Sunday, May 24, 2015

Where I speak to college grads...

I'll admit I lead a bit of a surreal life. Married to a woman I probably don't deserve. With kids any parent would be proud of. And pursuing a career that often has me pinching myself that I get to do what I do.

Add another one of those moments to the list, because I've been asked by Fanshawe College to deliver a speech to the students in its IT program at this spring's graduation ceremony.

It's humbling to be asked, because speaking to graduating students as they get ready to close off one chapter and begin another - probably the most significant life-related inflection point any of them has had up until that point - is an incalculably huge honour, and I'm already feeling the responsibility of ensuring every single word I say resonates with them. Lots of weight there.

Graduation speeches have long been powerful venues for established leaders - captains of industry like Steve Jobs, world leaders like Bill Clinton, even entertainment figures as diverse as Robert DeNiro and Jim Carrey - and I often find myself studying their narratives for clues to inform my own writing and speaking.

Some of their best quotations come from these speeches, and I feel the need to ensure my own words measure up. So I've been waking up at 2 a.m. most nights, my mind racing with ideas about what will stick in their minds most profoundly. I grab my smartphone and jam my ideas in before they're lost to time, then drift back to sleep for a bit. Sometimes my scribblings make sense in the brightening light of morning, and sometimes not.

But come June 18th, I'll have between 5 and 7 minutes to chat with a few hundred folks whose lives are about to take them on adventures that not so long ago awaited me as I nervously fidgeted with my own graduation cap and gown. And I hope I can come up with the right words.

In a word, surreal. More to come...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Keeping pace on the treadmill

London, ON
May 2015
The scene: It's 7:40 a.m. in the parking garage. I've just locked the car and am walking, quickly, to the exit. My office phone six storeys above my head is scheduled to ring at 7:45, at which point I'll be talking tech with a couple of radio hosts in a faraway city. I'm so worried about the time that I don't slow down to take this shot. I know it's going to be blurry, but I don't have the time to care. Silly, I know.

While I normally like to get into the office early enough that I can settle in and get ready for the day, I was rather slow getting out of the house today. Couple that with a bit of uncharacteristically early traffic and I ended up cutting it closer than usual. I know journalists like to do things on deadline, but this by-the-second existence can be a bit much.

Tomorrow I think I'll leave the newspaper-reading till later. And I think I'll leave the car at home and take the bike. Time to shake things up a bit.

Your turn: What's the one change you'll make to improve your life?

Monday, May 18, 2015

She chases the sun

Our daughter came bounding down the stairs earlier tonight and headed for the rear patio door. The dog had been fed, had been let out, then let back inside, and he had gotten his needle, so it wasn't immediately clear to me what the rush was all about.

But the sky was glowing something akin to salmon, pink or soft-orange, the kind of near-sunset that almost begs for a little extra attention. And she needed to grab the picture while the magic was still happening.

She quickly explained what she was up to before stepping outside and raising her lens to the sky. I watched from afar as she composed the scene and tried to commit the moment to memorable pixels.

She's so my kid. And I'm so very proud to be her dad.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

On treasuring your next hour

"A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life."
Charles Darwin
Which begs the question: What will you do with the next hour of your life?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Take the time to stare

I woke up early this morning and stared at the dog. He sleeps at the foot of our bed, and while I'm sure dog behaviorists are probably cringing at this fact, his being there, where my toes can feel him and where I can hear his little Schnauzer-ish snorting at various points through the night, makes me feel just a little bit better about the world. He's accepted us as his family, and I kinda like having him close by.

So in the still-dim light of the gathering dawn, I watched his ears subconsciously twitch to the sound of a single bird in the bank of trees across the street, and wondered what he was dreaming about. It seemed like one of those moments worthy of a mental snapshot, if only because they don't happen as often as we'd like, and because they seem to disappear into history almost as quickly as they first present themselves.

I don't do this early-morning observation thing nearly as often as I should. If I'm up early - which is ridiculously often of late, as evidenced by this tweet, this one and, oh yes, this one - I'm usually in motion before my feet hit the ground. These pre-dawn workfests usually involve furtive writing sessions in the kitchen, darkened drives to a deserted parking structure downtown, and interviews on-camera or by phone with not-so-random media folks across the country. Which doesn't leave a lot of time to slow down and pet the dog while he snoozes. Or just stare at him as I did this morning.

I really need to change that. Because things have been brutally busy lately. And as a result I've had a lot of early-morning wakeups over these past couple of weeks - hence the relative silence here on the blog - and not enough moments where I slowed things down enough to appreciate the moment. I love this media-centric, tech-filled brand/career/life that I've built for myself and my family, but sometimes I think I need to hold onto the day-to-day of it all a little more tightly.

Because someday we all run out of moments. And I'd hate to think we didn't grab them while we had the opportunity.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

On knowing how much a moment is worth

‎"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory."
Dr. Seuss

Or sometimes you never take the time to figure it out at all.

So take the time.

Monday, May 04, 2015

On learning where happiness comes from

"Happy people plan actions, they don't plan results."
Dennis Wholey
The universe has a funny way of teaching us who's in control. Assuming we can dictate the outcome is either amusing or tragic, depending on your perspective.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

When beans refuse to sing

Count 'em
London, ON
April 2015
Thematic. Strange foods we eat. Add yours here.
‎I tried so very hard to hear the medley. I cupped my ear to the can and listened as intently as I could.

Alas, no music at all.

False advertising.

Friday, May 01, 2015

On being nice

"Be nice to everyone. You never know when your paths will cross again." 
Sarah Warren
I find it rather shocking how many folks on this planet seem to misunderstand - or completely ignore - this very simple, basic truth. It's sad, really, as life would be a lot less stressful for all of us if people simply tried harder to be kind.

I'll stop screaming into the wind now.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A good day all around

I'm generally not one to toot my own horn: I figure people hear from me enough by virtue of what I do, as being a journalist tends to put your work "out there" on a fairly regular basis. But I had a neat day on Tuesday and thought that writing about it here would be the online equivalent of pinching myself.

The day started rather happily with an article - Track your stuff anywhere in the world, without GPS - that quoted me being published in USA Today. Byline is Simon Cohen, and the piece profiles iTraq, an interesting approach to keeping your things from getting lost.

The day got better with news that a magazine article I wrote last year had been nominated for the Kenneth R. Wilson Awards in the Best One-of-a-Kind-Article category. The piece was called The Millenial Factor (PDF here - the article is on page 18) and it was published as the cover article in Connections+ Magazine's September/October 2014 issue. The awards recognize the best business-to-business (B2B) magazine writing in Canada.

The awards ceremony is scheduled for June 2nd in Toronto, so I'll hold my breath till then. Whatever happens, it's a delightful and unexpected honor.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On writing when everyone else is asleep

"You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.."
Saul Bellow
I might disagree with the "never" part, but I'll admit middle-of-the-night writing jags are pretty inspirational in their own right. If you can live without the sleep, the magic of writing when the rest of the world around you is quiet can be intoxicating.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Thematic Photographic 335 - Strange foods we eat

London, ON
April 2015
‎I've been wandering back into the grocery store with my camera, largely because I enjoy the rush of composing and shooting quickly, before anyone figures out what I'm up to. It's a curious subset of urban/street photography that I seem to have fallen into, and I don't want to give it up.

This is some of the oddest-looking edible stuff I've ever seen. The label said‎ karella, but my eyes couldn't stop thinking of some long-extinct dinosaur-like creature. Indeed, we live on an incredible planet.

Your turn: Take a picture of weird food - or choose a pic you may have already posted‎ - and post it to your blog or website. Leave a comment here letting everyone know where to find it. Visit other participants to spread the photographic goodness, and feel free to add additional submissions through the week. If you're new to Thematic, head here and all will be explained. Thanks...and have fun with it!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A pause before I leave

I decided to take a ride yesterday. Not because I was particularly motivated to do so. If we're being completely transparent, I would have been perfectly happy to stay home and enjoy the peacefulness of a rare weekend afternoon.

In the end, it was my wife who got me over the speed bump and into the garage. Bless her. Because sometimes we all need a little push to do the things we know we need to do.

The ensuing ride was short, sharp and fast. ‎The data from the Garmin validated it (cycling tip: GPS rules) but what stuck with me was how I felt when I turned the last corner before home and let the bike coast in to the driveway. Refreshed. Happy. As if 25km of hammering away on the pedals in the countryside was enough to wash away the remnants of the past week and set the stage for whatever good might - indeed will - come next.

For that moment, at least, that's exactly how it felt. So as my left foot touched down on terra firma, I silently reminded myself that I need to do this more often. Because taking the time to turn off the outside world and focus on nothing more than speed, balance, endurance and survival is better for the soul that anyone could have ever imagined.

Your turn: How do you rejuvenate yourself?