January 2011

37 % of Canadians are giving some of their personal time in one way or another. It can be for sports and leisure activities, for social services and education or it can for religious activities. On average, each Canadian gives 166 hours every year of volunteer work. That is quite a lot considering our busy schedules. This represents 4,75 work weeks based on a 35 hours a week schedule.

Another surprising number is that 58 % of young people between the age of 15 and 24 give some of their time compared to 36 % of people over 65 years old.

I would have lost my bet on this for sure…

What are the activities ? Participation on  some Board of Directors and in social clubs, raising funds, serving and distributing food, coaching sports team, helping elderly people and the list goes on. There is a link below that will make you more aware of the needs and different community organizations.

When we put our attention on supporting other people. It may or may not always come back to us from the people we help specifically, and that’s okay. We want to do our best not to “keep score,” as many of us often do, but instead to look for opportunities to genuinely help those around us. When we do this, we remind ourselves of the power of support.

How much time do you invest for others?


Here is a link for residents of the Montreal Metroplitan Area.

More than a thousand community organizations are looking for volunteers.




“With money you can buy a clock but not time”

Chinese proverb


With good health, we have the energy to be productive,
When we are productive, we can earn a good living,
When we earn a lot of money, we can afford more things,
With more things or resources, it can improve our quality of life, ( up to a certain point)

When our quality of life improves, we can become more generous,
When we become more generous, we feel good about ourselves,
When we feel good about ourselves, it contributes to our general well being and health.
If I keep reasoning this way, it seems that all this should have a positive effect on our longevity.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
It is difficult to admit or to accept, but we don’ t have control over a lot of things.

One of the thing we don’t have much control over is: Time.

So money can buy us a lot of things, but not Time.

But do you take good care of your time?

Life seems like a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. And sometimes it hurts.

On January 25 th, 2011, I had a very good day at work. I came home on time and helped my youngest daughter with her homework.

After this, I thought I would have time for myself to relax…

It was about 19:15 in the evening.

Suddenly, I started to feel a sharp pain in my flank , lower abdomen and groin. My face became white as a ghost and my hands turned blue as a dead corpse. I started to tremble and was feeling cold all over. The physiological changes in my body were happening so quickly that I asked myself: What is happening to me right now?

It felt like I was watching a movie in slow motion and experiencing every painful moment vividly.

Since I was alone with my 11 year old daugther, I decided to call  an ambulance because I wasn’t able to drive myself to the hospital.

Once I was in the hospital, the pain started to intensify and I was vomitting abundantly. For a full hour, waiting for my medication, I experienced the most intense pain I had ever felt in my life. Apparently this kind of pain is almost as horrible as what a woman experiences while giving birth. After receiving the IV ( intravenous injection), the pain was slowly going away. The doctor told me that I was experiencing “a textbook case of kidney stone “.

When someone like me writes everyday about the value of time and life, an experience like this really hit me right at the center of my being because I couldn’t help but ask myself:Is my time coming right now? Is this it ?     (Ignorance makes us more afraid than we should be…)

As I was living through this adventure, I realized that it only reinforced my commitment to keep writing on the subject of time and life as long as it will be possible.

Each lesson provides a path to the future.

Never stop learning. Never stop experiencing. Look for further education in all areas of life. Even when It hurts…



The next day, after being stabilized, I started to read on Wikipedia about kidney stones and my readings confirmed everything I had experienced the night before.

I discovered that I share at least one thing in common with Isaac Newton, Isaac Asimov ( was afraid to get addicted to morphine), Francis Bacon and Benjamin Franklin.

What?   Well if I can’t share their fame… I can share some of their pain .     🙂

I feel a little bit better now…


The little history of kidney stones.

The existence of kidney stones has been recorded since the beginning of civilization, and lithotomy for the removal of stones is one of the earliest known surgical procedures.[61] In 1901, a stone was discovered in the pelvis of an ancient Egyptian mummy, and was dated to 4,800 BC. Medical text from ancient Mesopotamia, India, China, Persia, Greece and Rome all mentioned calculous disease. Part of the Hippocratic oath suggests that there were practicing surgeons in Ancient Greece to whom physicians should defer for lithotomies. The Roman medical treatise De Medicina by Cornelius Celsus contained a description of lithotomy, and this work served as the basis for this procedure up until the 18th century.[62]

Among the famous leaders who were kidney stone formers are Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor Napoleon III, Peter the Great, Louis XIV, George IV, Oliver Cromwell, and former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. Other notable individuals who endured stones include Benjamin Franklin, the philosophers Michel de Montaigne and Sir Francis Bacon, the scientist Sir Isaac Newton, the civil servant and diarist Samuel Pepys, the physicians William Harvey and Herman Boerhaave, and the anatomist Antonio Scarpa.[63] Interestingly, astronauts seem to have a higher risk of developing kidney stones during or after long duration space flights.[64]

New techniques in lithotomy began to emerge starting in 1520, but the operation remained risky. It was only after Henry Jacob Bigelow popularized the technique of litholapaxy in 1878 that the mortality rate dropped from about 24% down to 2.4%. However, other treatment techniques were developed that continued to produce a high level of mortality, especially among inexperienced urologists.[62][63] In 1980, Dornier MedTech introduced extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy for breaking up stones via acoustical pulses, and this technique has come into widespread use.[65]

Kidney stones were once referred to as gravel or gravel disease during the 1800s in the United States. One such example is documented in the Oak Ridge Cemetery records for Charles Muir Campbell who died 13 Oct 1874 in Springfield, Sangamon, Illinois, USA

Source, Wikipedia,  January 27, 2011.


For those of you who like Seinfeld… A little bit of humor with Kramer who gets a kidney stone.  🙂




“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”

George Washington Carver



    We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-63)
    If someone is watching a reality show about dancing on TV, aren’t they using time as a couch?  If someone is taking dance lessons with a friend or partner, aren’t they using time as a tool?
    If someone is watching a reality show about singing, aren’t they using time as a couch? If someone is taking singing lessons, entering a karaoke contest or joining a choir, aren’t they using time as a tool?
    If someone is watching hockey or golf on TV, aren’t they using time as a couch? If someone is playing hockey or golf with friends, aren’t they using time as a tool?
     Is your satisfaction in the watching or in the doing?
    Are you a spectator or an actor?
    Which one will make you grow as an individual?

“Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them”

Dion Bousicault ( 1820-1890)

Irish-born actor & dramatist


How could anyone in their right mind want to kill time? To want to kill time, in my opinion, is a confession of imbecility because time is what life is made of. Sometimes, we are at work thinking of what we will do on the weekend. However, when the weekend comes, do you ever find yourself doing nothing? So you wasted productive time at work because you were daydreaming, and now you are wasting free time because you did not plan in advance. You are caught off guard at the last minute.

I have a  personal example that happened to my wife and I a few times. We have 3 young children who still need a babysitter when we go out. Sometimes, we had the chance to find a babysitter at the last minute. This was great, but since we had only about 60 to 90 minutes of free time together, our options were limited. By the time we agreed on what we both wanted to do, 20 to 30 minutes had already gone by.

So I asked myself; how can I avoid this kind of situation when our time is so limited and so precious?

Solution: I made a list of dozens of activities that require very little time and that are enjoyable. When  the opportunity to have time together knocks on our door, we are ready. Since then, we can use these precious minutes in a smarter way.

Exception:  If you are a person with an extremely busy schedule, it is important NOT TO FEEL GUILTY because you need to relax once in a while and in this case, it’s not a waste of time.

When we know exactly what we want and what we like, it’s easier to use our time in a smarter way.

Do you often find yourself “killing” precious time ?

Every day, I witness too many people who are complaining. (myself included)

If only we would realize how short life really is, we would stop complaining and stop wasting precious time.

Since our time is so limited, doesn’t it make sense to figure out what we really enjoy and try to spend as much time as possible doing what we like? 

We all have responsibilities, but we also have spare time, and it is in that spare time that we can improve our quality of life.  

One of the ways I found to minimize my own complaining is to count my blessings every day. When I focus my attention on what goes well in my life, I notice that there is much more good than bad. If you have time today, take a piece of paper, make two columns, one for the good stuff and the other for the bad things.

Chances are that you will write much more on the side of “good stuff”.

Good health, good friends, healthy family members, good food everyday, living in a safe country, able to give money to charity, easy credit to buy the dream house, the big screen TV or the new car.

And the bad things…

Personally, I am not able to jot down a single thing this morning. Huh, perhaps a little discomfort in my neck…

Since I  have started doing this exercise many years ago, it has helped me realize that there is more good than bad for most of us, most of the time…if we choose to look at things this way.

It is an exercise that has to be repeated every day when possible, or as often as possible. When we neglect counting our blessings, there is a chance that people around us will notice it in our attitude. I could compare it to taking a shower, if we skip it for too long, someone somewhere will notice…

Do you find yourself complaining too much?

Don’t you think it’s a waste of time and energy?

Will you try to write down a list of the good things in your life?


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