Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I took a little flack in the Twittersphere yesterday for linking to an article published by the Christian Science Monitor (CSM). The griefing came not from the content of the article but rather because it was published by CSM.

For those who don't know, the Christian Science Monitor is an international news organization. It publishes a weekly magazine and a news website covering not only U.S. news but also world news. It also happens to be owned by the Church of Christian Science. These are the folks who believe in the healing power of prayer and refuse necessary medical treatment. Not to be confused with Scientology, which is another cult founded by Science Fiction author L. Ron Hubbard and boasts actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta as prominent figures (what a strange world we live in).

Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy founded the Christian Science Monitor in the early 1900s (what did we do before Wikipedia?) as a non-religious news agency. The stated CSM principles include a rejection of sensationalism, unbiased fairness, and the idea that news should "bless" and not "injure". The paper is known for its even-handed reporting of major, divisive conflicts such as the Iraq war.

It's this even-handedness that I enjoy most when reading CSM. I find it very difficult to watch CNN and Fox News, for example, because of their pro-American, if-you're-not-with-us, republican biases. Despite being an American news agency, CSM reports on all sides of a story in an unbiased fashion. And that's why it is right under Reuters and CBC in my RSS feed ;-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Clarifying Life Change

After sleeping on it I realized the term "yearning" (in my last post) was a little vague. Dreaming, hoping, wishing, pining (for the Fjords!), self-pity are all signs of dissatisfaction. They don't even count as envisioning a change let alone yearning for one. I believe that if you want to manifest change in your life you need to see that alternative future like it's already the present. Not only will that make you open to new opportunity (as I stated in my last post) but it will also change your behaviours (sometimes in ways you don't even realize). Except for my last position change (which was one of those "external events") every promotion I've had started out with me envisioning and then living in that future state. Some changes took longer to occur than others but staying in that target state was key.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Life Change

I'm really enjoying walking to and from work nowadays. There are many reasons for this including the most significant reason. It provides me with 30 minutes (x2 daily) to just think and not do. That one hour a day split in two segments is among my most creative (maybe I should find a longer route?). On Wednesday afternoon, on the way home, I was thinking about life changes and how difficult they are to achieve. I'm talking about things like going back to school after working for years, changing marital status, starting to have kids, and changing jobs or even careers.

I used to think that life change typically happened for one of two reasons: a significant external event (like getting fired or waking up pregnant) or being somehow unhappy with a situation. The first reason is probably a good case for life change but it is out of your control. The latter case, dissatisfaction, seems like a perfectly reasonable reason to act. But my experience is that dissatisfaction just isn't enough to cause any real change. The brain (at least my brain) plays tricks: Make do. The grass is no greener. You're over-reacting. It really isn't that bad. It'll get better. Lucy couldn't possibly pull the football away again.

These are exactly the thoughts that ran through my head for a long time before I left my last job (it also didn't help that the people I worked with were fabulous). Dissatisfaction was not enough to motivate me to make a life change. In fact, my personality type deals with dissatisfaction by looking for ways to improve the local situation and to remain optimistic that the situation can be improved.

At some point, however, I started to envision what a life change (a job change in this case) might be like. At first it was only an occasional thought. A guilty pleasure. Over time however, the vision of what might be became richer and more detailed. Finally at some point I flipped from imaging a change to yearning for it. At that point, change was no longer an option. It was inevitable.

Not to get all metaphysical here but I am a firm believer in the human ability to create our own reality by envisioning outcomes in advance. I think it pre-wires the brain to be more attuned and receptive to events and subconscious thoughts that lead you to where you want to go. This is why continuously envisioning life changes or goals in richer and richer detail is so important to making real change. And I'm not simply talking about the "Power of Positive Thinking". Obsessively fixating on negative thoughts can also manifest change in your life (but not the good kind). It is also why rejecting negative self-talk is to critical.

So one might argue that envisioning a job change in greater and greater detail motivated me to go find another job. I argue that envisioning that job change in greater and greater detail caused me to change jobs. There's a big difference between the two.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mardi Gras 2010 - Lundi

I promised myself that I'd use our recent trip to New Orleans as a topic for a blog post but unfortunately it has taken me some time to get around to writing. Anyway, here is Day 1.

Annette wanted to celebrate her recent "milestone" birthday with a party. What bigger party could there possibly be than Mardi Gras? And not just any Mardi Gras but a Mardi Gras after the Saints' Superbowl win.

As we approached the Louis Armstrong airport I couldn't help but marvel at the flatness of the land and the nearness to the water. We've all heard about the flooding after Katrina in 2005 but it isn't until you see the landscape that you understand just how close to disaster the people of New Orleans are constantly. The first glimpses you get during landing are of a treeless landscape painted a thin brown on a blue-grey canvas.

Later that evening we decided to take in our first Mardi Gras parade. For those not familiar with Carnival traditions, the days leading up to Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday) are peppered with parties, parades, and other celebrations. The idea is to get out all your bad habits and large living before Ash Wednesday, or the start of Lent and six weeks of fasting and abstinence. Many places around the world (including Quebec, Brazil, Venice) have similar Mardi Gras or Carnival traditions.

In New Orleans, one of the hallmarks are the parades. Parades are put on by Krewes and can range from modest homemade floats to extravagant professionally built floats. It all depends on the means of the various Krewes. Monday evening was the Krewe of Orpheus. Very impressive, elaborate floats. Unfortunately it was miserably cold (around freezing), we hadn't eaten yet, and we had chosen the absolute worst spot to watch the parade -- near the end but not at the end. This meant the parade members were tired and cold but not yet ready to give up the last of their throws. Throws are essential elements of enjoying Mardi Gras parades. Throws can take the form of stuffed toys, plastic doubloons, cups, or beaded necklaces. Beads are the showcase throw that everyone thinks of and parades are definitely one way to acquire them.

Cold, disappointed and near despair, we grabbed a bite to eat (I don't even remember where). Once we had some food and beverages in us the night no longer felt so cold. We went down a block from our hotel and there we found the absolute end of the Orpheus parade route. As my sister Michelle had once told us, the end of a parade route can be a magical place for acquiring throws. It's at the end of the route that the parade members toss their remaining throws off the side of their floats by the handful just to get rid of them. Whole bags of beads went flying past my head. It seems like an odd thing but you get a wonderful sense of inclusion and community getting your first beads (even if they were cheapo, plain plastic beads and not the higher quality types).

After the parade ended we took a walk down Bourbon Street through the heart
of the French Quarter. It was on this evening that Annette discovered the Handgrenade - a strong drink consisting of rum, gin, vodka, grain
alcohol, and melon liquor served over crushed ice and garnished with mint delivered in a long tube shaped plastic glass with a base shaped like a smiling Allied hand-grenade. They're sold at four locations on Bourbon Street and nowhere else in the world.

Bourbon Street's tenants span a wide spectrum. From upscale hotels and fine restaurants to strip clubs and adult toy stores; and often all in row. Even in the cold that night, Bourbon St. was packed. Music, clubs, people everywhere. The police were also on hand strolling on horseback through the crowds. If people were not in clubs they were in the streets.

And it was on this first night that we learned of the other ways to attract throws (e.g. beads). Whether you were walking the street or waving to the crowd from a balcony, everyone seemed to be in the mood to share their beads. In hindsight it seems quite odd the lengths that some people go to get a bunch of plastic beads. But like many things, I think it's in the acquiring and not necessarily the owning, that attracts.

By about 2am we were pretty tired so we lugged our load of beads back to the hotel. It was amazing to think that we'd only arrived earlier that evening. It was a fantastic feeling to end the day on a high note especially after our rocky start.

Next post... Day 2 (Mardi Gras)