature.  Malik knew that.  But the words just popped out.

‘I don’t think nature…,’ Proposed Malik, impacted by the electrical wash of the huge quartz. ‘… knows the concept of: in the meantime.’  Hearing himself speak he realised he had broken the connection bubble but for him this was a pretty deep thought so he just kept going. ‘Nature is always in the here and now…never waiting… endlessly passionate.’  Malik liked how his poetic kites floated into the early afternoon cool air.  Soaking up the moment with his sense of transcendence he sought, Malik breathed in deeply.  

Tammy, chill, aware and reflective in the robust, rewarding afternoon was shaken by Malik’s declarations.  Hearing him utter in the meantime jolted her out of her cozy emotional vacation and dropped her into an unsettling mental state.  Tammy went from cupping the thermos cup of green tea to strangling it.

In six year old Tammy’s mind meantime was what she called the episodes of her parents arguing.  She instinctively recoiled under her bed in her and Shelly (her half-sister’s) room. Her bookshelf was empty.  Her story books were in piles under her bed.  Tammy lay among the dust bunnies and socks turning pages until the yelling and screaming stopped.   She found a corporeal focus that completely blocked out life in the meantime.   Fifteen  year old Shelly wasn’t around so much so Tammy ended up being the flag bearer of her own safety.  It seemed her parents first had to be mean to each other before they could approach her smiling saying:‘Don’t worry sweetie, come out from under there. Everything is going to be ok. Mommy is happy.’  Nine months and two police visits later there was no more meantime.

Final Excerpt of short story – The Coffin

Photo by Roseanna Smith on Unsplash


His husband love got overtaken by business.  In the moment he justified his focus on growing the business.  And his children’s inheritance will prove he was successful – was his mental argument he would have with himself, as he raked leaves or swept the driveway – as a way to  assuage the discomfort of regret.

Gord felt he didn’t have the connection with his children for the same reason as when they were growing up he was growing his business.  Selling plumbing supplies came easier to him than being there for his children.  It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be there. It’s that if he didn’t grow his business no one else would.  Plus this business put food on the table and would pay for university as long as he kept his foot on the gas and didn’t let up. 

‘There are different kinds of love, sweetheart!’  Gord remembers growling over his shoulder at Linda.  His teeth were clenched down hard perhaps in an attempt to not let these silly words out.  He can see it now.  They were in their bedroom one Saturday morning when he was getting ready for work instead of taking Phil to hockey practice and teaching Martha to skate and buying the groceries with Sue.

‘Of course there are different kinds of love.’  Linda was paused by her absolute frustration that her good husband still didn’t get it.’  That’s the point!’  Linda schooled Gord looking him right in the eyes as he buttoned his shirt.  Linda’s abstention from swearing gave her message that much more ummph.  She was no longer in an argument with him but had already transported herself to how it was going to feel in the car later that morning as she drove Phil to Saturday morning hockey practice instead of his dad. Gord could feel Linda’s disappointment but he couldn’t somehow say he was sorry.  Because, he told himself in the moment some 35 years ago, he wasn’t sorry because he was supporting his family.  This memory, and others, were the life recordings that went through Gord’s mind as he would slowly sweep the clean front walk of its minimal weekday dirt.  

In the few years since the death of his wife Gord had this urge to connect with his family so they know their unique value.  Therefore his anchored vision project.  Yes it would have been easier to say he loved them.  And that if he had failed in some ways as a father he was sorry.  But that would have been like the first route he walks in the mornings: short and simple and gets the job done without complications.

Mercifully Gord heard the toilet flush all the way down the hall which yanked him out of his swamp of regret. 

‘It’s all very spiritual and transformative and, and, and earthy.’  Cedar vibrated her hands at her sides as she sat back down to show Gord how she was impacted by their chat.

‘Yes but without the sweat lodge.’  Gord fake laughs quickly. ‘ Or if you want the sweat lodge go for it.  That was never my thing.’  Gord was trying to be funny in case he was coming on too strong.

‘What was your thing GG?’ Cedar asked, using her position as the preferred grandchild to be so direct.

‘I …’  Gord’s shoulders briefly pumped up and down as he gazed out the kitchen window looking out over the driveway and leaned back into his personal journey.

‘My thing would be whatever my thing was at the time.  One thing at a time.  When your grandmother was sick, that was my thing.  When I started my business, that became my thing.  When each child was born, that was my thing.  But, as the years went on, with each child it was less of a thing.’  Gord paused and looked into Cedar’s eyes because Cedar’s mother Martha was his third and last child.  They could both feel that this could be taken to mean that her mother’s  birth and existence amounted to less than the birth of her two older siblings.  

“You mom being the third wasn’t loved less by any means.  There was just, I don’t know, more going on and as parents we weren’t petrified as we were when your uncle Phil was born.’ 

Cedar was the third child as well.  By 7 minutes.  Her twin brother Red went to the light before she did.  

Was I less of a thing? Cedar had never even thought of it.  In the moment she felt good about being a twin, or having Red as her twin because of how it echoed her existence.  Gord saw her face quickly disappear inside of herself but didn’t grasp she was cherishing her birth not feeling any anger for getting the bronze medal.  She was very happy to be on the podium.

‘You and Red were born at the same time so you were a big deal.  A lot of diapers.  Jack loved being your older brother, he was like a mini dad organizing your toys, helping you walk.

‘Actually when your mom told me she was having twins I thought it was great.  But then she said, I have to confirm it with the doctor.  And that always stuck with me.  How did she know?  Now Gord was lost inside his mind where fireworks were going off of beautiful family memories.  And then, as it had come to be a recent habit, it circled quickly back around to Linda.

‘Your grandmother always loved the whole mystery of giving a child a name.  It gave her joy and energy so for me I couldn’t see how others saw it as overbearing or imposing.  Anyway it would be an innocent imposition.  She would bring her little notebook and look into her child’s eyes for a clue – then look to the sky for inspiration. She really loved doing it and thought it was her role to participate.   Martha says it was the only time she saw her mother write.  That wasn’t true.  Martha just felt that they were her children and she, plus her husband, had the ability to name them.’  

‘So how did she know?’  Prompted Cedar for more information on her mother being a young mother.  She wanted to admire her mom as the young, dynamic woman she could see in family photos before she was transformed into a bossy mom.

‘Know what?’

‘That she was pregnant with twins?’  The juicy confessional type of conversation with GG was so novel and satisfying.

‘I didn’t really capture that.  Martha came up with your names before your grandmother could really process that there would be twins and get her motor running, so to speak, on what could be possible matching names.  And truth be told, the names Red and Cedar that your mom had already come up with were so far off Linda’s screen that, well there was nothing to say really.’’

‘So my mom came up with the idea for our names?’  Cedar couldn’t remember asking and hadn’t really ever wanted to get into it.  Her brother had a bit of a hard time because his name was Red but as life would have it Cedar got the red hair of the two.  It confused people that a guy named Red didn’t have red hair but he had a twin sister who did.  So they would get bullied in high school.  That’s what teenagers do when they are presented with something that is beyond their grasp.  They would stand up for each other but he was basically a wimp so he got brushed aside.  Guys would even just hug him instead of beating on him.  Beating on Red was so easy, it was comical.  

As a result, sometimes they would play down they were twins, and a few times even siblings.  There was no abandonment of one by the other.  It was actually an effective teenage social strategy.  It was a way to avoid ridicule.  They would retreat into the fact that they were twins born Geminis.  Twins squared.  It made no difference to anyone who wasn’t them but it just made the route to get to them emotionally more convoluted so it provided an extra layer of protection.  

But in the same breath, in high school her name gave her a way to sound different.  Which she liked because it mirrored the way she felt.  It also spiced up how she dressed and helped her come into her own style.  Tall with her long, wavy red hair she took on a Boho look that seemed to work for her.  

‘I remember your mom saying that she loved the red cedar trees because…’  Gord started.

‘Wait GG.  Actually, I think I will ask my mom about our names.  If you don’t mind.’  Even though she was eagerly soaking up the downloading of family history from her grandfather she stopped him.  

‘We haven’t avoided the conversation, we just made sure we never had it.’  Cedar explained to her grandfather.  As it came out of her mouth she could hear how lame it sounded, but it was basically true.

Cedar was glad she had dragged their good-byes outside because in that way it broke the proximity of the two of them that had grown around the kitchen table.  She didn’t want a hug so Cedar fumbled with buttoning her coat moving toward the door.  Cedar skipped down the stairs and they waved good-bye.   Cedar put in her ears buds as she turned right to catch the bus uptown.   As Gord stood on his front steps breathing the cooling November evening Cedar was reconnecting with the sound track of her generation.  Gord, GG, dad, daddy, hesitated.  He stood on the front steps of his fully paid off house, where 3 beautiful children knew innocence  and joy; where Linda, his wife would bring each of them home from the hospital and nurture them with sincere service that inspired and humbled Gord.

Waiting till after Cedar had turned the corner he then headed back to his garage.   The same garage where he started his plumbing business.  The same garage that was his first warehouse for his plumbing supply business.    This old man was in a negotiation with his own shoulders to determine if he walked back with the hunched shoulders of a defeated man who had nothing better to do than to test drive his coffin.  Or if he was an aging man engaging the role of elder as he addressed mortality with humility/fear/awe/respect.   

Gord was comfortable in his coffin.  It was only the second time he had laid down in it. He kind of felt like a Formula 1 driver slipping into their sleek race car. He had used his yellow measuring tape to get his height and width and depth.  Then he added 6 inches to each measurement.  It was snug, not cramped. 

Second Excerpt from short story – The Coffin

Photo by Fabio Traina on Unsplash


‘The prize I want for my children is for them to experience generating their own vision.’  Gord nodded towards Cedar.   ‘So that they don’t forget to teach their children to have a life vision.  You are included in this, obviously.   It’s like an inoculation against conformity so you can be loyal to your weirdness without having to feel alone.’  Gord was applying his visionary skills he had used to grow his business now to generating some sort of family vision.  The word alone resonated too long in the air.

‘Once my wife died, I made the monetary aspect of my will known to my family about 2 years ago now.  That way everyone knows the percentage of my wealth they would receive.  Basically enough to buy a small house in a small town.  As long as I don’t live another 20 years.  If I tack on another 2 decades to this life that house purchasing power might diminish into more of a healthy deposit on a house, or a university education for the children, your generation.  But without saddling anyone with that demoralizing debt of a student loan.’  Gord explained as much to Cedar as to himself.  

‘I realized that something was missing.  I don’t know if I felt it was missing in me or in them to some degree, but for some reason I wasn’t able to provoke some sense of vision in life in my 3 children when I was …,  in my role as their father.’

He didn’t want there to be unclarity for them to get their medium-sized inheritance.  His children’s inheritance for Gord validated all the time he spent making money and not making connections with them.  But he did have one condition that he hoped would be fulfilling for everyone involved.  At this point he really couldn’t see them falling into a fight over his money.  At the same time something told him they wouldn’t follow through with his wish if he wasn’t proactive.  That’s why Cedar was sitting in front of him now.  

According to Gord, he didn’t think what he wanted wasn’t complicated or demanding.  Boiled down to what in essence Gord’s wish is, it’s to live in a real relationship with his family up to, during and after his death.

Probably not that unusual of a wish (except for the part after death).   It was just unusual to articulate it, have a plan of action and make it happen before he died.  The challenge for Gord at this point was connecting the moment with his emotions and the words they petitioned.  And he needed help.  

The silence was brief but rotund.  If earlier things felt a little awkward then now they had become almost adversarial.  

‘Wait. So then you want me to learn your,...your life vision and explain it to your adult children, because it didn’t take the first time round?  Sorry GG but is that my role here?’  Cedar was confused, hated bullshit and hadn’t signed up to be anybody’s therapist.

‘Ok, okay.  Listen.  Let me explain.  I have arrived, over the years, at a motto for what a father’s role is.  What I believe.  Basically it’s this:  to give his family things they couldn’t buy.  And that is exactly what I did.  I gave my family a solid upbringing.  A life with respect and reliability.  A home with encouragement and acceptance.  All with the stalwart work of their mother, my wife, your grandmother.’  His voice resonated with the assumption that it was understood that the father, or a man, was the sole source of these qualities.

‘So then.  GG.  What is a mother’s role?  What Is your motto for that?’  Cedar injected quickly before Gord kept rolling.  

‘Well, she um … She does the same thing.’  Surprised, Gord responds. ‘ It’s the same but somehow different.’   More than Gord’s definition of a mother’s role Cedar was really curious about her own motto for what a mother should be.  And how it would apply to her mother.  

None of his children; Phil, Sue or Martha had wanted to continue the family plumbing supply business.  It wasn’t glamorous but it made him what he was.   

The fact that no one wanted to continue with the business hurt his feelings.  It took the wind out of his sails for a while.  Of course he didn’t learn this until his children were well into their 20’s.  He figured they would try working elsewhere and learn they prefer to be a business owner rather than an employee.

In the case of his oldest son Phil that was true. But instead of taking on the family business he started his own tire business.  He had learned a lot from growing up in his dad’s business.  He especially learned from watching his dad that he didn’t want to run after people who hadn’t paid their invoices.  He figured that if he had the key to his customer’s car, they would pay him or they weren’t going anywhere.

Martha pursued a career in marketing where she could apply her creativity on a scale much broader than a small plumbing parts distributor.   Sue pursued her husband which turned out not to be a good strategy because he ended up pursuing someone else and left Sue and their two boys.   All this to say the company that Gord built from the ground up was converted from a family business into a plumbing parts supply business.  

‘The fact they didn’t want to take over my established business and the fact that I am now retired and widowed created a lot of space in my life.  Space and time in me.  So now, I have ended up reflecting a lot on life.’

‘I think that’s a good thing.  I have my introverted side too.’  Accompanied Cedar

Of course’  He said with a chuckle

‘We all recoil, and you know – repair and recharge.  It should be normal’  Insisted Cedar

‘You’re …, you make a lot of sense.’  Another chuckle from Gord.  ‘Getting through those teenage years is a real journey, if I remember correctly.’

‘Ya definitely.   It’s like every moment, every word you say, everything you do, every outfit you wear, every person you associate with creates this watershed that either includes you with or separates you from someone else’s definition of cool.  It’s exhausting.’  Cedar took her turn at using the conversation as therapy. 

They sat in an empty, scratchy moment and took a sip of their tea that had been cooled in the late autumn air.  Cedar brought her feet up onto the chair and hugged her knees.  She had kept her scarf on as she knew GG’s house was going to feel friendly to an arctic fox.

‘Oh sorry did you want a blanket.  Let me get you one.’  Gord got up and Cedar didn’t say no.

‘I just can’t  justify heating this whole house when my daily routine uses up such a small part of it.’

There had been no family conversations of downsizing.  Yet.  Without needing conversation, it was known that it would be Martha’s task to stickhandle that conversation with dad come the day.  But the children knew and respected that time had not yet come.  And it may never arrive.  

Martha, in conversation with Phil after their mother’s death had commented effortlessly, 

‘The only downsizing he’s going to do is from the house to his casket.’  She had no idea 

how right she already was.

The pain of leaving would be just as much about leaving the house as leaving his garage.  The garage was his man cave, his power pack, his church, his cocoon, his therapist, his studio, his laboratory.  He felt it is where he could be himself and not make a mistake and be in the flow of his thoughts and projects.  He hadn’t felt he had that freedom outside his garage.   No doubt this urban retreat would also have functioned as a prison.

‘I am telling you all this now in case, at some point, my health deteriorates quickly and I, I don’t know, I forget or simply lose the courage to follow through with it all.  I am telling you as a way to take the path of least resistance.  And because I trust you.  I trust my children too but, how do I say?’  Gord scanned internally a moment for the words to hang on his sentiment.  ‘I trust my children will do as they have taught me they want to do.  Which isn’t bad but it isn’t naive.’  Gord liked how he felt as if he was a functioning elder, sharing wisdom with the following generations.  

‘It’s so edgy …, new agey of you GG.  So what you are offering is a Vision Quest?’  Cedar looked for clarity.  She hadn’t quite grasped GG’s request for what he called an anchored vision.  He said it was a written intention that is associated with a physical object. 

‘It sounds intriguing but how does it work?  This anchored vision thing?.’  Cedar made air quotes around anchored vision   Cedar was getting pulled into his idea.   ‘I have never heard of that before.’

‘I know. I made the term up.   I want it to mean you write out a phrase and you associate it with an object.  You repeat the phrase and mentally send your intention encased in the phrase to the object.  To come true.’

This was the first time Gord had said his plan out loud so he was a little surprised how coherent it sounded.  He and Cedar had always had a good relationship but there was no guarantee she wouldn’t think this was the stupid rumblings of an old fart and a sure sign of onsetting senility.

The Coffin – First page excerpt from short story

Photo by Veit Hammer on Unsplash

Gord was comfortable in his coffin.  Snugly packed in with the intentions of his family.

~~~~~~

Anyways, that is how he sees himself.

The steam from their mugs was curling and unfurling in the cloudy light of an early Saturday November afternoon.  It’s because Gord kept his house on the cool side that steam was so obvious.  And perhaps that is why he had so few visitors.  Perhaps that was his plan.

Placing a mug of hot green tea on the kitchen table in front of Cedar, his grand-daughter, he slid into the chair opposite her.  

‘Mmm, thanks GG’.  GG is grandpa Gord.

You could smell the crisp green tea distinct, but not in opposition, to the history of the house.   Gord had arrived here in this house as a newlywed, became a father, businessman and grandfather.  And now he has become a widower in this house.

How can you call something that is three years old brand new?  But that is how it felt every morning when Gord would wake up surprised to be alone.  Gord hated the play on words but it was so apropos:  Linda’s sickness was just like her – short and sweet.

To create space on the table he neatly stacked off to one side his library books that were making the place look a little disheveled.  On top of the books he tossed his toque that a different granddaughter gave him last Christmas.  He had been outside on the small front porch fiddling with the Christmas lights when Cedar arrived.  Cedar didn’t arrive late but he just became too anxious and couldn’t wait for her inside.  It wasn’t weird that GG had asked her to come over but it wasn’t a random invitation in the flow of things either.

  

Gord wanted to take a sip of his tea so as not to appear he was jumping straight into his story without being social with small talk.  But by the feel of the mug in his palm he could tell it was still too hot to drink.

‘Cedar, how have you been, school and all?’ Gord manufactured conversation.

‘Pretty good.  Ya, school is busy with exams around the corner.’

It was getting awkward pretty fast so Gord just launched in.

‘I realized that something was missing.  I don’t know if I felt it was missing in me or in them to some degree, but for some reason I wasn’t able to provoke some sense of vision in life in my 3 children when I was …,  in my role as their father.’

He didn’t want there to be unclarity.  Or any sense of guilt for his children.  For them to get their medium-sized inheritance.  His children’s inheritance for Gord validated all the time he spent making money and not making connections with them.  But he did have one condition that he hoped would be fulfilling for everyone involved.  At this point he really couldn’t see them falling into a fight over his money.  At the same time something told him they wouldn’t follow through with his wish if he wasn’t proactive.  That is why Cedar was sitting in front of him now.

According to Gord, what he wanted wasn’t complicated or demanding. 

Burn My Coal!

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Our collective human race behaviour imposes a pervasive impact on the well being of planet Earth. 

If someone insults us or a loved one we become instantly indignant.  Can we overlay that indignance onto our role in the quality of life of the planet?  Can we use our emotion for how we want to be treated and share it with the planet?  It might cause us to elevate our action of compassion.

If I said to you that someone is really ‘burning my coal’ what does that mean?

It means my past is being made more important than the present and the future.  

Let’s back up a little bit.  60 Million years, more or less.  Coal used to be a tree.  The coal we burn is getting power from dead plants and animals.   That tree died and during decomposition mixed with other ingredients as it was covered by successive layers of organic life.  

Plant Some Trees – Burn Less Coal 
Breathe More Air – Live Your Life

That tree is now participating in the transition of carbon into petroleum.  To us that petroleum is used for gas to run our cars, tires so our cars can move/planes can fly, our plastic pill bottles, synthetic fibres in clothes and vaseline.

To the planet, what is petroleum?  As we keep withdrawing petroleum from the viscera of the planet – her temperature has risen?  What’s the correlation?  Is it the burning of carbon that is the reason?  Well, we can say yes.  

Without diminishing the need to transition to renewable energy sources there is also another consideration.  That the planet had its own carbon offset program – by design.  More accurately the planet had control of its own thermostat by being able to cool itself.

Is it possible that the planet’s ability to remain cool has been impacted by the extraction of her coolant?  Is it possible?  We don’t even know?  

Perhaps petroleum is to the planet what HFC 134 (this gas replaced freon) is to your fridge.  Perhaps petroleum is to the planet what freon is to your air conditioner in your house.  Imagine your car on a hot summer day with the windows up and you have a leak in the hose from the condenser to the vents in your car.  It’s going to heat up pretty quickly.

Perhaps petroleum is to the planet what blood is to your heart. Imagine your heart with diminished blood flow?  That’s called a heart attack.  Is it possible that is what we are thrusting upon the planet?  Cardiac arrest!  We don’t even know?!

Let’s plant some trees so we can breathe fresh air.   Let’s use our past as a foundation for perception about what tomorrow needs.  Let’s align our satisfactions in our current Life Stage with our many communities (family, marriage, business, soul, body).  This way we can translate perception accurately so our actions today are congruent with a human development journey.  By definition a development journey is congruent with respecting the Great Mother, planet Earth.

Update Yourself With The Significance Of Your Name

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Before the butterfly can fly it was first born as something very different: a leaf munching caterpillar. Although they are the same creature they show very different natures. The caterpillar is pedestrian and the butterfly graceful. The caterpillar cocooned itself with the genetic knowing it will be reborn into a colourful butterfly. The beautiful butterfly is reliant upon the survival of the slow caterpillar. All three stages (caterpillar, cocoon, butterfly) are equally and uniquely valid.

As we grow our lives are layered with the residue of our experiences.  Each of the three names can accrue a greater potency as we learn which of those experiences direct us in the direction we want to go.  As we grow we discover how best to work in the world, refine what we want and how to live accordingly.

When you seem to have an unclarity of what you want or how to get it, that is a good time to reflect on your resources.  Or if  there is a feeling of having lost direction or connection it is time to pause.   It is very useful to review the role of each life within you that each of the three names represent.  As you grow so does the pertinence of your history.  As a child life decisions were made for you.  Now as an adult you make them.  This updating process  highlights the value of your attitude and vision to extract meaning from your past and apply it to your development.

This process of updating helps to find purpose in the daily striving and the life long journey.  It can take a load off of you in the moment to see the continuity of your life and harvest the life lessons and crystalize emotion of your experiences.  There is healing available in case we need to reframe a difficult childhood.   With a view to update your youth that now supports a development journey we can convert that difficult childhood from a wound into a strength. It can become the forging of a knowing that no matter the situation you find yourself in you bring unique value to the moment.  

In the wake of peace from 15 minutes of meditation or walking in nature consider the following:

Foundation Name – The function of your family growing up, companionship in school and playing/sports/trips, learning new skills. – Breathe in the reality that those experiences support your growth now.

Synthesis Name – The importance of your unique way of upholding the human experience including: your style, sense of humour, attention to detail.  Know that this is your fingerprint on the energy of life that you attract by the fact of your initiative and your human pedigree.

Mystery Name – Being creative with ways to stay curious about the pathways of energy: in the mind, of your high emotions, of the planet Earth and beyond.  This elevates into clarity of what is happening in the moment as it is unto itself (as opposed to things are happening to you).  This means you can load your elder life with your desire to be of service to your communities

In the updating process we will likely have many memories that make us happy, sad, angry and long for days gone by.  We can take advantage of the awesome attribute of the mind called memory.  It causes us to picture and feel our life history.  We can generate appreciation for those times and make them into the strength of our foundation for what we as an adult and elder want to do and be.  We can be grateful for the functioning of the body and its faculties for their accuracy of functioning in constant support of our life. 

The Evolution of Your Name

Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash

I think my parents were going to name me Catherine if I was a girl.  If their child had been born a girl or had been given a different name, the same fundamental process of life still awaited the baby.  The name we use to identify ourselves is a label more for the other people in life than for oneself.  

Your name might resonate with you, as it fits your personality.  Your name might be the same as your dad and implying you are the junior version of him.  This is looking at names from a management or cultural view point.

Thinking about names from a viewpoint that humans are on a development journey that requires us to respond to many influences from the planet, people and unseen sources of energy.  These unseen sources include the energetic changes that are associated with each new stage in life.  We are quite possibly a very different person within a few years of having passed the threshold of youth into adulthood.  

Some cultures have their elders provide a ‘sacred name’ to the child to be a reminder and guide throughout their life.  Along those lines below are ideas for taking charge of your own name and thus your life.

The name you are given

Child – What you are called – the name your parents gave you.  Recognize and appreciate the foundation that resides in that name that provides the leverage for your growth as a man.  This is your Foundation Name.  It encapsulates your birth, your hunger for learning, your child’s love of life and the awkwardness of growing into your body and identity.  This name stays with you through all of life’s stages.  It is like a fresh mountain stream that is the clean source of your memories.  It is the holding name for your initial connection with your life’s trajectory and your authenticity with that signal.  

The name you choose

Adult – What you want – the name that you decide reflects your synthesis of the inner and outer experiences, feelings and sensations.  This is your Synthesis Name.  You are a nexus of so many currents and threads, stages and lives, directions and levels, needs and wants.  All of this is happening while you are tasked with being an integral member of many communities that include your marriage, family, neighbourhood, manhood, soulhood and a passenger on planet earth.  Synthesising is you thriving in the moment of the current life stage you are living so that you derive satisfaction from how you live everyday life.  That way your wife does not become responsible for your lack of satisfaction you feel because you were too busy with paternal/family/professional responsibilities.  Then, as an elder you have a sense of accomplishment and of having contributed to the learning, growth and development of your communities. 

The name that chooses you

Elder – What you represent – to the continuance of the human story, to your communities, to the planet, to your soul accompanying your spirit into the universe.  Your significance to the planet may be difficult to know while you are in the middle of striving in daily life to make a living and find meaning.  So that name can be elusive.  And that is why it is called the Mystery Name.  Even if we don’t know what is always happening it is important to highlight the ideas and qualities that you feel resonate with your Mystery Name.  This sensitivity to recognize what fits with this next stage of life is a real challenge that can be frustrating and seemingly have no progress.  As you encounter success, challenges and failures in all stages of life you are in an ongoing process of consciously sowing the seeds of your eldership.

Seek and Offer with Liz Taylor

In addition to her Foundation for AIDS and more than 40 movies plus television shows, the generational movie star Liz Taylor squeezed in 8 marriages from 7 husbands.  This shows Liz Taylor was into recycling before most people on your block.

In her personal life Liz Taylor sought what her heart petitioned.  To love and be loved; to receive and be received. In a personal relationship Ms. Taylor offered insecurity (when you are a good friend of Michael Jackson your life currency includes high frequency ego)  and warmth.  In a man she sought not only romance but a source of stability.  She had a need which she felt would be satisfied by a solid relationship.  Taylor wanted a marriage strong enough to support her as a woman yet flexible enough to be able to handle the whims and intrusions of Hollywood. 

In the classic movie Cat On A Hot Tin Roof Taylor plays the empathetic yet tempestuous wife to Paul Newman as her failing husband.  The 1958 movie could have been called ‘Lost and Found’.  Newman’s character Brick Pollitt was lost in life and Taylor’s Maggie desperately wanted him found in her life; in her heart.

What you seek is almost certainly available in the person you seek it in.  Ms Taylor probably found some of what she was seeking in Richard (twice) at some point, Conrad, Mike and Michael.  After the proverbial honeymoon was over they may or may not have wanted to offer it up to her.  Once she felt her man couldn’t, or wouldn’t, offer Liz what she wanted then she needed to look for it elsewhere.  In one of her marriages it was only a matter of months before Taylor’s marriage had become unfulfilling . Although it makes sense that when the love is gone then why stay married, but it would be costly in divorce lawyers.  

Maybe Liz didn’t know how to ask to be loved the way she wanted to be loved.  Maybe the men she chose weren’t up to the job.  A few of her relationships definitely were complicated by drugs and alcohol. 

Unfortunately a common conundrum for a man is not knowing how to love his wife.  He wants to but can’t understand what expression that takes.  Love gets contorted by our handling of the emotional unpacking of our inner lives, life stages and development urges, professional success, physical health.  So it is easy to understand how two confused adults can fail in a relationship.  Especially if they had no guidance from their parents.

Without simple yet deep conversation sprinkled with wisdom we end up with men who are in fact lost with no idea what they seek and what they offer.  That is frustrating for everyone.  And can be dangerous because the man can think anytime he is being asked to do something it is because he has done something wrong.  Which is incorrect.  He is being asked because it is his responsibility to participate in a relationship and family.  

Also, if he is being asked it says he is capable and can be relied upon based on what he offers as a man.  We get this good reputation by doing a lot of small things, day after day.  This repetitive signal that upholds our marriage is a practical way to seek love.  As we grow and learn we can refine our seeking.  Refining our seeking means that we use our experience and intuition to know where, when and how to seek.  It means that our spouse can feel that embedded in our seeking is an offering of love and support for her as a woman.

What you seek can be found in what you offer.  It’s almost like saying you already have what you seek – you just want it reflected back to you.  And is reflected back to but just like in a mirror, it is reversed and is based on what your spouse seeks.  You seek honesty and so your spouse delivers the truth; you seek happiness and your spouse offers laughter; you seek companionship and your spouse offers you conversation.

If you don’t get what you seek then perhaps before pointing a finger it is to ask if it is clear to you what you seek and offer.  That can be as simple as writing it down on a piece of paper:  3 things you seek in your relationship and 3 things you offer to your relationship.  Is one contingent upon the other?  Yes and no.  It isn’t tit for tat at the moment.  We all have to put up with our spouse in the bad days and relish the good days.  And they provide you the same service.  However a living relationship needs the give and take of seek and offer to have a flow between both people that continue to define and refine their mechanism  for loving and being loved.   

By persisting in what you offer to your wife, offering her safety and your sentiment for her happiness, it will help define what you seek.  Meaning you know what you want as a man and as a husband that is valid unto itself while at the same time strengthening the marriage.  This requires understanding what satisfies you as a man and making yourself responsible for it.  This involves learning what fulfills your spouse and supporting her in that endeavour.  You seek being loved and someone to love.  

Obviously not at all costs.  With dignity for the person and their stage in life. 

Simple ‘Sistem’ To Write Your Own Story

The message is simple – the execution not so much.

Robert Downey Jr. is Peter Highman in the 2010 movie Due Date. He ends up in a car travelling with the ideosyncratic Ethan Tremblay played by Zach Galifiniakis.

The movie is painfully hilarious. It showcases the talent of both Downey and Galifinakis. I imagine the director Todd Philips gave them a clear idea of where he each scene needed to get to and then let the actors loose.

Downey has had a very successful acting career becoming well known for the Iron Man trilogy. It feels good to see him accepting he is so talented and sharing those talents. It feels even better knowing he had to get over some pretty serious addiction issues at a young age. After being in and out of prison as a result of his reckless lifestyle he finally was able to rehab himself and re-construct his life and career.

No doubt he had to ask forgiveness from his wife and of himself.

As highlighted in the book Satisfaction (link below) an effective way to forgive, yourself or others, is to move on. To have something better to do than regret the past. To connect to some task that is stronger than the pull of bitterness from feeling hard done by. To rise above the inability for personal growth in the moment and accept that we can always be growing.

A very concise and effective mindset to participate in writing your own story is the Sistem Mindset.

Quite simply it is: Resist – Insist – Persist.

Resist the lower levels of life that want to rob you of your energy. That means resist pettiness, revenge, grudges, assumptions.

Insist on dignity. Yours. Theirs. Of a man. Of a woman. That means asking questions to understand why. This is coupled with finding a way to be understood for what you want.

Persist in growing. Grow as a man, as a family member, as a professional, as a human. This means knowing your focus is valuable (which is why Facebook/Google make so much money off their ads) and put it where it gives you a fulfilling result. Persist daily in your morning routine. Wonder out loud what is possible – you never know what your wife or children might have in mind. Read a book you already read to see what you didn’t grasp the first time; investigate on line classes, minimize something from your diet you know isn’t good for you and introduce a new vegetable you haven’t tried before.

Who knows what these three pronged Sistem might cause in your life.

The thing is the more we Persist in growing the easier it can be to Insist and Resist.

Link for the book Satisfaction: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1777691109

The New You Series – Advice – Guidance and Wisdom

There is a well known adage that perhaps was coined by Confucoius or is alluded to in the Bible.  Either way it goes like this:

‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.’

It would appear to hold true. This is very much the Rich Dad/Poor Dad juxtaposition.

Perhaps, in hindsight, there is a line missing:

Forget to demand respect for the planet from the man and he will destroy fish stocks and end up giving his children farmed fish full of chemicals. 

Let’s look at the adage through the lens of: Advice, Guidance and Wisdom.

At the level of advice is ‘give a man a fish’

At the level of guidance is ‘teach him to fish’

At the level of wisdom is ‘demand respect, from yourself and others, on behalf of the planet’  

Advice

Is for guys

Application is to work life, guy life, ego buoyancy, for not looking stupid, to the now

Forms of Advice – tips, sayings, phrases, guyisms, answers, encouragement

Advice provides timely ideas for someone to make decisions to get results.

Advice for any person, at any age in any stage in life.  It is useful to daily life and can stand the test of time. 

Provenance – brain

Relevance – bridging the moment with what you want

Photo by Anaya Katlego on Unsplash


Guidance 

Guidance is for men.

Application – Guidance is a resource for learning to deal with fear, for growing awareness, for understanding others, for facing the future.

Forms of Guidance – story, map, the legend on a map, questions, challenges

Guidance hints at the man you become if you listen to it and let it impact your life

Provenance – heart

Relevance – love, the need to love and be loved

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Wisdom

Is for The New You,

Application is for participation in service to something bigger than you, curiosity and reflection

Forms of Wisdom – crystalized, dense yet light in its transmission, mysterious and confusing and settling

Wisdom is the language of the instinct talking about finding meaning and integrating it into life

Provenance – soul

Relevance – magnetizing to the truth and electrifying to action

Practice all 3 (Advice – Guidance – Wisdom): Know the difference so advice doesn’t get passed off as guidance; and wisdom doesn’t get reduced to guidance.

Demand advice from your peers, guidance from your parents and wisdom from your elders.

Tidy: Profile of The New You

Photo by Scott Blake on Unspla

“Hey”

Turning left out of the restaurant, MJ and I walk south along John Street.  I know I hear some running footsteps but, so what.  You never know who is asking for something so I put my arm around MJ’s shoulder and keep walking.

“Excuse me”

I look over my shoulder between me and  MJ and see this guy waving his hand and running towards us.  The guy was wearing black pants, a white shirt and a knee length white apron.  It’s our waiter from the restaurant.  Maximum 25 years old as he ran with ease towards us.

“Crazy” the waiter says, landing a few slow down steps as he reaches us.

“Look.”  He only takes two breaths to speak normally after a 2 block sprint.

“I think the bills stuck together.  I don’t think you meant to leave a $40 tip on a $29 tab.”  The waiter tentatively offers two twenty dollar bills.  The bills were probably just printed and put into circulation.  I had just got them out of the bank machine earlier in the day.

“I thought they felt funny.” I say putting my hand out tentatively as the waiter goes about half way.  

“Thank you very much.”  I extend my appreciation and my hand to receive my overpayment.  

“Right on.” Waiter says. There is a brief gap in the moment; and then he spins to jog back to the restaurant.  MJ  and I look at each other.

“Wow.  You don’t see that too often.  Someone running 2 blocks to give you money you didn’t know was yours.  Actually, in the moment I thought to give him 1 of the twenties.”

MJ says “I could tell you hesitated.  You could’ve.”      

Standing in the same place, slowly folding the 2 twenties, I look at MJ and declare “That’s honesty”.   Feeling proud to have been a part of that street vignette, I almost feel I deserve some of the credit.

MJ holds my gaze for a moment, then she says “That’s tidy.” 

TIDY

Tidy is living life with minimal loose ends.

Tidy is not military.  It is clarity of scope of any intention.

Scope refers to what you are going to do when and how.

How refers to the quality of your work and ‘the 2-stage hand off’.

The first stage of the ‘hand off’ is you receiving from the previous person what you said you needed in order to get started.    The second stage is you delivering what you said you would. That way the next person knows what to expect when you are finished with your part. Essentially ensuring the next stage 1 for the next person includes what said they needed to get started.

So if the person before or after you is not tidy, life now has drama that we aren’t paid for.

Being tidy is a reflection of self respect; It is an expression of understanding others and having the arts and skills to be understood.

Tidy is a great way to run your life.  

Like someone runs their business. 

You do what you say you are going to do.

You make commitments, make a plan and invest in the project.  Then people quit, get fired or screw up.  So being tidy can be a great hypothetical ideal but the daily reality can make your work anything but tidy.  Because someone on your team quit means now you can’t deliver your products on time. So you have to advise others that your delivery is going to change.  That’s business.  That’s life.

Sometimes there is a pandemic and materials or staff are scarce or expensive and your price changes and the customer isn’t happy or wants to cancel all together.  These are some of those changes that fit into the ‘you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up’ category. 

So many obstacles can get thrown your way making your work, and life, untidy.  You can’t control others.  You can manage yourself.  Your work is subject to outside influences.  When everything is going sideways, that is when you need to insist on being tidy in your mind.  Meaning understanding who is responsible, or to blame, but with an eye to moving forward.  

The New You Profile is: 

The man a young man strives to be;

The gentleman a man can feel he is becoming.

The scope of that gentleman’s life is:  deep, expansive, growing, challenging, intriguing.

Pioneer The New You

The following is an excerpt from my new book Satisfaction: How A Man Elevates His Skills And Qualities To Generate What He Wants. The book highlights men’s Emotional Agility. Emotional Agility here refers to a person’s capacity to synthesize daily and devotion emotion. This is the degree to which a person can cultivate their own sense of meaning while integrating the sense of peace this brings into their daily life. Emotional Agility is the way a person is able to rise up above the grind of daily life to recognize higher realms of awareness.

Pioneering implies going into the unknown. That is scary and can cause us to retreat into our habits when we actually can feel a need to grow. Pioneering the New You requires us to be brave and creative, perseverant and sensitive.

From page 108 … “The New You doesn’t exist without the old you. Yet the New You uses the past and resists being used by it. By standing firmly on your past with eyes into the future you invoke perception about what to do now. Each day, for each of us there is always a New You available. A version of you that comes with a higher level of intention.

Your New You grasps that a man changes as he is processed through the succession of Life Stages. He also realizes his spouse will experience a corresponding change thus the New You is nimble in the moment to update himself with the intricacies of her growth. the New you isn’t scared of the moment because he has no need to control it. the moment is free to flow into the future. So is the New You. Free to stop, smile and tell your wife she looks great.

The New You accesses his agility to get satisfaction. He is tune to his finesse to facilitate Fulfillment in others. He declares what he wants and has the humility to do the work to make it a reality.

The Post Apocalyptic Mind Set

Tallahassee, Little Rock, Wichita, Madison, Columbus and to a lesser extent Albuquerque and Berkeley.

Said in a Canadian way: Point Pelee, Flin Flon, Moose Jaw, Sault Ste. Marie, Calgary and to a lesser extent Charlevoix and Tofino.

Photo by Some Tale on Unsplash

The American locales are the names taken by the characters in the violent and witty post-apocalyptic movies Zombieland and Zombieland: Double Tap starring good old Woody Harrelson. The Canadian names are perhaps the names of the characters for Zombieland 3! Regardless they might be places worth a visit for some fabulous wine, awesome skiing or dinosaur bone hunting.

So Tallahassee, played with gusto by W. Harrelson, and his fellow small U.S. city companions are fighting a daily battle to be normal as they stay alive despite the persistent zombies with a thirst for their brains. Frighteningly similar to our Covid covered daily lives!

You too can star in your own post apocalyptic film too. Actually you probably already have. It is the fall out from any big argument you have with anyone, usually family – especially your wife. We all argue and disagree.

The idea here is to plan for the apocalypse. It’s not so much to be a prepper who has all their tins of chicken soup and bags of lentils stacked nicely in some pantry. Or to be a ready survivalist with their mental checklist and go bag with: knife, beef jerky, water filter, compass, rechargeable headlamp, small tarp and wire (to trap small animals).

The thinking is to have something to think about after the Big Bang of a heated emotional argument. Because if you yell and scream, shout and stamp and bang then once you calm down you will be emotionally emptied out. This can feel quite good actually. To have cleaned yourself out of that backed- up stress and nagging frustration. However it is a wise one who curates what fills their empty emotional bucket. Because either way it is going to get filled zip-zoom fast.

We have to know we are going to have disagreements. That’s not bad. it’s that some of those disagreements turn to arguments. Some of those moments of poor understanding we reduce to fights. So prepare. Yes avoid the arguments you can avoid. But fights seem to come out of nowhere. Like a tax bill, or a hernia, a mother-in-law.

Have your formula for instantly, cleverly creating your own life line out of the confusion of anger and pettiness that pollute the planet during and after a fight. To do this, you sincerely want to have a good relationship with the other person as a foundation. Then write the phrase you want to mentally/vocally be saying to your wife in the wake of the anger and frustration. Maybe you are with her – both quiet, tired and hurt. Or maybe you have jumped in your car and have tunes cranked as swear words and insults are swirling in the ether ready for you to launch them in your wife’s general direction.

The suggestion here is to substitute something like the following:

“I am your man, forever and always. I know it. You know it.”

“The moment was a blackhole for my patience but I know I love you.”

Phrases like these can slow and reverse the downward spiral that is so darkly magnetic.

“I seek to be understood by you, at the same time I seek to understand you”

That was not what I want. I want us to fight together for something; not fight against each other.”