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!

 

 

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.

Problem.

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.