Friday, October 9, 2015

Letter to John Lennon on your 75th Birthday

Happy Birthday John Lennon. You would have been 75 today.

You've been gone almost as long as you were alive, yet those of us left still remember you, and your life contribution on days like today. Each of us has a story about how you inspired or touched a moment in our lives; of how your music, art, words, and charismatic leadership deeply moved us. Your legacy is still larger than life; your words then were just as poignant as they are today, and even your death could not erase you from the earth. That even your death, that we called "tragic", at the hands of a mentally ill man, has done nothing to eradicate your legacy.

In fact being a humanitarian and a voice for the people all your life, I bet you are wondering why we haven't been having the discussions about people with mental health issues. Your brief life was taken at the hands of a man with the disease that creates a lack of understanding amongst the elite of the industry. I'm sure you know now that your death had nothing to do with you, and everything to do with the torment of the unhealthy mind who took it.

Yet, you might be wondering why someone with the influence you carried in the world, such a voice for the people, could be murdered by a mentally ill human being, and we celebrate your life, instead of using it to raise awareness for Mental Health, and the cost it has on us all. I can imagine that you are looking down and wondering if we are missing the point here. Your death could have been used as a great message to us all about the issue of Mental Health. Yet, we seemed to have missed the point on this one.

Of all the human achievement we have caused, all the technologies, all its advancements, it is all worthless without a healthy mind and body. The conclusion of your story is mired with opening up that conversation, and yet we have not used it as such. You were such a revered artist that we seem to lament your loss, and not use it for the betterment it could be used for. Then your greatest gift to us all could have been that you didn't die in vain at the hands of a random gunman, and a game of chance. Your death served a purpose for us to pick up the conversation about Mental Health Awareness, and use it to heal our broken world.

And yet wars still rage, innocent children and people die at the hands of gunmen in our schools, and churches. Religious fascism reigns and hides behind the blanket of God, and the Mental Illness eludes us because we don't recognize it. We blame guns, religion, racism, and anything else we can muster instead of looking within the cause of the disconnect. We hate and react instead of Love and understand. We condemn instead of embrace. We do this because we simply don't understand Mental Illness.

Mental Health needs a helping hand. We need to invest in Mental Health Awareness in order to create healthy balances, which will empower minds rather than destroy them. The reward is simple. A healthy mind creates. It educates, inspires and leads from example of possibility. A deranged mind destroys in one second what took a lifetime to create, and the impact of that destruction lasts generations. Yet, we still don't seem to find it beneficial to learn this lesson, John and you've already figured this out.

So my apologies to you, John. I'm sure you're waiting for us to "get" it, and realize that although it was done to you, it was done for us to figure out. We're slowly getting there, but we will be taking slow baby steps until more lessons like this are learned from. It's unfortunate, but it is what it is.

I hope you are in the peace that you spoke so fondly about. I hope you are smiling down at us with such an adoration of Love that we cannot fathom or understand it. I hope your Golden Slumbers fill your eyes, smiles awake you when you rise. Sleep pretty darling, do not cry. And I will sing a lullaby.

To where you are, John Lennon.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Charleston Shootings

First of all, my heart bleeds for the families and friends of the departed. I can only imagine how their lives will be affected because of this hate crime in the Charleston shootings. And let's call it that, because it is a hate crime. I'm not quite sure what the difference between terrorism and hate crimes are, but I'm going to land on hate crime here for the time being.

I have heard and read some peoples' thoughts on this. Some of those questions are, "Is this a Race issue" I would have to agree that it starts there, yet it is not confined to that. It is a Race issue and more. I can see at least 3 major violations in humanity in this case.

1) This is a race issue at the core.

Only when white people acknowledge that this deranged, young kid walked into a historic church in Charleston, steeped in Black history, and murdered them in cold blood because of their skin colour can the process of healing begin. Only when white people can acknowledge this without feeling defensive about Racism and attaching themselves to it, can this begin to be talked about as if it's not the pink elephant in the room.
There are hundreds of years of history of hate crimes and Racism in the United States, and white people need to acknowledge that without reservation. Racism is a learned response. This 21 year old kid is about the same age as the "new" South African flag which replaced the old flag and symbol of an apartheid country. So he was taught this racism, and it was passed down. This is the core issue. This is education, and education needs to be addressed as the focal point in the spread of Racism.

2) Guns

This is NOT a gun control issue, BUT gun control would help this issue. Unfortunately, guns are a part of the rights and freedoms of all Americans. This is thanks to a piece of paper written hundreds of years ago by a bunch of scared, slave holding, wealthy white business men, who didn't want to pay their taxes. So guns aren't going away, but creating a process of controlling how a deranged, 21 year old white supremacist gets a .45 hand gun for his birthday would be nice.

3) Mental Illness and Medication

I believe that the mental illness issue is another "pink elephant in the room" conversation. I think the future will disclose the chemical breakdown in the human brain in behaviour patterns, but for now, we are in the infancy of studying the brain and how it drives behaviour. I believe that the over medicated society we live in, combined with the lack of nutrition in the food chain has a direct impact into what goes into our bodies, and what comes out. So it's easy to hide behind the blanket statement of mental illness right now because we really aren't prepared to have that conversation. Until we want to look past the blanket of shame that surrounds it, and deal with the issues which literally feeds mental illness, will we fully understand it, in order to prevent it.

This 21 year old kid (I won't use his name) was steeped in all 3 of these issues, and probably a whole lot more. I won't begin to think I can have all the answers and data as to why he committed this heinous crime against Black people and Humanity, but I would think these 3 issues I have mentioned, open the start of a conversation, which is sorely needed.

To the people of Colour who are reading this, I would like to offer you my deepest sympathies. Not simply confined to the Charleston shooting, either. I can't imagine the hardships you have had to face on an everyday basis based on the colour of your skin. I can only aspire that more white people will exercise their white privilege in educating others to understand and address issue of Racism. If the Charleston shootings begins this conversation, I would like to think the people who lost their lives would not perish in vain.

Perhaps then we can begin a new conversation as to how we can all create true equality once and all.

Friday, June 19, 2015

What Do I Get My Father for Father's Day?

It's Father's Day.

Every June, Father's Day rolls around, and the question gets asked, "What do I get my Father for Father's Day?" Some staples each year for your Dad may include, socks, a tie, golf balls, or perhaps that latest tool or gadget that he's been hankering for.

And all of those are fitting. Yet, if you really want to find the perfect gift for your Father, you can give him the gift he really wants, but would never ask for. This gift is a "one size fits all" kind of present which every Father can put on. In fact, I think the tougher your ol' man is on the outside, the more this will be the perfect gift for him. What is it, you ask?

It's the gift of acknowledgement.

Instead of just saying, "Happy Father's Day" on your traditional Father's Day card, if you were to write something like this, you would reach the heart of every Father out there.

"Dear Dad,

I wanted to take this moment to thank you for being my hero.

I realize that you probably work a job you don't like, with a boss whom you don't respect, making your life difficult, so that you can pay your taxes to provide a better life for me than the one you had.
I know that you sacrificed your dreams and aspirations to see that I could make mine a reality. I know that you do this because you Love our family. When I think you are missing an event because of work, I now know you are making money so that I can have the opportunity to follow my dreams. I can now see that when you get mad at me for the decisions I've made in my life, it's because you want better for me, and you wanted to save me the challenges you've faced to find happiness.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is Thank you. Thank you for being my hero. Thank you for believing in me, and working hard to give me all the small things in life which I don't often see. I know we don't often give you the acknowledgement that you fully deserve, but today I wanted to let you know that I know this now.

Happy Father's Day"

So if you are asking What do I get my Father for Father's day, this will be the greatest one size fits all gift you can give him.

Happy Father's Day Dad. Thanks for all you all you are to me, and for your unconditional Love.

Happy Father's Day to you all.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Journey of a Lifetime Chapter 1 Teaser

“The Journey of a thousand miles, begins with the first step.” 

Chapter 1 

To me, it all comes down to having peace of mind inside the final five seconds of your 

In the final five seconds of our lives, the only true currency we possess are the 
relationships created with the time we were given. As I reflect back on my life, 
everything else is meaningless in comparison. It seems the older we get, the clearer this 
becomes. Money, possessions, no, not even time, matter when it’s gone. The only thing 
that matters is what we did to create and secure our legacy, which is told in the very 
unique story of our lives. 

That special distinct story makes us who, and what we are. We have lived our lives with 
the strengths and abilities known only to us, and it serves us for the better part of our 
lives. We live a life of existence, one day ahead of the next, with the hopes that our 
circumstances will improve. We strive for this, and aspire to ensure that our children have 
a better, easier road to that success than we did. Then one day, our time is up. For some it 
is sooner than others, yet we’re all given the same abilities to prepare for our undeniable 
and eventual demise to ask the great question; at the end of your existence, did you 
secure a firm understanding of how you wanted to contribute the unique story of your 

In our final moments, everything that ever mattered gets measured on a scale of “yes” or 
“no”. If your time ends suddenly, is your soul fully prepared and complete with how you 
lived your life? More importantly, did your Loved ones and those who mattered most to 
you, know how you felt about them? 

It’s a negotiation for survival at its fullest which make reasons and excuses irrelevant. 
When you’re confronted with your own mortality, all the money in the world cannot buy 
you a do-over. There are no second chances. Those precious seconds are compounded by 
the fight for life, and the need for being understood. The fulfillment of our legacy then 
becomes open for interpretation. If you’re able to convey your last words to have closure, 
or be surrounded by your Loved ones, you have completed your life and its interpretation.  

Some leave this life with financial life insurance for their family and Loved ones. Yet, 
rarely do we leave emotional life insurance to provide closure for our beloved. We work 
our entire lives toiling to create a legacy, to lose it at the finish line of life because we 
don’t attain closure in aspects that matter. This leaves us with words unsaid, and the 
opportunity for closure is lost forever. The impact of this affects our family, friends and 
community in a way that we’ll never comprehend. They carry this burden with them for 
the rest of their lives. This lack of closure might land as regret, guilt, humiliation, and 
shame. Then they repeat the pattern to their Loved ones before they pass over, and it 
continues on in our children’s children. 

I wondered why I was never raised with this thought. It was never brought up or talked 
about in my family. Like most people, I ended up getting caught up in the world of 
accumulation with a feeling of invincibility. It took an event in my life that rattled my 
core belief system to uncover this. Looking back, all of the things I chased as a young 
man were the illusions of fulfillment, as I was left with the moments that defined my time 
on earth.  

Life flies by in the blink of an eye. We often don’t prepare for our death because we 
arrogantly think we will always have more time. There will always be a tomorrow. We 
take for granted we will always have more time until we don’t, and I was certainly no 
different when my time arrived.  

Before I realized it, the headlights of that truck filled my vision, and my life flashed 
before my eyes. I had heard that in the moment when your life flashes before your eyes, 
in that instant, the gateway to your entire life opens up. It was only at that point when the 
headlights of the truck trapped me on a collision course, all of this flowed through me 
like a limitless waterfall cascading into a bottomless pit. Endless memories surrounded 
me, stories, moments, thoughts. Pure clarity showed up as I had never experienced 

That was the final moment of clarity in my life. I had heard alcoholics speak of it when 
they realized they were powerless over alcohol. Well control was my alcohol. When I 
chose to accept I wasn’t ever in control, it was as if everything became clear.  

I was left with the feeling of complete inner peace and tranquility, even though I knew it 
was over. So instead of making a funny face, I actually smiled. It wasn’t the kind of smile 
that spreads from ear to ear. Instead, it was a drole, peaceful smirk. I smiled because I 
knew I had arrived at the end, and I was complete. It had been the journey of a lifetime to 
get there. However, when it arrived in that moment, my soul was prepared for death.   

“Rosebud.” I said 

A man cannot be defined by one word, but in that moment, that word represented all that 
I had learned in my life. It encompassed the lessons that took me an entire lifetime to 
comprehend in a belief system which filled me up with a complete, fulfilled satisfaction, 
and that has made all the difference in my story.  

Every story has an ending, which creates a new beginning. My story starts with the death 
of me. In my beginning, I left my body and transitioned to see the moment I was born. I 
saw the look on my mother’s face when she held me for the first time. She looked so 
young that I had forgotten who she really was! A portal opened into my childhood, which 
enabled me to experience an array of moments and memories. The more vivid and  
significant the memory, the more I saw. I was surrounded by the energy that was my life 
by all the people who contributed to it in every way.  

I watched my father as he pushed me on my first solo bike ride. I saw my three year old 
self concentrating so hard on my right of passage, that I didn’t see the tears of joy in my 
father’s eyes as his son pedaled away on his own. On my first day of school, I saw my 
great-grandparents, who have been dead for many years, picking me up, kissing and 
hugging me as they sent me into the school yard. Endless memories from my childhood 
passed in front of me. Every first moment I ever had played out like a detailed tapestry which was my life. I chose to hear The Beatles for the very first time again, and it was a 
musical gift which never left me. This realm created the experiences which filled me with 
memories in my never-ending story. 

Musical Interlude #2: “The Letter” by Harry Gregson-Williams from the feature 
film, “The Town”  

I saw all the people who had come and gone, supporting me, my life and my transition. 
When this happens, you are brought back to that one moment which changed the 
direction of your life. This moment is presented many times, in many different ways over 
the course of your life. Only when you are at a high level of consciousness can you 
identify it, and choose it. Once this happens, you are on the perfect path for you.  

Everything happens for a reason and a purpose, and it supports you on your path. There 
are no coincidences on your journey. Even though obstacles may appear to impede what 
we think we want, we are always supported and given what we need. The more 
“coincidences” that occur on your journey ensures you’re on the right path. Your path is 
filled with omens, signs and rewards for following your heart, and yet most of us walk 
through life not noticing or identifying them.  

So in my moment, I was transported to a seat on a train. I began looking around to see 
where I was. I looked to my right, and there was a large window with the countryside 
speeding by. I panned back to the left, and looked across the train car. There, directly in 
front of me sat The Sentinel staring at me with those wonderful eyes.  

The Sentinel welcomed me by transitioning to an elated smile on curled lips, as I sat in 
confusion. Then, all the connections fell into place, and my thoughts assembled. I felt an 
overwhelming feeling of support and understanding, and that’s when I recognized those 
eyes, and who the Sentinel was! 

“It was you!” I said in astonishment. 

“Yes! You chose me.” said the Sentinel, still smiling with a sense of delight. 

“It was YOU the whole time? But how?” I asked. 

“I told you that everything was lining up for you; the right people were headed in your 
path, the events of it were unfolding in perfect collaboration, and that you would find 
Love in every sense. Very little of this would’ve been apparent as it unfolded, yet in 
hindsight, you would see the stunning design, and you chose it! I can’t tell you how 
wonderful it is for you to be able to see me again! Do you remember how it started?” 

The Sentinel sat looking at me, patiently waiting for the clarity that was about to find me. 
It was the final lesson I was to learn for my journey of a lifetime. I sat in bewilderment 
again, until it all came back to me.  

I remembered!  

Even though I had arrived at the moment which altered my path, it came down to how I 
arrived there. It was one step, one decision, one action which propelled me onto my 

“My trip to Europe, you were there every step of my journey, weren’t you? I was never, 
ever in danger. It led me to you! You did this for me?” 

The Sentinel sat smiling at me with a face basking in delight. “Yes, I was never far away, 
I was always nearby, but you did the work. I am so proud of you! Welcome Tristan, you 
have arrived.” 

That’s when I flashed back to how it all began.  

My journey started when I was twenty-six. I remembered it all began on the hottest day of the 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Toronto Maple Leafs Winning Combination

They say, "Success leaves clues". But so does failure.

Last week, I was watching CBC's Hockey Night in Canada and they were showing off newspaper clips from the mid 70's, 80's and 90's of the Leafs. During all of these low times in the franchise, the headlines read very accurate to what they could read today.

In other words, the pattern of failure has been learned and repeated in the interior of the franchise, and it's been passed down to the coaches, their staff, which plays and develops the players, who learn how to lose in the exact same pattern. So it's consistent.

I've often said that losing on the ice has nothing to do with hockey and talent.

I want to be clear, that you need strategy and talent to win, but at the NHL level, it's the ante into the game, so to speak. Everyone has talent at the NHL level, but you never have enough talent to win on talent alone. That's where belief system and mindset comes into the winning recipe.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but winning hockey games has nothing to do with hockey.

The algorithm of success has a pattern in anything it does. Unfortunately for The Leafs, they haven't discovered that pattern, and Toronto has waited almost a half century for its Stanley Cup parade. I've been down in the dressing room of the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, and I've seen examples of this losing pattern.

Herb Brooks, the head coach of the Miracle on Ice USA hockey team at the Lake Placid Olympics demonstrated that he didn't necessarily need the best players, he needed the right ones. He coached the USA to the greatest upset in sports history on the world's biggest platform, the Olympics and showed the world his vision.

I think choosing the right players comes from a partnership. I discuss this with Yogic Numerology master, Yogi Akal on the pattern of this algorithm. Using numerology can give information in choosing the proper fit, just as the movie, "Moneyball" demonstrated in creating metrics in sports.

You can listen to my radio show about this numerology on Chuck's World of Infinite Mojo here:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

James Reimer and #Tweetsweet

One of the greatest things about being around professional hockey players for me, is watching the faces of their fans when they get to meet their hero's. It takes me back to being a kid myself, and waiting for autographs with the hopes of meeting my hockey hero. 

Over the years, there are many athletes who have truly impressed me with their giving nature. They give of themselves, their time, and their wealth, making a contribution to their community. But every so often, you see something extraordinary.

For me, that moment was March, 8, 2014. I remember this date for a couple reasons. The first is, it was the day before my birthday. I was meeting with Scott Hartnell, who then played for the Philadelphia  Flyers, and I made an unexpected appearance on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. That was a great feeling. But as good as that was, the second reason was infinitely higher. 

The second reason why I won't forget that day: I was watching James Reimer being the last person off the morning skate at the Air Canada Centre. I watched him come down the tunnel to the dressing room, stopping to sign autographs for all the young kids along the way. Not only did he sign, but he engaged each kid in conversation to ask them a little about themselves. It put a big smile on my face. 

"He gets it..." I said, outloud. 

Then just before James was steps away from the dressing room, he came over to talk to a woman in a wheelchair. She was overwhelmed when she saw James. He asked one of the equipment managers to get one of his sticks, and he signed it for that woman, and gave it to her. She started crying. I stood watching that empty hallway taking pictures of it. Then, as the woman and her family left, I watched James turn around in a 360 degree rotation to see if he missed anyone else to sign, before finally heading into the dressing room.

                                               This is how James Reimer treats his fans

I shook my head in disbelief at the kindness this man had. It was truly inspiring, and it moved me. In fact, I can think of few people as kind as James Reimer truly is.

The Leafs beat the Flyers that night, but then went on a losing streak for the rest of the month, falling out of playoff contention. James Reimer was in goal for the Leafs that night, and he was in net for the majority of that losing streak where Leafs Nation lost their patience with the team's effort, and blamed Reimer for the losses. Newpapers, reporters, bloggers, fans, all went on record to blame and shame. That's when the cyber bullying started. 

Twitter followers tried to attack James Reimer, but he wasn't on Twitter. Yet, his wife April was. And oh, how the the hate mail flowed. April Reimer was subjected to weeks of cyber-bullying on Twitter, taking the brunt of it all from the degenerate Leafs fans. I read a lot of those messages, and they were simply horrific. I felt that if the people who wrote those horrible things had seen the kindness of James Reimer, or had it been their kid James was meeting, they would've never said those terrible things. Yet, they tweeted away, never knowing the damage their words and actions had.

Here are a couple of the tweets April received.These were the tame ones, as all the really offensive ones were taken down.

@BlueLineG27 tweeted: “tell ur husband thanks for costing the leafs another game and maybe the playoffs. He’s garbage. He must be cut.”

@MLFHROOZ tweeted to April: “you should seriously tell your husband to get psychiatric help because he has become an absolute joke.”

They say behind every great man, there is a great woman who got him there. So after taking the experience of being cyber-bullied, April Reimer has created lemonade out of lemons. She has launched a cause called, #Tweetsweet to share her story. Those who live inside the cowardice act of cyber bullying can feel supported by someone who's actually experienced it first hand. April spreads the message of #Tweetsweet to create a more connected social media realm.

A mentor of mine once told me, "We all live on a starvation diet of acknowledgment" I found that regretfully truthful. So everyday, I am committed to sending out a #tweetsweet as a random act of kindness, which I hope will encourage the recipient. If that's the case, the recipient can #payitforward causing a tsunami of acknowledgment through #tweetsweet

So if you are on Twitter, perhaps you can follow us @april_reimer and @chuckbastie and use the #tweetsweet in your everyday life. Let's choose to add more kindness to the social media world. Our words have immense power. Let's choose to be responsible and kind with those words, and encourage rather than discourage.

If you would like to hear my interview with James Reimer about Tweetsweet, click here:

Thank you to James and April Reimer for your example, and contribution to Toronto. God speed in your Journey together.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

50th Anniversary of the Canadian Flag

I remember backpacking in Europe in my 20's. I was sitting in a park in Brindisi, Italy waiting for my ferry to Greece. It was while sitting with a collection of young backpackers in transition travelling from here to there, that I met a young German woman.

As we were talking, she noticed the tattoo of the Canadian Maple Leaf I had on my lower ankle. I remember the look on her face when she told me that I was incredibly fortunate to be able to tattoo my country's flag on my body as a proud Canadian. She went on to tell me that as a German, she wouldn't feel comfortable doing that. Not because she wasn't proud of her country, but the judgement of others on her for being a proud German. It was crazy to me to think that the actions of the German government from her great-grandparents' generation formed that bias 6 decades earlier, and they still weren't free of that stigma.

That reminded me of today.

Today our Canadian flag is 50 years old. When I was born, our flag was only 7 years old. It actually surprises me to think my parents were born under a different flag, and we have former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson to thank for his vision of uniting Canada under a common flag 50 years ago today.

It was a bold move by Pearson to change the flag from the old red ensign to the new Maple Leaf. There  was a lot of resistance from changing the old to incorporate something new. It was the unknown of the new, and the lost identity Canadians felt with their past tying them to the red ensign which created all of this backlash.

In fact, it was a much heated debate for 2 years leading to 50 years ago today, when the new Canadian Maple Leaf flew for the first time over the Parliament buildings. Some of the people I've talked to about that transition remember it was quite heated. We accept our flag as part of our heritage now, yet 50 years ago, this wasn't the case. In fact, the leader of the opposition, and former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker was adamantly opposed to the new flag. So much so, that when Diefenbaker passed away, he was buried under the old Canadian ensign. The old Conservative goes down against the Liberal and now 50 years later, very few people below the age of 50 even know what the ensign was.

                                                         Do you recognize this flag?

So 50 years ago today is a part of our heritage. Despite all the resistance against our new, united flag, we all are united in Lester B. Pearson's vision of a unified Canadian flag. So today, I am grateful for Pearson's stand in the face of fierce opposition for us today.

Thank you Lester B. Pearson, and Happy Flag Day, Canadians.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Remembering Pal

One of the toughest days of my life...

Today, I said goodbye to my dog Pal, my best friend of almost 16 years. 

If you're reading this, you're most likely a friend of mine, a friend of Pal's, or a "pet person" who actually understands the grief you suffer when saying good bye to unconditional Love. Because that's exactly what dogs really are. Unconditional Love that you simply won't get from anyone else in that capacity. And Pal was the ultimate giver of that Love to me, and others who knew her. 

Page and I rescued Pal from the Toronto Humane Society back in March 2000. I say we rescued Pal, but that's probably not accurate because I know now that she rescued us. From the moment I laid eyes on this little border collie/sheltie with Baby New Year ears, she had me. We had to come back the next day to pick her up, and I didn't sleep much that night. We woke up early, and were the first in line to adopt her. Good thing, because there were 2 disappointed people behind us that wanted to adopt her. 

So Pal became part of my soul right then and there. 

If anyone knows me, they know that I took Pal with me everywhere I went. She rode shotgun with me, and Loved every drive through we ever stopped at for ice cream or any other treat. She was also the fastest dog I had ever seen! I could've raced her against grey hounds, and they wouldn't have stood a chance. In fact, she had so much energy, I hooked her up a body harness and put my rollerblades on, and she would pull me to work everyday, there and back. It was like I was water skiing behind her, and the look on people's faces watching it was priceless. 

I could tell you story after story about this little dog, about her 9 lives, about her life of almost 16 wonderful years, but I will remember Pal for how she Loved my daughter the most. When Kennedy was born, Pal gave up her normal sleeping space to sleep under Kennedy's crib. When I would wake up in the middle of the night to tend to Kennedy, I would often step on Pal at the foot of the crib where she would be sleeping. Tough little dog...

Some of the most wonderful memories I have are watching Pal herd Kennedy running in my backyard, running and barking at her in excitement, all the while protecting Kennedy in her little border collie way. I would watch my daughter bond with Pal whenever we would sing the Paligirl song to her, and watch her ears dance in acknowledgment, then bring it in for some nose kisses. 

It's sick how much we Loved this dog...

It would be a real disservice to write this and not thank everyone who ever watched Pal, walked her, spent time or Loved her. I know that I was able to share as much time with her because Page thought of Pal's well being. I know that Alison allowed me to bring Pal everywhere. Silja adopted Pal just the same, and Loved her in a way that only Pal needed to be Loved by a female.

I am going to miss this little dog SO much, and if you know me well, you'll know exactly how much. I'm certain to never have another dog whom I will connect with as intimately well as I did with Pal. Sometimes when I would get drunk, I would come home and have her lie on my chest and I would say to her, "OK, there's nobody around... I KNOW you can talk. I won't tell anyone, I promise. Your secret is safe with me Pal, just talk to me." So would tilt her head sideways as she did, and I would smile. God, I Loved that dog...

I'm grateful for the staff at the Toronto Humane Society for uniting us, and for their support and kindness when I brought Pal back there this morning. I am grateful that I got to say the proper goodbye to my furry soul mate. I got to pet, soothe and hold her as we said our farewells as she crossed over.


Farewell my furry friend. Off you go to run in open fields, chasing ball, herding other dogs, sniffing butts and rolling in shit without me yelling at you. Thank you for giving this boy your entire heart, and Loving me and my family. I'll never forget you.

God speed until we meet again Paligirl...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ricky Nelson Remembered

After years of wanting to see the Nelson twins, I finally got my chance to see them perform their “Ricky Nelson Remembered” show at the Avalon theatre at Niagara Fallsview Casino.

The show was a wonderful evening of stories told by Matthew and Gunnar Nelson about their late father, which included video clips, and of course a night of the legendary former teen idol’s music.
But before I go into this, I must confess I was walking into this concert with an expectation of hearing the Nelson twins play the classic hits from their rock and roll heyday back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hear “Love and Affection”, or “After the Rain”, from the 80’s hair band which could’ve been mistaken for a couple of Swedish supermodels? Matthew and Gunnar have long since cut their long hair since those days, and I knew that. Still, I wanted to see them be the young rockers I remember from the late 80’s.

But this was called, Ricky Nelson Remembered. So at the end of the night there were no original Nelson twins’ tunes. The show really was about their Dad, no joke, and I almost left the Avalon Theatre disappointed, until Matthew told the story that struck me between the eyes.

Matthew told the story how Ricky Nelson’s classic tune, “Garden Party” was written. Apparently he was playing a 50’s and 60’s show at Madison Square Garden in the early 70’s when the music scene had drastically changed. Instead of the 50’s image he was known for, Nelson now had longer hair, and wanted to be accepted for who he was, not for whom he was in the late 50’s. So he ended up playing a Bob Dylan song, and another from the Rolling Stones before getting boo’ed off the stage by 20,000 fans at the Garden.

Inside every defeat inside of us all, life gives us the ability to see the silver lining if we so choose to do so. So Ricky Nelson chose to see that, and wrote “Garden Party” knowing that we cannot ever please everybody, but we could please ourselves.

And that’s when it hit me. I was holding the Nelson twins as prisoners 25 years in the past. I suddenly got the realization that I certainly wouldn’t want to be held to who I was 25 years ago, yet that’s exactly what I was doing to them. When I had that A-Ha moment, I sat back, stretched my legs out, and enjoyed the show.

That’s when Matthew told us he was a new father. His 4 month old son, Ozzie was named after his paternal grandfather, of Ozzie and Harriet fame. Gunnar had recently gotten married, and inherited 3 daughters in the process. These young men I had seemingly seen only minutes ago, were now transformed into a 47 year old father and husband, and I was free to allow them to be that.

Sometimes, we as fans hold our hero’s to that standard because it makes us feel safe. It reminds us of that special time in our lives when their music inspired when we really needed something to cling to. Instead of allow the artist to grow as an entertainer, and more importantly as a person, we keep them small inside our tiny keyhole view of how we want them to be, so it serves us better.

But watching the Nelson twins play, I got something much more than a night of nostalgia. I got the freedom to allow my hero’s be the people they needed to be for themselves, and their own growth. I’m thankful for the memories they created for me, and I will always have that. That’s the beauty of memories; you can take them with you whenever you want.

This family legacy really started with Ozzie and Harriet, gaving Ricky Nelson his debut, which created the way for Matthew and Gunnar to follow in their footsteps, rounding out 3 generations of entertainers. All of which came out in their show. It was a unique twist, and a fitting tribute.

I’m pretty sure the twins could be doing their own thing. Being the child of a superstar leaves some really big shoes to fill. Not only do the Nelson twins not have the idea of filling in those shoes, they seem comfortable to share them with their roots and acknowledge the talent in their family, which is a damn rare thing in this competitive world we live in. And because of that, I felt the Love in this show.

Ricky Nelson has been gone for almost 30 years now. But I swear he was at that show watching down on his boys singing those songs, keeping his legacy alive. I can’t help but think it’s the most wonderful gift we can give when we put aside some of our hopes and dreams to fulfill someone else’s.
So thank you Matthew and Gunnar for that magical gift. And I hope that in doing so, you’ve also realized that you can’t always please everyone else, but you can please yourself.

Thanks for reminding me of that lesson…