Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

22 July, 2014


I have great respect for Rev. Bob Johnston, a retired United Church minister who is extremely active in the community of Saugeen Shores.  A marvelous speaker and writer with an ability to deliver down-to-earth messages, Rev. Bob has an interesting perspective on parenting that should be passed on to all young couples today.

When leading parenting seminars, Rev. Bob Johnston's favorite moments centre around the topic of  "discipline". To introduce the subject, the teaching tool he relies on is a skit which begins by imagining the delightful image of three newborn, woolly lambs wobbling on shaky legs as they take their first tentative steps. Three parents volunteer to become those little creatures and huddle together in the centre of the room. The group then chooses a "hungry old lion” from their midst to lurk near the lambs.
Bob then invites the remaining parents to discuss among themselves what their lambs will require to avoid being eaten by that prowling carnivore. The answer comes quickly and inevitably involves building a fence. At that point, he "volunteers" several parents to create that fence by surrounding the lambs with their arms outstretched, linking one fence post to another and closing the circle.

This skit represents, though allegory, his philosophy underlying child discipline. "The little lambs, our children and grandchildren, need to be kept safe from the dangers of that big world outside the crib," he explains. Electrical outlets, the hot stove, those speeding cars on the street, steep stairs, deep water or the rare but scary threat of some stranger, can each bring harm to an unsuspecting child and these are represented by that 'lurking lion'."

The "fences" are parental rules designed to protect the child who, at an early age, lacks his or her own sense of danger. Bob further explains: "I use the example of the toddler living next to a busy road. A loving Mom or Dad will build a wire mesh or wooden fence to keep their little one away from the enticing lure of the street. The youngster will likely cry and complain loudly about their lack of freedom. The wise parent never succumbs to those tears by dismantling the fence."

He continues: "Fast forward a decade or so. The parents are now setting a reasonable curfew, insisting on supervision of on-line digital activity, monitoring homework and choice of friends. The teen may loudly complain about a perceived 'lack of freedom'.  The parent holds firm!" 

Back to his skit for a moment. The little lambs will gradually require more room to graze and roam. The fence must be gradually expanded to allow that growth to take place. Similarly, a wise parent gradually increases a child's freedom as he or she demonstrates an ability to make self-chosen wise choices.

Unlike those lambs, the growing child should be gradually involved in defining and modifying those rules. As adult employees, we always feel better about company policy if we are consulted before decisions are made and implemented.

Remember those fence posts standing with arms raised? It gets tiring after a while. At that point in the skit, Bob asks the participants how each is feeling. When each complains about fatigue, he suggests they drop their arms. The reply is always ... "We can't because the lion will get the lambs!"

Being a parent, caregiver or grandparent is hard work. Making and maintaining rules can be the hardest part of the job. We don't give in to a child's premature and unwise demands for "more freedom".  The goal is not to be momentarily popular with that little one, but to be protective even when it results in unpopularity.

"That toddler stuck behind the fence will, 10 years down the road, thank Mom and Dad for their protection," Pastor Bob emphasizes. "When teens become adults with kids of their own, they will similarly thank those parents who cared enough to set reasonable limits during those turbulent adolescent years."

As always, a wonderfully creative illustration from a man who knows whereof he speaks.  I always enjoy him.

15 July, 2014


Chapter on "Rosanneisms" from my book Wrights Lane...Come On In!
It's been a while since I added to my list of "Rosanneisms", but that does not mean that my wife has stopped coming up with them.

Earlier today for instance Rosanne gave me a personal compliment.  I won't go into detail, but she ended her unexpected revelation by offering: "I don't say that very often because I don't want you to get a fat head." To which I added with typical tongue-in-cheek: "I know...If there is anything worse than a big head it's a fat head!"

"You've got that right!" was her earnest reply.

"The Word" According to Rosanne (continued)

03 July, 2014


Pretender: "Giving the appearance of feeling or possessing an emotion or quality; to simulate."

Avoidant personality disorder: "Long-standing feelings of inadequacy, extremely sensitive to what others think."

I do a lot of thinking, frequently at my own peril. I guess I am a bit masochistic in that regard.

In a fit of personal assessment and soul-searching in recent days, I have been thinking about how much of a pretender I have been most of my life. As an impressionable youngster growing up in the 1940`s, I fantasized about being a cowboy, an army hero, a great athlete and a Hollywood movie star...Nothing really unnatural or wrong about that, only problem is -- I never stopped pretending to be things that I was not.

The older I got, the more I began to emulate certain characteristics and personae that I thought others expected of me. The end result being that I imposed undue pressure on myself, trying to be and pretending to be things that I was not. I will not elaborate on the ways in which I evolved into a living, breathing contradiction of my true self, but believe me when I say that there have been many, the spectrum running through professional endeavors, intellect, writing, sports activities, personal relationships and religious beliefs. Perhaps in most cases I was compensating for shortcomings and mere adequacy, always striving for favourable reception and ultimate impact.

Suffice to say, I have not always been as idealistically committed and adept as I may have appeared on the surface. A Mr. Perfect on one hand, but a suppressed doubting Thomas on the other.

In retrospect I have passed myself off as being, and representing, many things that were quite unnatural for me and I have had to work very hard at keeping up a false pretence in most cases. When I could no longer cope with the pretend situations that I had created for myself, I would not be beyond abruptly walking away from them (call it "quitting" if you want) and in the process many times leaving others scratching their heads in wonderment over what had prompted my impulsive actions. As one who struggles with an avoidant personality disorder, I more often than not blamed everything and everybody but myself for what had transpired. Sadly, in the process, I damaged relationships and forever tarnished people's impressions of me.

It has taken almost 77 years to come to grips with my self-damaging personality traits and I am just now starting to learn to stop worrying about what other people think, or expect, of me. The reality that I no longer have to pretend to be what I am not, has relieved me of a great weight. Almost too little too late, my task now is to be true only to myself and to capture the genuine happiness and personal acceptance that has eluded me for so long.

In many respects, it is almost like starting all over again and discovering who and what I really am. At this point, I am still not sure...It will be a personal day-to-day process, peeling off the many layers of pretence and not subjecting myself to situations that I may eventually be compelled to escape from...Subsequent discovery should be fun and self-fulfilling.

I have come to understand that there is a fine and dangerous line between imaging and pretending, if you know what I mean. There is an equally narrow divide between believing and pretending to believe and we must have the wisdom to know the difference, particularly when dealing with people and matters of the soul.

A fellow by the name of Andre Malraux once said: “Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.” I believe that to be true.

So sorry folks, but it turns out that I am what I am. No more pretending otherwise. There is also a very good possibility that I am not what you expected me to be. Perhaps this self admission comes as a disappointment and you have the option of accepting it or rejecting it. Either way, I will not allow myself to worry about it. Gone are the days when I sought to win 'em all! Gone also are the times when I had something to hide!

Hopefully and more importantly, I will be more comfortable with the simple, less compromised, what-you- see-is-what-you-get ME that is emerging. After all, I am stuck with that guy for the duration -- for better or worse...Warts and wrinkles notwithstanding.

I am now at a stage in life where with each passing day I accept the fact that I have become a little less capable, and a lot more forgetful.  Unlike in the past, I am not losing sleep over any of that either. While I do not advocate it, in a way I'm kind of glad that pretending got me this far.  Ultimately, I fooled only myself.

To repeat: I am what I am...And it is what it is!

01 July, 2014


Anyone who has visited Southampton during summer months will have marveled at the towering Canadian flag on the Shores of Lake Huron at the foot of High Street.
As with any change, the establishing and raising of a gigantic Canada flag was a contentious issue in Southampton on the Lake Huron coast in the 1970's.  While many thought it a "hair-brained scheme" there were others who thought it a perfect way to celebrate Southampton's 135th anniversary, with a 135 ft. flag pole to mark each year of the town, topped by a giant 25 x 50 ft. flag weighing in excess of 50 pounds.

While the original flag was raised by a manual crank, today it is electrically operated.  The project was conceived of by residents Ron and Thead Seaman, Ted Quenell and Frank Eagleson in 1992 and was entirely funded through private and corporate donations.  The size and cost of the project, which was the largest undertaking on Lake Huron at the time, was doubted by many but the four men persisted and insisted that it could be done without government funding and wanted it to be a source of pride for the community celebrating its 135th anniversary.
A granite marker at the foot of the flag bears the name, "Friends of the Flag" and is an ongoing tribute to those who have and continue to donate to the upkeep of the flag and the surrounding grounds.  Many names have been engraved in memoriam and others are local organizations that contributed to the special Southampton icon.  The base, excavation and most of the engineering were all donated.  "It was incredible," says Ron Seaman.  "The entire community came together to get the project completed in time for Canada Day."

According to Seaman, the flag began as a 'peoples' project to be completed and maintained through private contributions and fundraising.  Today, the project continues to be maintained entirely through private donations, including the surrounding landscape that was completed by the Friends of the Flag.  There are approximately 20 'flag captains' who watch the marine weather forecast carefully on a weekly rotational basis and, if the winds reach 20 naughts, the weekly 'captain' in charge will lower the giant flag as quickly as possible.

"Like anything else," says Seaman, "the project requires funding to be maintained. Each flag must be replaced, if not annually at least every second year because of weather deterioration, and each flag costs $1,800. We are hoping that people who take pride in the iconic Southampton attraction will step forward, as those in the past have, to help the Friends of the Flag in keeping the tradition alive."

(With thanks to the Saugeen Times)