Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach

Last week I received an email announcing the Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach Event.  I can’t believe it is that time of the year again.  We are less than a month away from the racing (running) season in South Florida.  Since the heat index has been in the triple digits since we got back, I’ve been training on the treadmill.   It is never too early to start training as the race will be here in a jiffy.

Today I setup our team for the purple stride event happening on November 19th at FAU (Florida Atlantic University) in Boca Raton.  We will be racing under the team Deb Force Five for the third year in a row.  My goal is to be the number one team in fundraising for the second year in a row.  We are shooting for $10,500.

As I updated the information and the team’s website, I got choked up.  It hit me like semi-truck that this year would be painfully different.   August 26th will make five months since we lost Debbie, but it still feels so fresh.  Grief is awful.  Like a thief in the night, it comes out of nowhere and steals your happiness.  It pops up unexpectedly, forcefully and with so much pain.

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After I collected myself a bit, I got on the treadmill to put in my thirty minutes.  The first five minutes were tearful, but as my run continued my hope and sense of purpose returned.  I made a promise to Debbie to continue advocating for pancreatic cancer awareness and fighting for a cure.  It is a promise I cannot and will not ever break.

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In the coming months, we hope to announce the launch of a pancreatic cancer immunotherapy clinical trial that Debbie, Melissa Nicholas and I had started working on last December.   It destroyed me that we were not able to launch the clinical trial, so Debbie could benefit.  In hindsight, I think Debbie knew this since she was a pharmacist.  As a neophyte to the industry, I had hopes that we could get it started right away.

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She was a second mom to my kids and they loved her to pieces.   Her memory is never far for anyone us.  My boys insisted on lighting a candle in Debbie’s memory at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.  Afterwards in the gift shop, they picked out a praying angel, for her, that watches over us from our kitchen.

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You may have seen the new shirts that were posted to the site this weekend.  My boys and I have been hard at work designing shirts and a business plan for our new store.  For all of us, the creative process and the opportunity to honor Debbie’s memory has been cathartic.   The profits from our merchandise will go towards funding the clinical trial and towards a scholarship program that helps families with the expenses for travel hockey.

For more information on Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach or to join our team click here

For more information of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network click here

Fore more information Pennies In Action click here

Fore more information on our store click here

 

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Creative and Inspired

To be creative and inspired, one must be prepared to invest time in the cultivation of ideas.  There is no better way to cultivate one’s creativity than through reading. Norman Cousins, famed American political journalist once said; “A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas – a place where history comes to life.”

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If you were to look at the habits of America’s most successful leaders, one commonality would be their passion for reading.  Reading  can help leaders improve their vocabulary, emotional intelligence, become a more adept communicator and inspire creativity. By and large their reading isn’t necessarily confined to business topics, but rather all types of literature.

I recently took over a new team in my corporate life. Therefore, one topic I have been reading a lot about is change management.  Change management done well results in great business outcomes from a KPI and employee engagement perspective.  Change management done poorly can undermine an entire business.

Here are some of my favorite reads on change management:

  1.  HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change Management
  2.  Leading Change, by John Kotter
  3.  Change Friendly Leadership, by Roger Dean Duncan
  4.  Changemaking: Tactics and Resources for Managing Organizational Change, By Richard Bevan
  5.  The Theory and Practice of Change Management: Third Edition, By John Hayes

Reading novels is crucial to unleashing your creativity and inspiration.  Here are some of my favorites.

  1.  Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
  2.  The Alchemist, Pablo Coelho
  3.  The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  4.   The Decameron,  Giovanni Boccacio
  5.  A Separate Peace, John Knowles
  6.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  7.  Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes
  8.  1984, George Orwell
  9.  Animal Farm, George Orwell
  10.   Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

What are some of your favorite novels?  I’m always looking for something new to read, so please share your favorites in the comments.

 

 

 

An Unwanted Guest

I saw a video online the other day of an unwanted guest in restaurant on Paris’ Champs D’Elysees.  My least favorite pest, a mouse, was comfortably eating away at a “fresh” sandwich.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t our favorite rodent from Ratatouille.   I  recently travelled and bought pastries from similar cases, which stomach knot up.  It was rodents, rats and rat fleas, that were responsible for the spread of the bubonic plaque.

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Interestingly, the Black Death reached Norway before reaching many parts of Western Europe due to trade routes.  The Hanseatic trade routes played a pivotal role in the Black Death arrival in Norway via Bergen.  Some accounts place the blame squarely on a British ghost ship that ran aground near Bergen with infected rats and infected rats flea.  The Kongevegen, the King’s Road, which travelled from Bergen to Oslo provided a quick path for the plague into west central Norway and beyond.

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Another one of my least favorite unwanted guests is the cockroach.  A palmetto bug, which looks simliar, is enough to send me into a tizzy and running for higher ground.  I see them in our garage occasionally and that is way too much.  I couldn’t take it when they were on display at the Bergen Aquarium.  They’re so gross and also major carriers of disease.

Hidden Treasure

The drive from Stavanger to Oslo is, without any stops included, a 7.25 hour drive under the best case scenario.  When you’re traveling with kids and a post-kid bladder, 7.25 hours in a car, is never going to work.   The hubby and I planned on  stopping in Kristiansand, Arendal and Sandefjord to break up the drive and find some hidden treasures, but even with those stops the drive was long.

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Soon after leaving Arendal, I saw a sign for Olavskirken on the side of the road (E18) and I immediately asked Luke to stop at that site.  I had no idea the hidden gem that we had stumbled upon in the town of Bamble, Norway.

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Built in the Romanesque-Norman style, the old church Olavskirken dates back to 1150.  The church served as a Catholic church under the name St. Olav’s until the Reformation. Thereafter, it was referred to as Skeidi Church.  The old church was replaced by the new church built in the wooden cruciform style around 1845.

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When we pulled into the lot, I thought we were there to see the cruciform church until I noticed the ruins of the ancient church midway through the cemetery.  We all quickly lost interest in the new church and made our way towards the ruins of Olavskirken.

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The ruins were a complete gem of a find on our way back to Oslo.  We walked through the ruins noting the signs posted that spoke to the old church’s and the new church’s construction.   Moss and grass now cover the remaining walls and roof.  In the middle of the cemetery and surrounded by Norwegian forest, the scenery was magical.

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As we walked deeper into the ruins, we found a stairway that no leads nowhere and a room off to the side.  The room off to the side turned out to be the ancient chapel that is still in use today.  It was small, but beautiful.  After stopping on a whim, we had made a wondrous discovery.  Sometimes it is worthwhile to take a bit of a detour to explore as you never know what hidden gem you may uncover.

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The Viking Ship Museum

My favorite museum in Oslo was the Viking Ship Museum on Bygdoy Island, where you can see actual Viking ships recovered from burial mounds in Norway.   Growing up in Minnesota, we would see a replica Viking ship in Leif Erikson park up in Duluth.  The replica was impressive, but seeing actual Viking ships up close was beyond pale.

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The construction of the Viking ships showcase a level craftsmanship that is astounding on its own.  However, when taken in tandem with the wood carvings on the ship, the craftsmanship of the Vikings is unparalleled.   The intricacies of the carving are astounding considering the lack of modern tools.

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The Vikings present an interesting paradox.   Historians, and the people they conquered,  considered the Vikings to be barbaric marauder, but the Vikings were also expert seafarers and sophisticated craftsmen.  Inside the museum, a part from the ships, there are sleds, wagons and other vestiges of the Viking Age on display.   The Viking’s expertise is on full display through each exhibit.

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The ships at the Viking Ship Museum were constructed in the traditional fashion.  The Vikings passed on their ship building knowledge, a tradition, from generation to generation.  As a consequence, Viking ship builders picked very specific types and shapes of trees for their ships.  If you are a fan of the show Vikings or find yourself in Oslo, this museum is a must see.

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Exploring Oslo

After the long drive from Trondheim, we quickly settled into our AirBnB and headed out to meet our family.  We spent time along the waterfront and picked up some dinner at the food trucks on near the Nobel Center.  Jake, Goalielocks, Dad and I enjoyed a tasty fresh crepe while the Mayor had a spring roll.

We walked the waterfront heading up to Akershus Fortress to get a better viewpoint of the Oslofjord.  The vistas from the fortress are absolutely amazing. If you ever make your way to Oslo, you must make a stop as the Akershus Fortress.  The grounds of the fortress were equally impressive.

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Most of the museum close by 18:00 and it was well after this, but the grounds of the fortress were still open or so we thought.  Never low on drama or shenanigans, we (along with some other tourists) did have a run in with the military police, who informed us the grounds were now closed.   The only problem was, of course, so too were all of the exits.

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Thank god my older brother speaks Norwegians and was able to speak to the guards, who were willing to let us out their guarded entrance.  The youngest kids made their way out of the turn-styles, which locked after each individual exited.  The MPs seeing this and understanding the struggle, opened the main gate so we could quickly exit the grounds.

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We ended our night at the magnificent Oslo Opera house where you can literally walk up and down the side and roof of the building.  The kids had a blast skipping rocks and running around on the building’s roof and near the water line.  We were crossing our fingers that they wouldn’t slip into Oslofjord, which at this point is shallow, but would have made for an incredibly chilly walk back to the hotel.

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Our Night With Sir Paul McCartney

Last night’s Paul McCartney concert was one of the most incredible, amazing, wonderful experiences I have had to date and honestly those superlatives don’t describe the night adequately.  A living legend, whose talents are as timeless as he is, put on a show many half his age couldn’t muster.  I grew up listening to the Beatles, their subsequent solo projects and the music they inspired (like jangle rock), so his music has been a significant part of the soundtrack of my life.  When I danced with my father at my wedding, it was to the Beatles’ In My Life.  (Yes, I realize it is a John song.)

He recounted many amazing moments he witnessed throughout his career.  Including how Jimi Hendrix played Sgt. Pepper’s at his concerts a mere two days after it was released. While that in itself is impressive, the best part of the story was how after using the banger bar Jimi’s guitar was out of tune and he started calling out for Eric.  That Eric was Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix was trying to call him up on stage to tune his guitar.

For my son, this was the chance to see an icon and one of his musical heroes.  He could guess the song based on the guitar they handed Paul.  He was thrilled when Paul opened the show with a Hard Day’s Night and even noticed when he ended You Won’t See Me with the song’s opening chord. Paul played songs from across his career including the earliest song recorded by the Beatles, which Jacob knew right away as In Spite of Danger a Quarryman song.

More videos and stories to follow tomorrow.

Shiny New Toy

What is it about human nature that when something newer comes along, we tend to abandon our older toys or belongings in favor of the newer, shinier toy?  It would be okay if this was limited to inanimate objects, but this behavior is most egregiously displayed between people.  Sophocles paints a much more eloquent picture of this phenomenon in his play Women of Trachis writing “the eyes of men love to pluck the blossoms, from the faded flowers they turn away.” How is that we’re so quick to turn on those that have been loyal in favor of people that are new to our lives or our organization?  And does it have to be this way?

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The obvious, but not so easy answer is that it doesn’t have to be this way. If we learned anything from the movie Toy Story, and I think we all did, it is that the new and old can co-exist peacefully and productively. When a new person comes into our organization or lives, we want them to feel integrated and a part of the team. In hiring a new person, it is important to hire someone that can integrate into your team as this will alleviate many potential problems.

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In the corporate world, solving this issue comes down to leadership.  Leaders can integrate new members into the team making them feel important without neglecting or negating the accomplishments of existing team members.  One easy to do this is by highlighting the special skillsets and expertise each team member brings to the table and while clearly defining each party’s role in the organization.  This will help ensure new team members can integrate into the team without causing existing team members to think their being replaced.

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In our personal lives, the onus is on us to make sure we do not neglect our friendships.  Life gets busy and relationships evolve, but we can always make time to nurture our friendships be it a call, a text, a Facebook message just to say hi.  There may be finite room in your house to store stuff, but there is no cap on many people we can have in our lives.

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Happy Independence Day!

Wishing the blogosphere a very happy July 4th!   Today I am thankful for the men and women throughout our history that have preserved our freedom and for those serving currently.  Freedom is not free.

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As I researched my family’s history for our upcoming trip, I found that my  great great (could be here awhile if I wrote them all out) grandpa on my Grandma T’s dad’s side served in the Revolutionary War as a member of the Massachusetts Militia.  I can’t imagine how we must have felt being a part of such an transformative moment in history.   He was tremendously proud of his service, which is even noted on his gravestone in Connecticut.

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Today many of us will enjoy the beach, barbecues, parties and fireworks with our families to celebrate the holiday.   Be safe, have fun, live in gratitude and pursue your passions.