Hodgepodge by Charlie Hodge – July 21st, 2017

To Stanley who is turning three; Happy third birthday to my great-grandson Stanley.With the intense heat and smoke in the air I will likely not be at your afternoon party in the park this weekend, but we will get together for snuggles and chuckles before or soon after. I did, however, want to send you this little note today because I know how easily ‘should ofs’ and ‘could ofs’ turn into regrets when time flies too fast and lives do not keep up.This note contains a few suggestions you might want to consider as you venture down your path in life. It will mean nothing to you now, but hopefully Mom will tuck these thoughts away someplace safe for reading later – perhaps in a few years when you can decide what to do with my advice. Here it is:Timing is everything.Timing is huge in life and I am glad you arrived on this planet before I left because I was waiting for a Stanley to show up. For a couple of reasons. Don’t misunderstand me, I love your sister Arya, and your other infant relatives, but they are all girls. As most folks know I really, really like girls, however I must admit sometimes it’s just fun to have another guy to hang around and do guy stuff with. Like chase girls, make silly noises, and accidently knock things over. Also, I have a few family heirloom things I need to pass along the family chain to a member of the male side that I like. I like you.Speaking of timing, congratulations on picking a spectacular time of the year to be born, Well done. Smart. Summer in the Okanagan is wonderful and it brings out the best in everyone and everyone out – so I am sure your celebration at the water park will be a big hit. I imagine it will be just as chaotic and fun as your sister’s bash last week.You can have your cake and eat it too.Later in life people will try and tell you that you can’t have your cake and eat it too – but they are wrong. Sometimes you CAN have your cake and eat it too – and in fact should. This weekend I am positive there will be cake again at your birthday party and this time it is your cake, not Arya’s. You can have it and you can eat it too, so that is proof of what I say.This time if little Wally decides to take your piece of cake you can just cut yourself another one and not have to wait, or fuss, or fight over the lost cake.Later in life there may be things that you want but you aren’t allowed or can’t have for some reason. When that happens measure the reason and decide if it is worth the fight, risk, time, energy… to change it.If not walk away. If it is then plant your flag and stand by it.Decide if it is a need or a want – then make your choice.Keep on smiling and laughing. When I think of you Stanley I visualize your full faced ear to ear grin. A happier face I have never laid witness to. If my mother was here she’d say you were the ‘apple of her eye’ or her ‘little apple face darling’. When you giggle I swear I see a part of her in you, but that is impossible. Still, I wonder.But I digress – smiling and laughing is something that suits you well and will carry you far in this world. It can be an ugly, mean nasty, world sometimes Stan; full of vindictive, selfish people with bad intentions and no scruples. They cannot simply be smiled away – however it sure does help the will, spirit and soul and really confuses the opponent. There are no easy routes, free rides or secret portals to a hassle free lifetime – but I guarantee laughing and smiling most of the way sure beats being miserable.Later in life when you get a tough job like being a reporter or a politician you can learn to suck it up and get through the lousy moments by smiling or laughing. It makes both winning and losing more palatable. Besides it drives your critics crazy when you just keep on going like a little tank in a minefield with a grin on your face.You sort of remind me of a tank right now. A roly-poly bundle of love and energy just trucking along at full speed in any and every direction at the same time.Best of all, Stanley – girls like a guy who smiles a lot and likes to laugh.Try not to lie.It’s not easy.Most folks immediately respond that they don’t lie, never do. But that’s a lie. Humans lie, it is practically part of our DNA. In fact they will probably soon discover that indeed it is. Regardless, humans lie. We all do. For some it may be just ‘white’ lies, or ‘little lies, ‘harmless’ lies… the fact is we do it.I’m not suggesting you need to be perfect and that you won’t occasionally tell a fib, but I am suggesting you must not let lies become a part of you, a habit, Don’t let them sneak into your soul like dirt under a fingernail.The problem with telling lies is that they usually hurt someone. As well, more often than not, in time lies eventually hurt the one who tells them.You better have a good memory as well because once you tell a lie you will often be asked to repeat it.Always say please and thank you.Manners are very important and I, for one, like them. It rarely hurts to be polite and it is nice when people are polite to you. Being polite and courteous is important in all social aspects including employment, career, family and relationships.As time moves along you will likely discover that being polite serves you well in life. It helps you gain friends, trust, and respect.Manners have that mirror quality. Like a smile when you make a polite gesture it usually is returned. And like a smile or chuckle choosing to maintain your manners and politeness during harsh times never hurts and certainly confuses those who oppose you.Respect yourself.It is important to respect other people, their rights, their space, their faith, even their quirky ways. It is also very important to respect yourself. When you do it leads to making good choices. For you and others around you.Respecting yourself helps avoid so many other pitfalls that will challenge or tempt you later such as overindulgence with drugs, alcohol or other ways to ‘deal’ with your choices.Respecting yourself is not always easy. It takes work not to be conned or tempted to take the ‘easy’ route, or sluff the problem, or issue off to someone else. It makes lying to yourself more difficult.Finally a word I have mentioned elsewhere. Choice.Life is all about choice, Stanley.You may not have a lot of say or choice in a lot of the things that happen to you in life, but you always have a choice in how you deal with them.That knowledge itself will help you make good choices. Knowing you at least have a choice in your choice restores personal power and when empowered good choices are easier to make. It is approaching something from a point of strength not weakness.When given a tough choice try and take the high road or the positive road rather than the negative. Choose good over evil, kind over means, gracious over arrogant. That way, even if your choice eventually proves wrong at least you chose to be the best you could be and likely did less harm to others as well as yourself.Remember the best choice or correct choice may often be the hardest choice.Choice is not easy but it is yours. You will never get away from making choices so you may as well learn how to make good ones.Even when your time on this planet comes to a close (hopefully many, many years from now) you will have a choice right until the end. You may not have a choice about when you die or what it is that takes you away from here, but you do have a choice in how you handle the departure. Choice is one thing no one can ever take away from you. Remember that.Today is about you, little man, and your third birthday.Soak it up. Enjoy the sunshine in your day and your life. Laugh and giggle lots, play hard and long, run through the sprinklers once for me, and if nothing else remember this – eat lots and lots of cake.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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