Empathy & bleeding fingers

I spend a good portion of my time at airports travelling for work and my number one objective is always to make it on board the plane as quickly and efficiently as possible. George Clooney’s role in the movie “Up in the Air” is my reality.

90% percent of the time the process goes smoothly. I can arrive at the airport in under an hour of my scheduled departure time, go through all the required steps and be ready to board with just enough time to spare that I don’t feel rushed.

Tonight however, fell into the other 10% when my normal perfected process was disrupted with an unexpected mandatory check in with a live agent to check my travel documents.

As I waited in the priority check in line, I noticed that the usual protocol of frequent flyers was not being followed. After several minutes I got impatient and rushed to the counter and asked the agent “Is this not the priority check in? “. The agent in a frustrated voice replied “Yes sir, but there is nothing I can do right now.” I returned back to the line-up disgruntled that my usual efficient process was being thrown off.

When it was my turn to check in, the agent was apologetic and explained that the previous couple was headed to Australia and had not correctly completed their pre-entry requirements. This was the reason the line-up was so long and that the usual protocol was not being followed.

As he proceeded with the check in, I noticed that he was suffering from what looked like a fairly bad cut on his finger. He was so busy that he hadn’t had the opportunity to take a minute to get a band-aid. When I questioned him about it he told me he would only be able to tend to his bleeding finger once the line-up died down.

This really made me think. Was it really necessary of me to disturb him earlier just because I was waiting a few extra minutes than I usually do? I knew darn well that it was the priority check in line and if things were moving slowly it was most likely because of the passengers and not this agent trying to slow things down on purpose. Why wasn’t I more patient and just accept the fact that there must be a valid reason that things were slower than normal?

I took away a few lessons from this situation.

The first being that I must remember to remain patient and secondly that I have to be empathetic at all times.

There are many reasons out of the agent’s control that will delay the “normal” efficient process. I need to put away my instant gratification card and be conscious that I can make a serious difference in another person’s day by being more flexible and stepping outside my normal routine.

In fact, I took an extra few minutes following the check in to go to the store and buy the agent a package of band-aids. I came back when another impatient traveler was asking a dozen questions to the agent and interjected: “I thought you could use one of these.” He smiled and thanked me.

In the end I didn’t miss my flight and even had time to respond to a few text messages and emails. More importantly, I had time to reflect on this experience and consider how I could approach similar situations in the future.

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5 Life Lessons in a 100k

It’s been three weeks since the big race and I am still at a loss for words to accurately express my sentiments on the successful completion of the GGT challenge to run 100K and raise $100,000 for CHEO.

Hundreds of synonyms for the word “amazing” have floated through my head, making it impossible to choose the right one.  Now that emotions have settled and legs are fully recovered, I have attempted to summarize below what I learned from running 100k. A few of my friends helped contribute to this blog post by sharing their perspectives of the day.  

1. Teamwork can conquer anything 

“I am truly grateful that I was able to be part of the GGT support crew. The race was extremely well organized and the day really went off without a hitch. Watching the team of runners make their way through this incredible journey was inspiring to say the least. The camaraderie, support and sheer determination displayed by all the runners really impressed and motivated me”. Phil

2. The importance of humility: A team of superstars that focused less on their independent success but more on the team’s.

Running Pan Shot

“This event can best be described with one word: amazing. I took part in the cheering squads that day and was completely blown away by the phenomenal athletes who ran the entire length of the relay, sacrificing their bodies to raise over $100,000! The GGT runners really worked as a cohesive team, keeping positive and supporting one another at the checkpoints.”  Jasmine

Running perspective in the car

“I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else on this day and I am happy that I could have been a part of it and by your side every step of the way supporting you. It’s people like you and your team that enlighten and create awareness for us with what we don’t know and pave the way for bigger and brighter things to happen.” Faudie

3. Support systems are the key to success: The amount of support from family and friends was touching. The day wouldn’t have been possible without all these amazing people in my life.

Inspiration 2

“I wanted to be on the side of the road to witness where Joe’s motivation would take him and to what extent his body could respond to that incredible challenge. I recall thinking “I will be amazed and so proud if he reaches 60K all together…” More than 80K after and crossing the finish line with an incredible smile was unreal to me.” Claire

Inspiration 1Inspiration 3Inspiration 8Inspiration 5Inspiration 8IMG_2936

Inspiration 6Inspiration 8

4. Crushing an impossible goal is realized with passion: Creative fundraisers, relentless training, pushing comfort zones, constant motivation and creating ultra awareness for an important cause.

Crushing a goal

“Since I was unable to be in Ottawa, I was so grateful to see Joe’s epic 100km journey through my Facebook newsfeed. It gave me and my family an opportunity to watch him and cheer for him every inspirational step of the way. Congratulations Joe and team on an amazing accomplishment, and thanks for sharing this life changing experience with so many of us.” Marnie

5. A hug speaks volumes: All the magic & emotions of the journey captured perfectly in one frame.


“When it came to your team – Incredible! I saw you all leave with smiles on your faces that morning, I saw you all at your most exhausted/painful moments of that day and I saw you all stick together as a team carrying each other to the end and I saw all your joyful tears and smiles at the Finish!” Faudie

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Happy thanksgiving!

The beginning of the year I asked myself how I wanted to feel in 2013, INSPIRED

On this thanksgiving day, I am sending an abundance of thanks to all the amazing people in my life that have shaped 2013 and made me feel inspired, it’s been a monumental year so far and still going strong!

I count my blessing each and everyday, HAPPY THANKSGIVING !


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Recap 2013 #RUN4AC Success

Words can’t express how incredibly grateful I am that you all came out on September 28, 2013 to celebrate and live the 2013 edition of Run for a Cause.   It takes time to build an idea, and more than tripling the number of participants from the 2012 edition definitely exceeded my expectations.


We celebrated large, small, and grassroots charities. We interacted, we made new friends, and we got inspired.

1st place donation of $1000 was awarded to Team Ronald McDonald House Ottawa

2nd place donation of $500 to Team GoodGuysTri (GGT)

3rd place, a tie between DIFD and Team Mito (each receiving $250 for their cause)

Team I2P (impossible to Possible)

Team I2P (impossible to Possible)

Team Ronald McDonald Ottawa

Team Ronald McDonald House Ottawa

Team Diabetes group

Team Diabetes

Good Guys Tri

Team GGT

Team Forum For Young Canadians

Team Forum For Young Canadians



Amethyst Ottawa

Amethyst Ottawa

Team Mito

Team Mito

Team Andy

Team Andy

Representing Humane Society and Parkinsons

Representing Humane Society and Parkinsons

Team I run for the "health" of it

Team I run for the “health” of it

Team Won with one

Team Won with one

Representing Run for the cure Breast Cancer

Representing Run for the cure Breast Cancer

Post the 5k run and 2.5k walk Reception (Rideau Centre Terrace)

Reception  – Rideau Centre Terrace

Post the 5k run and 2.5k walk Reception (Rideau Centre Terrace)

Reception – Rideau Centre Terrace

Team Vega provided some pretty awesome Gift Baskets, Thanks Susan!

Team Vega provided some pretty awesome Gift Baskets, Thanks Susan!


Reception – Rideau Centre Terrace
vega team

Team Vega who provided all the great refreshments!

Post Stretching: Yoga with Nigel

Post Stretching: Yoga with Nigel

action reception

Team Vega

Team Vega

Thank you to all the partners: ZoomphotoVegalululemon rideau and Elevate Yoga.

You can download all the pictures from the event courtesy of Zoomphoto!

Elevate Yoga is providing one free yoga class if you attended Run for a Cause. Simply say you did.

Thank you to Mr. Mike Herzog from Good Guys Tri that prepared this amazing 90 second video of the event!

THANK YOU EVERYONE and see you next year at the 2014 edition!

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Top 5 Reasons to Register for Run 4 A Cause

5. Running with a group of like-minded individuals is 1000 times more enjoyable than running by yourself – and you never know, you might even meet that special someone!

4. Learn about interesting charities and causes in Ottawa. A wide range of causes that touch all areas of our lives will be present: mental health, kid’s cancer, diabetes, youth education, animal care and the list goes on.

3. Exercise in one of the most beautiful parts of the city. Tourists come from all over the world to visit Ottawa and yet this is our backyard and we don’t always take the time to appreciate it. This event is not about running fast – it’s about enjoying the scenery. The 5K run route will pass the parliament buildings, museums, and cross two bridges. Don’t run? That’s ok, bring your walking shoes and enjoy a beautiful 2.5K route along the canal.

2. Fundraising and creating awareness for your favourite charity is hard work. But RUN4AC is the easiest way to do both. Simply wear your jersey/t-shirt and make signs to represent and show your spirit! And then the top three charities with the most participants will walk away with $500 to $1000…just for showing up. Can’t get much easier than that!

Rumour has it that there are one or two groups assembling an army of 75-100 people! Think you can beat that? Who doesn’t like a little bit of competition? 🙂

1. It’s a FREE family affair. This is an event for everyone. Bring your kids, pets, family and friends. RUN4AC is a celebration of our communities. After our run/walk we will meet on the Rideau Centre Terrace and enjoy some delicious healthy refreshments from VEGA. Plus a little restorative yoga with Nigel to stretch out the legs and find some Zen along with a chance to win some great prizes!

Register now:


Share the event and get your teams together!

We are going to make history on September 28, 2013 – Hundreds of runners/walkers coming together and celebrating what’s important to Ottawa.

Running & Walking Maps

Official map of 5K run

Official Map of 2.5K walk

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T-minus 100K

With less than a month to go, a team of 25 brave and compassionate souls will embark on a journey to run a full 100 km.  I am one of the 25.

Some of the GGT team- pre I2P race on Aug 25

Some of the GGT team- pre I2P race on Aug 25

Flashback to January 2013 and I remember quickly saying yes to the challenge of running an ultra-marathon of 100k to support a great cause and raising money for kid’s cancer. When you have lots of time on your side, impulsively saying yes and rationalizing a feat of this nature is easy.

Today I look at the race countdown and the reality of what we are actually planning to accomplish is really settling in.

Do I regret accepting this challenge? Absolutely not.

You see, what I have learned in my running experiences is that it’s not about the actual race, it’s about what comes along with it, the whole package and experience.

The preparation and dedication to train for any race requires commitment and time.  With that you learn things about yourself that empower you to become a stronger person.

For myself, the biggest takeaway from any race is the human connection. Meeting new people, making new friends, and supporting one another. That’s what running to me is really all about.

I am part of the GoodGuysTri team led by Mike and Steve. They have certainly earned the title of being “Good Guys”. A+ leaders that continuously contribute endless hours to coordinate and lead their team to success.

Mike always says, “There is no such thing as individual success.”

Our team is living proof of this statement. Bring people together with an intention and you make a huge impact. Over the year the team has fundraised, organized events and acted as ambassadors to create awareness in the fight to #endkidscancer. Since we started, we have raised nearly $60,000 for the CHEO paediatrics oncology unit!

This would not have been possible without the support and time from our family and friends, once again bringing it back to the power of human connection. It warms my heart to see how much people can come together to support one another.

Community united

For example, this past Friday night I took part in a charity yoga class at MOKSHA Orleans. Renee (yogi extraordinaire and co-owner) led the class of 25 yogis through a series of challenging poses in a hot room.  25 individuals, mostly strangers, coming together to support the battle to end kids cancer.  Renee has dedicated her Friday charity classes for the month of September & organized a special outdoor Fall Festival class on September 14 where all the funds will be directed towards the race.  A great example of the type of support we are seeing in the community.

Renee and I post class! THANK YOU for all your support

Renee and I post class! THANK YOU for all your support!

With less than four weeks to go, TEAM GGT is in full swing and we have numerous exciting events in the pipeline.

On the actual day of the run, there will be many opportunities to come out and support us.  We are looking for volunteers to help with vehicles, food, and cheering!  Send me an email at thrivewithjoe@gmail.com if you would like to join the fun and find out more info about the events.

See you at the finish line!   We will be 100 percent broken down, tired, hungry, and sore but you can bet that we will have the biggest smiles on our faces because of the connections, experiences and support that got us there.

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I’m slowly coming back down to earth from an amazing energy rush. I’ve just returned from Vancouver where I participated in the 2nd annual SeaWheeze 1/2 marathon, organized by lululemon.

This 1/2 marathon has become one of the most special races for me. Why?

– Running in Vancouver is an epic experience. Breathing in the ocean air, seeing the mountains, Stanley Park, False creek… the beauty of the scenery never ends.

*Photo credit: The SeaWheeze™ lululemon Half Marathon

*Photo credit: The SeaWheeze™ lululemon Half Marathon

– SeaWheeze participants are the most colourful and energized group of 10014 runners you will ever see. Everyone is sporting the brightest hues of neon green, pink, orange and red.

*Photo credit: The SeaWheeze™ lululemon Half Marathon

*Photo credit: The SeaWheeze™ lululemon Half Marathon

And the number one reason? I got to be a pace setter (or pace beaver as lulu calls us) for the first time ever.

My pace group consisted of myself along with two pretty cool ladies; Alice from Toronto and Ashley from Vancouver. Together we made a trio that encouraged, paced and fought to the end to have our wave of runners succeed in their personal goal of 2 hours. We told our participants to simply follow our ears, tails and voices and we would make them reach their goal.

*Photo credit: The SeaWheeze™ lululemon Half Marathon

*Photo credit: The SeaWheeze™ lululemon Half Marathon

Being my first time pacing, I didn’t have any expectations or let alone know how I would be able to encourage my group, but together the three of us made it happen. As we ran, we counted down from km marker number one to the last 400m. What might seem trivial for the first few kms was an essential lifesaver closer to the end. It helped the runners put the remaining distance into perspective. At km marker 16, when fatigue was starting to kick in, I screamed out “Team this is where all that hard work in your training kicks in! Repeat these 3 words and we will get through this and finish strong: DEDICATION – DETERMINATION – STRENGTH.”

And for every km from there on, as we crossed those km markers, those words were repeated by the hundreds of runners in our corral. WHAT A RUSH OF ADRENALIN! A community of strangers uniting together and sharing that bond and encouraging one another… simply INCREDIBLE. The best part though was the last 400M as those tired runners could now see the finish line and in only a few minutes would be crushing their personal records or completing their first 1/2 marathon.

I knew that being a pace beaver would be a blast, but what I didn’t expect was the amount of pride and joy I would feel over the course of the race for our dedicated group of runners. I can confidently say it was an honour to be part of the team. I was overwhelmed by the amount of energy and love that was shared post-race. All kinds of runners came up to me and expressed their gratitude and shared their personal stories of why they signed up for the race. Connecting with them really validated the reasons why I commit to the world of running and confirmed that I’m in the right place.

*Photo credit: The SeaWheeze™ lululemon Half Marathon

*Photo credit: The SeaWheeze™ lululemon Half Marathon

Thank yous go out to lululemon for hosting & organizing one of the best races in the world, to the city of Vancouver for all your natural beauty and to the superstar pace beaver team for being the best leaders and role models. It was a magical racing experience and a race that I WILL certainly participate in again.

CONGRATS RUNNERS, high fives to your accomplishments and see you next year!

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Benefits of a morning run

A morning run provides a 3 layer foundation to your day:

  • Strength to keep you dedicated and confident in your tasks
  • Clarity of the mind to accomplish anything you desire
  • Energy to motivate others and make their day!

Morning Run Inspiration

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Video Interview with Moksha Yoga Orleans

Meet Renée and Julie: Owners of Moksha Yoga Orleans
Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Renée Banville and Julie Pangilinan, the superstar yogis and owners of Moksha Yoga Orleans.
I have been practicing at Moksha Yoga Orleans for almost a year and I highly recommend it! The studio is professional, clean and they have the friendliest instructors around.
In this quick 3 minute video you will get to learn a bit about them and what they offer.  And to all you runners out there, if you haven’t integrated yoga into your training, I would recommend you give it a try at Moksha Yoga Orleans. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you!
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The power of visualization

On my vacation last month in New Zealand my first stop was in the small town of Kaikoura. About 100 miles north of Christchurch, Kaikoura is located on a rocky peninsula, protruding from lush farmland beneath the mountains. I stayed at a modern villa type apartment located right in the mountain base called Fairways Accommodation. Managed by a super friendly couple, Robyn and Graham, this resort is 5 star quality with all the great amenities of home living. Thank you for all your wonderful hospitality. Highly recommended!IMG_1298

After only spending one night in town I was inspired to review my goals. One of the questions to ask yourself when developing goals is “What does your ideal Sunday morning look like when you wake up in 10 years”. I discovered mine.


Picture this…I wake up in my mountain view home (my summer home during the Canadian winter months to be exact) and start my day with a trail run. I start my run from my backyard where the trail begins. Following my run, my family and I enjoy a freshly cooked meal on my rooftop terrace and admire the beautiful mountain and ocean views.

Am I dreaming? Could this ever become my reality? Live on the other side of the world for half the year and still enjoy the Canadian summers? Would I have sufficient resources?

Though this reality seems highly unlikely today, it’s not impossible.

I have the visual now stuck in my head. The idea and seed have been planted. Through motivation, passion and dedication I will make this happen! Discovering Kaikoura is one of the reasons why I love travelling and exploring. This hidden gem has helped shape a potential future possibility for me.

Did I tell you that there is even a lot for sale, and from what I gather, at a surprisingly reasonable price?


Perhaps I could buy the land first and build later?

The options are endless and considering all the possibilities is half the excitement.

How about you? What does your ideal Sunday morning look like when you wake up in 10 years?

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