Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Somethings We'll Never Understand

I was in class today and my professor was telling a story about men and women (a brave task for a male teacher in a class of 40+ females and 6 males). He was saying that when a female returns home from a confrontation at the work place they will often share with their male partner about what happened. In reply to the story the male will often try to give solutions to the problem, but what he warned was that often times the female partner isn’t really looking for “solutions” but someone to understand why they are upset and justify their position. Often times another argument will occur after the mix up.

It’s a classic men are from Mars and women are from Venus story. At one point or another in our lives we all come to the conclusion that there are just some things we may never understand about the opposite sex. Today I want to try and shine some light on a subject that has women asking the question "Why is this so important to men?"

I saw this on Facebook today:

“John Smith is: My girl is making fun of me cuz I'm excited after winning my matchup in the Fantasy Hockey playoffs. She'll never understand. I told her it was important to me and she almost pissed her pants.”

Fantasy Hockey has become a hobby of mine for the past few years and is quickly growing in popularity among males with each new season. For those of you who aren’t familiar with fantasy hockey allow me to fill you in.

1. In October you sign up for an online league. In my case I joined a league with friends from my undergrad. Your league chooses a day to carry out an “online draft” where all the people in the log meet online to choose players for their teams.

2. Once your team is selected you take on the role of General Manager. You can choose to add/drop players, trade with other managers, choose which players to play on certain nights, and the best part is smack talking all the other people in the league via an online posting board.

3. This goes on for the next 7 months during which you are frantically trying to stay on top of who is having a good season who is having a bad season. Where you can shift players around in your roster and if you should move your best producer for someone you think can bring a new dimension to your team.

4. You’ll often see a group of men huddled together talking about players they are keeping an eye on, who they stole in the 9th round of the draft, why they chose certain goalies, who they like on the waiver wire, why next year’s league should be a keeper season, etc.

If your still following you will understand why John Smith was so excited to have won his playoff match up. A fantasy hockey season is a long commitment and a lot of effort goes into a successful season. Participants get to live vicariously through their players as they rise and fall throughout the season. Nothing feels better than beating someone else in a hard fought round of hockey.

I said earlier that at times women just want a man to acknowledge their reasons for being upset and show some understanding. What I offer to you today is: instead of trying to understand what it is about fantasy hockey that is so fun just understand that it is something important to him. Acknowledge that he is doing a good job and that you are proud. You’ll find that this will make him really happy and you can do this regardless of whether or not you actually understand fantasy hockey.

Sometimes to bridge the gap between sexes we just need to accept the differences. Even if we don’t completely understand them.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where is your Moustache?

Some of my first memories as a child were about my parents getting me ready for bed. Something about the routine makes it very clear in my mind. I remember the ongoing battle between parent and child. The battle of wits I thought I might win. It goes without saying that each night ended with me going to bed on time, but I did find a way to delay the process.

The answer was milk.

How could a parent say no? A prison guard never rejects the prisoner’s final wish. Think about it. Milk is the ultimate source of what is good for kids. Each night I would pour my self a frothy glass of milk before bed and soak up at least ten minutes of conversation from the rents.

Somewhere between my early childhood and present day I lost my appetite for milk. Legend has it that the day I started going to bed at 10 p.m. I stopped requesting my last drink. But, wasn’t my body missing out on milk’s ability to build muscle, maintain the bones and teeth, or help keep eyes and skin healthy? I don’t really know.

I grew up like anybody else I suppose. No serious medical conditions to date. But, could things have been different? Should I have ever stopped drinking milk?

I was sitting in my language arts class the other day when the teacher posed our class a question and asked us to take five minutes to answer it. The goal of the activity was to write the first thing that came to our heads.

The question read, “What does it mean to be fully literate in the 21st Century?”:

There is no end goal where you can stop and say, “Now I am fully literate”. Literacy is always evolving and someone who is truly literate understands that being fully literate is an ongoing and never ending process. There isn’t a day where we wouldn’t benefit from literacy.

Upon completion of a formal education some people believe that they are as literate as they will ever be. The truth is, the quest for being literate often begins when you have completed your education. Being literate is knowing that you must now take on this challenge of literacy without the help of classmates, teachers, and counselors. It is your job to develop an understanding of the literate world around you.

What I am starting to realize is that reading and learning is a lot like drinking milk. The benefits of one on the mind and the other on the body appear to be extremely beneficial, but many of us choose to not partake in both.

I thought that once I had shed the chains of an early bedtime that I would no longer need milk. Much like how my teacher fears that people feel like they won't need literacy after graduation.

I have decided to dive right back into milk (figuratively). I am going to try and drink at least a glass a day. While I can’t force any of you to do the same (and probably most of you for lactose reasons) I can ask you to do one thing. Keep learning. Watch the news, read the paper, get a magazine, loose yourself in a fiction, or find the truth in non-fiction. The choice is yours and there are many options to choose from.

And I don’t want to hear about your fictos intolerance.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Alone at the Top

For those of you who haven’t heard it yet – Tiger Woods is returning to golf. It looks like the most talked about man in gossip entertainment is set to return just in time for the Masters on April 8th, 2010.

Fortunately, this story isn’t about Tiger, it’s about the guy Tiger text messages. Notice how I said “guy” Tiger text messages, if I had said “girl” those text messages would be a dime a dozen and considered “cheap” – just like the woman who received them (BOO YAH!)

Yes, that’s right. Tiger Woods text messages Roger Federer. The two have been known on occasion to exchange messages with one another before big tournaments. Woods even sat down to watch Roger play at the US Open last year.

Like any good friend would Roger has backed up Woods in the media and has commented on numerous occasions that he cannot wait for his friend to return to the game of golf.

Isn’t Roger such a great guy? I’d say so. The guy is a gem. Marries his long time sweet heart, has little twin boys, and is the best tennis player of his time AND ARGUABLY the best tennis player ever.

This guy knows how to win. But, he isn’t some in your face glory hog. He finds ways to win humbly while staying out of the limelight.

At the age of 28 Roger enters this year’s tennis season with endless possibilities and an opportunity to cement himself as the most decorated athlete of this decade. Last summer at the US Open Federer broke Pete Sampras’s previous record of 13 Grand Slam Tournament wins and he looks to set a new standard of success this summer.

Keep it classy Roger, keep it classy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Change Always Comes

Growing up I lived a block away from a 7/11 and living in close proximity to a 7/11 meant that I could walk over and grab a slurpee whenever I wanted. When I was in grade one I moved houses and my simple walk turned into a short bike ride. As the years went by I moved again and my bike ride turned into a brief car ride.

For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet – I am in love slurpees. Unfortunately this story isn’t about my affection for this sugary treat, but something much deeper.

North Bay has no 7/11s… No big deal. I have decided to join forces with Mac’s Milk unitl I return home. The routine was simple enough. I walk in, pour my “froster”, grab my toonie, slide it to the girl at the counter, and receive my ten cents change and enjoy my frozen treat.

I was able to function like this for awhile until one day the girl at the counter told me some horrific news. “Frosters are no longer $1.90. Price changes meant they were now $2.01”. I didn’t have a penny so I gave the girl $3.00 and received .99 cents change.

I went home rather distraught and dropped my .99 cents into my change cup. I sat there sipping on my froster and thinking, “How could they change the price on me?” I know it’s not Mac’s fault, but every time I seem to get comfortable things begin to change.

It reminded me of a conversation I had back in high school with a good friend of mine. We talked about the inevitability of change and how whether we like it or not life is going to continually change and we can either accept or reject those changes.

I turned on the television and I was confronted with messages about climate change, about a campaign for change, how to change your body, how to change your looks, how to change your personality, your smile, the hair on your back, your look on life, your husband, your wife, your kids, your car, and how to change YOU!

It seems as though “change” is a common theme in our daily lives. What often makes change scary is that it will happen with or without your consent. For me it’s a froster and for others it’s car insurance or a best friend. No matter what the case – change affects us.

A friend of mine sent me a message the other day about a book she was reading and how it asks readers to “be the change you want to see in the world”. At heart I find this to be a very positive statement that makes me feel like all change is possible if we take the time to see it happen.

But, what I am talking about here is dealing with change. Acknowledging that change will happen and that people need to be conscious when it does happen and make decisions accordingly. Accept change. Embrace change. All around the world people are asking for change, but sometimes the toughest thing of all is dealing with the change once it has occurred.

Just like my froster changed – so will your froster.

I had initially thought it suitable to write the president of the company and demand a change back to the original price, but I decided against it. He or she is just trying to accommodate for the changes going on in their lives and need to adapt to make a living. Instead, I decided to put my change to work. I collected all the money out of my change cup and found that I had saved close to thirty dollars. Now I can buy close to 15 frosters.

At the end of the day it’s all about making change work for you.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Think it. Believe it.

Do you ever dream? I know for sure that I dream some nights. I also know, on the nights I do dream, I can only remember some a portion of the dreams. In protest against my night dreams I decided to give them up in favour of daydreaming.

Instead of dreaming at night and risking the chance of forgetting what I was even dreaming about. I would only dream when I was wide-awake and could remember every little detail of my dreams.

What I began to find was trying to remember everything thing you daydream about is really hard to do. My life kept getting in the way. Just as I was thinking about winning the lottery my cell phone would go off. When I was thinking about scoring a goal for Toronto FC the school bell would ring.

I found trying to stay focused on daydreaming was really difficult to make time for. I was too busy living! I was thinking about the groceries, reading, friends, sports, bills, taxes, and pretty much everything else in life. Needless to say I was disappointed. I thought I could cheat the dream system, but I couldn’t.

What I did realize is this list of daily topics I thought about might hold more weight in my life than the dreams I was trying to have. I realized I was thinking about these things because they are important to me. I genuinely care about how all those topics play out and I spend a good amount of time thinking about them.

I started to feel really bad because, when I stopped to think about it, I was placing more emphasis on my dreams than on my actual thoughts. On top of that – I was finding I wasn’t able to do all the things that I thought about the way I wanted to.

My head was spinning and just when I thought I was doomed to be a “traveling thinker” my whole life I came across something interesting. It was the answer I was looking for and I came across it in the one place where people might find themselves thinking the most – the john.

“Because he believes in miracles, miracles begin to happen. Because he is sure that his thoughts can change his life, his life begins to change. Because he is certain that he will find love, love appears.

Now and then, he is disappointed. Sometimes, he gets hurt.

But he knows that it is worth it. For every defeat, he has two victories in his favour.

All believers know this.”

- Paulo Coelho

Monday, March 1, 2010

Put it in a Letter

Question. What is the one word that everyone loves to hear? Take some time. Think about it. Repeat the question.

What do you think? I know when I was first asked this question I instinctively thought it was the word “yes” - a successful word, a word that gives, and a word that creates happiness. But, the answer is much simpler than that.

The word is your name. I don’t know about you, but when I hear my name something happens. I can only describe it as my “insides shoot up”. Some sensor goes off in my head and I respond by being alert. I have been conditioned since birth to respond to a name.

Now think about this. Marshall McLuhan says, “the medium is the message”. This means that different mediums or methods of communication carry different meanings in their messages.

I am going to assume that by now we all have some form of email. Some are for school, others for work, and we can't forget our personal inbox. Some of us have even more and all are attached to your name. I respond to my written name differently when I see it in an email.

Was there ever a time when you didn’t respond to an email? If your answer is no than you are the person I aspire to be. But, if your answer is yes, ask yourself this question. Would you ever not respond to someone who was actually calling your name in person? Of course not.

Something about emails is starting wear me down. I can’t keep up with the crazy onslaught of information. I often disregard junk emails that somehow landed in my inbox.

I want my old mail back. Bring back the day when I used to wait for the mailman. Give me the special key with the post symbol on it and the suspense of opening the mailbox. There is something in a letter. You have to buy a stamp, write out the address, and finally put something in the envelope. When your done, you drop it in a box and some magical person comes and takes it to where you need it to go. The further the distance traveled the cooler the item inside.

Being away at school this year most of my letters have come in the form of “care packages”. These are the best letters of all. I could settle for a life filled with an email supply of letters and care packages.

But, you don’t have to be far away from someone to send them a letter. I say, bring back the letter!

I began with a question. The answer to that question was your name. All letters are addressed to one person whose name you have attached. You (as the mail sender) took the time to search out that person and send them this letter. Something tells me that receiving and sending physical letters might be the most caring form of communication of all.