Monthly Archives: November 2010

What tools did you get?

I got some pretty neat tools as a kid to carry with me in life.  I had a mom who was always encouraging creativity and making something fun and exciting things out of nothing, and a dad who taught me that not all work is pretty or clean.  Sometimes you have to get dirty, and you have to crawl into some pretty tight spaces that smell like, well, crap.  But, those places are what keeps everything else upstairs working.

Some of the best memories I have from childhood are spending time at my grandparents’  farms.  One was on the 5th line in Maryland.  The other place where we went was my uncle’s house, near the Steele Line in North Onslow, which was where my dad grew up.  They’re both in the Pontiac.  I remember on Sundays eating toasted ketchup sandwiches in my grandparent’s kitchen in Maryland.  I loved those sandwiches.  Me and my grandpa.  Toast made on the wood stove…

Some might think that it is an impediment, but my scoliosis was also a physical tool that I got.  It not only got me out of gym class, which wasn’t my favourite anyway, but I got out of school alot too for my regular doctor’s appointments.  This allowed me to visit my grandma when she lived over by Carlingwood.  Not so bad.  I remember once when my grandma and I went for Chinese food at the mall.  That was fun.  I sure wish I had her to talk to now I tell ya.  She was a wise lady, I know it.

I had lots of time to write and draw when I was a kid too.  I wasn’t overscheduled, or forced into anything.  My first good story was on floppy disks for a Commodore 64 and it started with “It was a dark and stormy night…”.  I had a TRS 80 to.  I learned how to program and ripped through the Basic book as soon as I got it.  I was pretty fortunate to say the least.

I also had an older brother and sister.  Much older, so they were mostly out of the house when I grew up.  Because I never had to compete for attention, I never got the tools to deal with sibling rivalry, but I did learn “competition” at school.  I always wanted to be doing things a little differently, either ahead of the pack or on a different track altogether.  Being like everyone else didn’t appeal to me.  Dressing like everyone else didn’t appeal to me either.  I didn’t grow up with a sense of labels or why they would be important.  My favourite sweater I ever had (and still do) was handmade by my mom.  And, when I worked the summer I was 15, I bought a really expensive, mostly one of a kind, lamb-skin leather jacket.  I don’t think I would spend that much money now, but it’s what I wanted at the time…..

So, I often found myself in competition with grades in school.  I usually didn’t go looking for it, but others would try to poke me about one mark here or there.  I didn’t buy it.  I just did what I did.  I wasn’t great at everything, but I could usually get by.  And then there was the Grad Yearbook, but I won’t even go there….

I also excelled pretty quickly in every job I had (except for the one where the Regional Manager told me I would never amount to anything because I couldn’t fold a t-shirt).  At my tele-marketing job, at Cotton Ginny, at Wallack’s.  Fast-tracked, every one.  Even at my current job, considering I was a senior consultant 9 months in.  And on the Board of Governors at Heritage – I think I’d been on the Board for a month of so when I became the chair….

It’s fun doing an inventory of your life and seeing what tools you got and where they come from.  We’re all so different, and we should celebrate the differences…but sometimes people get jealous because you have something they don’t and they might try to make you feel bad about it.  Or they try to make you jealous of something they have.  I don’t get it.

The way I see it now is, people are built up from a bunch of material and a bunch of tools.  I prefer not to highlight people’s weaknesses, but rather shake the dust off strengths that people didn’t even realize they had, or something that got beaten out of them as kids.  Aren’t we all acutely aware of what our weaknesses are already?  Why do people insist on pointing them out to us?  I live with myself everyday.  I know what my kryptonite is.  It takes a pretty messed up individual to prey on the weaknesses of others.  What kind of tools did they get I wonder?  They weren’t as fortunate as I was, that’s for sure.  I know where I’m from and who I am, and I’m definitely okay with both.  If someone doesn’t like me, well, that’s their problem, not mine.

I don’t always buy the fact that you have to get rid of your weaknesses.  Sometimes we just have to rediscover our strengths, let them shine, and find the person that we never lost.


Who you are, and who you aren’t…

I saw Tim Burton on Strombo last night.  He said that he has spent his entire adult life trying to become human.  I liked him instantly, and I’ve been a fan of his movies, but to be honest, I haven’t seen many of his latest ones.

He moved to his grandmother’s house at the age of 10.  From an very early age, his difference was obviously out there and he had the familial support for his artist endeavours.  Now, he also lives in a separate house from his wife, Helena Bonham Carter, connected by a walkway.  Best of both worlds, I imagine.  He also lives no where near LA, and prefers it that way.  He has managed to be a huge success, despite everything that could have went sideways along the way.

James Hillman talks about this “perfect storm” phenomenon in many of his books, most notably in two – The Soul’s Code and The Force of Character.  What are the things that happened to you, in your early years, that make you who you are later in life.  Are there interests that are more dominant, but we get beaten out of us.  Burton mentioned this too, noting that most kids are creative, but it gets lost along the way.  Mostly, these things get lost because we think we need to do other things, but what we really need to do is create art.

We can always learn new things, but our interests from childhood, if you take a hard look, often tell alot about a person.  I recently came to this realization when I remembered that I once loved to design doll clothes.  I wasn’t content with what came in packages.  And, I wanted to make up new things.  I also knew that I could because I could knit and crochet from a very young age and I was encouraged to be creative.  And, because my mom always had needles and yarn around, it was a fairly inexpensive thing to do that I could get lost in, much like when I wrote my short stories.  This has carried over to my adult life whereby I rarely buy a Hallowe’en costume.  I would rather buy the materials and create something myself, something no one else will have.

I guess you could say, I like being unique, and I’m not afraid to step into or out of the river.

Back to the beginning….Burton has a new show in Toronto that I would love to see, and I might just try to get down there….to the TIFF Lightbox.

A change of pace….

So, on Monday, I officially made the move from the Strength Program at Greco to my own program at the Merivale YMCA.  I’ve got some friends there, and the atmosphere is really great.  Still on contract with Lean & Fit, and I’m going to get in once a week there or so, and I’m still training with Brad at Greco once a week as part of my new Strength plan.

I’m looking forward to the change and already I can see that I’m going to like it.  I don’t feel the same time constraint pressure as I did, and I know what I have to accomplish when I get there.  I’ve already realized some gains and tonight I did sumo deadlifts for the first time.  The plates are regular size, so I actually lift kgs off the floor, instead of needing the step to get the weights to the right height.  I feel like a grown up.  🙂  I find that I’m actually spending more time there, if you can believe it.  I get there around 8pm and leave around 10pm.  I can take my time, get the proper amount of work in necessary, and feel like I’ve accomplished my goals at the end of the night.

Oh, and on Saturday, I did 12 regular pushups off the floor…..all by my little self.  That’s coming along great too.

If only I could spend all my time at the gym….

I was mentioning to my friend Sheri the other night that it would be interesting to see if I could somehow put together a training plan for girls with scoliosis.  I’ve been doing research, and there is a place over in Britain that does strength work, based on a derivative method of muscular and skeletal manipulation, that has seen some pretty remarkable results.  I’m wondering if there is a way to help people without them having to go through surgeries as this organization has done.  It would be something to look into for sure….