12 July 2015

How I spent Canada day

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How I spent Canada day

 

Lets be honest Canadian weather sucks! You know you are Canadian when you have to change your plans often because of bad weather. I have tried to explain Canadian weather to some of my friends who live in better climates around the world,but I think our weather  is something you only understand when you have  experienced it. I think Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl came up with the best way to describe what Canadian weather can feel while playing here not long ago.He was getting pounded by strong winds and a mix of rain and hail when he paused in the middle of a song and  spontaneously  exclaimed “Jesus fucking christ!”. The show was cancelled a few moments later ruining an evening my friends and I had look forward to for weeks.

I had planned  to spend Canada day on the Plains of Abraham which is a historic area within the battlefields park in Quebec city.This is where the French lost the war to the British over 250 years ago.This result influenced and determined so much from language and ideas to laws and politics in North America. Today some discomfort and uneasiness can still be felt here about Québec’s place in Canada,but for me the war as been over for quite a while. The beautiful plains have had enough bloodshed and over the years,they have been better known for summer festivals,family picnics and dog walking. But no,I wouldn’t head to the plains on Canada day as it was raining like a pissing cow as the French would say. I figured that I might as well stay home and work,which I usually never do on Canada day. I started by doing some accounting,my June tax instalments had pretty much emptied my bank account ,so I needed to check my budget for the coming  weeks . My girlfriend asked: “Is that really how you are going to spend Canada day?” .I sarcastically told her that high taxes were part of Canadian culture,so it was one of the ways to “celebrate” Canada day. I told her I would drink some Molson Canadian beer while doing my work,to make the experience even more Canadian. I’m sure my girlfriend knew that the bad weather was sending me in a spiral of negativity and cynicism ,so she let me be and started working on a BBQ rib recipe we had agreed on making for a late cookout.But again it was a long shot,the weather kept getting worst.

After a while,2 hours of accounting and 4 Molson’s Canadian to be exact.I left my cynicism and started reflecting on what it meant to be Canadian and how special it actually is. One  thing that came to mind was how I am always very saddened when I learn about shootings and hate crimes happening all over the world. Just before Canada day ,on June 18 to be precise ,one of those indescribable tragedies occurred in Charleston South Carolina where a white gunmen walked into a church and shot and killed 9 innocent African Americans.The weak and worthless scum who commit such horrendous crimes probably   choose schools and sacred places of contemplation because they know they won’t have to deal with much resistance  .  I feel for the victims and their families,but the truth is that we just don’t have this here. I’m not saying that  race related crimes never happened in the history of Canada ,but it is a well known fact that our country is inclusive. We have a multicultural society where no one is handicapped by  colour of skin or beliefs .The Canadian rate of 1.73 homicides per 100,000 population is one of the lowest in the world.Canada is a land of opportunity ,where anyone has a real shot at realizing their dreams and succeed in the pursuit of happiness. Canadians are also humorous ,we are proud but humble and we care about the less fortunate.We let our actions speak louder than our words.We have a passion for fresh air,water  and the great outdoors.Canada recently placed third for the cleanest air on the planet.The province of Ontario alone contains about a third of the world’s freshwater, spread over 250,000 lakes. Our country is peaceful with  beautiful scenery ,a very clean environment and  strong economy.Canadians are small in number ,but large in achievements . We gave the world its first light bulb,no Edison did not invent it he perfected it. We gave the world the telephone,basketball,the discovery of stem cells,insulin,the wonder bra and even Superman. Yes, I know we gave you Justin Bieber as well,but we also gave you some good actors,musicians  and personalities like Bryan Adams,Nelly Furtado,Pam Anderson,Jim Carrey,Michael J. Fox,Elisha Cuthbert,Rush and Neil Young which I’m sure compensate a little 🙂

We might not wave our flags as much as our neighbours from the South,but  we are no less patriotic.Canadians are modest,but we do know we have a very good thing going here and we are grateful for it. As I was leaving my thoughts,it had finally stopped raining.There was still plenty of time to fire up the grill , celebrate and raise a toast to being Canadian.After all being Canadian is a gift .Countless people try to immigrate to Canada for a better life.Most people around the world don’t have what we take for granted everyday,including bad weather!

21 June 2015

“Back to reality”

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“Back to reality”

 

In the first week of January, every year, for as long as I can remember, I have heard people talk about “getting back to reality”. This reality  of course is about “things” and how they actually are as opposed to an idealistic way of seeing or imagining them. I often studied this “reality” that is experienced by most. I have observed that “back to reality” is never mentioned in an enthusiastic way, but more in a defeatist and resigned tone. I wanted to know why this was . But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see why people feel down in January. In a matter of a few days, from before Christmas to New Year’s, most people shift from relaxing, sleeping longer hours, being with their loved ones, partying, exchanging gifts, and enjoying sports and outdoors activities to the exact opposite of short nights, waking up when it’s still dark and cold outside, getting back to the daily grind, and facing their New Year’s resolutions and objectives that too often look insurmountable.

This must happen when they are not even finished enjoying the successes and accomplishments of the past year. On top of that the credit card bills arrive from the real Santa Claus. Wow, what a shock! Words and expressions have been created for this malaise like “Blue January” and “Blue Monday”, which is the third Monday in the month of January. A travel company once even tried to build an equation to outline how people’s depression reaches a peak in the third week of January. Of course I am no stranger to this; I remember my last holiday season well. I am sitting in my favourite chair, I have a fire burning as it is quite cold outside, I am wearing my New Orleans Saints slippers my brother bought me for Christmas, and I am sipping some very good coffee from a new Nespresso machine my girlfriend gave me for Christmas as well. I am also enjoying a new activity and passion of mine which is writing. What is wrong with this picture? Nothing at first glance, but the problem is that I waited for the holiday season to do this. That particular day, I was finding myself. I was at peace and my stress was gone. I went out and enjoyed nature. I walked in the woods for a long time with my dog. I enjoyed the fresh air and was rejuvenated.

When we say “back to reality”, this is what we should be thinking about. Our realities should be comprised of better things that make us happy, not an abundance of things that stress  and kill us. Who or what established those reality standards? Heading into the second half of my life, my only resolution is to make my life more like a holiday season. I want to stay away from those extreme emotional swings like the ones  we can experience at the turning of a year. I want to get back to what I love, simple things like playing hockey at the town’s outdoor rink with a bunch of kids for hours. You want a real workout? Go skate with 16 year old Sidney Crosby wannabes! What awesome exercise, a lot more fun than the current gym scene where most people make calls and send texts while doing reps. When self-actualizing, your focus shifts into “being”. You are motivated by values and purpose. You enter a new reality of activating and expressing your creativity and who you want to be. Observing the way we humans are made, there will always be times of struggle in seeking balance. But when thinking about getting back to reality and “real things”, don’t think about a nine-to-five and credit card bills. Think about getting back to your values and upholding what is most important to you.

 

 

21 June 2015

What father’s day means to me

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What father’s day means to me

The third Sunday of June as come around again ,the time when children honour their father’s,with gifts,cards and all kinds of treats. When 9 out of 10 people on social media seem to be posting  something about their great  dads. For me,it is a day when  I usually fade away  and find my own “ritual”, as I have always done in the past when  facing uncomfortable situations. The closest thing to a kid I have is my dog, so it is no surprise, I have been celebrating father’s day a little bit differently in the past years.

For me,the best about June 21st  is the summer solstice when I can play golf very late,which I always loved. The way the light of the setting  sun  hits the fairways and the overall  tranquility on the different courses,have always done it for me.Yes the fact that I am on this earth right now proves that I do have a father,but I am sorry to say that I cannot enthusiastically celebrate what father’s day means to most.  A lot of kids want to emulate and be like their dads…”my dad is the strongest” I used to hear in the school yard. Yes, I knew my dad was a “strong” man as well,but for different reasons. For me a father’s role in the life of a child is different from a mother’s, but certainly as important. Fathers must provide spiritual and emotional guidance as well as  physical, financial  and social well being. Many times my relationship with “dad” was more about physical abuse and emotional distress.

Without feeling sorry for myself, I moved forward as always and figured I could do better once I would  get my “shot” at fatherhood. The  first time I heard a woman tell me she was pregnant,I was a bit disappointed.I was   not in love with her  and was quite young compared to her. I was the one trying to sell the idea of an abortion to her and it felt terrible. Even though I was not in love ,I genuinely cared and this went against all my principles that are about building and creating. In the end,I had to do much argumenting and convincing . We went thru with it and I can still remember that day and all the “great visuals” that came with it. This was one of the worst experiences in my life or so I thought! Twelve  years later,it was time for   pregnancy news again,this time I was quite in love and everything felt so right for both of us,except for one little detail. My girlfriend was worried that having a kid would ruin or slow down  her career,it was either that or she didn’t love me like I thought she did! I pleaded everything I could so we could have the kid. For those who know me best ,I am quite persuasive,but in the end I figured I should not have to be “selling”  this  great life project at all. I figured it was karma and that life was paying me back for what I had done the first time. I  finally had to let go and respect her decision. I had vowed  never to  set foot in a hospital for the purpose of  an abortion again,but I did out of support for my girlfriend. After it took place,I was destroyed. My girlfriend said she was fine showing a new side of her I did not like at all. Soon after I broke up with her which surprised her greatly. Although she was known as one of the most beautiful women and one of the hottest “catches” in town, I couldn’t touch her anymore.This ordeal made me  show up in a shrink’s office for the first time of my life,I was hurt pretty bad.Three times a charm? Not really! A few years later, I was with someone else ,in an  “on and off” relationship which I know is always best to walk away from, when she announced she was pregnant. We were quite  on the “off side” at that particular moment to say the least. I think the great sex we had  was always bringing us back,but everything else seemed to be a nightmare. Based on my past experiences, I was ready  to  do everything I could to do the right thing which for me was everything other than going for  another abortion. Although we both wanted to be parents,fear and trying to rationalize  the irrational killed another child. No for me, surely the fourth time would be a “charm” ,when life smiled at me and sent me the gift of  a great woman and precious  relationship.This time,we were both on the same page and nothing was scary .I  knew I was with someone who had the best traits to enter parenthood. As we celebrated her birthday,she told me we had one more thing to celebrate,so I instantly knew she was pregnant. A while after,it was time to start the usual procedure,including a visit to the doctor to do  some tests. An  ultrasound indicated the baby had no heartbeat,so it had to come out by way of a medicated miscarriage, which  it did on a very “special” day; father’s day!!

No celebration or  summer solstice golf game this time around,it was time for a little more sickness,for me mostly psychological! This is not the usual inspirational kind of blog post you are used to read from me right? Many people sometimes confuse me with  motivators who smile and look positive and perfect  100% of the time mostly for business purposes.Who ever a person is, life is not always   parties at lakes with boats ,friends and noodle salad as Melvin Udall (played by Jack Nicholson )said in the movie  As good as it gets. Life can be tough, but don’t worry,I still have a bit of positive for you as  always. What I want to convey here wether you are a father or a kid, is to cherish ,celebrate and be grateful for father’s day ,especially if  you do have a good relationship.Let this be helpful for  you to  find the true meaning of this moment ,because as you can see some of us have quite different perspectives on the matter. For me father’s day will always be associated with pain ,but I know ,like any other malaise I have endured,this too shall pass.

17 April 2015

Danyland

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Danyland

Welcome to “Danyland”,my own very special place.This is where I escape to remain sane and hide momentarily from the injustices, stupidity, irresponsibility, nastiness, and craziness that we are too often served in our world. Danyland is the expression of my values,my moral standards,my tastes and how I choose to allocate my time and income. In other words,it is the expression of my lifestyle. I know that I am not alone in what I believe in,those who will find a bit of themselves in my philosophy are more than welcome to join this “parallel world” .Having success and being happy is one thing,but we must also protect it by staying loyal to our values and what we believe in. We live in an unbelievable era,where 1 billion people on earth don’t have access to safe water . An era where some have to walk 6 kilometers to get fresh water and where some can order food,plane tickets and even companionship with a $1000 smart device in their pockets in a matter of seconds.As life seems to be getting easier for us living in North America, the feelings of well being and happiness do not always seem to follow as many feel overwhelmed. I have been blessed with a great life,but I was one to often feel overwhelmed and “being busy being busy”,going crazy about small things that didn’t even matter that much!

Although Danyland can still be found in a few physical areas on this earth,it is first and foremost a state of mind reflecting the pursuit and achievement of happiness and self actualization. At the heart of it all is being able to have choices and live life on my own terms. I aim to be responsible,logical,creative,wealthy and most of all to help, inspire and share what I know with others who want to learn. Helping and inspiring others is the purpose I have in life,it is what makes me happiest and happiness is the ultimate success. In Danyland, time is not spent stressing out in “trying to be somebody” and  slowly killing myself in the rat race and everyday hustle. No, Danyland  is a parallel world where I find and truly become who I want to be and do want I want to do. At this stage of my life,I want to teach,write and share my wisdom and knowledge of business and investing .I want to  communicate my love of stories,movies,nature,music,sports,freedom and wanderlust. In Danyland,there is less government intervention,and more freedom for all individuals in their pursuit of happiness.Danyland is about financial literacy ,the intention is  to be responsible financially and not dependant  on friends ,family or governments. The goal is to make enough and save enough to be independent ,to travel,to give and to experience the best things in life. Danyland is about the protection of Earth and its wild life, by not treating  this planet like a trash can.Danyland  is about helping others and respecting others in friendship and love. I am blessed to have the love of a great woman. We respect each other. She does not scream at me because I watch too much football and I do not  scream at her because she spends too much time at the stables.We complement each other,we work out with each other,we keep it simple. The fact that it is simple and that we let each other just live makes me want her even more. I have so many friends who need permission to go out. I feel very sad that grown men ,even fathers who work hard, can’t grab a beer on a thursday night without «permission».As far as I am concerned, a good relationship does not require getting rid of friends, manhood and dignity. Make sure you are in the right relationship; life is too short to drink bad wine. I believe in this same guideline when it comes to  friendships. Water attracts its own level. I have had people drain my energy and others have uplifted me with every conversation. It is important to know who your real friends are. Quality is more important than quantity. Don’t let anybody drag you down, and make sure to discard jealousy

Danyland is also about “Mens sana in corpore sano” or ,a sound mind in a sound body. Fear and ignorance is replaced by love,passion ,knowledge,and making sure I do my best to keep in shape. Working out and playing sports is not only fun,but great protection against depression and mental disorder. Working out increases happiness and good social behaviour as the body produces dopamine and serotonin,neurotransmitters that stimulate pleasurable feelings.I ignored my health for way to long with large intakes of alcohol ,but after a while it all adds up. Financial independence is only one pillar of success,without good  health and well being,it means nothing! In Danyland ,I sleep more,meditate ,breathe, take time to laugh and watch  great comedies again.This is my own parallel world and these are my rules.Sharing with others who you are, what you are about and what you believe in is not always easy,but I can’t help but think there are a lot of people like me out there.I hope I can inspire and entertain  with my experiences ,wisdom and advice. I promise you that whatever I have been through and whatever lessons I have learned or experienced are what turned my dreams into reality. So with  this  in mind, I am enthusiastically embarking in this new adventure.

Accept the fact that the achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness — not pain or mindless self-indulgence — is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.

—Ayn Rand

24 March 2015

Wanderlust

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Wanderlust

One time I was meeting with a potential client and we started talking about his life’s goals and objectives.I asked about his current and future plans like I always do at length  during a first meeting. I remember asking if he had any interest in travelling and what his leisure activities were. His answer surprised me to say the least : “I don’t care about travelling,I don’t want to spend thousand of dollars and have nothing left!”. I have always respected other people’s opinions,but there is no doubt in my mind that travelling is key to living a better life and becoming a better person.In my opinion,thinking “you have nothing left” after a travel experience  is just wrong!When you reach the state of self-actualization, a new notion of “way of life” or “lifestyle” comes into play. Guided by our fundamental values, our lifestyles define the way we live and think. This also influences how we use our buying power when we get some more. Some may see travelling as a waste of their buying power, but travel for me is the expression of one of my deepest values: freedom! In the past, some of my friends and acquaintances have mentioned I have a “great life”. Whatever it is, my life has been enriched by all my travels. Some of the best and most enjoyable experiences have occurred while travelling.

Hanging out at home all the time might be safer and less expensive,but it is also quite boring! I would not be as knowledgeable as I am today without my travels. First of all, I have learned new languages, and learning new languages definitely broadens your opportunities in life. I am not just talking business here, as there are great people to meet from all over the world. By learning new languages you can make good friends and even fall in love. I have learned a lot from seeing and learning about new cultures, values, lifestyles, and even new foods and wines. These experiences have helped me widen my perspective and inspired me to create what is now a more balanced life.My life is not defined by the “North American hustle” anymore. My European travels have influenced me to hang out a little longer at the dinner table, to pause and truly celebrate great food and wine instead of just swallowing it in record time .I have discovered old bookstores and lovely cafes. I don’t drive as much anymore. I used to take my car everywhere for everything, but now I prefer long walks through lovely parks on my way to pick up fresh croissants. Travelling can also increase your ability to overcome problems and accept change. Where I am from this is called “Système D”. In French, the D stands for “Débrouillardise”, which is about using your skill set of creativity, improvisation, and resourcefulness to find solutions.I have encountered countless situations where I had to leave my comfort zone and think fast. What does dealing with a Finnish-speaking customs agent in Finland, managing new flight plans in Brazil, or trying to find a Formula One race track in Monza Italy have in common? These situations have helped me get out of my shell, which is key to getting what I want in ANY areas of my life. This is how powerful travelling can be! The disruption from the routine of “normal” life is magical. I only feel like my true self when I travel, and so will you. I promise you will have “something left” to use the words of that potential client. Routine can be deadly. In life we all need some adventure. Embrace the unknown and create your own stories. Be your own little Hollywood movie!

 

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page”
Saint Augustine-Theologian and philosopher