No One Wants the Real Answer

If you ask someone how they got to where they are… whether it be for money, career, health, or otherwise, it’s rare they will tell you the real answer.

It’s not because they’re withholding it because people are more than willing to help those seeking it.

The problem is no one wants to hear it.

It’s easier to digest, “I worked hard and took advantage of opportunities,” rather than, “I spent my every day, including weekends, immersing myself until it became an obsession. I gave up my social life and every other distraction that kept me from my goal… etc.”

We expect to hear, “I watched what I ate and worked out a few times a week,” because if the person were to tell the whole truth about their training and diet regiment — we would shut down.

The real answer is out there if you’re willing to hear it…

and do the work.

Reference Point Book Review

Author: Michael Hurd
Book Link

The follow-up and direct sequel to his first book, Enter the Witness, Hurd delivers mind bending realities in Reference Point.

At its heart, this book is about an awakening in all of us. It’s an invitation to lift the veil of reality for what we see and peer into the heart of what the universe really wants to show us.

Hands down, it’s a stunning description of a spiritual journey.

The realm of describing a spiritual journey belonged to the mystics, who did their best to describe something that cannot be explained. It’s like trying to tell someone what it’s like to love another person. The best you can deliver is metaphors.

It’s for this reason, the study of mysticism is relegated to those who are willing to decipher the language. As someone who has spent many years deep in that study, I can assure you it’s not an easy task.

Hurd has done a tremendous job at describing it in a way that is accessible and summarizes the last fifteen years of my studies.

I found myself highlighting and taking notes, page after page. He packed so much into this without once feeling like it’s too heavy. Everything about it just flowed.

You actually feel yourself moving with the text towards what he calls, The Revealing. You are following along, but at the same time, you are also feeling summoned. It just grips you.

While you could dive right into this book without having read his first one, they do build on each other… but wow… do they ever build into something that will have you deep in thought.

Where Our Focus of Worry Lies

We can’t seem to find a target for our worry.

Everything seems equal and we place equal emphasis on all of it without considering what just isn’t worth our energy. The end of the world won’t happen with most things we like to worry about in our daily lives.

Sure, it gives us something to do, but it won’t get us anywhere.

If you think back on your own life about what you worried about, much of it would seem laughable. Other things, however, was where the focus should have been.

How do we focus our worry in this world?

We focus on the most vulnerable among us. If we worry about them and take action when needed, two things happen:

Our own worries diminish and the bigger problems of the world move closer to a solution.

Ditch That Homework Book Review

Authors: Matt Miller, Alice Keeler
Book Link

A colleague of mine recommended this book with the promise it would completely change the way I think about the classroom.

I picked it up with some skepticism. My personal stance has always been that great teachers cannot be replicated and are great for different reasons.

I’m happy to say this book really got me thinking about how I approach work in the classroom.

It starts with centering on the needs of students, all of whom are different, and demonstrates… with real-world examples… how much more effective a teacher can be by leveraging the right tools.

Any book that gets me to make notes, highlight passages and put it down to think is an instant five-star for me. This book had me doing that on several occasions.

While many pages were bookmarked, here are a few choice highlights:

“Just because students make poor choices doesn’t mean we should remove that responsibility altogether.”

“As teachers, we tend to want class to run smoothly. We like things to be neat and tidy. Students are still learning how to live life, and the way they think and operate creates a hot mess in our classrooms. Instead of avoiding those messes, we’ve got to pull on our rubber boots and wade through the mess with them. Yes, it requires time and patience, but it’s also how we can help them learn to make better decisions in the future.”

I love the fact the authors don’t just offer a tool or method and say, “This is all you need.” Instead, they look at the realities of the modern classroom and offer steps to get to a better place.

This book will get a teacher to re-think what their idea of useful work for students is… regardless of whether they assign it for homework or not.

When Your Wheels Won’t Stop Spinning

It’s late at night and something happened that is still bothering you.

You can’t get to bed. Your wheels are spinning.

You take those thoughts onto multiple tangents and 3am comes around without a wink of sleep. The initial thing that bothered you has now transformed into an even bigger monster.

Despite your best attempts to “forget about it for now,” it just won’t happen.

How do you work through it?

What can be done that will at least get you to bed?

Get up, go to your calendar and set a date when you can come back to your issue. Physically put on that at a certain date, you will sit down with yourself and have a conversation with the issue.

On that date, the issue can come back to fester within you once more.

Make an appointment and mark it as busy. Make it real.

Then go to bed.

My First Fiction Publication

As posted to my friends on social media

The first time I submitted a short story for publication, I received a letter back saying,
“We’re going to send you the letter of our International Office because it’s obvious English isn’t your first language.”

At sixteen, that hurt quite a bit.

However, I still wanted to be a writer and it took many years before I figured out what the magazine was trying to tell me: I wasn’t taking the art of writing seriously enough.

I finally got down to work, started writing consistently and putting it out there. I wrote for eight years on Tommy|Zor, started a few blogs of my own, which got enough notice to be asked to write articles for Lifehack and a few education periodicals. I continue to write every day on my own site.

Putting my chops to the test, I finally launched two books and now, my first published fiction novel with my long time friend Matti.

This book took us one partial re-write and three major edits before we got it right… but it’s finally here!

It’s an homage to the science fiction writers who influenced me, mixed with a heavy hand of religious discourse. If you don’t like either of those two subject areas, this book may not be your cup of tea.

If you’re curious to see the twist we put on the two, I can assure you it’s a knot that even a sailor would be proud of.

You can pick up the paperback anywhere online right now and the digital is an Amazon exclusive.

As a celebration, there’s also a Goodreads contest where you can win one of five copies:
https://www.goodreads.com/…/sh…/254802-the-immortal-universe

There’s so much more in the pipeline (including two other novels that are in progress now), but this book is a reminder… and encouragement… that I’m finally on the path that my sixteen year-old self would be happy to see.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Immortal-Universe-Vito-…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

Chapters: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/…/t…/9780995035164-item.html…

Viral is the New Amnesia

The race on the Internet is to get the next viral thing.

It happens so often that people don’t even remember what the last big thing was anymore. You can make a reference and there might be some memory of it, but nothing actually sticks.

There are no points for longevity or even dedication. We just keep clicking from one viral thing to the next.

“That’s great,” we say.
The next day, we forget about it completely.

Content no longer look to be meaningful anymore either. The goal is viral and no substance is actually needed. All that matters is attention.

I’m amazed at how many people comment (or like/laugh/love/sad) on articles posted on Facebook when they themselves haven’t read it.

Are we right to complain about distracted people (especially kids) when we’re the ones who keep feeding the machine?

Does anybody remember about the last school shooting they read about?

Yes, it’s sad they even happen… but do you remember the last one?

If we did, instead of waiting for the next one to happen, we might be inclined to hold vigil for its victims and their families.

I’m tired of fast media.

I’m tired of instant notifications.

I’m tired of endless clickbait articles with no substance.

Yes, technology is accelerating and there’s excitement about where it’s leading… but our consumption needs to slow down.
We need time to pause.
Content creators need to provide substance to people once again because if they keep going for viral — they’re going to be forgotten within the day.

The End of All Things Book Review

Author: John Scalzi
Book Link

I picked up this book thinking it would be a stand-alone novel within a universe Scalzi had created and to which I already read the main introductory material (Old Man’s War).

Yes, Scalzi did write every novel as a stand alone… except this one… which is actually the second part in a two novel arc.

Well done me for not even doing the slightest bit of research on that one.

Thankfully, while it would have been nice to know what happened before, I still found I could get into it quite easily.

First things out of the way, if you haven’t read anything by John Scalzi before, he is the most accessible and fun science-fiction writer today. I don’t say that lightly because I read a lot of science fiction.

You can just tell that he has a lot of fun while writing and it shows on every page.

John, if you actually find writing to be the most mind-bending wreck of an activity that causes you to pull the hairs from your cat, it doesn’t show.

Without giving too much away because, again — I didn’t read the first book in this two novel arc — it’s a story told in four novellas about fractured political organizations trying to patch together chaos across the universe of alien factions.

It starts with a scary form of torture of what it would be like to be nothing more than a brain in a box and keeps you gripped from there.

While there is a lot happening, the novel still moves at a quick enough pace that you never feel bogged down reading it. The characters also have more than enough personality that you never get lost in the dialogue, which is much appreciated. There’s nothing worse than having to constantly ask, “Who said that?”

As a first book in the Scalzi library, I wouldn’t recommend this one. However, if you’ve read Old Man’s War and The Human Division (the book before this one), you’ll enjoy it.

It’s Only Good in Theory

Marketing works by playing into what we think would benefit us.

We put it together in our head and find ways we could apply it to ourselves. Then, whatever we bought into, goes unused.

The problem is the tactics of marketing have become so good that, without being provoked, we go searching for solutions on problems we don’t have.

In our heads, it’s something we would want… or want to pursue at some point.

When it goes unused, we go looking for something else.

In theory, we’re always going to get what we want.

In reality, we’re left unsatisfied.

When You Go on Autopilot

There are some days where go on autopilot, sleepwalking your way through it.

You don’t remember any of the decisions you made, or how you got from point a to point b, but you make it to the end.

It can be unsettling, or unnerving, depending on what caused you to engage the autopilot in your life.

If you have the proper habits setup, this never has to be a concern. You can go to bed, resting easy that you handled everything you needed.

On days you’re cognizant of the moment, take the time to ask if there’s any autopilot functions you need to re-program.