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Doing Our Best?

Doing Our Best?

"Always do the best you can, even if you have to rest a few moments" says Mrs. Kong, advice passed onto her by her parents.  If I see Mrs. Kong on my walk to work, its always a pleasure to stop and say hello. Her dad grew up in Victoria, born to parents who came from southern China and reared 10 children in their new country. Her parents worked hard and learned the new language, even if caused embarrassment at times, especially to her mum who struggled more than her dad with the strange English words. Eventually, their efforts, along with kind mentorship of her dad's employer, enabled Mr. Kong to open his own tailor shop and to mentor others on their journey. 

I don't know all of Mrs. Kong's story, just the odd piece of information in passing conversations. For example she has a son Michael, which makes it easier for her to remember my name and that gardening is her passion. She is nearly 90 years of age, but out every day, tidying her front garden rain or shine, staying active and staying healthy in the process.

Doing our best is a multifaceted challenge. It takes preparation, both physical and metal, at least for me, with so many distractions. Yes, this includes getting good rest and nutrition, having clarity of task, and perhaps the right tools (including gear or clothing). But as I reflected on this, I also pondered doing our best at what?

Years ago, we created the BASE Wellness Program™. It included 10 questions with check box answer options that covered not so good, good and great. There were questions about food quality and portion, water consumption, exercise questions, sleep, prayer or meditation and a question, "Did I give my best energy to my most important relationship?"

As I consider giving my best, I reflect on Mrs. Kong's generational advice. I can't do my best in everything. But perhaps the place to start, is on my most important relationship. As we enter spring, perhaps you are already giving your best to your most important relationships (plural noted). They could be God, your spouse, your children or someone you are caring for, or as an employer, your employees. But if not, why not give this some thought today? Are you giving your best to your most important relationships? Perhaps distractions have gotten in the way, chasing a business or career goal or perhaps a fitness goal.

To do our best, for our best, good health is obviously important. So are well ordered priorities. Thank you Mrs. Kong for your reminder, always do our best, even if we need to take a little rest.

A Rare Alignment: Valentine's Day Meets Ash Wednesday

A Rare Alignment: Valentine's Day Meets Ash Wednesday

When it comes to match ups, this one on February 14 when Valentines meets Ash Wednesday is quite unusual!  These days meet just 3 times a century so it seems. In the 20th century in 1923, 1934 and 1945. This century in 2018, this year and 2029 and then they part until sometime after 2100. So for you, which one will take the win in 2024? They seem so different, one is about love, the other about an act of remembrance to start Lent, a season of abstinence in preparation for the Christian Holy Week. But are they that different? As an aside, I’m grateful that I’ll be able to enjoy Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday with Lesley, who is the beautiful part of the photo above! 

You can find many articles on the origins of Valentine's Day, honouring St. Valentine, a third century priest in Rome.  There are also well documented traditions about Ash Wednesday.  I note traditions, as there is no reference in Christian scripture to Ash Wednesday or Lent. But for the person who's not into Valentine's Day or whether or not you believe in the Christian faith, perhaps there are things we can all take from the meeting of these two days on Wednesday this week.

Firstly, in honour of St. Valentine, there is love and compassion. The stories of St. Valentine are linked to compassionate acts that were against the law of the day. Perhaps we can use the spirit of St. Valentine to show extra kindness, even extravagant kindness not just for those we love, but even for complete strangers. What would that look like for you? Maybe buying a coffee for the stranger behind you in line? Doubling (or tripling!) your usual tip the next time you are in a tipping situation? Stopping, if it is safe to do so, for the pedestrian even if they are not in a crosswalk? Or sending a donation to a charity that offers kindness to the homeless or hungry?

Secondly, in honour of Ash Wednesday, or more importantly the tradition of Lent which usually applies to spiritual practices. But what if you aren't partaking in spiritual practices. Consider applying the Lenten discipline to stopping one habit and starting another, at least for the 40 days? Maybe the habit to stop is checking social media first thing and instead take time for gratitude or write a kind note to someone in your life. Or perhaps the 'habit' is a craving for sweets that you set aside and substitute something healthy like a fruit or even crisp fresh veggies. Traditional practices of Lent include giving up meat for the 40 days, but what ever you decide, my encouragement is to consider giving something up, and using that to recalibrate on something healthy. I'm thinking of giving up licorice (a growing weakness since I have stopped having desert regularly) but use the time when I am craving that licorice hit to reflect on something or someone important to me (and to eat something healthy too!). Of course, in some circles, the Lenten practices are six days a week, taking Sunday off, but as Lent is about spiritual disciplines, if you can, consider going the full 40 days with what you decide. You'll be proud of your effort!

Both Valentine’s and Ash Wednesday harken to stories or histories that highlight sacrificial love. So maybe they aren’t as different as they first seemed to me. Happy Valentine's Day and blessings to you on the start of Lent (whether you practice it or not).

Embracing Change, Finding Balance, and Feeling Good in 2024

Embracing Change, Finding Balance, and Feeling Good in 2024

"It's a new dawn, It's a new day, It's a new life for me, And I'm feeling good" is the chorus of Nina Simone's song released in 1965 and 40 years later by Michael Bublé in 2005. Kind of fitting for a New Year too?

So how did your New Year's start?  For Lesley and I it was a cool ocean dip in Victoria's Oak Bay. My first “Polar Bear” swim!  We even did a practice dip on December 31st.

New Year's is an opportunity that many of us take to recalibrate. For some we want to erase the old tape and start with a fresh recording. For others perhaps a little editing will suffice. In a booklet with daily spiritual thoughts that I enjoy, on January 1 it referenced a passage that includes "The old is gone, the new is here!" and then commented "no matter who we've been or what we've done in our past" we have an opportunity to change. I'd observe that there are two big challenges in that.

  1. We need to let go of something to make room for change and
  2. That our social networks often aren't ready to rewind and record anew their perceptions or expectations of us.

In a Peloton ride I did late in December, the instructor Denis Morton noted we have agency over ourselves, that we can make decisions. In another ride, Denis referenced that our bodies are very good "instruments" that we get to play. So how are you going to play your instrument in 2024?  I'm going to keep up with a new routine of Wednesday morning workouts (in addition to other workouts) and try to be more disciplined about quite time. I had an instructor in a sales course at BCIT (back in the 1980s) who said "We have two ears and one mouth. Think about it!" So 2024 (yes I can be a slow learner) will be the year that I have more quiet time for reflection and listening.

But what about the other challenge, about how people see us? Perhaps patience is key. Chart your course and be gracious with those around you. Also be alert to changes those around you may be making and be supportive if you feel their changes are appropriate. 

While I may be feeling good, I'm not without weighty thoughts like trying to spend more time with family and friends while achieving personal fitness and business goals. I worry too of ongoing turmoil in our world and at work, that we haven't made the progress that we would like, to help a million people be healthier and more active. Yet all the time we receive great feedback on our well researched product and that made me feel good! Already in 2024, I've heard from a Whole Foods personal care advisor that our Joint Formula 14 eases her OSD discomfort and a trainer at my gym that it quickly helped her back, a big relief for her. And a gentleman in Ohio who shared that a horse went from lame to “sound” in just 9 days on our SierraSil powder. On the other hand, a Victoria health and lifestyle educator hasn’t yet got the results we hoped for.

We do want more people with the aches of aging or new exercise routines or persistent inflammatory conditions to try SierraSil. To support that we have a new “ambassador” program, which is really a referral bonus when you share the word about our products. If you know someone who is interested in the program, please reach at to us.

Are you feeling good or are weighty thoughts weighing you down? Or maybe both? Whatever your circumstance, know that you are appreciated, that you are important and that we can rejoice in the goodness that exists in our communities and our places. Here's hoping that 2024 is a really good year for you.