An update to the entry from 8/3/2021: The Midland SPCA just doesn’t get it. Here they are complaining their fundraising was down during the pandemic, but they don’t even get why. It’s simple. People like me and numerous others who used to support this group financially turned our backs on them when they turned their backs on us. They shut down the off-leash park in March 2020 without warning and left those of us who regularly took our dogs there for exercise and socializing with other pups stranded with nowhere else to go. When asked why they had done this, they hid behind the pandemic, and then they lied: “We have to protect our staff (Nonsense: I’d personally gone to this park well over 300 times with my two rescue dogs and never once saw any member of their staff there; nor had anyone else I know); and we have to be mindful of the public (Nonsense: the Ministry of Health looks out for people, your role is to look out for animals)”.
Finally, they have re-opened the park, but it’s too late: they have become the Society for the Provision of Cruelty to Animals and that’s why their donations are drying up. It’s pretty simple: treat the public poorly, they’ll do the same to you. Shame on you SPCA.
I don’t use this blog to showcase my own political beliefs. But today, I do want to show my support for President Joe Biden who’s currently taking heat over what’s going on in Afghanistan. He shouldn’t be.
It’s been said that it’s impossible to conquer Afghanistan. No nation has ever unified that land. Empires have gone there, tried and failed. Armies have gone there, tried and failed, simply haemorrhaging money and blood and gaining very little. Ultimately, as the U.S. is doing now, and as the British did in 1842, as the Russians did in 1988, the end of the road means having to throw in the towel.
The fact that the Taliban is on the move again simply supports this. They’ve sat by, patiently, knowing that their adversary would eventually quit, just as they all have. Just wait them out. Patience rewards. And when the U.S. announced their intention to vacate the land, the Taliban moved ahead.
Joe Biden, stand firm. Your enemies are sniping at you about what’s going on in Afghanistan with the Taliban. But you’ve moved swiftly and no American lives have been lost. Get the hell out while you can! Because it’s up to the Afghan people to decide how they want to run their country. It should always have been that way. The U.S. could never change that plan, any more than other countries that attempted to take over Afghanistan could.
It’s not in the national interest of the United States of America to continue fighting this war indefinitely. As President Biden says, “For those who have argued that we should stay just six more months or just one more year, I ask them to consider the lessons of recent history. Nearly 20 years of experience has shown us that the current security situation only confirms that ‘just one more year’ of fighting in Afghanistan is not a solution but a recipe for being there indefinitely. It’s now up to Afghans to make the decision about the future of their country.”
Biden has recognized the sacrifice and dedication that the U.S. military and civilian personnel, serving alongside their Allies and partners, have made over the last two decades in Afghanistan. He also reminded bystanders that’s he’s on record for being opposed to having American forces in Afghanistan in the first place.
No question, the images at the airport in Kabul, where Afghans descended in hopes of fleeing the country, are “gut-wrenching. But this is still a losing conflict that showcases a society not ready or willing to embrace democracy. If Afghanistan really wants peace, then it’s high time the country stood up and fought their own battles for it.
Stand firm Joe Biden. Don’t become another victim of this futile skirmish. The war in Afghanistan is their war, not yours.
As a follow up to my recent blog on the Olympics (https://www.anauthorslife.blog/blog/tokyo-blues )…
Dr. Jules Boykoff is Chair of Pacific University’s Department of Politics and Government in Oregon. He recently debated Dick Pound, Canadian spokesperson for ethics in sport, about whether the Japan Olympics should have been run or not. Pound was all in favour, while Boykoff said a resounding “No”.
Dr. Boykoff and I shared correspondence recently since we have the same opinions about the need to re-jig the IOC and the Games themselves.
I thought you’d be interested in his column in The Nation which he wrote as the world led up to a decision on whether the 2020 Games should occur or not:
The late Terry Jaillet, from New Brunswick, has been called “one of the strongest men you could ever meet”. And that’s why I showcased him in my new book, “Pushing The Boundaries! How To Get More Out Of Life”. Here you will find profiles of 32 people from around the world – many of them well known – who feel restrictive rules are made for others and who are propelled to go where the faint of heart simply never venture.
When, I began researching the book, I knew I'd meet some fascinating people. But it never dawned on me one of them might well reflect the phrase "living on borrowed time".
You see, Terry fought a ten-year battle with cancer. It eventually consumed him. But it was an honour to know him and learn from him. Terry’s determination to find the next cure and to never throw in the towel was inspirational as he researched medical treatments in his native province and in Toronto, Montreal and even Los Angeles. Despite the treatments for the invasive cancers he had, Terry was always up, groomed and polished.
“I've always been a person who looked beyond the common answer or the status quo,” Terry told me. “Pushing the boundaries for me means taking ownership of what I do. And I want to make things better. That's just the way I am."
I asked him to define in a deeper way what pushing the boundaries actually meant to him as we sat in his tranquil living room featuring a "Live. Love. Laugh." pillow on the leather couch. "It's wanting to find out more,” he explained. “It's needing to take a step in the search for knowledge, to find answers, to discover what options you have."
And if anyone needed options, it was Terry Jaillet. Doctors had told him he was, essentially, a dead man.
"Pushing boundaries for me is about not taking a doctor's opinion or treatment as the final answer," he stated emphatically. "I respect them, let me be clear about that. But I need to find out all the options, the treatments, the medicines that may be available. It's taking my healthcare into my own hands and not just following the status quo direction. That's just letting someone make all the decisions for you regarding your health and disease treatment. If you're well, that may be fine, but..."
Terry's voice trailed off as his mind detoured back to 2009 when he was first diagnosed with Stage 2 Melanoma. At age 41, this was not the trajectory he'd planned for his life.
“You know, I feel I am a leader in what I've done the last several years,” he told me. “My own doctors in Moncton have asked me to talk to other patients. Docs in other cities have asked me for photocopies of information I received from various specialists. Another has referred me to speak to a pharma company. I've been asked to participate in the first Cancer Summit in Canada. And when I talk to people about my journey, they can never believe what I've done to fight my disease by going outside the box, discovering all the best options. I do want to share what I've learned along the way. I think it can help other people push aside some of their own boundaries."
And here’s why that’s important. With the world facing heightened levels of stress and anxiety from the pandemic, people are seeking greater fulfillment. “Pushing The Boundaries!” solves this by offering practical, positive guidance aimed at improving opportunities for growth. My job is to take you behind the scenes, putting you right there across the living room, office desk or kitchen table from the people I meet, part of an up-close, personal encounter. In this way, my followers can learn specifically how to develop the fearlessness that makes for constructive change in their lives. And, maybe as important, a sense of how the human spirit conquers adversity that readers can relate to because I've taken them there.”
Terry Jaillet was an inspiration, and there is plenty more to discover about him in “Pushing The Boundaries!”. Just visit pushingtheboundaries.life.
I’m delighted to share some happy news. After far too long, the Ontario Society for the PROVISION of Cruelty To Animals has re-opened the off-leash park here in Midland, the one that so many of us dog lovers have relied on. After more than a year and a half of being closed – for no good reason – we can once again see our pups frolicking around in the acreage amongst the trees. Does my heart good.
Quick background. Several years ago, a generous local family donated nearly 10 acres to the SPCA specifically to be used as an off-leash park for dogs and their owners. This acreage is very cool: totally fenced in, hilly, with trees, and a gazebo in the centre where people leave water in dishes for the pups. It’s an outstanding facility. But in March of 2020, the SPCA shut it down with no warning and no reason. Well, sure, under pressure, they claimed they were concerned about COVID-19 and had to worry about the general public and their own staff. But we dog owners know it’s not the job of the Society for the PROVISION of Cruelty Animals to look out for the general public. We have government agencies that take care of that. Who elected the SPCA to be the guardian of human health? And as for their own staff, goodness knows they shouldn’t be exposed to danger, but I’ve been at that park well over 300 times with my two dogs and have never once seen an employee of the SPCA there! Social distancing was practiced by ALL owners who attended the park after the pandemic hit. Those of us who relied on the facility for the exercise of our pups are convinced the SPCA should be ashamed of themselves for foisting such nonsense on the public and for closing this beneficial animal resource that has been so relied on by animals and animal lovers.
There’s been a rumor that the real reason they shut the park was because someone was bitten by a dog and sued the SPCA. Don’t know if that’s true or not. But if it is, the Society for the PROVISION of Cruelty to Animals has shown their true colours! They’re supposed to be there for animal rights but clearly, they don’t care. And they feel lying to the public is A-OK.
What’s sad here is that I, and many others, used to contribute funds to the OSPCA but no more: We don’t support frauds!
Anyway, the good news is that perhaps through public pressure (we wrote to various levels of government as well as the SPCA management), they’ve been forced to do the right thing. And my pups Molly and Macy join me in being thrilled to have “our park” back.
Please consider donating to finding a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: ALS – Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This deadly ailment is very rare affecting only .0079% of the population. There is no known cause and no cure. But for the first time ever, there is hope that real treatment advances are just up ahead on the research horizon. This is fueled by important new discoveries where scientists are sorting through, to an unprecedented degree, the way the ALS mutation plays out inside the brain’s motor neuron cells. Our donations will speed up the chance of a cure:
In the U.S.:
I’ve been on record for a few years now, lighting up the sentiment that it’s time to re-focus the Olympic Games back to sports. Amateur sports. That’s what these events were originally supposed to be about. But the International Olympic Committee seems to have forgotten that and lost their way.
When you have people like IOC past president Juan Samaranch apparently insisting he be addressed as “Your Excellency”… when you watch cities spend tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of time just competing to possibly “get” the Games… when you have opening and closing ceremonies costing hundreds of millions of dollars… when those same ceremonies have virtually nothing to do with sports… and when you have countries like China literally painting their grass green (to hide their dead, brown, smog-infested lawns)… then I suggest to you we’ve come to the point where the tail’s wagging the dog.
Even in the just-staged opening ceremonies for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (being held in 2021 due to the Covid delay), the intent was to tone down the festivities. But one scribe wrote, “It was an odd, sometimes awkward, and tonally dissonant four-hour presentation that tried to balance the weight of the ongoing pandemic with the joy and elation that usually accompanies the world's most prestigious athletic competition. There were fireworks, but no big audience to cheer for them.”
OK, and this is wrong?
“They had to start this thing somehow,” opined another writer. Sure, they did have to start it somehow. But what’s wrong with a muted, restrained opening? “Nowhere near as bombastic as ceremonies from London or Beijing, but still struggling to find the right tone, the Tokyo opener will be less remembered for its spectacle and more for the pandemic environment in which it aired.”
And that’s just fine by me.
(BTW, how interesting that “bombastic” is used to describe something that’s supposed to be fun.)
Another reporter asked, "What's the point of all the risk, all the testing and quarantining and masks, if this is the best emotion and spectacle we can muster?”
Oh, I see. So the “best we can muster” should include spending outlandish sums of legal tender just to attract the IOC? And then even more cash to entertain the masses with acts that have nothing to do with sports?
"There is no way around it,” wrote yet another commentator, “we are in the middle of a pandemic. These games are controversial, especially here, with many of the Japanese people worried about inviting in the world as the virus has spread. But Olympic officials have pressed on, out of tradition to honor the work and dedication of these athletes and yes, in aspiration that somehow sports still has the power to connect us and to heal us."
Yup, sports does have that power. Still.
So, how about if the Olympics were to focus on that, not on all the other ballyhoo.
Oh, and at the risk of being labelled Oscar the Grouch, let me remind you that I’ve staged business conferences for clients in far off locales with budgets north of a million bucks. Nope, I’m not against pageantry. Just against spending huge amounts of dough for song and dance when it should be directed to athletic endeavour. That’s all.
Let the Games begin!
I’ve been reading about Glen Jack and the unbelievably harsh treatment this poor man suffered at the hands of “men of God” who are nothing but low life trash! The experiences Glen and so many others had to undergo in Canada’s residential school system are incredible.
And you know, while there is no direct comparison, and I’m not trying to draw one, this does cause me to think about Rick Hansen and the cruel hand he was dealt as a 15-year-old. Both Glen's and Rick' stories make me realize how fortunate I have been in my life.
Rick, who you likely know better as the “Man in Motion”, was simply travelling in the back of a pickup truck following an afternoon of fishing when the vehicle was struck by another. Rick was thrown from the truck and sustained a spinal cord injury. Since that fateful day almost 50 years ago, Rick has been paralyzed from the waist down.
I had the honour to interview Rick for my new book, “Pushing The Boundaries!” and he told me about the awesome Man in Motion Tour he embarked on, a two-year wheelchair trip around the world. 25,000 miles through 34 countries.
“You know Peter,” Rick explained, “that accident walked me right into the most defining circumstance to really test whether the nature of pushing boundaries was going to be applied and whether it could be accentuated and sharpened, or whether it was just a fanciful youth activity. So that was where I really had to push the internal boundaries of my life because clearly I didn't have any view of what it was like to have a handicap or disability. Never knew anyone in my small rural community where I was raised. So I had a set of internal handicaps and biases about what having a disability was all about. And what a whole, empowered human being was about: I mean, I thought it was about being completely independent, about being completely physically intact and, as an athlete, defined by use of your legs... so I think I had to push my own boundaries. I realized I was trapped in my thinking and it caused a lot of pain and suffering. It wasn't until I discovered the source of that pain and started to re-examine things that made me re-establish a framework that was more enabling and helped me realize that I didn't need to be cured in order to be whole... and that I could keep being the adventurer... keep pushing those boundaries... keep being the athlete and the pioneer that I always wanted to be but just do it differently. That's when the world really shifted for me and I was able to keep stretching out."
It was at this moment in our conversation that Rick made a unique admission to me that was stunning. Of course, being up front and able to make such a confession is a testament to his honesty and straightforward approach to life.
"Back then," he told me, "I had a real negative attitude and bias towards people with disabilities. I didn't know anyone with a serious handicap and I thought, if you have a disability, that must really suck and people should be pitied and just hope for a good life." He told me about a young man in his school who had polio and was walking on braces and crutches. "I remember going down the stairs and he was struggling up, and I remember thinking, 'Oh, the poor guy. Not much hope for that guy. And thank God it's not me!' But when it came my turn to be the guy in the wheelchair 6-8 months later, I said to myself, 'Poor guy' doesn't even cover it. I mean there I was, all of my hopes and dreams… shattered."
Rick was a major sports enthusiast and his dream was to be an athletic participant, whether as a player or a coach or a teacher. But I had to ask him, “Rick, at the time of the accident and recognizing the life you'd been left, did you have to overcome anger?"
There was no hesitation. "Absolutely! Anger towards the driver. Anger towards myself. Anger towards God. And that notion of forgiveness became, in many ways, the gauntlet to run down because the anger was just going to be a ball and chain that was going to hold me back. I had to find a way to reconcile that."
Rick's way to go forward was to take responsibility for his actions. And to forgive people who weren't intending to hurt him. He had to acknowledge it truly was an accident.
"Ultimately to take up the fundamental question was the next step," he told me. "Given that you can't change how you will now use your legs, can you change how you view your circumstances going forward? So I started to find little examples of how this could be a possibility and an opportunity and take baby steps ahead. Awkwardly. Feeling self-conscious, Vulnerable. Emotional. Raw. Taking those first steps into experiences that made me uncomfortable. And then getting to realize it wasn't so bad and that there was actually great beauty in those moments and endeavours, precious friendships, relationships, laughter, camaraderie, love... and then you ask yourself, well, what more is there?"
There certainly has been so much more. Far beyond the Man In Motion worldwide tour, Rick has been active in establishing the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) that, for over three decades, has raised awareness, changed attitudes and funded spinal cord injury research and care.
Did you know that roughly one in five Canadians identify as having a disability? That number is growing as our population ages. And so the RHF is working on breaking down one of the most fundamental barriers that people with disabilities still face: physical barriers in the places where we live, work, learn and play.
Rick’s story is amazing and the time I spent with him was special. There’s so much more that he and I covered in our conversation, and if you’d like to discover added facts about Rick Hansen, check out Chapter 9 of “Pushing The Boundaries! How To Get More Out Of Life”. I know you’ll be inspired to overcome your own angst about moving your life to the next level. More at pushingtheboundaries.life
I’ve been debating with friends about what age we might attain in the future. My stance has always been, “Well, my mom made it to age 100 and always claimed I had her genes, so I’m holding out for 110!”. (Mind you, that’s always said with hope, but also with an equal measure of tongue-in-cheek.) Meanwhile, some pals say they expect to be gone by 90, which I think is a little self-defeating.
All of this does remind me of Douglas Snair who I devoted a chapter to in my just released book “Pushing The Boundaries!”. Doug was 101 years of age when I met with him at his residence where he lived in Arnprior, Ontario. Sadly, this wonderful gentleman passed away a couple of months ago at age 104, but not first being described as “Canada’s luckiest man”. That descriptor, by the way, is why I profiled Doug for the book: not because of his age – while, indeed, making it beyond 100 is sure pushing some boundaries, no question – but because of the previous 101 years and what they held in store for the lively centenarian. Starting with the fact that Mr. Snair (“Please, call me Doug”) had survived the great Halifax Explosion and was probably the only living person in the 21st century to make that claim.
Now, I'd be surprised if there's a student in Canada who hasn’t meandered through history class learning how the city of Halifax was virtually levelled back on December 6, 1917. The collision of a French ship, loaded with highly explosive munitions, coming into contact with another vessel, created a blinding white flash and resulted in 1,800 people being killed and another 9,000 injured. The entire north end of the city was destroyed, with windows 50 miles away being shattered and the sound registering hundreds of miles away. The event was recorded in detail through Hugh MacLennan’s great narrative “Barometer Rising”.
“I was only a year and a half old so I don't remember much,” Doug told me. My mother was standing with her back to the window bathing my sister who was only a month old. Suddenly the whole window blew in, glass everywhere. I got some of it on one side of my face, but mother got the whole thing in her back. She was in hospital quite a while getting over it. For years she had all this scar tissue in her back. But you know, I wasn't tall enough to get hit full on. If I'd been just a little bit taller, I probably wouldn't be here today. I do recall that with the window blown open, the temperature was well below freezing, it being December, and my sister caught pneumonia. But she survived. Later in life, when she was 16, she lost her eyesight... now whether that was anything to do with pneumonia, I don't know."
Doug explained that every window in the house was blown in, the roof came off and the damage was so significant the building had to be torn down and replaced. "There was actually a piece of the ship with jagged edges that landed right in our house," he explains. "Came through one of the walls. We had it for years but it disappeared over time. Too bad... We moved to my grandparents' house on St. Margaret's Bay, about 25 miles away, on the ocean. Then, in 1929, my dad built a new house and we stayed there until I joined the Navy in 1940."
"Where was your father at the time of the explosion?" I ask.
"Sitting in a dentist chair," laughs Doug. "Truth be told, if he didn't have that dentist appointment, he'd have been at work at the North Street railway dispatch, and every man there was killed. Whole area was just demolished. My dad would have been one of them. He was a lucky man."
"Apparently it runs in the family," I comment.
By the time Doug and I finished our chat, we'd reviewed several other death-defying events in his life that could have ended in tragedy, but from which he walked away unscathed. "Seems to me you've cheated death on a lot of occasions?"
"Not particularly, no," he replies, shaking his head. "Life's been good to me. Things happened, and I happened to be there. But this boundary business... no..."
"Well, OK then, but I would argue that not many people make it to age 100,” I protest. “You don’t think that’s pushing boundaries?"
"I certainly don't think of it that way," he comments. "Never give it a thought. Meanwhile, I worked for the government most of my career, but I don't suppose they're too happy with me now: at this age, I'm costing them pension money!" He laughs at the thought.
I met Doug’s daughter Carol when I chatted with him and said to her in a follow up email, “I so enjoyed chatting with your dad and particularly loved his nonchalance: ‘I’m not anything special. Pushing boundaries? Not me’. It was a joy to write the chapter and I do hope you feel I captured his youthful exuberance.”
You can learn plenty more about Dog Snair’s amazing life, and his many more scrapes with death, in Chapter 22 of “Pushing The Boundaries!” (pushingtheboundaries.life)
Wow! Here’s some surprising news.
A brand new Gallup Poll finds that 59.2% of Americans say they're thriving.
The poll also reveals that 73% of Americans say they experienced enjoyment for a lot of the previous day. That 59.2% mark is the highest rating Gallup has ever recorded on the measure, and 73% is the highest grade since the coronavirus pandemic began early last year.
I’ll say it again: wow!
Now, why do I find this surprising? Well, let’s start with the fact that I’m a Happiness Expert, so designated by the renowned Dr. Christine Carter of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, California. When she and I talked for my book “Why Being Happy Matters” (revised version coming out soon from my new publisher with expanded information and re-named “A Guide To Happiness”), she let me in on the Annual World Happiness Report, also compiled by Gallup. It measures and ranks the happiest countries in the world based on specific criteria. Know who the happiest country is this year? Finland. Yup, li’l old Finland. And get this: they are #1 for the third year in a row!
Now, the U.S. is… down at #14. And that’s why I’m surprised at these new data points because they sure don’t gel with the World Happiness Report.
But I may just have figured out what’s going on here. I think it’s all about community.
You see, one thing I learned in researching happiness and talking to several PhDs studying positive psychology, is that community – or the lack of it – has been signaled as a principal reason some countries just do not poll higher in happiness. As well as being why countries like Finland that thrive on community are happy.
Now, let’s consider that if there is any upside to the Covid 19 pandemic at all, it’s that it’s brought us closer together. The essence of community has enjoyed a real upswing.
Families have hunkered down. Friends have devoted time to checking up on each other. Relatives have expressed concern.
In his book “Bowling Alone”, Dr. Robert Putnam of the JFK School at Harvard University, writes, “We used to be joiners, now we’re not. We don’t embrace bowling leagues the way we used to. Church attendance is off. Book clubs, investment clubs and other gatherings of people into ‘communities’ have lost their allure as we replace pleasant pastimes with helter-skelter lives aimed at achieving things, not enjoying things. The simple act of joining and being regularly involved in organized groups has a very significant, positive impact on individual health, well-being, and happiness.”
So that’s it: with a newfound commitment to community to ride out the pandemic. Americans are rediscovering joy. And that’s lead people to “thrive” and experience more enjoyment than before.
Let’s see if we can’t sustain this.
BTW, if you wish more information about my book on happiness, just visit aguidetohappiness.life
Hi there. I've written 8 books so far and am working on others. Feel free to comment