First Run SOLD OUT!!

Thanks to your support, the first run of Among the Ashes is sold out!

A second print run has been ordered and we should be receiving the shipment soon.  Please go to the “Buy the Book” section to purchase your copy.  As we are approaching the busy holiday shipping season, please place your order soon to ensure you receive it by Christmas!

Thanks again for your support!  I am grateful and humbled beyond words…

Motivated by Fear or Love? The battle behind the publishing of Among the Ashes

John Lennon once said “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love.  When we are afraid, we pull back from life.  When we are in love we open to all life has to offer…”.  On the night before the “birth” and release of Among the Ashes, I found myself staring at that very question.

Writing Among the Ashes has been, without question, one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life.   The writing itself took about a year, done in bits and pieces late at night after my family has gone to bed.  After the manuscript was finished, I was blessed with the opportunity of working with Annabel Middleton, a FANTASTIC editor.  The design, editing, rewriting took another few months.  It was a big day when the final, ready for print files were sent to the printer.

The night before the release of the book, I woke up in the middle of the night and asked myself, “Do I REALLY want to do this?”  “Do I REALLY want to lay my story out there, with my failures literally for the world to know?”  “What will people think of me?”  “May be I should pull the plug on the whole thing while I still can!”

That was when I remembered the John Lennon quote, and I realized I had a choice to make:  Do I want to be driven by fear, and hold back from releasing the book because I am afraid of what people may say?  Or do I want to be motivated by love, and share my story with the world?  Yes, some will not respond well.  Some will judge.  Some will be unkind.  BUT, some will be encouraged and helped.  And it is for those that the book was written.

I am thankful that initial response to Among the Ashes has been tremendous.  The first run has sold very well.  But that is not my concern at all with the book.  If you read it and find it helpful to you, if the book and my story has played some small part in encouraging you in your own journey, then for me, it is all worth it.  Because, at the end of the day, you are the one for whom the book was written.  Perhaps together, we will encourage one another to keep telling our stories.  And together, we will remind ourselves that life is so much richer when we are motivated by love rather than driven by fear.

New Book!!

Among The Ashes_Cover After spending literally every spare moment on it for a year, my new book is just about ready to be launched!!  Many thanks to the many people who helped make this happen (you have to get the book to read about who they are and how they helped) :-)  A special shout out to Annabel Middleton, my editor and designer for her awesome work!  Check back here SOON (VERY soon) :-)  to find out how you can get your very own copy!   We are also going to be redesigning this website to make it easier for me to keep you all updated on my work as a speaker and of course any upcoming concerts and musical projects!!

So…who wants a copy?? :-)

Huge lessons from a little person

My older daughter Taylor started attending a new school this year.  After first day of school I asked her, “So, how was first day?”

She barely could contain her excitement: “It was great Daddy!  I already made 3 new friends!!   And 1 enemy!”

After the second day I asked her, “So, how was your second day.”

“It was good…but my enemy is turning into the devil.”

After the third day I asked the same question:  “How was school today?”  I was not prepared for her answer:

“It was GREAT Daddy!!  I wrote my enemy a note saying I was sorry for calling her names.  She read the note and said she was sorry too.  Now we are friends!!!”

Somewhere in those three days, there are some huge lessons for all of us to learn.


A few thoughts from the ice bucket challenge…

The ALS ice bucket challenge so far has been the most successful marketing/fund raising campaign by a non-profit in recent memory.  It has all the element of a “dream campaign”:  It caught on globally.  It went viral on the internet.  It got a lot, make that A LOT of people talking about a disease that was previously relatively unknown.  AND, it raised raised more money than anybody expected.

Not surprising, there are those who did not like the campaign.  Many for good reasons:

Some felt it was too gimmicky.

Yes, I can see that.

Some feel that it promotes a sense of false charity – that by dumping a bucket of water on their heads, people feel that they have done a “charitable act”.

Got a point there.

Others object to the fact that the campaign wastes a valuable resource in many parts of the world – clean, drinkable water.

Although not as strong an argument (in my opinion), but there is some validity there.

And, lately it seems more and more people are objecting to the campaign, or raising an eyebrow when talking about it, because it is raising too much money.  Much more than the original target.

Excuse me?

This one, I don’t get.

I am reading posts on social media (FB, twitter, etc) that says “ALS has raised enough money and awareness with this campaign.  It’s time to give money to other charities.”  Others do some “research” and come up with the old “ALS only spends x% of their funds on research while y% is spent on fundraising and overhead”, implying people should stop giving money to them because their donation won’t go towards “helping people”.  This is another giant myth about charities that I LOVE to talk to people about, but that’s not the point I want to make today.  For that, listen to Dan Pollotta’s awesome TED talk who presented the argument against the “they spend too much on overhead” myth better than anyone I have heard.

But today, I want to focus on one question:  Why do we feel a need to punish a charity for being “too successful”?

We never do it to for profit companies (“Son, tomorrow we are going to start drinking Pepsi, because Coke is making too much money”).  Why would we say things like “We believe ALS has generated enough money and awareness already…”  Have you ever heard anyone say the same thing about cancer research, or AIDS relief, or world-hunger programs?

It is not my intention to preach a sermon here.  I simply want to point out one simple fact:  Everywhere we turn in the world today we see HUGE problems.  We see GIANT sized issues.  These are the issues that many, many charities take on to hopefully solve.  We need to get rid of this attitude that says “Be suspicious whenever a charity raises too much money.”  Yes, ask question about transparency.  Yes, do research to see how a charity operates.  But don’t clip its wings by saying things like “They have raised too much money already.”  We have Goliath sized problems in the world.  Charities go up against them, sometimes hopelessly outsized like David.  Let us not go and make the fight even tougher by taking away the stones.

A final point:  Some people have  encouraged others to do the ice-bucket challenge and donate the money to other worthy causes.  It is not my intention to criticize them here.  They made the suggestions out of a spirit of good will and we all know we need more of that in the world.  But consider this:

Your church started a fund-raising campaign to pay for a new program.  You designed a kick-ass poster that for sure will motivate people to give.  You put up the posters all over the place.  If I go to your posters, and where it says on the poster “make your donation to ABC church”, I put a giant sticker over it with the name of my organization instead.  How would that make you feel?

I wrote this post because it is my conviction that in order to begin solving these huge problems in our communities, we need people to work together:  business sector, charities, churches, temples, etc.  In fact, that is the one part of my job that I am most passionate about.   But working together is not as easy as it sounds.  The first step towards building that kind of environment is an honest spirit that respects and honours the work done by others and what they bring to the table.

Ok.  End of rant.  Now back to 0ur regular programming :-)




RIP, Robin Williams…

These days, with the manuscript of my new book completed and handed over to the capable hands of the editor and designer, I have been feeling a little more relaxed.  So tonight after dinner the Lam Clan decided to go for a little coffee and cookie run.  On the way home, we remembered we had run out of cold cuts to pack sandwiches for lunch.  My older daughter, ever the opportunist, seized the moment and suggested, “Can I have pizza for lunch tomorrow?”

We stopped by a pizza place close to home.  I went out to grab a slice for my girl to pack for lunch.  When I got back to the car, my wife looked up from her phone with this expression that tells me something was wrong.  Before I could ask, she said: “Robin Williams died.  Depression.  Suicide.”

Her words stopped me dead in my tracks.  As  I have battled depression over the last 10 years, every time I hear news of someone with depression or another form of mental illness committing suicide, I feel a deep sense of loss.  I feel as though I have lost another comrade in battle.   Today, the battle took another one from us.

Mr. Williams, you took the fight as far as you could.  You have fought well.  You bore the wounds and scars while you gave us laughter and joy.  Now it is our turn to continue the battle.  May you now rest in God’s peace.

Long time no post!

It has been a couple of months since my last post.  In addition to the usual craziness of summer with 2 young kids and a vacation in the middle, I have been spending most of my “spare time” working on my book which hopefully will come out soon!!  I have completed the manuscript, and now it is moving into the next stage of editing, design and layout.  The book is a telling of my story of living with depression over the last 10 years or so, and how it has transformed my life and given birth to a new way of believing.  I have found the writing process to be quite therapeutic and I hope the book will be a source of encouragement for the readers.  Stay tuned, as there may be exciting announcements coming up as we draw closer to the release of the book!

Lessons learned from the Provincial Election

Another Provincial election came and went.  Like many people I talked to, although I voted, I didn’t really have a strong “rooting interest” this time around.  None of the campaigns were particularly well run (in my own very humble opinion), and each party leader have issues with them that cause me to raise an eyebrow.

A quick glance at my Facebook page tells me that most people are surprised by the results.  The most popular word posted was “WHAT????”  :-)  Aside from the political reasons why the Liberals won, as a communication/public speaking instructor, it is FACINATING to me to see 2 basic rules from Communication 101 in play during this election that at least in part explained the Wynne victory/Hudak loss.   For those of us who does public speaking regularly, this may be a good reminder:

(1) “Likability” is a big step towards “Believability” : Every analyst on TV last night points to the fact that Kathleen Wynne was the most “likeable” candidate, certainly when compared to Tim Hudak. It may sound like a shallow reason to some, but the truth is that human communication has been and always will be a holistic process that involves all of our sensory perceptions including our emotional engagement.  Lesson to the public speaker:  Your audience form impressions, opinions, and sometimes CONCLUSIONS about you as soon as you come into view, long before you say your first word.  How you dress, your non-verbals, how you appear to interact with others, all matter.

(2) Clarity is often accepted as truth, while confusion is usually interpreted as falsehood.    A huge reason why Hudak’s message never registered with the voting public is because he failed this basic rule of communication/public speaking.  When I teach public speaking, I often say that one of the most difficult relationship to present in a speech is “IF A then B”, or  “If we do A, then B will result.”  The PC platform is built on the premise of “Job cuts (A) will result in Job creation (B)”, and the “sales pitch” was cutting 100,000 jobs will end up creation 1 million new jobs.

Whether the “math” was bad or not was irrelevant.  The communication failed primarily because the LOGICIAL RELATIONSHIP between A and B was never clearly presented.  How does -100,000 public sector jobs = +1,000,000 private sector new jobs?   As a result, the message never hit home.

As an aside, 99% of sermons I hear in churches contain this relationship: “If we do A, then God will do B”.   Pastors will do well to take time to think this through and ask how one leads to the other.

給十年後的我 (For me…10 years later)

I have shared with some of you that I am working on a book on how my journey with depression has changed me and given me a new faith.  So far it has been a truly rewarding process working with my friend and therapist of many years.  She (who is a writer herself)  encouraged me to write the book as an encouragement and inspiration to others who may be sharing the dark roads of depression.  Since late last year I have been writing, and sending her chapter after chapter for comments and feedback as soon as I finished writing one.   The book is tentatively titled “All Things New”, and I am hoping to have it ready mid to late Summer.   Right now I am hoping to have a small, intimate acoustic concert to celebrate its release.  So stay tuned :-)

Today as I was going through some old files, I stumbled upon an absolute treasure.  It was another book that I had written 10 years ago!!  It was never published or released.  None of the material was ever put out even on my blog.  It was a collection of reflections that I wrote during a period of time when I began to question and doubt many of the “traditional” views and beliefs handed down to me as a Christian.  I wrote about questions that I was wrestling with, things that I was not “allowed” to voice because I was a pastor.  After it was written, we began the process of adopting Taylor, our first daughter, and then life just… took over.  The book sat in my files, never saw the light for the next 10 years.  It never had a single reader, until today.

When I read it again today, it felt like it was written as a gift to myself, 10 years into the future.   It’s hard to put into words how I felt reading the book, it was like in the movies when you travel back in time and have a conversation with yourself 10 years younger.  The wonderful thing about reading this old book was that I discovered who I am today didn’t just happened overnight.  The views that I hold, the way I approach faith, the person that I am today is a result of a long growing process that started with some of the questions that I wrote about in that first book.  It further confirmed my view that life is indeed a continuous story, with one page leading to the next.

So, I have just found myself my second writing project:  I will take that first book, and for each chapter I will write an update/reflection, written by me, 10 years after.  It will be such an interesting writing experience.  I can’t wait to start! :-)

For my friend

20 years ago, when I was going through a painful time in my life, I decided to run my first marathon.  I wasn’t really a runner, I just needed to prove to myself that I can conquer anything that I set my mind to.   I was determined to look the 42.195 km course in the eye and beat it back.

I still remember the race.  As I got to the last few km’s, I could feel my body running out of fuel.  My lungs were burning.  My legs were screaming for mercy.  When I reached the last km, four and a half hours after the start, my legs were cramping so badly that I was barely shuffling along.

And then all of a sudden, I looked up, and there you were!  You had been waiting for me at the last km marker.  You saw I was in trouble, so you hopped the fence, got onto the course and ran along side of me for the last km!

Do you remember what you said?  I do.  “Don’t say anything.  Conserve your energy.  I am here to see you through to the finish line.”

So you ran beside me for the last kilometer.  Step by step.  When I could run a little, you ran.  When I needed to slow down to a shuffle.  You shuffled.   When I needed to walk, you walked right along side of me.

You never said a word.  You just ran and walked with me.

Every single step.

When I finally made the last turn toward the final straightaway up to the finish line, you slapped me on my back, and said, “Go on up, run to the finish line.  This is your moment.”

With that, you veered off the course into the spectators, and I ran up to cross the finish line to the cheer of the crowds.  The race officials put the finisher’s medal around my neck.  42.195 kms.  4 hours and 40 minutes.  My first marathon.

When I visited you in the hospital today, I was thinking about that moment.  Hard to believe it was more than 20 years ago.

So much had happened in 20 years.  Life took us down different paths.  We each had our battles to fight.  We won some.  We lost some.  And some, we discovered they were not worth fighting after all.

Today, we have reached the last stage of your marathon.  Your life’s journey.

Like me 20 years ago, your body is battered and broken, but your spirit is strong.  Like me 20 years ago, you are determined to finish this race with courage.

As I drove home today,  I thought to myself, “It’s time to return this 20 year favor.”

Don’t have to say anything.  Conserve your energy.  I am here to see you through to the finish line.

Where the crowds will be cheering, and those who finished the race before you will welcome you and put your finishers medal around your neck.

This is your moment.

I am so honored to run these last miles with you.