Posts tagged ‘vacation’

Profound Thoughts From Vacation (on Technology, Food and the Spirit)

Ahhh… vacation!  It’s not only a time to relax and spend time with family and friends, it’s also an opportune time to become one with your own Spirit and commune with the Spirit World.

Sure, it wounds kinda hoaxy.  (Hey, Bob’s gone new age.  He’s been away from home for so long that he must have lost it. )

No, it’s completely true.  If you are moving too fast, whether it is physical (speeding along the interstate or whoofing down your lunch) or mental (too much time on your iPhone/Blackberry or obsessively planning) you never really get to be in touch with your own Spirit.

The best moments of this vacation were spending time laughing with friends, telling stories among family, floating along in the ocean, and for me, listening to the bullfrogs and crickets and looking up to the stars and our beautiful grandmother Moon in the sky at night.

I’ll never forget the words from our Mayan elder who married Deb and I back in May.  During the ceremony she said: “place yourself in the here and now.  Feel the earth beneath your feet and the sand beneath your toes.”

If you don’t stop, or if you’re always thinking ten steps ahead, you’ll never truly enjoy or fulfill what you are doing.  You’ll always be moving along to the next thing.

I’ve noticed that technology seems to be a significant barrier.  Yes, I’m guilty of it when it comes to using my smartphone.  Most days, usually when I’m on the government dime, I’m checking the thing 24/7.  You’ve all heard it before…  we’re more accessible than ever.  But technology didn’t make things easier for us, it just gave us a lot more work.  Work that we’re now taking home.  We even bring our work into our bedrooms at night.  When I’m not on it for work, I’m watching movies, reading books, playing games, all by the light of my magnificent Android tablet.

I really noticed it observing the children during our road trip.  Instead of talking and visiting as a family, or enjoying the stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains or the Atlantic Ocean, they’re texting, playing video games, Facebooking and on their headphones listening to music.  Our kids are being transported to Katy Perry’s vacation home or LMFAO’s back seat, instead of finding themselves a part of the world around them or a part of a great family adventure.

Although I am totally addicted, I’ll never truly understand the allure of fast food.  It must be the mindless calories, fat and deep-fried heaven that overtakes the common sense.

A couple of times during our holidays we stopped for the “quick bite”.  Through a Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s drive-thru, we occasionally picked up the odd breakfast sandwich or burgers and fries.  It comes out fast, goes in fast, then comes out fast again.  (Too much information, I know).  It tastes great, but is it truly enjoyable?  When a vacation-time family meal only lasts 10 minutes, there must be some kind of problem with that.

The answer, once again, lies in the Spirit.

The food that is provided to us by the Spirit World, through the abundance of our Mother Earth, is good and wholesome.  The food has a Spirit all to itself.  That food is sacred.

The potatoe, even though I’m not a fan, was grown in the soil within our Mother herself.  The not-so-sacred cow, although domesticated, gives up it’s life for us to live and grow.  From the cucumber that makes up the pickle, to the bright, red vine-grown tomato, to the cream and spices that make up the Big Mac sauce – at one point were wholesome, sacred foods.

When they are enjoyed in their raw, natural state these foods are decadent.  Even when they are cooked, by the hands of our wives, husbands, moms, mother-in-laws, friends and step-dads, the food is prepared with Love.

Unfortunately, nowadays, these plants and animals are grown using hormones and pesticides, then are sliced, diced and blended en masse.  The recipes are conceived in a laboratory and cooked in a factory.  The food is then re-assembled, flash-frozen, boxed and shipped.  Upon ordering, it is then fried, pressure-cooked, microwaved, and re-assembled.  Then, ultimately, passed from the fast-food window through your car window.

It’s not wonder there is little social, spiritual or nutritional value place on our food.  Endulging the quick bite is a long way from being in touch with the Spirit of sacred food.

The best anecdote of being in touch with the Spirit comes from our wedding adventure in Mexico.

One of our favorite pastimes in snorkeling.  While we were in Tulum, quite a few of our friends and family gathered at the beach and spent our time in the shallow pools snorkeling for critters.  We turned over rocks to observe the krill, shrimp, and tropical fish.  But it’s the small rock crabs are so fun to handle.

While I was skimming the surface, young Cayden joined me.  This happy-go-lucky, rambunctious 7 year-old paddled circles around me and splashed around, all the while we were looking for the elusive inch-long crustacean.  Finally, after all the sea-life abandoned our location, and without seeing anything for ten minutes or so, I took young Cayden ashore.

While cleaning our diving masks, I explained how our Spirits need to be in touch with the Spirits underwater.  We were entering their realm, and we need to silence our bodies and our minds in order to receive the gift of their presence.

When we returned, Cayden and I floated quietly and respectfully through the coral reef and rough bottom, finding the sea-life we were looking for.

When we quiet ourselves, and spend time “in the here and now”, we can truly observe this amazing world around us.

… And What a Great Year It Was

So, it’s the last day of the year.  I woke up with a bit of a cold this morning.  And there were no eggs in the fridge.  But other than that, it was as fine a day as any other in 2011.

There were some very fine days in the past year.  Being the last day of the year, and all, I thought I’d put together a blog entry remembering those occasions that were truly gifts from the Creator.

GETTING ENGAGED – By far, the most significant moment for us.  With my beautiful partner Deborah and her girls, we boarded a horse-drawn carriage for an evening ride through Central Park in New York.  In view of the crisp moonlight and sparkling lights of Park Avenue, I get down on one knee.  Still shocked, and über emotional, Deb said yes.  It was a beautiful night and a beautiful trip.  Man, I Love NY!  It also takes a lot of clandestine planning and investment management to get engaged.  From the large piece of carbon crystal gemstone on her finger, to the interim family vacation to NYC, I wanted to make sure it was unforgettable to my betrothed.  Wedding date:  Cinco be Mayo.  Location:  Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

THE TRUE MEANING OF WINTER – I have finally found the true meaning of winter.  For years, I would huddle up in my warm little house and wait the wicked season out.  Forget ice fishing, snowmobiling – too cold for me.  But this March, on another memorable family getaway to Mont Tremblant, I discovered skiing.  OMG!!!  Overwhelming fun, exhilaration, breathtaking landscapes, and closeness with Gzhemnidoo.  Skiing is the Creator’s sport.  Physical, spiritual, mental and emotional exercise.  And yes, they have size 15 ski boots.

NEW YEARS IN SOUTH AMERICA — Last year at this time we were in Iquitos, Peru. The heart of the Peruvian Amazon, we ushered in the New Year with my father-in-law James, Rossana, family and friends. We got to see other indigenous cultures and experience the great Amazon River. Amazing experience. Particularly our time in Iquitos, handling the monkey and fishing for piranha.

CAREER DIRECTIONS – On May 30, I began my career as a Director in the Ontario Public Service.  Following an intensive recruitment process, I was appointed the first Director of Aboriginal Relations for the Ministry of Transportation.  The highlight so far was establishing the new Branch from scratch.  Developing the mandate, a strategic framework on , hiring staff and delving into the policy work.  It’s nice to be able to mold without mold removal and create a legacy piece.  It’s also great to be working with First Nation and Métis communities again.

VISITING DEB’S FAMILY – In my blog, I described our summer family vacation as nearly two weeks of visits.  But perhaps the most memorable visit, was being introduced to Deborah’s Grandma.  Her bingo-loving matriarch was spry, kindly and opinionated, especially when it comes to her family.  We paid a visit to Deb’s reserve, Pabineau First Nation.  We spent some time at Uncle Fisher’s, as well as Chief David’s place.  Deb and I took a romantic four-wheeler ride to Pabineau Falls where she shared some of her childhood memories.

WEIGHT WATCHERS – Lost twenty pounds in 2011.  Stepped back on the scale this morning and found out I gained it all back.  I did enjoy working out at the gym.  I need to find some time to do that again.  We’ll see what 2012 brings.

KATHERINE FAITH – got her driver’s (learners) permit in Nova Scotia, celebrated her sweet sixteen and moved into a new home with her newly married mom and her partner Ricky.  She looked so beautiful in the bridesmaid’s dress.  So proud she worked in Toronto this summer and saved her money.

JASMINE – applied to Bill Crother’s Secondary School and is looking forward to superstardom in the sports high school.  She been playing on a competitive volleyball team, the Stingers.

GRIFFIN – has discovered reading in a big way.  Like his big sister, he started with manga but really transformed by enjoying the Hunger Games.  Griffin played offensive lineman during the Bulldogs summer football program.

MIIGWANS – is looking forward to playing summer football again next year.  He wishes football was all year long.  It’s so great to see him pick up a sport and try really hard with it.

FIONA – has become a social animal in the past year, able to be friends with everybody.  The holiday season has been a boon for her, hanging with Rowena, Michelle, Jaicee, Griffin, Miigwans, Alie, Ty, Cayden and Aria.

THE TABLET  – I’ve used every piece of mobile technology:  iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Palm.  In my opinion, nothing beats the Galaxy Tab 10.1.  Apple technology is way to proprietary and static while the interface is stiff.  Android provides us power users the flexibility to get the device to do what we want it to.  I use it for telephony, music, photos, reading books, magazines, news, television, movies, social networking, web browsing, and some web development.  Recently, I’ve been bringing it into the office and using it for work and at meetings.  Damn fine piece of technology.  My honey got it for me for my Birthday.  Miigwetch, my Love.

TV SHOW – I have discovered Fringe, by new favorite TV show.  Great series created by J.J. Abrams.  Wicked storylines and great characters.  Kind of like having the X Files back again.  I’ve watched all episodes so far, but ironically, none of them on television.  I’ve watched them exclusively on the internet.  Looking forward to my first-ever, new episode of Fringe in 2012.

BEST MOVIE – Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  The movie explains a lot from the cult classic film franchise.  I seen it three times at the theatre, a few times on my tablet, and my Boyz gave it to me for Christmas.

Yeah…  [reclines back in his chair.]  Good times.  Good times.

Our Ski Adventure

New Addition to the Family

As Deb´s uncle Terry puts it: “Who would have thought we would be in Iquitos, making our way in a boat up the Amazon River? This is National Geographic stuff!” It sure is an experience of a lifetime.

Yesterday, we had a great time on James´ boat making our way to the butterfly farm and animal sanctuary. The best experience, other than seeing the wildlife and the jungle, was mingling with the Anishinaabe people in a local village. I guess they aren´t technically Anishinaabe.  They are indigenous. But we all look the same.  (Maybe they have a little darker.)

Speaking of dark complextions, I want to introduce you to our latest family member. This little wooly monkey will stay here in Peru where he gets some really great care by Dad and Rosanna´s family.

I´ve never held a monkey before. He seems to really have taken a liking to me. He´s quite friendly and so human-like, it´s amazing. He´s also so agile and gentle when he climbs around you. He´s a great addition to the family.

Buenos Años Nuevo!!!

My Life in Retrospect, 2010

Really, it’s been a rather uneventful year.  Which is a good thing.  No big changes, other than another contract job in the Government of Ontario.  Had a couple of great vacations and a blissful home life.  However, a little ticked at Black Bloc anarchists and Rob Ford, two entities spurred on by angry mobs.

NEWS STORY OF THE YEAR:  The G8-G20 fiasco here in Toronto.  Our offices were closed for a day or so.  A major portion of downtown was fenced off.  Police in riot gear on every corner.  And thousands upon thousands of protesters.  For kicks, Deb and I drove through it on June 26 after a morning at the St. Lawrence Market.  Although, I can’t condone the instances of bad policing and the conduct of some individuals.  I also can’t condone the massive, systematic arrests and abuse of emergency police powers.  However, what got lost in the story was the violent protests and use of black bloc tactics by anarchists.  Sure, the police may have abused their powers – but could you imagine what would have taken place if they weren’t there?

I CHEERED for World Cup soccer.  It’s not a very big part of culture in northern Ontario.  But everyone in the city goes crazy at World Cup time.  And now wonder.  Everyone has a team to cheer for based on their nationality.  While we Anishinaabeg may never have a team to cheer for.

I JEERED Mayor Rob Ford.  Knowing George Smitherman, he was definitely the best man for the job.  Hands down, the Toronto mayoral race was also the year’s biggest political disappointment.

BEST MOVIE:  The King’s Speech.  We just seen it last night.  It is a fascinating story about King George VI.  The acting is absolutely superb.  Colin Firth is so believable in the role.  As is the Queen Mum, played by Helena Bonham Carter.  Geoffrey Rush plays the likeable speech therapist, Lionel Logue.  One of the most comedic scenes is when Logue’s wife comes home unexpectedly to discover that her husband is being paid a visit by the new King and his wife Elizabeth.  These British royalty films are great.

CAREER:  Presently, I am the manager of culture policy for the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.  I’m responsible for managing the policy direction of the Government of Ontario in the areas of heritage, archaeology, libraries, museums as well as the Ministry’s role in cultural planning, renewable energy and Aboriginal Affairs.  I have a great staff of fourteen people.  What amazes me most is the constant turnover.  Staff are always coming and going so I spend a lot of my time managing human resources, filling vacancies and making sure we’re being responsive to senior management.  It is gratifying to know that many of the things we do go a long way to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the province.

NEW WEBSITE:  I wanted to do it last year but the designer I wanted was so incredibly busy.  However, I’m satisfied with the look and feel of the design.  But what lot of people really don’t know is, I am the developer. The content, function, database operation, and programming is all me. The technology stuff is great.  The best thing about it, for the first time, the website was developed completely with open source programming.

FAMILY:  Deborah and I having the time of our lives together.  We are working on being more healthy – eating right and staying in shape.  Katherine Faith turned 15 years old, with a mind of her own, a boyfriend, pretty good judgement and aspirations of driving the car.  In fact, I took her on a couple of joy rides and she did really well.  Griffin turned 11 and Miigwans turned 8.  Jasmine turned 12 and Fiona turned 8, just like Baby.  Singing:  “When you’re eight, you can do so much more.  When you’re eight, you can walk around outdoors.”

ROAD TRIP:  These seem to be a thing of the past, as most of my road travel is limited to getting to and from Nipissing and to attend ceremonies a few times per year.  The longest road trip, once again, was a family drive to Spring Ceremonies, June-13, 2010 in Wisconsin.  A total of 2524 km.  My car just turned over 150,000 this morning.

VACATION:  Who can forget the trip to Varadero, Cuba!  Lots of great beach and swimming action, some pretty good snorkelling and great family fun with the Girls.  Deb and I also got to spend some time in Montego Bay, Jamaica in a lovely villa with our friends Joe and Fiona.

I CRIED WHEN when I found out that Warren passed away.  He was younger than me… a family man… with a young daughter and newborn twins.  So tragic.  I was glad to know him and happy to know he’s still with us through his young family.  Rest in peace, Warren Monague.

I CRINGE WHEN people on Facebook write “R.I.P.”.  If you are so thoughtful, and want to offer a sincere condolence, can’t you write out Rest in Peace?

MEMORABLE MEAL:  Steak and lobster dinner at Joe and Fionas with her uncles Robert and George.

MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Floating peacefully, about a km out from shore, in the warm, ocean water off Varadero, Cuba.  Nothing around, accept me and the Spirit.

Greetings from Jamaica

“We’re Jammin’.  I want to jam it with you.  Jammin’.  I hope you like Jammin’ to.”

It’s another beautiful day in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  We’re having a great time, listening to some Bob Marley, swimming and snorkelling.  I thought I’d take some time to describe the experience we’re having this Thanksgiving weekend.

The villa is even more beautiful than the pictures we’ve seen.  Lots of space, great outdoor area, panoramic pool, sitting area and our own private beach.  We’ve had our last couple of meals in the outdoor dining area.  There’s a refreshing, cool breeze coming off the ocean.  Not too hot… in fact just right.

The staff here are phenomenal.  We have our own hostess, chef, housekeeper, groundskeeper and driver.  They take really great care of us.  In fact, I think we’re going downtown this afternoon just for the heck of it.

In the villa, there is only myself, Deborah, Fiona, Joe, Fiona, baby Matteo, Savannah and Gloria, friends of Joe and Fiona.  So a nice small family, enjoying each other’s company for the ultra-long weekend.  Matteo is so cute and such a good boy.  I like making him laugh.  And, boy, he Loves the pool.

Yes, I think we’re having turkey-lurkey for dinner.  But it might be marinaded turkey breast on the barbeque.  We’re having our dinner on the beach tonight.  Hope sand doesn’t get into my food.

Nothing couldn’t be better unless you were all here with us.

“Let’s get together and feel alright.”