Monday, December 17, 2018

My Journey with Fidèle

It has been quite a few busy weeks that involved a round trip to Ottawa on Saturday and preaching during a Sunday church service (yes, I was surprised too when I was asked to do it). All this time I was thinking about what I would be writing about on this week’s blog. I had a vague idea, but I did not know how to formulate it.

That was until I received a message on Facebook from a friend asking me to speak at an upcoming event in January. The topic of my presentation would be “The Moment that Defined Your Life”. The person who sent me the invitation did not know that I had been thinking about the same topic days prior to her message.

It all started when I was at a Toronto Raptors game. I have been reporting on the games for almost two months now, but I am still in awe every time I am at the arena. I can’t believe this is happening to me. I have been in rooms with childhood idols, biggest stars of the game, coaches, reporters, you name it. And every time I am saying “wow”. The other day, movie star and comedian Chris Tucker was standing at a few feet away from me. I almost looked around to see if Jackie Chan was in the room. It has been quite unbelievable, and I am not taking this for granted at all. I am so grateful.

So many opportunities have come my way the last few months that took my breath away. My friend Elvis asked me the other day: “what prayer did you pray at the beginning of this year? “. I laughed and answered to him “I guess God has seen all the struggles I have been through for years and thought that it was enough for now”.

As I was waiting for the Raptors game to start, going over my notes, a thought came to me. “How come I am here?” I asked myself. What really lead to this fortunate event for me? I couldn’t really figure out the exact moment that triggered everything. As I kept thinking, the memory of my late friend Fidèle Nsengiyunva kept coming back.

Fidèle was the cousin of my childhood best friends, and we grew up playing Basketball together. He had such a sense of humour that all of us had great time being around him.
Many years later, Fidèle became my neighbour. One day, he told me that he had started coaching a ladies Basketball team. I thought it was one of his usual jokes. I had to go and see it in person to believe it. The first time I went to watch him train the team, my whole purpose of me being there was to laugh at him.

Long story short, I ended up being the Head Coach of the same ladies’ team and won over 15 trophies in less than 7 years. If it hadn’t been me wanting to laugh at my friend Fidèle, there is no way I would have been at the Raptors game (many years later).

Coaching Basketball had opened so many doors for me (including landing my dream job of a sport reporter), that almost every success I have encountered in my life can be credited to coaching Basketball (including overcoming struggles).

However, going to the Basketball court to have fun at the expense of my friend Fidèle was never considered as a defining moment in my life, the day it happened. Now I know that it was. It is only looking back that we are able to connect the dots.

The lesson I have learned from this, is that there is no ordinary moment. Every second that we are alive is a defining moment. If we see life through those lenses, life becomes an unfolding miracle, at every moment (I think I just earned a PhD in Philosophy with this one).
Thank you Fidèle for being in my life. I will be forever thankful to you, and I know that I will see you on the other side. May you Rest in Peace.

Moral of the story? Do you want to live amazing moments? Go out and laugh at your friends, and you will be at an NBA game

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman

Thursday, November 29, 2018

My Journey with Steve

Glad to be back

We were working on the blog’s new look. I hope you like it. It is still a work in progress, but I like what I see so far.

A few weeks ago, an entertainment industry icon passed away at the age of 95. I am talking about the American comic book writer, editor, and publisher Stan Lee.

Stan Lee co-created numerous popular fictional characters, including superheroes Spider-man, the X-Men, Iron Man,Thor, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and Ant-Man.He has surely impacted more than a generation.

A co-worker of mine likes to quote “Remember, with great power comes great responsibility” from Spider-man. I couldn’t help but remember the line time and time again as the passing of Stan Lee was all over the news.

I was reminded of the quote these last few days. I have been struggling with lack of sleep lately. My daughter wakes me up at least 3 times a night, every single night. I can’t remember the time I had a straight sleep without interruption.

At first, I started to complain, then I remembered that it was my responsibility. Once I accepted the role of a parent, there are some luxuries that I can’t afford anymore, one of them being sleeping until I am done (what is that? I can’t find it in my dictionary anymore).

Once my sleep is interrupted, it takes a while for me to get back to sleep. T.V becomes my backup plan. I always look for something inspiring (when there is no Basketball on TV).
A few days ago, I couldn’t find anything interesting, so I went on Youtube. I am glad I did. I bumped into a Steve Harvey’s video that I wanted to share with you. I hope you like it.
There were so many lessons to learn from it. Let me know what you think

Moral of the story?
Do you want to enjoy sleepless night? Just watch TV and you will see Steve Harvey

Always a pleasure

The Journeyman

Friday, November 2, 2018

My Journey with Pablo

What a week! I did not even see the days go by. It has been very busy lately, but I am loving every bit of it. Every time I get a chance to report on a Raptors game, I go to bed almost at 3 am. I have to do the interview editing, write my article and send everything to the Radio station for them to air the report the next day at the latest. By the time I finish everything I am so exhausted but it doesn’t feel like work. It is a true blessing to be in a position to do what you dreamed for your entire life. It is a true privilege. I have to do the best I can to keep deserving the trust they have put in me to deliver on the work I was given

Last week, I was at a big conference where the 300 of us where gathered at the Sheraton Hotel in Richmond Hill (North part of Toronto). The objective of the conference was for us to learn, network and meet experts in different fields including grant application, media relations, community empowerment, etc. I met so many people I haven’t seen in years.

On Saturday morning (third day of the conference), I was running late and I had to rush out of home to get in there for breakfast (the best part of the conference was the food, quality and quantity wise, if you know what I mean).

I got there and the breakfast was still on the table. I got myself an egg sandwich, some fried potatoes and yogurt (this is what I call quality control). As I was hungry, I bite hard in the sandwich and the entire egg splashed on my suit jacket and shirt (the egg was not well done). It was quite embarrassing. I looked around; thank God no one saw the mess. I run to the bathroom to clean things up. Once I arrived there, what a face I saw in the mirror!! I realized I had left home without combing my hair. I looked like Bob Marley in his early days. Eggs all over my clothes, and now my hair was a mess. What a mess!

I managed the best I could to get back to the conference. I could not go home to comb my hair, so I say to myself it was the sexy side of me haha. Bob Marley was cool

The organization that put together the conference was running the election for Board Members and the President of the Board. There were a few candidates, among which a young 18 year old boy named Pablo who was running for President. His speech was stunning! The entire room was silent. We knew we were listening to the future Prime Minister of Canada. It was unbelievable.

At the end of the conference, I went to meet Pablo and we had a chat for a few minutes. He told me that he is able to do the things he does because he has a community around him helping him.

It was quite an interesting conversation that reminded me my morning mess (the eggs and the Bob Marley hair).

Do you know why I was running late to the conference? Because I was bringing my daughter to her Saturday teacher.

Like Pablo, there is nothing I can do without the help of my community. I have a few friends who pick up my daughter at school when I have to go to the Raptors game, I have a teacher who helps her with her homework on Saturdays, whenever I work very late, I have a number of families who take care of her, even some sleepovers whenever necessary. My brother is there to give a hand when I call up on him. Truly, I don’t know where I would be without my community. I am so thankful (Pablo was right).

The best part in this is that all these people help me gladly. Do you know why? Because I have invested thousands of hours helping them. I have given a lot to the community (gladly) that, whenever I need a hand, I know who to call. It is a win- win.

The best investment one can do is to invest in people. Do it gladly and people will help you gladly in return. I am glad they do.

Moral of the story? Do you want to have a return on your investment? Go to a conference and you will eat eggs

Always a pleasure
The journeyman

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

My Journey as an NBA Reporter

I keep telling my friends, “Please don’t wake me up, I am dreaming.” It really hasn’t sunk in that I am doing this job: reporting, interviewing NBA players and coaches…. it is so surreal.

My first game was last week on Wednesday. I had received all the paperwork I needed from the Toronto Raptors communication department (class people, by the way). I had to be there at least two hours before the game. Needless to say, I was anxious. I have been to the arena countless of times before but just as a fan wanting to watch the games. This was one of the reasons why I had chosen Toronto as the city I wanted to live in. It is the only Canadian town that has an NBA team. My dream was to attend at least a game (it has been over 33 years that I have watching the NBA). Never in my wildest dreams had I thought I would be going there as part of my job.Never!

The Media room was packed. Reporters from different outlets were there. I pretended I belonged, but I couldn’t help being in shock sitting around the same table with Jack Armstrong, Leo Rautins and Matt Devlin (these are big time Raptors reporters). I received the game notes, the schedules for the press briefings from the coach and what time I should be in the locker room to interview the players (are you kidding me??).

I headed to the court to see what was happening and there he was, Kawhi Leonard himself, working on his shot. Not far from there was JV (Jonas Valanciunas) working on his post moves. I couldn’t believe I was watching this. On my way back to the Media Centre, I met Cavaliers Superstar Kevin Love and my eyes were so big that he was probably thinking he was looking at a ghost. At the end of the game, I got a chance to interview Pascal Siakam, one of the Raptors rising stars. He was very gracious with his time and I thanked him for it.

Two days after that, I was at the arena again to report on the game against the Celtics. This time I felt a little bit more comfortable. On my way to the media room, I met Jennifer, the Raptors Director of Communications who waved at me and said, “Hi Patrick!”, and I am like “Yes!! Jennifer knows my name!!! I am now officially an NBA Reporter!!

I did a short interview with Serge Ibaka who had a monster game. By the time I arrived  home, it was almost two O’clock in the morning. I was so exhausted, but I didn’t care. Why should I?
A few weeks prior to all this happening, I got a chance to speak in front of a crowd and shared with them how my dream about the NBA had come to pass. At the end of my speech, a lady came to see me and shared with me how inspired she was. She asked if we could meet. She wanted to share something with me and I agreed.

I met her yesterday. She shared with me the dreams she has, and I was immediately blown away. She has some big dreams that would knock your socks off (this lady is in her seventies!!). She told me that I was the very first person she shared her dreams with. She asked for my help, and I was glad she did. I have no idea how she will pull this off, but I am so glad she trusted me to be part of her journey.

Towards the end of our conversation, she said something very powerful. Here is how it went:

Her: Patrick, I had buried this dream for so long, out of fear. But something made me want to revisit my dream again.

Me: What is it?

Her: Tiger Woods.

Me: What?

Yes. You got it right. She has been watching golf for many years and she was convinced Tiger would never win again. She thought he was done…. until he won again. That was the Tour Championship in Atlanta last month. Tiger’s victory made her realize that she can still dream. All is still possible. She is in her seventies (that’s my guess), and thanks to Tiger Woods and myself fulfilling our dreams, she got to dream again. How powerful is that?

My take is that, when God put a dream in our heart, it is our responsibility to follow through regardless of the obstacles. By doing so, we become an inspiration for so many who have buried their dreams. People’s lives depend on us fulfilling our dreams. That is what I think.

Moral of the story? Do you want to follow your dreams, just watch Golf and you will see me at an NBA game.

Always a pleasure

The Journeyman

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

My Journey with a man of faith

Many years ago, I heard a businessman say that if you don’t have a dream, be around dreamers. Now, I am going to add to his statement and say that if you don’t have faith, be around people of faith.

I met this gentleman over sixteen years ago when I first came to Canada. After a few months, we became roommates. It was very fun evenings among friends hearing and telling funny jokes. We didn’t know what we would become later, but I knew this guy was going somewhere. He was a devoted Christian man, playing music in two different churches. He had a picture in his room with a huge crowd on it and I knew he was meant to impact people’s lives. Little did I know I would be, many years later among the people who would be impacted by his life.

We went our separate ways but kept in touch. He later became a Pastor (and I was not surprised at all by that), and I attended his church a few times.

In 2013, I was going through one of the toughest moments of my life and I needed help. I didn’t know who to call or who I could talk to. While speaking with a friend of mine who lives in Alberta, she told me that she went through the same things I was going through and it was a Pastor who helped her get out of trouble. As soon as she mentioned the word “Pastor”, I knew who to call right away: my former roommate!

Long story short, he came to the rescue and I became a regular member of his church. I learned so much from him that it isn't even funny. This man has faith I have never seen. His moves are in the category of “don’t try this at home” if you know what I mean. His commitment and sacrifice are so inspiring that when you are around him, you cannot help but try to emulate him.

One of his boldest moves was when he decided to move to Ottawa from Toronto. When he told me the news, I had mixed feelings. I was so sad to “loose” a friend and faith partner, but I was also happy for him as I knew he was starting a new phase in his journey.

Oh, did I tell you that he made the decision to move without knowing where he would live, what he would do as a job, where he would plant his new church? On top of that, he had a wife and five children.

Try that one!

I was scared on his behalf (just because he is never scared).

In less than a week before he moved, he found a home (thank God), a great job, but no church. He started his new church in his living room with wife and kids as his church members haha. I remember seeing the pictures of his (home) worship services in his living room and couldn’t contain my emotions. This is a man who gave everything he got, sacrificing his family to build a strong church in Toronto, then deciding to move to a new city, leaving everything behind to start from scratch with no visible sign of success.

That is what I call faith.

Fast forward, last week I was in Ottawa for a visit. I attended his church which had quite an emotional service. They were entering their new church location and the place was packed! I did not count the number of people in attendance, but my guess is that it was over 100 people. Oh, and this was done in just a year after his move to Ottawa! You probably already guessed that he can no longer have his worship services in his living room anymore haha.

Maybe he can.

I saw his brand-new house and I can tell you that it can fit a few dozen people. Again, that is faith in action.

His name is Pastor Christian Murengera and his wife Vanessa is about to become a Pastor as well. I am so blessed they are in my life.

Moral of the story? Do you want to have great faith in your life? Just move to Ottawa and you will become a Pastor

Always a pleasure

The journeyman

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

My Journey to a test

What do we do when our plans do not go the way we expected? To tell you the truth, I don't know. Each one of us has a unique way to deal with delays or sometimes heartbreaking shortcomings (I don't want to mention failures). Yesterday, my reaction was to put away the phone (or any other device) for hours. Yes, sometimes it can be too much.
A project Paul (my business partner) and I had been working on for years was 98% done. It was a matter of days before we were ready for launch. Then, the person who was helping us to work on it called us to let us know that she couldn't see the data anymore. Long story short, the online provider could not find our data. All was gone! Everything! We are talking about more than two years’ worth of work!
As we were "mourning" over our lost, we had to switch gears to work on another project we had been working for weeks. The deadline to submit the application (It was a grant application) was on Monday. We were almost there in terms of the work that needed to be done.
On Monday, I woke up very early to work on the final touches of the document. I was proud of myself as I was going through all the work done the last few weeks. Then, I received a call from my daughter's school asking me to come and pick her up. She was sick. I jumped into the car, rushed to the school to pick her up. She was sleeping on a couch, waiting for me, visibly weak. By the time we were back in the car, she fell asleep. Then, the car wouldn't start. I tried so many times but in vain. I had to call a mechanic. As I was looking at my watch, the 1pm deadline was approaching very fast. But I couldn't move as I was stuck in the car with my sleeping daughter waiting for the mechanic
By now, I am sure you have guessed what happened. I missed the deadline, and all the work we did for weeks was gone! I was so devastated that I didn't want to talk to anybody. How could I explain the two projects failing only days apart?
It took me 24 hours to digest everything and to remind me that in the big scheme of things, it is just a bump on the road (even if it hurts). I have also to remind me that it could be worse. These are just projects. Life goes on. There will be other opportunities.
One text helped me get back to a positive mood. The author is unknown, but the text is a masterpiece. Every time I read it, I get so inspired that I can quickly get back on my feet whenever I encounter a setback
Here it is:
Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there…to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson or help figure out who you are or who you want to become. You never know who these people may be but you lock eyes with them, you know that very moment that they will affect your life in some profound way.
And sometimes things happen to you at the time that may seem horrible, painful and unfair, but in reflection you realize that without overcoming those obstacles you would never realize your potential, strength, will power or heart.

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens by chance or by means of luck. Illness, love, lost moments of true greatness and sheer stupidity all occur to test limits of your soul.
Without these small tests, life would be like a smoothly paved, straight, flat road to nowhere safe and comfortable but dull and utterly pointless

The people you meet affect your life. The successes and downfalls that you experience can create who you are, and the bad experiences can be learned from. In fact, they are probably the most poignant and important ones. If someone hurts you, betrays you or breaks your heart, forgive them because they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious to whom you open your heart

If someone loves you, love them back unconditionally, not only because they love you, but also because they are teaching you to love and open your heart and eyes to little things. Make every day count. Appreciate everything that you possibly can, for you may never experience it again

Talk to people whom you have never talked to before, and actually listen. Let yourself fall in love, break free and set your sights high. Hold your head up because you have every right to.
Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself, for if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you. Create you own life and then go out and live it.
If you take your eyes off your goals, all you see is obstacles

Moral of the story? Do you want to meet the deadline of your project? Just wake up early and your daughter will fall asleep in your car

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

My Journey with Homework

Last weekend, I hosted a wedding for friends of mine and also brought my daughter with me. She had so much fun with the other kids who were there. When my MC duties were over, I was so exhausted that I had to find a corner to sit.

It wasn't too long after when my daughter came to me and said that we had to go home. When my boss asks me something, I have no choice but to execute. As we headed outside, I remembered that I had left my daughter's jacket in the car. It was pretty cold.

The next day, she started sneezing and coughing. Long story short, today I stayed home with her because she couldn't go to school. She had a high fever before she went to bed last night.

Thanks to Tylenol, she woke up feeling better. After her afternoon nap, I thought to myself, "Let me see if she is able to do her remaining homework." To my astonishment she was already doing her homework and even finished it in less than ten minutes.

You might say, what's the big deal?

Homework is homework!

You may be right. But let me tell you where I am coming from.

My daughter is in grade one now (yeah!!!). Ever since she was in kindergarten, she always came home with homework. Some parents were surprised when I told them that I had to help my daughter with homework. Their kids (of the same age) never came home with work to do.

I remember her kindergarten teacher telling me that it was the best way to get them ready for grade one. Once she starts grade one, they will make her work hard every day. She needed to get used to it from early on.

Thank God she had two years of preparation.

The first week of school in grade one, she came home with so much  homework that I thought she was in high school.

I am not kidding.

I couldn't believe it.

There were so many instructions I thought I was reading a dictionary.

We began working right away.

My daughter was struggling daily to finish her homework. I almost gave up. She was going to sleep late and every morning she woke up complaining. School was not fun anymore, but I kept pushing her, even on weekends.

The first signs of a breakthrough came last week when I went to a parents and teachers meeting. First of all, every parent was complaining about the amount of homework. This didn't seem to bother the teacher because he was laughing all the time. I guess he is used to the parents' complaints at the beginning of the year.

Once the teacher explained the philosophy behind the amount of homework, I felt relieved. He said he wasn't expecting them to do all the work at the beginning. He explained his goal was to push them to become more disciplined and that results didn't matter at first. Completing their homework and becoming used to the routine were his main objectives.  He went on to say that once they became disciplined then through repetition, they would master their craft.

I thought I was listening to a Lebron James interview. This is exactly what he does.


The teacher also introduced us to the technology he is using to allow parents to know what their kids are doing on a daily basis. I downloaded the app on my phone, and since then, I receive at least four pictures of my daughter doing work at school. When she gets home, the first thing I do is go over the pictures on my phone with her, and she tells me everything she did that day. There is no more "How was your day Skylar?"... to which she always responds "good" with no more comments.

I love technology!

 Since meeting her teacher, I have made a few changes to our routine. I made homework so much fun that Skylar is now asking for homework. I also promised to reward her every time she finishes her daily work. Also, whenever I am playing with her (which happens a lot), I include homework in our games without her noticing it.

 Guess what!

Today, the breakthrough happened. It was so easy for her to do the work that I was astonished. Oh, I said that already.

I do not believe the breakthrough happened today. I believe it started two years ago with her kindergarten teacher assigning her work to do at home while many kids of the same age were not being given any homework. Then, it was about the daily routine, the hard work and sometimes sleepless nights when we almost gave up. There was, just as important, the fun part we brought to the work and the teacher communicating with me daily while pushing the kids to have the discipline necessary to succeed.  Then Boom!

Thank God I did not give up on her. Today was a teaching moment for me. The hard work, the discipline, the patience and what we do when no one is looking are what matters. We may never see the progress while doing all of this but then one day... Boom, and it all comes together for an amazing breakthrough.

I remember hearing a very successful minister saying that people came to him to congratulate him for his overnight success. He responded by saying, "If this is an overnight success, then that is the longest night I have ever had."

Now, I understand what he meant.

My daughter homework breakthrough today took more than two years. Some breakthroughs can take decades... just ask Nelson Mandela.

Moral of the story? Do you want to have a huge breakthrough in your life? Just go to sleep for three years and you will have an overnight success

Always a pleasure


The Journeyman