Sunday, December 18, 2011

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Living intensely

The following is a slightly more expanded version of my last update to Katie's Karma Corps.

Can you recall a time when to escape and re-create your self for a moment that you lit a few candles, turned out the lights and just listened to the sounds of silence?  I am sure you can.  You may also recall that the candles would suddenly gutter and almost extinguish themselves from some sourceless zephyr of breeze.  
That is rather what December 15 was like for Katie and our family.  With the power of our angels supporting us, we approached the post-surgery consult with Dr. Reedijk with hope and a belief that the worst was surely behind us.  We expected that our movement forward might not be as swift and without obstacle as we would wish, but that the road would be relatively smooth.  
Regardless, you’re probably tired of this preamble and wondering what the hell happened.  In a nutshell here it is:  The appointment was not quite what we were expecting, cancer found in 1 lymph node, and we did not get 1cm clear margins around breast tissue (0.3mm clearance). So now Katie  will undergo CT scans and bone scans on December 23 at Mt. Sinai and PMH  then meet with chemo and radiation teams probably at Credit Valley Hospital.
I have written to you before that as you experience this you become familiar with an entirely new and previously foreign vocabulary.  One of the most frequent terms encountered is that this is all just a journey.  Well, I am here to tell you that this journey makes the rape of Nanking look like a slightly raucous Sadie Hawkins dance.  It makes Masada appear as a somewhat difficult to access picnic spot.  This is no journey folks.  A journey is something with romantic overtones that you pursue voluntarily.  This my friends is a forced march to an uncertain future where shock and anger become daily realities.  Where the candle flame of hope does indeed gutter relentlessly.  Where the will to persist is challenged on almost every front.
I noted with sadness the passing last week of Christopher Hitchens.  Whether you agree with some, all or none of his stupendously contrarian views, no one can deny the brilliance of his writing.  I came upon the following quote and it seemed more apt than anything for this period of our life.
“Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”
Christopher Hitchens
With your help and continued support we will live intensely.  We will cling to the belief that the collective power you provide and the super feisty attitude of Katie will some day lead us to a point where the flames never gutter.  Where the light shines brightly and we feel the warmth of the sun.
Thank you from Katie, Gabriel, Samuel and one very tired old man.   We appreciate you and continue to honour you.  We send you great blessings for Christmas and whatever else you choose to celebrate.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blow your mind

Ever find yourself looking for something to blow the cobwebs out?  Something to remind you of why we need to fight to protect mother earth?  Images to inspire you and recreate your child-like sense of wonder?  Pictures that define the real meaning of awesome?

Then, please, do yourself a favour and click this link right now.  

I promise you will feel better and you will want to share it with anyone you can imagine who might need a little pick me up or just a moment of genuine inspiration.  

Now this is what I call going to church!

And, thanks to Tony Pickard for sharing this with me originally on FB.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 updated - again!

I just updated my website and thought you might want to check it out.

Grace Hanna Inc.

Take a look and let me know what you think!

My boys like it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Clanmore Montessori

Clanmore Montessori

Here is the link for Gabriel's school. It will also be Samuel's next fall.

I couldn't more highly recommend this family. Children are the absolute and utmost priority and Gabriel has completely blossomed during his three years (and counting!) with the great teachers of Clanmore.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The dignity of choice

I've told my children that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to celebrate that I graduated. For me, death is a graduation.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Nana Kerr, 99 with Samuel 1 1/2

No.  My Mom is not dead.  She just wishes she was.

She has outlived three husbands.

She has outlived her three sisters.

She has outlived one of her daughters.

She has outlived all of her close friends save two.

She, according to her own statement misses in order - her husband Mac, her car and playing golf.

Her mind is still sharp.  She is still the best bridge player at Queen's Terrace.  She knows all the stuff she used to know - it just takes a little longer to retrieve the information.

Her body doesn't work the way she wants it to.

She was an athlete and a champion golfer, curler, swimmer and her sporting achievements are recorded in a Hall of Fame.

She is in pain.

She is lonely - although we visit often and my niece Elaine is a constant presence and enormous source of loving support.

She loves her grandchildren - Mackenzie, Wesley, Eli, Gabriel and Samuel.

She revels in their growth and love.

She regrets that she won't see them grow to young men but has left each a legacy that will long outlive her corporeal presence.

She is depressed.

She has had two heart attacks in the past two months.

She once said that when she went she wanted to go with a massive cardiac arrest but after the first one she delightfully commented that she'd changed her mind about that because it hurt too much!

Her first comment when I visit, after expressing genuine joy at seeing me, is that she wants to die.

She doesn't understand why her powerful faith and belief seem to bar her from joining her departed loved ones.

She commands that we not grieve for her when her wish is granted.

She wants a party.

Her situation, and those of others with whom I am familiar, led me to join the Dying with Dignity movement.

We live our lives with a fundamental belief that individual choice is all important and yet when we come to a point where life no longer is the preferable alternative, choice is removed from our arsenal.

Suicide is man's way of telling God, "You can't fire me - I quit."
Bill Maher
This is not by any means a morbid account.

It is a brief reflection on a powerful woman's desire to continue to make the critical decisions in her life.

Please consider this:  my mother has a strong and abiding faith in her God.  It is not a belief I share nor does that really matter.  After almost a century of living she is ultimately feeling disappointed that her God won't bring her home.  This is not the way we should be living our final  days.

If you are of a mind, please visit to learn more about how we can influence our final choices and the liberty and freedom we can all enjoy.

In the meantime, Mom, we hear you.  We love you.  We will give you a great party and as you wrote on your 21st birthday "we will join you in making whoopie!"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My beautiful boy Gabriel is 4

We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body.
Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Early indications of Gabriel's beautiful spirit.
Yikes, already his third year at Clanmore Montessori.

Yup, there's trouble there but c'mon...too cute!

Almost four years ago, our lives were irrevocably changed when Gabriel Bridger Kerr joined Katie and I to form a little family then living on the shores of Lake Ontario in Etobicoke.  

At the time of his arrival I, and perhaps Katie as well, had little real understanding of how profoundly our lives would change subsequent to this little bald boy wailing his way into our hearts.  

What incredible good fortune that he was and is such a healthy, articulate and desperately funny little boy who at times startles us with his adult-like insight while maintaining a delightful sense of wonder.  It is my ambition in life, what's left of mine, to ensure that his wonder remains alive and that he continues to view life with such verve.

From a tiny peanut to a swimming, skating, and running big boy Gabriel is my true joy in life.

And, bless his little cotton socks, he's a very good big brother to Samuel...most of the time.  Sibling rivalry has started to show but Gabriel shows patience with Sammy beyond his age even putting up with having clumps of hair torn from his scalp.  Sure, there are occasional kicks and punches thrown, but what the hell, they're boys.

Sammy loves his big brother and thinks he's hilarious.

A show for Sammy.
 Thank you my boys for making my life worth living.  Daddy loves you now and will forever.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Very lucky boys

Just a very quick entry today to record how very lucky my boys are to have great grandparents in their lives.  Gabe and Sam got to spend a day on the farm yesterday with Nana and Grandpa Sanders.  They were both absolutely thrilled and it just made me feel so appreciative to have these people with us.  

As well, my Mom - while being 99 means she can't take the kids to the farm - is a great influence on the boys who both love visiting their sharp Nana Kerr in Cambridge.  In fact, we may just hop in the car and go see her today.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yup. It's hot baby!

Gabe and Sam have this heat wave figured out - remove all non-essential clothing, play in the house and nap regularly.

Gabe's Gab this morning:  "Dada, let me smell your arm."  Sniffffffff. "Ewwwwww. You sure need a shower.  Me too!"

Might have something to do with the fact that yesterday the hot water heater sprung a leak and while it is hotter than Hades I'm still too chicken to jump into a cold shower. Maybe a little dip in Lake Ontario just like Gabe and Sam did the other day following the lead of a couple of the neighbourhood Golden Retrievers.

It's all simple.  Just follow the lead of the  children. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Battle scarred and experienced knowledge

Wind-blown, gnarly and worn willow - still vital and growing. Coronation Park, Oakville July 13, 2011

Had the privilege of participating in a new product focus group last week.  The proposed offering revolves around the notion of coaching personal growth for guys.  Should the proponents proceed - and I hope they do - the offering will revolve around helping men come to grips with living life to the fullest and living in the moment.

Stay tuned to this blog and I'll let you know if Elvira, Angela and John proceed.
However, during the group session it became more clear to me that there are among us men of a certain age who remain vital, who possess the very considerable benefit of bruising experience, and who are living testament to the truism that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

Then I got to thinking about how one effectively communicates the benefit of greying or no hair to marketers and communicators who by and large believe that once you're beyond age 40 your usefulness is - well, not so useful.  
With all of the fuss about social media there's a prevailing belief that the medium is the sole territory of the young.  I believe that to be clap trap.  As Gary Vaynerchuk points out in his very good book The thank you economy, internet-driven media are quite simply just another vehicle to engage in conversation with consumers.  "Customers' demands for authenticity, originality, creativity, honesty, and good intent have made it necessary for companies and brands to revert to a level of customer service rarely seen since our great-grandparents day, when business owners often knew their customers personally, and gave them individual attention."

During my 30 years in marketing communications I have witnessed, directed, written and participated in every kind of communication activity you can imagine from straight-ahead, old timey P.R. to event management to international broadcast advertising to retail store design to packaging and pretty much everything in between.

What benefit that brings to a client today is this:  my business is founded upon three proven principles of effective communication.

Clarity - know what you want to tell your customer and tell them in as transparent a fashion as possible.

Simplicity - as an old mentor taught me "eschew obfuscation"!  Be straight foward and plain spoken.  Engage in conversation.  Commit to taking the time to be brief, brisk and brilliant.

Wit - Be engaging. Find some means by which to attract your audience's attention that is meaningful and relevant.

These principles are not the exclusive domain of any demographic group nor of any medium.  So, if you're someone who is looking to engage your customers in meaningful mutually beneficial conversation enlist the assistance of someone who has had plenty of experience in that endeavour and don't limit your search to the kids.  

And, when you do that perhaps you'll be kind enough to think of the services of Grace Hanna Inc. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My weekend so far

There's no doubt Gabriel is my son:  he's learning golf (me too - still!); he's a Liverpool fan; he loves his cowboy boots - although he's stuck on one pair while Daddy has oh - just a few more!

Samuel, on the other hand, is the most single-minded determined young 'un I've ever known except for the little guy my Aunt Elsie (101 years old last month) tells me about - yup, me.  We're similarly built too!

Talk about a productive time - we have discovered the solution to violence in children's cartoons!

That's right!  Chocolate ice cream and Sammy can't get the spoon to his gob fast enough.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A very curious approach to retail

The best representation I could find to depict the customer service attitude at Soap & Water.

For the past several decades it has been my privilege to work with many fine people in the retail industry.  From global giants to neighbourhood charmers, throughout North America and Europe with exposure to Asia and South America too - I have seen lots of different approaches to customer service.

I can't though remember the last time a store owner called me an "a-hole" and advised me to "f%*k off."

That's exactly what one of the charming partners of Oakville's soon to be out-of-business enterprise Soap and Water advised me today.

So listen you horse's ass:  you can be rude to me but you may not be rude to my wife and children and expect to avoid a confrontation.  If you're so damn successful that you can aggressively turn away custom "we don't need to sell to people such as you", "we don't need sales from you" then you're on to something that no other successful retailer has yet discovered. 

I suggest you might want to write a book, post a blog, get on the speaking tour and explain how suffering complete cranial/rectal inversion leads to retail success.

Oh, I noticed to that there wasn't another soul in your store nor anyone in sight.  Guess you probably do most of your stupendous sales on line or under darkness or by mail so you don't actually have to dirty your precious little hands dealing with actual people.


Please make this store die the business death it so rightly deserves.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Let it be

Hooshing Pooh sticks
Got some VERY good advice from a new client and hope-to-be friend the other day.

She's a professional coach.

There are lots of them out there.  Guess we all need a lot of help.

Mercifully I have met five or six really genuine people who are genuinely good at the gig and completely enthused and professional about their undertaking.  Elvira, Darla, Sara, Angela, Michael, Carole, Grace and others are people who have reinvented themselves in mid-life to realize their real ambitions.

So what was the advice?

"Acknowledge yourself!"

It is incredibly easy for the solopreneur to get down on himself.  (Please allow me to forgo the nonsense of the politically-correct s/he debate!) When business starts to go sideways, as it always and inevitably does, we have only ourselves to blame and for some of us that's when our skills really come to the foreground.  I know in my case that if business slips - as it has done precipitously this year - I am first in line to dump on my efforts to regain momentum and revenue.

It's a real Catch-22 truth be told.

So, what my new friend suggested was this - give yourself some credit for successes achieved and realize that this downturn is not the end of life as we know it.

So, part deux, when Gabriel and Samuel and I were at the lake a few days ago, Sammy decided to hoosh Pooh sticks.  (Read your Winnie the Pooh if this reference is not familiar.)
I thought what a great exercise and something we all need to do from time to time just to collect our thoughts and celebrate even the smallest achievement.  

That stick being hooshed above may be in Niagara or Hamilton by now.  Or, it may be back on the beach here in Oakville just feet from where Sammy set it adrift.  But you know what?

He doesn't give a duck fart 'cause it was fun to set it sailing and so I'm going to start hooshing a few Pooh sticks myself.

Business will improve.  It will require work and focus and discipline and all those other grown-up things we have to do BUT it will also come back because we can acknowledge our success and talent and take comfort in the challenge knowing that inherent talent and stick-to-itiveness will pay off.

At least, that's what I think.

Pick me up

No, don't click on this.  Click on the link below.  This is just for prettiness!
Check out the video on my friend Angela Kontgen's blog in the about Angela section: Might perk you up if you need it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Greening your outlook
All of those art-based fields are similar in that they're all hard to make a living in and they all require an intense amount of training and discipline.
Alicia Witt

An unabashed trick hook in the header to bring in those thinking about the environment.  On reflection though, I guess this little missive is about that too.  However, it is more about the mental environment in which the creative solopreneur operates than the external issues about carbon footprint, oxygen depletion and saving the great whales!

This all started with my feeling green with envy about my friend and colleague Darla Campbell ( continuing to post to her blog every freakin' day for the past 3 months (or something like that) while she runs her business, maintains a healthy family relationship, helps others in our Muses & Masterminds group, and well just seems to keep it together in a highly-productive fashion.

So, rather than wallow about in a comfortable pursuit of one of the seven deadly sins, I started to think about what enabled her to accomplish so much while I feel good if I get a few moments of introspection transferred to paper every few days.  

Yup.  Discipline and training your mind.  

Those of us who labour in the creative field do so knowing that what Alicia Witt writes about in the quote above is bang on, but we also can occasionally slip into lassitude (A condition of the body, or mind, when its voluntary functions are performed with difficulty, and only by a strong exertion of the will.)

And, maybe, that's when the deadly sin of envy is equivalent to a good slap upside the head to get you thinking about what can bring you out of the doldrums.

So, Darla - thanks for the inspiration.  I won't commit again to trying to blog meaningful stuff every day 'cause that's not within my reality but I will be mindful of the need to train my mind to stay on track and in focus.  

Oh, Sara, Carole, and Bob kind of piss me off too with their ability to remain on target.  However, maybe together I can start to drag you all down!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Terrorism at home

Just reading about terror attacks in the paper or seeing coverage on television is frightening enough.

When it comes to your home that is a very different game.

We are under attack from the air at 15 Holyrood.

My babies are in danger.

My bald head is targetted.

No one is safe from the menace that is:

Osama bin Black Bird

Listen, I love nature as much as the next guy, probably more.  I spent my formative years in the wilds of Mazinaw territory and throughout Muskoka.  I've been down many trails in northern Algonquin park with a honkin' big pack and canoe on my back while being relentlessly attacked by Horse, Deer and Black flies and mosquitoes almost as big as those from Manitoba.

However, when I step out into my highly-civilized south of Lake Shore Road Oakville neighbourhood is it too much to expect to be safe from the red-winged menace?

So there's a nest nearby.  Aren't you birds supposed to inhabit swampland for which this neighbourhood is noted for it's absence?  

Perhaps Osama bin Black Bird has become aware of my whole-hearted endorsement of a Canada Goose cull.  

Yes, I favour a cull.  Wanna make sumpin' outta it?

Shall I add this nasty devil to the list?

Sheesh.  Can anyone tell me if these suckers are on the endangered list?  If they ain't...they are now!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gabe's Gab

There is a toy store on Lake Shore in Oakville called Pinocchio.

Driving to soccer practice today Gabriel pointed it out (again!) and asked if we could visit Pornocchio on the way home.  All I could wonder was what that puppet might look like when it started to tell a few fibs!

Thanks for making me laugh again Gabriel.  You kill me.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Oh, one more thing about Niagara

Oh the romance of it all.  

The winemaker's idyllic life surrounded by acres of bucolic scenery and budding vines.  The joyful anticipation of sun-filled days when the magic of photosynthesis transforms raw energy into beautiful, plump, juicy grapes.

Oh the bullshit of it all!

I have always been struck by the difference between image and reality.  Perhaps it is never more clear than when you stick your nose into the winery business.  This is hard, sweaty farming folks and from my little experience one of the hardest working guys in the business is Daniel Lenko.  He's pretty much a one-man show at Daniel Lenko estate and he produces some remarkable wines.  We're especially fond of his whites and the great summer sipper White Merlot and White Cab.

He's also just a really good guy who is working hard on behalf of his brothers and sisters in the wine business and while he has few listings at LCBO it is well worth it to travel down the short lane to his winery to pick up a few cases and enjoy the company of Daniel and his dad Bill.

BTW:  We also had another great time at Chateau des Charmes and thanks very much to the always charming and lovely Michele Bosc for her hospitality.

A great weekend in NOTL

Have you ever been to a restaurant and thought,  "Wow, this is soooo good I must tell people about it.  But, if I tell then they'll come and it'll get busy and it might lose its essence and I might not get in and that would be bad so maybe I should just shut up and say nothing."

Well, the horse has left the barn on this issue regardless because anyone who knows anything about eating well has probably discovered Stone Road Grille in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.  I've placed their link here just in case you haven't heard of it.

The only thing I can hope for to preserve a spot for us whenever we travel to NOTL is that you'll be fooled by the exterior of the premises and think this can't be the place and drive right on by.  

Katie and I just enjoyed a very welcome mini vacation in NOTL.  Stayed at Prince of Wales which was lovely but the highlight really was our two meals at Stone Road.  Perry, (you'll recognize him if you go by his great shirts and ebullient nature) and his team have created a very special spot where the ambiance is perfect, the wine list is tremendous (only Niagara region VQA), and the food is imaginative, local, seasonal and just wonderfully tasty.

I cannot recommend it more highly than to say that it is unquestionably our very favourite restaurant in the entire province.  

Please do visit if you get a chance.  Just don't tell too many people about it OK?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tempus fugit

"Yeah, yeah.  So my brother Gabriel can ride a bike.  BFD!  I can drive a dump truck and I'm only 15 months old."  

Time flies. It's up to you to be the navigator.
Robert Orben

The title of this blog is about the only Latin I recall from my high school studies.  It is a common expression often used and it simply means 'time flies'.  (You Latin scholars can correct me of you are wont to do!)

The expression came to mind yesterday when Sammy was cruising around our driveway on his dump truck while Gabriel was kicking the football around with our neighbour's teenaged daughter.

I thought, it was only yesterday we brought these guys home from the hospital!  They're still just babies.  They can't possibly be doing the things they're doing.  Samuel knows some words now.  He knows where his nose, eyes, chin, ears and mouth are.  He REALLY knows where his mouth is as you can probably ascertain just by looking at the cheeks and gut on this boy.

Anyway, it brought to mind the above quote and reminded me of how important it is in our personal and business lives to be mindful of the present, to live for the moment and to navigate our way through the hurly-burly of every day activity to ensure we end up in a place where we're fulfilled.

I have a few new friends in the professional coaching business and others who help individuals and corporations find their inner power, align their skills and optimize the likelihood of success.  They're skilled at helping people navigate the craziness of life to find whatever balance might be there.  I'll post their sites on another blog (once I have permission) but in the meantime watch this spot for more news about Carole, Bob, Darla, Sara, and Elvira.

Oh yeah, Sam & Gabe too.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

1. A massive triumph 2. An epic fail

"My very first time ever on a bicycle and I survived!"

So the Rapturists (or whatever the heck you call them) probably didn't have such a great day.

We did on one front.
Gabriel got his very first bicycle today and he enjoyed a massive triumph.

Only a couple of tumbles and each time he got right back on board.
Loved the speed.

Worked his little tiny bum off peddling up hills.
Totally rocked his world and ours.

Love you little man!
Flipper's very distant relative
I witnessed the rapture today.  It happened on my barbecue.  

I should have know better than to cook a very distant relative of Flipper.

Guess it serves me right.

But the portion of Mahi Mahi we secured from Whole Foods Market in Oakville was desperately horrid.

Just shortly after the anointed time of 6:00 p.m. the soul and spirit of this nasty piece of fish was taken from us and delivered unto our plates.  Dis.  Gust.  Ing.

Epic fail.

Thank God (if it's o.k. to still use that phrase) Gabriel saved the day with his massive two-wheeled triumph.

Life may continue.  Resume your normal activities.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Smart as a pig

You'd never know that pigs are among the most intelligent animals if you only judged them by looks and activity.

Life leaps like a geyser for those who drill through the rock of inertia.
Alexis Carrel

Ah, inertia.  That comforting disposition into which we all are tempted to fall.
Can it be a pitfall for the solopreneur?
From my experience it most certainly can.  Additionally, I have witnessed in my own work and those of others the achievement of a comfort level which leads us to rest on our laurels, churning out the same coarse concept and copy (or design or package or logo...) just because we can.
While we can sustain business for a while in this fashion, ultimately we will be found out and what I have been encouraged to do recently is to discover my own inertia and attempt to root it out like a pig sniffing for truffles.
We have a unique opportunity as independent business people to reinvent ourselves as often as we want.  Without straying too dramatically from our core competence and interest we are able to direct our attention and energy in a myriad of ways.  That's why I like Carrel's quote so much.
Sitting in a comfortable pew has very real attractions.  We feel safe.  We feel unthreatened.  We cosset ourselves in past victories and just like the sad dude in Springsteen's 'Glory Days' we never give ourselves the chance to burst free and recapture what secured us some degree of success in the past.
So if you're interested in drilling through the rock of inertia it may be important to remember that yes, pigs are incredibly intelligent creatures, but if we're creating an impression such as my friend above we can't be surprised if business starts to dry up and clients seek alternatives.
I'm committed to drilling hard now.
Are you?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gaining new perspective

Gabriel is great at seeing life in new and exciting ways!

As we abide in sleep, intuitively resonating with the sum of all our experiences - this life and beyond - we gain refreshing perspective on our efforts and have an opportunity to remember what we know.
Henry Reed

This morning I experienced one of the great pleasures we solopreneurs get - meeting a new client face-to-face for the first time.
Now, don't get me wrong.  Sometimes this can be both energizing and enervating!  This rendezvous however was completely positive.  My client is a life coach.  After years in sales she was downsized - lord I hate that euphemism - she was whacked.  A twenty-year career of enormous success in the tubes.
So here's where perspective comes into it.  
There's an old saw that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  It's a great thought but much easier to grasp intellectually than to implement.  Rather than dwelling in recrimination this individual exploded with a positive outlook and with her fresh perspective realized that NOW she could take her life dreams by the throat and rocket to a new career.
What could have been a negative in her life became life affirming as she realized now, her skills, talents and interests could all come into synchronous orbit while she embarked on a new adventure.
That's I believe what Reed writes of above - when we take the time to remember what we know almost any incident can be turned to advantage.
Now, I'm no Pollyanna and all of us solopreneurs know well that  what can seem like a great idea in the middle of the night turns to poop in the illuminating light of day.  But by seeking self- or external-motivated perspective we can turn lemons to lemonade.
At least, that's what I think.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Maintaining momentum

Please come back sun.

If a man has talent and can't use it, he's failed. If he uses only half of it, he has partly failed. If he uses the whole of it, he has succeeded, and won a satisfaction and triumph few men ever know.
Thomas Wolfe

Perhaps, just perhaps, one of the toughest tasks the solopreneur (or storyteller in my case) is staying on a roll.  This is probably particularly true for those of us who work from home and who have abundant distractions available when the going gets tough.  Or when we just become overcome with lassitude. 

During this past week, one which began with my making a commitment to write on my blog every day, I:

laid to rest my Mom's husband;
participated in caring for my son Gabriel who some how found a way to contract parvo virus*;
won a nice new piece of business;
managed to get a few invoices out;
had my car experience a "system failure"; and,
just barely put off putting a bullet in my brain because of all of this g.d. rain.

So, no, I didn't write on my blog everyday.  

So, yes, I failed to fulfill my commitment to my Muses and Masterminds group. comes the but...I'm still better off than I was a week ago because I've managed to rekindle my writing spirit.  

We independents need to find sources of inspiration for those moments when the torpor of the everyday can come swirling into our offices like a miasma of thought-clogging fog.  Here's what's helped me out.

The support and encouragement of my family.
My son recovering nicely.  (P.S. more on the asterisk later.)
The gentle nudging of my peers.
The confidence shown by a new client.
The gratitude felt for a returning client.
The promise of sun by the weekend.

So, no, my talents were not wholly employed but perhaps I can look at this past week as a partial success and build upon this momentum to make next week more complete.

At least, that's what I think.

*I had no idea humans could get parvo virus.  I thought only dogs and cats got it.  It's also called 'slap cheek' which sounds kind of mean but really is a good description 'cause Gabe's cheeks looked like he'd been on the wrong side of a scornful woman's lashing out.  Anyway, he's much better today and he too is looking forward to a much better week ahead.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Keeping your sense of wonder alive

Gabriel expressing his sense of wonder with life when he was a little kid.  He's a big boy of 3 now!
Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.
Thomas Aquinas 

Many, many years ago when I was a neophyte copywriter and occasionally creative person, I was invited to conduct a seminar on creative writing.  Being just sufficiently wet-behind-the-ears and insufficiently self aware, I agreed. 

It sucked.

No, really.  And not just a little bit.  It was the presentation equivalent of a gaping, sucking chest wound.  The only worthwhile outcome was  my ability to recognize it's suckedness (sic).  

It didn't take me long to understand why either.  I had fallen prey to the entrancement of process, to the false comfort of policy and procedure.  I had ensconced myself in a huge financial corporation that rewarded the commonplace and eschewed out-of-the-box thinking.  God, it was about as close as I would ever become to being assimilated by actuaries!

The childlike sense of wonder that is the life's blood of creative thinking.  The ability to suspend disbelief and contemplate approaches that veer far off the road to mediocrity.  The kind of free-wheeling yet disciplined problem solving that generates genuine breakthrough results.  The sometimes silly inspiration that prompts deeper consideration.  You know, kind of similar to the thinking that the following quote from comedian Steven Wright can produce:

Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen.

How much deeper would the rewards of our work, our family, and our life be if we were able to keep alive even a small percentage of the sense of wonder we witness every day in young children.  Children who have not yet been submitted to the crushing standardized approach to commonality that our education system is dependent upon and who are years away from drinking the corporate KoolAid that says promotion and financial reward and security (as if there is such a thing) are vastly superior options.

This sense of wonder can be brought back to life if only you pursue it with vigour.  It can be found when you surround yourself with brilliant people, when you open your eyes to the daily wonders we're all too often too busy to notice.  When you hear your child proclaim on a late-April morning "Oh BOY!  SNOW!"

I just want to thank my Muses and Masterminds group for helping me recapture this and by showing me that solopreneurs are just as dependent upon communal support and spirited conversation as those who choose to follow a more well-defined career path.

At least, that's what I think.