Written by Robert Kirwan
following articles were written during 2006 and were published in
The Vision Paper.
your convenience I have provided you with the titles and will try to
give you a brief
introduction to each editorial. The articles appear in the order in
which they are listed, so when you see one that interests you,
simply scroll down until you find it.
you have any comments, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
|JULY TO DECEMBER
following articles were also written during 2006, but for
your convenience I have provided you with the titles and a brief
introduction to each editorial.
you need to do to read the article is click on the title or the
More>>> prompt at the end of the introduction. That will
take you to a page with the article.
you have any comments, please send them to me at email@example.com
|Two little boys were dressed and ready to go. In fact, they
had been ready now for more than an hour. Excitement flooded their faces
and all their talk was about only one thing: their father had promised to
take them to the circus that afternoon and they were only minutes away
from leaving. For More>>>>
many years ago, I was standing in the hallway at a local
elementary school watching a teacher bring her class to
the gym when I overheard the most philosophical question
I have ever encountered in my life. For
my Father-in-law, Ignace Starcevic, passed away in 1982,
my wife asked me to come up with something nice to have
engraved on his tombstone. I was only 32 at the
time and we were in the process of raising three young
sons, aged 3, 5 and 7.
It was a hectic time of our lives and we were
typical parents – running ourselves ragged as we
encountered all of the normal experiences and challenges
faced by all other young parents. For
has often been said that a person’s life is the sum total of his/her
experiences. On the surface that seems like a simple enough statement, but
if one accepts this premise, then why do so many of us engage in practices
and activities which are negative and actually hurt us. Consider
the family of five who decided one day to each clean a different area of
the home. They each took a sponge, did the cleaning, and then placed the
sponges back on the kitchen counter top. The sponges all looked the same. For
are a lot of things I like about my life right now. I could spend the
entire editorial discussing my family, my career and how I have enjoyed
living in Val Therese for the past 32 years. But other than things to do
with my family, the thing I like best about my life is the fact that
through all of my work and personal interactions with the various parts of
the community, I get to meet so many wonderful people who are devoted to
improving the quality of life for others in need. For
|Norman Vincent Peale once wrote, “In her the creative
genius of God attains His highest skill. What a charming blend she is of
the most lovable and moving qualities of human nature. From the moment in
youth when she holds her first baby in her arms until in life’s evening
time she looks tenderly upon her grandchild, her life is one of dedicated
service and love. Loving us; believing in us; fighting for us; praying for
us; to her we are always her dear child – life of her life.” For
other day I overheard two teenage girls in the mall complaining about
their parents. One of them was upset because her parents wouldn’t let
her go out on a date with a guy named Fred, who was three years older than
her. The girls were making plans to trick her parents into thinking they
were having a sleep-over. For
|A number of years ago, while attending a circus with my
children, I noticed a group of elephants in an open area. Each of these
gigantic beasts was being held by only a small rope tied to their front
leg. There were no chains and no fences around them. It was pretty obvious
that the elephants could break away from their bonds at any time, but for
some reason they did not. I went over to one of the trainers and asked why
these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt
to get away. For More>>>>
|We all casually leave lasting impressions on others who
come into our life. The least, little courtesy, the simplest, kind word,
perhaps a bit of time spent "just being there," or even, I
suppose, the most fleeting, careless kindness, like fixing a wheel for a
stranger could be a gesture that someone else remembers for the rest of
his or her life. For More>>>>
|I’ve met a lot of people
over the course of my lifetime. Some I remember with fondness and some I
would rather forget. A little over two years ago, when I began working as
the Marketing Manager for the Hanmer Valley Shopping Centre, I met a
quiet, unassuming gentleman who has taught me a lot more about life than
he can ever imagine. For More>>>>
|What would you say if I told you that it was impossible for you to
ever make a wrong decision? You may not always be happy with the results
of some of your decisions, but it is impossible to make a ‘wrong
“What is wrong with the younger generation today?”
any adult that question and inevitably the answer will boil down to the
fact that, in general, kids just seem to have a serious lack of respect
today. Not all kids display this character flaw, but a large number of
them certainly do. And the ones who demonstrate a lack of respect for
people, property and themselves tend to be the most vocal and the most
latest data we have available shows that the jobless rate in
is anywhere from 7 to 10%. This is a serious situation which has been
getting worse over the years as the rest of the country shows employment
and economic growth. For more>>>>
strange how you sometimes get the best advice from the most unusual
places. The other day I met a young man who was a former student of mine. He told
me a story about the birth of his daughter that touched my heart. The
baby was born with a minor problem that caused enough concern for the doctor
to order a test the next morning. For
consider myself to have been very fortunate in life. Sure there have been
days I would like to forget and I have suffered a lot of set backs and
disappointments like anyone else, but, for the most part, my life has been
pretty good. One of the reasons I
feel this way is that many years ago I learned to accept the principle
that where I am today is the sum total of every single thing that has ever
happened to me along this journey. For
|The other day I reviewed the results of an international
survey which concluded that
has one of the most serious shortages of skilled labour in the industrial
world. That didn’t surprise me much. We’ve been hearing for years that
our schools must begin to produce more skilled graduates in the trades.
What did surprise me, however, is
the survey found that employers in
are not just having trouble finding employees in the skilled trades field.
do you want to be when you grow up?”
That is the million dollar question that has been asked to young
people since the beginning of time. More>>>>
of the most important lessons we learn in life is usually due to problems
we’ve encountered because we’ve failed to adhere to the following very
simple, basic rule. “If You Want To Accomplish Anything, You Must Pay
Attention To The Little Details.” More>>>>
day two young brothers were in the backyard when their father came home
and saw them digging in a hole that was already waist deep. The father
came up to them and asked for an explanation. More>>>>
story goes, one day a long time ago, a young mother walked into her 5-year
old daughter’s bedroom and was extremely upset to see that the little
girl had used almost a whole roll of expensive gold wrapping paper to
decorate a small package about the size of a shoe box. While severely
scolding her daughter, the mother quickly gathered the remaining paper,
scotch tape and scissors. The child was told to get her pajamas on and go
to bed immediately without watching TV or getting her usual bedtime snack.
never ceases to amaze me that people who have been through some of the
most horrendous challenges this world can throw at them seem to have the
most positive outlook towards life. I met a wonderful lady the other day
who taught me a great deal about what it means to live one day at a time
and how happy you can be if you focus on what is truly important. More>>>
|I want to thank Cindi Cooke for sending me the following
email which clearly demonstrates the one thing that we all take for
granted, but that is definitely our most valued possession. I don't think
the story needs any introduction. The message is clear. More>>>>
no matter how happy we are or how much we enjoy the Christmas festivities,
most of us will experience a few sad moments at this time of year as well.
|A Very Special
Christmas Wish From The Kirwan Family
Valley East Today Community Web Site and Online News Magazine is a
publication of Infocom Canada Business Consultants Inc., a small business
owned by the Kirwan Family of Valley East.
Robert and Valerie Kirwan, are shown in the family
photo with their three sons: Warren (1977), Ryan (1975) and Marty (1979).
It seems like such a long time since Robert and Valerie
moved into their first and only home in Val Therese in 1974 to raise their
sons. The family has grown in size since the photo was taken several years
ago. Ryan now lives in Val Caron with his wife, Angele, and their two
girls, Hailee (2004) and Hannah (2006). Marty is married to Christina and
is living in the Guelph area. Warren is residing in Barrie with Cindi
Cooke and her two children, Brittney and Austin, while attending Teachers'
College at Trent University in Peterborough.
The Kirwan's and their extended family would like to
take this time to share some thoughts with our readers.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year, filled with so
much joy and happiness. Everyone is attending parties, shopping for gifts,
making plans to visit friends and relatives, and generally just trying to
keep up with the hectic pace of the holiday season.
However, no matter how
happy we are or how much we enjoy the Christmas festivities, most of us will
experience a few sad moments at this time of year as well. Perhaps it will
be as you are gazing out the window into the clear night, watching the
crisp snow falling to the ground. With Christmas carols playing in the
background, you fall into a trance and your mind wanders to those special
people who are no longer part of your life, or to some other personal or
family crisis that you are experiencing...and you wonder, "How can
Christmas ever be the same ?"
We have all endured pain and suffering. It is as much a
part of human life as happiness and joy. Without suffering, we wouldn’t
know what it means to be truly happy. Yet, with every serious setback in
life, it becomes increasingly difficult to get through the season of
Christmas without feeling for your loss and without shedding a tear or
two. Few of us ever get through the Christmas holiday season without
asking that numbing question, "How can Christmas ever be the
It is especially difficult with certain traditions
associated with those loved ones that you cherished who are no longer a
part of your life. Whether your loss was caused by death, divorce, a
family member moving to another place, or for any one of numerous other
reasons, the feeling is still the same. You miss that person and for a
moment wish that you could shut out the sights and sounds of Christmas.
After all, how can you have so much fun without the people who are no
longer part of your life?
Whenever you find yourself feeling like this, allow the
memories to come flooding in. Allow the good thoughts to fill your head
and bring you once again to a state of joy. Instead of feeling down,
wondering how things will ever be the same without your loved ones, do
your best to recall those important traditions and memories and remember
the good times you had with them.
This is also the time of year when a simple smile, a
touch on the shoulder, holding hands briefly, a sincere compliment or even
a little note of appreciation or recognition can mean the world to those
you meet, especially strangers. Reaching out to show that you care and
understand how someone else feels is so much easier during the Christmas
season because of the overall atmosphere and festive spirit. As you
discover the warmth that comes from sharing your love with everyone you
meet, you will begin to realize that the memories you have of lost loved
ones are cherished more than ever, and instead of making you feel sad,
those memories will lift your spirits.
We can’t escape from the fact that things change in
our life as we grow older. Some for the good, and some not so good. For
obvious reasons, it is usually during the Christmas holiday season that we
realize how much things have changed in our life. This year, don’t try
to suppress the memories of years gone by. Allow them to make this the
best Christmas ever.
So as you go about your activities this Christmas
season, take time to enjoy all of the great traditions that have been a
part of your life for so many years. Allow time to recall the memories of
years gone by so your loved ones will remain part of the festivities, even
if they are no longer around. You will find that they can still add a
great deal to your holiday, even if they are only here in spirit. And as
you reflect upon those memories, allow them to give you the motivation and
inspiration to move forward into a new chapter of your life next year.
The Kirwan Family would like to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year!
Is The Key To Dealing With Family Stress During The
Editorial by Robert Kirwan
once noted in a poll taken by the Southam News that 92%
of respondents believe Canadian parents today are under
more financial and emotional stress than post-war
families of 60 years ago. The results of the poll
indicated that many Canadians are suffering from chronic
emotional health problems because of the pressure on
When asked to identify the causes of the stress,
respondents indicated that parents are working too hard,
too long for too little money; there is a severe lack of
job security; there is excessive taxation; many are
facing child-rearing problems; and there are a large
percentage of families dealing with divorce and marriage
breakdowns. It is easy to come to the conclusion that
family life is in crisis.
It is a fact of life that no family escapes from
the stress of everyday life. But most will agree that at
no time in the year is the stress upon families and
individuals greater than it is during the Christmas
As much as people may look forward to Christmas,
and even though it is a time for people to get together
and visit with friends and relatives, few will argue
that Christmas is also one of the most hectic,
stress-filled times of the year. If you disagree, just
look at the people you come across over the next several
days and see how many “happy” faces you can find.
If you are going to make it through another
holiday rush, you must develop strong survival
techniques which will control your stress level and
allow you to enjoy the beautiful moments of the season.
In other words, you must become a calming influence in
the middle of a stressful storm of commotion.
The most important thing you must do is convince
yourself that it is absolutely useless to get upset
about things that are beyond your control. You can’t
always get your own way, no matter how much you complain
or wish you could change things. If you must go shopping
between now and Christmas, don’t complain about the
crowds, the traffic, the high prices, the rudeness or
the chaos of life. When you are the tenth person in line
at the check-out counter, accept the fact that this is
the way it is and nothing you can do will change it.
Once you surrender to this actuality you will find a
strange sense of peace take over your body.
Take the little things that happen every day in
stride and accept them for what they are - simply life
happening. Next time one of your children accidentally
knocks over one of your favourite glasses causing it to
break on the floor, don’t get all upset and rant and
rave about the carelessness of today’s youth. Accept
it for what it is - a moment of life that includes a
broken glass. Use it to show your child how to carefully
pick up the pieces and dispose of them so as not to
endanger anyone else. Show the child how to get every
last little sliver off the floor. And while you are
doing it, think about how many times in your own life
you accidentally broke items around the house. It may
actually be hard to hide your smile. When it is all
over, give your child a hug and remind him or her to be
more careful next time.
If you can change your reactions to negative
events so that your response reflects a calm and
peaceful acceptance, you will discover that the
solutions to these negative moments are readily at hand.
And even in the midst of the chaos of Christmas
holidays, you will be amazed at how much easier your
life will become. Start today! Stop the negativity
before it has a chance to spiral out of control. Make
Christmas 2006 a truly peaceful time in your family.
Have a good week!
Editorial by Robert Kirwan
An old legend tells of a tribe of people that was
continually at war with other tribes. This aggressive
tribe murdered and destroyed neighbouring tribes and
villages. They had no morals, love or compassion and
were extremely greedy and cruel in their pursuit of
dismayed wise man of a good tribe called a conference of
reasonable people in tribes throughout the region. They
met to see what they could do to save the people of this
aggressive tribe from themselves. After much discussion,
they decided to take the secret of personal success and
happiness away from those who abused it and hide it from
them. One wise man at the meeting asked, “Where can we
put it so they won’t find it?”
person suggested it be buried deep in the earth; another
suggested it be placed on the top of a high mountain.
Some suggested it be thrown into the ocean. After all of
the suggestions it was agreed that the secret of
happiness and success could be too easily found if it
was hidden in any of these obvious places.
one wise old man who had kept quiet during the
conference said, “Let’s hide the secret within the
people of the aggressive tribe themselves. People like
this will never think to look for happiness and success
this day, the violent tribe has continued to pursue
success and happiness in many places, never guessing
that they possess this true secret to success and
happiness within themselves.
simple legend tells us a great deal about human nature.
So often we spend our days running to and fro attempting
to find success and happiness by spending countless
hours in an attempt to increase our salary level; being
ruthless in our business deals; trying to gain the upper
hand on business associates; attempting to beat the
stock market; and making sure we have the newest and
most expensive collection of toys and gadgets over which
to gloat when talking to our neighbours and
just as it was with the violent tribe, no matter how
much we have, or how powerful we become, we just don’t
seem to be truly happy. We want more happiness and more
success and are committed to investing more time and
energy in finding this happiness and success.
All of this
simply points out how smart the wise old man in the
legend really was. He knew that most people think the
secret of happiness and success must be searched for and
can only be acquired by taking it from someone else.
Little do we know that the real secret of happiness and
success is actually buried deep within our own self and
does not depend on what we have, but on who we are as
enter the Christmas season there will be many
opportunities for personal reflection. It is a time when
most of us take a good long look in the mirror and
review our situation in life. We will talk at length
with family and friends about initiatives we intend to
undertake in the New Year to improve ourselves. Most of
our plans will be designed to make us happier and more
successful in our personal and business ventures.
you are immersed in one of those moments of true peace
and contentment this Christmas, stop immediately and ask
yourself what it is that is making you feel so good at
the time. Ask yourself why, at that particular moment,
you feel so good and so satisfied. What makes that
particular moment in time so different from the others?
You will discover that those moments of extreme
happiness and joy are times when you have truly
discovered yourself. Those are times when you are not
being defined by ‘what you have’ but by ‘who you
are’ and ‘what you mean to other loved ones in your
our search for happiness, let’s not overlook the
hiding place that is closest to our heart. For if you
really want to find happiness and success, you must look
inward, not outward.
a good week!
Editorial by Robert Kirwan
As I was working on the story for the Canadian
Learning Centre, which can be found on the home page of
this edition of Valley East Today, I reflected upon
their mission statement: “All knowledge is
sacred." I found my thoughts drifting off to an
article I once read entitled ‘The Watermelon
Hunter’. I would like to share it with you at this
upon a time there was a man who strayed from his own
country into the world known as the
. He soon saw a number of people flying in terror from a
field where they had been trying to reap wheat.
"There is a monster in that field," they told
him. He looked, and saw that the "monster" was
merely a watermelon.
offered to kill the "monster" for them. When
he had cut the melon from its stalk, he took a slice and
began to eat it. The people became even more terrified
of him than they had been of the melon. They drove him
away with pitchforks, crying, "He will kill us
next, unless we get rid of him."
happened that shortly afterward another man also strayed
. But instead of offering to help the people with the
"monster," he agreed with them that it must be
dangerous, and by tiptoeing away from it with them he
gained their confidence. He spent a long time with them
in their homes until he could teach them, little by
little, the basic facts which would enable them not only
to lose their fear of melons, but eventually to
cultivate melons themselves.”
first person who wandered into the “
” made the mistake of “killing the monster” for
the people. This action may have removed the immediate
problem, but it didn’t comfort the “Fools” because
they still held on to the original fear that had made
them terrified of melons in the first place.
second person gained the confidence of the people from
’ and was able to slowly teach them basic facts that
enabled them to lose their fear of melons.
so, the second person in the story helped the people in
’ by showing them not only how to overcome their fear
of the ‘unknown’, but to also embrace the melons and
cultivate them for their own benefit.
also reflected on a time early in my career as an
elementary school teacher when I learned something very
important about my role in the development of effective
‘learning skills’ in my students. One day a student
stood up and explained that he would not be able to
complete a written assignment that I had just given to
the class. The
student explained that he was ‘Educable Mentally
Retarded’ and attended special education classes. When
the other students began laughing at him, I immediately
stopped the lesson and reminded all of the children that
someone else’s opinion of them did not have to become
their reality. I further told them that no one ever
“rises to low expectations” and that as long as they
were in my class they were going to be treated as if
they were all capable of greatness. I explained that it
was my job as their teacher to make sure that they had
the skills, confidence and self-esteem to take on any
and all challenges and that I would never give them an
assignment of which they were not capable of performing.
That day changed me forever as a teacher and it changed
the way I challenged my students. I adopted the
philosophy that if you look at a child the way he is, he
only becomes worse. But look at him as if he were what
he could be, and then he becomes what he should be.
that day forward I always had high expectations of my
students, and pushed myself to make sure they all had
the skills they needed to “learn for themselves”.
that there is greatness inside each and every one of us.
As parents, we must do everything we can to provide our
children with the skills and attitudes that will make
them hunger for knowledge. We must teach them not to
fear the “melons they come across in their lives”,
but rather to embrace them and learn how to “cultivate
this new knowledge” for their benefit and for the
benefit of others around them.
a good week!
Many Potatoes Are You Carrying Around?”
Editorial by Robert Kirwan
just finished reading what must be the shortest story in
the world. It is a story that was written by M. Stanley
Bubien and is entitled, “The Unhappiest Man Who Ever
Lived”. Let me share the story with you.
How is that for a powerful story?
Let me tell you the story again.
Yes, these are definitely the words one would
expect to be spoken by ‘The Unhappiest Man Who Ever
Lived”. Do you know him? Have you ever met him?
To further illustrate the message of this
wonderful story, let me share with you another short
passage I came across recently. The author of this story
is unknown, but I am sure each of us in our own small
way can identify with the moral.
story is entitled, ‘Are Your Potatoes Heavy?’
“A college teacher brought a couple of huge
sacks of potatoes to class one day. She told her
students to think of people they have refused to forgive
for whatever it was that they said or did to them. All
of the students could think of quite a number of people
who had done something to them that was absolutely
unforgivable. The teacher then instructed the students
to take one potato from the sack for each person for
whom they could not forgive and write the name of that
person on the potato. Each student then put their
potatoes inside a clear plastic bag and were told to
carry that bag with them everywhere they went for one
full week. They were to put the bag beside their bed at
night, on the car seat when driving, next to their desk
at work, at the dinner table, etc.
The students experienced the inconvenience of
lugging this bag of potatoes around with them.
Naturally, the condition of the potatoes deteriorated to
a nasty smelly slime. This was a great metaphor for the
price we pay for the emotional baggage we carry around
with us when we refuse to forgive others for the pain
they have caused during our life’s experiences. The
message came across loud and clear to the students who
suddenly realized that while we often think of
forgiveness as a gift TO the other person, it is
actually a gift FOR ourselves to get rid of these nasty
feelings that we harbour inside.”
It is too easy to blame others for our problems.
When this becomes a personal habit, we tend to blame
others for all of our anger, frustration, depression,
stress and unhappiness. If something is missing, someone
else must have moved it; if your marriage did not work
out, it was your spouse’s fault; if you lose your job,
it was your employer who was to blame; and so on.
Personal happiness and peace cannot be achieved
as long as you are blaming others. In order to be at
peace with yourself, you must accept responsibility for
your own actions as well as for your reactions to others
around you. To carry on the hatred is like carrying
around a bag of potatoes. Until you forgive the person
and get rid of the potato, it will be a burden on your
life and will follow you wherever you go. Forgiving the
person who has done you wrong is not so much a gift to
that person, but a gift to yourself so that you can rid
yourself of this heavy burden and not allow it to
consume so much of your life. You can apply this
philosophy to virtually all situations in which you find
yourself unable to forgive another person.
Blaming others is very stressful and takes a
tremendous amount of mental energy. It also leaves you
powerless over your own life in that you soon feel that
your own happiness is controlled by the actions of
others. When you stop blaming others, you will regain
control of your personal power and take charge of your
own happiness. You will also find that life is much more
fun when you stop blaming others and forgive them for
what they have done.
So, next time you think you are so angry that you
feel someone has done something to you that can never be
forgiven, remember the story about ‘The Unhappiest Man
Who Ever Lived’. Get rid of your potatoes and enjoy
Have a good week!
National Adult Day With A Child This Weekend…”
Editorial by Robert Kirwan
Monday, November 20 is National Child Day. If you
are like most parents you may take the position that
“every day” is child day. When do we get a
“National Adult Day”?
Nevertheless, even though the designation of
November 20 as National Child Day is part of an act of
the Parliament of Canada that was passed in 1993 to draw
attention to the rights of so many disadvantaged
children in the world, it is a good time for parents,
grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and good friends to
sit back and take a good long look at these “little
people” who will soon become adults just like the rest
National Child Day is a time for us to celebrate
children for who they are – right now!
We can learn a lot from watching a child. One
thing we learn is that for children, life is made up of
individual moments, and the most precious of those
moments is the one that is occurring now - in “real
time”. Not yesterday’s or tomorrow’s moment, but
the one that is happening right now!
Children, especially young children, live in the
present. They devote their entire energy to enjoying the
best that the present has to offer. They do not let
worries about the past bother them. Nor do they let
concerns about the future get in the way of their
savouring of the present moment. As I watch my
granddaughter sitting quietly on the couch eating her
“goldfish crackers” and drinking her “juice”,
she could care less about what is on television, the
toys strewn all over the living room floor or that it is
almost bed time. She just calmly accepts that now is the
time to simply enjoy her crackers and juice and nothing
is hard to imagine how children can be so wise at such a
young age. And equally hard to understand how, as we
grow older, we seem to lose a lot of that wisdom. For
example, children seem to understand that life is a
series of experiences, each important unto itself, and
each deserving of one’s total attention. By devoting
their energy to what they are doing at the moment, and
then moving on with the same zestful approach to the
next, children get the most out of everything they do
and end up with the best chance of developing a very
healthy personality and character. They show a lot of
wisdom about how to get the most out of life and how to
become the “best you can be”.
what happens to this wisdom as we grow older and become
adults. Why do we keep worrying about what went on
yesterday; what we are doing tomorrow; mistakes we have
made in the past; and concerns about how we will manage
tomorrow? How is it that we can be so wise as children
and then as adults we forget how important it is to
focus on the present?
As adults we have the “intellectual capacity”
to identify meaningful goals and plans for the future;
to have routines that will ensure that our home is clean
and orderly; to shop for nutritious food in order to
prepare meals for our family; to find suitable
employment in order to provide the basic necessities of
survival; and to organize a stimulating environment for
our children. And yet, we seem to lose some of the
“wisdom” we had as a child. We lose the wisdom that
helps us get the most out of what we do during the day;
to go from one experience to another, allowing those
experiences to add to our “total being” and help
fulfill our basic human instinct to grow as individuals.
And so, this weekend, I would urge all parents,
grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and adults
everywhere to find one or more children and simply “be
with them”, even if only for a short while. Learn all
you can from them. Watch the “Dora” video for the
200th time. Put the puzzle of the “wheat
field” together for the 10th time. Build
the tower of blocks and knock them down ten or twenty
times in a row, and laugh yourself silly with the child
each time. And sit down once in a while on the couch to
enjoy the “goldfish crackers” and “grape juice”.
all of this and I guarantee that you will indeed feel as
if you have just celebrated “National Adult Day”. I
have to go now. My granddaughter wants to press the up
and down arrows on the keyboard so that she can see
pictures of her “Grandpa” on the computer screen.
Have a good week!
Moments That Stand Out In Your Life…”
Editorial by Robert Kirwan
Henry Drummond once wrote, “You will find, as
you look back upon your life, that the moments that
stand out are the moments when you have done things for
I thought about that quote the other day as I sat
in the parish hall at PAROISSE STE-MARGUERITE-D'YOUVILLE
during the Chevaliers de Colomb Spaghetti Dinner. Close
to 500 people enjoyed a dinner that was prepared and
served by members of the parish who were volunteering
their time for this event. Despite the energy it took to
put this wonderful dinner on, not one of those
volunteers looked tired. They were all smiling and
joking with everyone in the hall and just seemed to be
thoroughly enjoying themselves.
While I was eating my spaghetti, my thoughts
drifted back a couple of weeks in time to the PAROISSE
STE-JACQUES parish hall, where I had once again come
across some hard working volunteers who had organized a
special fund-raising event in support of Monique
Laderoute who was forced to evacuate from her home in
Lebanon. Once again, I recalled that all of those people
who were giving of their time to help Monique seemed to
be so happy and at peace with what they were doing.
last week I watched the volunteers from LE CENTRE CLUB
AGE d'OR DE LA VALLEE put on a marvelous luncheon for
visitors from Greater Sudbury Community Living
I thought about the ladies from St. James in The
Valley United Church; and the members of the Valley East
Lions Club; and ALL of the volunteers from the various
groups and organizations who have chosen to work for the
benefit of others. I remembered Anne Unwin and her
volunteers at the Good Neighbours Food Bank, dealing
with the despair of people who were down on their luck
and in need of emergency food supplies. Not one of
Anne’s volunteers have ever demonstrated any negative
sign of emotional distress themselves. They are always
happy and in a good mood. The same can be said about the
Georgette Bergeron and her volunteers at the CERCLE
MISSIONNAIRE de la VALLEE.
was cleaning off my plate my thoughts drifted to the
Chevaliers du Colomb #5005 hall on
where I recently saw the awesome mobile blood donor
clinic in operation. While speaking to Robert Plourde
and Roger Menard I could sense a tremendous feeling of
satisfaction at what these men and their team of a dozen
or more volunteers were doing along with Councils #7368;
#10602; and #9922 as each took their turns sponsoring
the monthly clinics. Not once did I see a volunteer
looking stressed out or tired at the clinic.
for a few moments in silence, simply taking in the
breath-taking atmosphere of the spaghetti dinner and
recalled an old Chinese tale about a woman whose only
son died. In her grief, she went to the holy man and
said, "What prayers, what magical incantations do
you have to bring my son back to life?"
of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to
her, "Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has
never known sorrow. We will use it to drive the sorrow
out of your life." The woman went off at once in
search of that magical mustard seed.
came first to a splendid mansion, knocked at the door,
and said, "I am looking for a home that has never
known sorrow. Is this such a place? It is very important
told her, "You've certainly come to the wrong
place," and began to describe all the tragic things
that recently had befallen them.
woman said to herself, "Who is better able to help
these poor, unfortunate people than I, who have had
misfortune of my own?" She stayed to comfort them,
then went on in search of a home that had never known
wherever she turned, in hovels and in other places, she
found one tale after another of sadness and misfortune.
She became so involved in ministering to other people's
grief that ultimately she forgot about her quest for the
magical mustard seed, never realizing that it had, in
fact, driven the sorrow out of her life.
I had come to the church that evening to do a
story about a spaghetti dinner. As I was leaving, I said
good bye to my good friend Gerry Chartrand who reminded
me about the Sunday Brunch he was organizing the
following week. He thanked me for coming to their
spaghetti dinner and for doing a story that would appear
in The Vision. But I knew that it was I who should be
thanking him and all of the other volunteers I had come
across that evening and in the weeks prior. This was
definitely a moment that was going to stand out in my
so, if you are ever feeling down and out yourself, or if
you have sorrow of some kind in your own life, remember
the lesson that was learned by the old Chinese woman.
Find a place where you can volunteer your time to help
others and you will be surprised at how quickly your own
sorrows seem to disappear.
a good week!
True Love Is Often A Matter of Time…”
Editorial by Robert Kirwan
day recently I was going through my old year book from
Lively High School when I came across a photo of my
Grade 13 English Teacher. It brought back memories of
how everyone in our class hated this man. He was always
so demanding and hard on us at the time. It took an
enormous amount of work and effort to get a mark of 60
or 70% in his class.
looked at his picture, I also recalled that there have
been many times in my life when I thought back to those
days in that Grade 13 English class and I realized that
this man taught me a lot more than how to read and
write. He taught me that I could achieve far more than I
thought I was capable of through hard work and self
discipline. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he
was actually doing me a favour and was really acting out
of love for all of us in the class.
He knew what we would need in order to compete in
the world that lay ahead of us. And he forced us to
reach beyond ourselves in order to come close to our
I read the following story, I think about my old Grade
13 English teacher. In fact, I think I will dedicate
this editorial to all the former students of mine who
thought I was being too hard on them when I demanded a
level of excellence of which they thought they were
upon a time there was an island where all the feelings
lived; happiness, sadness, knowledge, and all the
others, including love. One day it was announced to all
of the feelings that the island was going to sink to the
bottom of the ocean, so all of the feelings prepared
their boats to leave. Love was the only one that stayed.
She wanted to preserve the island paradise until the
last possible moment. When the island was almost totally
under, Love decided it was time to leave. She began
looking for someone to ask for help.
then Richness was passing by in a grand boat. Love
asked, "Richness, can I come with you on your
boat?" Richness answered, “I’m sorry, but there
is a lot of silver and gold on my boat and there would
be no room for you anywhere."
Love decided to ask Vanity for help who was passing in a
beautiful vessel. Love cried out, "Vanity, help me
can't help you", Vanity said, “You are all wet
and will damage my beautiful boat."
Love saw Sadness passing by. Love said, “Sadness,
please let me go with you." Sadness
answered, "Love, I'm sorry, but, I just need to be
Love saw Happiness. Love cried out, " Happiness,
please take me with you." But
Happiness was so overjoyed that he didn't hear Love
calling to him. Love began to cry.
she heard a voice say, "Come Love, I will take you
with me." It was an older person. Love felt so
blessed and grateful that she forgot to ask the elder
his name. When they arrived on land the elder went on
realized how much she owed the elder. Love then found
Knowledge and asked, "Who was that elder person who
was Time", Knowledge answered.
why did Time help me when no one else would?” Love
smiled and with deep wisdom and sincerity, answered,
"Because only Time is capable of understanding how
great Love is."
this so true?
Most of us, at some point in our life,
have looked back and understood that we were actually
treated with great love and compassion by people who, at
the time, seemed to be anything but loving. The teacher
in elementary school who was so hard on you and with
whom you were always getting into trouble; a parent who
would never let you stay out as late as your friends; a
coach who was always on your case to try harder; or,
even a Grade 13 English teacher.
have all encountered many people who demonstrate their
love in different, strange ways which are disguised
until time takes away that disguise.
Sometimes the people who give in to all of your
demands, flood you with lavish gifts and money, and let
you do whatever you want do not really love you at all
but are merely responding for some ulterior motive.
times the people who seem to be the hardest and most
demanding on you are the ones who really, truly love you
with all of their heart.
All too often, it takes TIME
for us to understand how great that Love really was.
a good week!
“An Invitation To
Move To The I Can
Do It Street
Editorial by Robert Kirwan
sit here typing this editorial I am looking at a small
piece of paper that is taped to the top edge of my
computer desk. On that paper is written one of my
favourite inspirational quotes. I look at it often,
especially when I come to a decision that could end up
being a major turning point in my life. The quote is,
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed
by the things you didn’t do, than by the things you
did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the
safe harbour. Catch the tradewinds in your sails.
Explore! Dream! Discover!”
so, this past spring I decided that I would follow that
advice and have embarked on a personal journey which
could allow me to start a whole new career of service
that will not only change the rest of my life but will
also enable me to make a real difference in the lives of
the people around me. I remember that as I was
considering whether or not to accept this tremendous
challenge I would often stare at the quote above my
computer and I realized that if I turned down this
opportunity I might regret it for the rest of my life.
thing that finally convinced me to go ahead with my
decision was a little article I came across written by
Larry Harp, called ‘Leaving The City of Regret”. Let
me share the story in the author’s own words. As you
are reading it, think about what is going on in your own
life right now and see if Larry Harp has a message for
you in the story.
had not really planned on taking a trip this time of
year, and yet I found myself packing rather hurriedly.
This trip was going to be unpleasant and I knew in
advance that no real good would come of it. I'm talking
about my annual "GUILT TRIP."
got tickets to fly there on Wish
I Had airlines. It was an extremely short flight.
I got my baggage, which I could not check. I chose to
carry it myself all the way. It was weighted down with a
thousand memories of what might have been. No one
greeted me as I entered the terminal to the
. I say international because
people from all over the world come to this dismal town.
I checked into the Last Resort Hotel, I noticed that
they would be hosting the year's most important event,
the Annual Pity Party. I wasn't going to miss that great
social occasion. Many of the leading citizens in town
would be there.
there would be the Done family. You know, Should Have,
Would Have and Could Have. Then came the I Had family.
You probably know ol' Wish I Had and his clan. Of
course, the Opportunities would be present; Missed and
Lost. The biggest family would be the Yesterday's. There
are far too many of them to count, but each one would
have a very sad story to share.
Shattered Dreams would surely make an appearance. And
It's Their Fault would regale us with stories (excuses)
about how things had failed in his life, and each story
would be loudly applauded by Don't Blame Me and I
Couldn't Help It.
to make a long story short, I went to this depressing
party knowing that there would be no real benefit in
doing so. And, as usual, I became very depressed. But as
I thought about all of the stories of failures brought
back from the past, it occurred to me that all of this
trip and subsequent "pity party" could be
cancelled by ME! I started to truly realize that
I did not have to be there. I didn't have to be
depressed. One thing kept going through my mind, I CAN'T
CHANGE YESTERDAY, BUT I DO HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE TODAY
A WONDERFUL DAY. I can be happy, joyous, fulfilled,
encouraged, as well as encouraging. Knowing this, I left
the City of
immediately and left no
I finished reading the story I was convinced that there
was only one real choice for me to make. I simply had to
step forward and accept this new challenge and the
opportunity to be of service to my community. And so
here I am. No matter what happens during the rest of my
life, I will always have the satisfaction of knowing
that I tried. Of having thrown off the bowlines and
sailed from the safe harbour. This has been a personal
journey of discovery and fulfillment.
Above all else, I
am happy and proud to say that I live on I
CAN DO IT STREET
There is plenty of room on
Come and be my neighbour!
a good week!
The Whole Day Fishing With Jimmy. Didn’t Catch A
Editorial by Robert Kirwan
October 17, 2006
other day I had a moment of inspiration and decided to
clean out the basement. I knew that there was a lot of
junk that was just taking up space and it was time to
get rid of a few things.
As I was sorting out
one of the bookshelves, I came across several beat-up
old binders that contained photos that had been taken
many years ago while our children were growing up. My
wife had organized them into different years and special
moments in the lives of our family. As I looked at the
expressions on the faces of the “young children” in
the photos, it made me realize just how many “special
moments” there were in my life as a parent.
The old photos brought back a lot of memories,
but I couldn’t help but notice that the expressions on
the faces of my children seemed to indicate that they
were enjoying themselves much more than I was.
Then, as I turned one of the pages in the album,
a wrinkled old paper fell out that put everything into
contained a story about an old man who was going through
a stack of boxes in his attic, coming upon one old
photograph album after another, much like what I was
just doing in the basement. He was actually looking for
an old photo of his wife, who had recently passed away
due to a lengthy illness.
Let me share the rest of the story with you…
as a mouse, he patiently opened the long-buried
treasures and soon was lost in a sea of memories. Setting
aside one of the dusty albums, he pulled from the box
what appeared to be a journal from his grown son's
childhood. He could not recall ever having seen it
before, or that his son had ever kept a journal.
always save the children's old junk?” he wondered,
shaking his white head. Opening the yellowed pages, he
glanced over a short entry, and his lips curved in an
unconscious smile. Even his eyes brightened as he read
the words that spoke clear and sweet to his soul.
was the voice of the little boy who had grown up far too
fast in this very house, and whose voice had grown
fainter and fainter over the years. In the utter silence
of the attic, the words of an innocent six-year-old
worked their magic and carried the old man back to a
time almost totally forgotten.
after entry stirred a sentimental hunger in his heart,
but it was accompanied by the painful memory that his
son's simple recollections of those days were far
different from his own. But how different?
that he had kept a daily journal of his business
activities over the years, he closed his son's journal
and turned to leave, having forgotten the cherished
photo that originally triggered his search.
over to keep from bumping his head on the rafters, the
old man stepped to the wooden stairway and made his
descent, then headed down a carpeted stairway that led
to the den.
a glass cabinet door, he reached in and pulled out an
old business journal. Turning, he sat down at his desk
and placed the two journals beside each other.
was leather bound and engraved neatly with his name in
gold, while his son's was tattered and the name
"Jimmy" had been nearly scuffed from its
surface. He ran a long skinny finger over the letters,
as though he could restore what had been worn away with
time and use.
opened his journal, the old man's eyes fell upon an
inscription that stood out because it was so brief in
comparison to other days. In his own neat handwriting
were these words:
the whole day fishing with Jimmy. Didn't catch a thing.
a deep sigh and a shaking hand, he took Jimmy's journal
and found the boy's entry for the same day, June 4.
Large scrawling letters pressed deeply in the paper
fishing with my dad. Best day of my life!
This week I want to leave one simple message to
all young parents reading this editorial.
don't ever forget to make time for the most
important people in your life...you never know the impact
the moments you share together will have on both of you.
to all of the older parents, and fellow grandparents,
it’s never too late to make time.
it while you can.
a good week!
Mystery of Life…
Lot of Questions With No Answers…”
Editorial by Robert Kirwan
October 10, 2006
all of the recent school shootings in Canada and the
United States as well as the ever increasing pressure
and stress being experienced by virtually all age groups
in society, it is certainly no surprise that many people
are asking themselves a lot of serious questions about
life in general.
A number of years ago, when I was teaching at
one of the girls in my Grade 7 class, Stephanie Bennett,
wrote an essay that touched my heart and has remained
one of my all-time favourites, even though it was
written by a teen age girl as an English assignment. As
adults we often think that children are arrogant and
cocky, acting as if they
have all of the answers. In fact, they are usually the
complete opposite. They are the ones with many of the
questions. And the questions they ask are no different
from the ones that adults struggle with every day.
essay was entitled, “Losing Someone...” I think you
will find it very appropriate in light of what each of
us may be going through in our own lives right now.
Remember that she was writing this essay five years
after the incident.
believe losing someone to death is the hardest thing a
person can endure. People think death is scary, which is
possibly true. I think dying in a hospital is the worst.
My Grandpa died in a hospital and watching my dad cry
was the hardest.
seven but devastated. I remember when I used to take
candy from his candy dish. When he caught me he’d say
something like, “Don’t you like the black candy
babies?” I would say “yes” even though I don’t,
just to make him happy.
don’t understand life. When we die, do we go to Heaven
or Hell? How can the Lord judge someone by good or bad?
Some people live a meaningless life where they are
abused each day and slavery rules. Why would God want
people to suffer? Did I lead a previous life? Who is my
Guardian Angel? Are the apocalypse predictions true?
and Grandpa were going to go on a ski trip to
but Grandpa had a stroke and couldn’t go. I plan, when
I’m older, to take my Dad before it’s too
late for him too. Life is a precious thing from God, and
we should live life to the fullest.”
I didn’t have any answers for Stephanie. I
could have given her many explanations and rationalize a
lot of what happens, but
when all is said and done the final conclusion will
still come down to the fact that no one really
do bad things happen to good people? Why do some people
suffer so much and other people go through life with no
problems or worries? Who decides? Is life all planned
out when we are born? Do we really have any control over
our own destiny?
is a mystery. So it stands to reason that death would be
even more of a mystery. Stephanie is not the only one
with questions. We all have them. But I was impressed
that this young 12 year old girl was years ahead of
herself in terms of wisdom. She understood at a young
age that life is precious and that we should all live
life to the fullest. She also understood that if you
want to do something with a loved one, the earlier the
better. You never know when you will get a second
chance. Enjoy your skiing trip with your Dad, Stephanie.
I know he will love every minute of it.
must remember that there isn’t anything wrong with
asking questions about life. Without questions we would
never have an opportunity to think about answers, and we
would never have an opportunity to realize that life is
just one big mystery with no solution – it is merely a
journey full of surprises and many, many more questions.
should all take
Stephanie’s advice. Go on that skiing trip with your
parents. Plan that vacation with your children. Spend a
weekend away in a cabin alone with your husband or wife.
Send your wife a bouquet of flowers for no reason.
Don’t wait until it’s too late - you never know when
you’ll get that second chance.
a good week!
by Robert Kirwan
October 3, 2006
consider myself to be a pretty lucky person. In my role
as the main writer for The Vision Paper, I get to meet a
lot of wonderful people of all ages from all walks of
My responsibilities as the marketing director of the
Hanmer Valley Shopping Centre also afford me many
opportunities to encounter local residents who are
actively involved with the churches, sports
organizations and service groups.
However, perhaps because of the 28 years I
spent as a classroom teacher, I always enjoy getting
into the schools where I can talk to young boys and
girls who have so many questions about the exciting, yet
unpredictable future that lies ahead of them.
One boy I met recently spoke about how he
felt about living in
is such a terrible place to grow up. I can’t wait to
move away from this dump and live in
Everything is big and modern down there. Life must be
wonderful in the big city.
I sat down with the young lad and told him
that I understood how he felt. “What
you are feeling is quite normal. Even adults often think
that things would be better in other circumstances. We
are always looking for better jobs, better houses,
better places to vacation, etc. A lot of people think
is a dump, and not a place where they want to spend the
rest of their life.”
I then told him a little story called,
“The Golden Windows”.
There was once a young boy living on a farm
which seemed like it was so far away from everywhere. He
needed to get up before sunrise every morning to start
his chores and then go out again later to do the evening
ones. During sunrise he would take a break and climb up
on the fence so in the distance he could see the house
with golden windows. He thought how great it would be to
live there and his mind would wander to imagine the
modern equipment and appliances that might exist in the
"If they can afford golden windows,
then they must have other nice things too." He
promised himself that some day he would go there and see
this wonderful place for himself.
Then one morning his father told him to
stay home and his father would do the chores. Knowing
that this was his chance, he packed a sandwich and
headed across the field towards the house with the
As the afternoon went on, he began to
realize how he misjudged the distance, but something
else was also very wrong. As he approached the house, he
saw no golden windows, but instead a place with a broken
down fence. He went to the tattered screen door and
knocked. A boy very close to his own age opened the
He asked him if he has seen the house with
the golden windows. The boy said, "Sure, I
know." and invited him to sit on the porch. As he
sat there, he looked back from where he just came where
the sunset turned the windows on his own home to Gold.
And so, I said to the young boy I was
speaking to that day, and I say to all of my readers,
regardless of your age or personal circumstance, what
appears in life to be "golden" is sometimes
just an illusion. You may not realize it, but there are
a lot of things about living in the
in particular, that people in other places would love.
To them, you are the lucky ones. You have everything
they are looking for - all you have to do is look at
things the right way.
In the story, the first boy saw the sun
reflecting on the distant windows each morning. To him,
that was the place where all the riches lie. To the
other boy, who saw the sun reflecting on the first
boy’s windows as the sun set in the evening that was
where the riches must surely lie. It’s all a matter of
I told the young boy that he will soon have
his chance to discover for himself what lies outside
this region. However, all I asked of him was that he
would every once in a while look back to where he was
coming from and see the golden windows that we have
right here in
Have a good week!