Paris in the Spring!

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!

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Musée de l’armée west side

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Quiet your Mind, Listen, Open Your Heart and Learn to Love

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.

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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

Fun with Snapseed and a Broken iPhone Camera

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.

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Here is one of the first photos I captured with the faulty focus capabilities.

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Blossom, Decay, and Renew

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. 

IMG_3324A 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.

 

Running The Jardin Du Luxembourg in Paris

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.

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Enjoy the video!

I Was a Hero for an Hour!

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.

The farmlands where I found the boy.

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

Running and Recuperation in Provence

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.

C RunningMy 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

Simple and Healthy Family Meals

Over the past six months I’ve become the primary cook and meal planner at home and I’ve really enjoyed taking on this new role. I get immense pleasure in meal planning, selecting ingredients, and making delicious and nutritious meals. I’ve also started optimizing the meal choices for speed and nutritional balance. I’m a big fan of healthy fats and lots of vegetables and have found a few great kid friendly meals that are simple and hit the spot every time. Moreover, they are simple to make and take no time at all.

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Healthy and enjoyable meals in a beautiful setting!

Here is a dinner I made last night consisting of basmati rice, roasted vegetables (sweet potato, garlic, and carrots), barbecue salmon, and green salad. We don’t buy prepared dressings as we make them daily out of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. I sliced the vegetables, placed them into an oven dish, drizzled olive oil over them and broiled them for 50 minutes while I made the rice, set the table, and cooked the fish on the barbecue.

 

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Run for Life!

Four Principles to Running Longevity

I love running! It’s a passion. I love talking about it, reading about it, and sharing stories about running. I love it so much I hope to inspire others to run as well. But I’m not an “in-your-face-about-it” runner.

I hope this article inspires you to run or to re-think your approach to running to enable you to run for life.31795476.jpg

Recently a friend asked me to coach him to become a runner. A few months ago I had lunch with him after I did a 22km run. He couldn’t tell I ran that morning. Later that day he saw someone who had done a half-marathon race and could barely walk and needed help getting off the metro. He thought to himself Gene must be pretty fit as he ran a half marathon and wasn’t tired, walked normally, and looked completely refreshed.

For the person on the metro that ran the half-marathon “bravo!” It’s fantastic to see anyone set a goal and achieve that goal. I also think it is important to set goals and fail in trying to achieve them so that we can learn along the way.

I hope this article can help you learn from my mistakes and avoid them.

Years ago when I first discovered my passion for running I was constantly injured. I reached too hard, too fast, suffered from stress fractures and actual bone breaks. It took me a lot of research, learning, and experimenting to discover an approach to sustainable running. I’ve been injury free for three years, yet I’m running more now than I ever have. I’ve also achieved personal records on my 5km and half-marathon distances. I just finished my biggest four-week running block in years and am not tired, have no soreness, and have a really low resting heart rate in the mornings, which is a sign of good recovery. In addition to the running I’m also averaging nearly 15,000 steps of walking per day. According to Garmin I’ve walked and ran an average of about 120KM (around 74 miles) per week over the past four weeks.

I’ve learned a lot in the past decade about training, avoiding injury, patience, and becoming lean and fit without breaking down the body. The learning journey is not complete and like in any other discipline the learning never stops. My approach is simple, holistic and sustainable. I look at the holistic system that spans across diet, sleep, life stresses, periodization, race objectives, age, and family and work situations. I want to share this with every one to inspire people to run sustainably, and to help runners achieve better results and more longevity, but to also help people attain better overall fitness and vitality.

Here are my four principles to running for life:

  • Run Slow – It’s a Secret to Getting Fast
  • Stop Counting Calories and Eat Clean
  • Sleep for Speed
  • Embrace Stress

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Osteopenia Diagnosis, Recovery, and Running

A few years ago I wrote about my journey with osteopenia. For several years I kept breaking bones (metatarsal and fibula) or getting stress fractures despite taking vitamin D and thinking my diet was good. And as a man in his early 40s this was distressing.

Several years later, I’m injury free, run between 30-50km per week and feel more robust than ever before.

Someone came across my older blog site and contacted me asking for advice on how I was able to return to running. This is what I sent plus I’m adding additional information. Others with osteopenia may also appreciate this advice.

Thanks for reaching out. I’ve come a long way and feel a lot more robust than when I discovered I had bone density problems. I’ve yet to get another bone density scan but I feel a lot stronger now than I did several years ago. Continue reading

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