It’s actually amazing how you can rise to new heights the minute you lower your expectations…

Today has been special. I didn’t expect any of this…

Following the news of last night’s fatal bus crash involving the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Humboldt Broncos, it’s been a quiet day of reflection. As a former junior hockey player, the news came to me as a living nightmare. I don’t know how I could deal with that kind of trauma. I wish nothing but the best for the survivors, the families and the entire hockey community. This is a huge shock to the world and I’m not sure if the pain will ever go away for those families. It was an absolute tragedy.

Despite the sombre news, I made an earlier commitment to get up and move my legs after a couple hours of screen time – I’m working on writing a few big features for Canadian Musician Magazine and I wanted to get some fresh air and get Darwin out for a walk anyway. So I bundled up (Yes, Calgary is still -19 with a windchill because it’s January 75th apparently…) and headed down the hill into Bridgeland, a sleepy community in the heart of Calgary to grab a coffee and some bread for the week. They serve the best sourdough in town at Bridgeland Market. It’s made at a local bakery, called Citizen Bakery.

I leave Dar leashed off on his little bench beside the store as I go in. All the passersby know and love the goof so I wasn’t surprised to come back out to see a young family excited to pet the puppy. I noticed an elderly woman with a walking stick crossing 10th street as the family carried on their day and I went down to unleash Dar and head back home. As I did, I noticed the elderly woman remove her sunglasses and pause on the sidewalk, just within reach of Darwin’s curious nose and full on “body wag”. She spoke in a broken German accent, I couldn’t quite tell, but it sounded like a northern dialect (my mother was born in West Berlin and I at a time had conversational German). We got to talking about how her and her husband are the dog whisperers of the local off-leash park, and how she knows the type of person the keeper or handler is by the behaviour of the dog at the end of the leash…the dog is a beautiful creature that is just the extension of the owners soul. She spoke as an angel. Like you wouldn’t doubt a word she said. It was captivating.

Meanwhile, it clicked. I’m sitting there going, “Oh man, she’s judging me…” but she clearly meant it as a compliment as she praised Darwin’s amazing behaviour.

“He’s such a beautiful, happy, and strong pup,” she said, “he’s wise beyond his years and his energy for life will take him all the places he wants to go… you just have to let him be and trust him.”

I was blown away.

I then asked he where she was from. She quickly responded “Germany”, and then realized I knew that and was seeking what particular region. I told her of my family origin, of which I’m incredibly proud and she told me east of Hamburg, as part of the former Prussian empire. The conversation will never be replicated with the magic that existed in that moment, but after I learned that her family was a bunch of academics, and had to flee from the war-torn Germany or face Hitler’s wrath, she asked me about what I do.

I told her about my health and wellness career and she light up.

She started to tell me about human magnetism. Previous to her talking about this I had never heard of such things. She explained it in half German, half English and told me to look it up on my computer. Here’s what I’ve found so far. I plan on researching it more but I have a few more hours on this magazine article to get to first – http://www.spiritualgarden.net/info/human+magnetism.html

She was so excited to connect and tell stories and engage in a real conversation. I asked her what her name was. “Rosemary”. I said that wasn’t as German as I had expected. Then she put it into her German tongue. Absolutely beautiful.

She said it was especially important to have met because of her hip. She was injured when she was younger but it was okay because she exercised all her life – she loved swimming… ate very good food – herring from the Baltic Sea, vegetables, rabbit, you name it… she kept a healthy mind, read many books, and really the walking stick was just a “security thing”.  I learned so much from that moment with Rosemary…

She asked me my name.

“Michael” I replied.

“Michael, thank you for this. It has been wonderful to speak with you. I want you to research that human magnetism because it is in your field. You will enjoy it. It is fascinating. He [Darwin] would like to go walk now. I can wash my gloves, don’t worry (Darwin sheds a lot) and we will see you again.”

I’m not sure if I believed in angels before, but this was one heck of a sign that I am on the right path. Don’t let anyone – blood, stranger, best friend – doesn’t matter. No one can throw you off of your path. Follow your dreams, be persistent. Be humble. Be you. Affirmations like these will be there, you might not see them at first. But they’re there.

Rosemary, thank you for being a part of my life. Whether I see you again some time soon or not, that moment will forever be etched in my memory.

I always seem to comprehend experience through my art and when I came home the following few phrases just flowed out of me. So here you are. This may explain things clearer to some. And I hope they don’t fall deaf on others ears. I am working at it. Harder than you’ll ever know. And just because it’s not a path you chose, with all due respect and as Rosemary suggested, you have to let go. Let Darwin lead.

Thanks for reading.

M

xo

———————————————

Rosemary

Father was sent to flee

Packed the family and hit the road

Before the Germans came around

Bundled up on wisdom and a pocketful of hope

 

Her steel blue eyes, simply capsized

By oceans of night and day

Captured as fairytales from what I know

And what my mother had to say

 

The keeper’s hand down the leash

Can turn him beast or friend

It’s the soul inside and the heart that gives

Life or death in the end

 

Every word from every lip

Has some certain sense of grace

It’s all up to how you arrange

The letters in every place

 

Since ’72, her heritage true

An old German, like half of me

She lit right up, eyes wide shut

When I told her I help to free

 

Others from themselves inside

Sounds silly but she agreed

No amount of human magnetism 

Could polarize the seas

 

The good, the bad, the sick and loved

Ich liebe dich, meine freund

Du bist ein Engel, der zu mir geschickt wird

To mend this sobering wound

Photo by Alina Sofia on Unsplash

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There once was this young boy. Wavy long hair covering equally his ears and sometimes his green, happy eyes flowing under the slight breeze of his Flames ball cap – a hopeful innocence clear from miles away. Every morning, with his backpack slung around both shoulders, he would wander off, balance-beaming the railway ties that lined the long, gravel driveway and make his way to the giant poplar tree in his family’s front yard before the school bus picked him up. 

He looked up and down the bark of the giant poplar, amazed at the theatre of life held right in front of him. Ants, spiders, birds, bugs, beetles, everything! But he always looked past the other creatures and marvelled over one particular caterpillar that hid behind her own shadow on a big poplar leaf. This was his beautiful caterpillar. She didn’t know how beautiful should would one day become. But the boy knew.

Every morning once the boy found his beautiful caterpillar, he would whisper quietly the same thing; “Go on, beautiful. You can do it!”

But day after day, week after week, the boy found his beautiful caterpillar on the same big leaf, eyes closed, hiding behind her own shadow. She really didn’t know how to do it. She heard the boy. But she didn’t know how. She wanted to. But she just couldn’t do it. 

Then one morning, a light rain drizzled the giant poplar and the canvas that was the young boy’s fascination. The young boy approached the tree as he always did, but to his dismay none of the bugs or birds or creatures were frolicking about the bark like usual. Except for his beautiful caterpillar. She was thriving in the rain. Thriving in the conditions where all the other bugs and birds and creatures hid. This was her moment. 

The young boy then watched as his beautiful caterpillar flung herself from the edge of the big leaf, spiralling down towards the ground but at the same time wrapping herself up in a beautiful silk blanket. She carefully covered herself in a mighty layer of love and hope and hung upside down from the big leaf. Waiting. Thinking. Dreaming. 

Days went by. The rains died down and the boy continued his ritual. It was early in spring and his beautiful caterpillar was just finding herself in her new, silk home. He trusted she’d find her way. He knew she would one day appear on that big leaf more beautiful than ever after she found what she needed inside her new, silk home. 

Sure enough, one Thursday morning the young boy ventured to the giant poplar to see his beautiful caterpillar. He searched high, he searched low. But each branch of the giant poplar provided no clues to where his beautiful caterpillar was. He though to himself, “Could today be the day?”

Nervous with excitement, the young boy decided to give up looking for his beautiful caterpillar for that morning. His school bus was headed towards the end of his long, gravel driveway anyways. 

But just as he skipped across the front yard, he felt a blast of fresh spring time air flow past his face. He looked down to his shoulder and immediately let out a gasp of excitement! There was his beautiful caterpillar, now an even more beautiful butterfly resting  her wings as to say “Thank you!” before dancing east across the sky towards the clouds and faraway lands. She did it. The rains couldn’t stop her. 

The young boy was very happy for his beautiful butterfly. She found her soul, and now she could dance and fly and dare to dream. It was bittersweet however, “what if she finds a new home?” the young boy thought. 

Weeks went by. Every day the young boy checked the giant poplar, the big leaf, nothing yet. “One day she’ll be back.” he thought. 

It was now early fall. Leaves started to turn colour from the once vibrant green to a fiery red, brown, yellow – camouflage to the sunrise that was now getting later into the prairie morning. Still, the boy noticed a shimmer in the distance in his walk over to the giant poplar. 

Feeling full of anticipation, joy and glee the young boy hurried over and beamed a smile so wide the Grand Canyon would be jealous when he realized his dream had come true. His beautiful butterfly was back from her journey, dancing across the skies and back to the big leaf he had called home. Resting her beautiful wings as if to say “thank you!” before gracefully landing on the young boy’s outstretched, calming fingertips. The young boy then cleared his throat and wiped the single tear of happiness from his cheek and softly whispered, “I knew you would do it, beautiful.”

Cowboy handshake, right? Deal is done. Judgement of character. Both sides get it. Best deal is the Fair deal. This is how I was raised. A good deal is a fair deal. Well – I’m revved up right now… And I shouldn’t be. Have you ever been completely randomly attacked, over social media of all things…. By someone you’ve never actually met??? Crazy, I know. But when some lowly prick out of nowhere makes comment on a topic that is clearly out of his realm, in hopes of what exactly, I don’t know….A reaction, fuel for self-loathing tendencies. Just a bully move…? God only knows. What a piece of work…. That. Just. Happened.

Take this home, kids. Be a role model for the life you want others to lead. If you need to tear others down in order to build yourself up, you’re going about it all the wrong ways. If you want your angst-ridden, pregnant daughter to grow up and make good decisions, you should be on the forefront about the decisions you make. If you want to defend him like the sun you never had…. If you want to accuse me of not “having a life” because the one I have is seven times what you could have had.. Then that’s your prerogative. Pick your battles. If you hope for another family to embrace yours, dysfunction and all, you’d better not try to make war with the allies. Give your head a shake, and don’t think I will let it slide.
I don’t do well with being made to look like a fool. Assassination of character doesn’t fly here, man. Get real.

Yesterday marks the first powerlifting contest I’ve attended. Totally out of my comfort zone, but I was happy to support a friend that was competing. She did great! Hit some PRs and took home gold in her age and weight. Fantastic.

I’m writing about community. As in, giving back. It’s very important to me to maintain integrity by giving back to those that help you get to where you need to be. I am a firm believer in a whole team of horses pulling together, as you may recall from that earlier post a few weeks back… That team will undoubtedly get across the finish line faster than the four or five individual horses pulling against each other.
Give back. Support. Make friends and make synergy. It’s incredible what the power of many on the same track can hold.