Friday, November 21, 2014

To who I'm going to marry

It's about time I tell single Bert that we've had some awesome times, met some cool people but I'm ready to move on. I feel like 28 years doing my own thing has gotten me almost as far as I’m going to get alone. I could be a much better Bert. Much better. I’m just not intrinsically motivated enough; having you as motivation will take us to new heights.

After meeting most new people I think “Will you be the girl I marry?” This is killing my productivity. I’m under the assumption that you are doing something incredibly awesome like building a sailboat, saving someone’s life and saving an endangered species all at the same time but I need your help. I’m not a good dater/boyfriend/small talker. I’m not someone you want to meet at a party. I’m not good at faking interest. I don’t have tons of things to say to strangers. I'm waiting to get to know you. I do promise I will tell you anything and everything you want and need to know. I’m saving my time and energy for you. I honestly remind myself constantly that I want to make your friends jealous about how great your life and family with me is. They won’t want to leave our clean house to go back to “Stan”  who forgot to feed their kids and put them to bed on time. It’s a school night!

 I promise to remember that you like burnt marshmallows, hate yogurt or whatever quirky things that are important to you because I will make it important to me. I promise to wake up early and make you breakfast, do the chore you especially hate and make sure your car is clean and smells like vanilla or whatever scent that you love.

If you laugh at my hilarious jokes, tell me I look good in one of my many suits and are cool with me watching football, I think we will do just fine. I only ask that you do your best to find me because I can’t wait to make your life better. And if you are half as good looking as I imagine you are, our kids will be breathtaking. I will teach our kids so many fun things, take them on walks and go on all kinds of adventures. I might be a better dad than a husband but I promise I won’t ever stop trying to be better at both. There are a few things I’m going to need to learn how to do first so I can teach our kids them but it seems like time is on our side. I doubt that you will find this post because you are probably somewhere researching nanotechnology or riding a horse in a country I've never heard of but you should know that I’m about ready to start exploring new cities, restaurants and islands with you. No hurry though; I wouldn’t want to rush you. I’m around. Just say hi.


"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading"

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Are you an adult?

When I wake up and get reading in the morning, I don’t look into the mirror and think that an adult is staring back at me.
(I can’t actually see my reflection after showering because we don’t have a fan in the bathroom but you get the idea) My main thoughts consist of not forgetting my lunch, not being late for school and wishing I had gone to bed an hour earlier. Are those adult thoughts? They seem a level or two below what an adult should be thinking about. I imagine a real adult is thinking about getting their child ready for school, not forgetting about their wife’s _____ (I’m not sure what wives want their husbands to remember) and making sure their RRSP’s are growing at a steady rate. While I myself don’t see myself as an adult, I’m pretty sure my class of kindergartens and grade 3’s looked at me like I was one. The class I will be spending a month with in November will almost certainly look at me like I’m a grown up. I don’t feel like a kid or a teenager but I definitely don’t feel grown up or old. Maybe that’s because I’m in school, don’t have a career, a house or things of value. But I’m starting to think that even with those things I might not feel like one. I can’t be the only other person who feels this way right? Do you look at yourself and think “I’m an adult?” The main reason I’m writing about this is that there are certain ideas or habits I think an adult should demonstrate that I don’t at this moment in time. So if you do some or all of the following, I consider you an adult:

If you are walking down the street and it starts to rain and you causally pull out your umbrella and keep walking…you’re an adult.
If someone tells you they are hungry and you have snacks with you…you’re an adult.
If you do your own taxes…you’re an adult.
If you own a house…you’re an adult.
If you have money automatically taken off your paycheck that goes into a savings account…you’re an adult.
If you go to dinner parties…you’re an adult.
If you tell someone you aren't mad at them but just disappointed…you’re an adult.
If you have more than two kids…you’re an adult.
If you take baths on a regular basis and you aren't an actual baby…you’re an adult.
If you have a variety of different rewards cards and collect points…you’re an adult.
If you go on vacations with other're an adult.
If you can remember to bring bags to the grocery store to help the environment…you’re an adult.
If someone starts to cry or is sick and you hand them Kleenex you have in your bag…you’re an adult.
If you own and use a label maker…you’re an adult.
If you haven’t thrown up from drinking in more than a year, you are probably an adult.
If you collect're an adult.
If you own a tuxedo, you’re an adult.
If people show up at your house unannounced and your house is spotless, you’re an adult.
If you host Thanksgiving and Christmas…you’re an adult.
If you have more than enough socks and they are matching each day…you’re an adult.
If you send out a Christmas card…you’re an adult.

I don’t want to make it seem like I’m hating on adults. I hope to be one someday. These are just some guidelines that might be useful in assessing your current adultness. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on being an adult and other characteristics adult have. Enjoy the rest of October because winter is coming.

"I believe that everyone else my age is an adult whereas I am merely in disguise." 
Margaret Atwood

I'm late to this video but I watched it yesterday and thought that it's super well made and made me think.

My favorite song right now:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


funny standup 2 Funny quotes from standup comedians (18 Photos)

I don’t want to bore people with talk of group work, school projects and Building Futures Workshops but a few too many days have passed without posting something so I’m thinking if this doesn't happen now, who knows how long you will have to suffer through a life with Teacher Bert posts. As usual, I will try to keep this short.

inspired quotes 10 A little inspiration to get you through the mid week crisis (36 Photos)

School is fun. I’m not a scientist but learning might be good for you. There are always things to be doing, books to read and assignments to tackle. We’ve made lava lamps, paper airplanes and other high level thinking projects. Going to school and learning that you will actually take into the real world is a much more enriching experience than learning about sedimentary rocks or Shakespeare. I go into my first real Canadian class for a day on Friday where I will be shadowing one of my professors and making a lesson plan out of the book “Love You Forever”. There are about 37ish people in my class; 32 of them I think are girls. I’d like a refund.

wise quotes 29 Interesting and beautiful quotes (32 Photos)

A few weeks ago, our Math class went into an English school on the Quebec side to do a Math workshop with some elementary school kids. Let’s start by saying that I’m not a Math savant. To say the least. Before going into the school, we do the Math problems that we will be showing the kids as a group then teaching them the next week. We had three problems but probably wouldn’t have enough time to complete all three with the students the following week. One of the problems was called Jumping Chips. You need to get the colours from one side to switch with the colours from the other side without jumping the same color and yellow can only go right and red can only go left.

This took a bit of time for the class to figure out but it’s a good Math problem that focuses on problem solving and patterning. So I study the problems to make sure I understand them, show up to school the next week and get assigned 3 kids for 45 minutes. 3 kids for 45 minutes? Easy. No. Problem. I tell them about my teaching experience and introduce the problems. First problem gets solved easily then it’s time for some Jumping Chips. To make a long story short, the kids were struggling with it and within 15 minutes I made one of them cry. Not a little cry, like a Bert crying in New Zealand cry. I’ve made students cry before so this didn’t really faze me but it’s the fact that I could understand how he felt feeling defeated by Math and feeling not smart made me feel horrible. He essentially felt worse off about Math after spending 45 minutes with me. After the class, a head teacher at the school informed me that he has a learning problem and not to take it personally. This would be the point where I would be honest and say that talking to that teacher about having difficulty with that student made me cry in front of her because I felt that I did a bad job as a teacher. But that would mean admitting for the second time that I've cried and I don’t think I’m comfortable sharing a second Bert being sad story so I will leave that out.

inspired quotes 35 A little inspiration to get you through the mid week crisis (36 Photos)

This was my first Thanksgiving in three years and in the spirit of giving thanks, I’m extremely thankful for my adorable nephew Ben, all of my other nieces and nephews for that matter but he’s the baby so he’s allowed to be the favourite. I’m thankful to be in school, to feel like I’m making progress in life, that being Canadian is a pretty great setup and feeling life is only going to get better. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and thanks again for letting me take up a part of your day.  

“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get” Frank W. Clark

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Puzzle pieces

I don't like puzzles. I'm not big on attention to detail or patience. If my life depended on putting together a puzzle that was even mildly difficult, I wouldn't be long for this earth. Luckily, this situation hasn't come up (yet).

I do however think we are all creating a giant life puzzle. You decide how big, spectacular, detailed and ambitious your puzzle will be. I think that we are always constructing our puzzle and looking for the right pieces to continue building. Our jobs, passions, friends and lovers all are pieces. Some pieces are bigger than others, some fit nicely in while others we have to search for, re-arrange, and put down until the puzzle comes more into focus. As it happens, sometimes wrong puzzle pieces make their way into the box and you can't use them for your amazing puzzle. It doesn't necessarily mean that that puzzle piece isn't great or unique; it's just not in the blueprint for your masterpiece. We sometimes struggle with certain pieces and how they fit into the bigger plan. Trying to fit wrong pieces then eventually finding the right one makes assembly more rewarding. Kind of like my nephew's toy that has different sized holes for different shapes. The triangle just won't fit into the circle hole (trust me).

"There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle."

Deepak Chopra

I think we are all puzzle pieces looking for other pieces to make us whole. We spend time with people to try and figure out if and how they fit into our lives and how they can make us better and vice versa. It might take a while to figure out a certain piece doesn't quite fit but that's the fun of making a puzzle. Some pieces fit together instantly while others take time.

Build the biggest most magnificent puzzle you can; it might never be fully complete but it seems like we have been given time to start building. Just make sure you start with the corners.

"The problem is that we always look for the missing piece of the puzzle instead of finding a place for the one in our hand..."

Alina Radoi

Monday, August 11, 2014

Does travel change you?

Does travel change you? It's certainly a theme you hear when people discuss the merits of traveling and life abroad. It's said that travel puts you in situations you wouldn't normally face at home, it forces you to live outside of your comfort zone, you meet people you wouldn't come across in your home town and gives you a glimpse into the lives of others. I can agree that all of those things are true as well as many more but has leaving home and being away for three years changed me? I'm a little skeptical but not so oblivious to think that my adventure hasn't had some impact be it conscious or unconsciously.

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

The thing about change is that it happens gradually. Just as it takes time to see results after exercising for an extended period, personal growth and development take time. I think the issue I might have is with the word "change". I don't feel like I've "changed" or am considerably different from the Bert who never left North America. That Bert and this Bert still love sports, his circle of family and friends, hanging out and sleeping in. I still love laughing, going out and driving around. I doubt that anyone I'm close with would say a different Bert has returned home. My priorities are a bit different as well as where and what I think I will be doing in 5-10 years but everyone goes through that. Life changes you. Monumental moments change you. I can only imagine what getting married and starting a family would be like. I'm anticipating that to change me for the better. To put other people’s well-being and happiness in front of my own will be a massive change but one that I will welcome. I think people you love dying changes you; it did at least for me when my dad died. That changed me and I'm still not completely sure how but it made me realize this is the only shot we get so we need to decide who and what is important and strive for that. It's also made me want to be an extraordinary father and husband. I'm very excited for that part of my life to eventually start.

 “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
 The thing about change is that it's a very personal thing. An experience that might really hit home with me might not even be worth a second thought to you. Being away exposes you to more opportunities to realize what you like but might not have had access or cared to at home. For example, I had never been on a tropical island before living in Thailand. I wanted to find a secluded beach, sleep in a bungalow for a few dollars a day and sleep my days away. Little did I know that having no one around takes the fun out of it. I learned that even just having a small handful of people around somehow makes the experience better. I also never knew I loved mangos or eating fried chicken with sticky rice for breakfast until that became my reality. I didn't need to move across the world to figure out that I love cashew nut chicken or that I love teaching kids but they were opportunities that I just happened to explore because I was away. If I never would have left I still would love all the new things I love now but I just wouldn't know it. Before leaving I didn't think Asians were that attractive but that changed. Right now I wouldn't put marrying a Mexican woman on the top of my list but I'm sure living there for 4 days would change that.

 "To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark
 The thing about travel is that you learn about you. There are tons of things that I've never tried but I would love doing. I've never knitted anyone a sweater or re-enacted the civil war but maybe one day a Nepalese woman will show me the ropes or that older man at the bar with the costume on will invite me along with him one day. Did travel change the fact that I enjoy these new hobbies or was I merely just exposed to these new pass times? I don't think being away fundamentally changes you. I think of it sort of like in the movie "The Mask" where Jim Carrey comes across a mask that brings out was in already deep inside him. The mask accentuates and amplifies what is already inside. When he puts on the mask he becomes more confident, charming and fun. On the other hand, the evil villain who gets hold of the mask becomes more violent and evil. The mask just exposes what's already there. Travel digs a little deeper under the surface. Kind of like an archaeologist which sort of makes me Indiana Jones. Yeah that analogy works.

 "A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
 The one caveat I can think of that I've never experienced is visiting a country or place that has been torn apart by natural disasters, war, famine or drought. I've never visited anywhere I haven't felt safe or worried where my next meal or bottle of water will come from. I can see how having an experience like that would change you and have a profound effect on your future.

While I may have changed in ways I haven't realized yet, there are a few things that I can point to that travel has helped me with. I'd say I'm more confident, happy, open minded and laid back. I'm hopefully more fun, have more stories and I've created new friendships. 
Travel helps you grow, learn and experience. It opens you up to adventure, heartbreak, joy and happiness. I don't think travel has changed me but I do think it has taught me.

 "A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”

Monday, July 7, 2014

Being a regular guy

If you missed my last post, let's catch up.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes me different from any other guy I might come across on the street, subway or while at work. After all this pondering I've come to an answer: not much. Most guys like beer? Check. Most guys enjoy the weekend and looking at girls? Check and double check. Love your family, sports, the outdoors, money, laughing, BBQ, sleeping and just hanging out? Welcome to being just another social insurance number. 

Maybe being just another Joe who pays taxes, aspires to have a family and a home isn't the worst fate. Blending in with the crowd, complaining about politics and the weather seem to be working for most people but it just doesn't sit right with me. Maybe I'm wrong, young and short sighted but being just like my neighbours complaining about how the mail is always late on Wednesday afternoons doesn't seem very exciting. For some reason, it doesn't feel great knowing that I'm essentially replaceable in every way to basically everyone who knows me except my mom because she has grown quite fond of me over the years. I am also working under the impression that other people perceive me as just another guy. I'm keenly aware that a certain percentage of people I come across don't get me, think I'm weird, wonder what it is that I'm thinking about while occasionally laughing very loudly at random times. I'm okay with not everyone being on board the Bert train. I have a running joke with one of my friends that 1 in 3 new people I meet will like me. Not a terrific average but if I meet enough people it works itself out. 

So if the issue is that I'm just like everyone else, how do you stand 
out from the crowd and be someone that people meet and
remember because you are remarkable? Wouldn't it be great if I 
was good at writing and thinking and I laid it all out and the answer
 made me feel way better and changed my life? As you might have 
figured out these last three years, that isn't really what takes place 

I imagine you stand out by being passionate about your day-to-day life. Waking up excited to get out of bed, shower, eat a heathy breakfast and show the world what's up. Wearing clothes that are unique, fun and make you feel confident would also be a nice 
touch. Having a variety of hobbies andworking on developing new skills might set us a part. Embracing change, opportunities and new friendships is a way to step away 
from the crowd. I'm aware that there are people out there who are just killing life right now with productivity, money, women, heath, travel and any other category they want. I just need to find a 
Toronto mentor to show me the path I seek. It has also crossed my 
mind that spending so much time in Thailand being in the extreme minority to living back in Canada where I am just another white guy might add to this feeling of mediocrity.

"By definition, it is not possible to everyone to be above the average."

Jim Collins

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Back in Canada

I've been home over a month and I'm not entirely sure my exact feelings about it. A few things stand out:

-Seeing my nephew basically every day, picking him up and dropping him off in the morning and night is the highlight of my post travel days. Cheese, bus, shoe, up, mom, cute.

-We Canadians are insanely polite. Not sure I've opened a door since coming back. Run into someone? Don't worry, they'll apologize. 

-I'm fully aware that the majority of people aren't curious or interested when they ask what I do and say I've been away for three years. I get it, most people aren't interested or don't care. It is surprising the people that do care and ask real questions. Not sure what that means. 

-I am happy to be back. I am. I do feel sad more than I thought I would, I feel alone even though I live with my family and have great friends in the city. I don't want to say I don't belong here but I don't feel completely immersed. The thought of spending the next 16 months here doesn't fill me with hope or excitement. I want to love it. Maybe it just takes time.

-I want to explore a foreign country all by myself extremely badly right now. Adventure and new countries has become a new part of who I an.

-I love seeing and hearing Asian people around me speak and not understand. It's wonderful.

-Showering in a real bathtub with my good gels, water pressure and heat is incredible.

-My mom loves me very much.

-I went to see X-Men all alone at the movie theatre. I'm very busy and popular.

-There are tons of beer here.

-Watching hockey and basketball live on tv makes me 
happier than it should.

-We say eh a lot eh?

-Being able to attend Lauren and Abim's wedding was good for my soul.

-I'm not super friendly

-Essentially everyone has more stuff and money than I do.

-I wish I could post more but my life mostly consists of eating cereal, playing with a baby and thinking of Thailand.

-I'm 90% sure I will be living in Bangkok next year. 

-I went to a bar that only played country music and everyone loved it. So did I. 

-Nobody stares at me, gives me attention, calls me 
handsome or cares that I'm white. I'm trying not to take it personally. 

-I am incredibly lucky and grateful to have experienced 
these last three years and hope that this is only the beginning. 

This isn't supposed to come off as negative or me complaining. These are the things that have stood out after being away for three years. If you'd like to let me know what you think you can send me a message, just let me eat my cereal first.

"Sorrow is part of everyone’s lifetime and the consequence of an open and passionate heart"