Day 369 – On the Road 1YR Anniversary

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It’s hard to believe The Push for Change just celebrated ONE YEAR of being on the road, walking 24km every day, pushing a shopping cart! Seems like yesterday we were in St John’s Newfoundland preparing for the journey.  Last year at this time I was quite anxious about getting started.  There were so many uncertainties in front of us.  Could my body handle the pounding?  How would communities receive us? Would we make a difference? Would anyone care? What about winter in Northern Ontario?

Fear and the unknown go hand in hand.  Anything we are uncertain about can bring up that great bugaboo FEAR.  It’s normal and natural to be afraid of what we don’t know.  In fact it served us very well as we evolved as a species.  But when you’re trying to accomplish great tasks fear can be an inhibitor if you listen to it for too long.  Fear can have a way of paralyzing your actions and stopping you in your tracks.

It took 5 years for us to build The Push for Change campaign and we had more than our share of uncertainty, ergo we had our share of fear.  But what I learned about fear is that is tends to melt away when you lean into it with your actions.  Instead of stopping in my tracks each and every time I faced uncertainty, I kept walking, both metaphorically and literally.  So what has that produced?  Well after 6,700 KM we have raised almost a half million dollars, walked through a Canadian winter, crossed 6.5 provinces, met the Prime Minister and watched a country invest in change directly linked to Youth Homelessness in ways we have never seen in Canada.

If all I ever did was walk when I felt good I would still be in Nova Scotia.  You don’t feel your way towards success, you act your way there! By getting up each day and taking the necessary steps. For me it’s been 8,910,000 million give or take.

What would have happened if I stopped when I was afraid?  What happens when you stop when you’re afraid?  What possibilities are waiting for your courageous actions?

Day 348 – Providence

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There is something about entering into the mystic and unknown brain science for us when talking about Big Goals.  Whether we believe in a monotheistic God, a religious entity or head of the universe or whether we believe in something less tangible and nebulous we can all agree on one thing.  Greater forces are at work, a higher thinking, a thread that although yet undefined or categorized by conventional science we “know” exists.

When we begin to do good things (or that which we feel is good) I think we tap into not only Our Purpose but “ITS” purpose which creates a chain reaction of conspired events.  It is then we see the puzzle pieces move on their own and fall into place as the energy force of the universe works alongside the Big Goal as the silent partner.  We smile and acknowledge the anonymity of the Almighty at work. 

Day 263 – Mediocrity

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Mediocrity is the well worn path of humanity.  Why? Because it’s easy and more importantly natural.  The extra mile on the road of life is not crowded because it’s an unnatural space for people to be in.  Why would anyone do more than is required?  Why would someone invite extra work into their life?  Why would anyone put in hours to accomplish something that has no immediate need?

When tackling Big Goals one finds themselves on these seemingly lonely stretches of highway.  Sometimes even doubting the reasons for setting out on the journey to begin with.

The mind forgets quickly, we set goals in the passion of a moment not taking into account that the inspiration that fueled the commitment will at some point fade.  And like the second booster of a space bound rocket so it is we need to connect to a deep source of motivation to continue to bring our Big Goals into orbit.  For Big Goals need purpose.

Walking across Canada is no simple task.  Training, sponsorship, logistics all crept into the space that was once occupied by inspiration.  Instead of giddy optimism we are faced with the fear associated with probability thinking.  The vacillation between the two burns energy and distracts from the committed task at hand.

Picture this!  When things crowd the space where inspiration sits it requires the vigilance and resiliency to “check the ticket” and eject the unwanted fraudsters that are fear, uncertainty and doubt, and replace with VIP’s needed for any Big Goal.

I have been fortunate to have met some of the biggest leaders in business, government and philanthropy across Canada.  There is one thing common on every desk regardless of the personality or style of the person I’m visiting.  I see most often there are photos of family.  I guess as a leader whose career demands much from them they need reminders of why they sacrifice the time and effort they do.

For me that picture is of kids that deserve a chance.  Kids just like me who given the opportunity could really become all they were meant to be.  This is the picture I hold up when stuff gets hard.

Day 213 – The Push for Change Song

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The idea of The Push for Change song was born out of a caffeinated discussion with Sean Richardson, Cal Misener and Joe in a Vancouver coffee shop in the spring of 2012.

Cal, life long musician and music enthusiast came up with the possibility of producing a theme song that would speak to the spirit of The Push for Change.

We all liked the idea but how could we do this with little to no money?

Through Cal’s network, we accessed a “song mentor” Jen Herschmann to facilitate and lead a mentorship session with a group of young people who would help us develop the lyrics, melody and song wireframe. We set a date and enrolled a number of young volunteers and early one Saturday morning we met in Coquitlam and I shared my story and the story of The Push for Change with these young people. Throughout that morning with the coaching and leadership of Jen, the songsters came up with draft lyrics and a melody that was absolutely amazing.

So now we had a rough cut but we had to record and we needed a lead vocalist.

Sean’s wife; Kate Richardson was the perfect candidate, and when you listen to the song you will understand why. Her voice as a female vocalist is powerful, passionate, expressive, and beautiful.  It was amazing too because while this process was going on, Kate was going through a pregnancy and was not feeling well the day they recorded.  It did not affect her performance one bit!  With Kate leading and the songsters backing her up that morning they produced The Push for Change single, now available on Itunes and registered with Socan.

Thanks to Nimbus Studio of Recording Arts in Vancouver BC for the generous use of their studio.

From concept to finished product it was an exercise in possibility. From that first coffee shop discussion to the song being completed only took about 3 months.


Click to view on iTunes


Day 140 – Tackling Big Problems

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I think it’s safe to say walking across Canada with a shopping cart is a big challenge.  It is indeed. But the bigger challenge is why we are doing it.  Youth Homelessness is such a complex issue. There are social economic challenges, education, vocation, housing, health care, outreach, and community transition.  When you start to delve into these problems it can feel overwhelming.  Kind of like the thought when one considers how to push a shopping cart 9000KM.

There is no magic answer. If there was we would have implemented a long time ago.  I think the issue is to look at this challenge a day a time.  When it’s broken down like this it’s manageable.  We look into and address each issue, we look at each community and most important we look at each person. We see them for who they are. Whether it’s Sydney in Vancouver or Stephen in Toronto. We look for individual solutions that help the person grow and step into their possibilities.  When we tackle the problem this way we win.

And so each day we commit to action, moving one step closer to our goal.  When we do it this way it looks doable, we see results and we get closer to solutions.

What big challenges do you need to tackle?

How could you break it down into manageable daily bites?

Day 127 – Less is More

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Seeking security where there is none to be found.

The ribbons of never ending highway give me time to pause and think. Think about how we don’t think. How we spend our lives rushing to and fro searching, seeking for that illusive thing that will make us happy and complete. Sadly, lives are spent just this way, in the pursuit of things. Money, accolades, success, power, sex, you name the distraction and I can point out someone chasing it this very day. In fact, that person may even be me.
But in the end what is there to gain? Do we ever find the gold at the end of any rainbow or is it simply a trick the ego mind plays on us to keep our feet moving to avoid the bigger questions? Like what does life really mean?

I’m not saying I have the answer for the big question but I understand that it isn’t in any of the above pursuits or a thousand more that hold the same impermanence. So why do we chase “carrots”? I think it’s because they offer us a sense of security and a sense of purpose. It gives us something to do to avoid the futility that one day we will in fact be dead. Everyday our survival instinct knows this fact yet every day we live our lives in denial of this. We pretend that we will somehow escape our “dirt nap” so we fill our time with stuff, with chase, with busyness and hope that if we hum loud enough, reason will not poke its head above the surface of conscious thought.

It is this kind of thinking that has caused me to think and feel that we have it all wrong. We have been taught and conditioned over the last 100 years to consume and strive, to get more, drive bigger, have the latest toys and “be all that you can be”. We have been programmed to NOT SIT STILL and not invest in the miracle of now. Instead we mortgage our “NOW” for gadgets, cheap entertainment and trade our time for money.
I don’t think we need more, I think we need less, much much less. And if we all awakened to less I think that we could solve world problems in the blink of an eye. Youth homelessness, a start, but possibly even war and world hunger might melt away in the mindful wakening of life consciousness.
Altruism has always been a place I enjoy wandering, but who knows maybe it’s just another vice.

Day 113 – Wonky Wheel

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wonky wheel 1

Every one of us at some time has come across a shopping cart that has a “Wonky Wheel”.

It’s so frustrating trying to get the thing to go where you want it to go.

Some of us fight through it frustrated; some of us abandon the cart entirely exhausted from the experience.

What if we abandoned everything that was hard in life? What it every time it got hard we simply quit?

Addressing the issues that affect youth homelessness is one of those things we can’t abandon.

Just because it appears hard and at times frustrates us, it is no reason to quit.

Addressing prevention, emergency services and housing first initiatives can help us fix those “Wonky Wheels” in life, in fact that’s the change we are pushing for!

After all, young people aren’t shopping carts, we can’t just abandon them when they appear broken.

Join us and together we can help straighten out the path for Canadian youth.

Day 85 – Inukshuks

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Over the past several years building The Push for Change campaign there were many days of uncertainty. Where would our sponsors come from? Would my 49 year old body be able to take the pounding? Would anyone even care about another trek across Canada?

On every single occasion our doubt was like a test of our faith. We doubted and faith answered. All our fears were replaced with a steadfast conviction that this was indeed going to happen.
Today we are on day 85 and have reached the 1703 KM mark. Two days ago we finished PEI, our third Province and headed to New Brunswick. I can say that today I rest knowing we will complete this work in Vancouver on September 30, 2017. My confidence is daily affirmed with the “breadcrumbs” I have been finding along the highway.

Since the campaign began in Newfoundland on May 1st I have been finding money along the Trans Canada highway system. I find pennies, nickels dimes and quarters. Occasionally I have even found Loonies and Twoonies. It’s ironic I suppose that as I Push for Change I find change right there on the road. What is a little unnerving is where I find it. I have found coins in places coins have no worldly business being. For me they have become a spiritual thing. It’s God or the Universe’s way of saying I’m here and with you. They are acting as my shiny little Inukshuks across this great country of ours. And every time I find one I look up, say thank you, and keep walking.

Day 72 – Who Inspires You?

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Who inspires you?

The reporter from the Halifax Chronicle asked me the other day “Who inspired you to walk across Canada?”
When I was first building my career in Vancouver I was broke so I would browse used books stores, the Salvation Army Thrift Stores being my favourite and would get great books from inspiring people at a fraction of the cost.

Around this time I became interested in the speaking business so I decided at the encouragement of my mentor Peter Legge to attend a CAPS conference (Canadian Association of Professional Speakers). The date arrived and I was NOT disappointed. The line up was fantastic, with great speakers like David Sweet, the late great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones and our very own Canadian Legend Rick Hansen.

After Rick spoke I was quiet inspired so I rushed up to thank him. He had copies of his book for sale. I wanted one so bad but I did not have enough money, I thanked him and walked away. I was a little embarrassed that I could not afford his book but was determined to get a copy.
It was at the top of my list as I began scouring used book stores until one day I found it. Three bucks is what I paid! I was so happy I rushed home and began reading. Learning about a man who against the odds wheeled his chair the circumference of the planet and built a foundation upon this legacy. A true Canadian hero and Change Maker.

But there’s more. I was about 10 pages in when something fell out of the book onto my lap. It was a piece of plastic finish line race ribbon and had the words Welcome Home Rick. Could it be??!? I started to search through the pictures in the book, sure enough I found the same ribbon that was used when Rick wheeled into Vancouver at the end of his Man in Motion tour. I not only had a copy of Rick’s book I also had a piece of Hansen memorabilia that I am sure to this day is rare indeed.

Over the last almost 4 plus years of building and dreaming about The Push for Change campaign, that finish line ribbon has acted as my inspiration. I pinned it above my bed back home and today it is taped above my bed in the RV where I can see it before I sleep and the moment I awake.
I have been blessed by Rick Hansen in many ways. He said some nice words about my book, we shared a number of conversations, and I had the pleasure of working with team members of his when planning PFC’s logistics strategy.

More than all of this however was the advice Rick gave me in a phone call many years ago. I asked what was your secret? He said, and I will paraphrase, “find something big to tackle, something that inspires people and offer them to join, in this you can create a movement and make change in the world.”
Today is day 72 of The Push for Change and we have reached KM 1445 with 8600 KM to go. In 15 months myself and Team Push for Change will complete the walk into Vancouver and I envision Rick Hansen there to meet me, wheel with me and maybe then I can ask him to sign my book.

Who inspires you?

Day 35 – What wakes you up in the morning?

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Over the past few years building the Push for Change I had a clear vision of what it would take to make this campaign a success. Marie and I have had our heads down working so hard that when our launch day May 1st 2016 finally arrived it seemed surreal.

Today we are over four weeks into the campaign. We have walked 749 KM and have 80% completed Newfoundland. Sounds exciting right? It’s not been without it’s challenges. Many days so far I have walked for over 12KM in pouring rain. Not drizzle, not light rain, but torrential down pour. Often I wake up to the sound of this very kind of rain pounding on the roof of the very comfortable RV we are using as our home and base camp across Canada. If ever I want to roll over and stay in bed – rain days are those days!

Unfortunately, the Push for Change does not have “lazy days” – I am personally driven to get up every day rain or shine and complete what I committed to doing. So is my team. It reminds me that we “walked into” this project knowing it would be tough some days. Call it invited adversity if you will.

So why invite adversity? Why bother? Why would you walk so far and push yourself so hard? Simple, we believe in the cause and believe that our actions today will create new possibilities tomorrow.

What wakes me up is not the rain, it’s the burning desire to create change in this country for young people who are where I used to be and who deserve all the opportunities I had and to find their potential!

Maybe by my spending a day in the rain, some young people won’t have to. That thought keeps me feet moving.