Why not?

kid ready to fly

Special guest blog by Ray Dorey

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Wayne Gretzky

A few weeks ago, I caught up with a good friend over coffee. You might have heard of her. She’s the driving force behind the Happy Act blog, Laurie Swinton.

One of our exchanges was about a course I’ve been taking in genre fiction, which led to a discussion about comedy writing. I brought up the iconic Saturday Night Live, and what an absolute blast those writers must have crafting timely sketches for that particular week’s show.

And then, casually out of left field, Laurie suggested, “(SNL creator and executive producer) Lorne Michaels is Canadian. We should ask him about sitting in on a couple of writer’s meetings.”

I smiled. Was she serious? Surely there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of that ever happening.

But then I recalled a time in my life when such a proposal was common.

I grew up captivated by all that was Disney; the movies, the tv programming, and the theme parks. I couldn’t get enough of the Mickey Mouse brand magic. Disney fueled my imagination, and creative passions.

Eagerly, I would scribe my heart out; sometimes conveying ideas, other times making requests, and nearly every time, I received a response. It made no difference that the replies were often form letters. I was still ecstatic.

Rejection letter from Walt Disney corporation

Sometime between then and now, I grew up, at least a little, and perhaps I lost some of that youthful exuberance. Today, I might only execute similar reach-outs when I thought I had a high chance of success. Dreams perhaps died before they ever had a chance to blossom.

But my younger self always had it right. What’s wrong with asking, even though a voice might warn you there’s a slim chance of reward? You could be inaccurate in your presumptions, or you could simply catch lightning in a bottle. Stranger things have happened. Why not to me? Why do people buy lottery tickets? Because the prize is so much greater than the risk–despite the low odds of winning.

Feeling buoyed, I told Laurie I would write to Lorne Michaels with our request. And I did. A brief search yielded multiple mail and email addresses for Mr. Michaels. So I crafted and launched the following missive:

Mr. Lorne Michaels
Creator and executive producer, Saturday Night Live
NBC Studios

30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY – 10112

Dear Mr. Michaels,

No, I am not high and/or mentally unstable, depending on who you ask.

A friend and I, fellow Canadians and aspiring writers, are both long-time fans of Saturday Night Live.

While meeting recently over coffee, our conversation led to speculation about the creative process used to craft and hone material for the show, and how much indescribable fun it must be to participate.

So we were wondering (here comes the crazy part)…

Would it be possible for the two of us to sit-in on one or two writers meetings as observers?

We are not asking for anything else, and we can only offer our undying gratitude in return.

Sincerely,
Ray Dorey

A few days later, I received a response. My heart leapt in my throat.

One of the email addresses had bounced back. Oh well… it wasn’t the response I was hoping for, but it wasn’t a no, and it was still early. Seeds need time to yield mighty oaks.

But whether Mr. Michaels ever responds is really secondary here. The point is that I made the attempt, and knocked on a door that would have never had a chance to open otherwise.

I encourage you, as I re-encourage myself, to dare to defy logic, and to be more creative and optimistic with your pursuits. We’re only here for a short time, and fortune favours the bold as they say, so why not?

You can read more of Ray’s adventures and short stories at storiesfromdoreyville.wordpress.com.

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Goodbye Rick Mercer and thanks for the memories

Like millions of other Canadians this week, I watched the final episode of the Rick Mercer Report Tuesday night.

For the past 15 years, Rick Mercer has been a staple in our household most Tuesday nights.

What struck me the most when I watched his final episode was how much his show personified what it means to be Canadian and the best about our country.

I’ve been lucky to see Rick in action twice over the years—once in Kingston when he did a segment on a national tree climbing competition in Lake Ontario Park, and last November at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. Both times he was engaging, funny, genuinely happy to meet and learn about people, and clearly proud to showcase the best about our country.

On Tuesday’s show, Rick did a special tribute to all the para-athletes he’s interviewed over the years. While we still have a long way to go in making Canada accessible, I believe thanks to legislation and guys like Rick, who have illuminated the wit, grace, and determination of people with disabilities, we are more aware and understanding of the needs and unique talents of this segment of our population.

Another segment was dedicated to politicians. There were some clips I hadn’t seen before (how did I miss the show where he and Bob Rae jumped into a lake buck naked?) I couldn’t help but contrast the relationship between Canadian media and our politicians with the United States.

While there is still an appropriate level of adversarial criticism and oversight, necessary for the media to do their jobs, the Rick Mercer Report personified how accessible our politicians are to the media, and the deep-rooted respect Canadians have for those who devote their lives to public office.

Through the Rick Mercer Report, we were able to explore the best of our country. From showcasing schools raising funds for Spread the Net to end malaria in third world countries, to the weird, wacky and wonderful events and people from coast to coast, Rick was our own personal Sherpa each week, taking us to new places and adventures across the land.

In his “Go See Canada” rant, Rick urged us to explore Canada, saying “I know in my heart of hearts, we would be better, stronger, and more unified if more Canadians could make it their business to see more of Canada.”

This week’s #HappyAct is to go see Canada. Thanks for the memories Rick. All the best in your next adventure.

And in case you missed it, I almost fell off my chair laughing this week watching Rick’s Seven-Day Forecast, especially since we’re frozen in this never-ending winter. Here it is again for your viewing pleasure.

Ed. note: A political note, thank you CBC for bringing Rick into our homes each week. Shows like the Rick Mercer Report would never exist if we didn’t have a publicly funded broadcaster. Keep them coming, and for all of you who fear going into withdrawal each Tuesday night, there’s still This Hour Has 22 Minutes, one of the best on television.

Take the work happiness test

sign take the test

The average person spends 2,000 hours per year at work. Based on that staggering figure, it stands to reason that being happy at work is key to our overall happiness.

According to Harvard Business Review, there are three main things that contribute to happiness at work:

  1. Feeling like you are making a difference
  2. How hopeful you are about the future and the link between your work and your goals and aspirations
  3. Having positive work relationships

In Love in the Workplace, I shared the findings of one leadership expert, Mark Crowley who found a monumental shift in the drivers of happiness from time with family and hobbies to time at work. Crowley concluded “how satisfied workers feel in their jobs now determines their overall happiness with life. This monumental shift means that job fulfillment has become essential to people everywhere.”

HBR has a 24-question test you can take to measure your happiness at work. It gives you a summary report and tips on how to use your strengths and find happiness. It also shows your responses and happiness/satisfaction levels in comparison to other HBR readers who take the test.

I took it again this week. Like employee engagement scores, I find results for these kinds of tests can swing depending on your current state of mind. I scored Medium on Purpose and Hope and High on Friendship at Work. The test reinforced for me what I need to do to stay engaged at work and gave me helpful advice for making work a positive experience.

This week’s #HappyAct is to take the test to see how happy you are at work. How did you do? Leave a comment.

For more on happiness at work, read

How to be happier at work

Develop your emotional intelligence

Conversations with an 11-year old

reflection of girl in window

My 11-year old is one of the funniest, coolest people I know. She’s more comfortable in her own skin than most 40-year olds.

Here’s a compilation of conversations with Clare over the past week.

—————–

This kid Austin in her class tells her he’s planning a big summer blowout. It’s in 2019. Austin brought in a list for all his classmates to bring to the party. The list went something like this: bow and arrow, swan and pink flamingo floaties, Sunny D, chicken nuggets, and beer. Did I mention they are 11? Now that’s a party.

—————–

We’re driving in the car one morning, and there’s a news story about a NHL player who’s back playing after being injured. Now when injured players return, the NHL allows them to wear “red shirts” which means no contact.

I say to Clare, “Wow, isn’t that fantastic—I think that’s new, I don’t remember the NHL doing that before.”

Clare says, “What’s new for you Mom is 10 years old. What’s new for me is a few months old.”

Then a jingle comes on the radio for an adult fun store in Kingston. She starts singing along, then stops and says, “It’s really sad I’m singing to this right now.”

—————–

I ask her what time we need to be at her volleyball tournament. I say, “Okay, let’s leave at 7:45.”

She says, “No, let’s make it a quarter to eight.”

—————–

Clare asks if we can watch a movie. I say, “Can I choose the movie for a change?” Clare says, “As long as it’s not a chick flick or some old person’s movie.” Her favourite movie right now is Deadpool.

Her favourite line is “That’s why Regina rhymes with fun.”

—————–

She recites the full lyrics to Salt n Pepa’s Shoop at least three times a day.

Bright as the sun, I wanna have some fun
Come and give me some of that yum-yum
Chocolate chip, honey dip, can I get a scoop?
Baby, take a ride in my coupe, you make me wanna
Shoop shoop ba-doop (Baby, hey)

—————–

Then she lays a Yo Mamma’s joke on me.

“Yo Mama’s sooooo fat, I took a picture of her last Christmas and it’s still printing.”

—————–

I’m trying to convince her we should visit the Diefenbunker museum when we’re in Ottawa.

She says, “Mom, I don’t learn about history. I make history.”

—————–

It’s 9 o’clock and we’re playing HQ Trivia. Clare is sitting beside me. I bug everyone in the house to join in so we have a shot at winning. Third question, and I know the answer, but Clare is yelling in my ear the wrong answer and I tell her to be quiet.

She leaves in a huff and says, “You know Mom, sometimes with you, it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

She knows me so well.

At least it’s nice having a kid in the house that will actually talk to me.

This week’s #HappyAct is to have a conversation with a cool 11-year old. Mine’s free if you want a kid for a week.

Clare shooting a bow and arrow
Clare practicing her archery for Austin’s big summer blowout

Take me out to the ball game

baseball stadium

Special guest post by Mark Gauthier

The weather is easing up and I’ve seen a few robins out in the backyard which is a sign of good things to come. Some people smell that earthy dog smell that’s uncovered after the snow washes down the gutters but I smell Rawlings, peanuts and beer.

Baseball.

The word’s been around for almost 150 years and yet it’s become the Hamlet of our sports culture with phrases like,

“Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded and a full count” or this beauty, “Gettin’ to first base”.

We all know these sayings and I bet you can walk down King St. and the majority of people would know exactly what you’re talking about.

It’s a beautiful game. Not only what happens on the field but off the field.

There’s the scoreboard–every statistic tells a story from an RBI to a stolen base, you can pick up exactly what happened at what time throughout the game. No other game can tell a story like baseball.

Off the the field there’s the chatter. Every fan has a tale to tell on what brought them to the game. Don’t believe me? When the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after a 108 year drought, it affected so many people’s lives and not just because of the drought being over, it was the fans that were affected. Generations who never saw them win a championship were remembered at grave sites, arm patches and photographs. That’s what baseball does to a nation, or the Chicago Cubs.

This field, this game — it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.
—Terrance Mann, Field of Dreams.

Even with the digitization of America, there’s something about the game that peels back the skins of time and reveals its heartbeat, our childhood, our innocence and our love of all that was good in its most simplistic form. It’s in the sounds of the game from the pop of the bat to that heckler in the stands the best and the worst of who we are. It’s in the smells of the turf, the beer and the hotdogs. Seeing the score board and reading the game and one of my favourites, the taste. Hot roasted peanuts and hot dogs. Baseball makes a lot of sense.

This #HappyAct is a little project that will take you into the summer, and hopefully if the stars align, the autumn.

Go see a baseball game. There’s many to choose from The Blue Jays, The Chiefs or the Ottawa Champions. If you’re feeling ambitious, take a trip and make a pilgrimage to Cooperstown or one of baseball’s greatest parks. Go by yourself or best yet, bring the family.

For more Cubs action, visit Mark’s blog, canuckcubbie.com.

Time for a spring makeover

Girl with hair cut

 

It’s another crisp, cold wintry morning. A blanket of snow covers our yard and the ice is reforming on the lake. Dave is in the final throes of his annual sap boil off. Spring feels like it is weeks away.

One way to usher in spring early is to give something in your life a spring makeover.

Yesterday, Clare and I went to get new haircuts for spring. Clare had been growing her hair with the goal of donating it for cancer. I was planning to join her. While I had to defer my pixie cut because my hair was still too short, my beautiful girl cut off her golden locks and is now rockin’ a new look for spring.

I also refreshed my blog this week. I hope you like the new look. I was going for something sunny, bright and inspirational.

It’s still easy to follow my blog and share my posts. Just click on the three dots in the upper right hand corner, and enter your email. Social sharing icons appear at the end of each post. If you read something you like, share the happy.

Thanks for continuing on with me on this journey to make the world a happier place, one happy act at a time.

Girl with long hair

Girl with long hair

Enjoy a sick day

Dog on couch
My faithful companion on sick days

Last week, I came down with a nasty cold Clare gave me. I ended up taking two days off work, uncharacteristic for me.

This may sound crazy, but I actually enjoy sick days. Sick days are the only days of the year that I give myself complete, unfettered permission to do absolutely nothing. No chores, no laundry. No dishes. No phone calls. No social media. No emails. Nothing, except rest.

This particular virus left me weak and sleepy, but hungry, so I still cooked. I slept. I read in bed (unheard of!). On day four, I worked a little, listened to podcasts, but mainly slept and rested. I didn’t even watch TV.

Murphy and Bella were by my side the entire time, although I did have to fight them for the couches.

This week’s #HappyAct is to enjoy a sick day. Take one day and give yourself permission to do absolutely nothing.

Ed. note: Clare and I are still dragging and have been debating this question: would you rather be very ill one day, but then recover quickly, or have a long, drawn out, but milder illness? I said the latter–she says the former. What do you say?