Have You Found Your Passion Yet?

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – Life’s Little Instruction Book, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


It’s ironic how something so simple can make one feel both inspired and inadequate, all at the same time.

Twenty-four hours in a day, 365 days in a year.  The same amount of time in a day, as the people who have achieved great and wonderous things in their lives.  Yet, here I sit, staring at a blank template, unable to even get a simple blog entry written, let alone produce anything that would make a difference in the world.

What’s missing?

Perhaps, it’s not so much the time that we have but, the ideas?  Or, maybe, the lack of ideas are a symptom of a lack of passion?

Steve Jobs was quoted as saying,

“It’s hard to tell with these Internet startups if they’re really interested in building companies or if they’re just interested in the money. I can tell you, though: If they don’t really want to build a company, they won’t luck into it. That’s because it’s so hard that if you don’t have a passion, you’ll give up.”

Steve Jobs

How true it is that if you don’t have passion, you’ll give up.  My grandmother used to say, “You’ve got to want it so bad that you can taste it.”  While I’ve never understood how that idiom got started or how it is that you could taste something you wanted badly, the point was there.  We need passion towards something to make it happen fully.
Did Hellen Keller, Mother Theresa, Louis Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Theresa, Leonardo DaVinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein all have a passion to achieve some greatness or, were they simply following a passion and achieved greatness in the process?

Helen Keller (seated) with teacher, Anne Sullivan

Louis Pasteur

Mother Theresa

Passion may be passion but, the end results are not always what drove that passion in the first place nor, will they all achieve greatness, wealth or even benefit mankind or the world.
Keller, Mother Theresa, Michaelangelo and the others mentioned never became wealthy from their work.  They lived, meagre, modest lives, some of the time, in great poverty.  They all seem to have followed an idea, sparked by an interest within them.  They then, became driven to go further with it.  It’s doubtful that any of them had the intention in mind to become wealthy from their passions.  It was an inward pull that created a pull towards furthering their knowledge or achieving more with their work.  The fact that it helped others in the process seems as though it was merely a bonus for the most part.
Few of us will achieve greatness within our lives.  Most of us will have smaller, less reknowned fame than the greats of this world but, if we set out with a passion, work at it and continue on with only the passion in mind, one can only speculate that greatness can be achieved in some form or another.
The bottom line to all of this is to find our passions and follow them.  That may be the hardest of all…finding it.
Have you found yours yet?

New Details On Robin Gibb’s Death

Robin Gibb, frail from the ravages of colon and liver cancer treatments.

Robin Gibb’s death was not as a result of his colon or liver cancer, Robin John Gibb has stated publicly.  Gibb’s son, Robin John told media that his father’s death was a result of kidney and liver failure.  Gibb’s liver and colon cancer had been put into remission and was undetectable.

According to Robin John, his father had suffered a seizure after chemotherapy and was given sedatives to control the seizure which his liver couldn’t handle, he told the Sunday Express.

“The end was peaceful and dignified, there were no theatrics. It was only later that I cried and cried… It wasn’t the cancer that killed my father; those reports are wrong. Dad had actually gone into remission and the cancer was completely unrecognizable, it was too small to detect. No scan could see it. He actually died of kidney failure,”  Robin John stated. “Three days before (he died), he was sitting up and watching DVDs and then suddenly he had a seizure. He was then dosed with sedatives to deal with the side effects of his chemotherapy and his liver just couldn’t process them. He deteriorated to the point where it started to affect his kidneys as well. Basically my father died of kidney and liver failure. It was a really sudden downturn.”

Robin John described his father’s passing by saying,

“I was sitting next to his bed with my mother and we saw that his heart had started to give out. We knew it was the end. We called my brother and sister and they came in. I was cradling his head and holding his right hand, and my mother was holding his left. I gave him a kiss… We watched him go and told him we loved him.”

A private funeral is being planned by the family for June during which, Robin John hopes to have Titanic Requiem, the music he and his father worked on together for two and a half years, played during the funeral.

A larger public memorial is being planned for sometime in likely September.

One thing we do know is that Robin Gibb has left this earth behind with a legacy to remember him by.  He won’t easily be forgotten.  May he rest in peace.

Artist Maggie Sutherland: Nude Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Only in Canda, eh?

There just doesn’t seem to be any accounting for taste nor, possibly even sanity when it comes to art and apparently, Maggie Sutherland, a Miramichi native artist, has put that to the test by painting a nude painting of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper entitled, “Emperor Haute Couture”.

Painting done of a nude Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper by artist Maggie Sutherland.

One has to wonder what was running through artist, Maggie Sutherland’s mind when she set forth to paint an unauthorized nude painting of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  Is she crazy?  Or, is she simply trying to be controversial and bring attention to herself and her work?  Perhaps, it’s simply for the money?

No matter what Sutherland was thinking, it’s most certainly brought a tremendous amount of response and attention to the piece and herself.

When asked in a CBC interview via phone, Sutherland responded to the attention she’s been getting over the painting with a “what more can an artist ask for…other than scads of money?” and laughed.

Stating that she has always been a fan of painter, Edouard Manet, Sutherland says that it had been rumbling around in her mind for many years and she was simply bringing Manet’s style and messages through to the 21st century and giving it a modern twist.  Inspired by “the long tradition of nudes in paintings, going back hundreds and hundred of years,” she said, and added Manet to the mix by “putting an everyday woman, in the place of a goddess on a couch so, I just tried to bring it forward to the 21st century and used a modern political figure in a very similar pose.  If you look at the internet, you’ll see that I really stole a lot from him [Manet].”

When asked what her reasoning was behind this painting, Sutherland seemed a little confused herself as to why she painted this particular painting, stating that “it wasn’t personal…it was a comment on how governments are…how they function.”

Sutherland doesn’t stop there.  She likens it to “Hans Christian Andersen’s, The Emperor’s New Clothes,” she states,  “where despite all claims to the contrary, he is parading through the town’s square naked.  It’s a comment on government more than personal.  He [Harper] just happens to be in the right place at the right time.”

When asked if she had a lot of doubts about doing the painting, she answered “daily,” and sighed, saying that she’d been asked if she’d had a lot of therapy to which she answered, still laughing, “yes, I’ve had a lot.”

Perhaps, a stupid question but, a valid one, she was asked if she had ever thought of asking Harper to sit for the painting and she laughed heavily, saying that she had to work from her imagination.  The question itself seemed totally ridiculous and Sutherland appeared to laugh it off, knowing it was a ridiculous notion for such an unwelcomed and unflattering painting of the country’s current prime minister.

She called the painting “old hat” to her at this point as she had finished it early in 2011 and had it on display in a gallery in Toronto for 3 months without much fanfare over it until it raised controversy while hanging in the local library in her hometown.

It sold to an undisclosed buyer for $5,000.00 so, one could guess that she’s laughing as she heads to the bank.

However, it’s made me wonder if perhaps, Sutherland also has her own sense of humor when it comes to herself?  Would she mind if I did a photo-painting of her?

I’ve been a fan of Chris Wake, an Australian Contemporary Artist’s work so, I’ve done a piece that I have titled, “Reclining Nude Kookaburra” featuring artist Maggie Sutherland as a statement of how artists are naked and exposed by their works.  It’s not personal to Sutherland.  It’s a statement of how artists work and can put meaning to pieces where there really may not be any to be had except controversy, imagination and attention seeking.

By the way, if the buyer of Sutherland’s painting is reading this, I’m also open for offers to my work as well.

Reclining Nude Kookaburra Artist

(I say that with a wink and a grin as this is actually Chris Wake’s painting “Reclining Nude with Kookaburra” and Maggie Sutherland’s head.)

Phillip Phillips Wins American Idol Crown 2012

I admit that I cried when Phillip Phillips won the $1 million recording contract in placing first and beating out sixteen year old powerhouse singer, Jessica Sanchez.  It was heartwrenching and heartwarming to see him break down into emotion mid-finale song as the reality of his win sank in and he walked off stage, wanting only to be in his parents’ arms.   Who could blame him?  It was a tough fight for all of the contestants but, especially for Phillips who also struggled with health issues and pain all season.

Why does the show insist on sticking a microphone in front of the winner and ask them to sing at that moment in the first place?  They’re overcome with emotions, they’ve sang all season, they’ve won and there just isn’t anymore left in them to give to us at that point in time.

Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez, Finalists in American Idol 2012 Season

Both Phillips and Sanchez were equally deserving of the title American Idol 2012.  Both are extremely talented in their own ways and rights.

By far, Jessica has the bigger and more powerful as well as versatile voice and will likely land a contract the moment the legalities tied to Idol lift so that the labels can sign her on.  There will likely be no shortage of offers on the table and she’ll have her pick.

However, Phillips seemed to have had the edge over Sanchez in terms of being the total package.  He has the charm, the talent, the good looks, the female audience attraction as well as a sound that is uniquely his.

Was Phillips the best singer vocal-wise?  Not really.  Sanchez beat him by a mile in that arena.  Phillips simply was different and stuck to who he was as an artist right from Day 1.  He gave viewers the good old, ‘this is me…you either like me or you don’t because I’m not changing’ message out.  It worked.  The viewers proved they loved him with a record voting tally of some nearly 132 million votes on Tuesday evening coming in for the pair and now, Phillips has earned his honored place in Wikipedia.   Whodda thunk that he’d become that famous to earn a place in an online enclyopedia?

Don’t feel too badly though because Sanchez also became a Wikipedia legend as well as the other top 12.

Phillips didn’t seem able to believe that he could have gotten to the point he got.  He gave off the impression all season that while he wanted it, he wouldn’t be surprised if he were sent home each week.

When asked by host, Ryan Seacrest last night if either he or Sanchez had slept the night before, Phillips answered that he’d gotten a pretty solid nine or ten hours worth.  That was hardly the vision of someone who was counting on or anticipating being the winner.

Phillips admitted during an interview that he didn’t think that he’d even make it past the pre-auditions in Savannah.

“Honestly, I didn’t think I would even make it to see the judges. I have no shame in saying I’m not a great singer. I just love having fun up on stage, jamming with the guys and just playing good music, getting the crowd into it. I love playing music. I’m just a lucky guy,” he responded to media reporters backstage last night.

He told reporters that he’s ready to hit the recording studio but, true to Phillip Phillips form, said that it was going to be recording his own stuff, his way which won’t sound anything like the song, “Home” that he sang on Tuesday night’s finale competition rounds.

“I don’t really write stuff like that (reference to the song, “Home”), but it’s a very good song,” he’s stated outright. “I’m glad people enjoy it, but I’m excited to do my own stuff.”

Early on in the season, Phillips was struck with kidney stones which put him in tremendous pain.  A surgery was done during the season to put a stent in to “get him through” but, he’ll need surgery to remove the stones before going on tour with the top 12 this summer.

Worried about him the entire season, his parents stated to media,

“He’s had a surgery since he started American Idol already to get through. That’s why they put the stint in him [so they] could keep his kidney functioning good. Physically he’s in good shape. He said it’s painful wearing the stint. That’s why you see him moving like an old man. He can’t move. I can’t wait until he has his surgery and he recovered and ya’ll see him 100%.”

So, wraps up another American Idol season and while the judging panel seems uncertain still, viewers heard Jennifer Lopez utter a statement that may indicate that she’s possibly still thinking about her place on the panel next year.

After a tongue-in-cheek comedic clip of Jimmy Iovine, calling Jennifer, Jessica and vice versa was played, Iovine kissed Jennifer’s hand and apologized.  J.Lo answered in return, “that’s ok, you’ll get it right next year” and laughed.

Could she be in negotiations and thinking of returning?

Auditions for the 2013 season begin as early as June and run throughout the summer.  Meanwhile, J.Lo will be on tour so, it’s hard to guess what will happen at this point.

Stay tuned.




American Idol Judges Up In The Air Again For 2013 Season

Anyone whose been an American Idol fan can likely attest to the fact that while the talent has been growing, the ratings have been falling and the judges seem to be changing faster than we can get used to them.

Randy Jackson seems to be showing no signs of quitting the show for the 2013 season but, there’s a pretty good chance that Jennifer Lopez may be signing off and Steven Tyler has kept pretty quiet about whether he’ll be returning next season or not.


J.Lo has seemingly become too busy for the show with her music career picking up again.  It’s been rumored that she makes somewhere between 8 and 10 million dollars a season on Idol so that’s no chump change to be leaving behind.  She’s already told Ellen Degeneres, “I just don’t know,” (about going back to being a judge on 2013’s season of Idol.


I loved the Ellen Degeneres experiment but, it was more like a fish-out-of-water scenario with Ellen as a judge.  She is better placed in her talk-show position where she is much loved and comfortable.

Steven Tyler is one of the reasons I tune into Idol still.  Jackson is getting stale in his comments of “dude”, “she/he wants it bad”, “it was just ok for me” and a lot of other terms that Jackson has coined over the years he’s been a judge on Idol.


Though Tyler doesn’t tend to add a lot towards commenting on the contestant’s performances and seems like more of a Yes-Man, he’s coloroful and adds a lot to the comfort of seeing a famous face to the panel.   It would be sad to see him leave and may just push my personal viewership over the edge and me not bothering to watch next season but, then again, I said that when Simon Cowell left Idol.  I’m still watching.

I’m sure Jimmy Iovine would love to step into an Idol Judge Seat and would likely make the next Simon Cowell “Boo-Fest” judge.  He’d be the one we love to hate and throw couch cushions at our tv sets over but, that’s what made Idol what it was when Cowell had us all jokingly mocking his British accented words, “attrocious”, “horrendous”, “karaoke bar performance” in our everyday lives.


Of course, Cowell has had his own headaches with his new show, “X-Factor” and finding his own set of judges for the panel.  Ironically, it just may be one of the rivals for Idol ratings though they don’t tend to overlap.


The Voice may be another rival for the now 11 year old show.  With buxom and very vocal Christina Aguilera as a panel judge and mentor, it’s catching on like wildfire.  Idol may have to pull out some big guns to counter both X Factor and The Voice judges.


As far as we know, it will be Britney Spears and Demi Lovato who will be joining Cowell and L.A. Reid after Cowell dumped friend and former co-judge, Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger who replaced Cheryl Cole within the first season.  Season 2 will also provide two new hosts, yet to be announced by Cowell and he tossed Steve Jones went curbside.

But, perhaps, the reality of all of this is that there are just far too many reality and talent series going on.  The list is as long as a city block.  Dancing, singing, juggling plates, bike riding….you name it, it’s a tv show.  From ordinary people to celebs in Dancing With The Stars. We’re saturated with reality and talent shows.  We need some fantasy for a change again.

We’ve had far too much of reality shows and we’re now all on overload.  We’re due for some great new sitcoms and less cop and detective shows.  We’re floundering between them all, wondering what crime or talent to watch.

Frankly, I’d love to just sit down to watch a few shows that take me into a fit of laughter or feel like part of a family again.  I find myself searching for re-runs of Reba, Roseanne and sadly, Hope and Faith just to feel like I’ve lightened up a bit from the detective crime shows when I’ve just watched the evening news to see the same types of reality stories.  I’m also finding myself planning out how to watch so many reality talent shows all at once.  It’s impossible to keep track of them all.

Perhaps, it’s time to turn off the tv set, get a karaoke machine and an X-Box Band Hero set?

Anyone with me?

Robin Gibb, Former Bee Gee Loses His Battle

And then, there was one.

Robin Gibb, has sadly lost his battle with cancer and the complications related to it and its treatment Saturday May 20, 2012 at the age of 62.  His family has released only this statement.

“Robin passed away today following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery.”

As the tributes pour in and the cause of his death is well-known, it wasn’t shocking news that he had passed on but, somewhere deep down inside, a lot of us who had been following his remarkable career, illness and extraordinary recovery from a ten-day long coma a few weeks ago, there was the hope that Robin Gibb would be one of the miracles in this life.  Sadly, it wasn’t to be the case.

Much like his fraternal twin brother, Maurice, has succumbed to an intestinal issue.  Maurice, thirty-five minutes younger than Robin, had passed away on January 12, 2003 due to complications created by twisted intestines.  Prior to that, brother Andy Gibb had passed away March 5, 1988 to myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that was created by a recent virus.  Robin developed complications from intestinal surgery with several growths having been removed and liver cancer.

Still remaining of the famous family is brother Barry Gibb, age 65 and older sister Lesley (Evans), 66 who still lives in Australia.  Barry is now the only remaining member of the former Bee Gees singing group that swept the world with their famous songs throughout the 1970’s and early 80’s.

The British born family had moved from England to Australia in 1958 and got their start as a trio there before moving back to England to take their career to higher planes and finally, stardom.

The soundtrack for the movie “Saturday Night Fever“, starring John Travolta rocketed their career.  Barry and Robin decided to retire The Bee Gees’ title when brother, Maurice passed away in 2003.

A list of credits a mile long can be attributed to Gibb but, I’ll leave that for the media to pour over.  It will be plentiful in the days to come as the world digests this sad news.

The family has asked for privacy during this time.

One thing is for certain.  Robin Gibb gave both life and death, everything that he had.  A talented musician, philanthropist and father, Gibb fought with everything in him to continue stayin’ alive, much like the hit song he and his brothers sang in the 1970’s and ironically, has now become the advised song to sing within one’s head to keep the beat of chest compressions while administering CPR.

For two and a half years after diagnosis, Robin Gibb worked tirelessly and co-wrote with his son, Robin John Gibb to keep himself busy.

The Titanic, the ill-fated ship that Gibb had formed a fascination with throughout his life and co-wrote a commemorative composition with his son, Robin John Gibb Titanic Requiem for the 100th anniversary of its sinking that was premiered in London while Gibb was in a coma due to pneumonia.  Robin John Gibb and Gibb’s second wife, Dwina Gibb, attended in his place.

Unfortunately, much like the ship, it is now known that his body could not go on and on, as the words in the title song for James Cameron’s famous movie The Titanic

Fortunately, for decades to come and maybe, longer, Robin Gibb will be remembered for his life and the way that he lived it as well as what he brought to this world.  In a sense, Robin Gibb will “go on and on”.

May he rest in peace.

Robin Gibb
December 22, 1949 – May 20, 2012




Jenna Talackova Can Teach Us All Something

I hate to harp on about one subject but, Jenna Talackova, the transgendered Miss Universe contestant story is one that has a lot of depth to it that so many of us can relate to in some way or another.  Even if we cannot relate to the whole transgenered issue, there are layers to this woman’s life and story that we can all likely resonate to in one way or another.

This school photo of Talackova at the age of 13 years, in grade 8 at Vancouver’s Killarney secondary school hit me on a number of levels that I think most of us can identify with in some way or another.

Jenna Talackova in school photo at the age of 13, Grade 8, known then as Walter Page Talackova.

It’s easy to see that Talackova wasn’t looking boyish at an age when most boys are starting to look upon physiological changes of impending manhood as happily awaited life stepping-stones.  Quite to the opposite, Talackova appears to be struggling with feeling like a girl and wanting to be a girl but, having to try to conform to what his physical gender was dictating he should be feeling.

It’s hard to fathom what he/she must have been going through mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  Many of us can speak of times when we were doing as we were told to do, being who we thought we should be but, feeling something very different inside.  Most of us can say that we were “acting” the parts we were supposed to play or felt that we had to play, at some point or another in our lives.

For many, it’s a daily identity we take on.  We have our “at home” personalities and our “at work” persona that we take on.  The former feels right and we feel as though we’re who we truly are while the latter feels foreign, faked, unnatural and even stressful.  Leaving those work place doors at quitting time can feel like getting out of jail but, what about someone who is trapped in a body that requires taking on a “fake” persona permanently?  What must that be like to live with, day in and day out?

For 19 years of her life, Talackova lived in a body that was foreign to her.  She has told her story of how she couldn’t look in the mirror to see parts of her physical body that didn’t match what was on the inside.  She felt like a female but, her physical attributes were those of a male and she was stuck in that body, unable to understand why nature or God had given two conflicting parts to herself.  It was a constant, long, hated struggle.  Many of her classmates wondered about Talackova’s gender as they went through school.

One classmate recalls how he felt about Talackova during the time he knew her as a male classmate.  ‘It was very obvious,’ said Teruko Walker in an interview with The Vancouver Sun.  “It wasn’t like she looked like a boy, but acted like a girl. She very much looked like a female.”

Most of us will remember that growing up wasn’t always easy.  There was peer pressures and heaven help anyone who didn’t fit in with the norm.  One flaw or deviation from that expectation was fodder for being shunned, bullied, rejected, taunted and alienated.  For some, it led to a lifetime’s worth of internal shame, pain, low self-esteem and in cases, permanent scars.  One can only imagine what the coupling of that type of pressure on top of the inner feelings that Talackova was dealing with, must have done to her inner self.  There have to be deeply hidden scars in there somewhere that a psych professional would have a field-day with.  Talackova showed inner fortitude when she made the decision to get off of the merry-go-round and make the commitment to become outwardly, who she was inwardly.

At the age of 19, Walter Talackova went through gender reassignment surgery to become Jenna Talackova.  She told the world during an interview with Barbara Walters that the surgery and subsequent hormone injections were painful and intense but, “ultimately rewarding”.  ‘As soon as I was conscious, I just always knew that I was not what they were saying.  It wasn’t right. I thought that I was in the wrong body,’  Talackova said during the Barbara Walters interview.  Jenna’s mother still calls her, Walter.

Jenna Talackova’s mother still calls Jenna, “Walter”, the name she’d given her now, transgendered son.

Of course, one can only imagine the difficulty that her mother was going through as well.  She had 4 sons and though she had always wanted a daughter, she had resigned herself to the fact that she had all boys.  When Jenna transformed into Jenna fully, one can only surmise how difficult it was for Talackova’s mother to have to adjust to realizing that some 19 years later, she now had 3 sons and a daughter.

Talackova tells media that she felt she was a girl at the age of 4 and began hormone shots at the age of 14.  It’s hard to imagine how difficult it must have been for not only Talackova but, also her mother to have a 14 year old starting the physical transformation from being a boy, into being a girl.  Most of us, as parents, have a tough time letting our kids of that age go to certain parties or concerts, let alone getting hormone injections that will eventually change their entire gender.

Talackova’s story is one of bravery.  It’s the story of someone who realized early in life that they weren’t who they were supposed to be and honored that, doing what was necessary to become the person they knew that they were.  Her story is inspirational in a lot of ways, even if one is squimish or against the entire transgender issues.

Perhaps, the biggest message in Talackova’s story is not about gender.  It’s about being a hero or, properly said now, heroine in a nightmarish situation.  It’s about knowing who you are and in spite of the battles that you have to face, not wavering or letting society or even family waver you from becoming who you truly are.  That, in and of itself is a story worthy of paying attention to.  We can all learn something from it.

As Talackova has stated, ‘I regard myself as a woman with a history. ‘If it’s helping anybody else, my story and my actions, then I feel great about it.’Perhaps, no matter what we feel about the entire transgender issue, we can learn something from Talackova in some way or another as simply people who are struggling to get through life where expectations of us are not always what we, ourselves know is right for us.

Talackova’s story and the lessons we can learn from her life is one of bravery, courage, determinaton and knowing oneself.