Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Tribute to a Man I never met

Those who know me in real life, will likely remember the story of how back in May, I saw an e-mail request from the Veterans Care Program at a hospital looking for a violin donation for a Vet. who wanted to play again. 
I sent the word out on Facebook and Twitter and lots of really good people took up the challenge of finding one.

The remarkable part of that story was when I was contacted by Brandon Hahn, a young married truck driver from a smaller town about half an hour from where I live.

A very nice, and friendly sounding man, he asked me a few questions then suggested that he might be able to trade a guitar that he had for a violin and donate it to the program.

I'll be honest, by that point, there had been quite a few leads that didn't pan out, so while his thought seemed genuine, I really wasn't getting my hopes up... However a few hours later, he called me again. He had found a music store that would do the trade. He traded his guitar and paid the cash difference for a brand new violin.

I was speechless, again, for those who know me, that's not an easy thing to do. In the beginning, I had thought that just maybe, someone would have an old one in an attic but this man and his wife Jessica, with kindness rarely seen, bought one brand new, which they donated to the Veterans Care Music Program for a Vet. that they had never laid eyes on..

Brandon and I spoke a couple of more times after that, but then I didn't hear from him, which was disappointing, I wanted to meet him in real life and count him among my friends.. But Guys? We aren't always the best at keeping in touch, I get that.

However, I found out about a week ago, that Brandon passed away tragically in June. It's taken me that long to be able to write this tribute, in fact, even now I'm tearing up as I do it.

This is a Man, who was constantly doing random acts of kindness, whether he was giving some nameless employee at a gas station a birthday cake, because he was new to the country and alone, or shoveling his neighbours drive ways, or even  collecting clothes with his wife for local shelters(The clothes were wet and to be thrown out, but they washed,dried and folded hundreds of pounds of clothing, then donated them)

I don't know why the loss of someone I never met has affected me so much. Only that it has.

I have always had a theory that most people are genuinely good and kind, some may be in different circumstances, or making unkind choices, but deep down they are good.. And there are a few(and this might not be a popular thing to say), who just aren't.. Who are just generally bad, and cruel... But there are also some, who are just better than the rest of us... Who exemplify kindness, who can not pass by a person in need without lending a hand, and when they leave us.. The world truly is an emptier place. I think that Brandon was one of those people.

I also believe that when a person who has lived with the life philosophy of Kindness leaves us, it's up to the rest of us to pick up that gauntlet and do a little extra to try and fill the void that has been left behind.

He taught me something else too. While we can't all be famous Artist, Musicians or Inventors... It's within each of us the power to be remembered for leaving the world a better place, simply by being nice to each other., and I for one will try and follow his lead and be a little kinder than I was yesterday

Peace Kiddies

Add: To keep the kindness flowing, we are singing Christmas Carols and collecting donations for the food back, please consider joining us :-) 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Little something about LIFE :-D

Just a short one today, but I saw this and thought the idea was very cool and a nice way to spend 2 mins of my day. 

It got me wondering what my 3 things  are that I would put on my list. In fact it was hard to narrow it to 3, but here goes:

1) Everyone has their own spark of Awesome, if we look hard enough.. But sometimes it's ok to move on and let someone else find it. Finding someone else's Awesome should never come at the cost of your own.

2)There will be many, many friends in your life and lots will be there when you need them, but your truest of friends, will trust you enough to let you be there for them as well. Cherish those people.

3)We are here to be happy, even if it might not seem so today. So remember, one of your tomorrows will be better. If you're stuck doing something you don't like, find a way to find some joy in it.. 
And if you need a hug... Go and Hug someone.. There's a very good chance, they will hug you back.

Peace Kiddies :-)

ps.. Feel free to add your own 3 :-)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Review of The 400 Pound Male Stripper, by Derrick Shirley

A few months back I heard of the book, "The 400 Pound Male Stripper" by Derrick Shirley, and I'll admit...the title intrigued me. I did a little research, saw a few pics... and from what I could see of the modern day Mr. S., he was NOT 400 pounds.  A new diet book then?
Being what can be kindly referred  to as a "Heavy set man", I was even more curious when I saw a Youtube video promoting his book. (video included at the end of this) So I put it on my "Must read" list.

As luck would have it, a few weeks ago Derrick advertized on Facebook/Twitter that he was giving some copies of his book to anyone who would be willing to write a review. I held my hand up tall in a Horshakian manner and yelled.. "Ohhhh, Ohhhhh!!!!  Mr. Shirley, CALL ON ME!!!!!' Annnnnnd.. he did :-)
The first thing that I would have to say about the book is that it is incredibly honest. I would think that if a person was going to write their life's journey, they would omit the skeletons in the closet. Derrick does no such thing. He bares his soul and maybe that, more than anything, is what makes this such a powerful read. It's also part of what makes it a book that people can identify with. Whether you are a Man or Woman, or Person of colour you almost get a feeling of liberation. "Yes.. I understand that" or "I've been there"..... "I get it".
The second thing I will say is that it's not a self help book(or a Diet Book). They tell you things like "If you just {Insert whatever here}, you will fix your problems". Derrick does not do that; he just talks about his journey and we can take from it what we like.
I found myself smiling through it, I even became angry at one point. I tossed the book on the couch and walked away. Why? Like I said, it's very honest, and he had done something and it reminded me of something that I had done. Basically, I was angry at myself. I took a little time to deal with those emotions, and then got back to reading.
 It's hard to describe something you are excited about, without getting into content, but I don't want to take away from the experience of anyone who will read it...and I'm hoping that lots more people will. 
Instead I will tell you of what I took from it.
I realized that I frequently don't do the things that I love, because I'm doing things that I like - I'm changing that.
I've started some journals - and it is sooooo cool and freeing. I've even forgiven myself of some past regrets that I have chosen not to think about for a long time.
Maybe most importantly, when I read about this person's journey, someone who was "Just a Guy" and yet came through everything that life could throw at him better and stronger, I realized that I too am stronger than that which would hold me back. And that, right there, may be the greatest gift that this book offers.
 As I read the very last paragraph, my Daughter looked at me and said "What's wrong Dad?". I looked at her, gave her a tearful beaming smile and said, "Sweetie, it had a very happy ending".
I'm a big believer in happy endings - and in my own case, I found a few tools to add to my repertoire in this book.
Thank You Mr. Shirley, for your honesty and sharing. I have a place reserved on my bookshelf for your next offering. I hope you don't let it get too dusty for waiting :-)
Peace Kiddies 

Add: As the book I read was given to me... and in an effort to pay it forward... I will give a copy to a random person who comments here or "Likes" and Share's on Facebook/Twitter.  :-D

Derricks Shirley's Youtube Video

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

And the best kind of Sunshine is?????

The question I posed on Facebook was... "Which kind of sunshine is the best kind?", A reliable source (Me) said... The 3rd best kind was "Sitting on your break at work, chillin' in the Sun" sunshine... 2nd, was "hanging out at the beach on a lazy afternoon" sunshine... but what was the elusive Number 1?

Well go figure, the person who came the closest to being right was....{Drumroll Please}... My Mom, when she said(talking about Moi)... "You are my Sunshine, You make me happy when clouds are grey"....(Mom's pretty smart for an old broad LOL)

In fact, while I was sitting on my break at work on this cool autumn afternoon, soaking in the last of today's rays... That's pretty much what I was thinking.. Not the "Me" part of course, but all of the people in my life that fill my days with sunshine, even when it's raining... And when I really sat and thought about it, I was amazed and humbled at the same time.

I have 3 Amazing Children, who are getting older now, so they are more than just my kids, they are my friends.. They are Awesome people, They make me proud and they brighten up my life.

I have an incredible family, who love and support me.. My Cool Mom, talented Sister, Rock Star Brother.. Nieces, a sole nephew. Another Brother who may actually be a Ninja, and has the sweetest family.

I work with spectacular people, who make going to work fun and a thing of joy, even on the really bad days...

I even have a horrible monster in my life who brightens my day just by by being her(and a very cool Mini Monster :-)

I have extraordinary friends, some near, others far away... They are kind and brilliant and wonderful, each and every one of them.

Not all my Sunshine bringers are human... I have 2 foster pups that have been with me for a while and who are so happy when I come home, that I can't help but be happy too.

It just sort of hit me today, when I was feeling kind of "Meh"(On my a fore mentioned break)  and was brightened up after a simple 5 min phone call from my Lovely Daughter. Nothing outrageous was said, but I felt brighter, She does that a lot :-)

It did get me thinking though of the many people in my life who, through one way or another, brighten my days...

My question... "Which is the best sunshine" was in fact a silly way to lead into a big...


To everyone, who though their kindness, their friendship, warm smiles, and just by being Fabulous, make my world a better place.

You may have no idea how important you are... But take my word for it... My Universe would be a sadder emptier place without you.

So I send you all a big Group Hug

And say "Thank You for being You"

Peace Kiddies :-)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Just a thought :o)

I read a small article this morning about Beatrice Wood. She was a ceramic artist, who lived to be 105 years old. She made her art at the wheel until she was 103. It was a neat story, but it made me think about that last time she sat at the pottery wheel at 103 years of age to make that final piece. I wonder if she knew that would be her last. I wonder if she poured the passion of over a centuries years of life into that final work. Or if it was just one more session at the wheel, but she decided the next day that maybe she'd take the week off.. but then never went back.

I remember this woman I knew in a nursing home. She was 104, and while she needed some support physically, Mentally, she was just as sharp as any of us younger types. We would chat and she would sometimes talk of the things she missed. It turns out that one of the things that she missed the most was cooking. 
I'm betting that if she had known the last time she cooked that, that would be her last time to be able to experience that joy... It would have been a spectacular meal. I imagine she would have savoured every moment.. The smells, the feelings and she would have been able to just  close her eyes and draw upon it.

Even at my not too old age, there are experiences in my life that have already had their last time. Some of them I was aware of. Those experiences are imprinted on my mind and soul, but others... It just never occurred to me that there would never be another one... Those memories, sadly, are pretty much lost.

I guess when we think of "last times", we normally think in terms of life's end... But Beatrice Wood lived 2 more years after her last work.. And my kind friend in the nursing home lived many more after she stopped cooking.

If anything today's line of thought is bringing me to a place where I will be more aware of the things that bring me joy... and try to more fully experience them when they come my way.. 
Because life is full of endings and new beginnings... But that which we keep safely in our hearts are with us forever.

Peace Kiddies 

Add: The Picture on the top of this post is a piece of ceramic art by Beatrice Wood :o) 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Somethings are worth the risk :o)

At some point, I'm sure folks will tire of me talking about the amazing people in my life, be they family, friends or people just met, but most likely long after everyone has quit listening or reading to what I have to say, I'll still be talking or writing about it.
I am incredibly fortunate and hugely blessed to know a host of kind and caring individuals. People who make it their life's journey to give and give. People who's first instinct is Kindness. People whom I am honoured to call friends and family.

I am sometimes reminded though of a Life Lesson I learned a couple of years ago. That to be a true friend actually comes in two parts.
It comes from caring, and lifting others up, from being a sympethetic ear, and supportive, and so much more that involves giving and kindness.

However, that's just the first part, and in fact, it's the easy part.

The second and harder part, is allowing others be there for us. And THAT can be terrifying for some. Having the faith and trust in another human being to say,"I need help", opening ourselves up enough to cry on anothers shoulder..Letting someone else into the island that is our inner core. THAT can be scary. Many have done it and been hurt or disappointed with the result, which gives people the feeling that they truly are alone.
What people tend to lose sight of, is that when we let others around us in, and let them build US up when we need it, they are giving us something that we need, but we are giving them something even more precious, the gift of us. We are giving them our trust and our faith and leaving ourselves open.

It's true, we may be dispponted because we trusted the wrong person and we may be hurt by the result.. There is a risk... However the truly amazing things in this life.. Love, a first kiss, the first time we try something remarkable.. They all come with huge risk, but no one will argue that the pay off can be something that we cherish all of our lives.

There isn't a single one of us that doesn't feel alone at some point in our lives.... But, just maybe, even if we FEEL that way, we don't have to BE that way.

Just something to think about.

Peace Kiddies   


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Your True Colour is Awesome :o)

Yes YOU!!!!  And I don't care that I don't know who specifically is reading this... Or even that you can't find the colour Awesome in a box of Crayola's .. 
Whether you are going to work today or home with your kids.. Whether you have a tonne of homework hanging over your head.. Or you haven't left the house in 3 days and desperately need a shower.
You may not see it, You may not feel it.. But others do. There is something about you that makes others happy, whether it's your smile, or the way you hug.. Or even your quirkiness.

It's tough sometimes when it seems that we are  average in a world full of extroidinary people to see our own awesome, and sadly at times, it is so much easier to see what is wrong in our lives than to look in the mirror and see that spark that makes us unique, But we all have it. Maybe everyone else doesn't see it, maybe there are a few who choose to exploit what they perceive as weaknesses. But we are important.. And for everyone that may not see it, there are others who do, who count on your smile, your hello, or even just your presence. Some people you don't even see very often take comfort in just the fact that you're there... 

So as you go through your day today and your week ahead.. Remember that YOUR TRUE COLOUR IS AWESOME.... And the world is a better place with you in it...

Peace Kiddies :-) 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Is Animal Fostering for you?

I should open first by saying that there are many others who would be way more qualified to write this than me.. I'm not a huge animal activist, this is my first time fostering, and I've never rescued puppies from a burning building... 
I'm just a guy, as average as they come, with a couple of very cool new friends/house guest.

Their names are Casper and Wendy. They are Mother and Daughter, ages 14&11 and they are Huskies.

I had never really thought of animal fostering before... and wasn't even thinking about it when I heard about these two girls. A friend posted on Facebook, that they were looking for a foster home for them a few months ago... I didn't even know if I would qualify, but I looked around and saw plenty of room for a couple in need of a place to stay and thought, "Why Not?"...

Some advantages to fostering are, the support circle you have around you.. If I run into trouble, help is a phone call or e-mail away.
It's good for people who may not know what the future holds, so committing to owning a pet for the next 12-17 years may be impractical. 
In my case, finances are an issue.. Can I afford to buy and feed a pet? Sure I can, but if they tripped in a hole while running tomorrow and needed $1000.00 in Vet care?... Ummmm.. No I could not even begin to figure out what I'd do.

Each rescue group is different. The one I deal with drops off food when I run low.. sometimes treats as well, and they take care of vet expenses.
(And at this point, I really need to plug; "All Breeds Canine Rescue", They are the very nicest of people and there is a link at the end of this :-)

When I told friends that I would be receiving two new house guest, one of the first questions that they asked me was, "What if you get attached to them?"... I foolishly responded that I wouldn't. I was just trying to do something nice.. but I knew it was temporary so I would not let myself grow too attached....

AND.... I didn't. Nope, not this guy, who is completely in control of his emotions... Not for a whole 2 weeks. That's when I was coming home from work, sitting on the bus excited and happy for some unknown reason, and it hit me that I was feeling that way, because I was looking forward to seeing "My Girls". 

So, there you have the big disadvantage.. The "Knowing", that one day they will go away, and yes, when I think of that, Of course I get sad, and I imagine that when that day comes.. This 6 foot tall, heavy set, bald, dark man.. will shed more than a few tears. But that's OK... Because the smile on my face watching Casper crashed on the bed with my sleeping daughter, like that's the only place on the earth that she wants to be, or the fun we've had being out in the snow together.. The memories of late cheesy movie nights with Casper sleeping on my lap, and Wendy crashed on the love seat.. and even waking up squeezed on 8 inches of bed, while they hog the rest of it.... All of that and more will make those tears sooooooo worth it.

Now you might think by reading this, that maybe I have one of those quiet lives, consisting of me sitting around alone and these dogs are now my life, Like the Crazy Cat lady down the street.. But in fact, I have 3 Awesome kids, I have Amazing friends, an Incredible family and a job that I love(4 out of 5 days LoL)..... Even with all that, these girls have added new joys to my life, and I am very grateful for them.

Now back to my original question. Is Animal Fostering for you? Well, if you have a spot where you can place a litter box, some room on the floor for a food and water dish, If you didn't notice whether it was sunny or cloudy out today, because you had other things on your mind,.. If you think watching American Idol would be more fun while scratching a furry sleeping head.... or if just want to so something nice to one who maybe can't say thank you with their words, but more than compensates with their eyes, It is definitely something you should think about. Because Kindness in all forms benefits the giver as much as the receiver, and nothing makes that more evident than when you come out of the bathroom and your foster pets are laying on the floor outside the bathroom door waiting for you to come out..

Maybe we can't change the whole world.. But fortunately we all have the power to make it brighter for someone.. and sometimes that someone is very furry :-)

Peace Kiddies

Add... Here is the link for the Rescue group I deal with, I will include other links of other groups as I get them.
All Breed Canine Rescue-