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Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Journey to the top

I just met an amazing person. This man is almost 76 years old and his name is Jack. He is such a funny character and above all he is an incredible performer. He climbed the CN Tour in less than 33 minutes and 23 seconds. Why do I mention this specific time? Simply because that was the time it took me to climb the Tower (in other words, Jack was faster than me!!!). This thing is HUGE. It’s 1776 steps, over 150 floors. What a challenge!

This is my forth time climbing the Tower as a fund raising event for the United Way. For the second year I was the team captain (I guess I was not chosen based on performance). This year was the year of all the records. We had a record breaking 22 members on the team, we raised over $2000 (for the first time) and the fastest member of our team made it to the top in 15 minutes and 6 seconds (another team record, obviously not my record). To top it all off, we had Jack as a team member, 76 years old! We thought he was the oldest guy in the entire event until he met an 83 year old man at the top of the tower. That was incredible. Jack’s secret? In his own words:”It was nice seeing all these young ladies passing me while I was climbing. But please don’t tell my wife” (I hope his wife is not a fan of my blog).

After the climb we took pictures and had fun together. As we got close to end the day, I took a moment to chat with Jack. He said the last time he climbed the CN Tower was 20 years ago. I asked him if he exercises a lot, and I was stunned to learn that him and his 73 year old wife walk an average of 3 hours a day. I learned also that Jack and his wife are vegetarians. Right then I had plans to go to Swiss Chalet (my favorite restaurant) for my usual quarter chicken dinner with fries with a Pepsi (and Ceasar salad on the side). Then I changed my mind.

As I mentioned, we had new members on our team and many of them were climbing the Tower for the first time. We met early in the morning, and I could read both excitement and a little bit of fear on some of the faces. Were they up to the challenge? Were they going to make it? For others, it was about breaking the records. For me it was about....going to Swiss Chalet afterwards.

Once at the top, the facial expressions changed. It was all about excitement. We all made it. Some of our family members were there as well (a trip all the way to the top by elevator. How lucky!!). It was a moment of celebration. Jack was in heaven (literary speaking as we were all in high altitudes). When I asked Jack about his experience, he just said:” It’s all about doing what I love to do. If it was not this fun, I wouldn’t do it.” I thought I was hearing Michael Jordan in his peak years.

Many hours later, as I am writing this blog, I can’t stop thinking about Jack’s comment:” it is all about doing what I love to do. If it was not this fun, I wouldn’t do it”. How many of us really think like this? Do we all really love what we do? Are we really having fun doing what we are doing? If the answer is no, then we should think it over and find our passions. It’s a life worth living. Trust me, the expression of Jack’s face said it all. He is alive as ever. And he has plans as well. He wants to speak about living healthy and long. Why not. He is a living example of what he wants to speak about. Today, I was the first member of his audience and he did good. Do you want proof? Well I skipped going to Swiss Chalet.

Moral of the story? Do you want to live long and healthy? Go and climb the CN Tower and you won’t go to your favorite restaurant.

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Journey to a week of mixed emotions

I am sitting in front of the TV watching an old movie featuring Steven Seagal but my phone keeps beeping and interrupting me. I have no choice but to stop the movie and see why the phone keeps going off. You see, I have turned my phone into a tool to remind me of what needs to be done and when. Every time the phone beeps, I know something requires my immediate attention, so I make sure to check to see what it is and then proceed to do it. It could be a phone call that I need to make, or just a reminder that I have to write my blog (see, it’s working. I am writing my blog now). Hold on, this movie I am watching is getting really interesting. I might have to get back to you later.

Wow! What an intense movie! Well, where was I? Oh my phone. It had to come down to that. I had so much to do last week that I missed a bunch of the things with which I had tasked myself to complete. I ultimately had to come up with a system to remind me of what needed to be done. My phone came in handy. Now it’s got a double function, I am using it as a phone of course but also as a reminder tool. So far, it’s working and I hope it keeps on working.

By the way, the movie is finished and I am now watching Lopez Tonight. Just thought you would like to know. Gosh, I can’t wait for the NBA season to start...Mario Lopez is predicting the Lakers to win again. Couldn’t agree more (no offense Bertrand).

I had mixed emotions this past week. First of all, I received pretty much great feedback both on my work as an MC at two events and on my blog from people who had just discovered it for the first time.

At the same time, despite these positive aspects, I felt empty inside for some reason. At first I thought it was due to my tiredness so I made sure to put in some extra sleep, however, it still didn’t solve the issue. I was like “what’s happening to me”?

Then I remembered one of my coaches telling me that our feelings have nothing to do with our performance. I could very well feel empty but that doesn’t have to affect my work at all. It’s like driving a car. Once we stick the key in the ignition and start the car, all we have to do to get the car to move is press on the gas pedal. The car will move regardless of how we feel (what a great expert I am!!! I don’t even have a valid driving license lol). Feelings come and go. It’s called being human. There is not much we can do about it. I am learning to keep on going and to not let how I feel affect what I do. Of course I wouldn’t mind feeling good all the time, but when that doesn’t happen I am not going to stop what I am doing because this too shall pass.

The funny thing is that when I am in action, the good feelings always return.

At the end of the day, as mentioned in my last blog, I am focusing on the good stuff: that people like my blog and that I exceed everyone’s expectation as an MC (and above all that I am very modest about it).

Moral of the story? Do you want to feel good all the time? Just turn your phone into a reminder and you won’t forget to read my blog.

Always a pleasure

The Journeyman

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Journey back to Montreal

What a month of travel! This has been my schedule for the last three weeks: Three days in New York, one day in Niagara Falls the following week, and three days in Montreal last week. In a few weeks I will be returning to New York. The trip is already booked . My manager at work told me that if I keep living the life I am living now, there will be no space for a wife (I am hoping to meet my future wife on the road lol).

Talking about marriage, I was in Montreal performing double duty in a wedding (as the best man and the MC). I guess it is the next step before my own wedding, don't you think? Johnny, my best friend was getting married to another best friend of mine (I think they were made for each another. They are both my best friends). Johnny is lucky to have her as his wife. She is an amazing lady. I know she is lucky to have Johnny in her life too. It was both an emotional and great event. I was there when the relationship started and I was there to witness the beginning of the next phase of their journey.

As I mentioned, before my trip to Montreal, I was on the road for long periods of time. I had about an average of four hours of sleep per day. On Friday, I finished what I was working on around 1AM, and then I went to my friend's house in the East end of the city so that we could travel together the next morning. I went to sleep around 2.30 AM, and I was ready to hit the road at 6.30 in the morning. By the time I got into the car, I was done. All I needed was sleep (and I can sleep anywhere). I was traveling with two very good friends of mine (and I was not the one driving. Lucky me). One of them got this bright idea of bringing a pillow (whoever invented this item should get a Nobel Prize).

We chatted for a while, and then I was gone. Maybe I snored, I don't know. All I know is that I slept like a baby. And then something happened. I don't know if I was dreaming or not, but I started hearing some music. It was beautiful music. No, I was not dreaming. It was real music. I woke up on “Hotel California” by the Eagles. That is my favorite band of all times. I started singing (I know almost all Eagles' songs). The next thing I realized was that I was no longer tired. I was alive! These guys can really sing. I am glad my friend (the one with the pillow idea) was playing this CD.

With all the week-end festivities, I was exhausted by the time we hit the road on our way back to Toronto. But I didn't even think about sleeping in the car. I was still with my two friends, and we added Nicolas and Diego, the two DJ's. What a great delight! There were plenty of jokes, and then came the music, the Eagles of course, and we ended up with Bob Marley. Now all the five of us were singing. Was I ever tired? I don't think so.

It's funny how a little thing like music can change my mood and make me forget that I am exhausted. You know what I learned in the process? It's really about what I am focusing on. When I thought about me being tired, that was all I experienced: more tiredness. But once the music became my focus I no longer felt tired. I was alive!

Let's think about our lives for a moment. Good things and bad things happen to us all the time. What we choose to focus on makes all the difference. I know we can find good things in all that has happened to us. Once we make a decision to focus on the good stuff, that is all we will see. Isn't that great? It is a simple but effective decision. Let's try to see the positive side in all things. Next time you feel tired, just play some good music and you will be fine (I hope it will be the Eagles). But don't forget to sleep as well. It might help (it has been my main activity the last two days).

Moral of the story? Do you want to feel alive? Just listen to your favorite music and you will later have a good sleep. Hope it won't be in your office.

Always a pleasure

The Journeyman

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Journey to the Gym

I am glued to the TV zapping between two channels watching both the Colbert Report and the Cosby Show. I am also trying to finish some work from last night (talk about multitasking). To my great surprise, as I flip back to the Cosby Show, guess who I see? Myriam Makeba, the late great singer from South Africa. She was playing herself on the Cosby Show. Needless to say the Colbert Report had to wait (good thing I was able to catch the same episode last night).

Of course I am a big Myriam Makeba fan (and so seem to be all the people on the Cosby Show). She started to tell them how beautiful the continent of Africa is. She described Africa in such a poetic way that made me a little teary. Oh how she made me miss home! All I could think of was “why did I leave my country?”

In my eight years in Canada, there has been a few times where I wanted to pack and go back home for good. Funny enough, those moments hit me when I don’t seem to see any results in what I am doing. Chasing the American dream can sometimes be heart-breaking, especially when you want it so bad. Whenever that happens, all I have to do to get back to my senses is go to the gym and play basketball. That’s exactly what I did yesterday.

Talking about going to the gym, my getting back in shape thread I started a while ago is almost at its full swing although I didn’t make it to the gym or to my basketball games for a whole week after my trip to New York. I went back to the gym on Monday. I was so excited to go back, but sad to learn that my gym is closing for three long months for renovations. That’s not right. I only have three weeks before they close. Does that mean I am putting a hold to my dream of converting this one pack into a six pack? (I am aiming to be like “The Situation” lol).

The only thing I did at the gym on Monday was running on a treadmill. I kept adding resistance until it was almost impossible for me to run anymore. Sweat was dripping off my entire body like crazy. And then when I took a break, a thought came to my mind. Do you mean all I need to do to get back in shape quickly is more resistance to my treadmill and lift heavier weight? If that is so, then resistance is a good thing. Resistance is a sure sign that I am on the right track. What a relief! Before this I had been battling for a week as I experienced set back after set back in everything I was doing. Isn’t that funny? Resistance became my best friend since then.

If you ask anyone who made it big, all of them will tell you they made it while facing major resistance, some of them risking their lives. Einstein said that we can’t solve any problems with the same mind that got us into them (I am just paraphrasing). Change is never easy. We have to get outside of our comfort zone if we want to make it. It is easier said than done, but it sure was a huge relief for me when I remembered it. We can get inspired anywhere, including at the gym.

So my dear friend (yes I am talking to you), if it seems to you that you are not getting ahead in what you are doing, if it looks like it is so hard for you, you should be excited because the same situation that is driving you crazy is the one thing you need to be strong. So face it with joy because it is a good thing. Embrace it.

Moral of the story? Are you facing some resistance right now? Just catch your favorite TV show and you will see a superstar. It may be me.

Always a pleasure

The Journeyman

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My Journey to a Great Discovery

I remember writing my first essay ever way back in Grade 10. The essay topic was “life is a journey”. Did the teacher know at that time I was going to be The Journeyman? I doubt it. I don’t even remember what I wrote but my teacher’s remarks were that it was too long.

Life is really a journey and it is up to us to decide how we are going to take it. The good thing is that life has plenty of surprises. Throughout the course of my life I have learned to let go of expectations of how life unfolds and live in the moment.

Do you remember my blog from a few weeks back where I mentioned the movie “Evan Almighty”? I kept thinking about it since then. In the movie, Evan, a newly elected congressman, based his campaign on his slogan “We’re going to change the world”. Because people needed change, he got elected. He thought being a congressman was going to be a piece of cake until he started facing real challenges. It takes a great deal of work to change the world.

I took time to reflect on a few things when I was in New York last week (when I say time, I mean 20 seconds lol). At numerous occasions and in so many ways I have said yes to things without knowing what it will take me to accomplish them, and what it ends up costing me for being involved. Quite frustrating at first, but I have now learned to go with the flow although it might seem easier said than done.

Take the publishing of my book for example, I never had an idea of what it takes to publish a book. When I first had the thought of writing a book I thought it would just be sitting in front of a computer and writing my stories. I did that and a hundred pages later, I was done. I was pumped and super excited about letting it out in the world so people can read it, until the editing process started. I was like “are you serious??”. Does it really take this long? Yes it does. I have an amazing team of editors and we have fun doing the work, but we are not done yet. The good part of the story is that every time we go through it I just realize how great this book is (I say that because the author is a good friend of mine lol). Can’t wait to make it available.

This is one of the many examples of things I started without knowing what it was going to take to fulfill them. I must admit that at times I gave up because either the situation became unbearably hard to endure, or things turned out in a way I hadn’t predicted. Do you know why I failed? Because I was not committed enough. I had a back up plan in case things didn’t work. However, when I seriously commit to something, there is no way I am quitting. It may take years, but I will keep pushing until I get it done.

I started a business with my friend Paul in 2003. It has been 7 years with “no major results” but we kept working. For this particular instance I had no back up plan. I have to make it. Seven years of hard work (without any results) are about to pay off. I just know so. I can feel it. Do you know why? Let me tell you why.

Yesterday I went to deliver a speech on behalf of United Way Toronto. It was during a meeting of one of the top financial institutions of the country and the “top dogs” were there. To my great surprise, when I got there, they told me that they had made a specific request to United Way that they wanted ME as the speaker. How they heard about me, I have no idea. Good thing they mentioned it to me before my speech. I made sure not to disappoint them, and I did not (do you want my autograph?).

That made me realize I am on the right track. My name is getting out there.

My discovery is that when you set a goal for yourself and burn all the bridges behind you, you will eventually make it. There is no other choice.

Moral of the story? Do you want to make it in life? Just write a long and boring essay.

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman