What Kind of Teammate….

As the commissioner of football for the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) I had the opportunity during the weekend of November 21-22, 2014 in Lethbridge, with winds sustained for much of the weekend in the 20mph/40km range with gusts exceeding 50km, I watched as 10 teams competed for provincial championships in 6-man, and the four tiers basically aligned with school size with Tier I being schools over 1250 and Tier IV schools under 450.

As the weekend progressed I observed all manner of teammates, as I always do when I watch football, some of them on the team and others; parents and friends in the stands.  I find myself musing upon what type of teammate we are in our various endeavors as I consider the actions of those theoretically supporting their team in each of those games.

Are we the kind of teammate that gets a bit too focused on ourselves and forgets about the team?  I observed a parent who seemed to think that it was his job to stand over away from his own school’s parents behind the opposition parents and make comments designed to taunt, tease, even mock…why? I had spoken with the captains of the 10 teams competing for 5 championships on Friday morning and stressed that when they spoke with their parents Friday and Saturday don’t be afraid to remind your parents to be good sports in the stands. Clearly not all parents got the message – it did nothing – absolutely nothing to help the team, it did embarrass his school, other parents, and hurt the feelings of little brothers and sisters, and parents of the opposition. Really quite a selfish act when you think about it.

For the vast majority of parents and players the weekend was excellent, a lot of great plays and a lot of great support. If we keep it at the front of our minds to be the best teammates, everyone can enjoy the game…any game life presents to us, win or lose.


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Robert Matthew (Bob) Gilson Dec 10, 1937 – June 28, 2014

Bob GilsonOn Saturday June 28th Bob Gilson moved on to his next stage in this eternal journey. Bob had been formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in March of 2012 but had been demonstrating elements related to memory loss and the early stages of dementia for several years prior.  The Apostle Paul said, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (1 Corinthians 9:24). Having run the good race it was time and so we take a few minutes to review what from our point of view as his family and friends was one heck of a race.


Dadwise guyBorn in Niagara Falls Bob moved to Calgary at the age of 11. His family would maintain the same house in the Renfrew community for the remainder of his parents Bob Sr, and Eva Gilson’s life. Bob had two sisters, Arlene (older) and Mary- Jayne (the youngest) and one brother Bill.  He is predeceased by his mother and father and brother Bill.

At one point in life Bob gave some consideration to becoming a catholic priest, after spending Gr 8 and 9 out in Brockville, Ontario he returned to Calgary to complete his high school education first at St. Mary’s High School (Gr 10) and then at nearby Crescent Heights High school where he met Marilyn (Johnson) Gilson, any plans to be a priest were concluded at that time and on May 12, 1958 they were married in at Our Lady of Help Chapel.

Feed the cake wedding

A family quickly followed with Rick, Dan, Jamie and Randy added by January of 1966.  The four boys would keep things hopping in the house for many years to come.


Bob worked for the Calgary Albertan from January of 1954 until 1972 holding several positions he began in the composing room, was circulation manager and classified advertising manager in the course of his employment. While circulation manager he was most proud of the carrier training program and the competitions he developed to increase circulation. As the Albertan was the morning paper that become the Calgary Sun, Bob worked with Calgary police to help train carriers to be observant citizens, he indicated that his carriers had provided police with many tips and several received citizenship awards from the city for their work. Bob expanded this program to feature students of the week from Calgary high schools and had a culminating celebration to recognize the Student of the Year at the Palliser Hotel.

DSC_0032Bob was heavily involved in scouting at several stages of his life, himself a Chief Scout and Queen Venturer he had several opportunities in his life to hold positions within scouting and went on to be a national trainer in the scouting organization. Be prepared, do a good turn every day, be a good citizen, work, were core values all initially developed in scouting.

On February 22, 1964 Bob was baptised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This was not a decision he took lightly having been raised in a Catholic home, in fact he had met with missionaries on and off virtually since the marriage in 1958. Bob had developed so many strong relationships with missionaries, even mission presidents of the Canada Calgary Mission that his baptism was very well atteold temple shotnded. In June of 1965 Bob and Marilyn were sealed in the Cardston Alberta Temple.  In the teachings of the LDS church this key ordinance referred to as sealing, allows a husband and wife to be together for eternity, the traditional phrase often heard in weddings, “till death do us part” is no longer the limit where a temple marriage or sealing has taken place.

Bob’s last assignment in the church, one he held most dear, was as a worker in the Edmonton Alberta Temple helping others complete the necessary steps to enjoy the same blessings of an eternal family and eternal marriage.

In the summer of 1974 Bob took the family and moved to Edmonton, Alberta to pursue an opportunity with a new publisher. This was short lived and followed by a brief career in Real Estate.  In 1976 Bob took a position as manager of Apex Auto Upholstery where he remained until 1984.  This was at the height of the boogie van customization craze and Apex lead the way in the Edmonton area perhaps the most memorable being the Star Wars van complete with little fridge in a mock up of R2D2.

Bob returned to the newspaper industry with the Red Deer Advocate Newspaper chain from 1984-90, during this time he commuted to Red Deer on Monday mornings and return early Friday to allow the younger boys to remain at Ainlay, and the family to remain in Edmonton.  A man of several hobbies but in each instance when he had that hobby he was all in, these years were the golf years…perhaps because it was pretty easy to golf Monday – Thursday night when the rest of the clan was in Edmonton.

Returning to Edmonton Bob worked for a number of companies; Netmar (advertising), Open Concepts (Computer service), Best Works (Advertising/Promotions), Debaji’s (Bakery Manager, Catering Dept), and Paladin Security to bring his work career to a close as he officially retired in 2003.

With “paid work” behind him, the idea of sitting around was not quite in the plans so Bob and Marilyn determined it was time to head out on a “seniors mission” for the LDS church.  While Bob may have hoped for a posting in someplace along the the church history trail such as Nau102_0270 copyvoo, Illinois that was not to be case and from 2003 to 2005 they headed to Donetsk, Ukraine for two years. While on the mission the language did not come easily to Bob so he relied on the young missionaries to translate for him as he taught and provided leadership examples.  His years of service stood him in good stead as he was always looking to help others, seeing the need before others but 126_2689 copyinviting everyone to share in the fun. B ob had helped introduce Bitty-ball (basketball with lower baskets for little ones) in SW Edmonton and managed to get a shipment of basketballs from Germany to the mission in the Ukraine and started bitty-ball there…the standard was set and missionaries that followed have been involved in teaching Bitty-ball.142_4296 copy 127_2761 copy








While teaching others and inviting them to be baptised and join the church is a primary focus of all missionary work Bob provided great service in leadership training, helping to facilitate charity humanitarian work such as the red wheel chair project and genuinely enjoyed working with the great people of the Ukraine and Crimea.

Shortly after returning to Edmonton Bob and Marilyn would serve a second mission in the Edmonton Canada Mission assigned to particularly work in the area of Wainwright supporting the members and working with families while they commenced working in the Edmonton Temple it was a period of great enjoyment and service for both of them.

94 on GP shouldersbaby rick with stacheThrough all of these years of work and service family has been at the core of the good times. The four boys, 19 grand children and as of this point seven great grand children brought great joy, there are pictures of just about every child and grand child at some point in life up on dad/grandpa’s shoulders.  masen and GP

His laugh as he wrestled, chased, tossed up in the air, played in the water, is counted among the choicest of memories by all of the children and grand children and great grandchildren.
Whatever, whenever, Bob was happy to spdad and dan and kids 95end time with the children and holidays at the lake (Shuswap in the early years, Fairmont in the later years), or trips with various family members to Disneyland, Disneyworld, Hawaii, Florida, Mexico, Panorama, were all enjoyed as more time with Grandpa.



Needless to say for a number of years on Christmas Eve it fell to GranChristmas 95 donkey daddpa to play the very critical role in the family enactment of the Nativity. Yes Bob Gilson was a great donkey – and as the number of little granddaughters grew and each granddaughter needed their turn as Mary…that donkey got a heck of a workout.


dad mom 95




The memories are countless, and that’s the way it is supposed to be.  Bob Gilson loved his wife Marilyn, they didn’t run on the same schedule as far as time went their entire mortal life together but that was a great part of the fun.  As a couple they set an example in so many ways for so many people of the value of work, service, great cooking, the importance of family and Marilyn will continue to live that example in the many years to come. Bob Gilson was a great example in so many ways, he was self taught, he was a worker and a builder; a builder of self and others. Alzheimer’s took a lot of Bob over the past few years, but it brought out an amazing gentleness and left us who knew him ironically focused on the memories of which the disease robbed our father, husband, grandfather, great grandfather and friend.  We who loved him know that families are eternal and are greatly comforted by the knowledge that Bob had a very immediate reunion with his memory and his loved ones who had proceeded him in death.  We’ll see you soon enough Bob.


leg family later

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Doubt and Fear

There are days we might question what we have to offer, or perhaps it is just that we do not realize that the capacity within us is far greater than we believe and as a result we question the extent to which we might control our own lives and influence those around us.

In a recent conversation around motivation the word fear was introduced to the conversation as both a motivator and demotivator. I can withdraw in fear or I can face the fears that are before me and determine that I can push through the challenges and move to the other side.

Marianne Williamson wrote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” from her book, “A Return to Love: Reflections on the principles of a course in miracles”

In the movie, Coach Carter, this passage was used first by the coach and then his player in challenging each other to confront self doubts, questions of ability, willfulness to push forward, and accept that we do impact others and we are blessed with potential, a potential in our very core to be better each day and to positively impact our lives and the lives of those with whom we have the opportunity to interact.

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Hollywood and Education

In my previous post I referred to the 1984 movie Teachers. Here’s a clip of one list of Top 10 education themed movies

This second list (though I’m not sure I agree with #1) provides an interesting review of characters – fictional and real – who have gifts realized and not in education.

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Relationships enhance learning

It doesn’t really matter who we interact with, how many students, children, friends, players, whatever the group it isn’t about the quantifiable measures it is in the qualitative, the feelings, that we leave a lasting impression AND provide the invitation to work together.

Curriculum is important, that’s for sure and it is another of those quantifiable components in the process of education but in the end it is about the people. It isn’t enough that “teaching” brings me joy, it needs to be about the joy those I interact with get in the process of learning.

Always a bit dangerous to look too far back in the movie world but we do tend as older people (I know speak for yourself) to remember the past with a bit of gold around the edges that maybe wasn’t quite so…this 1984 film “Teachers” reminds us who the schools are for and that all of us have room to learn a little from our successes and our failures.

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Dare Greatly

Several years ago at a Colour Night celebration at the Composite High School I shared the extended quote, often titled as “Dare Greatly” from Teddy Roosevelt I include it below:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly…who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat.”
Teddy Roosevelt

It is difficult to get banged about at the best of times, the slightly cynical “no good deed goes unpunished” speaks to those occasions when we think we are doing something “good” for others but the reaction or response is not what is anticipated or along the journey we encounter a little challenge. Think of the time you got a speeding ticket hurrying to help a single mother move for example….;-)

There is a need to develop resilience, an ability to remember who we are and what we are and remember that what we do adds to who we are but is not “all” that we are.

This past week a friend shared the work she’s doing as an outstanding young principal in our school district and pointed me in the direction of a Tedx talk by Brene Brown

After watching the video,as is recently common for me, I dug around the net to her website:

daring greatly subsequently bought and over the weekend read/listened to most of her most recent book: Daring Greatly. I think educators, parents, dads, moms, husbands, wives, employees, employers..sons, daughters, can read this just as you can watch the video, several times and come away with different keys or ponderables for the different channels of your life.

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Judge not…

Over 100 million views and some five years later a simple reminder that what we see, at least initially, may result in a lost opportunity, a lost friendship, even a relationship that might make the difference in your life path.

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Invaluable support

We all need it, even if we fail to acknowledge the hand at the time or turn away from it later in life, we need the timely support of others in our life.

At a critical point in the final chapters of the Lord of the Rings Frodo’s burden of the ring has reached a near fatal weight. Sam is aware of his place in this epic journey, he is a support, the responsibility of the ring is not his, the weight of that burden clearly hangs around the neck of his friend. The other day over the Christmas break as my son watched the film again I was struck by Sam’s comment to Frodo, in that most desperate of moments as Frodo teetered on the cliff of despair about to give up the journey, Sam acknowledges he can’t carry the ring, but “I can carry you” and scoops up Frodo to continue the journey. LOTR_King208SeanAstin

We are, at different times in our lives both a Frodo, in need of support and help on our journey and potentially someone’s Sam, a person in a position to offer support of a kind perhaps unaware of the critical impact it may have on the direction of the life we are supporting. It would be nice if in each instance there were clear signs of the need, the request for help, and even clearer signs of gratitude for the help received. I’ve found it is easier for those who provide assistance to revisit those waters if they have been thanked for their help in the past – not necessary for some but generally helpful for most. Similarly it would be easier if people would just ask for help when they need it, but that is not easy to do in a society bent on rewarding independence. Remember Frodo never asked Sam really for anything…,in fact on more than one occasion he turned on the very source of support and loyalty when he needed him most

Help, not replace

I particularly like to ponder the awareness of Sam in this instance and consider how it might apply in the life of family, friends, students, and colleagues. It bares repeating, Sam, blessed with greater physical strength at the moment, did not remove the ring and burden from Frodo. Rather, he provided the support he could, he did what Frodo, at that point, could not do and placed his friend in a position to succeed in his mission.

Let me do it for you…is not the same

Showing someone how, helping someone where they are and in the manner they need is not the same as taking over or doing for. One builds capacity, the other replaces, substitutes, and likely contributes to a failure to grow as a result of the absence of the test. I hope to learn better how to see the need and provide the appropriate assistance in a timely fashion. I hope too that I am better able to accept the support of others when offered, perhaps that is the true double sided edge of the Hobbit sword and this experience of Sam and Frodo.

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Difference maker

We can make a difference

I can’t remember who said this but I recall reading if you think you can or can’t make a difference you’re right. At the core is a belief that you can make a difference in the lives of others it doesn’t have to be complicated.  Check out this simple example from Washington DC.


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At great price, stand for what you believe

Is there a price too great?

The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial

Today a visitor to Washington, DC will easily walk down what is called the Mall, heading away from the Congress buildings past the Washington monument, the Whitehouse just off a block or two to your right, past the relatively new World War II monument, and down the length of the reflecting pond toward the Lincoln Memorial.  The walk takes you past close to a dozen buildings which combine to form the Smithsonian Museums, the Holocaust museum is just a couple blocks off the mall almost directly opposite the Whitehouse. To the left of Lincoln, the Korean War Memorial, to the right Vietnam. Just past the Lincoln memorial off to the left toward the Jefferson memorial the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and if you walk around back of the Lincoln memorial you can see across the bridge the elevated land of Arlington National Cemetery. General Lee, leader of the confederate army, owned the land and his house today is just above the John F. Kennedy memorial both of which look directly out over everything I’ve just described looking back toward the Congress buildings.

From the Washington Monument looking past the "mall" to Congress

From the Washington Monument looking past the “mall” to Congress

Keeping an eye on the nation sits Abraham Lincoln. Today (January 1, 2013) is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln didn’t wait until the war was won to state the outcome, the Battle at Gettysburg would occur 6 months later but the time had come to make the statement, there would be no more slavery in the United States of America. You can examine the original documents and read the transcript here.

The battledfield at Gettysburg

The battledfield at Gettysburg

It is pretty easy today, particularly for those of us in the world who are not American, to forget the price that people have paid all over the world for a measure of what might be recognized as freedom or even basic human rights.  The Civil war in the United States, revolutions in England, France, Russia, to name just a few highlight the courage of people to stand up and be counted for as individuals worthy of consideration.

Lincoln did not start this movement, and it certainly did not end with the American civil war but it serves as a somber reminder that even a nation identified as a bastion of democracy struggles to hold to its own Declaration of Independence as it struggles to bring to actualize the statement, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

There are over 11 000 books that is some way involve Abraham Lincoln at Amazon. There are only 52 million results on a google search for “Abraham Lincoln”.

When I consider Lincoln, I ponder what I believe about the ability to control my destiny, what I believe about the value of each individual, and what is required of me to ensure that the people I come in contact with are valued, respected and supported as they seek to be the best they can be.

Finally I consider that the struggle for personal human rights and dignity did not end with the civil war in the United States, just as the war didn’t end with the proclamation.

Lincoln said, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right”.  Sound advice, no easy path to follow.



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