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Concepts - mid-week (Dan Rosin) #1

I was too busy golfing this past week to prepare a newsletter on Sunday. Instead I am going to do a little self-promoting- which may become a regular mid-week offering. In a way I am gearing up for the release of my newest book that was written a few years ago but not released in agreement with my present employer. More on that story at a much later date.

Finding Balance: 101 concepts for taking better care of self was originally published in 2002 as I can have fun on a school night! and was purchased by nearly 7000 Manitobans (that number is over 10,000 at this time). If you wish to see what people think about this book see Testimonials: Author House, a US publishing house, re-titled it and is distributing it through the United States.

It was my hope that by giving it a new title and making several revisions to the text that a new generation of readers in Manitoba, Canada and the US could be reached.

Our lives have become even more complex and busy in the last 14 years since it first rolled off the press. I believe this book is as relevant today as when I first published it. By the way if there is a 6th printing of the book, I believe I would use the original title I can have fun on a school/work night!

Whatever the book will be called in the future, here is the first story/concept in the book. This is probably the only concept in the book that doesn't have a learning component for the reader. However, it sure was a learning experience for the author. This was probably one of the scariest moments of my professional career.

Finding Balance...

A very important lesson resulted from an extremely tense moment in my life.

As is the case for most educators/counsellors, I have too much to do and too little time in which to do it. When I checked my schedule that fateful morning, I realized I had agreed to give a one-hour presentation on wellness at 1:00 p.m. to a dozen or so people. I was not prepared but did not consider one hour of wellness to 15 people a problem, since I had done it many times before. I set off for my destination in Brandon, Manitoba, a 130-mile trip,
with barely two hours to get there. I did not know the name of the conference I was addressing and certainly had not organized any notes.
However, I felt reasonably confident that I wouldn't need any notes for this one-hour presentation. I would just interact with the participants. At exactly 1:00 p.m., I arrived at the Victoria Inn and went inside in search of Ballroom A. When I found the room, I discovered it was packed with approximately 300 people. "Whoops, wrong room!" Then I did the only thing a visual-type person could do under the circumstances and went looking for another Ballroom A. That picture of 300 people did not match the one of 15 still in my head. Of course, I was being ridiculous, and sheepishly returned to the original room and peeked in. A person appeared, dramatically relieved, started breathing again, and rushed up to me.

The professional development chairperson for the conference gave me a big crushing hug, which made me feel instantly welcome, and suddenly suspicious. She started to lead me to the front of the room, but my firm grip on the doorframe prevented her from taking me anywhere. She suddenly realized something was not right. "Oh, did they not inform you about the change?" "What...ah...change?" I stammered. My apprehension was driving the panic. "You are now the conference's closing speaker and speaking for two hours-and we're late!" I was suddenly totally alone, totally brain dead, and drenched in my own perspiration. As I shuffled toward the gallows, ah, podium, my mind was racing. I don't have a single note on which to base my address. I have two hours to sum up and evaluate a conference I have not attended. In fact, I don't even know the name of the conference, nor its theme. On top of all that, I'm brain dead. If I'm asked for the names of my children, I will have to ask for clues!

The introduction was finally finished-all too soon, I needed more time to think-by this person I had never met before, and she turned to me and said "...I am proud to introduce Dr. Dan Rosin to you all." The word "all" seemed to echo through a vast reverberation chamber. "Proud" seemed doomed for replacement.

Have you ever made the laborious trip down to the basement to fetch something, only to find that when you get there, you haven't the faintest notion what you wanted? That your mind was a blank? Well, that was me, nothing in my mind, a total blank!

Out of this absolute void of uninspired non-thoughts came a faint voice-my mother's. She cried out a message that would save me from that pit of despair and embarrassment into which I was sinking deeper and deeper each minute. My mother said, you are not supposed to have fun on a school night. Save your best time and energy for school. For sure, I had lost it!

Imagine! I was 54 years old, my mother was "speaking" to me as I stood in front of 300 eagerly waiting, anticipatory people, and she is saying that I'm not supposed to have fun on a school night. Five out of seven nights I am not supposed to have fun! And that's all my facsimile of a brain could dredge up from my vast storehouse of knowledge. I did the unthinkable. I went with it. I said it out loud. I didn't know what the audience was thinking, but they seemed to be approving. Hopefully, they thought that I was beginning my meticulously prepared presentation: Oh good. Very clever. He jumps right into the theme. A good beginning. I continued.

"How many of you subscribe to a similar message that says you are not supposed to have fun on a school night?" I wasn't entirely sure what that really meant, but it sounded pretty good. I held my breath; I believed I could hear the audience's thoughts, but perhaps it was simply wishful thinking: He asks us a question to get focused. Great technique. This guy knows what he is doing. To be honest, I dared hope for only a few responses-even one. So, when the majority put up their hands, I started breathing again. And for the next two hours we explored the message, "I am not supposed to have fun on a school night," its origin, and the debilitating effect that it's had on our lives to date.

I'm sure I am not overstating the impact of this message as "debilitating" when you think that five out of seven nights you are not supposed to have fun, but rather save that energy for something more important, such as your work. Five out of seven nights are work nights, and out of the other two, if you're not too tired, one might be used for play. By the end of the workweek, many of us are exhausted and just want to hit the sofa and be left alone.

In addition to the "no fun on a school night" belief, many of us subscribe to the notion that if we are not working all the time, as we have been programmed to do, then the only other available options if we want or need downtime are sickness or fatigue. If we want time away from work we make ourselves so sick or so fatigued that we can the take some guilt-free time off for ourselves. Pitiful!

We need to learn to have fun every day, and not save it up for the two days on the weekend, or a couple of weeks of summer holidays. Let's learn how to have fun and seek balance, every day. If we are to get and stay healthy, we best challenge my mother's message and change the belief to:
                 I can have fun on a school/work night!