Monday, December 19, 2011

The Wealthy Barber Returns

Not your expected post on this blog.  I just finished reading the barber returns, and its actually quite amusing, pretty sound advice, "save and save more and save now", I usually balance living with this and maybe a little too much, as living frequently wins, an unfortunate effect of keeping the friends I have, in the words of Tyler Koyl "you only live once."  There was one particular chapter that really stuck out for me, "Consumed with Consumption".  I am going to recite a bit of it here:

     Obviously there are certain basic needs we all share - shelter, food and clothing being the big three.  Naturally in a wealthy, developed economy like Canada's, our desires will run well beyond our stream of needs into our pool of wants.  That's understandable and even healthy.  Our quest for "the good life" and the possessions and experiences it brings is part of what motivates us to work hard, innovate, embrace risks, grow our talents and then take full advantage of them.  However maybe we have gone a little too far...
     Nothing is ever enough.  We want more.  And when we get it, we want more yet again.  We want what we see on TV.  We want what our friends have.  Hick, we want what rich people have.  We even want what we already have but in the newer, fancier, bigger models... We want with such emotional intensity that we're able to convince ourselves that our desires aren't wants at all, but instead integral components of our future happiness.
     Nothing could be further from the truth.
     In reality, all our stuff weighs us down.  And our pursuit of 'more' often distracts us from what's truly important in life.  No, I'm not having an Oprah moment here.  I genuinely believe that our never-ending material quest is not only sabotaging our financial tomorrows, but also negatively impacting our psychological todays.
     The brilliant philosopher Bertrand Russell once noted, "It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly."
     I couldn't have said it better myself (which, is, of course, why I quoted him).  One of the most damaging misconceptions in personal finance is that saving for the future requires sacrifices today that lessen people's enjoyment of life.  Surprisingly, it's quite the opposite!  People who live within their means tend to be happier and less stressed.  That's true not only for the obvious reason - they know their financial futures look bright - but also because they're not consumed with consumption.  They're not in the emotionally and financially draining race to acquire the most stuff they possibly can.  A race that, it should be noted, has no finish line and thus no winner.
     Too many people are possessed by their possessions.  As Seneca said 2,000 years ago, "These individuals have riches just as we say that we have a fever, when really the fever has us."
    On status:  when you hear that John is successful, what jumps to mind?  He's a great parent?  He lives a balanced life?  He's a man of character?  Of course not.  We all think the same thin:  "Wow John's makin' the big bucks!"
     "success is synonymous with financial success"  Many times I have asked people how are the kids doing, well, "Mary is a successful dentist and Fred is a struggling mechanic."  Perhaps Fred's a struggling mechanic.  Perhaps Fred is a dud around cars and somehow his mom and dad found out through, I suppose, but more likely, they're letting their children's incomes determine their adjectives.
    Whats more, we even mismeasure this mismeasurement.  We gauge people's financial successess not by their not-worth statements (that would be bad enough), but instead by their material possessions.
     Is it any wonder conspicuous consumption rules?  
   Many of our purchases are made with others in mind, whether we realize it or not.  From the sizes of our homes to the logos on our clothes to the brands of our cars, we're trying to make a statement about ourselves and , at its core, that statement is very basic:  "Look at me - I'm worthy"
     Geoffrey Miller one of the foremost experts in evolutionary pscychology, "modern consumers in particular strive to be self-marketing minds, feeding one another hyperbole about how healthy, clever, and popular they are, through the goods and services they consume."
One of Chilton's greatest tips, don't buy more house than you can afford.  The book was good and these two sections were excellent, Chilton is accurate with his assessment of conspicuous consumption and our pursuit of status...  Now the process of going the other way, redefining who Fred the mechanic is and what our vision of success is.  A friend at work shared with me today that she only works 60% she doesn't miss the money, spends more time with her family and can't even imagine going back to 100%.  I applaud employers who allow this, I applaud them even further if they promote it.



Friday, December 16, 2011

To Give or Not to Give

It tis the season, or is it?  Continuing with my thoughts from my last post.  Should we give to others?  Where should we draw that boundary on who we give to and how much and what our own community, our country, money or time and how much? Is 0.7% of our before tax income the right amount (this is the amount urged by the United Nations for the developed world to give to the developing:, should we give for religious reasons or because we feel lucky or guilty or simply because we can?  Or contrarily why should we give at all?  I am reading Butter Down the Well  a Saskatchewan tale set in the dirty 30s and during WWII, times were desperately poor in Saskatchewan and for the most part (anecdotal evidence) people worked the dirt fields as hard as they could and managed to scrape by...People were extremely proud and took charity from no one (anecdotal).  My parents also grew up poor and for the most part raised us with modest incomes.  And now, how the times are a changing in Saskatchewan.  We have quickly become a have province and one of the wealthiest (in terms of dollars) places to live in Canada if not the world.

So if I worked my butt off to get here, why would I want to give it away?  I'm thinking the answers have a lot to do with context, how you were raised, how much affluence you grew up with, who asks you for a donation and when and if they catch you at a good time or on a good day... In a world with seven billion people, an evolution of acquire hardwired in us, does giving stand a chance?  If we can profit from that giving, in terms of feeling good, or status, or if it fits with our vision of ourselves thereby making us the person we think we are/ought to be (this is seen as very powerful in psychology, we dislike cognitive dissonance), perhaps...

Other thoughts that parallel these, is money the right thing to give?  Do the less fortunate socio-economic class in Saskatchewan and other parts of the world even need more money?  food?  housing?  clothing?  jobs?  education?  Are we even giving the right thing?

All questions and no answers, getting to be pretty typical of my posts, sorry about that.  I would like to think about these things more deeply and discuss them, empathy comes to mind, and can we as William McDonough says, "can we love all the children of all species for all time"...

to give

and if you haven't watched this video, you should, three minutes...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

why do we give money or time to people we have never met?

I just made a KIVA donation, if you have never heard of it please check out Jessica Jackley here:, an amazing organisation doing really amazing things.  My question; what is the psychology, behaviour, attitude and values behind doing something for someone half way around the world who you have never and will never meet?  Sponsor a child, make a micro loan, send donations, etc.  I am sure there is a wealth of information out there on this subject a literature review would probably be quite valuable.  I discussed this yesterday with Auden Schendler author of Getting Green Done and the sustainability VP for Aspen ski resort (pretty cool job).  Auden highly recommended reading Peter Singers (a utilitarian philanthropist) book The Life You Can Save.  Auden says this book says it all, why we give, why we don't, and most importantly why we should!!!  A short video can be found here:  Brilliant, make a drop in the bucket, so simple. 

On the ride home from the Building Saskatchewan Green Conference today a friend said to me, "I and I" (Used in the rastafarian religion in place of "you and me" to show that all people are equal under Jah.)  and the Beatles sang "I am you and you are me and we are all together".  We are all in this together, a friend often says to me just some of us won the lottery at birth (if you are reading this I am likely referring to you), which I am so thankful for... 

make a drop in the bucket, you, me, we can make a difference!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Roadmonkey Vietnam 2011 - An Attempt At Words

What can I say other than thank you, I was completely humbled yet again by the kindness, generosity and hospitality of the Vietnamese people.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Less = More <=>

Watch it!  This is five minutes of your life well spent.  You may even come out with less stuff, less space, a new outlook...  Housing in Regina is currently worth about $200 / square foot to build, this doesn't include the land.  So for the average monster house which we are currently building to the North, East and Harbour Landing south of our city, this is costing 2000sqft x 200/sqft roughly 400,000 + the space (200,000), so roughly 600,000 per house.  What if you could live in half that amount of space, you would save 200,000... I don't know about you but for me to save 200,000 could take decades...

I just returned from Vietnam (more on that to come) where we built a 320ft sq home for a family of three.  In comparison to what many in that community have, they tell me that this is a palace.  I felt a real sense of community while in Vietnam, neighbours look out for children, everyone knows everyone, you don't need to worry about full time supervision of your children because everyone knows everyone in the community and will keep an eye on them.  While I was there this looked a little bit like little monkeys running around everywhere, without the care of a parent.  Since I returned I learned this is completely normal.
Recognizing that you don't have to live close together or in small homes to have a vibrant community, I believe rural and farm communities in Saskatchewan to be very vibrant and warm.  I feel like the design of living closer together (so close) in modest (small) dwellings encourages us to engage with our neighbours and our community much more.

How many square feet do you occupy?  Could you live in 320ft sq?  Could you share it with your sibling and an uncle, like the Vietnamese family we met?  My sister who lives with me, as well as a roommate, in what I am sure the Vietnamese would consider a kingdom (1600sq ft condo), is downsizing.  I am up to the challenge.  Downsize, buy less stuff, occupy less space, save money, reduce your footprint...  I am heading upstairs right now to go through my closet!!

kind of a ramble, sorry about that, the video was worth watching at least!


Friday, October 7, 2011

It's all over...

They recently cut open the human brain to look at why we do the things we do, what drives humans, for many years this has been studied through careful observation and experimentation, but now they have chopped it open and looked at the brain behind all those decisions.  So what did they learn?  What are we driven by?

We are driven by four emotional needs:

·         Drive to acquire (obtain scarce goods including intangibles such as social status)
·         Bond (form connections with individuals and groups)
·         Comprehend (satisfy our curiosity and master the world around us)
·         Defend (protect against external threats and promote justice)

So What - well this is the answer to my question, if all I have is all I need then why is all I ever want is more?  Why?  Because I have been hard wired through years of our evolving brain to want more.  The Harvard article states we are driven to acquire, stuff, food, toys and also status, travel and experiences.  We also want to compare to our neighbours, to base our success on what they have, because more is relative and the bottom line we have an insatiable desire for more.

So what if the finite planet can't handle our endless desire for more?  Are we able to re-evolve the mind and actually want less?  Are we able to desire and want a sustainable lifestyle?  a bright future for our children, other species and future generations?

Maybe, also in the article they discuss our other psychological (emotional) wants and these are to Comprehend, to Bond, and to Defend.  What this means is that we are also hard wired to want to understand science, our world, how things work, etc.  Which has lead us to a deeper understanding of almost everything, including our planet and its constraints on more.  At the same time we are driven to defend, this includes ourselves and direct threats to us and our family but it also includes our neighbours, our communities our friends, our workplaces, organisations and society as a whole.  Finally we are driven to bond, to get along and interact and be friendly with one another and seek social interaction and engagement.  So to sum it all up, if we are driven to learn that our finite planet needs us (comprehend) to be better stewards, and that sharing that planet more equitably would help us all get along better (bond) and that we can help the planet and its people (defend) then I think we can overcome our insatiable appetite for more, I think!  I'm sure a poet could have more luck at making this all sound more poetic...  

enjoy the article as I have, the journey to learn why is all I ever want is more is somewhat over, but I think I will keep blogging, because I have grown to like it, at least a little!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Plan de Vida

After reading some great books on the secrets to happiness and long life.  The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner who traveled the world and interviewed those who are living the longest.  One of his key findings was that 'Plan de Vida' in knowing what your life purpose is, is one of the secrets/keys to living a long, healthy and happy life.  So on the subject of plan de vida, I have a few themes in my head today.

I can't help but feeling like we (Canadians, Saskatchewanians, most of the people that I know) are living like kings and queens used to live.  The store shelves are full, the fridge is never empty, we have fast cars, often multiple, computers, smart phones, running water, on demand electricity, great vacations, etc etc etc.  I feel so privileged to be leading the life I live.  I want to partner this thought with one that the Ontario yogi Michael Stone speaks and writes about.  To Serve.  I agree that To Serve is an important piece of this Plan de Vida, now how to put it into action...

You only live once.  I think that with privilege you have the benefit of time and money to think about this concept that you only live once.  You are able to get out of the daily grind of survival, long enough to think about what you want to do, how you will lead your one precious life, these are very privileged thoughts.  If you are just getting by you don't really have the time to consider your options.  Well you only live once has often lead to excitement, pleasure, fun and freedom for myself, doing things that I really enjoy, but that maybe a little or even a lot selfish.  So why do I do them?  You only live once...

Share your passion.  It's fun to do and it feels good.  This can be a tricky balance as often the best way to engage is to ask questions not to share what you love.  But finding ways to share your passion can be rewarding and of course fun.  Why not share the things you love with others who are willing.

So, I don't know why I am blogging this, the rider game is hardly worth watching and I wanted to get a few thoughts on paper.  To Serve, Privilege. You Only Live Once. Share Your Passion.  My philosophy for the day.


Why do we travel???

Why do we travel?

The endless pursuit of happiness, to meet people and learn about new places, because we can, to share our stories with others, to do things (ie. Kite/surf) that we can’t do at home, again because we can we believe we work so hard and do deserve extravagant vacations, to learn language and try new foods, to tell stories to our friends and families, to make life more interesting, relax, I really don’t know the answer, it’s probably a bit of all of the above.  When did travel become engrained in our culture?  When did we start deserving to travel?  Don’t get me wrong I do love it, but I think maybe for reasons that are not obvious.  I think I loved speaking broken Portuguese with the kids and practicing Yoga and Capoeira (Brazilian karate) with them in the front yard at night more than actually kiting their most amazing beaches and steady winds…  In Hatterass I think I enjoyed spending time with 60 other crazy kiters high on life more than actually spending time on the water connected to kite and board… 

I just finished reading two excellent books which I highly recommend.  The Indian Creek Chronicles about a young lad (21ish) a complete outdoors novice who spends 7 months basically alone in a canvas tent in the mountains of Montana.  It a great tale of wilderness and silence and being alone and taking the time to think and reflect and really enjoying nature.  He talks of his college friends and until recently himself in the pursuit of fun without thinking.  I wonder how much of that goes on in our pursuit of travel and holidays…  Fun without thinking.  If I think about it, I think I do this all the time.  The story ends in a great paradox where all the while he is craving the end of winter when the loneliness will end and he will get to go back to civilization, when it finally comes he misses the lonely forest with all the animals and the way of life he has come to love…

The other book was A Brave New World by Huxley.  A Utopia or Dystopia where civilization has advanced to the point where women no longer give birth to babies and there is no sorrow in society.  People live in constant happiness, everyone belongs to everyone, there are multiple lovers but no sole love, you don’t get to connected to anyone, they enjoy sex, drugs and recreation all the time.  Everyone knows there role in the world and plays it.  It sounds idyllic but is it? 

My roommate recently said there comes a point when there is a marginal return on fun.  Where you have maximized your enjoyment out of holidaying or kiting or partying and you need to get back to doing something that you may not really enjoy if only to really enjoy all that other stuff again. 

So arriving home from Brazil and what did I learn?  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Green Teams

Thinking about Green Teams and the work we have been doing at my head office lately (rooftop garden, green building video, lunch and learns, print reduction presentation and strategy, newsletter, research, making friends, sharing stories and information, electronic phone books and the e-Leader Post, telework pilot, etc etc)

I recognize that we won't solve all the world's or even our own problems.
I recognize these are difficult problems to solve (reducing our environmental footprint).

I believe and have experienced using a grassroots team to work on seemingly small things can be a beautiful experience!!!

I believe Henry David Thorough wrote "small is beautiful" however Wikipedia will not confirm those, nor will Google, it could easily have been someone else.  I leave you with that, small is beautiful!!  Love Learn Live or something like that!


Friday, August 5, 2011

Malcolm Gladwell

This man is absolutely genius at summarizing psychological studies on what it means to be human, why we do the things we do and the book I most recently read, why do social epidemics tip (go viral).  Gladwell teaches us 3 main lessons in the book based on both the psychology studies surrounding the issues and many real life examples.  For a Social epidemic to occur you need one of three things to happen and they are based on these Laws.

The Law of the Few - there are a handful of people out there who have the ability to make or break your product.  With Air-walk it was the first cool skateboarder kids who wanted a really good shoe.  The Boston Tea Party was tipped off by a horseback ride by a man named Paul Revere who was a connector and seemed to know everyone as he spread the message in the night that the British were going to invade the next day and that they should come and support.  Basically Gladwell argues there are Connectors (people who know people) and make it their ambition/goal to meet people and build social capital and relationships.  There are Mavins, these are the people intricately focused on details of a product they are guru's on restaurants, cars, soap or any number of things.  They test and study and compare prices, products, quality, etc and then they will tell people about it, if you are making a poor product or charging too much these people will expose it, but they can also play in your favour if you can get them on board and service their needs in a product/social epidemic.  Salesman - these are the charismatic people in our lives who are able to have a conversation and share there thoughts, feelings and emotions without saying a word sometimes, you trust these people and believe what they are selling.

The Stickiness Factor - the message is critical.  Sesame Street studied what makes sense to kids and what confuses them and what they enjoyed and what lost their attention.  They then based their wildly popular show on this principal, making it sticky for viewers (kids).  Blues Clues went one step further recognizing that kids feel self worth and happy if they can answer questions as the show moves along, telling simple stories and connecting the pieces of the puzzle through clues in the show.  To make it even more sticky they repeated their show 5 days in a row for kids to get better and better at solving the puzzle as the week progressed.

The Law of Context - finally the importance of context cannot be overlooked.  New York was able to substantially 80% reduce crime in their city in the late 1990's and early 2000's.   How?  By paying attention to the little things.  The concept is called Broken Windows and is based on the fact that your surroundings influence your decisions and actions.  Basically they got tough on graffiti, petty crime, fare beating at the subway and started cleaning up the perception of the city, this amazingly led to a dramatic decrease in all levels of crime.

Well its a fascinating read, very well written, I know that I have not done it justice in these three short paragraphs.  I encourage you to give it a read, especially if you are interested in starting a social or environmental movement  or marketing in any way.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A million dollar question

What is the answer to the man who I just walked by asking for change on the street corner?

I love the stuff that Kiva does, is that what we need in Regina?  Microloans?  Jobs?  Better social programs?

What is the answer, I think I may go back and ask him...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Critical Thinking

I recently took a course at Royal Roads University on critical thinking.  Critical thinking is the act of thinking critically and reflectively about a subject.  Wikipedia defines it as: "Critical thinking has been described as “reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do.”[2] It has also been described as "thinking about thinking.""  I like to do this when I make big decisions, I do this through the rigor required in my Masters studies, I like this definition and see the value of more of it in our society.  For example making critical decisions on infrastructure, vehicles, housing, emissions control, neighbourhood design, energy infrastructure (coal, nuclear, solar, etc), forestry management, all environmental resource management for that matter, etc is valuable and necessary for us to minimize our impacts on the planet and hopefully maximize both human and ecosystem benefits.  

So why am I writing this post??  Well, I have a problem with critical thinking when it is simply being critical.  I feel like this in the workplace, when reviewing others work, or when asked for feedback or when asking for feedback on a project we jump at the opportunity to be critical.  Many times the conversation goes straight to critical "why we can't do something", rather than a team let's solve this mentality or here's how we "can do" this project... this wears on a person, its like constantly hitting a roadblock, a barrier, I didn't realize it until tonight it hit me.  I recently handed in a draft project for review, and I was afraid to check my email, I didn't want to find another critical message in my inbox... maybe I need to practice more critical thinking, maybe this is just a lot of fluff, but I am asking you to think critically, be constructive, and support your coworkers, friends and family in their pursuits as positively as you can muster, it may mean a lot to them, it probably does and the opposite can just get tiring.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

This is bloody brilliant

"self propelling prophecy, engineers, designers, architects etc all thing things need to be neat, straight and perfect so customers (people) come to demand neat, straight and perfect and then you get the advertisers who sell us neat, straight and perfect and the colour and trend of the day!"

This guy is saying so much more then recycle products to build better homes.  He is talking about human nature and the irony of our wants and desires and our insatiable appetite for more and social norms that we talk ourselves into.  "we have confused Maslow's hierarchy of needs" - what we want and need is completely confused when we save for designer jeans instead of essentials

"our housing has become a commodity" - we sprawl whenever we can, we have invented excess... "we need to reconnect with who we really are and that is a thrilling opportunity"

The coolest house I ever visited was in Vietnam, Dalat.  Check out the pictures here: .  That was the funnest most entertaining house I have ever been in!  I want to do more with my home with less...  Work like this video and this crazy hotel in Vietnam should act as inspirations for the architects who still have artistic roots and those costumers who still see perfect not in straight lines but in beautiful recycled and reused functional elements of a home.

There is a huge desire and market for renovations in Regina right now, I don't know anyone in the construction industry that isn't crazy busy, many friends don't even answer their phones when they think it will be new business.  Why are we suddenly soooo caught up in granite counter tops, new kitchens and bathrooms, hardwood flooring, new paint, etc etc etc,  Where is all the old stuff going, Habitat for Humanity only has room for so much stuff... Another benefit of used furniture, recycled and reused stuff is that the off-gassing of potential and probable carcinogens was already done in someone else's home (too bad for the Joneses who keep buying new stuff). I recently heard about a cool project called the Re-house that Waalnut is taking on with the Restore where everything is going to be recycled reused and refurbished, I LoVE it and would love to see more of this kind of thinking.

I promise to think before I renovate!  

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Human Nature

Interesting documentary, scary, sad, sad, sad.  What are we doing to our one and only planet???  We are pooping plastic into our oceans without really realizing that we have to eat this...

Some things that resonated with me.  "We live in the happy consciousness era, globalization is inevitable, he who dies with most toys wins, we have more stuff then ever before.  Plastic in our oceans is a symbol of the wrong direction we as a society are taking.  Are society's giving us our bang for our buck, are we getting enough value out of them?"

Also had some interesting conversations on human nature last night and tonight.  Are we inherently bad or good or a bit of both, I like to hope a bit of both... or maybe we are all different based on our own circumstances, upbringing, conscious, morals and social setting... We are good when its expected of us, bad when no one is looking, in pursuit of money and more stuff almost constantly and WIIFM factors into many if not all of our decisions... (Whats In It For Me).

random thoughts, just wanted to capture them!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

One More Minute Dilemma

What would you do with another minute... this video makes the dilemma of live for future generations and delayed gratification vs. me me me and now, live for the moment and forget about tomorrow, that much more challenging...

I don't know if it is effective, or what its goal is and how to measure it, its a scary thought and a dilemma I often think about, challenge myself on, but rarely take actions...  If we really are down to our last minute, why to I continue to live like a king, while so many around the world struggle to get by... I feel so privileged!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

To Mike and Tanya

Congratulations to two friends Mike and Tanya on their recent wedding (last night recent), I had a lot of fun and was glad to share your special day with you both!

When do you come to the understanding that you are with the one you love, that special person that will contribute to your happiness forever?  I see a lot of friends choosing their significant others and reproducing, and I see a lot of others that are not working out.

Falling head over heels, offers the greatest feeling for the soul and mind, the elixir of life I may argue.  The feelings generated from a first kiss, holding hands, gazing into each others eyes, thinking about that person nonstop and how to generate more of that feeling... I guess endorphins are a 'powerful drug'!  So how to keep generating endorphins as years pass, and how do you know when you have met the one, when there are so many wonderful people out there...???

Should logistics trump love?  Should you let where you live and what you do get in the way of love?  Well, not in the movies...  But really if there are many things that contribute to your happiness, friends, family, where you live, what you do, quality of life, enjoyment, satisfaction, etc.  Choosing that person can be very challenging, especially when the logistics don't all match up, and definitely more challenging than the movies make it out to be...

A friend once said to me we have 3 difficult decisions to make and they are all interconnected.  Who you want to spend your life with?  Where you live?  What you do for a living?  Good luck with those!!

"Romantic love is an obsession, an addiction, its like someone is camping in your head (Helen Fisher, TED)"

Mike and Tanya I wish you all the best, I believe you have chosen perfectly!

Remember what Michael Franti says, "if you love somebody better tell them so cause you never ever know when they gonna go, if they love you back, just give thanks cause you can't keep love like money in a bank!"

I leave you with a great TED on Love -


Probly some more focused thoughts on this in future!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My sister (so proud of her!)

You’ll find Andrea riding her bike around town eating carrots that she gets from a secret stash in her pocket, well aware of the choking hazard, but indulgent non-the-less.  She is probably on her way home from yoga thinking of words that rhyme - for the songs she makes up and sings along the way.  She is often known to be indulgently dramatic and hopelessly romantic, with a fiery intensity that has often left her concerned about spontaneous combustion.  She wishes peace, love, and joy for all planetary inhabitants and hopes to at least make you smile, if not create some warm fuzzy feelings inside, but hopefully not the “I just puked a little in my mouth” kind.  She loves forests most, especially the ones that come connected to mountains, and dreams someday that she will live in a tree house that she has built herself.  She is not sure about what comes next or where exactly she’s going in this life, she knows it’ll have its ups and downs, but has found, so far, that she’s enjoying the ride.  

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I know I am probly the very last person to read Blink by Malcom Gladwell, well I have finished and I loved it.  I have summarized it elsewhere, but would like to share the concluding thoughts for me here:

Sigmund Freud – “when making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons.  In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves.  In the important decisions of personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature.”

This feels like such a backwards way of doing things, put lots of time and thought into simple things and none into really important things...  crazy.  But what Gladwell is trying to say is that our unconscious mind has the ability to make really good snap judgments and decisions for us.  That listening to our gut, our heart our emotion is often the best decision we can make.  

Blink is an awesome read, high concepts, I recommend it full heartedly!


Post Hatteras thoughts and reflections

Coming home off one of the greatest vacations of my life, and now the work doesn't seem quite as satisfying as before, the sunrise not quite as brilliant, the bread not quite as tasty... Feeling trapped in the confines of a 10 square foot cubicle, an 8-10hour workday, and the boundaries of a 9 month timeline to research, analyse, write and submit a masters thesis... I have not had this happen before, or at least as far as I can remember.

Community living, we spent 2 weeks, cooking, eating, kiting, partying, ott tubbing, etc with around 55 people, mainly from Regina and Winnipeg.  It's hard not to be happy surrounded by friendly smiling faces, warm water and wind.  I wonder how much of this is thanks to the perfect kiting conditions and how much is just to be in such wonderful company?

Well, I know I haven't said a lot, but its all I got, I'm just gonna take a minute  Our Hatterass theme song.

ciao for now,


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Happiness Is...

A great lecture that I discovered courtesy of Carla, thank you!

So lots is being written about happiness, their is a new movie on the economics of happiness, I read a quote from a Canadian Author whose name escapes me on happiness, something along the line of "the more you study it the less happy you will become..." interesting, not sure if I agree, practice makes perfect right?

Well the lecture, basically I take from it, the 4 types of people: Rat Racers - living for the future all the time in a race to get things done so that the future will be better, definitely marshmallow savers.  Then the Hedonists- enjoy the moment, eat your marshmallows now!  The Nilests - who gives a damn anyway, not sure if this makes you happy or just apathetic... and finally the Happy-seekers?  not sure what the final one was called, basically they set realistic and worthy goals that add to their life fulfillment/enjoyment.  Some of the take aways: have happy rituals, things that you do consistently that make you happy (ie. squash, kiting, reading, blogging, journaling, cooking, eating, etc...).  Add one thing to your life NOW that will make it better and take one thing away that will improve things, just one.  I think these can be hard to determine without reflection and insight, sometimes I feel like another piece of chocolate cake now will make me happier but in the long run I have the health issues and have to work that chocolate cake off or pay for it in some way... And this doesn't just apply to chocolate cake, it can apply to many things we think make us happy in our lives.

So, I appreciate the study and work that goes into the psychology of happiness!  I am not sure if we are reflective enough, or maybe if I am reflective enough to realize what really makes us happy in the moment and in the long term and to make consistent and effective decisions that lead to further happiness...

Final thoughts EXPRESS GRATITUDE, I like this, everyday even they recommend, I feel so grateful to live where I live, be born Canadian, and have all the opportunities that were given to me!  I know I should dedicate more space to this and I will, in time.

And maybe most importantly of all: Plan de vida, find your purpose, your passion, what makes you tick and follow it.  I envy those that have done this and encourage us all to try!!



Friday, April 1, 2011

Feeling, presenting...

Many of you have probly already heard of micro-lending, this TED talk particularly stands out in my memory.  She is a great speaker, its a wonderful cause, I feel like she really cares and she makes me care through that...

What makes a good engaging presenter?  I often thought it was involving your audience, but there is no audience involvement in this talk.  I just finished a 3 week intensive residency in Victoria, and at the end of one of our classes our instructor got a standing ovation from the class that just didn't seem to end, it was emotional and significant, impressive and moving.  So what did he do?  I keep asking myself this...

Honesty - he told both sides of every story, he told us what he wanted from us and what his expectations were, he told us that he was here for 3 weeks for us!  He laid a few ground rules (no phones, no emails, etc).
Reflection - we were asked to reflect on our learnings and how to apply them and things we were struggling with, 50 students and he took the time to read and thoughtfully comment to everyone.
Genuine - what is that?  whatever it is Derek had it, you could feel that.
I think that is one of the keys, good movies, good writing, good presentations, they make you feel, more than think, more than participate, but FEEL.

So thanks Derek, and thanks Jessica (KIVA) for your thoughtful, thought provoking and feeling!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hopeless Romantics

Ok, I don't care what anyone thinks I love this definition, this thought and the idea that they exist.  "you might role your eyes at this, I'm just glad that you exist (The Weakerthan's)"

Idealists, sentimental dreamers, rose-coloured glasses - why would you want to be anything but?

Hopeless romantics believe in love and fairy tales. They dream of roses and candlelight, walking on the beach at sunset, and dancing in the rain. They know that somewhere out there is a knight in shining armour ready to carry them off, or a beautiful princess waiting to be carried off into the sunset. Hopeless romantics believe in true love, and the eternal bliss that comes from being united with one's soulmate is what they crave most.

Hopeless romantics recognize in themselves the ability to love infinitely deeply, and they ache to be loved with the same fervor in return. When a hopeless romantic has someone to lavish their affection on, lavish they do. Hopeless romantics sometimes write love letters full of poetic phrases and send flowers, but mostly they try to find a thousand thoughtful little ways to show their love. They make romance into an art form.

Hopeless romantics wear rose-colored glasses. In their eagerness to find "the one," a hopeless romantic may either be extraordinarily picky or not discerning enough. Hopeless non-romantics think that hopeless romantics are delusional and too intense. Other than the seeming futility in the search for a soulmate, nothing frustrates a hopeless romantic more than a significant other who does not understand the hopeless romantic temperament.

Sometimes, in this cynical world, it seems like the population of hopeless romantics is declining. One has only to look at the number of movies and songs about love that are currently popular to prove otherwise. It may also seem that there are many more hopelessly romantic women than romantic men. This isn't surprising in a culture where a man might get snapped at for opening the door for a woman. Men and women often have different ways of expressing their emotions, and the number of hopelessly romantic men is probably much higher than anyone could tell simply by observation.

Hopeless romantics are the idealists, the sentimental dreamers, the imaginative, and the fanciful. They give the world its once-upon-a-times and happily-ever-afters. Hopeless romantics may have their feet on the ground, but their souls fly somewhere over the rainbow.


So my toast and thank you to hopeless romantics, love songs and beautiful lyrics.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Green Teams in Government

Ok, so instead of making a poster for my Masters Thesis Poster Session, I decided to make a video.  What did I learn?  Huge thanks to my friend Shane for all his work editing (first off).  People like videos!  I am pretty sure maybe 1 to 3 people read my original thesis proposal, transfer that to video style and voila hundreds of views (204 at last check) maybe more on route... So I recommend the tool of video, it requires so much less of your audience and has the power to convey so much more message, body language, tone, facial expression etc!  I once heard that only 8% of what we are saying is in the words, the rest is in the eyes, the body, the tone, etc etc.  I think video is a great way to get more meaning into and out of our work!

And if you haven't yet seen it:




I watched two great movies recently:

South 180 - gets your mojo going for adventure.  "The greatest journeys answer questions you never even thought to ask in the beginning..."  Oh Patagonia how I long for your wide open spaces... oh and the soundtrack so good!

I Heart Huckabee's - a movie exploring existentialism, very deep, lots of good dialogue, probably you could pause the movie every 60 seconds or so and think about it...

ok and now the reason I am writing this blog, what do I want more of:

So next up, if I know where I want to go, I need to determine what am I doing to get there and is it working...
stay tuned.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Take aways from another beautiful semester at RRU

In no particular order, I am going to remember, reflect and discus some of the lessons I recall from RRU 2011.

Its all about the people.

Some highlights: Mount Washington, forming strong ties (based on an article by Malcolm Gladwell on the importance of strong ties vs. the social networking ties that are typically weaker).  Would you put your neck on the line for a facebook friend that you barely know or a friend who you have made strong bonds and community with...

Longboard - a must around campus!

Sustainable governance - similar to governance with some differences: Each team summarized what it meant to them, some key characteristics included: transparency, triple bottom line accounting, leadership, empathy, genuine "you can't fake these things", resilient, passion, common vision.

Reflect Reflect Reflect!! - the key take away of the course, I need to do more of this, real learning and insight comes from critical thought and reflection about our learning and our actions.  I am going to use this blog to rant, remember and reflect more!  For myself!  If it gets too personal for you, sorry...

Everything educates - our classroom, our clothing, our friends, etc

Speed kills we need to slow down and enjoy the ride - this is oh so hard for me to understand knowing that we only live once...

The Holy Grail to Sustainability in an organisation is to change the mindset/paradigms, the way we see the world.  Our stories need to change.  This will be challenging in government but definitely worth pursuing!

The Systems Zoo - very important to think apply systems thinking to problems, when you think you have a solution, think about how it will effect the birds and the bees and all the other stakeholders that maybe involved...  Energy --> Food --> Water  all connected, and our policy's need to take this into consideration.

Health - is a way to get at sustainability and environmental movement, possibly one of the most effective ways!

We need to be transparent with our information, sharing of information leading to informed decisions and accountability and a better use of wealth and resources.

Where my bees at: definitely a highlight!

Climbing trees, Charlies trail, backcountry adventures... the love is strong, thanks to everyone for making it a wonderful residency!

stay tuned...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Walmart saving the world?

I don't know how I feel about Walmart leading this charge?  Community development? In the High Cost of Low Prices documentary they talk about what a $hat hole the founders of Walmarts home town is and how they don't give back a penny.  Also I have heard numerous economic studies explaining that Walmart's low prices and driving out family business actually ends up costing everyone in the community more in the long run to live... very ironic.  

Like I said I am not sure how I feel about it, can Walmart really gain credibility as leading the environmental charge in the Western World?  I wonder about credibility...  

I do love that nutrition is mentioned and Michelle Obama - yeah!  Maybe Walmart really is turning a corner here...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why or Why not???

The way we look at the world has a large impact on how we live in the world.  This came up on a van ride home from Fernie BC.  Do you ask yourself- Why do I need a new car, tv, computer, house, holiday, flight, etc...  or is the question -Why not?  It's a subtle difference but I think it determines a lot about how we act and interact in this world...

So do you ask yourself why or why not?  You do 'only live once' in the words of so many of my close friends and family.  So Why not?  But, Why not comes with its share of trouble too, 1 billion cars, global warming, climate change, a growing gap btn rich and poor in many places... or am I making up a pretty broad correlation...

I also just heard an interesting quote, "it's not the world that needs changing, it's the way we look at the world"

love to hear your perspective.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Today I'm Gonna Try and Change the World

Today I'm gonna try and change the world and I need your help!  Please.

I would like to submit an idea'r to change the world here:

I would like your help, comments, feedback, criticism and support with the following idea to 'change the world'....

Empathy Engagement Rings

thank you!