Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Messengers & Messages...

I found out yesterday that Randy Pausch passed away on Friday. He's the Carnegie Mellon University professor who became famous through his "Last Lecture" posted on YouTube last fall. He was 47 years old.

He had an important message to share... and he did so with grace and humour. But here's the thing: he's not the first, nor will he be the last, to tell us what we already know. Whatever we're living, this too shall pass... Whether it be blessing or burden, this too shall pass... Question is, are we fully engaged with it, in that moment of presence?

Yesterday, I also read this short post from No Impact Man, Colin Bevan, in NYC. He, too, is a messenger... telling us what we already know. But I'm not sure we, as a society, want to hear it told in such simple, clear terms. We'd rather complicate it... and analyze it... and debate it... and eventually ignore it.

We are surrounded by messengers and messages... Which ones are you ignoring today?

Pace e bene,

Monday, July 21, 2008

La petite séduction...

OK, so this is cool. There is a French TV show on Radio-Canada called La petite séduction. From what I understand, small towns (less than 3000 pop.) try to "seduce" a celebrity and make them fall in love with them! It's likely inspired by one of my favourite films, La grande séduction, in which a small Québec town tries to convince a doctor to establish a practice there so that they may qualify for a new factory. (Too funny! If you haven't see it, you must. The DVD has English subtitles...)

In any case, this week's show will be featuring my hometown: St-Louis-de-Kent, New Brunswick! Find out more about this week's episode here - broadcast is Wednesday at 8pm. The timing is perfect, as I'm heading home this weekend for my 25th high school reunion. J'ai tellement hâte!!

Viens voir l'Acadiiieee...
Viens voir le pays...
Le pays qui m'enchante!

Pace e bene,

Saturday, July 19, 2008


"Why do we assume that being authentic involves exiting from the circumstances and momentum of one's actual life and striving for an elevated plane of existence somewhere else? The prevailing wisdom is that the clutter and stress of daily life brings out what is most artificial in us. Why do we believe we're above it all, destined for so much better, if only there was time to think, meditate, and get really tactile with the land, the elements? Why must we stand on cliffs or stagger up monastery steps or kick our toes through the sand in order to feel in the moment? Why can't we be authentic in the authentic moment itself?" (from Safe Haven: The Possibility of Sanctuary in an Unsafe World by Larry Gaudet, p. 66)

Yeah, why is that?! I picked up this book by Gaudet at the public library. I had never heard of it, nor did I seek it out. It was just sitting there on a shelf... and it called out to me. I was hooked when I read the following on the inside flap: The book (...) dips into Gaudet's own Acadian heritage of displacement, and the ethnic cleansing of his ancestral family. As an Acadian, how could I resist joining in on this exploration?

I'm about a third of the way through and am enjoying it thus far. There are so many books out there just waiting to be discovered. What book has engaged your interest this summer??

Pace e bene,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Viva Italia...

Last year at this time, I was here. So hard to believe! Most days, it seems unreal... like it was someone else's life experience. But no! T'was me... It really was my dream come true.

Pace e bene,

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tears for André...

The start of my work day will never be the same. André, a homeless man who sat in the same spot every day, passed away of a massive heart attack while I was away on vacation. I didn't really know André, but I was still touched by his cheerful spirit and mischievous grin. He always had a greeting for me as I walked by. If I wasn't smiling, he'd ask me where my smile was. If I was smiling, he'd smile back and offer the encouraging thought that Friday was just around the corner.

I attended a memorial in his honour today, near a park where he'd often sleep. There were easily over a hundred people there: members of his family from the street, as well as downtown residents and office workers. People were invited to come forward to share their favourite "André stories". One woman reminisced about a time when she was going through a particularly difficult time. André and his friends passed the hat and gathered enough money to buy her a cup of coffee... :-) Over and over again, we heard how people were touched by his smile, good humour and gentle teasing. Tears were flowing freely, staining both suits & silk blouses, and dirty jeans & scruffy shirts.

One of the great joys of attending this memorial was reconnecting with my friend John. I hadn't seen him for months - and he didn't hesitate to remind me of that fact! Since moving to a new office in the fall of 2006, I don't walk by his corner anymore. In reconnecting with him today, I realized how much I miss seeing him regularly. So I'm making a commitment to myself to make a slight detour once a week so that I can bring him back into my life. As I left the gathering, he said: Love you! I responded with an unexpected and spontaneous: Love you too, John! Funny thing is, I meant it - my heart was overflowing with Love for all those around me.

As I was heading back to the office, I sighed a heavy sigh, looked at the woman beside me and said: How's that for perspective? She patted my arm and wiped a tear from her eye. We chatted a bit until it was time for each of us to go our own way. We stopped, exchanged our first names and bid each other a good day. Then, quite spontaneously, we took each other's hand and gave a loving squeeze. We were two complete strangers, brought together in a moment of shared appreciation for Life and for Love. Thanks André.

Pace e bene,

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Pittsburgh Pics...

The rain has finally let up and we've had two wonderful days of sunshine... Here are a few photos from yesterday's explorations.

View of downtown from Mt. Washington (from atop Duquesne Incline)

Proof postive that we are indeed in Pittsburgh!

From this vantage point near the Convention Centre, I could count 9 bridges crossing the Allegheny River. How many do you see here?

I was happy to see this nod to Canada Day at Shenley Plaza at The Pitt.

We spent several hours at the Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens - and we still didn't have time to see it all. I was thrilled to discover several installations by glass artist Dale Chihuly, fully integrated to the space. I'll post more pics of these later!

Pace e bene,

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Celebrating from south of the border...

HAPPY CANADA DAY from... Pittsburgh?!

Yep, on this July 1st - Canada's 141st birthday - I'm celebrating from Pittsburgh... We're here on vacation and arrived safely yesterday. We encountered some major rainfall along the way! The worst one was on Sunday, just past Belleville along Lake Ontario. Cars that were speeding along at 120-130 kph suddenly faced white-out conditions and had to slow down to 40! For the first time, our little Mini Cooper got to use its four-way flashers. Cars were pulling off to the side to wait out the storm, but we moved steadily - and slowly - along. Then, almost as quick as it came, it was gone. We've encountered a lot more rain, but nothing quite as dramatic as that!

As for Pittsburgh? What a pleasant surprise so far! When hearing of our plans, many friends looked at us with a puzzled expression: Pittsburgh?! However, you'd be amazed at all there is to see and do in this city of 2.4 million. We're here for a specific gathering with friends, and will have some free time - like today for example. Museums with world-class collections... amazing architecture... shopping districts... eclectic neighbourhoods... Botanical gardens... trails for running... bridges, bridges and more bridges... LOTS! Who knew?!!

So today, as I walk around with my Canada hat on, I'll be taking in the local sights... but my heart will be celebrating CANADA!!

Pace e bene,