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

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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.


Boys Will Be Boys?

July 16, 2012

Here’s a story I published in 1994 when I was a Grade 6 school teacher – Peter

It’s a scene found on most school playgrounds. A boy, undersize for his age, gets shoved to the ground as he jostles for a loose basketball. I intervene in the name of fairness and one of my male Grade 6 students comments, “It’s like the woods, Mr. D., the strongest survive”, as he dribbles away eager to continue the game.

In that 11 year-old’s summation of an abusive incident lies an accurate analysis of how boys are socialized from a very young age to be tough, in control and aggressive. These sex role expectations are even found in boy’s comic books. This ad appeared on the back cover of a Superman comic I “borrowed” from a student that was supposed to be doing Math. Bold type, “Pick A Fight After School”, small print below video game boxes, “After a hard day at school, have you ever just wanted to go home and break a few heads, destroy a couple of cities? Or just blow up the entire universe? Of course you have. And now you can without getting grounded. Just plug in any of these four smash arcade hits….. and get ready for the fight of your life.”

What influences the minds of children today is overwhelming. My students will watch, on average, 22 hours of television per week, including18,000 violent deaths, by the end of grade 12. Based on time alone (not to mention stimulation effect) the entertainment industry is the first curriculum in young peoples lives. It’s a fantasy world where the powerful survive and the heroes are Terminator and GI Joe.

As we look at these and other dominate influences it should come as no surprise that newspapers are now reporting children bringing guns to school as well as a rise in swarming gangs and teacher abuse surveys. Schools still remain one of the last opportunities in society where positive values are transmitted but there is a lot of work to be done. Society and its primary professional mentors, teachers, are looking beyond reactions to violence by demands to toughen the Young Offenders Act. We need to look at where these attitudes are learned. How the practice of being male is taught ( it is men, lets face it that do 98% of the violence). When we understand how we learn then we can teach a lifetime of skills and attitudes to children.

A resource called Healthy Relationships: A Violence Prevention Curriculum for grades 7, 8 and 9 has recently been developed by Men For Change in cooperation with the Halifax County and Bedford District School Board in an attempt to meet this need. Grade 7 activities focus on aggression and emotions, Grade 8 deals with media literacy and sexist stereotypes and Grade 9 asserts healthy choices over of date rape. Men For Change is a Halifax based men’s group that formed after the Montreal Massacre to look a t what we, as men, can do to end violence against women, children and ourselves. We have since conducted dozens of workshops with eager teachers and insightful students in Halifax County. We look forward to sharing our resource with other school boards.

Sexism and violence are integrally linked as anyone working with battered women would attest. If we also believe that but sexism is learned and violence is one manifestation then our schools, as learning places, are one the best places to help children learn healthy attitudes towards gender. However schools can also be a place where we as teachers unknowingly pass on sexist and stereotype loaded expectations to the boys and girls we teach.

Subtle messages get passed to children when we have them separating into boys and girls groups to line up or hang up their coats The perspective that the world is to be viewed through male eyes may not even be considered next time we refer to a room of boys and girls by the popular term ‘guys’. Even the amount of praise we give male students or the statistic that boy’s hands are answered more frequently than girls are only small ways we may be contributing to a problem.

The following more explicit examples occurred in three different Junior High Schools in the Metro area. They are examples, hopefully even exceptions to the rule, but each bear witness to how teachers unknowingly legitimize male stereotypes and it’s violent practice.

I was recently in a Junior High early one morning making photocopies before a workshop when a Grade 9 student came into the building to seek refuge from others who had just punched him in the chest and kicked him. The duty teacher responded, ” You’re a big guy, why don’t you stand up for yourself?” The student stated simply, “I don’t fight”. The teacher then sent him back out to tell the perpetrators to come in. As my own students would say, Duh!! Not only was that young man’s need for safety ignored but I had a strong sense that nothing would be resolved even if his assaulters got suspended for a few days. My sense that the problem was not truly resolved was confirmed. I met the victimized student half an hour later in the washroom cleaning up the blood from a punch in the nose he had just received.

If we believe that violence is something that men and boys learn and use to maintain power over others then suspensions and other punitive measures, like a tougher Young Offenders Act are not the means to end violence. They merely offer token consequence in a society where violence is rampant, profitable and embodied as the very essence of what it means to act like a man.

Sometimes the messages to live up to this image come out through subtle comments. I was in another school where a grade 9 class teacher was welcoming students for the afternoon. A student asked him for a band-aid. The teacher obliged and commented, “I guess you lost that on huh! What’s the matter couldn’t you stand up to him?”

One of Men For Changes’ first in school workshop experiences several years ago was with a class of Grade 8 boys. We had a good dialogue about being macho, stereotypes and date rape. The discussion wrapped up10 minutes before the bell so the teacher hit p lay on the VCR with a Hockey’s Hardest Hitters Vol1 tape.

These anecdotes from the front lines may not be very pleasant to read at a time when teachers seem to be undervalued and stressed out but lets not forget the teachable moment here for all of us. As in all social change movements, from the successful TA DD ( Teens Against Drunk Driving) programs to anti- Racism objectives, the first step begins with an awareness of the breadth of the problem. It is when we realize how deep the roots and tradition of violence is that we begin to see the solutions.

We need to all work together and challenge the deeply ingrained illusion that we are all lock into a rigid stereotype, tough and aggressive for boys, passive and beauty bound, for girls. Then and only then will we be helping teach our students, and ours elves, not the law of the jungle where only the strongest survive, but rather the choices needed to build healthy relationships based on cooperation and trust where everyone is thrives.


Silly Love Songs

March 4, 2012

Do you think there are too many silly love songs?

Or do you believe that music is the universal language that unites humanity, heart-to-heart, voice to voice with a unison so pure and powerful that even walls that divide come tumblin’ down?

I offer two samples to share this in the spirit of celebrating life and its infinite possibilities for love.

I present two musical numbers. They are both songs of love but not in the narrow sense of the experience.

The first music celebrates the love freedom. The exquisite beauty of a human right many of us take for granted.

The second piece opens the heart to a deep abiding love that embraces us when we experience a loss of what we hold to be dear and close. It has been said that if one loves deeply enough then both joy and sorrow will be experienced. Or as Elvis cautioned, “Wise men say, only fools fall in love.” What greater celebration of love than to be okay that sometimes when we love, it hurts. Stay with it and give thanks for full range of love that is about being human.

LINK ONE – THE POLITICAL

I am excited to share this inspiring trailer for a newly released movie called the Singing Revolution. This documentary tells the extraordinary story of the non-violent path the small country of Estonia took to free itself from Soviet occupation. What a mass choir of committed voices who sing from the same song sheet can do.

Click Here to View How Music Changed One Corner of the World

LINK TWO – THE PERSONAL

Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings Opus 11 is arguably the World’s Saddest Love Song

Take a moment to experience this hauntingly beautiful violin or choir selection either with eyes closed or by viewing both with different slides.

Version 1 – Choir with Nature/Space Slides

Version 2 – Orchestra with 9-11 Photos


HOH OHO Wish List

December 20, 2011

What do you wish for? More time, less stress, a cappuccino machine, fewer bills, a hot vacation, a years spa pass, chocolate, a younger body, more courage, two front teeth?

A while back I presented my signature keynote, Journey to Everest: Unsung Heroes of Servant Leadership with a great group of Federal Government managers in Regina. This keynote celebrates the role of the unsung hero in work, those who make a difference by serving people whom they will likely never meet. I offered a simple reminder that our time, energy and talents can and does make a difference despite lack of credit or direct accolades. During the conference I interviewed and photographed delegates for the closing slide show and told a handful of stories to sing their praise by example before they leave the event to pay it forward.

It seems fitting in this season to share one of the examples of unsung heroes. I had a great chat with two Canada Post managers named Brent and Judy. Their picture in the closing slide show featured them in front of the Christmas tree in the hotel holding a sign that read the simple, creative postal code HOH OHO. As managers, they help coordinate the responses to, get this, over 1 million letters to Santa every year.

Each child’s letter is given a personal reply courtesy of Canada Post employees (on their own time, by the way) and select community service organizations. This is a heartfelt and excellent shining example of unconditional service exemplified by an unsung hero. There is no ego pat on the back because they will never meet the child but rather an internalized feeling of certainty that a small gesture keeps dreams and magic alive.

Here is the background of the Santa letter campaign. I share it as story worth telling because it is little known and, well, about unsung heroes.

In 1974, staff at Canada Post’s Montreal office were noticing a considerable amount of letters addressed to Santa Claus coming into the postal system, and those letters were being treated as undeliverable. Since those employees did not want those writing the letters, mostly young children, being disappointed at the lack of responses, they started answering the letters themselves. The amount of mail sent to Santa Claus increased every Christmas, up to the point that Canada Post decided to start an official Santa Claus letter-response program in 1983. Approximately one million letters come in to Santa Claus at postal code HOH OHO each Christmas, including from outside of Canada, and all of them are answered, in the same languages in which they are written.

This story came home with me when I told my wife Andrea, the story of the Santa letters. She smiled and reached into her bag and pulled out 30 she had volunteered to send replies! As coincidence would have it, just that day the service organization she belongs to distributed their annual quota to its members.

We had a great time reading each letter. They were all precious and unique and we could tell how old the child might be. Some included drawings of the man in red, some inquired as to his reindeers health and some had “gimmie this” wish lists, which probably gave rise to the one rule in responding: no mention of presents. All were full of belief in the spirit of giving and innocence and wishing dreams to come true.

One letter stood out from the rest. It was a wish list written by a mom tucked in with her children’s letters. It speaks for itself.

Dear Santa,
My wish list is easy. I would like to have another year like this year where I had happy, healthy children who are confident, safe and secure. This is all I want or need. Merry Christmas.”
– Marie S.

Regardless of what you wish for, at least give yourself credit for how you have been an unsung hero for someone this last year, as a professional, parent, coworker, boss, community volunteer, etc. And whether you celebrate Santa Claus, The Birth of the Christ Child, Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, observe Ramadan, or light candles for Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity, may all your wishes come true in the new year.

Continued blessings to you and those whom you love as you go forth to make a difference for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

From my family to yours
Peter


Courageous Kindness

December 26, 2010

When was the last time you took a chance and stuck you neck out to do the right thing?

Here’s the scene. You are on staff of a respectable establishment and notice him as soon as he enters the building. He stands out for two reasons. 1. Because he is carrying a cute little girl on his shoulders and 2. because he seems to be a bit unstable on his feet. He spends 15 minutes browsing around with the little girl. He completes a transaction at the counter with one of your colleagues and lifts the little girl back on his shoulders and seems to stagger across the parking lot to his car.

What questions come to mind? Do you check-in with your colleagues to see if they have any suspicions? Should we say anything? What do we say? How will this guy respond? And who’s going to speak to him?

You have until he straps the little girl into her car safety seat to make a decision before he gets behind the wheel and drives away. Do you risk embarrassment or even a possible confrontation? What do you do?

Here’s what happened. The decision is made to confront him and you’re the one to do it. You walk swiftly out the main door and across the parking lot. The man notices you behind him as he lifts his head after fastening in the little girl into her car seat. You take a breath and ask the obvious question, “Excuse me sir, have you been drinking?”

The pause after that question while the man collects his thoughts at the abrupt nature of the question might have created anxiety if you had time to imagine the consequences of all possible responses.

He replies, “No. I haven’t been drinking.” He assures you and continues to explain, ”I have Parkinson’s Disease and that makes my right foot flop when I walk.”

You reply with the conviction of your values, “If you have been drinking we wouldn’t want you to drive away with that little girl in the car.”

His eyes fill with tears as he thanks you for the courage and kindness it must have taken you to come out and check with him about the safety risk to him and his child. He is obviously profoundly moved by your caring.
____

This is true story. I know because I was the man and the little girl was my 2 year old daughter Hannah. She loves the library and we had just signed out several Christmas books including, as she calls it, a book on “Crosty the Snowman.” I don’t know the name of the librarian that came out to talk with me. But I do know one thing, that such acts of courageous kindness are what make the world beautiful place. And given the true meaning of Christmas, is much closer to a gift of love than any boxing week sale items we can score.

My heartfelt wish for you as the New Year rolls out is to celebrate life and it’s infinite possibilities for love by embracing opportunities to do the right thing and help others with courageous kindness.

Stay Blessed.


The Gift of The Hit

November 7, 2010

Have you ever been hit with news, events or circumstances that seemingly knocked you flat out?

My hit came at age 45 in 2005 when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
The story is part of a keynote speech I recently shared with the good folks attending the Parkinson’s Society of BC Conference in October, 2010.

View the Parkinson’s Videos Here

Peter Davison Motivational Speaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’ t have time to watch the various videos here is the punch line.
The “hit” of Parkinson’s changed my life forever and beyond my wildest dreams for the better..I wouldn’t switch my life and abundance with anybody.

See also Dreamweaver Story

With appreciation,

Peter