Today I am rejoicing in the memory of a beautiful Sunday afternoon picnic in the “Parc Georges Brassens” in Paris with four families and ten kids.Coincidentally three of the families, including mine come from the same Ottawa West neighbourhood in Canada. We met one of the families in 2007 at the Westboro beach in Ottawa. We each had daughters around the same age that played with each other at the beach. I remember the fun summer evenings on the beach back when our first daughter was just a toddler. Eventually we lost track of them until they resurfaced in Paris 10 years later. The second family we met through our kids’ school in Paris. The third family comes from the USA and we met in late 2015 as we overheard them speaking English with their kids at a local crêperie on Rue Montparnasse and we immediately became friends.
Sunday presented a beautiful occasion for all of us to gather, catch up, for some to meet for the first time, and to let our kids run freely in the park on the boulders, on the playground, and through the trees. The “Parc Georges Brassens” is one of the only parks in Paris that lets kids wonder freely, play on the grass and in the trees without it being “interdit”!
We thoroughly enjoyed the sunny afternoon in the park chasing and searching for the kids whenever they disappeared out of sight.
Had we not had kids we would have never met any of these couples whom we’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting, becoming friends with, and building community together.
Our kids have brought so much joy and so many new, interesting, and inspirational people into our lives.
It was just a few days before the end of the quarter in September 2016. I was on the phone with a colleague discussing a large deal and the steps to close. We had just received frustrating news that the customer was challenging the terms of the SaaS licenses in the larger deal. The call was intense and we were not sure there was a way through the customers’ issues.
I was walking along rue de la Grande Chaumière in the 6th arrondissement in Paris, not far from my flat. The road was quiet, dark, and provided an ominous atmosphere, a dark tunnel to complement the call.
As I turned the corner on to Boulevard Montparnasse I was overcome with the beauty of the sun setting over Paris. The sky looked like it was on fire. But to me I saw an absolute beauty that awestruck me. It gave me a sense of optimism.
Later that week, after several very late nights of negotiation with the customer, we signed the large deal.
When we are in the darkest tunnels… remember there is light at the end, or around the corner.
I love Paris in the spring. The trees come to life with an incredibly optimistic green.
This week I had to visit the Canadian embassy a few times to obtain a temporary passport while they take the six to eight weeks to process my normal passport.
After each visit I had the privilege to walk home while on business calls. Fortunately the path home is lined with some of the best monuments in Paris. I get to cross the Seine, walk by the Musée de l’armée, and walk along boulevard Montparnasse.
Here are some of the photos I captured along these walks on Thursday and Friday of this week. My colleagues never noticed I paused to capture Paris’ beauty and the weather was spectacular!
As a father, husband, and professional I am often presented with challenges at home, at work, and in my personal ambitions. I like getting in to the zone of discomfort, testing myself, raising the bar, failing fast, and learning quickly. I also make time to reflect, consider the intellectual and emotional learnings along the way. Honest reflection, feedback distillation, and not taking myself too seriously are foundational elements for growth… but as a father, husband, and manager or colleague I’ve also learned that growth through listening not only teaches ourselves new ways to be within the world but it also creates bonds of trust, family, and community that further cement the foundation for everyone to thrive.
Kids teach us new ways to listen, to care, and to love. From the moment our children are born they train our intuition to be highly tuned to their everyday expressions. On day one we listen to them breathe, learn their facial expressions, listen to their heartbeat, and familiarize ourselves with their subtle gestures like the sound of their cries and how they move. We learn what makes them sad, happy, content, angry, and irritated and we respond to their subtle cues, their cries, their smile, their facial gestures. In turn, we learn from them and they learn from us… our smell, our touch, the feel of our skin, hair, and our facial expressions. Continue reading
A few weeks ago I made a grave error in leaving my iPhone on the kitchen counter as I prepared my lunch. While putting the final touches on the salad I reached for the large and full bottle of olive oil. I made the grave error of picking up the bottle by the lid and unfortunately the lid slipped off and the edge of the bottle landed directly on top of my iPhone 5s on the glass side of the camera. The glass shattered instantly into very tiny, sharp and dangerous pieces. I had to replace it the glass immediately.
This poor iPhone has had it’s glass replaced three times now. The first time due to it being stolen but found with a completely smashed screen. The thief was kind enough to call me using the Find my iPhone call feature and leave it at lost and found at a train station in London. I assume when he figured out he couldn’t break into the iPhone he smashed the screen and then left it with the lost and found. The second time was an unfortunate drop off a desk without the protective case. And the third was last week’s slippery move with the olive oil bottle.
My iPhone camera withstood the damage of the first two crashes but the third one damaged its focusing abilities. However, the camera’s exposure settings still worked well. Of course I was depressed as I love taking photos and posting them on Instagram or posting family photos on my private Facebook page.
Call me a romantic or sensitive or simply one who celebrates the immutable beauty in the ebbs and flows of daily living. A smile, a firm handshake, a bump on the sidewalk… a sub second connection with profound meaning like two strangers’ eyes meeting for a mere moment but each understanding the magnificence of that moment.
A colleague called me a few weeks ago to say hello and check in on me. His call raised my spirits. He didn’t know it but his timing was impeccable. I was having a rough day and being me, burdening much of the responsibilities of being a father, husband and executive, I was exhausted… like most Thursday evenings. I could feel his smile coming through the phone, his kind face and warm eyes. Yesterday I saw him at the office and I remarked how kind this young man is and how I’ve watched him change and mature over the last two years since we first met. He was green, new to the software business, and single. Now he is married, a successful and respected seller, and his kindness and smile are consistent. I told him how much I appreciated his call and how it touched me. He said… “where I come from we look out for each other. It is important to be kind and to respect your neighbours.” He said something about how God will look out for you if you look out for others. He is Moroccan and said the Mediterranean culture is founded in kindness, community, and friendship. I love it!
Change and struggle are beautiful… watching a flower blossom to glory, and then slowly decay to renew again another year is a metaphor to friendship, work, family, and daily struggles. There will always be points of decay and challenges… and one day we will bloom again. And flowers need water, air, sun… like we need love, friendship, and community.
Most of my followers know I love running. In July 2014 I got an incredible opportunity to move to Paris, France for work. It’s been an phenomenal two years with several formative experiences. One privilege of being in Paris is the opportunity to run along the Seine or in some of the very beautiful and well maintained public gardens.
Here is a video I made of a run back in early June with a GoPro Hero. Many people ask me what it is like to run in Paris so I made this video to show them. It is a 2 kilometre loop around the Jardin Du Luxembourg in Paris. The run with the narration takes about 11 minutes.
Here is the typical running route as profiled on Strava.
Enjoy the video!
A story of a lost 3 year old boy…
On a 10km run eaier this week in the Luberon (Provence) I came across a stranded 3 year old boy. I passed him and remarked how young and small he looked. It was also 35C or 95F and I was concerned he may get heat exhaustion. I ran back to him and asked if he was ok. It was immediately clear he was lost and panicking. He said he lost his parents and wanted to go home.
For some reason this was my first run in months without a mobile phone. Had I had the phone I would have called the emergency number in France which is 15 (like 911 in North America). Being in farmland, the roads were quiet and not a single car was around. But amazingly this little boy knew the way home. So I walked him home (about 2km) up and down rolling dirt roads off the main road. Continue reading
It is July and we are finally in the Luberon, a serene and stunning area of rolling hills, lavender, wheat, and sunflower fields in Provence just east of Avignon. Nestled in between the Luberon Mountains, we are in a small villa about 5 kilometres outside of Reillanne, a medieval perched village.
My family has had a tough 2016 and we desperately needed to get away from Paris for everyone to rest and recuperate. We have extended family with us to help watch the kids but this place more or less watches them for us. Our villa is safely tucked inside a valley where my mobile phone doesn’t get a signal much to my wife’s delight! The kids can run freely and explore the property while enjoying the view of the five horses that roam the field just fifty metres from our front door.
Our kids, my wife and I all need time to rest and recover from what has been a tough yet formative year. I’m off work for a while to focus on the family. It has been very rewarding as my bonds have grown deeper with my wife and my kids. Several mornings a week the girls crawl into our bed for a proper snuggle and we often find ourselves falling asleep again for another thirty to sixty minutes. The extra rest is welcomed to help us feel refreshed. Continue reading