January 16, 2014 – Day 10 – Ask for help.

What kind of life changing connection could you make in a coffee shop?

There was a day in 2013 when I overheard a conversation at another table in a coffee shop and decided to say hello. It turned out that the two people speaking were holding interviews for a new dining hotspot. Having recently moved to Calgary, I hadn’t planned on working in another restaurant, but after a compelling introduction to the concept and the plans that they had for this place, I had to jump on board. It didn’t hurt that it was to be located 350 metres from my flat.

The restaurant is called, “Briggs”, the food is exceptionally good and very reasonably priced.

The floods of 2013 only slightly delayed their opening date, and boy have I had a great time there ever since. Initially I was apprehensive to work in hospitality again as I’d made some pretty big strides in my facilitating and presenting career up until that point. But since getting over myself I have been able to enjoy a vibrant work environment, multiple opportunities to improve my storytelling skills, an active social life, the flexibility to leave the province whenever a presenting opportunity arises and even the occasional new client.

I’d say it’s been a pretty good fit for me so far. Further to the above benefits, I’ve learned a lesson in hospitality that I’d struggled with previously in my personal life. I learned how to ask for help. With the supportive encouragement of the general manager Cory Gaudette, I eventually learned how to do this and have found that this new ability has transferred nicely into other aspects of my life. What a bonus!

And what an Unexpected Connection over a coffee it was that led me here.

Today’s lesson?

Ask for help.

January 15, 2014 – Day 9 – Be spontaneous.

Call today a Throwback Thursday as I reflect back to that time when I joined a complete stranger on a cross country bicycle tour. It was 2008 and I needed a change. This new friend from Couchsurfing.com arrived on my doorstep in Toronto and offered me an opportunity to join him on his trip.

To his surprise, I did.

CyclingOn May 27, 2008 we departed Toronto for Vancouver. This challenging journey allowed me to push myself beyond my own preexisting limits to arrive in Vancouver 41 days later. Despite the challenges, we had a wonderful time. I returned to Ontario from that trip empowered to enter a new chapter of my life with confidence.

It’s this type of spontaneity that I feel is the spice of life.

Today’s lesson?

Be spontaneous.

January 14, 2014 – Day 8 – Celebrate Ideas.

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending a Meetup. Meetup.com is a wonderful online place to meet like minded people offline. These people enjoy the same things that you do. There are thousands of groups in thousands of cities around the world. It’s helpful for when you are traveling AND for when you just want to meet new people in your own city. Check it out.

Tony Esteves TEDXIt was a TEDx Calgary Dinner Meetup on this evening that I attended. I’d joined this group a few times before. This group meets in person to do discuss the ideas that we’ve seen come up in some of the amazing TED Talks from TED.com. If TED is new to you, be sure to visit this website. There are hundreds of talks from experts in all fields sharing their expertise. It is a  wonderful way to gain access to some of the greatest thinkers thoughts of the day.

I find this Meetup to be a very worthwhile way to spend an evening as I consistently meet interesting people and make new connections.

Both TED Talks and Meetup have had a big impact on my 30s which is why I mention them both tonight.

Why not celebrate ideas as part of this challenge? While today there is some criticism that TED Talks are becoming more and more just a source of  “edutainment” some of the videos I’ve seen on TED.com have had a deep impact on me and I thought that was an idea worth spreading.

Thank you.

Today’s lesson?

Celebrate Ideas

January 13, 2014 – Day 7 – Just START.

One lesson that I really wish I knew going into my 30s is today’s. I’ve often put things off because they seemed overwhelming or impossible to complete. But some experience has taught me that in fact the hardest part really is just starting whatever it is that needs to be done. This creates an opportunity.

DogIf you can convince yourself to just START the task at hand without thinking so much about how big or challenging it is, you will often find that it’s more manageable than you thought. That is how I got myself back into the gym in November of last year. Try it out!

This is my neighbour’s dog. He’s adorable, so I thought I’d include him today.

Today’s lesson?

Just START.

Cheers.

January 12, 2014 – Day 6 – Explode your creativity!

Tonight’s lesson comes from my monthly Creative Problem Solving Think Tank. This is a think tank that has been inspired by Dr. Win Wenger and was the fourth in the Calgary series.

Creativity Think TankThere are hundreds of ways to solve problems using creativity but to date I’ve found that these techniques are the most amazing. This is because you get to use your own visual imagery and unconscious mind to solve problems. This allows you to get past your own inner critic and to surprise yourself with your own insights.

Participants solved some of their own problems and worked on bigger issues that we came up with together.

I feel that my life has been greatly enhanced since attending my first creativity conference – Mindcamp – in 2012, and believe that everyone can benefit from exercising their creative abilities.

Tonight’s lesson?

Explode your creativity!

To view the videos and lessons from Days 1-5 please click HERE

To view the videos and lessons from Days 11-15 please click HERE

 

Welcome to #30LESSONSFROM 30s

Hello and thank you for checking out this project. This is Tony Esteves on a 30 day challenge. The challenge is to post a new video with a lesson that I learned in my 30s on this website every day until I turn 40. That’s how it’s come to be know as the “Last30DaysOf30s” project.

I took this challenge on as a very experienced professional speaker – Vince Poscente – recently challenged a bunch of us to use more video in our businesses. I love 30 day challenges so this started. It has indeed been quite a challenge until this point but also a great deal of fun. It turns out that I will have attracted an additional 1000 + views to my YouTube channel by the end of all of this, and I think that’s pretty cool.

I hope that you enjoy the videos and the lessons that you will find here and if you do, please feel free to share or subscribe on the right side of this page for monthly updates.

Many thanks,

Tony Esteves

  • Days 1 – 5 please click HERE.
  • Days 6 – 10 please click HERE.
  • Days 11 – 15 please click HERE.
  • Days 16 – 20 please click HERE.
  • Days 21 – 25 please click HERE.
  • Days 26 – 30 please click HERE.

 January 11, 2014 – Day 5 – Create unexpected connections.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a party for a friend of mine who had just moved into a new place. The lively atmosphere reminded me of how many connections happened for me during my 30s in such social situations.

It’s a pretty simple concept. If you spend time with people, you learn what they are about, you find out what you have in common, and the opportunity to move each other forward personally or professionally is created. This is what I call the power of unexpected connections. Check out this short video to see more.

Today’s lesson?

Create unexpected connections.

Thank you for watching.

January 10, 2014 – Day 4 – Invest in yourself.

Thank you for checking out this blog. I’m delivering a different message from my 30s every day for 30 days and today’s lesson comes from a CAPS meeting. (Canadian Association of Professional Speakers).

At the time of the creation of this video, the room was a buzz because we had just enjoyed the first part of a superb presentation from a world class innovation catalyst, Toni Newman. She electrified us with a ton of useful innovation information that was tailored to the room full of professional speakers. As the current President of CAPS National, I shouldn’t have been surprised to be so impressed. Her presentation reminded me and supported the message that I’d like to share now.

I’m here today because I’ve invested in myself. I’ve joined CAPS in a learning capacity at this time by taking their Fast Track program. This teaches emerging speakers more about the business of professional speaking. Early in the course, I can say with great confidence that this program is going to leave me a much better version of myself and with fanatical focus about what I will do with my speaking career.

Today’s lesson?

Invest in yourself!

January 9, 2014 – Day 3 – %10 through the 30 day challenge!

Today I found myself talking about love at the top of the Calgary Tower. But not love in the romantic sense. More so as it relates to how we take care of ourselves.

Parts of my 30s were rushed with a lack of balance between work and life. Now at the end of this decade I think I’ve got greater control over this and feel that it’s a message worth sharing.

Thank you Luna Ivana for your unknowing and serendipitous contribution to my video today. Your words matched my thoughts perfectly this morning.

Today’s lesson?

Love yourself.

January 8, 2014 – Day 2 – Do What You Love To Do.

Today we took the day off and headed to Lake Louise for some inspiration in the mountains. It was a stunningly beautiful day where we talked about how revitalizing it can be to take time for yourself during this busy life.

Don’t you find that you are more productive during the following days after doing something for yourself? Try it! And let me know the results.

There is an earlier post on this from last year in my blog. But for now, please enjoy this short video from Lake Louise Alberta.

Today’s lesson?

Do what you love to do.

Thank you for watching.

 

January 7, 2014 – Day 1 – Done is Better Than Perfect.

Welcome to my 30 day challenge! As I will turn 40 in a month, I’ll post a new video here every day for the next 30 days including this video from today. This was shot in the beautiful Devonian Gardens in the Core shopping centre in downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Each video will include a lesson that I learned from living through my 30s.

Today’s lesson?

  Done is better than perfect.

I hope that you enjoy. See you tomorrow.

January 6, 2014

Coming very soon! (as in tomorrow)

Here I will be creating and posting a 1 minute video every day for the next 30 days! These 30 days mark the countdown to the end of my 30s. As I’ve seen a few things and done a few things along the way, I thought I’d have some fun by sharing a little more video about my personal and professional experience to my blog and to celebrate the countdown to the big 4-0. 30 day challenges are fantastic, though challenging. More about this project can be found on Twitter with #30LESSONSFROM30s and #LAST30DAYSOF30s.

Please subscribe on the right of this page or check back regularly. I’ll be doing some fun stuff here this month, honest.

Mountains

  • Days 1 – 5 please click HERE.
  • Days 6 – 10 please click HERE.
  • Days 11 – 15 please click HERE.
  • Days 16 – 20 please click HERE.
  • Days 21 – 25 please click HERE.
  • Days 26 – 30 please click HERE.

 

Dr. Win Wenger

Dr. Win Wenger

For the past 3 months a group of Calgarians have come together to learn and use the extra-ordinary creative problem solving techniques of Dr. Win Wenger. After studying directly from Dr. Wenger in May of 2014 to become a certified “Project Renaissance” facilitator I was given the opportunity to start such a think tank and finally had the opportunity to get it going this past October.

It has been one of the most satisfying projects in my professional career to date. Here is why:

  • I’ve witnessed participants discover insights that they didn’t expect to find
  • There has been positive feedback on how their insights tend to keep coming several days after the workshop in part by using their Idea Butterfly Nets
  • I’ve had further opportunities to improve my skills as a facilitator
  • The new learning about Win’s fantastic techniques as I teach them
  • I’ve contributed to building a new community that is now well positioned to tackle  problems together (and that’s what we will do)

Everybody has problems and challenges that they’d like to solve. What happens in these sessions is so special because most people do not inherently know how to solve problems using their unconscious minds. However, once exposed to the powerful techniques so generously shared by Dr. Wenger, it is true that anyone can gain insights from using their own visual imagery and unconscious minds. It’s just wonderful to guide someone from a place of skepticism to a place of joy and insight with these processes.

Join us in Calgary on January 13th at the Visual Imagery Creative Problem Solving Think Tank if you’d would like to to learn some very handy, simple tools to solve your own problems as we begin to address greater issues together. It will be a very interactive and productive 3 hour evening event.

My deepest gratitude goes out to Dr. Win Wenger who sincerely offers his vast body of research and work to the world for the greater good of humanity. It is my honor to offer my support by hosting this think tank. Please contact me if you’d like to know how you can support him.

A creativity think tank matters because it enables people to better utilize and experience their own creative abilities.  In this safe space people solve not only their own problems and develop their ideas but are given the opportunity to become part of a community of people who genuinely want to make the world a better place.

For me it has been a full and wonderful year of living and learning and I intend to reach and help many more people do the same in 2015.

Happy, safe holidays!!

Thank you for reading these thoughts of mine.

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 4.16.46 PM

This past weekend I had the honour of performing during the opening ceremonies of the 5th annual Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival – WickFest. This is the largest women’s hockey tournament in the world and included 80 teams.  The opening ceremony happened on Thursday, November 27th at Win Sport’s Canada Olympic Park. The special guests included 5 time Olympic gold metal winner Hayley Wickenheiser, Olympic gold metal winner Natalie Spooner, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Axe Capoeria, Seven-time CCMA Award winner Dean Brody and me??!! …just to name a few.

Hayley Wickenheiser Tony Esteves.jpg

Tony Esteves & Hayley Wickenheiser

I was also given the opportunity to facilitate two of my “Joy of Good Focus” workshops using jugging and put in a few hours as a volunteer. It was a jam-packed weekend full of hockey, activities and laughs. It was super-fulfilling for me as a performer, a facilitator and as a volunteer.

How did I get this great opportunity?

I got it from another Unexpected Connection. About a year and a half ago during the Alberta floods I did some volunteer work with the flood relief. On one occasion I joined a group through an excellent organization called Deliver Good. It is an organization that, “Matches people that have stuff with charities that need stuff.” Amazing! That June day I jumped on a bus with their team to High River. This recent opportunity came from the people who I met in that superb organization. Just a few weeks ago we had lunch and Deliver Good founder, Robb Price suggested that I get involved with Hailey’s event.

And so I did!

Unsurprisingly, it was wonderful. I was so impressed with these 11-18 year old girls in my workshops. They were the most confident, assertive young women that I had ever seen. Certainly much of that comes from their experience playing on a team.

It seems that these players have already learned one of my mottoes, “Play to learn. Learn to Play.”

As any performer will tell you, there is a certain high you get while performing your art. On the opening night I delivered a glow-in-the-dark juggling show (video coming soon) to an upbeat song called, “Hey Now – Arty Remix”. It’s difficult for me not to move when I hear this song so the glow-show is more like a light-ball dance than juggling. Although it’s definitely juggling. This feeling of euphoria was not the only benefit I gained by working this event. It was an opportunity to share the stage with some superstars and world class athletes and for me to showcase my performance to an audience of over 1000 people. It’s this type of exposure that often leads to further new connections and business in the weeks and months to come. So it continues…

The entire weekend was inspiring for me. I spontaneously started doing interviews with some of the parents and players. During one interview the excitement of one parent was excellent. She seemed almost overwhelmed with joyful emotion for how phenomenal the entire event was. Her feedback was that it was so well organized and the Olympic facilities were stunning. What an opportunity for these girls?

This tournament hosted 80 teams from all across Canada including the Yukon, the USA and even Mexico.

Opening ceremony performance

Opening ceremony performance

There were another 50 teams who wanted to be there. I’m sure that this wonderful event will not only continue to grow but will continue to shape and define women’s hockey. I feel that this event really does help young women develop as a player and as a member of the community.

Excellent job everyone!

Thank you Hailey Wickenheiser for your generous time, effort and kindness for creating such a meaningful event. I saw you repeatedly surrounded by people after your autograph and although you always had someplace (likely places) to be, you were patient and took the time to sign those shirts and books.

A big hats off goes out to Robb Price, Ceilidh Price and Trina Radcliffe and all of your wonderful efforts and staff from Deliver Good. It was such a pleasure to be a part of this event. You and your team did a fantastic job and really created memories and experiences for hundreds of girls this past weekend.

Unexpected Connections can come to you in so many ways. They might happen instantly or – as in this case – you might benefit months or even years down the road.

Keep your mind, eyes and ears open when meeting new people. Think about how sharing some of your life experience and expertise might be of help to them. You never know when a new connection could help shape your career or personal development.

Love LIFE!

 

Amanda on the slackline.jpg

Amanda Gallop’s first day on the Slackline

When was the last time you got introduced to a new hobby activity or sport?

As a child this could happen daily. As an adult I have found that it does not happen very often at all.

Recently I got introduced to a new sport and as can be the pattern for many new things, I resisted trying it. It is called, “Slacklining” and I was encouraged to try it by a brilliant Dutch fellow named Tjitze Postma.

Slacklining is a sport that was invented by rock climbers decades ago and has gained rapid popularity in many cities around the world in recent years. It involves tying a 1″ or 2″ thick line between two trees or anchors and then balancing on it. Advanced ‘slackers’ will bounce on it, do yoga poses and all kinds of tricks.

On an August evening in Ontario I found myself in Mountain Equipment Co-op deciding if I was going to buy one of these Slacklines before having ever tried it. Initially I was not planning to make the $85 investment but once Tjitze offered to buy it for me and to donate it to the Mindcamp Creativity conference I came to my senses. If this guy felt so strongly that I’d like this sport that he was willing to buy the equipment for me, I thought I’d better give it a go. In the end, we split the cost of the line and agreed that we would donate it to the conference next year.

Later that week, I got to try it for the first time and as he had told me, I loved it. I felt instantly drawn towards this sport because it forces you to become grounded, to focus on the present moment, and it’s challenging.  It has since become a wonderful part of my life.

Check out this brief message from the Slackline video below.

Because the sport is such a visual spectacle, many people tend to approach and ask about it. The learning curve is quite quick, and this social element is one of my favorite things about it. It is a very easy way to meet good people. As a result of playing with this back in Calgary, I have been introduced to the Yoga community here – which is something that I’ve appreciated for years but until last week had only tried a half dozen times or so.

I have now done Yoga the past 4 out of 5 days! I’ve also been introduced into Acro-Yoga which is a more advanced and acrobatic type of Yoga that I can see myself really enjoying in the near future.

There have been things that I’ve seen in other peoples’ lives that I thought for some reason I’d like to have in mine, but just never got around to actually doing. Has this ever happened to you? Perhaps it was something that you thought you didn’t have the time or money to explore. Truthfully, most of us have thoughts or ideas around the person who we would like to be compared to the person who we currently are and there are ways to bring the two closer together.

In my situation, I felt the familiar resistance to trying something that I was being told would be good for me. The solution was that I allowed myself to feel a little uncomfortable, and tried the new thing anyway. It’s totally normal for new experiences to make us feel uncomfortable not only if they are good for us, but I argue especially if they are good for us. Change equals growth and growth usually comes with some discomfort.

Who is shaping your life?

Who are the people that have had the greatest influence in your life until now? Are you living the life that you want to live? If not, why not? Why not allow yourself to explore some of the new things that some people in your life have already offered? If you can’t remember any offers, why not seek those interests out on your own?

Think Healthier. Live Healthier.

I’m not suggesting that we can completely re-vitalize our entire lives by adding a new activity to it, but I am suggesting that by doing so you will open the door to many wonderful new possibilities…

Thank you Tjitze Postma for introducing me to the Slackline and to Kris Lapenskie for taking the video footage.

A night with the circus

A night with the circus

This past Friday, I had the honour of performing alongside about 45 other artists and performers from across Canada. The event was called, “Mecanique” and this was a show that was created by Le Cirque de la Nuit.

This is a troupe of artists who I got introduced to by having a conversation with a a total stranger. Yet another unexpected connection. A long time friend, Rob and I got speaking to our waitress at our local Calgary pub. Her name was Ashley.  She casually mentioned that she does some performance work with the hula-hoops and this led us into a conversation about performing arts. When I mentioned that I do some glow-in-the-dark juggling she suggested that I audition for an upcoming show.

I did and they hired me!

That show was back in February of this year and it was called, “Arniko“. It was the first time I’d been done up with professional makeup in years and it was one of the best performing experiences of my life to date. They were so well organized and professional. The decorations and costumes were sensational. It was difficult to tell who was part of the show and who wasn’t because EVERYBODY dressed up to the theme of the party.

This past weekend I enjoyed my second time performing with this amazing troupe.

 

Cirque de la Nuit Promotional Video

 

So what happens at a show like this and why does it matter?

Magic happens!

I know that performing is a side of me that provides great joy for me and that I do with ease. While on stage dancing, juggling, clowning or doing anything physical, I can get lost in what I call the “performers flow” and I feel completely present as I make my contribution to the spectacle.

Because I have learned how important it is to remain true to oneself recently by doing what I love, I know that performing in something like this has great benefits for me.

I believe that this matters because when you find whatever it is that gets you into your flow state, you become more open to opportunities. And isn’t that really what life is when you simmer it down? Opportunities that we act on or pass up? If you believe the basics of creativity then certainly it makes sense to have as many options – or opportunities – as possible. I’ve been fortunate to see this manifest new relationships, new professional opportunities and new experiences.

Not only have I fed my soul, but I’ve allowed myself to gain further exposure to other people like me! Other professionals who also like to put on a costume, create an experience and put on a show.

Special thanks to Ashley Victoria, le Cirque de la Nuit and Bass Caravan for welcoming me to this wonderful community so warmly.

So as I invest more time and energy finally getting to know some of these other amazing artists – many of whom live here in Calgary as I do now – I look forward to enjoying the benefits of expressing myself artistically despite my own hesitations at times.

You don’t need to join the circus to express yourself. That’s just how it’s recently happened for me. What is your stage? What is a way that you could more effectively express who you really are and what you have to offer to the world?

Play with that idea for a little while and let me know what you come up with…

And on a side note, if you find yourself in Calgary this week, why not come to my Visual Imagery Creative Problem Solving Think Tank? Here you’ll dance with insights and improve your creative abilities. I believe those things will make it easier for you to be a little closer to who you really are.

Enjoy the view!

 

Because there is a strong likelihood that you will leave improved. That’s the bottom line!

Creativity Hollywood Text

But wait, there’s more!

You will enjoy yourself
You will leave feeling excellent
You will have greater clarity on what to do next
You will meet many wonderful people from around the world
You will have experienced some things you’ve never experienced before
You will have been given the opportunity to change some of your own patterns and to try new things

Mindcamp Smartphone App

Mindcamp Smartphone App

This past August, I was very fortunate to attend my third Mindcamp: Canada’s Creativity Conference / Retreat. Every year it attracts about 200 of the worlds creative thinkers, teachers and wizards to share their expertise on what creativity is, and how to use it in life or the workplace. Presenters come from as far away as the USA, Europe, New Zealand South America and South Africa to be here. Yes, this weekend is THAT special! It happens every August near Toronto. Check out their site here.

It is a very unique conference where it is easy to feel comfortable with the people who you meet. This I believe is due to the people who it attracts and also to the style of the conference. It really is as much of a conference or a retreat as the individual seeks to experience it as. You are encouraged to attend as many sessions as you like, but also to take breaks and utilize the beautiful facilities as well if you prefer. And there are plenty of activities to enjoy. This year before before the opening plenary, I spent some time in a kayak. Now that’s how every conference should begin!

Thanks for the photo Yoel Kluk

Thanks for the photo Yoel Kluk

No matter what industry you are in the practical applications of what happens here are vast!

As we all experience from time to time, I had had a challenging summer and unsurprisingly was feeling scattered and stressed. Being thrust into this community for an immersive few days in its beautiful setting on Lake Couchiching, Ontario was exactly what I needed.

While there is no guarantee that you will have a specific insight due to attending a particular talk or workshop, you are given plenty of opportunities and they do happen. This year, I experienced three such moments when I suddenly understood something in a completely new light.

Do you ever learn something about how you see the world and suddenly understand things differently?

Like there’s a click in your brain? That happens a lot at Mindcamp, and that’s where some of the magic is. These are the “ah-ha” moments that people speak of. They can provide a great sense of relief and excitement.

This sense of relief allowed me to physically feel something that I’d never experienced before. It felt as if there was a giant ball of beautiful energy inside my entire torso that I could only describe as joy and love. I felt like I was actually glowing. I must have been. Despite the lack of sleep from the night before due to some great conversations around the musical campfire along with some wine, I felt no fatigue. I was euphoric!

 

This energy sensation stuck with me for much of the weekend and was glorious. Besides just feeling incredible and healthy, it allowed me to clearly make decisions during the conference. I attended sessions that just seemed perfect for me and I kept having deep, rich conversations with the friends I was bumping into – old and new. I was given a few opportunities to perform throughout the weekend and somehow seemed to always end up jamming with the talented musicians at the camp fire. It was as if this entire weekend had been specifically designed to serve my needs both personally and professionally.

So who goes to a creativity conference?

You do! Join us in 2015. As Mindcamp is run as a non-profit and to break even, it’s a very affordable way to have an incredible experience. Here is a link from their website called, “What To Tell Your Boss”.

“But how can I sustain the euphoria beyond the conference?” Good question. I’m glad you asked.

One way is to just keep in touch with a few of the people who stood out to you during your experience. I’ve found that the challenge of returning to the real world where people tend to be more critical and less open to hearing about wonderful new experiences can be avoided if you just continue to remain surrounded or in contact with those “creative types”.

I’m not suggesting that when you come to Mindcamp next year you are going to reach a higher state of consciousness and have complete clarity about all of the upcoming challenges in your life and a house full of new friends. But I am saying that it is highly likely that your life, your brain and / or your heart will be enriched.  In my case this year, I believe it was my heart that expanded and opened up. It can be different for everyone, every time and it’s always worthwhile.

Are you still not convinced? Check out Susan Robertson’s article on what Mindcamp is here.

Or just enjoy these photos, or both, or send this stuff on to someone you know who could benefit from a good creative jolt!

CampingDue to the unique circumstances of my being in Ontario this summer, I did not expect that I’d be able to get out on a canoe trip. But I was mistaken. Some great friends encouraged me to join them on our annual trip to Algonquin Park and I was rewarded with feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

I find that often we can have a tendency to avoid taking a break when we most need one. While caught up in the drama around something it can be difficult to even notice that things are unsteady at times. If friends or family are telling you that you need a break, you should probably take one. You’ll feel better and be more productive once you are back in action.

Here’s a short video of that August 2014 weekend. Thanks to Erik, Debbie, Sarah, Fiona, Laura, Paul, Max and Chris for having me tag along. I needed that!

Get outside and into nature! It’s good for you in so many ways.

 

Tony Esteves Juggling.jpg

Performing for my biggest audience yet

How does it feel when you get to do something that you know you have a knack for and that you really enjoy doing? How does that feel as a performer with a big, loud, live audience?

It feels really good!

Through a friend of a friend I recently landed a performing opportunity at a major concert event in Toronto called, Electric Island. This is an annual series of parties where people dance on Toronto’s Centre Island. The promoters bring in DJ’s from all over the world. If you enjoy Electronic Dance Music, these events are a lot of fun.

Years ago I did more professional juggling than recently but I still very much enjoy it. While helping a friend with his hugely interactive Ping-Pong exhibit at vanGrey.ca this summer, I met the owner of a company called, “MoltenVisual“, Christian Skjødt. Once he saw an old promotional video of mine, he arranged to get me on stage to perform during the headlining act, Maya Jane Coles. While up there I did some juggling with these glow-in-the-dark juggling balls and Christian did live feed editing onto the big screen behind the DJ. Combined with his stunning visual effects, together we created something challenging, creative and unique.

Tony Esteves performing at Electric Island for over 5000 people.  August 4, 2014

This was exciting for me as it was the largest live audience I had ever performed for and it felt really good.  This opportunity re-awakened the performer in me and it’s something that I’ll continue to explore further. Who knows where it might lead me?

I have not mentioned much about my performing career on this website as I’ve sometimes thought that it might seem inappropriate material for a corporate trainer / speaker to promote. But who am I kidding? This is who I am! And I now know that I can be an artistic performer sometimes and a trainer at other times. I have already enjoyed some occasions when I’ve combined the two. Most people wear many hats. That’s part of what adds the spice to life.

It becomes an inner conflict when we think we need to hide some of those hats in the closet. It’s a huge waste of energy to pretend to be something other than who we are. So be real. Life is way too short.

I had a great time doing something that I love and it all came about as a result of an unexpected connection. Please enjoy the video above.

If you’d like to learn a little more about how to benefit from some unexpected connections of your own, please get in touch with me. I’d love to hear from you.

If you love doing something, go do it!

 

 

On Tuesday, May 27th, 2014, I had the pleasure of facilitating one of my Ping-Pong team-building workshops for an organization in Calgary. I had been looking forward to this particular engagement for weeks and it was a great day of work and play.

That evening I received a voice-mail from my mother. In a sombre tone she gave me the bad news about my father. A few months ago, he had been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer which occurs in the pleura, the lung’s lining. I called her back, and it quickly became clear that the time had come to return home. He was not doing very well. I was planning to get back to Ontario for the middle of June, but the nurse told her that if his children wanted to see him alive, they should visit as soon as possible.flight

It was time to come home. So I did.

I arrived home to London, Ontario less than 48 hours later from Alberta. On the busy Wednesday before my departure I managed to pack things up in my apartment for a sub-letter (thanks to the help of my great friends Sam and Amanda), free up my meetings and commitments, book the flight and get back home. It was an emotional and stressful time. That was the first day I had burst into tears in public more than once since I was a young child! As I did my banking and bought a ticket for my flight, I was comforted by people who allowed themselves to be humane, to help me get through the tasks that were necessary to get home.

I had been warned from my mother that it would be difficult to see my dear old dad the way he was now. It had been 5 days since he was able to eat or drink anything. His appetite was completely gone and if he could eat anything it made him nauseous. He had lost 30 pounds since I’d seen him 2 months earlier and 60 pounds from 6 months earlier.

Since the illness had become very aggressive Dad had been very weak, barely able to walk, sleeping most of the time and not very conversant. This is the antithesis of the Dad we know. Until two years ago at 76, he was still climbing on roofs to fix them, mowing the lawn, fixing cars and always talking up a storm with anyone who would participate and telling jokes or teasing. Although born in Portugal, Dad grew up largely in Brazil and adopted many of the then more liberal attitudes and values of Brazilian culture.  Dad is the kind of person that no matter what life throws at him, he could rally people and see the positive and humor in the situation. As I write this, I am complimented to feel the statement holds true here, “Like father, like son”.

Things happened very quickly. The next day, two of my three sisters arrived. The following day, my twin sister from Calgary. On the weekend, it was like we had a revolving door for cousins and friends who came through. As the Portuguese side of the family is quite large, many people came to see him. It was a beautiful outpouring of love, prayers and caring from people who’s lives he’s been an important part of. It was both exhausting and touching. Everybody including myself thought that he had just hours to live.

The day after my arrival, our wonderful nurse Dina attached some butterfly plugs that allow family members to administer medication to a patient who is being cared for at home. Normally this type of thing would make me squeamish. Yet it was no problem for me to learn how to do  it for my father. The hope was that with these new stronger medications he’d regain his appetite and be able to hold down some food and liquids.

And eventually, he did!Guinness

We tried all kinds of things to see what he could drink and keep down and amusingly it turned out that the best thing was Guinness! The next thing we knew guests were bringing gifts of Guinness in those tall, dark cans day and night. Several times when he’d ask, “Oh Boy, do you think I could have a sip of that black beer?”, I’d pour a 100ml portion for him to drink. We were thrilled to see that he could finally drink something!

Eventually the portions got slightly larger and he even tried to eat a little soup. And then it happened. On Thursday, June 5th I was awoken by my mother at 6:30am to these great words, “Could you wake up Honey. Your father is feeling particularly frisky this morning and wants an Egg McMuffin.” Of course I could. I could hear him talking up a storm from the bedroom which was a first since I’d arrived and the first time in more than a month. He sounded like himself! Lively, articulate, excited. He was talking non-stop all about food and the good old days working in construction. He was happy.

So a few minutes later I was on my way to McDonald’s to grab the same meal that I used to get before snowboarding in Alberta.

It just so happened that this was one of the final things that he was able to eat when he was losing his appetite. While inside I mentioned to the lovely lady in her 40s behind the counter how this was exciting for me as it was to be the first food that my father would eat in two weeks! I did not give her any further details yet tears came to her eyes. She replied, “I think I know what you are dealing with. I’ve just gone through it and my heart goes out to you and your father”. “What a sweetheart”, I thought as I felt a little guilty for upsetting her. It seems true that there is not a family who has not been touched by Cancer.

Back home that morning was one of the best I can remember in quite some time. Sitting at our old dining room table, father and son together, I saw my father eat! He ate 3/4 of a Sausage and Egg McMuffin and also had a couple bites of a hash-brown and a  full “double-double” coffee. He even sent my twin back to get him the apple pie that I forgot! We were thrilled.

With a few tweaks to his medication, his diet has continued to come back and we have enjoyed listening to some of his high-energy conversation that we were so used to. We have tracked almost everything he’s eaten or drank since then and he has regained some strength. The doctor had told us that the steroid he was taking would give him this boost. Be it artificial or not, I’ll take it! I really feel that the combination of family love, the new meds and his increased desire to live, brought my father back to life.

I’m not sharing this story to gain your pity. Rather it’s a story of love and celebration. Despite how my father’s illness affected our entire family and continues to be very emotional and challenging for all of us, I have found some very positive moments during this time. My hope is that this story offers other people experiencing something similar to celebrate what moments they can with their loved ones in such challenging situations.

Since arriving home and getting past the initial crisis stage I have enjoyed some of the pleasures in life that I have at times overlooked.

Some Unexpected Gifts from being here now:

flowers– having the entire family together for an extended time for the first time in over a decade
– the laughs we have shared playing cards or with my twin’s dogs
– the flowers, the endless Portuguese cakes and prayers and unique healing methods that have arrived
– having time to practice juggling 5 balls – a challenge that has been facing me for 15 years
– having started to play the piano using a fascinating technique that is becoming part of my work
– for the first time in my life, actually noticing just how beautiful flowers are

And, of-course, I’ve had some great conversations with my father, my sisters and my mother since I have been home. To some extent with all of the traveling that I have done over the years, there are sides of me that they had never heard about or known of. Now, as we band together to celebrate the life of my father, it seems fitting to share a little more of myself with the people who brought me into this world and have contributed so much to who I have become today.

(I just opened a bottle of Guinness with a letter opener)

So now here we are. Antonio, Jaoquim Esteves has gained 15 pounds and we are spending the days together In London and eating like kings. Last week he had me cook him an octopus and his brother brought over a cooked organic rabbit. Both were delicious although I’ll leave the octopus to a professional next time. We even got out of the house to visit his favorite Portguese restaurant called, “Nova Lisboa” in south London. As one of the first 20 Portuguese people in this city and the first President of The Portuguese Club of London, my father has been frequenting this establishment for over 30 years. He,  like his son, loves people and a good celebration. So this Saturday, he has arranged for about a dozen of us to share a roast pig!

I’ve always sought the right life / work balance but not always been able to achieve it. Until now during this unique time, I have forced myself to resist chasing after work. I know that these precious moments are numbered and can’t lose sight of that. While I do need to continue to build my business, that can wait a month or two, or 6 or 12. On the scale of my life it’s really insignificant. My business will be around as long as I like. But my father will not.

A good friend, Trent from Calgary correctly told me during a phone call last week, “Tony, there’s no greater call for you to answer than what you are doing now”. Thank you Trent. You’re right. I think I’ll stay put for the summer. My family needs me in Ontario and I’m honored to be here.

Looking forward, I have got some serious exercising and much more writing to do, and many books to read. Bring on this ultra-unique summer in my old hometown of London, Ontario. I am grateful for every minute here, even the tough ones. I have certainly felt misplaced since arriving, but it’s becoming clear that in fact I’m exactly in place.

Dad is back in the garden! June 19th, 2014

Dad is back in the garden! June 19th, 2014

 

An update. My dear old Dad passed away on July 15, 2017 peacefully at home. He is still thought of and loved daily.

Because of this article, I was contacted by a mesothelioma cancer survivor and asked if I could share this link. If you or a loved one would like some legal resources on mesothelioma, in the USA, please visit HERE.