Good Morning? awaken to the new normal

January 14, 2018

I had the honour of sharing my wellness keynote at every Parkinson’s conference hosted by provincial chapters across Canada, (and a few in the USA!) The keynote topic was “Four Dimensions of Living Well with Parkinson’s” view here. The themes 0f physical, emotional, mental and spiritual were explored with practical skills and tools.

The issue of sleep deprivation associated with PD is common. I joked with my audiences about getting silk bedsheets or silk PJs to help to turn over smoothy, but advised against both as your might slip like butter off  the bed.

Now its caught up to me. I have been blessed with the ability to sleep anywhere anytime. And i got the sleep gene from my Dad who is on record of actually falling asleep on a subway train careening and lurching on the squealing rails of the London Underground. One of my more famous moments was Dad and I having a midday nap in our rental car at battery park in St Johns, NF while we waited 10 hours for our red eye flight to Ireland. The police officer was forgiving.

Since January I have awoken on my own or to help our 15 year old Bichon off the bed to pee at his whining request. But i can’t get back to sleep like i used to. My test as to whether i can fall back to sleep is to take a long full inhale breathes thru the nose and 10 long exhales though my mouth. If that doesn’t work then I might as well and get up and get something done. Good Morning? awaken to the new normal.


Reactive, Naturally

January 6, 2018

We just had wicked bomb category storm on the east coast, alas no snow for us in Halifax, that would have been awesome, but i digress. It is still great to witness when the power dies how community comes to life together to help, especially NS Power Linemen (yes they are all men) I wrote about my gratitude for their passionate devotion to get the job done in the aftermath of Hurricane Juan. Not having having power is no joke in subzero temperature! So part of me resisted acting on my 9 year old daughter Hannah’s prank idea to shut off our own power and pretend. The prank was not to tell Mummy and brother.

The prank was on us as it actually did go out at 1am. When the power goes out in our house an alarm goes off in warning. This happened at 1 am and i sprang out of bed and I  ran half way down the hall before i opened my eyes. Our home was not on fire but I was PD free for a moment. My brain was literally flipped into flight mode in my brains hard drive and stiff and slow default were over-ridden. This has happened several times before. Once when Hannah was a toddler and tumbled down three steps. I was off the couch and had her in my arms, it seemed like i scooped her before she hit the floor. PD symptoms be damned. What’s going on, an Amygdala Hijack?

The similar experience happens when I play racquet ball. When a ball comes at me, I don’t think, i just react and whack. I realized it wasn’t just me while I was offering try it yourself racquetball demos at the World Parkinson’s Congress in Montreal in 2013. Giving folks a chance to try out the sport, at least bounce a ball or two off the wall. This woman who had intense dyskinesia and was swinging and swaying wildly. I threw the ball off the wall and she connected repeatedly. It was amazing. How did she shift from the statistic PD boogie to connect accurately with that orb randomly ricocheting thru space.

it just seems like there’s a lot more power in the brain than we realize. Scientists readily concede that there are only two frontiers/mysteries left to explore, space beyond sight and the space betwee our ears that we call the brain. Wouldn’t it be great to harness the true potential of the mind for more than a moment. Do they can make and app for that? Not the popular app CALM Everyone is raving about but maybe one called react and engage!

Forward to Feb 16

January 4, 2018

The date is set for Feb 16 for my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. Two days after celebrating love day. If actions are love then this move is dedicated to prolonging my quality of life to be with Andrea, Hannah and Vance.

It’s not an easy decision to have two holes drilled in my skull for the placement of two wires that will be charged with a current. It’s been in the works for a year and half which is good for my personality cause i need time to get my head around it. ugh my first pun..

Lots of feelings to explore as i move to yes: gratitude, fear, trust, guilt, hope and of course faith.

Along for the Journey?

January 4, 2018

I decided re-purpose (is that even a word?!) my old blog site and invite those who are willing, along for the journey.  Of course I encourage you to browse the archives of this blog established back in, what my daughter Hannah refers to as, the “good old days” of serving unsung heroes as a international motivational speaker.

Retire…turn page….welcome to my new incarnation  DBS and ME


1 as a journal for the kids

2 to educate about one person’s experience of Parkinson’s

3 be authentic, open and responsive with the beautiful souls in the community of love that surrounds me

4 inspire you to reflect on your values and priorities

When I read about someone else’s health or adversity challenge I have to be honest — I can’t help but compare my own life and I am usually I’m better off, and that invites me to delve into deeper gratitude for my blessings in life. Perhaps you will be open to fine-tuning what’s important spiritually, emotionally or mentally – in perspective or attitude.

5 something to do with time when i can’t sleep

I woke up at three-30 this morning and try to get back to sleep on my left side, the side away from the edge of bed, and could hardly move as my body was stiff,, my bedtime pills had worn.  I had a flush of anxiety considering the future frozen in my shell. Deep breathing brought me back to this sacred moment. I got out of bed to write this.

Tired of Waiting!

December 11, 2012

“When someone is impatient and says, ‘I haven’t got all day,’ I always wonder, ‘How can that be? How can you not have all day?’” ~~George Carlin

Moving From Peeved to Please – Turning Frustration into Anticipation

I’m peeved. I just took delivery of my new laptop computer – on the 11th hour of the day before I had a major presentation in Toronto. It had taken nearly a month from the moment I ordered it online to it arriving on my doorstep. The longer it took, the more I called customer service. I was not the best friend of the customer service guy that was assigned to my case.

His biweekly calls kept assuring me that they had put in an order to expedite the process, that I would be getting it soon and he would call me in a couple of days. My straightforward question as to why it would take so long to make was never ever directly answered. At one point I even threatened to cancel altogether, but was promised that it would be arriving shortly.

I managed to jerry-rig my wife’s laptop for the interim. As the weeks went by, the more frustrated I became. My wife needed her laptop to do a lot of her work. At any rate, the programs I needed were not on her laptop. I felt like I was a mechanic without a toolbox, an artist without a color palette, a surfer without a board.

I made sure to make a list of the things I want to do when I got my real machine working. It was easy to justify putting off things because I didn’t have my machine. My wife’s computer that I borrowed was as cold and slow as molasses. It took forever to send email and forever to open up a new program.

I was tired of checking ads for similar laptop models in the Future Shop flyers; there are two of those stores within a 10 minutes’ drive from my house. It added to my frustration that I could drive down the street, buy a similar unit, and have it set up and running within the hour. To be certain, the unit I had ordered online was full-featured to my specs, $150 cheaper with complementary picture and video editing software that I desired, all wrapped up in a sleek aluminum bodied special edition model.

But I was tired of waiting. Why on God’s green earth, in this day and age, does take over three weeks to get a computer? My giddy anticipation of getting a new toy was steadily morphing into angst and frustration.

Perhaps you can relate to being tired of waiting for something or for someone to get it together. The first time I met a group of people that were tired of waiting was at the Stan Rogers Folk Festival. This was the first time I can remember tapping into this angst.

My wife and I were sitting in portable chairs in the front row at the outdoor concert. We listened to the evening line-up of many different artists singing our life with their words over a 45-minute set. The final band of the night was a local popular group from Antigonish called The Trews.

The young fans crowding the dance area to the left of the stage started to swell as the band came on stage. The band’s sound was heavy rock with big drums, throbbing bass, grinding electric guitars. As The Trews sang their hearts out to their generation of adoring fans, the crowd of young people started to spill over into our seating area, blocking the view of those seated. So by peer pressure, we were forced to stand up. By the time the finale was on, we were caught up in the excitement of the evening.

The final song was titled, “Tired of waiting’”. And the title, repeated, was also the entire lyrics of the song as well. The song went on, seemingly forever. An anthem for generation Y. The young people pumping their fists in the air to the beat and singing and dancing along . At one point I found myself actually agreeing. “Hell yeah, me too, I am tired of waiting!”

I was not actually sure what they were tired of waiting for, but I could imagine. Tired of waiting to be asked to the prom. Tired of living by their parents’ rules. Tired of watching adults mess up the environment. Tired of waiting for politicians to do the right thing. Tired of waiting to have a voice. Tired of waiting for a good job. Tired of peer pressure and the struggle to be cool and find their gifts in the world.

Simple but profound sentiments with a heavy rock sound track to punctuate the angst and help tap a vein of truth. I am tired of waiting, too.

Besides waiting for my new computer, I’m tired of waiting for the warm water to come up the pipe in the shower in the morning. I’m tired of waiting for traffic to merge in construction zones. I am tired of telecom marketers who interrupt my meal. I am tired of waiting in the grocery line with 20 other people when there are only three lines open. I’m also tired of getting holes of my socks. I’m tired of politicians who make empty promises. While I am at it, I am even getting tired of my 19-month-old boy screeching every time he wants something, because he is at the cusp of forming words and at this stage can only point and squawk. I’m also tired of a newspaper carrier, more often than not, falling short of hitting the front door, forcing me to go down the walkway to get the morning paper in my pajamas.

But in today’s paper there was a follow-up article about the textile factory fire somewhere in Bangladesh. I can’t imagine the horror of trying to escape a burning building in which the exit doors had been locked. Over a 100 people died from stupidity and greed of the owners who locked the doors and were too cheap to have working fire extinguishers. A clear case of profits over people. Surely, they must be tired of living that reality.

That fire was certainly a tragedy, one of many tragedies that happen around the world in a given week. What brought the story home to me was the fact that the factory made clothing for Walmart and Disney. I wear clothing on my back from both those companies.

That “ah ha” moment refreshed the buried truth that my Western lifestyle is built on the backs of those who labour in poor countries to fill my needs. It also answered my nagging question as to where my laptop was. Quite literally on a slow boat from China – where the people are who make my clothing and the tools I use to get my job done so I can fulfill my lifestyle. People who, ironically, create these objects of opulence like personal computers, flat screen TVs, etc., but could never afford them.

Perspective Creeps In.

Sometimes life needs to be put into perspective
Who am I to complain about waiting in traffic and being able to afford a car and the luxury of driving downtown to catch a dinner and a movie? Am I really so tired of waiting for the warm water to come in my shower while many folks are lucky to bathe once a week and in some places in the world, have to a walk an hour to get a jug of water for their entire family? Am I really more tired than blessed to be the dad of a healthy toddler whose biggest frustration is not being able to tell us clearly if he wants cheese or milk?

Sometimes it is good to compare, because it puts life into perspective. My petty little annoyances pale in comparison to the life struggle so many people face daily. After all, at the end of the day my computer does arrive; I have electricity to run it on a planet where 1.3 Billion people don’t have access to electricity, and I write this using voice dictation software and go to bed in a warm house and safe country. It’s very hard to complain of how slow email can be; in fact, it’s almost absurd.

I caught myself slipping into the entitlement of a “me first” world view. Where our wake-up reality checks come from is not as important being open to the gift of humble insight into how good life is. If there ever comes a day when I’m truly tired of that, then I have really lost the plot.

Here are 3 ways to move from peeved to pleased when playing the waiting game.

Turn anxiety into anticipation.

Rather than being tired of waiting and creating anxiety and annoyance, try treating everything as a Christmas gift. The day after my daughter’s fourth birthday at the end of November, she asked me if tomorrow was Christmas. Of course, I had to explain to her that it was almost a month away. She rolled her eyes and gestured with her hand and proclaimed , “Christmas is my favourite time of year!” How many things are we waiting for that we can look forward to, if we have the wide-eyed anticipation of a child?

Live in the moment with a grateful heart.

A grateful heart is a light heart. It’s our choice every day whether we count our blessings or our annoyances. Try a simple activity the next time you get a credit card bill in the mail. Before you rip the envelope open and look at the amount due, write down on the envelope as many things you can think of to be thankful for that this credit card has allowed you to purchase or share. Then when you open the envelope with a grateful heart, you know everything is worth waiting for.

Compare yourself to others.

If we truly take in the big picture and honestly compare and contrast our “troubles” in relative terms, then our miserable lot doesn’t seem so bad. As the dad of a frustrated toddler trying to get heard, I was deeply moved by the photo in the paper of a dad holding his toddler son on the eve of the cease-fire in Gaza. He is pictured holding his son in one arm and making a peace sign with the fingers of his other hand. I complain if my little boys cries of frustration as he struggles to communicate whether he wants milk or cheese. This dad just spent the last two weeks comforting his son’s cries as a bombs rained down around him and his family. By every measuring stick, when we compare ourselves to the rest of the world, the other 4/5ths, or about 5 billion people, we will almost certainly come out better off.

Compare Your Reality to Others

Compare Your Reality to Others

Couples Who Laugh, Last

August 28, 2012

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but research suggests that, actually, laughter is the glue that really keeps couples together. With clear correlation between laughter and sexual relations, as well humour being stated as one of the top three reasons for the success of long term marriages (according to a 1990 study carried out by Lauer) it seems that laughter really is the best medicine for individuals and couples alike.

We all know that laughing is good for us whether we’re single, married or divorced. Experts at Psychology Today suggest that the act of laughing can increase the production of feel-good endorphins, reduce stress, ease pain and even increase blood flow around the body which in turn makes the blood vessels, brain and heart healthier. Who would have thought that laughing can be good for both the head and the heart?! But how can the act of laughing benefit you and your partner as a couple? Here are some ways in which good humour can improve your relationship and help it to stand the test of time:

Diffuses tension

When a conflict arises in a relationship it can often be minimised by gentle and respectful humour. Minor niggles can be dealt with by a light hearted remark or playful suggestion rather than serious confrontation as people can become much more defensive when they feel as though they are being attacked. Sometimes it can be difficult to resort to laughter in the midst of a serious argument or disagreement, but ultimately couples find that embracing humour helps interrupt the power struggle, ease tensions and enable them to gain perspective and talk their disagreement through in a calmer, more rational way. Humour may not be the way to completely solve your problems but it can definitely set the scene for discussing them in a more productive manner.

‘In-jokes’ strengthen bond

Psychologists suggest that being part of an ‘in group’ is something we all subconsciously strive for to give ourselves a feeling of ‘belonging’. Having an ‘in joke’ with your partner is much the same. It enables you to share a private sentiment that only the two of you belong to and fully understand. This can ultimately strengthen your bond in private and even more so in company. You identify as being part of a pair with something in common. If this is a playful, positive or humorous gesture then it further reinforces the element of fun in the relationship.

Fun activities

Amidst the stresses and strains of everyday life it can sometimes be difficult to find anything to laugh about. This is why couples should try and incorporate fun, laughable activities into their relationship. Try something new even if it is totally out of your comfort zone. If you approach it with good humour and your partner at your side, if can’t go wrong. Even if it is an activity that you don’t enjoy and will never do again, you’ll still have had a positive experience from it trying it with a willing and playful attitude. And if you and your partner can find a common interest then it will give you something else to bond together in. Try and set aside at least a few hours a week where you and your partner can do something fun as a couple and include a bit of old fashioned laughter.

Keeping positive in troubled times

Life isn’t always a bed of roses and there will invariably be times in your relationship when you hit trouble. Perhaps it will be financial difficulty, family problems or even issues with the relationship. During these tough times you may not feel able to use humour as a mode of thought, of but research suggests that looking upon your problems in a positive, light-hearted way can actually provide you with the mental tools you need to overcome them. Laughter is medically proven to ease stress and anxiety to give you the ability to think clearly and rationally. Similarly, looking at things in a humorous light can give you different sense of perspective rather than becoming overwhelmed by your problems. If both you and your partner adopt this attitude in the face of trouble then there’s no reason why you can’t overcome the most difficult obstacles together.

When humour shouldn’t be used – to cover up negative feelings and issues

Whilst laughter and humour are mostly positive aspects of a relationship, there are times when people use humour as a tool to cover up real issues and painful emotions in their relationship. Perhaps they don’t feel able to articulate their emotions in a serious way and so resort to basic humour to try and get their point across. Ask yourself if you’re making jokes in a humorous way of if they’re actually indirect expressions of anger or irritation.
In the big picture one truth remains: life is too short not to laugh more, life is too long not to laugh more. For a complimentary guide to laughing more please visit

Of Ice and Men

July 16, 2012

The world according to a beer ad is a splendid place where suds flow, women cavort and no one ever gets a hangover. It is a world for men where image makers carefully construct the mythic world of masculinity to win the brand loyalty of the 18-24 year old male beer drinker.

I recently watched a film crew on corner of Blowers and Grafton street in downtown Halifax, constructing this package. The film crew set up the flood lights and fog machine as four handsome young guys-let’s call them the G-4-practised their scene blocking in this version of “the right stuff”. The camera swoops around them as the G-4 four, out on the town looking for fun and frolic and a tall cold one, J-walk across the street. The token desired female pulls up in her 70’s muscle car. She flicks her hair seductively and croons, “Hi Ray.” As she zooms away the others tease “Ray” about his lost opportunity. A minor setback in a world where men usually have few barriers to their conquests.

Have you ever noticed that the colder the beer, the stronger the message about how the world of men functions? One of the first “ice” beer ads featured an actor in his black leather trench coat strutting through a post apocalyptic wasteland of fire geysers towards a lone ice beer illuminated on a pedestal. He imparts the wisdom of the sages, “History tells us that the strongest survive” as he reaches for this gormless symbol of manhood. The history where men compete for power and position is being written daily. Everywhere I look in popular culture there is another reminder that, to be a real man, I must be tough, in control and strong in order to make it. From fights where a hockey games break out to the competitive business ethic underpinning “free” trade or international politics, I see men performing very limited versions of masculinity.

As the G-4 acted out retakes of the same old scene on that Halifax street corner, I thought about another big commercial shoot gearing up for Halifax in mid-June. The “tell-us-what-we-should-care-about-today” news media is dutifully preparing to feed us images and values of another gang of guys-let’s call them the G-7, who have managed to construct a global economy where the strongest do indeed survive.
From the micro world of the beer ad to the macro world of the new world order, the messages are the same, men are the boss and we make everything around us confirm that. Heavy trip on the boys who will be boys? I don’t think so. I’m excited by the potential of exploring this long overdue twist on the feminist maxim, “the personal is political.”
How the men who run the G-7 countries make decisions has everything to do with this, “survival of the fittest” mentality. Men design the tools and the rules, on behalf of democracy, of course, to confirm their ability to control and conquest. The space program, militarism, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are constant reminders of who’s power is successful. As this model affirms male dominion it excludes and exploits the planet and most of it’s people.

In order to rethink this global model, we need to rethink the definition and practise of masculinity itself. Men I know are no longer content to just sit back with a tall cold one to contemplate life and it’s infinite possibilities for profit. I feel encouraged by other men who are challenging the narrow repertoire of masculine values presented in beer ads and G7 policies.

Many men are exploring a fuller version of masculinity and accepting the invitation to participate as equal partners with women. The challenge for us all is to create a new world community based on the strongest things that will help us all survive, and thrive. The more I embrace values like cooperation and compassion as vital to the richness of my masculinity, the more I emerge from the cold isolation of that ice age ethic where the strongest survive. As men warm up to this possibility, our roles as a lovers, workers and maybe even as leaders of nation states can only be enhanced for the best.