The power of a second impression

A first impression can last forever and like most things in life we are usually judged based on those first few mere seconds when we first meet someone. This became truly apparent to me last week when one of my colleagues at work was absolutely amazed to hear that my life started out in a small two horse town as an uneducated cleaner. At that moment his jaw dropped because he first saw me working on a complicated problem acting confident and in control. It was those few seconds that he judged me. Now he saw confidence and made his judgment on appearance. The tech that sits down from me looked frustrated bad lost even though she is just as good as I am if not better he judged as lost and weak. She is neither, but at the time he saw her and judged her she was caught in a stressful situation with an unreasonable customer. Now no matter how many good calls she takes that is how he will see her. In reality if he would have seen her on any number of other calls he would have seen a very different person. Why because 99% of the time she is the one in control.

Now I am not saying that I do not play my part because even when I am absolutely lost I sound confident because fifteen years working in call centers has taught me that being in control is more sounding confident then actually having all the answers. I am not saying I lie just that I sound like I know all the answers or that I know how to get them. My first job was a level 1 tech working for a popular computer manufacturer and during my training I was told when you are lost or cannot find the answer reinstall the pc. Our database crashed so I spent the rest of the day just reinstalling peoples computers. I took 138 calls and reinstalled 130 computers. I sounded confident so people actually thanked me for not having the skills to fix their computers and wiping the pc. I worked at that company for eight more years and during the rest of my career there I only wiped about 10 more computers, but the point is the impression the people received was that I knew what I was doing and had years of experience. My second day at that company my boss called me in for a meeting and he did not mention how big my screw up was, but how many of those 130 people had emailed the company thanking me for the great job I did. My average talk time was under 4 minutes and I learned a valuable lesson. Sound like you know what you are doing at all times.

Now I have also had the opposite experiences with first impressions. I am a very simple man with very simple roots. I was raised with the belief if it’s cheap enough, it fits and you need it then you buy it when it comes to clothes. Those around me call it the poor boy mentality. I have learned that if the clothes do not fit properly no matter what you do most people will judge you in a negative way. Add in the fact I am a 70s child so I always have long hair most of the time so a lot of people assume I am some kind of party animal. An example of this is my first trip to Israel when my colleagues immediately invited me to smoke a doobie after work. No I do not do any kind of drugs, but based on a first impression people thought I did.

On the opposite end of the spectrum I have witnessed an absolute ass get the girl because his shoes and clothes look absolutely amazing of him despite the fact the better man sitting right beside him does not have a lick of style in him. I have seen woman who are true ladies in every sense be called whores because someone thought their dress looked cheap or the big woman get over looked because her dress size is not the one that someone thought is the right size. People will always judge you on that first mere seconds of any meeting. I do it too, but life has taught me that if you can overcome that first impression you might find something wonderful. That whore might be an amazing woman who can bring something wonderful to your world, that big woman might be your soul mate and the guy dressed in cheap suit might be a millionaire. No that is not me, but the guy that owned the company my father used to work for wore overalls and rubber boots like most farmers. Even in the 80s he was worth a million dollars and was an eligible bachelor. Many woman who complained that there were no nice guys left did not take the time to get to know him. Outside of work he wrote poetry, traveled the world and owned houses in seven different countries. He married a simple waitress not because he was the prettiest or fit into a predefined dress size, but because she took the time to get to know him and laughed at his jokes. She took the time to look past the first impression and discovered that he offered a little bit of everything that she wanted and he found the mother of his children, companion for those long adventures exploring the world and the heart of a poet who wrote her I love you’s constantly.

Remember that award girl from high school who became a fashion model (yes I am sure it happens) or that nerdy guy that became a body builder and both appear to have been sculpted by the gods. It’s the person who forgot their first impression of them that and kept the second and third impression of them that brought something to their life and enjoyed the experience of knowing them year after year.

There is power in setting the right first impression, but even more strength in looked past it and finding the hidden second impression.

Smile

JD

 

The truth about love

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Last week at work we talked about love and of course with each individual person there was a different and unique view on exactly what is love. I am not saying that my view is right or wrong only that I was amazed at how despite the fact that everybody deep down wants the exact same thing, but each has their own idea about what true love really is and how to get there. Now my viewpoint on love and family has evolved over the past thirty years as much as I have evolved as a human being. Honestly I do not know if the man I have become is better than the man I was at 18 only that he is much more respected then he used to be. Life has taught me that it’s just a series of lost loves and broken hearts until you find that one special love. There is a saying that you need to have loved and lost in order to appreciate love when you truly find it. One constant for me is that I love with all my heart. It’s the only way I can love.

I work with a young woman from India who strongly believes in tradition. She believes that an arranged marriage will lead to love. No not true love or a happy marriage, but she is so terrified of disappointing her family that she will accept just love. I cannot say that I understand this way of thinking, but I also know that deep down it’s my hope that she does not just learn to love out of obligation, but that she finds true love for no other reason than everybody deserves to feel loved and to feel the feeling that somebody wakes up to a day filled with sunshine because they see perfection in them.

Another friend has the idea that true love is what you give and only the selfish make expectations as to what they receive in return. In her eyes my viewpoint is consumed with selfishness because I have such a strong idea that true love is only there when its two sided. She is passionate about the fact that it’s the experience and journey that counts and not the end result. Maybe I am selfish, but I have never found success in loving without being loved back and definitely have not walked away from loving someone that way and thought how great my life was because I knew them. In my experience those that have that view point are always the ones that are loved and never truly loved back. They are the ones that rebound quicker because they never truly commit.

The most shocking belief I have ever seen was a couple from my childhood. To my knowledge they never fought, they enjoyed the same things and seemed like the perfect couple. They were family friends so for thirty years I witnessed them just living there lives together. One day I was shocked to learn that they were not a couple. The reason to them was simple. They had job offers in other ends of the country and got bored with each other. They both had the idea they can always find a new lovers, but I also wondered if either found true love ever because to me true love is not something that is as interchangeable as your socks or underwear.

Now I do not consider myself an expert on what love is or how you can find it, but life has taught me a few things. Unfortunately most of my experiences were trial and error, but I definitely still believe love is one of those things that you are either all the way in or you are all the way out. It’s not a list of who does more or loves more. It’s give and take. That is what life has taught me. Love like it’s your last day because life is too short and one day it will be, but do not settle. Expect exactly what you will accept. If you want to always feel loved then expect it. Actually demand it. Sarah is one of those people that sees me in a different light at my greatest point and my worst. It’s also how I am so it works. I always do more for her than anybody else has not because I want to be better, but because to me she deserves better and she does more for me than anyone else ever has. It was a shock for me when I lost my job a few years ago. Growing up in a world where people judged a man’s value by how good of a provider he was to me the world had ended. In a two week period I had lost two jobs. One I left because I wanted a normal life working a forty hour work week rather the seventy or eighty and the other decided to outsource my department. I was beaten at that moment. Much like my income was gone a piece of my confidence was also gone that day. Sarah never even mentioned the struggles that would and did follow, but she wrapped her arms around me and said that we would make it through. To me that is love. Two people who will stay together because no matter what struggles are there they know that being together life is better than being apart. It’s not about who needs who, but about choosing to be together no matter what the journey brings. I am not sure if you’re a parent can choose someone for their child who can feel that same basic desire and need or if time can offer that same strength in your time in need, but definitely I think that no matter how you love for love just believing it exists and can happen in your life is better than living a loveless life without the dream the its just around the corner.

Smile

JD

 

Learn to be beautiful in 4 minutes

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Sometimes we come across something that at first we think its another cheap shot at telling woman to do this or that in order to feel and be beautiful, but at the end we think its absolutely amazing. This little video called the Dove Beauty Patch is one of those so I thought that I would share the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGDMXvdwN5c

 

Never let them see you cry

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There is a saying live by the sword and die by the sword. It was the foundation that the Vikings, Spartans, Samurai and so many other cultures both lived and died by. Whether it is never retreating from a battle, looking for some glorious death in battle or a ritual suicide because you are shamed many cultures and people clung to that belief. Many people think it’s a warrior’s code and I guess that it is, but if we break it down it’s the man code. The man code still exists today and like all civilization and law’s it adapts and changes with the times.

My grandfather was a great man. Well to me he was. He raised 13 kids alone, worked and struggled to make a life in a simpler yet harder time. He lived through the great depression and saw the one and only woman he ever loved die and never remarried. The reason why was because he lived his own set of rules and followed his own morals which can be summed up as his personal man code. He did not believe that men should ever lie, steal, beat woman and definitely did not believe in divorce or second marriages. He passed it on to my father and uncles who slightly altered it and followed their own man code. They added never show emotion and suffer through life’s pains. My father once put a pulp hook into his leg and complained more about the lost day’s wages rather than the injury. My uncles tell me that the only time they ever seen my grandfather or father cry was when my grandmother died. My father was 12 years old and from what they tell me it’s the last time he ever allowed himself to shed a tear. It is his man code.

Now like my father, his father before him and I guess even his father before him they have always had their own man code that has been altered and changed to suit the times that they live in. There are still similarities between all of our man codes. My father cannot watch TV shows where woman or children are abused. It’s something that he has always been dead set against and just turns him off he shows. Since I was a young child my father repeated the words real men do not hit woman, family is something worth dying for and crying is weakness so you never let them see you cry. I inherited that same moral value and still pass the same values to the next generation. I also have issues watching where children are hurt and dying. I love watching House, but hate the shows where children are dying or in pain. I am squeamish that way. I can easily handle my own blood, but woman and children’s is something that goes against my man code.

I do believe that most men have their own man code (I assume woman do to) and that in many cases if you do not have a code you should get one. That being said I think that as men, fathers and husbands we need to be strong enough to bend the code so that it enhances our lives and those around us. I live by my man code. I respect woman, I work hard and generally have an open mind to most things around me. I do not see race or religion as any more than a difference that I can learn from. I have my weaknesses too. Through life’s disappointments, my hearts breaks and betrayals I never show weakness; I never let them see me cry because it’s ingrained in me that real men do not cry, but I also never tell me kid’s real men do not cry because I know that it’s my hang up, my father’s hang up and like everything in life I have adapted it to give my children a code to follow to make them better men not a code to be trapped by like a prison built on outdated beliefs and standards. The man code is just as important as it was a hundred years ago it’s just a matter of teaching those that come after us that a code to follow is just like a law. It’s something that should help become and always be a better man, husband, father, and friend.

 

Smile

JD

 

Ignorance is not bliss

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Somebody once said that ignorance is bliss and honestly without even knowing it I embraced it. For the past two days I have been taking a CPR and first aid. No it does not make me a surgeon or doctor, but after finishing the course I realize that I now have the basic skills to help save someone’s life. Every day through the course we were given newspaper clippings of how everyday people were able to help people in need until the professionals were able to come. That is what the course was all about. For too many years I used to be in the group that believed somebody else would have the skills so why bother. Actually I had many excuses such as I am too busy because of work and life, but honestly I was too lazy and I guess too intimidated by the idea of what I might have to do. So when work decided that we needed people to do it some volunteered, some were sweet talked into it and some even voluntold that they were doing it. I was one of the group.

Now as I learned more and more about it and heard the everyday examples I could see one of any number of tragic events that happen every day and that I either had no clue what to do or what I thought was completely wrong. I think now of the little injuries that have happened around me throughout my whole life that I said I can shake it off or that I have told my kids to just shake it off that could have turned out to be so much more serious. I now have too many examples of similar incident’s that went from walk it off to surgery or even worse death.

I now realize the value of CPR and first aid. Saving lives is not just about knowing the steps to stop bleeding, making splints, slings, CPR etc. but also knowing the signs to look for. I am a father and having just normal kids with normal friends see a much greater value in it for myself and those around me. No here in Ottawa there are no rattle snake bites to worry about, but certainly heart attacks do happen, strokes, car accidents and kids will be kids with a wide variety of injuries and events that will happen.

As people I think that most of us would not walk away from somebody truly in need, but some (I used to be one of them) watched from the side because of a lack of knowledge and general understanding or when we tried to help could have potentially could have made things worse because we did not know the proper steps to take in an emergency. Now I am slighter more educated and in some ways more prepared not just for emergencies, but for everyday life. As I look around my house I see five reasons why I should have taken first aid. The greatest reasons I know of to learn first aid are the same reasons that I think it should be taken by everyone, taught in schools and even made a priority in everyone’s lives. FAMILY.

Smile

JD

 

 

 

 

What’s good for the soul do that

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This may not be my most popular post, but over the past years or so during my travels and journey for self-improvement I realize more and more that I live in a world filled with hypocrites. I am often amazed at what those around can tell me that they believe we are created equal except when (fill in the blank yourself). There is always something that can fill that blank and generally it’s something that seems so irrelevant and small that to me its mind boggling.

One of the greatest gifts I received from my childhood is that we should judge people based on their actions. Where they were born, what god they pray to if they even pray at all, the color of their skin and almost anything else you can think of shouldn’t be included. I would like to say that it’s a Canadian view point, but honestly it’s not. Lately it seems like more and more weak minded people here have that, but and I truly doubt that it’s going to fade away. I do not claim to have any major insight into humanity just that I try to live my life as an example to my children, neighbors and friends. Not because I want to impress anybody, but because I want to look in the mirror and be proud of who looks back.

Too often we hear how cyber bullying was the cause or part of the cause for some young person to take their own life. Yes it’s tragic and I do agree that laws and punishments to try and stop that. Nobody should ever feel so worthless that their only way out is to kill themselves. That is not the only tragedy that I am sure we all see every day. I have witnesses a mother tell her young child not to play with another because of the color of their skin, the language they speak and the church that they attend. Now I truly am not sure what I find upsets me the most about this. That in this day and age people are still so small minded. Personally I want my boy to meet people from everywhere. I want him to question others about their beliefs. I hope in this way he is like me. Question everything not because he thinks his religion or god is better or because he thinks that the color of his skin makes him superior, but because he can find value and learn from everybody around him. I would hope that he will live his life seeing actions as a reason to judge the world not because of differences.

Now what made think of this blog is a person who calls themselves a Christian saying that they would not shop at a store because it’s owned by Muslims. Personally I think that if you call yourself a Christian it should be implied that we respect other people’s right to believe in whatever they like as long as they respect yours back and nobody gets hurt. I honestly do not know a lot about the religion itself, but definitely can tell you I think I have great Muslims for neighbors. Yes we have cultural differences like the youngest daughter saying hi and never looking into my eyes, but I also see that its part of who she is and yes the males talk to me differently the they do to Sarah, but it’s not disrespectful. If we judge them on their actions yes sometimes I think that they are really different, but still good people.

I grew up in a really small town here just outside of Ottawa in the 70s. I can honestly say thank god I was. The first time I saw a colored person was in grade 9. It was twins. She was hot and he was the reason nobody ever acted on it. There were a lot of people like that. They key here is people. That is all I saw, but I also thought the same thing about the two little French girls I never asked out. That is how I saw the world and honestly how I thought the world was. Racism was just something that you saw in action movies, but never entered into my little sheltered life until I became an adult.

As an adult I moved to the city and released that too many people judge and hate without even understanding why. I worked with two people from Sri Lanka who absolutely hated each other. Why because of some feud that occurred 200 years before either of them was born. Even today the idea that generation over generation could hate just because blows my mind. I am not even sure that they even know why. Neither are bad people individually, but together they were complete asses.

I could make numerous lists of such things such as a woman telling me that she does not wear high heels and shirts in certain countries because of the way the dark people stare at her when I am staring at her that way or how I tell off an English guy for judging her for where she was born just to have her tell me that her families shame is that her brother is gay and has to move to the USA in order to be excepted, but that is just a list of things that I will never understand.

I once read that whatever is good for the soul do that and I firmly believe that. I am not the most religious man in the world, but I have reached out and sought out many of the world’s religions in one form or another. I have been the outcast and treated unworthy from those whole claim to follow this god or that as well as I have been welcomed by others not because I belonged to their flock, but because they saw something they respected in me. I also have seen many people hate the country of fore fathers, but immediately like me because I am Canadian. I think that no matter what country you were born in or what flag you salute you should remember the most people’s family trees have branches that twist and turn. At some point our families were the foreigners, had beliefs that were different from our neighbors and even a few twigs of the less desirable. Judging based on anything other than actions, personality and moral values is like buying a used car based on a picture of the hub cap. Yes you might be happy at the end, but you also might miss the value hidden until you pop the hood.

Smile

JD

What do you see in the mirror

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Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered am I the only one? Most people have in one way or another I think most people have. I was shocked to hear Sarah say that at certain times she looks to see if there is anybody bigger than her and a wide variety of comments from other big woman that is pretty much the same thing. I have known for quite a while that Sarah is uneasy about her weight and assumed that other woman feel the same, but honestly I was still a little shocked to hear that so many feel the same way. To me it’s unrealistic to constantly compare yourself to those around you because no matter how skinny you are there will always be someone skinnier, no matter how healthy or in shape you are there will always be somebody healthier and the list could go on and on. So I started watching people at work. We have two gym junkies who go to the gym before and after work. Yes these two little short guys are totally built and by most standards would be considered quite handsome do it, but when they think nobody is watching they compare themselves to bigger guys and I can only assume pretty girls look around the room and wonder how many woman are not as smart as they are.

Now I know that diet commercials are designed to tell us the reason our buttons pop is because we eat too much or the wrong foods, that dentist commercials are there to tell us if our teeth are not perfect that the dentist must fix them and that the person with the perfect body is the only one that gets positive attention. It might be true on some level, but I think the idea we should just strive to be the best person we can be and that is what life is made for.

Now I cannot really say if this is healthy or not, but I think its human nature to look around for something that makes us feel better about ourselves, maybe just a little superior and even feel less inferior like you are not the only one. I remember as a kid feeling so small and out of place that I spent most of my life paralyzed with fear. I never asked the hot chicks to dance because they might say no, I used to work with thirty guys and only spoke with them rarely always feeling so award, even now I could go to any book store and find a great number of books written by better authors and I could make such an endless list, but I am over that now. My point is that there is nothing I can gain from worry about whose better at something then I and I would never grow. I think that is what life is. Not who we are right now, not our dress size or even where we come from. It’s who we are right now, who we want to be and the journey to get there that’s truly important.

Examples are everywhere. Terry Fox’s fame has outlived him. Not because he hung around people who were worse off physically then he was, but because he saw were he wanted to go and just went there. I am talking about a cure for cancer. I know that cancer is not cured yet, but year after year the Terry Fox run takes place and I like to think that we are one step closer to a cure. One of my hero’s Bruce Lee was 5′ 7.5″ and weighed a 135 lbs. He could have looked in the mirror and said I am just one more little skinny guy in a world of giants, but he saw where he wanted to go and just did. There is also a plus sized commercial with a plus sized model who I have heard a lot of people say is absolutely beautiful. She could have easily said I cannot be a model, but instead she did it.

So I am telling Sarah and the whole world that your weight does not define who you are or who you can become. Everybody has something unique and special within them. That is where greatness starts. Decide what you like and embrace it, own it and cherish it. That’s golden. You need golden. For Sarah its loyalty, charm, a great sense of humor, wit, intelligence, a great smile and sparkling eyes. I could make an almost endless list, but I am sure that would be quite boring for most of you. My point is that I see my everything in her and a lot of other people see great value in her. Most of what she doesn’t like about herself nobody else even sees or cares about. For Sarah like a lot of people its weight. She diets and works out with her own small gains and victories. She can never seem to lose enough weight, but to me she is always winning. 1, 2 or 5 lbs. lost this week is one step closer to being who she wants to be. That is all that counts. I am not saying that I want her to lose weight that I know how important it is to her so the journey is important to me. No I am not a great motivator because it’s a flaw that I do not see, but I am like always here to support her. I can cheer her on, but honestly could not push her.

I know that I am flawed in nature. I am by no means perfect and I am sure most people would not even see me if you past me, but I know who I am and where I want to be. I try and be a better version of me every day. Not because I do not like who I am, but because I look at who I can be. That is enough for me and I would hope that most people find that. The smallest steps to being who you want to be while protecting what’s great about yourself is the journey. You win by being happy with who you are and who you want and enjoying the journey. We are all winners in our own way if we can look enough to see it and embrace it.

 

Smile

JD