Ingrid and I just returned home after 4 days and nights away from our 3 boys. Some would call it an indulgence, but 4 days gave us a chance to talk … endlessly. We noticed how much missed them and how time passed so differently with just the 2 of us to attend to.
It even gave me time to capture our time away in this very playful doodle … the story of our 4 days away …
I started thinking and drawing about the many & varied ways I store, share, create and consume media and information. So this map emerged and it has provided me with a simpler ‘way’ of doing stuff this year.
Ignore the bag packing and logo placement in the first minute of this video and focus on the backdrop to this beautiful surf break. My wife and I are both addicted to the Stand Up Paddle Surfing so this one caught our eye.
Yesterday, family and friends gathered at the Barwon Heads Resort to celebrate the life of my dad – Grahame Brown. Their were people from all walks of life. Some were their to support family members and other’s were there to grieve their own loss of a wonderful friend, father, teacher, brother, uncle and husband.
We all learned something new about Dad’s life. We all took another step in the grieving process … it was a beautiful day and dad would have been lost for words.
I wrote this song 4 years ago, soon after dad was diagnosed with liver cancer. It felt right to play it at the close of the ceremony … my kids (without prompting or planning) sang the final chorus along with me which helped to get through it. It also feels the right time to share the song with the world. Song for Dad by YesAndSpace
I am on the road for a few days and my journey brings me back to the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. I rode my bike from Traralgon up to Tyers this afternoon and I was struggling to remember the events and people from this chapter of my life. But then I smelled that smell … the unmistakable odour of the local Maryvale Australian Paper Mill (APM). Once I smelled this, the memories came flooding back and I tweeted this …
Serendipity strikes again … I realized it was 20 years to the day that Kirsten and I moved everything we owned to a house in the hills of Tyers. We lived together as friends and house-buddies for 2 years. We were both finding our feet as Occupational Therapists in our first jobs. Me working at the hospital and Kirsten in a vocational rehabilitation setting. For some of the time, we lived quite separate lives. During some periods we hung out together a lot, riding our bikes and exploring the mountains to our north. Like good friends do, we supported each other through the hard times. Occasionally, we would lie on the road out front at night and watch the stars … and just talk. Our house was on Fitzgibbons Road …
Next door to us lived a great couple and their tribe of kids. He was (and still is) a tall, gently spoken, bearded Canadian. He looked every bit a logger, and he still is. His wife, had the sharpest wit of anyone we had ever met. She called a spade-a-spade and her brutally honest observations were famous. She was also my wise counsel at times and would point out things in life that I couldn’t see through the lens of youth.
Kirsten and I became very close to our neighbors and were stoked when we were invited to their wedding. We would often drink beer with them and play with their kids. At the time their 2 youngest children (both girls) were only 6 and 8 years of age. Kirsten was extremely fond of the girls, particularly the eldest of the 2. I remember Kirsten saying how maternal she felt around them and I had a running joke of calling her Mother Hen. It’s 20 years on and I have my own family. When riding through Tyers, it felt like yesterday. Time moves on in strange ways doesn’t it!?
The tradgety of this story is that Kirsten passed away 12 years ago. The mental illness that suddenly struck shocked everyone who knew her. The news of her death brought together people from every chapter of her life, including our neighbours from Tyers, all holding questions. Kirsten touched many people in her short life
So today, as I rode with the wind in my hair down Fitzgibbons Road, my mind was swirling with memories and all of them happy ones. I noticed lights were next door and I had a strong feeling that they still lived there. I decided to knock on their door and say hi.
At the door was a young woman talking on the phone and she instantly recognized me, as I did her. It was the eldest of their 2 girls … and on the phone was her mum. We swapped stories from 20 years before, shared email addresses and showed photos of our life as it is now. It’s a cliche, but it was a real trip down memory lane.
Today made me realize the importance of a sense-of-place and connection. Relationships are everything and the experiences we share with others last forever and they shape who we are. Stories from our past can feel like yesterday and, at the same time, feel like a distant memory. Kirsten … today’s visit down memory lane is for you.
I travel quite a bit. Mostly day trips with the occasional 3 to 4 day stretch away from the home office. Sound familiar? When traveling (and facilitating) I go lightweight – it’s an operating principle at the core of my practice.
Now that I have worked out how to sync stuff across my MacBook, iPad & iPhone, I only travel with the phone and pad. The larger, heavier and more valuable MacBook stays safe at home. The options available to protect the phone and pad are staggering and many products do the job. But, how many are truly beautiful? I have discovered 2 products worth a look … and both reveal my old fashioned design tendencies. I also get loads of questions from others about this stuff … so now I can simply point them to this post.
A first glance it looks like a very small, leather bound book from 2 centuries ago. It even feels of another age.
This little case is actually a ‘lightweight’ wallet and iPhone case all-in-one. So, when traveling I only have 1 thing to remember … 1 thing in my pocket … 1 less thing to leave behind!
The magic for the traveller is the fusion of 2 things into one. Book book also provides great protection and it’s dead easy to get the phone in/out. The only downer is the inability to quickly capture photos in the moment … the phone has to slide out slightly to expose the lens. Otherwise, I love the look and feel of it and if you limit the number of cards/cash it remains ‘pocketable’.
As for the applications to support syncing across devices and filing away information/links, here’s a rapid summary:
Dropbox – I know save everything to Dropbox from my Mac and an auto backup all the contents to my separate hard drive (just in case they disappear). Dropbox has an App for both the phone and pad.
Evernote – Everything I do happens in Evernote. Every job has an Evernote note (see image) Everything I choose to keep gets tagged in Evernote. It is now my goto application in the cloud. And I use an App called Awesome Note as the user interface (see image).
iCloud – Great for syncing photos across devices and for calendar and contacts (although I did lose a few contacts a few weeks ago?). I steer clear of iCloud for Mail and still prefer Dropbox for document storage and syncing.
Instapaper – From just about any browser or iOS App, saving a webpage to Instapaper is a single click “Read Later” process. About once a week I spend time reading through the stuff I have saved – the stuff I want to keep gets saved back to Evernote and shared with you via Twitter.
Google Reader – All of my favourite websites and blogs come to me via Google Reader. The single best thing about the iPad is my ability to read these feeds in a magazine layout using an App called Flipboard.
Last week’s karate session was a master-class in more than just physical movement and coordination. What started out as a drill in Kihon (Japanese for the basics), soon became a true test of mental toughness, physical exertion and the power of the group. Our group also demonstrated the classic Improv principle … Make each other look good! The scene is set …
Our Sempai started with a hundred-count for a basic set of alternating punches. Left mid-punch, right upper-punch and then right lower-punch – and all 3 punches done in under 2 second so it’s fast! After each punch, everyone says out loud “Kia!” So the pattern of Sempai’s counting and our Kia’s creates a rythmic and flowing pattern with the whole clas involved.
Sempai then invited each of us, starting with the highest belts, to seamlessly continue the counting (in Japanese) and punching for the rest of us to follow. So when Sempai got to 100, the next in line started back at “ich” (one), without missing a beat. Sounds easy … well it wasn’t. Here’s what I observed from the second row of the Dojo.
Our brown belt (let’s call him Woody) tripped at first hurdle the first time, then the next and over and over again. He just couldn’t continue the Sempai’s counting and timing of the punches. He became profusely apologetic to the rest of us as we all began to tire physically with the repetition of the task. By now we were over 1000 punches into the task, and as we fatigued, our Sempai became attuned to our faltering techniques. Even the Kihon pattern of punches required complete concentration and constant self correction.
There came a moment when, without prompting, sometime after Woody’s 10th failed attempt, that the group came to his aid. From the back rows our “Kia”‘s(!) became more in time, louder and more purposeful. As Sempai’s count of 100 approached, the collective group became focused on helping Woody, whilst at the same time focusing on our own techniques. Our loud and timely Kia’s created the best conditions for Woody to find the timing of his count. Without discussion, we all knew what was needed. Woody finally did it. When it came to the next in line, a green belt, he too faltered. But the group was in sync and it wasn’t long before he nailed it … and so it continued until we got through to the end.
Everyone was buzzing at the end of the class and not because of the physical achievement (although the repetition of Kihon was a great lesson in humility). I think it was the group effort in coming together to help the individual who was counting. That magical moment when we realized our collective voice (Kia!) had the power to pull an individual through tough times. For me, this is a living example of the improv principle known as … Make each other look good! Always!
Imagine if in our workplaces and communities, when struggling and failing publicly, we knew we could rely on those around us to support us and do everything in their power to make us ‘look good’?
I wonder when I can apply this next in life? When could you?
At 8pm last Thursday night I was at the Studley Park Boathouse, celebrating the final Story Conference with colleagues and friends. It was announced that Steve Jobs had passed away … and thud! I felt an inner shift and let out an audible, outward breath.
I am not surprised that the passing Steve Jobs stirred my emotions in such a way. His long battle with Pancreatic Cancer has mirrored that of my own father’s cancer of the liver. At the time Steve presented at the launch of the original iPad, looking thin and weak, my dad’s illness had also progressed. Earlier, in 2004, at the time of Steve’s brilliant speech to graduates of Stanford University he was looking healthy and announced that he was in remission … so too was my father.
I again watched Steve’s Stanford address with my wife the other night – the 3 stories he tells will always be relevant.
In reading various tributes, I also stumbled upon some older talks that Steve had given. This one shows the wisdom of Steve as a strategist, a minimalist and a communicator … when I find the link I’ll insert it
I am not a believer in the ‘lone genius’ – that one, fabled person who single handedly saves the world. There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was a brilliant man whose actions speak louder than words. His capacity to fearlessly follow his heart and trust in Karma (or whatever) is the stuff of legends. I also look forward to reading his Biography and in it, I have a hunch we will learn something about the people around him … those who influenced his ideas. The networks of people that shaped Steve Jobs and the ideas that he ‘ripped & remixed’ to shape Pixar and Apple.
I spent some precious time with my dad yesterday, he is very unwell and we shared some memories and stories. We looked through photos of my 3 boys and reflected on family holidays when I was a boy.
Afterwards, I reflected on some of dad’s words and counsel. In his own way, he reminded me that my own boys are always watching me. Learning from me. Imitating my own behaviour and reactions to events – the good, bad and the ugly. We all have a blind spot when it comes to the influence that our actions, no matter how small, have on those around us.
Lee Lefeever pointed this Western Australian road safety advert yesterday (see below). For most of us, there nothing new here but a very timely reminder. We have just come back from 3 glorious weeks away in Fiji. They have something called ‘Fiji Time’ … which is slow, happy and welcoming. We have been home for a week, and I am noticing everything quicken – my thoughts, actions, speech, eating. Rushing here, rushing there. Losing sight of those small moments when my son asks me a question or points to something he has achieved. What does he see in me and my response?
So here are some questions to hold for fathers, mothers, leaders and friends …
Who is watching, learning and imitating you?
What is one behaviour (particularly those automated responses to certain situations) that you are not proud of? One that you wish to change so that those around you see the real you – I can think of plenty.
How do we remember to breathe deeply even when events are spinning around us?
And from Fijian culture … Smile, welcome others and slow down.