Your life in music: Part 2 of…

Just as Canadian boys do, when I was young I expressed an interest in playing ice hockey. It was 1979 and I was five years old.

(You’re thinking right now, why the hell does he have a picture of boxing gloves then? Stick with me on this.)

My parents said, at the time, that since I hadn’t had much experience skating I’d be best served by enrolling in a power skating program first, to see if I was really going to like hockey and to make sure my skating was up to snuff.  (In reality, it could have had something to do with the cost of hockey, even at that time.)

Don’t forget to check out Your Life in Music: Part 1

The power skating program was run under the Okotoks Figure Skating Club, where my mom was president for the 1979/1980 season. Which now I have to wonder if I was REALLY in power skating or if she was trying to get me into figure skating. Probably something to explore in a different blog post… or with a therapist.

I digress.

For the annual, year-end showcase, the power skaters had a number in that show and the music for that number was the theme song from the Academy Award-winning feature film that bolted Sylvester Stallone into stardom – Rocky.

(This version below is actually from Rocky 3, but it’s the same song, and using this video actually ties better into the story.)

The song meant little to me at the time. I had no idea who or what Rocky was, or that our song was a movie theme. I was just skating around with red boxing gloves and a grey track suit doing figure 8s to the delight of parent onlookers.

What I did know was that I was pretty good at skating and I was looking forward to passing with flying colours and proving to my folks that I was ready to play (I think it was Tiger-Mite) hockey.

This part of the timeline is blurry – I don’t know if there was another year of power skating or what, but what I can confirm is my hockey career NEVER manifested. Ever.

(And to this day, I’ve never played an official game of organized hockey.)

The year 1981 rolled around and my dad was transferred down to Denver, Colorado. I vaguely recall at the time being told that there was only like three hockey rinks in all of Denver and zero in the small town of Castle Rock, where we settled down.

Without boring you of the details of living in Castle Rock, I’ll get to the point in the narrative that starts to dovetail everything together nicely.

(Living in Castle Rock was not boring at all. I loved the place and was devastated when I had to return back to Canada. Though, in another future blog post… when we hit say… 1984/85, we’ll come back to Castle Rock history.)

A quick history of cable television tells us that premium cable (stations like HBO, Showtime, Disney Channel, etc), started in the mid 1970s. We got our first ever cable box when we lived in the US, shortly after we arrived in the early 1980s. We had HBO, Showtime and Disney Channel (and when I figured out how to rig the box, we got the Playboy Channel… tee hee) and a handful of other channels.

In 1982, Stallone’s now-blockbuster boxing franchise had released its third installment – aptly named Rocky 3. It’s the one where he fights Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T, who, himself, rose to greater stardom as B.A. Baracus in the A-Team (1983)), gets beaten by Lang, and then trains with Rocky and Rocky 2 nemesis Apollo Creed and then wins. Spoiler alert.

HBO ran that movie, along with Star Wars, three or four times a day (maybe more, but I was going to bed early in those days). After watching once, I’ll be damned if I didn’t watch it every time I could find it on. I’ve easily watched Rocky 3 more than 200 times in the past 35 years, with about 50 per cent in those first couple years it was on HBO.

(Sidenote: I could have easily written this same blog post about Star Wars, and while I love John Williams’ score, it didn’t have the same neatly packaged beginning like the figure skating one. Honestly, for Star Wars, it was on HBO, I watched it every time it was on and I became a Star Wars convert – and I’m proudly devout still today.)

Today, I own all the Rocky movies on DVD and we have the VHS set of the first four movies out at the cabin and I usually watch them all at least once in my two weeks there every summer. We still watch Creed (the newest one) when we catch it on movie stations and I’ve seen it at least three times, too.

I can often be heard singing other Rocky songs, too.

One of my favourites is when Rocky carries Adrian home after they’re married. The song is actually sung by Sly Stallone’s brother, Frank.

“There are two kinds of love that you ought to know, there are two kinds of love…”

(Fast forward to 5:20 of the video below to hear it)

You also can’t be a Rocky fan and not enjoy Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger – also a song in Rocky 3.

Of course, it should be noted that the vast majority of the most memorable Rocky songs were composed by Bill Conti. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that in a blog post about Rocky music.


My favourite type of films are those where people overcome things to achieve greatness.

To me, this sums up the story of Rocky Balboa (and the controversial inspiration for the Rocky franchise, Chuck Wepner) – people who have a fire inside them, but for so many reasons they can’t break through. Until they do.

I started watching Rocky 3 when I was about eight years old. Thirty-five years later I’m still watching it. And still loving it.

Rocky 4 came next (at the height of the Cold War) and I soak it up as much as the Rocky 3. Rocky once again questioning himself, others questioning him, but finding something inside of himself to defeat the towering Russian, Ivan Drago, in Russia no less.

I probably didn’t see Rocky and Rocky 2 until later, maybe in my early teens, and though I would still consider Rocky 3 my sentimental favourite, Rocky and Rocky 2 are probably slightly ahead for me due to cinematic superiority.

So why, after 35 years, do these stories still inspire me? So much so that I watch them religiously each summer (at a minimum)?

I guess because I’ve always identified with them. I think many people can. And we’re all at different points in our Rocky journey.

People underestimate your talent or determination. They underestimate your skill or your commitment. People don’t believe in you like you believe in yourself. You get in your own way. You begin to doubt yourself. Life happens. All of this.

But Rocky wins. He loses. He wins again. The fighting spirit is always there.

And as you continue to watch through the now eight-film (Creed 2 comes out in November 2018.) franchise, you see that Rocky Balboa’s real win is in finding inner peace. It’s something he struggles with throughout the first five movies.

This is why the music is so sticky for me – because the movies are so sticky. The songs are earworms as much as the movie is an eyeworm (gross) for me.

And tracing the lineage of Rocky and the film’s score back to a figure skating program in my early years, is once again my life in music.

Yo, Adrian. We did it.


(Note: the featured photo at the top of the post was courtesy Flickr / Peter Miller)




Your life in music: Part 1 of…

Sunny day, sweeping the clouds away… on my way to where the air is sweet…”

Can you finish the song?

I can.

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street.”

It’s probably the earliest memory I have of a song. For many 70s and 80s babies, that was the first exposure they had to a melody beyond Mary Had a Little Lamb, or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

For many people, music tells a story – not just metaphorically, but literally.

Like the smell of Ethel Marcinek’s chocolate chip cookies or the scent of freshly cut grass for a 6:08 tee time at Falcon Lake in Manitoba, for me, music is the nose’s auditory cousin, reminding me of so many of life’s amazing, painful and comforting moments.

For the next several (I don’t know how many) Knowledge Bomb posts, I’m going to take you back to 1974 (or shortly thereafter… when I had lucidity as a child) and let the music that guided me tell the stories of life, the lessons I learned and hopefully open you up to how music has had an impact on you.

This is a project I’ve wanted to do for some time, so I’m excited to get started.

Sesame Street

I think back and I try to remember anything before this. But, like I said from the outset, aside from your regular children’s songs, I can’t remember anything that’s stuck with me for 43 years like the jingles from Sesame Street.

Obviously, there’s the opening song. That’s still an iconic song in many people’s minds, coming up from time to time in life whether we like it or not. It’s an earworm that, once it gets in there, it’s tough to shake.

But for me, there are two others that stick with me. And, while there’s no profundity to these tunes, they do speak to the Children’s Television Workshop’s ability to create sticky content for kids.

Here’s the first one. Most of you will remember this one.

You’re lying if you tell me you’re not jigging to this song right now.

EVERY kid knew her or his numbers up to 12 because of this tune. Likely one of my favourite segments in all of Sesame Street. How could it not be? The sheer genius of the music and the cadence of it all makes it sooooo easy to remember.

But, what made this REALLY sticky for me, was the ending part. I still, in my mind, will play out these scenes.

That’s fun stuff. And every kid loves to see some dude in a baker’s hat splash a bunch of desserts all over him. BUT GUESS WHAT? He showed me that he had one wedding cake or two chocolate cream pies. I was learning. (Thanks Alex Stevens for taking all those falls for kids’ learning.)

Arguably, the most memorable in-program jingle aside from the opening is, of course  Ernie’s Rubber Ducky song.

What parent didn’t, at some point, use a rubber ducky to help get their kids into the bath? But the beauty of this is that Ernie also talked about the soap to clean his body, the cloth and scrub brush and the towel to wipe himself off.

Kids watching are learning that Ernie is doing it and they learn the mechanics of bathing. And, when parents are struggling to get the kids into the tub, they’re leaning on Ernie and the duck to massage any grumbling about taking a dip.

Again, it’s pretty genius stuff.

(Don’t let me get into the CTW’s Electric Company – I love that song. Heeeeyyyy yoooouuuuu guuuuuyyyyyssss!)

So, what’s the first song you remember?

We all have songs that we remember for certain reasons when we were first kids. For me it was the Sesame Street songs. What was it for you? Please share in the comments section.

Can’t wait to hear what you remember from your childhood!



The $2 million Calgary Winter Olympic bid question

Spending $2 million on a Winter Olympics plebiscite and finding a way to make the timing work would be one of the best decisions Calgary city council’s made in a while.

(Well, they did finally come up with a secondary suite solution, but I don’t want to open up that can of worms.)

Attempts to thwart this process based on cost and timing are red herrings in the debate over Calgary’s submission of a bid proposal for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.

Here’s why: The list of recent projects funded with the city’s Fiscal Stability Reserve (FSR) are well documented: tax relief, snow clearing boost, walking back proposed transit cuts, waiving green cart fees, etc. In fact, it seems like any time money is needed to ensure services meet citizens’ expectations, councillors aren’t shy to dip in to the city’s rainy day fund for a cash injection. So, the money’s there in spades.

I’m no fan of blithely forking over taxpayers’ cash for every little project, this one has merits.

When there’s a very polarizing $5 billion (estimated, but cost overruns of 100 per cent or more are common) decision to be made, we should be taking the time and spending the money to make sure citizens, who could carry the financial burden of the Olympic Games for decades to come, have a definitive say.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 5.10.09 PM

Let’s be honest, public engagement in its current form isn’t seen very favourably – whether it’s the city, the school boards, the health authority – because many people believe these institutions simply put up the facade of public engagement when a direction has already been determined. Window dressing.

To some, that’s what’s driving this desire to avoid a plebiscite. No one wants to risk Calgarians turning their nose up at a bid, thus stopping it in its cross-country ski tracks.

The danger for the city here is despite having put in millions towards a.) Doing a bid exploration, and b.) Furthering the process with more cash and a visit to the PyeongChang Winter Games earlier this year, the taxpaying citizens may just say no.

But, asking citizens for their input on an Olympic bid isn’t uncommon. Vancouver did it, albeit in a non-binding plebiscite. It would be a similar format if Calgary were to vote.

But both Munich, Germany and St. Moritz, Switzerland held referendums – both of which resulted in the bid process being rejected by citizens.

I think a similar result would be frustrating for the city and Olympic backers, but at least Calgarians will have had their say.

And since we’re OK with taking money from the FSR to pay for a host of other city services and projects, there’s no reason why the money couldn’t be taken from there to pay for this.

And really, the cost shouldn’t even be part of the equation when we’re talking about taking on a multi-billion dollar international event – $2 million is a pittance in the scheme of a mega-project like this. Some would say given the enormity of the Olympic costs these days, a plebiscite should have been built into the exploration cost.

The $2 million price tag even becomes less of an issue if the projections for potential financial success and economic benefit from a 2026 Calgary Winter Games come to fruition. As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, you need to spend money to make money. In this case, money spent to ensure the will of Calgarians is clear would be well worth it.

So, let’s spend the money and Calgarians will have their say.






Goodbye, old boy: The life of Mannie

Mannie no longer sprung out of bed for our morning walks.

It used to be that as soon as you said ‘outside,’ he would pop up, tail wagging as he trotted off, beating you to the back door.

Often mistaken for a dog several years younger due to the boundless energy, brilliant coat and youthful eyes, age had caught up to our black Lab, Border Collie, Rottweiler cross.

His body had become lumpy. He had trouble with stairs. He couldn’t hear. He slept the days away. Most recently, maybe in the past couple of weeks, you could see Mannie take a noticeable turn for the worse.

Mannie's final ride
This is a photo I took as we left Grandma and Papa’s house to go to the vet. It would be our dear friend’s last ride.

His pal long-time pal, Ruthie, my brother’s dog, was with him for his final hours. Having no knowledge of what was to come – but knowing something wasn’t right with her friend, she laid at his bed with him through the night.

It was a tough night and previous day. Mannie didn’t leave his bed – not to eat, not to drink and not to go outside, unless we forced him. In the middle of the night, he struggled to get up and after holding it all day long, voided his bowels all over the floor. After a 4 a.m. cleanup, he went back to his bed, where he stayed.

The next morning, Ruthie couldn’t and wouldn’t return to his side. She could sense the inevitable and she was nervous.

My wife and I knew very well the end could be near. We took him to the vet mere hours before we had to be on a plane to Sacramento, California. The vet confirmed our worst fears.

Yes, Mannie was old. But the vet believed that pain he’d developed in his abdomen was likely due to a mass that had formed. He said his chance of survival and positive quality of life after treatment at that age was slim.

Tears in our eyes and streaming down our face, we made the decision to let him go.

He got to jump up on the couch in the patients’ room on a cozy little blanket. (Mannie wasn’t allowed on the couch at home – except on rare occasions.) He was fed liver snacks that he devoured in his final moments.

We held him tight, telling him how much we were going to miss him and

Manny puppy 2003
Mannie as a pup in 2003, on the front doorstep of the cabin in Star Lake, Manitoba. This is where he began his new life with our family.

that we loved him, and he drifted off for his last sleep.


Mannie J. Cherney, named after the province of Manitoba where he was born on July 2, 2003, passed away peacefully at the age of 14, on March 1, 2018.

Among the many things, he was our fiercely loyal friend, our guardian, our shoulder to cry on, our exercise partner, our entertainment, our frustration, our cuddler, our cheek-kisser, our hide-and-go-seek player, our death-defying acrobat and a welcoming pet to everyone who entered our home.

He was sought out by my wife and her then-husband, Dallas, in the summer of 2003, while on vacation at the family cabin in Star Lake, Manitoba.

It had been raining for 10 days, boredom set in and they were thumbing through the Winnipeg Free Press classifieds looking for a Rottweiler pup. They found one breeder, but all they had left was this shrimpy black lab. Dad was a Rottie and mom was a black Lab, Border Collie cross.

He turned out to be a diamond in the rough.

Mannie spent the first six days with his new owners at that cabin. It became the place where throughout his life he was most at home, and where his personality shone the brightest.

His legendary 10-foot leaps off the dock where the boat was tied were his trademark. And when not jumping in, he was chest deep in the lake, head underwater, front paws scraping the lake floor in search of large rocks he would grasp in his powerful but gentle jaws and then deposit on the shore. Look ma! A rock!

Mannie and Nolan
Mannie with Nolan at the shore of Star Lake in 2014… no doubt hunting for rocks.

He joined us when we fished and when we anchored the boat just to swim. He was one of the kids; when they dove in, he followed right after. Man, he could swim for days.

Of course, life wasn’t always on the lake.

Between July 2003 and September 2005 Mannie was the close comfort of my wife’s husband Dallas. He was battling cancer and Mannie was there with him. He was the stalwart companion who stood by Dallas, laying close with him and taking his mind off the ongoing battle against his disease.

Dallas died in September 2005, leaving Mannie and my now-wife. (The whole story about my wife and I getting together is a whole ‘nuther tale… maybe a novel.)

He played the same role for her, a comforter laying beside her in bed at night, the one thing she could count on everyday as she recovered from the death of her husband. Mannie was always a rock like that.

I had met Mannie prior to actually moving in and becoming a regular part of his life. Even then I knew he had a certain joyeux-de-vivre that you don’t find in all dogs. I’d had dogs all my life, but this fella had a spark. That spark endeared him to everyone who crossed his path.

That SPARK is what prompted one of the most indelible memories I have of Mannie, shortly after I moved in with my wife. In retrospect it’s funny as hell, but at the time it was one of the most frustrating.

(It happened the same day as the featured photo at the top was taken.)

He was always playing games; never a shoe-chewer, but he’d grab your shoe and play a game of keep away with you. Well, one day, in the back yard after playing in the sprinkler with my older boys, Mannie grabbed my hiking shoe. He ran and ran, zigging and zagging around the yard. And I chased him, mad as a hornet as I was squishing around the yard in my bare feet.

Just as I thought I had him cornered, I lunged to grab him, only to step in a pile of his dog crap. Think banana peel moment and right into the said pile of poop.

(I just told my wife the part I’m at in writing this and she said that was the funniest day she remembers with Mannie. I didn’t find it so funny.)

Cursing and swearing, I lifted myself from the stack of stool that was now smeared on my arms. He dropped the shoe knowing he got the better of me. I will never forget that day.

That was Mannie. He was such a ham.

mannie belly rub
Can someone PLEASE scratch my belly?

While we lived in Calgary, in the southwest community of Braeside, naturally one of his favourite places was the off-leash area. There was one tucked along 14 St SW and Southland Drive near our home and that area was our playground for five years.

That’s where the hide and seek started with my older boys, Jake, then seven, and Ethan, then four-years old (now nearly 18 and 15.)

We’d go hide in the brush and Mannie would come and find us. Nose to the ground he’d track us down every single time. Oh, how fun that was! He’d be so excited to find us, he’d rip around and find an old, dead tree still standing. He’d tear that thing out – it didn’t matter if it was two feet long or 10 feet and he’d carry it out of the bush like a conquering hero.

Boy, did he love his sticks. Big and small, whenever he was in the bush he’d find a stick (or a full-blown tree) and drag it over. Seriously, I think the biggest one I’ve seen him carry was more than 10 feet long and made his head droop to one side.

Mannie in wagon
Mannie in a wagon at the cabin with Jakob (left) and Ethan… this is probably 2010.

On walks with Papa Harv, he’d chase a stick thrown into the bush for hours. They’d walk down by the river, which they often did at Grandma and Papa’s, when we’d ship him down on our out-of-town trips where he couldn’t tag along.

Yes, he was a cherished grand-dog. Lots of treats there (as grandparents do), and his buds Hope and Maui – two Yorkshire Terriers.

Thankfully, they too got to say goodbye when we took our kids down to them prior to heading to the vet (and ultimately the airport, bound for California.) There were lots of tears shed; they knew the end was near for Mannie. Their walks had become shorter and he didn’t quite chase the stick into the bush as much. He slept a lot there, too. “He’s an old dog,” Harv would say. “He’s had a good life.”

He was a grandkid to them just like our four boys. A part of their lives for the past 14 years.


When our two younger boys came along (Nolan in 2010 and Cooper in 2012), there was no jealousy and no behaviour issues with Mannie as there sometimes can be with dogs when you bring a newcomer into the house who gets all the attention. His natural disposition pushed him towards being like an older brother, always looking out for them, shepherding them when they needed it, playing with them non-stop and, yes, the odd time, fighting.

Mannie the protector
Mannie was never jealous as we brought two new babes into the world. He ended up being a great big brother.

That relationship grew and flourished over the next eight years. You would often see the boys on their iPad, laying on the floor, propped up in the hind crook of Mannie’s body. They’d want to hold the leash when we walked him. They loved feeding him treats. They, too, learned from Papa that Mannie would chase a stick for hours. They swam with him. They raced him on the berm behind our current home (and always lost.)

He would explore with them at the cabin and be a part of all their hunting around the woods.

But again, hide and go seek was our game – this is where it evolved to an indoor game. Seekers always knew they would win if Mannie was on their side. He could sniff out people in closets, under sinks and beds in storage rooms, in tents… and he would get excited and bark. Or he’d come get you and lead you to the hiders.

He was just as much a kid to us as our four human children.

He had a special connection with our seven-year old, Nolan. Mannie laid in Nolan’s room nightly as he fell asleep. He paced between the living room and our son’s room in the evening, as if to check on him. That would continue through the night. Mannie would curl up on the rug next to Nolan’s bed and then an hour later come back to his bed in our room.

Mannie, Nolan, Cooper
Our two youngest boys, Nolan (left) and Cooper had a beautiful bond with Mannie.

Right up until his last night, Mannie laid next to Nolan before he went to sleep.

When Nolan learned that Mannie was going to the hospital, he welled up with tears and cried.

“I’m really worried about Mannie,” he told us.

We didn’t have the heart to tell him what was going to happen as we were about to depart and wouldn’t be with them to share the burden of this loss.

(As of now, the two young ones don’t officially know, though Nolan told his grandma Rill last night that he believes that Mannie died.)

But, Mannie was a brother to all four of our boys. And they all had their own unique connection.

Cooper, when seeing my wife’s emotional response when telling Nolan’s teacher what about our dog and how Nolan was feeling, Cooper welled up and said he couldn’t go to school.

Our 14-year-old, Ethan, who lives with his birth mom, learned of the news shortly after it happened. He texted me, saying, “That’s actually so weird without knowing this I’m not sure why but I just broke down this morning…”

I don’t think any of them have a negative memory of Mannie.


The bond he had with my wife, Jen, was an unbreakable one. No matter what trouble Mannie got into (yes, despite all of these awesome things I’m telling you, he was an occasional shit-disturber), she’d always scold him one second and then forget about it the next.

Mannie costume
I firmly believe Mannie hated wearing these costumes. But, Jen dressed him up regularly and he would always deal with the embarrassment and move on. The two were inseperable.

They’d spent 14-years together – and in the early years much of it was under duress, with Dallas’s condition and, of course, after his death.

As much as I was now her loving husband, Mannie was her closest companion. They were inseperable. And I’m OK with that. I could see the joy and love Mannie brought to her life. It was her last remaining connection to Dallas and that part of her life.

This decision was hardest on her. Over the past few months she could see his deterioration and knew in the back of her mind that the end was near. But, to her, as long as Mannie could get up in the morning, trot outside for a pee and poop, wag his tail when being pet, he was worth having in our lives.

She was right.

Jen held his head and stroked his face, tears rolling down her face as Mannie took his final breath.

“I love you, big guy,” she said repeatedly.


As for me… I had the fortune of inheriting Mannie and having him a part of my life for the past 12 years.

Mannie and me.
My pal and I building our fence in Braeside. He was game for anything.

The fact I’ve written 2,185 words (so far) about him kinda says what he’s meant to me.

We’ve had our ups and downs, no doubt. But when I needed someone to talk to without judgment, someone to cry with, someone to bark at the deer in the backyard, someone to get up with me at the crack of dawn, someone to swim with, someone to lash out at (yeah, it happens), someone to snuggle, someone to nuzzle, someone to run with and… someone to love, who loved me back unconditionally, Mannie was there.

I’ve had great dogs in my life. A lot of them. But none that measured up to Mannie. He was that awesome. He really was.

I will likely never have another dog like him. We may get another dog, but he or she will have big paw prints to fill…

I held my hand on Mannie’s chest as we said our final goodbye.

Up until the last moment, I wanted to tell the vet, “NO. We’ll figure something else out.” But I didn’t. I knew it was time. I sobbed and sobbed as it happened, telling Mannie I was sorry.

Sorry, yes, for having to make this decision. You don’t want to end the life of someone who has brought so much joy to you and your family.

But maybe sorry for not being as good an owner as I could have. Not always willing to make the same sacrifices for him as he was willing to make for us. Maybe for not always loving him unconditionally as he loved me.

My hand stayed on his chest as I could no longer feel his breath or his heartbeat. The vet confirmed Mannie was gone and he gave us whatever time we needed.

Mannie lay there on the couch, a dog once so full of life and love, now breathless.

Jen and I both kissed him goodbye, telling him how much we loved him.

He’s now chasing sticks, dock jumping, playing hide and go seek and giving cheek kisses to his heart’s content. His happiness is now eternal.

Rest in peace, my friend. Thank you for everything you brought to our lives. It won’t be forgotten.

Mannie in daisies
Rest in peace, my friend.

As Roxette once said, ‘Listen to your heart’ – but get your head to buy in

When I lay in bed at night, or even if I’m on the couch, lazing around watching a weekend PGA tournament, for some reason lately my heartbeat has been particularly, ‘thumpy.’

(Please, if you think it’s a medical condition, let me know in the comments.)

I’ve just been listening to it more, or hearing it more. Paying attention to it more. And whenever I do (sorry, going dark here), I think of the day my heart stops beating. Yep, death.

It’s something that, for the longest, time I’ve always had in the back of my mind. I’m an ambitious guy; I want to do lots of things in life: write a book, travel the world with my wife, watch all four kids graduate university, watch a game in all NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL stadiums – yes, that’s on the co-bucket list for my wife and I. I want to play in a professional golf tournament, I want to own my own business, I want to run a marathon (only done a half), I want to get a part in a movie, I want to direct my own short film, I want to win the lottery (OK, that one may never happen). I want to do a lot of things.

And please, spare me the ‘why haven’t you done it? Or what are you doing to get there?’ – I get it. We all know life often gets in the way of what you want to do. And frankly, aside from playing the lottery every week, there isn’t much more I can do to win it.

Now, I’ll admit that since my job was removed from my life, I’ve had more time to acknowledge the nuances in my life. Like my heartbeat.

And I wonder: If my heart stops tomorrow, what have I done?

I think we all probably think about this at one time or another. And some, like me, have a tendency to dwell on it now and again. My wife is a constant reminder of the great things I have done. No need to list them. You know, the important things in life (good husband, good father, four great sons, nice trips, great experiences, led a great newspaper, Avenue Top 40 Under 40 (yeah, I just dropped that) etc, etc.)

The two sides, while literally coming from the same heartbeat, aren’t exactly in sync. One is what I’ve done and one is what I want to do.

Buh bum. Buh bum. Buh Bum. Buh Bum. The heart keeps ticking.

Getting back to all of you saying, ‘well, why don’t you do those things?’ And me saying, ‘well, life gets in the way’… what it really boils down to is the conflict between the head and the heart.

The heart wants one thing and the head tells you that you’re bat-shit crazy.


What exacerbates the problem is the head often makes what the heart wants an insurmountable objective – for the masses, at least. And so, we don’t do those things. I don’t do them. We put so many perceived (sometimes real) roadblocks in the way of chasing what the heart wants to do. Be it career-wise, family-wise, travel-wise…

And so I’ve listening to my heart at night. Or when I watch TV, usually golf, because I nod off every now and again and that’s when I can really hear the heart well. I think about the things I want to do before that inevitable physiological breakdown where the electrical impulse from my sinoatrial node ends and my heart does indeed stop.

Now, maybe I’m going to take the anatomy lesson too far here in making the point, but there’s a real parallel here. When the heart pumps it does two things:

1.) It brings in deoxygenated blood in and sends it for oxygenation in the lungs.  Let’s call this what your heart wants. All that untapped potential and unlived experiences.

2.) It pumps the blood out to various vital organs and helps you, well, live. All of your actions, your thoughts, your impulses, (your golf game) etc.   Let’s call this what you actually do.

What ultimately makes the decision for number 2 is that damn thing called your brain.

So you need to get your brain on board with your heart. To a large degree you’d hope they’d be in sync, right? But, how do you do that?

I’ve no friggin’ clue. When you figure it out please post in the comments below.

I hope you weren’t expecting a brilliant knowledge bomb for that part.

The bomb is just that you’re standing in your own way.

I would be willing to bet the farm that it’s just you. I know it’s just me.

So get the hell out of the way, start listening to your heart and act. That’s my goal. It doesn’t matter if it’s life in general, school, work, sports, love – whatever.

Life is literally ticking in your chest. Go out and live it.

Buh bum. Buh Bum. Buh Bum.









The Constitution of Me

I’m generally a healthy person. I don’t get sick very often and when I do I heal quickly. I’m strong of body and of mind (so far) and I hope to keep it that way.

Generally this is defined as one’s constitution (not to be confused with the ‘We the people’ type of constitution).

While some of it could be due to genetics, I like to think that some of it is how I prepare my body. Sure, I indulge in a few beers and the occasional crappy food, but I try to eat right (for me that means steering clear of sugar), stay moderately active (though I could do more).

Basically, what I put in I got out.

I know, you didn’t click here for some health blog… but THIS is what knowledge bombs are all about. So keep reading.

Some who follow me on Twitter know that after nearly 11 rewarding years as the Managing Editor of Metro Calgary, I was let go.

Metro cover
The irony was that in our last get-together as an entire Metro Calgary team – that’s when I felt the most appreciated in my career.  This is one of the mementos they had made for me.

As most firings go, I was hurt.

There was anger and lots of tears. More than a decade of blood, sweat and tears – and more 14 hour days than I care to count – put into a product that, when it launched, had a miniscule chance for long-term survival.

As companies age, leadership up top changes and I knew my demise would only be a matter of time (read between the lines as much as you want), but nonetheless it hurt.

Then the support came. And it was overwhelming. Not one ‘good riddance’ type message was sent my way either directly or indirectly.

Then, I wondered: “What did I do to deserve this support?”

It comes back to my constitution. Just a different kind of constitution. This one had more to do with the health of my career.

Despite the fact I was unceremoniously whacked, and the hurt that caused (we’ll call that the ‘sickness’), I am ready to bounce back and start moving forward. Thanks to the outpouring of support from all over the country – but most importantly from my team members, past and present.

I was fortunate to work with some of the brightest young journalists in Calgary and Edmonton, with many now spread across the country, both in journalism and in other fields. I gave them everything I could, and we all learned together.

The vast majority of relationships I’ve formed over the past decade were done so with integrity, trust and a respect for one another (some involved beer). Whether it was reporting teams, media partners, business partners or other Metro colleagues, I extended my respect to those who deserved it and many who didn’t.

Because of what I put in, this is what I got out. And I’ll be damned if I’m not as excited and energized as I’ve ever been.

It was a lesson that took some time early on to learn, but it’s one that I won’t forget.

Build your career constitution. It will pay off for you like it has for me – especially in times when you need it the most.

  • Surround yourself with good people – in life and career.
  • Keep your integrity intact; it’s all you really have and should never be sacrificed.
  • Conduct yourself with dignity.
  • Laugh and make others laugh (even with dad jokes)
  • Lead by example

Finally – inspire others by enabling them to accomplish their goals and dreams. Leaders don’t tell people what to do. They clear the path for others so they can share in the amazing experiences life has to offer.