… there was an empty page. And it needed to be filled. Not because the page had any agenda of its own but simply because Nature abhors a vacuum and will always rush to fill one.
One great way for me to get something going in my life is to open up new “space” and see what happens. That is what I’ve done with my blog and this first entry.
Why start with this picture?
Simple. I took it and it is the best Nature picture I’ve done. This is a photo of a place near where I live that I love to go to.
But as I selected it, I realized it has more meaning than that. In fact, it is a great representation of the purpose of this blog.
This river comes crashing down the mountain, full of power, making lots of noise, moving at times with purpose and sometimes with wild abandon, bouncing off obstacles in its race to the ocean.
But at various places along its journey it takes time to rest and reflect. At the spot in this photo, it settles quickly into a set of deep, quiet pools, surrounded by sheer rock cliffs and illuminated by sunlight bouncing off the rocks beneath its surface. No longer racing ahead, it ambles along, twisting this way and that, the power still present but subdued and much more forgiving.
The thrashing opacity and roar of the rapids is gone and it is possible to see how wonderfully crisp and clear the water really is in the quiet that settles over the surface. After a little while, the river will gather its strength and speed again to resume its mad dash. But during its time in these pools, it allows others to see through it and, in fact, welcomes them to play with it. Children and adults jump off the cliffs above into the deep clear pools, confident they can see any dangers lurking beneath the surface. It is a restful yet playful place for both the river and all those who love it. I’ve learned many things about myself and others in this place.
Like the river, I rush through many parts of my life, bouncing from challenge to challenge, and opportunity to opportunity, my head filled with a powerful churn of ideas, my space filled with the roar of conversation and human activity. But in recent times, I’ve learned I need to occasionally slow right down, let the rapids and whirlpools of my thoughts subside and the cacophony of my activity fade away. It is during these times that I get the greatest clarity of who I am, how I am and even perhaps why I am.
My intent with this blog is to give myself a place to share a little of what I see and feel when I enter this “space” and some of the other less contemplative places in my head. What I say may be quiet and accommodating or it may be loud and aggressive. Whatever the case, I sincerely hope it will be transparent; that you will be able to clearly see what I’m saying and any agenda I may have in saying it. Time will tell how successful I’ll be.
Let me know what you think.
P.S. This piece was the first blog post I ever wrote. It was originally posted April 28, 2006 on my Blogger site which was called “The View From Up Here” and is now shut down.
I love that Apple is being beaten with their own words and their own concepts. They deserve it.
For a company that likes to promote itself with “Think Different”, it is obsessively focused on just the opposite: utter conformance to their highly restrictive rules. In the Apple Universe, there is only one way to do things – the Apple approved way. Is there any clue in the name of main street at their HQ? One Apple Park Way. People drop the “Park” in common usage…
For those too young to remember, in 1984, Apple released an ad on the theme of George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty Four. It was hugely popular because it showed a young protestor challenging authoritarianism – in this case a reference to IBM’s control of the business computer market.
The irony is that Apple has become the authoritarian regime it sought to destroy. Their monopolistic practices have restricted innovation and constitute a 30% “tax” on ALL paid software products that run on Apple mobile devices. They must approve all products you can download to your phone. Does that sound like a free and open market?
Google has a similar monopoly (albeit slightly less restrictive) on Android devices.
Both companies are now facing anti-trust lawsuits from Epic Games (publisher of the game Fortnite and the video) for banning the game from their platforms. To support their case, they launched a PR campaign against Apple parodying their 1984 ad.
After the recent “rough ride” testimony that Apple, Google (and Facebook) had in front of Congress, there will be many calls to restrict the monopolistic power of Apple and Google. I doubt Facebook will come away unscathed as well.
Other companies in the industry like Spotify have expressed their support for Epic Games in their lawsuits. I expect we’ll see many more.
While I’m reluctant to encourage government regulation of industry, the companies have managed to gain such tight control over the global markets that they need to be constrained to protect the free market concepts that power our economy. The companies are abusing their power and market forces cannot overcome their dominance. The collective power of all of us, expressed in the form of “government” needs to act and rebalance the playing field.
Watch the videos and have a chuckle at the concepts “karma is a bitch” and “live by the sword, die by the sword”. Or was that a hammer?
I’ve been thinking tonight of why Dr Bonnie Henry is so widely admired and, in particular, why I respect her so much.
It is pretty simple:
She talks frankly and empathetically about the serious and dangerous situation we are facing.
She is obviously not only well briefed but also a deep subject matter expert on infectious diseases AND the intricacies of our public health system. Her knowledge of the daily inner workings of our very large health network is impressive.
Her “situational awareness” of things like the various outbreaks in institutions across the province is outstanding. She knows what is happening (in detail), who is involved and the steps they are taking to address the situation. She not only knows “what” but “why”.
She is transparent in that she is willing to share details of her plan, its successes and failures, and the risks and rewards of her strategy with us. I feel like we are treated as thinking adults.
She plans multiple steps ahead. I believe she has a strong vision of how this pandemic will play out despite the wild variations it may take depending on our cooperation with her plan and the unexpected influences on it from outside our provincial borders. Said another way, she is flexible in her expectations but has a clear idea of her preferences.
It is clear she has some very strong people on her team from the rapid decisions she’s had to make and the resulting actions she’s been able to take. This is the sign of a good leader and manager.
She doesn’t brag about the success of her actions but still celebrates the wins.
She generously shares credit for the things that have gone well and accepts responsibility for things that haven’t.
She is an excellent communicator. Her messages are clear, easy to understand and easy to accept, even when they are tough to swallow.
She responds to feedback. I’ve heard questions in a daily briefing that are not only answered immediately but also answered in the next day or two with decisions made and actions taken.
She is practically hopeful and, by sharing that, gives us hope.
I can’t obviously “know” that everything she says is true.
It is incredibly easy to trust her. Over time, she has proven that what she says is the best, most honest version of things that she can share.
I believe Dr Bonnie Henry represents a modern, truly Canadian hero. This isn’t one of the brash, larger-than-life, risk-taking personalities that are sometimes given the hero moniker in media and elsewhere. It is in the every-person nature of who she is and what she does, even though her carefully considered decisions and the results they generate are extraordinary. It feels like she could be a friend you’d meet for coffee and at the same time easy to see that she is making an incredible impact just by being herself.
In the post-presentation question period today, a reporter tried to bait her into predicting how many people would die in British Columbia from COVID-19. The reporter pulled in facts about what other leaders in other regions were doing in an attempt to corner her. Bonnie has previously explained why she is not willing to “pick a number” (my words). She explained how and why her team uses multiple models of epidemic evolution to influence their decisions but that the models are all, in some way, flawed and therefore only guidance, and not definitive. The reporter finally zeroed in and asked, “Will you tell us today how many people you think will eventually die in British Columbia?” She looked straight back and said, without apparent malice, “No.” But it was subtly obvious that sticking to her guns and staying in integrity with her principles gave her a little endorphin hit and the flicker of a grin flitted across her face. I actually celebrated out loud that she didn’t cave to the pressure.
In my opinion, Dr Bonnie Henry deserves the honor of being named an Officer of the Order of Canada. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Canada
I originally posted this on Facebook but have captured it here to remind me…
I’m frightened by something I’m seeing. There is a situation developing that is tearing at the very fabric of Canadian society. I’m appalled at the disrespect for core Canadian values it demonstrates. Fortunately, it is very easy to identify.
If you recently have used the phase, “I’m not a racist but …”
Simply take out the words “not” and “but” and we’ve identified the villain.
There you have it. You are a closet racist. And you are destroying Canada. Not protecting it as you so naively believe.
Based on that, I sadly do NOT consider you a valuable or integral member of Canadian society unless you take action and discontinue this behavior. Please feel free to leave. Or better yet, get out. I don’t care if you were born here. You’ve lost your way and you don’t deserve the freedoms in this country that our families fought and died for.
In contrast, I’m happy to invite into Canada more people who are inclusive, who value what we have here, who contribute to our society AS A WHOLE, and who celebrate the variety of people that make us an amazing human race and do not try to segregate us into some isolated populations based on unscientific differences or religiously/politically motivated and generated fears.
I’m really tired of hearing versions of this “I’m not a racist but” phrase from family, friends and others in my community.
Everyone has an inherent racist bias. It is almost impossible not to have one. I have one. Or more.
The difference comes in how you handle it. If you are actively looking at your biases and working to find ways to be a better person in spite of them, I’m on your side. If not, I’m first going to try to wake you up to the opportunity in front of you. If you actively resist, I’m going to work tirelessly against you.
This rant is in response to multiple recent incidents where immigrant friends of mine have suffered RIDICULOUS, undeserved and laughable-if-it-wasnt-so-serious abuse at the hands of European and British heritage Canadians. As I’ve told my friends in these circumstances, I’m happier to have them in my country than the so-called patriots who want them to leave. My immigrate friends demonstrate real Canadian values of hard work ethics, tolerance, respect for others, generosity, inclusion and community comes first. They are far more Canadian than their attackers.
If you cringed when you saw that I’m calling you out for the phrase “I’m not a racist but …”, please look at the crap that you’ve allowed to taint your humanity and take action against it.
I’m Daryl Hatton – Darlene’s eldest child. I’d like to share with you some stories of my mom and what I’ve learned from her.
Darlene Marie Shorten, was born New Year’s Eve, 1937. In thinking about how she lived her life – this seems like the perfect day! Being very unselfish, she generously shared her special day with the rest of the world and, in response, the world threw the biggest party you can imagine, on that night, EVERY YEAR. There were even fireworks!
But the underlying point is that, to her, it was never about her birthday, or for that matter, about her at all. Ever. With husband Art by her side, the progressive New Year’s Eve dinners with friends were one of the highlights of her year. Not because it was her birthday but because it was just another great opportunity to get together with people she loved, to celebrate endings and new beginnings. Her generosity and focus on the experience of others was a foundation of her life. She cared deeply for people and put others first, sometimes perhaps to her detriment.
Her goodwill towards others showed up in many subtle but powerful ways. My son Ben’s birth was a very difficult delivery over multiple days ending with my wife Myra having an emergency C section. Darlene was the first person to come to the hospital but instead of racing to see the new baby, she stood at the foot of Myra’s bed until she woke. And then, she smiled and simply said, “good job”. It meant a lot.
Darlene was curious about other people. Sometimes embarrassingly curious. She was gregarious and loved talking with people. And she was community focused, always wanting to help out, even if she hadn’t been asked. When we were young, mom would start talking with anyonewho was close by; in the line at the grocery store, at the next table in a restaurant, while waiting in the doctor’s office. I’d cringe as she struck up a conversation with yet another TOTAL STRANGER. As kids, we’re not supposed to do that, right??? She’d recommend items on the menu, or talk about recipes for fresh vegetables or would share details of family health issues. Sometimes I just wanted to crawl under a rock and die.
And then I had kids. And somewhere along the line I started talking with strangers. In the line at the coffee shop. Or at the airport. Or at the next table. And I’d recommend one of the menu items. And my kids would cringe. And I realized I’d become my mother!
Fortunately, my kids have apparently learned that this behavior is OK much faster than I have. That’s good because the unexpected benefit of this little quirk is that it naturally and painlessly strengthens our community. It is friendly and inclusive and tolerant and magnanimous; all things we need more of in society right now.
One trait that I acquired from my mom was her empathy; the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. She was so good at it she’d end up crying at sappy commercials on television … and I was right there with her.
Growing up I looked at this as a weakness. I was very uncomfortable with all the emotions that would bubble up and tried to suppress them. But when mom moved to BC after her divorce and in the many conversations we had at that time about life, and purpose, relationships and family, about forgiveness and not holding a grudge, loving ourselves and being grateful for every challenge we encounter, I started to learn what an incredible gift empathy is. What better way to help someone feel safe and loved than to share in their emotional journey, not from a position of weakness but from one of strength and caring? To be a rock they lean on and a guide to support them in finding their path forward. While I am still sometimes very uncomfortable with the unpleasant side effects of having strong empathy, I consider it one of the greatest and most amazing gifts she has given me. When I accept my weaknesses and turn them into strengths, I win. It’s a powerful lesson.
One of my favorite memories of Darlene is from 1988 when she took a trip to Europe with Kate to celebrate Kate’s graduation from UBC. I sneakily arranged to fly over and surprise them in Paris. After creating quite the scene in the train station (Kate was screaming “What are YOU doing here!” Repeatedly! It cleared the platform…) we set out to explore Paris. For the first time, instead of being parent & child, we were just people sharing an experience. And mom was FUN! I’ll never forget her dancing her way down a Paris street near the Eiffel Tower, swinging from the lamp posts, trying her best to emulate Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain, and singing at the top of her lungs. The wine she’d drunk (“But I only had one glass – Yes, mom, but they refilled it multiple times!”) contributed to the enthusiasm but in the end, I remember vividly seeing the young woman inside of her, free from the constraints of motherhood, simply living life fully and with passion. It inspires me to remember to take time out to play.
Darlene was adventurous. I didn’t recognize this for a long time, as a young boy having mentally positioned her in the “boring, stay-at-home mom” category. But there were lots of examples.
We shared an extended family cabin on Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan. One time, Uncle Bob had his boat out and asked if any of the adults wanted to go water skiing. If I recall, only my mom wanted to go. I was frankly shocked to see her get up almost right away! Apparently, she was more of a natural athlete than she ever let on.
After she moved to BC, and soon after she became a grandmother, she learned to snow ski. And she was good at it! We would go night skiing on Grouse Mountain to look at the city lights and have some time to talk on the chairlifts. We got so into our conversations that a few times I turned around and skied backwards in front of her so we could continue talking! She was worried that I would run into someone, but I knew that would never happen. Across all areas of her life, personally and professionally, she was aware of everyone around her and was always looking out for others. I trusted her to guide me, and we were fine.
One story of being adventurous and also courageous really stands out for me. Growing up, we had an Olympic class racing sailboat – 13 feet 6 inches long and way too much sail if the wind got up beyond a breeze. I was skipper and mom or dad were crew which gave us an ideal weight distribution for that boat. One year dad and I won the regional qualifying races to the Summer Games. And then, for reasons I’m only now beginning to understand, we were told that there weren’t enough women on the team from our region and I had to race with my mom!
In theory, not so bad, because in light winds, our combined light weight and all that sail would make us very fast. But. The races were in Swift Current. And the winds were blowing hard. Really hard. Frankly, I was freaked out. This wasn’t going to be fun. In fact, it was actually quite dangerous.
Mom was game to go and said her famous phrase: “Don’t worry – it will all work out”. We headed out for the series of races we had to run. It was rough. Really tough. The winds were so strong we capsized multiple times each race. We were exhausted. The goal no longer was winning. It was finishing. At times it felt like just surviving would be a miracle.
But through it all, even in the worst moments, mom just stayed focused on her job. She expected and trusted me to do my job and did her best to do hers. She didn’t coach or cheerlead or push to do more. She was my mother but more importantly, my teammate. I know she was scared, too, but she had faith we’d be OK. And we were.
Faith was another of her cornerstones. Whenever things were challenging in my life or in my family’s lives, it was common to hear Darlene say to us, “Don’t worry – it will all work out”. Not as a platitude. As a simple expression of fact.
One key thing that was evident during those sailing races but really in everything she did: Darlene had an incredible work ethic. All three kids competed in figure skating and ice dance. This had a big personal impact on Darlene as she had to sew all our costumes, frequently staying up very late at night working on them. The work was long, and probably boring. But she had perseverance and got it done. Now, a common phrase used by my family when facing hard work is “Let’s just get it done.”
I asked my daughter McKenna for a few simple thoughts on her relationship with her grandma. She talked about feeling accepted and loved, proactively and unconditionally. She always felt safe and respected, as a person, not just a child. As an adult McKenna says she now understands the conflicts inherent in divorce and is grateful that Darlene willingly endured them to ensure her grandchildren had a great experience of family.
Terry Shorten, Darlene’s youngest sibling said this: From the youngest member of the family to the oldest sibling, the mentoring and guidance given while growing up will never be forgotten and the times we shared will be held close to the heart forever.
Alex Shorten, Darlene’s next youngest sibling said this: As I think of Dar the following comes to mind, “Loving big sister who was thoughtful, kind, considerate, with not a mean bone in her body or a mean thought on her mind. As I was growing up with four older siblings and later a younger sibling, Darlene at times was a stand-in Mom, a baby sitter and a supporter of my early interest in books (I read them under the covers at night with a flashlight) and sports. She used these skills and others to develop 3 terrific children that possess many of her same characteristics.”
Darlene’s definition of family was not constrained. Quite the opposite, it was expansive. In the early days of my family and with the all complexities in our lives, it became clear we needed help at home. Lisa, a colleague of Myra’s, came to live with us and help take care of the kids. She quickly became part of our family but somewhat to our surprise, also Darlene’s. Mom adopted Lisa into her extended family because they were aligned to the same purpose – to support my family and help us be healthy and whole. Their relationship extended all the way until Darlene was in memory care. Once, when I asked mom about it, she said, “Your true family is not always related by blood”. From the way she treated Lisa, and at a deeper level, my adopted sister Kate, and step-siblings David and Linda, this rings true.
In writing this piece I realized I have many more stories than I could possibly share. And I’m feeling very grateful for that. But another thing I learned from my mom, at times like these, we have to keep moving.
So… things I’ve learned from my mom:
• Be generous and focus on the experience of others • Be curious, gregarious, community focused and always willing to help out • Talk with strangers and be friendly, inclusive, tolerant and magnanimous • Be empathetic and use empathy to show love, give protection and provide guidance • Pay attention to relationships • Practice forgiveness and don’t hold grudges • Love yourself • Be equally grateful for every gift and every challenge • Live life fully and with passion • Be adventurous and courageous • Be aware of everyone around you and always look out for them • Stay focused on the job, work hard and have perseverance. • Always have faith that things will work out and act accordingly • Family is very important • Blood relatives are not the only family you’ll have • Keep moving
In thinking about mom over the last few weeks I’ve not been surprised to recognize how important these lessons are in every part of my life: private, personal and professional. But the part that is surprising is how much they are infused in the company I’ve built. We help people use crowdfunding and social media to raise money for community causes they care about anywhere in the world. Already, we have affected millions of lives in a positive way and expect to affect many more. Our corporate culture reflects the lessons I’ve learned. Mom, you were inspiring and impactful.
I am very grateful for my time with Darlene and very proud to be her son.
My mother Darlene died yesterday morning. It was quick and probably painless. She got up out of bed and collapsed – likely from an aneurysm in her brain. She was 80.
I’ve been sitting here tonight feeling wonderful with all the love pouring in from friends through Facebook and over the phone. But I’m still puzzled and amazed by the differences in the way I see what has happened compared with the responses from most everyone else.
My heart is not breaking. I’m not feeling a tremendous loss. I’m not going through some of the extreme pain that others are going through. I will miss her but I don’t feel like a part of me has been ripped away. And I don’t think I’m broken. Perhaps quite the contrary.
I’m celebrating her. Almost overjoyed at her ability to check out on her terms with grace and elegance and a sense of humor and, most importantly, a sense of adventure. Not because she forced her way out but because she allowed it to happen naturally. She didn’t MAKE anything happen; she ALLOWED it to happen. This is mastery.
She was an anchor of the Amica community. Her goodwill was so profound and her relationships so strong that they had to set up visitations from the residents and staff who came one at a time to see her before they took her body away. I’m told some of them thanked her for being such a good friend. She’d only known these people (who can’t remember squat) for a year and a bit. Can we say “quietly impactful”?
So I’m not upset. I’m a bit sad but mostly really happy for her.
Someone asked me how it was that I can be and think this way. I think it gets down to a few simple thoughts:
If you really believe in something, then act based on it i.e. trust it. I believe we are all connected regardless of this physical plane. This isn’t just about life after death; this is life outside of what we think of as life that occurs in parallel with life. If this idea is “true”, then why mourn the transition from one state to another? It is simply another step on the journey and, more likely and more importantly, a step up and forward, not back to darkness. It is something to celebrate!
Death is a part of life. We can choose to fear it or embrace it. I’m not looking to advance my own as I’m kind of enjoying this stage but I’m not all that afraid of it. I went to sleep the night before my heart surgery with the thought “If this was all that I did this time, it was enough – I’m OK with it”. It was an amazing feeling of peace. And I slept well.
People are not possessions – they are gifts from the universe of time and energy. I think many people mourn because they haven’t taken the time to take in the gift when it is presented to them. Their regrets are what hurt them.
It doesn’t matter how long you get with someone – every little bit is important. I’m grateful for the time I’ve had with mom, not resentful that there wasn’t more. This is a HUGELY powerful yet calming feeling.
I think many people are screwed up about death because of religion. The abuse of trust and the manipulation of emotions for the sake of power makes me sad and somewhat angry. It is slightly strange but I think of religion as the combinatory yin/yang of good/evil. It is both a force for good and a manifestation of evil. They are mostly in balance. Recently I see it swinging a bit in the wrong direction…
I’ve been wondering about the wisdom of turning this into a blog post as I think it may be too soon and too raw for others to deal with right now. The hardest part of this whole adventure is dealing with the hurt feelings so many people have at mom’s passing. I’m such an empath that talking with them brings out the tears in a heartbeat. As I said to my big brother uncle Terry today “it exposes the cracks in my armor and lets the knife penetrate”. He called it a family genetic defect we all share. Probably true. LOL.
Last night Myra, McKenna and I watched the Guernsey Literary Club (a movie). It was a well-acted well-written love story that dealt with many hard issues of life that came up during the German occupation of Guernsey. We laughed and cried – deeply. It was the perfect way to end the day.