This life is a time to….

We have this life on this earth, may last a day, may last 115 years, but this is the life.  What we do not get are “do-overs” in the sense that yesterday was and yesterday will not be again. This is not to say we can’t have a conversation about yesterday, or even where we were or where we were not before we came to this life – only that we cannot change our past.

What we do control is the next few minutes, hours, days, weeks, and however much time we are granted in this life.  In many respects it is the what’s next, the tomorrow’s, the application of lessons learned that frames our future and the invitation to mindfully ponder that future and work to make evermore wise decisions about our time and activities is at the core of Christensen’s book.

I think it instructive that the book provides a guide for moving forward, improving upon our individual condition through improving choices built upon improving results.

how will you measure your life

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A Christmas thought…with hopes of Peace for all.

In the days ahead Christians in the world will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world born as the son of God, the Father to earthly parents Mary and Joseph.  Other celebrations of the season and the new year will provide pause for reflection on the year past and commitments for the days ahead. We wish everyone the best as you enjoy the season.

The Christmas story as recorded in scripture can be read in Matthew Chapter 1 verses 18-25  and in Luke Chapter 2 verses 1 – 21.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints provides the following story of the Nativity as told in the Holy Bible:

Service perhaps the best way we can share the gift of Christmas

ThePianoGuys – O Come, Emmanuel – provides an interesting remembrance of the story of the birth of the Savior with scenes from the Nativity video above

A Christmas thought and wish from Rick and Chauna Gilson

Chauna and I would like to share our best wishes to friends and family alike for a wonderful Christmas season – we know that there are challenges in all of our lives, and certainly great challenges in a world that seems so determined to emphasize the differences, heighten distrust, and generally build as much enmity as possible between people. Examples such as those evidenced in conflicts with police and most often minorities, wars around the world, persistent struggles with race, failure to consider the feelings of others in social media and all our conversations highlight the need for us collectively around the world to understand that in a very real sense we are all family…with all the challenges that brings…and need to work harder at loving each other and seeing the good; the potential that each of us has. We cannot feel better about ourselves by trying to make others feel worse.  In so many ways it’s just a matter of making better choices. In so many other ways it’s a matter of looking for ways to make life a little easier for everyone with whom we have contact.

In the end it is critical that we replace love where hate reigns, patience over impatience, trust must trump distrust and seek to understand those different from ourselves rather than seek to judge or distance ourselves in a failed attempt at isolation in an increasingly open society.   In the book of John chapter 13 vs 34-35 we read the words of this same Jesus who is at the foundation of Christmas saying, “A new commandment I give you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”  We are confident that “peace on earth goodwill to man” can be much more than just words in a Christmas Carol.

Best wishes for the Christmas Season and Happy New Year to friends, family and anyone else who stumbles upon this Christmas Post.

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Stress Buster ….Embracing the Stress…and Providing the Service

It is not uncommon to feel a bit stressed. I frequently hear of students who suffer from stress, or anxiety – heck throw a math exam my way – never mind that it’s a grade 6 math test and watch the bullets of sweat bead up on my increasingly balding head.  This belies the fact that I did receive 100% in Math 30 back in the 70’s as I finished my high school math career. (That 48% the first year required a second effort and 52% in the second round to attain that 100% but still….who says traditional math instruction didn’t work).

Back to embracing stress…I have 3 daughters and 3 sons – the youngest is now 21 (I think) and all of them have their own unique ways of dealing with stress and anxiety.  Recently I had the opportunity to watch Kelly McGonigal (@kellymcgonigal and Kelly’s website with tips,videos, articles etc)  present at TED (not live I haven’t been that fortunate but on youtube). Check it out below.


Kelly McGonigal referred to a couple of studies in support of her work, here is a summary of the Keller, Litzelman study from the University of Wisconsin.

Jamieson, Mendes and Nock’s work on our choice to redirect our response to stress can be read here.   And a brief report of the study can be found here.   Jamieson, Mendes and Nock quote William James writing, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”  This aligns with my belief that we must never forget that our agency, our ability to choose is foundational in all that we do – that and the faith based notion that we will never be tested beyond what we are capable to endure.

Like any other skill or attribute our capacity to redirect or refocus stress and anxiety from debilitating to empowering or at least sustaining our work takes time, but like every other lesson it begins with a commitment to listen, read, and ponder the alternative responses and then giving it a try.

I particularly like the idea that service rendered to others, even when we feel caught up in our own tsunami of events and “stress” can provide us with a valuable stress buster and the capacity to get through the moment and increase our own capacity. I find myself challenged to be more mindful and keep my eyes open for opportunities to serve and support.

Check out Kelly McGonigal on twitter @kellymcgonigal and Kelly’s website with tips,videos, articles etc

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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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