Derek Bly

If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change.

Welcome aboard!

Derek Bly is my name and I’m a boomer.

That’s me in the banner image up at the top. As you can tell from the photo, I’m a middle-aged guy . . . OK I’m 50+ if you must know.  I like to say I’m middle-age, but not middle-age crazy. Maybe you remember a song or movie by that title.

Some people who know me may beg to differ on my assertion of not being crazy. To them I say, hey, it takes one to know one!

With this site I’m exploring life from my perspective – the perspective of a baby-boomer. You may agree with some of my thoughts. Others may annoy you. Either way, I hope you become a regular.

If you’re a boomer, too, perhaps you’ll be able to relate to some of my ramblings. If you’re one of those Gen Xers, Gen Yers or even younger, maybe you’ll think I’m just a crazy old man. You are all still welcome.

Taking a 90-Day Challenge

Taking a 90-Day Challenge.

So, who’s up for a challenge?

Me at Hell’s Half Acre, Idaho, in May 2011

“Me, me,” I hear you all shouting! Right arm! Farm out! Get with it, my friends, and take it on . . . whatever it is. There’s nothing like a good challenge to get you focused and on track.

Last week I noted that some of my FB Friends were taking 90-day weight loss challenges, 30-day gratitude challenges and even 100-day fitness challenges. Awesome stuff with extremely worthwhile goals. And it helped inspire me to take on my own challenge. A life-makeover challenge!

Yup, I’m doing it.

Taking a 90-day challenge.

It’s one of my design and I plan to share the results right here. Why share them? Accountability! If I know I’m going to be sharing how I’m doing in my challenges, I know I’m more likely to stick to it. So, let’s rock and roll! Let’s see what a person can actually achieve in 90 days – in this case, by the end of November.

Some years back I met an amazing woman named Cheryl Dick. She led a great team in the Advancement Office at Lethbridge Community College – now known simply as Lethbridge College. We were discussing goal-setting once, as it was THAT time of the year. Annual reviews! Ever had to do them? Yeah. Lots of fun.

Cheryl and I at my 50th birthday.

Anyhoo, Cheryl and I were talking about goals in light of someone else at the

campus having set 21 personal goals to reach in a year. Yes, 21 goals. That’s nuts! It’s more like a ‘things-to-do-list’ rather than actual goals that are moving you forward. If ‘take out the trash on Thursday’, ‘pick up drycleaning on Friday’ and ‘cut lawn on Saturday’ are you goals, then 21 is OK, I guess. But if you are really focusing on personal development, you need to have a reasonable number of goals.

Me? I’m going for three. Why three? Because it rhymes with me, of course. No. That’s not the real reason. The reason is that there are three areas of my life upon which I want to focus. These can be summed up in the last part of the famous Benjamin Franklin quote, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Taking a 90-day challenge.

For mine, I’m listing my goals under the headings of ‘healthy’, ‘wealthy’ and ‘wise.’ It’s a nice fit and an easy way for me to remember what I’m striving for. In future blogs I’ll get into more detail about each, but for now, here’s a quick breakdown.


I’m 55 for Pete’s sake! Of course I’m going to have a focus on my health. Everything has been pretty good to this point. Some of you may recall that a couple of years ago I posted a photo on Facebook showing my wonderfully clean colon following a colonoscopy. Hey, that photo wasn’t for the shock

Clean as a whistle.

value. It was to encourage readers to consider going through the procedure for their own health. It’s not really as horrific as it once was.

There are some things I want to do for my own well-being. One is to drop some weight. Whoa! Bet you never saw that one coming. Seems like many people have that goal and there are many ‘plans’ out there to help you reach it.

In January 2011 I set out to achieve said goal following a terrific plan. No pills. No pre-ordered food. No shakes – although it’s flexible enough to allow for a nutritious shake. Just a solid, common sense approach aided by an understanding of how the body stores fat and what behaviours encourage it to do so. My starting weight at that time was 203 lbs. By May I was down to 182.

Then, over that summer I got out of my routine and fell back into some old patterns. As a result, when I started this challenge on the Labour Day weekend this year, I was 194. As of this writing, I’m 192. The plan involves eating nutritious ‘meals’ six times a day, supplemented with as many fresh veggies as I want. It worked before; it will work again.

Taking a 90-day challenge.

For me, I want it to begin setting patterns for healthy routines.


Don’t worry. I haven’t turned into a soulless money-grubbing materialist! There is more to wealth than the financial aspect.  There is wealth found in relationships, personal development and finding inner peace through being true to one’s self. Each of these will come into play.

But that money part is important. In today’s economy and with the way the future is looking, we need to take some responsibility for our own financial picture. Improving mine is definitely part of the ‘wealthy’ aspect of my challenge. While I am one of those lucky ones who enjoy his job, I must admit the pay isn’t great for someone who is 10 years away from retirement.

Add to that the fact that I’m in a 10-month term position that sees me ‘laid off’ for two months each summer and money does become a concern. Don’t get me wrong. That layoff period is one of the perks as far as I’m concerned. Who wouldn’t want most of the summer off? But that’s two months where I’m not earning what is already a fairly low income for someone my age. So, I’m pursuing the goal of developing extra income streams.

Taking a 90-day challenge.

Part of my challenge will see me blogging more about this aspect in the future.  :-D


I think wisdom comes from different sources. Definitely we can read and learn.

Reading A Year to Live by Stephen Levine

This is important. Part of my challenge will be to ensure I’m reading material that will make a positive impact on my life. In some cases, I will be rereading books that carry a strong message or teach a valuable lesson.

Wisdom is also gained through experience. I believe I do have some wisdom acquired over the past 55 years. Others have confirmed this belief for me by telling me a real wise guy. But there is always more to learn. A while ago I posted about benefits derived from trying something new. That approach will be part of my 90-day challenge. I will be looking for new experiences. These don’t have to be impressive, grand things like climbing a mountain or learning to fly. Life is made up of little experiences every day. Try to find ways to incorporate something new in to yours. Taking a different route to work helps break you out of a routine. And who knows; perhaps it will unveil new insights as you add variety.

It’s going to be an exciting three months. I hope you’ll come back to check in and see how I am progressing . . .

Taking a 90-day challenge.

Is the whole world going crazy?

Is the whole world going crazy?

Some days it sure seems that way. There just seems to be now shortage of people saying or doing crazy things! A great Canadian rock group, April Wine, certainly seemed to think so back in 1976.

And I’d say things haven’t exactly improved! In the last 48 hours three stories caught my eye as examples of some whacky thinking.

Is the whole world going crazy?

Well, let’s start off with the fellow in Montana who thought it would be fun to fake a Bigfoot sighting. Here in Canada, we prefer sasquatch, but what the heck . . . it’s the same crypto-critter no matter how you slice it. And slicing it is just about exactly what happened to 44-year-old Randy Lee Tenley – likely a sure bet for a Darwin Award.

Randy apparently thought it would be a good idea to dress in a ‘ghillie’ outfit and stand in the highway to make drivers think they’d spotted Bigfoot. That’s a ghillie, over there on the right. Apparently, it’s a hoax he’d tried before, but never standing on a highway. Well, he died after being hit by two cars, each driven by a teenage girl!

A Montana Highway Patrol spokesman said this was a first for him. A first and at last for Randy.

Is the whole world going crazy?

In Nebraska, a school district asked that three-year-old Hunter Spanjer, who is deaf, change the way he ‘says’ his name in sign language. Hunter uses the standard Signing Exact English (SEE) method.

The school’s concern? When Hunter signs his name, it vaguely resembles holding up his hand in away that may be interpreted as resembling pointing a gun. Go ahead. Hold up a hand with your index and middle fingers extended, the other two folded in and maybe with your thumb up. Yep. That’s a dangerous sign in Nebraska. (Likely condoned in Arizona, though.)

And the school has a zero-tolerance policy for kids making gestures that resemble guns. So they want a little boy to change how he signs his name. Crazy or what?

Fortunately, a quick Facebook campaign and many e-mails and phone calls helped the school district see the error of their ways. After careful consideration, they’ve decided Hunter gets to keep his name.

Is the whole world going crazy?

Based on this last one, I’d have to say yes, it is! At least the world of U.S. politics certainly is.

At the Republican convention in Florida, vice presidential contender Paul Ryan PROMISED he and Mitt Romney would lead the U.S. out of economic woes by making tough choices that would generate jobs and strengthen the middle class.

Yeah, right. This promise alone would ensure I’d never vote Republican. It shows that Ryan is either out of touch with the realities of global economics, or he’ll out-and-out lie to the American voters. (I know, I know. How can you tell when a politician is lying? His mouth is open.)

Seriously, though, the U.S. economy is so intricately woven into the entire global community that anyone who thinks the nation can stand as an island and vastly improve its situation by unilateral actions is delusional. Should the Republicans win the election, this is one promise you can be sure will not be honoured.

Either that or April Wine got it right.

Is the whole world is going crazy?

Why you need a Plan B

Why you need a Plan B.

Let’s begin with a quick clarification.

Why you need a Plan B should not be confused with Plan 9 From Outer Space. While Plan 9 involves resurrecting the dead in a really bad movie, Plan B involves taking responsibility for your financial future in real life.

Everyone is familiar with Plan A. Get an education. Get a job. Work hard and then retire. The problem with Plan A is that for many people it is an illusion. The days of job security are pretty much a thing of the past. Sort of like the concept of the single-income family.

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that we need to be responsible for our own financial freedom. Economic upheaval, company bailouts and restructuring, mergers, out-sourcing of services and other trends have stripped away the façade that we can find security working for someone else.

This is why you need a Plan B.

Your security is best achieved by your own hands.

Recently, many of my Canadian friends were thrilled to learn that Target is moving north from the U.S. to invade Canada. This move was accomplished by buying out the Zellers chain leaseholds, spelling the demise of Zellers, whose stores I happened to like. Unfortunately, it’s also meant the demise of thousands of jobs across Canada.

Before the wheeling and dealing, there were 273 Zellers locations. Target took over 220 leaseholds in 2011. They kept 189. It then transferred 45 of those to other retailers, including 39 to Walmart. This left 85 Zellers locations ‘orphaned.’ Original parent Hudson’s Bay Company announced they’ll simply be closed.

Target opted not to keep on any of the Zellers employees. That puts them lower on my list than Walmart. When Walmart took over strugging Woolco in 1994, they worked with the existing employees to provide training and preserve jobs. Target decided to skip this more humane approach.

Oh, sure, Target has said former Zellers employees can get interviews to work for the Target locations, which begin opening in 2013. But there are no guarantees. This leaves people who have been with Zellers for years, even decades, suddenly facing unemployment.

That’s why you need a Plan B.

Hey, but that’s the retail world, you say. This sort of thing can’t affect you because you are a professional. Don’t be naïve, my friend. It’s happening everywhere.

In a past career, I was a copy editor in the newspaper industry. I worked a few different daily newspapers and really loved the work. The position including editing stories, designing page layouts and writing headlines.

If that was still my profession, I’d be sweating bullets right now. Back in the spring, Postmedia, owners of many of Canada’s largest newspapers had to react to falling revenues and debt challenges. Let’s face it, the world of print journalism is changing and even more changes are needed. But this impacts the professionals who have built careers in the industry.

Postmedia is centralizing design and pagination, what I used to do, in its Hamilton, Ontario, location. So there go the jobs of a bunch of people at the other Postmedia locations, including Calgary and Edmonton here in Alberta.

Postmedia is also axing its in-house news wire service chopping another couple of dozen jobs. One of the company’s rivals, the Globe and Mail is taking similar steps and asked staff to take unpaid summer leaves this year.

Professional or not, this is why you need a Plan B.

Your Plan A is simply not secure.

I know people who are working at turning hobbies into home businesses. I know people who are applying their professional skills in other areas, such as freelance writing. Some people are taking on second jobs in case the primary disappears. Kudos to all who are taking steps in the right direction.

Me? Well, I’m working on my Plan B with a goal of helping others do the same. Whatever you decide to do, do yourself and your future a favour and consider your options to Plan A.

Today’s economy is why you need a Plan B.

Best wishes to you and your success.

Derek Bly

P.S. To Discover How 2 Ex-Homeless Guys Are Now Earning Over Six Figures A Month Using 3 “Weird” Tricks with a simple BLOGGING WEBSITE just like this one, go here NOW!


Feel the heat . . . and the corn!

If you can’t stand the heat . . . what can you do about it? At this time of the year in southern Alberta temperatures tend to hit the highest point of the summer. Today it was 32C (close to 90F) . On Tuesday it’s supposed to be 30C (86F). These are fairly average and nothing close to record highs. It’s just enough to ensure some wit is going to ask if it’s hot enough for you.

Staying cool with my flower pot fan.

On the weekend I moved my laptop out to the deck, which was only slightly cooler than in the house. No air conditioning. But Lynda had purchased a goofy little flower pot fan for me that plugs into the computer and I took that out on the deck, too. Believe it or not, it helped cool me down a bit.

I have friends who live in Arizona and Australia. For Kevin and Melissa, and for Dianne, these temperatures likely rate as fairly cool on a summer day. But for the good citizens of southern Alberta, it can start to become uncomfortably warm. OK, hot. Lynda, my better half, likes 24C, or 75F, for a summer temperature. Above that and it’s getting too hot.

Getting ready to do some yard work on Sunday, I changed into shorts and a white T-shirt. It seemed to make more sense than the black shirt I was wearing. So conversation quite logically rolled around to ‘what’s better in the heat; light or dark colours?’ Black absorbs heat more than do lighter colours, so why do we often see desert-dwellers dressed all in black? Where’s the sense in that?

Glad you asked!

Here’s the answer as perhaps it would appear on The Big Bang Theory; the physics of dressing in black.

Checking the chops.

Of course, hot, dry weather is good for the local corn crop and several vendors are selling cobs in Lethbridge right now. I think that’s almost a month earlier than last year when we had so much rain in the summer. There’s Taber corn, which is king around these parts, but I’d encourage locals to check out the little barns that sell corn from the Coaldale area. Just as yummy if you ask me.

Lynda bought our first batch on the weekend and we had some with barbecued pork chops. There’s a really slick way of cooking corn on the cob that I didn’t know about until I saw a video featuring a guy named Ken demonstrating how to do corn in the microwave.

I gave this method a try and loved the results. One of the keys to making this work is to ensure that when you cut off the end of the cob before shaking it, be sure you’ve sliced off enough to fully expose the inner cob. You may also have to experiment with your microwave. I found five minutes best for one cob and 10 for two. The corn is nice and hot and you don’t waste time shucking corn and boiling water.

Give it a shot and let me know if it works for you!

First things first can make life an adventure

Sitting on my deck enjoying a sunny, hot Saturday seems like a great time to reflect on the past week. Looking back I realize something. There were a number of ‘firsts’ for me this week. It wasn’t planned that way, but that’s how it worked out. It was also a bit of an eye-opener for me.

Another first for me. Visited Skimmerhorn Winery in Creston, B.C., at beginning of July. Bought this very nice Gewurztraminer.

Another first for me. Visited Skimmerhorn Winery in Creston, B.C., at beginning of July. Bought this very nice Gewurztraminer.

Thinking about it, I realize it was a great week and what helped make it great was doing things for the first time. Trying something different. Experiencing something new. Hey, I’m 55. I know there are more years behind me than there are ahead. Making the most of the next few decades means ensuring to live life like it was a great adventure. An adventure is full of new experiences. So every week I want to experience a first.

This doesn’t mean every day needs to include a heart-stopping plunge into something wild and dangerous to make life an adventure. Keeping it simple and being open to the common-place occurrences I’ve ignored in the past will help make every day special and contribute my life’s adventure.

So what were some of my firsts from this past week?

  • Cirque du Soleil. I’ve never been to a live Cirque performance. The touring version came to Lethbridge this week with the production Quidam. I attended and thoroughly enjoyed it. Entertained? Yes, but more than that. It was inspiring if you opened your mind to the fact that the performers were simply people who had dedicated time and effort in the pursuit of a goal. If other human beings can achieve such amazing physical accomplishments, I know I can focus on my own health goals and succeed. More on that in a future blog.
  • Downtown Farmers Market. I think it’s the second year for the Wednesday Downtown Farmers Market in Lethbridge, but I went for the first time this week with a friend. It’s not as large as the Saturday market here in Lethbridge, but that’s OK. I got to chat with some very cool people.
    • Ted Stilson, with the Downtown Lethbridge BRZ was there. Ted hosted a practicum student for the college’s Advertising and Public Relations program. It was great to connect and talk about how things are going with the BRZ.
    • Gayle Bartha is a Senior Executive Unit Leader with Avon. We had a great conversation about direct sales and the opportunity it can provide for the average person to step up, take on a challenge and make some money doing it. We agreed on the benefits of personal development that can occur through this kind of venture. Oh, and guys, Avon has some great products for men. I use a couple of different personal care items and love them. Great quality, terrific price. You can connect with her at She doesn’t know I’m posting this blog, so if you connect with her, just let her know I sent you!
    • The micronutrients lady. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got on her. But she has a great selection of herbs and sprouts that she grows at home, then packages to sell at the market. I’ve tried the spring mix and it adds great flavour and nutrition to just about anything. I tossed some into my scrambled-egg lunch today.
  • Wine slushies! Some time back, a friend and I used a mix I bought at a trade show in Lethbridge to create and freeze some wine slushies. This week we finally sampled them. Let me tell you, if you’re an adult you can forget about slurpees from the convenience store. This wonderful, cold, refreshing beverage is just the thing for a hot summer day. And you can easily get away using a less expensive bottle to make the treat. In fact, I recommend holding onto the good stuff for a nice dinner. My friend and I used red and it turned out great.

So, that’s it folks. Nothing earth-shattering. Just a few simple firsts that help make the week and my life a little more special. If things aren’t exciting enough in your life, get out there and try something simple for the first time. You only go around in life once, so make every day special.


Looking for something a little special? Check out this ‘secret.’

Where there is no vision . . .

Each week I pop into the Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) office here in Lethbridge and volunteer some time providing a needed service. Most people have never heard of AMI and ask me what it’s all about. And I’m happy to explain it to them.


AMI provides a media service geared towards the visually impaired. When I first hooked up with them as a volunteer about six or so years ago, it was with their VoicePrint division. Each week I drop by their studio and read a selection of stories from local newspapers that are recorded and available to the public . . . particularly the visually impaired.

Yes, people can get their news from the radio, but we read a selection of full stories from community newspapers, information that’s often not accessible on the radio. AMI also provides video production for the visually impaired. Does that sound strange? Well, every show features open described video and closed captioning, allowing folks with challenges to watch TV with their families and friends. I think that’s kinda cool!

Usually, I read a show called Prairie Perspective, which features news from Saskatchewan. This summer things have changed up a bit and I’m putting in some extra time volunteering. I’ve been reading southern Alberta news, a health and lifestyles report that airs on Sirius satellite radio and some community events announcements.

You can tell I’m not a professional broadcaster, but this is actually a lot of fun as readers in Lethbridge get to tech their own shows. So, it’s just me in a studio recording myself reading a selection of news shows. What a hoot! I wish I could save my goof-ups. There have been some good ones.

If you like to read and you live in Canada, consider checking out AMI as a great place to volunteer. And a huge shout-out to my Toastmasters friends . . . hey, guys and gals, you’re working on improving your public speaking, so why not get in some extra voice work helping those who have vision problems?

When I think about those who have less than perfect vision or hearing, I’m often impressed by how so many people do not let such challenges become obstacles to what they want to achieve in life. Perhaps the classic example of overcoming these kinds of adversities is found in the life of Helen Keller.

Born in 1880, Helen lost her sight and hearing when she contracted an illness at 19 months of age. As many would know from the play and movie The Miracle Worker, Helen learned to communicate through the patience and teaching of Anne Sullivan, who was also visually impaired.

Helen’s life was anything but dull. She became the first deaf/blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She went on to become a political activist, lecturer and author. By the time she passed away at 87 in 1968, she had accomplished an amazing array of goals and achievements.

The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision. - Helen Keller

Have you accomplished your goals in life? If not, what’s holding you back?

My 50th with a Hawaii 5-0 theme

For me, personal self-doubts have long been a barrier to being all that I could fully be. I’ve been working on that though, as indicated in two previous blogs. It’s kind of funny, but after you reach 50 years of age, you find you don’t care about what others think of you as much as you once did. It’s very liberating.

This has allowed me to pursue entrepreneurial dreams of beginning a home-based business that could supplement my income and perhaps help set up for a great retirement. Self-doubt was my ‘challenge’ that held me back. Today I don’t see that as a roadblock anymore. Oh, it can still be a speed bump, but once I’ve crossed over it, I can stomp on the gas and get going again.

Support from a great group of like-minded people can be a real boost in accomplishing your goals. If you have some fitness goals, find some friends you can workout with. Looking to lose weight? Sharing information with others can lead to some great ideas on cutting the pounds.

Looking to develop a solid second income stream? Maybe so far as to achieving the lofty goal of financial independence? I encourage you to check out Empower Network.  It’s a great bunch of crazy people so far removed from your typical home-business crowd that it has to be seen to be believed. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d be learning how to succeed from a long-haired hippie who lives in Costa Rica!

Through AMI, I have the chance to impact the lives of some terrific folks. Through Empower Network. I’m also in a position to help others reach personal development and financial goals.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. - Helen Keller

Changing the leopard’s spots

There is an old saying that claims a leopard cannot change its spots. Actually, it comes from the Bible. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?” (Jer 13:23). It is often used by people as a reason or an excuse for them to avoid changing their nature.

Some years ago I worked for a family-owned company. One of the owners was more than a little obnoxious. You know the kind. He’d walk in and complain in a way designed to try to pump up his own ego in front of the hired help. “Geez, you pay $200 for a pure silk tie and, look, there’s still a thread sticking out.” He would call a meeting, and then when you arrived in his office, he’d suddenly have to make a phone call to an important client while you sat there listening to him schmooze. You could be explaining something to him and suddenly realize he’d zoned you out and wasn’t listening at all.

He was very self-important. His brother justified this behaviour by saying that’s just the way he is. He can’t change.

How sad! The leopard can’t change its spots. But the truth is we’re not leopards. We can determine our actions and modify them if we truly desire. Relying on an old expression to excuse behaviour is simply lazy. Or, perhaps, ignorant of the potential for change.

At the college’s 50th anniversary

Currently, I work at Lethbridge College, in Lethbridge, Alberta. The college places an emphasis on the concept of life-long learning. One of the things I love about this idea is that if you are learning, you are growing. Stagnation can’t happen when you are learning. Learn and grow and you will change.

I love opportunities for personal development. Some years ago I took a leadership course through a company that trains college staff – the Chair Academy. It took a year and it was incredible. I’ve taken courses offered by the college’s HR department. I’ve taken seminars and workshops offered by various companies. My spiritual journey has taught me a lot. And I’ve learned a great deal through training provided by leaders in a few direct sales companies.

Myers-Briggs Type IndicatorDiSC Personality Assessment and the True Colors Personality Test have all had an impact on my life. Fostering greater understanding of others and myself helps me to grow, change and improve as a person.

One of the ways in which we learn about ourselves is by taking chances and trying new things. Over the years I’ve dabbled in a number of second income stream ideas. Some I’ve enjoyed. Some not so much. But from each I’ve learned something.

When I speak to students who need to take a practicum experience, I usually explain to them that this is a chance to test-drive a career. They’re not taking a step that is permanent and they shouldn’t expect it’s going to be their ‘dream’ position. Sometimes the most valuable lesson they will learn is that while they like the career path they’ve chosen, the particular practicum they are taking isn’t exactly the right focus for them.

That’s exactly how I feel about exploring different income opportunities.

Lisa Sasevich, a direct sales trainer and writer, addressed this same concept in a blog she wrote entitled ‘Pick a Horse and Ride It.’ Lisa writes about making a business decision and, once you’ve done so, get on and ride it. She shared three key points, among them; you don’t have to ride that horse forever.

“You’re not pledging till death do you part. If you pick the wrong horse, you’ll know it. And you’ll know it so much sooner than if you sat back and tried to look from the outside.

“Picking a horse gets you started. It illuminates opportunities that you could not see before. And, you know what, if it turns out to not be the decision that was in your highest good, you’ll know. So just change horses. It’s as simple as that.” – Lisa Sasevich

It’s a lesson I’ve come to learn.  If things are going right for you, you can change horses. And the leopard can change its spots.