Moustache Love

movember lori welbourne  jim hunt mo bros

My uncle was diagnosed with an advanced stage of prostate cancer three years ago and since learning of his condition, I’ve paid more attention to Movember. It’s taken on more meaning for me since this ugly disease has affected my family and someone I love.

Movember, of course, takes place during the month of November, and it is the official global charity dedicated to having an everlasting impact on men’s health. It raises money for prostate and testicular cancer as well as mental health. This is important since men die on average five to six years younger than women, and often from preventable diseases. Their suicide rate is also four times higher.

What do moustaches have to do with it? The small group who created the charity in 2003 decided to use it as the catalyst for change.  The concept was that by changing your appearance by growing a “mo” for 30 days, you could change the understanding and attitudes men have towards their health by getting them to talk about something they don’t typically discuss.

“Guys don’t communicate the way women do,” my friend Cameron Carter said. “This charity gets them talking, and I know from experience that the moustaches are a conversation starter.”

By growing a mo and becoming a “Mo Bro” four years ago, Cameron has  enjoyed explaining the mission of the organization, and he raises money by asking his friends to donate just $5 each. But it’s the education part he enjoys the most.

“When I found out that one in seven men get prostate cancer, I thought, hey, that’s two guys on my ball team,” he said. “I’d better let them know.”

Realizing that he can’t influence everyone, he says that even if only one man improves his health or gets checked out and his life is saved, he knows he’s doing the right thing.

“A lot of guys are afraid to get the prostate exam because they think it will hurt,” he said. “But it doesn’t, and it’s only mildly uncomfortable for  seconds. That’s nothing compared to what women go through with their pap tests and mammograms.”

Not everyone’s supportive of Movember though. I’ve heard from a lot of people that they’ve had enough with all the campaigns trying to raise funds and awareness, and don’t believe any of it helps. I completely disagree.

Only 10 years ago, 30 men banded together in Australia to become the first “Mo Bros.” Since then the Movember movement has grown to include 20 additional countries that raised over $146 million last year alone. 87 per cent of the funds raised go directly to research and managed programs, and more men have become pro-active by adopting healthier lifestyles and getting prostate exams. That’s a significant improvement to men’s health that should not be dismissed. Instead it should be applauded, supported and improved.

Being a woman that can’t grow a moustache, I decided to sing about them instead. “Moustache Love,” inspired by Captain & Tennille’s old 1970s hit “Muskrat Love” is my funny new video. It features a real nautical captain, firefighters and a beloved Okanagan comedian. If you like the video, please share it. All revenue made from YouTube will go directly to the charity, so the more hits the bigger the donation.

To get more information, to donate, or to become a Mo Bro or a Mo Sista, please visit Movember.com

To watch my video, and hopefully share it, CLICK HERE. You may want to keep the volume down, I’m clearly not a singer. You are welcome for that warning.

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com

 

Where the grapes grow

I live in the Okanagan Valley, home of some incredible world class wineries, and I know nothing about wine.

Naturally when I was sent some information about “The Vinos,” a wine film festival accepting commercials from wine-loving filmmakers, I produced and submitted a goofy video. I based my video on what any good storyteller does: what they know.

“How can you know nothing about wine when you live in wine country?” my friend from Vancouver asked.

I answered that it was the same way someone might have a limited knowledge of hockey even though they live in Canada – which, coincidentally, is another crime I’m guilty of.

“I’ve tried to get into it,” I responded. “I suppose it’s just not my thing.” And I have tried. Kind of.

I have friends who own wineries and it’s their passion; others have wine cellars and love to collect; and countless more of my friends love nothing more than a glass of wine or two at the end of a hard day. Me? I’d rather have Nutella on a spoon.

“I have enough vices,” I said when my pal pressed me further. “I don’t need any more.”

Yet as much of a wine connoisseur that I’m not, I really do love living in wine country. One of the first things we did when we moved to the Okanagan with our newborn almost 12 years ago was to take our little guy out on a wine tour with our out-of-town guests.

“I can’t believe you live so close to beautiful wineries like this!” my friend exclaimed while sipping Pinot Noir and taking in the magnificent sunset in the beautiful vineyard. It was then that I realized that I could have an enormous appreciation for the industry without being as passionate about the product like so many of my friends were.

Putting together a last minute video about something I knew nothing about proved to be more fun than I imagined. And to my surprise, the video was a finalist in the competition.

Attending “The Vinos” awards was a hoot. With so many wine lovers in attendance and such an array of wineries represented, it was great to be surrounded by their energy. The most entertaining part of the event for me was the viewing of the videos. One after another, each little film proved to be different than the last, and reminded me of how unique we all are in our artistic expression and life experience.

It has always amazed me how you can give 20 people the exact same topic and ask them to write 500 words on that subject and every single story would be completely different. In that I find beauty.

I don’t love wine. So what? Our unique likes and distastes are far more interesting than if we were all exactly the same. What kind of a world would we live in if we all ate Nutella from a spoon? More diabetic and far less sophisticated for sure.

To watch my wine commercial called “The Tour Guide” please visit LoriWelbourne.com

To see all the great commercials from “The Vinos” please CLICK HERE. 

Barenaked Leaders

Are men funnier than women? Well, their naked bodies sure are.

When I first saw the nude painting of prime minister Stephen Harper circulating on the Internet I laughed, and I’m guessing that was the reaction most people had. I’m also guessing that if the artist had painted a famous female politician in this same manner, it wouldn’t have been perceived as witty at all.

On a lark I produced a fun video exploring how much better the world would be if more artists painted presidents and prime ministers in the buff and gave examples of what that could look like. Yet pairing up political noggins with naked bodies in Photoshop was only humorous if the subjects were male. A fact my videographer, who was working on this task, found distressing.

“Another guy?!” Jason groaned after about the tenth set I sent. “Can’t you find some feminine figures for me to work with?”

I complied and sent him a topless man in a tutu.

Knowing that wasn’t what he had in mind, I thought about this double standard. It reminded me of the difference in reactions between male and female strippers. I’ve seen both, and believe me, the experience doesn’t compare.

When I was 20 one of the ladies was retiring from the newspaper where we both worked and a large group of us went to “Ladies Night” at a local club. I had no idea that some of these sophisticated women I’d looked up to would turn into wild-eyed lunatics when the male dancers started their rhythmic undress. The hooting and hollering from the audience was accompanied by so much laughter that they quickly became more entertaining to watch than the men on stage.

It would have been a completely different scene if the roles were reversed.

Whether a guy’s got a six pack or a keg for a belly, the random image of his nakedness will more than likely illicit giggles than lust. I’m not sure why that is, except that it’s a much less common sight to see. After finding far less nude males on the Internet in comparison to women, I now have proof of that.

“I don’t like it,” my friend said in response to the full monty painting of our prime minister. “I think it’s humiliating.”

A portrait that Stephen Harper never posed for and was purely based on the artist’s imagination shouldn’t be humiliating, but I tried to understand where she was coming from.

Personally, I liked it, and not just because it made me laugh or because of Margaret Sutherland’s political statement.

I liked it because it reminded me that no matter what our position is in life, we are all just human beings and as naked and exposed as the day we were born. Most of us just choose to wear clothes that cover that fact.

To watch my short video “Barenaked Leaders,” please visit LoriWelbourne.com  or watch it on YouTube

The thoughtful spot

Half of my household uses the lavatory in the way it was intended: get in, do your business and get the heck out. The other half uses it like a relaxing think tank that requires a considerable array of entertainment options.

“Mom, can you bring me another book, please?” hollered my eight-year-old daughter the other day after being in there for over half an hour.

Without hesitation I fetched a book from her bedroom. Hey – don’t judge me. She was asking for a real book for heaven’s sake. That beats her preferred activity of surfing YouTube or playing video games while on the throne.

“You shouldn’t let her monopolize the bathroom for such long periods of time,” one of my childless friends counseled me. Really? I should give up that peace and quiet? It’s not like we don’t have two other toilets in the house.

“It’s her private time and she likes it,” I explained. “Some people are just that way.” One of those people is her dad. Another was a boss I had 26 years ago when I was a manager-in-training at McDonalds.

“I used to work for a guy who would spend 45 minutes in the bathroom every afternoon beginning at 2 o’clock sharp,” I said. “Like clockwork he’d roll up the newspaper, smack it against the counter and tell me to hold down the fort while nature called.”

Being a quick in-and-outer myself, I found his scheduled escapes fascinating and a welcome reprieve for the staff and me.  But my boss’s boss saw it as a theft of time when he discovered his employee’s well-known routine. Once he realized the daily breather was in addition to extended lunch and coffee breaks, Mister Two O’Clock Sharp was fired. I lost track of his bathroom habits after that.

Curious about others’ trips to the loo, I asked some people how long they usually spend there. Similar to my family, about half were speedy like my son and me, and half were as slow as molasses.

“It’s the only time I get to be alone,” a mother of five replied. “I’ll stay in there as long as I possibly can.”

“It’s my sanctuary,” my yoga instructor friend said. “And I come up with my best ideas when I’m on the can.” Ah… how Zen.

The bathroom has certainly evolved over the years and the wonderful invention of the toilet has given people a comfy place to hang out. I doubt many people were lingering in the smelly outhouses of years ago.

Nowadays bathrooms can be the nicest rooms in a house, and it’s rare not to find a magazine to browse or something else to do while in there.  One of my friends has magnetic poetry on the wall beside the toilet to help pass time.

“My mother thinks it’s unsanitary,” she said. “But it’s no different than holding a book. After the task at hand is complete and toilet paper has been used, people generally wash their hands and leave. If they don’t, there are plenty of other things in the house she should worry they’ll touch.”

Fortunately slowpokes on the toilet tend to be slowpokes at the sink too. And why not? Lavatories are so much more than what they were once intended.

To watch my video this week please visit LoriWelbourne.com. It has absolutely nothing to do with toilets, but it does involve a couple world leaders who use them just like the rest of us.

Canada’s Greatest Know It All

I already wrote my column earlier this week, and it was brilliant. The problem was, I wrote it in my head while I was sleeping and when I woke up I forgot my incredibly detailed dream within seconds.

This is why I have a pen and paper on my nightstand – so I can immediately capture these subconscious ideas before they fly out of my head. But even if I didn’t have a stack of magazines covering my notebook this time, I wouldn’t have been able to write it down quickly enough. It was as if the thoughts in my brain wanted to get away from me as quickly as possible.

Why they were in such a hurry to disappear on this occasion, I’m not sure. Other times the thoughts linger around long enough for me to jot down a few words, which helps tremendously. That is until it’s time to look at the chicken scratch later and try to decipher what it actually says. I could wallpaper my office with all the little pieces of paper I’ve collected over the years with words I wrote, but couldn’t figure out what they actually said.

I don’t just do this when I’m half asleep either, it often happens when I’m awake. A great thought might pop in my head or my kids might say some nugget of gold I never want to forget, so I’ll quickly grab a pen and write it down. But if I don’t write it down legibly I could be left feeling like I just let go of a million dollar idea. It’s similar to that feeling you get when you find an expired lotto ticket.

Last week I discovered an old wallet with a bunch of expired lottery tickets and scratch cards. I didn’t realize they were dead until I got them checked, but each and every one of them was gonzo. What a strange feeling to hold a pile of tickets that may or may not have been winners.

I don’t imagine my husband would ever allow that to happen. He’d understand that lottery tickets expire and if you don’t transfer them to your new wallet when you first get it, chances are they’ll be forgotten until it’s too late.

“You should always check them right away,” he’d probably say if I told him. “Maybe that unclaimed prize of ten million was in there the whole time, but now we’ll never know.”

And he’d be right, now we’ll never know.

But soon we’ll know if my application was accepted for Canada’s Greatest Know-It-All, a reality TV show I couldn’t be less suited for.

“My husband would be good on a program like that,” I told my friend when he suggested I send in an application video. “He watches tons of shows on the Discovery Channel and Knowledge Network and always wins any trivia game he plays. Next to him, I know nothing.”

I made a video application displaying exactly that and sent it in. I had to. It was a “brilliant” idea that came to me from an incredibly detailed dream that actually stuck around long enough for me to write it down. Legibly.

To watch my silly application for Discovery Channel, please visit LoriWelbourne.com

A cure for chocoholics

Like every Easter weekend of my life I will be doing one of two things this year: eating chocolate or trying not to.

Since Easter replaced Valentine’s Day, which replaced Christmas, which replaced Halloween in the holiday section of the grocery stores, I’ve been indulging in chocolate treats for the last several months. But with summer fast approaching, I’ve decided to give up the junk

“I’ve heard that before,” my husband said in response to this latest declaration. He’s right. He has.

In my defence I would just like to point out that it’s not easy being a chocoholic. I tried hypnotherapy last year, thinking I could by tricked into believing chocolate tasted like dirt, and I would be cured from my cravings. However, it was a little more complex than that, and I stopped going.

Since I’m still addicted to chocolate and find it irresistible, I’d like to suggest another solution. Why not change the Easter Bunny’s treats from chocolates eggs to carrot sticks? Bunnies eat vegetation, so this makes perfect sense.

Imagine how much more exciting Easter egg hunts would be for children if we replaced all the chocolates and candies with items from the produce aisles instead. Kids could race around collecting carrots and celery, and completely freak out when they find something as extra special as a big head of purple cabbage.

And if it worked for this holiday, why wouldn’t it work for others as well? On Valentine’s Day we could treat ourselves to artichoke hearts; on Christmas Day we could eat figgy and skip the pudding; and on Halloween we could trick or treat for pumpkin seeds.

Okay, my kids wouldn’t go for any of that either. But maybe if I’d started doing that for them as toddlers, they would.

“Can we get this, Mom?” my eight year old daughter asked, holding a huge chocolate bunny at the store last night. “Please?”

“Maybe you’ll get one for Easter,” I said, envisioning a much smaller version.

“How about this, then?” she said picking up a bag of jelly beans. “They’re fat free.” Like me, she’s a sucker for clever packaging.

Managing to get past this section of the store without any candy, she was pleading once again when we got to the check-out.

“Can I have one of these?” she asked, pointing at the Kinder Surprises that were positioned perfectly for her height. “Please, Mama?”

“Sure,” I relented. With its thin layer of chocolate and the little toy inside, it seemed almost healthy in comparison to the pounds of sugar we just avoided. And I knew from experience that denying children treats could create a rebellious habit when they’re old enough to buy it themselves.

After years of struggling with my weight when I was younger, I remember discovering one day as an adult that dark chocolate was actually good for me. It was a glorious day indeed. But “only a little bit,” according to the famous Dr. Oz, who recommended eating one small square a day. Good grief. That’s as unnatural as eating one measly potato chip and then closing the bag.

Whoever first said “everything in moderation” should be given a giant chocolate bunny and a huge bag of potato chips this Easter. I, on the hand, will be feasting on a big head of purple cabbage. Yum.

To watch my silly Easter video and find out how the Easter Bunny lives the rest of the year, please visit LoriWelbourne.com

 

United for a common goal

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a Canadian and I don’t love hockey.

So why am I writing about Hockeyville for a second time? My only explanation is this: community spirit is contagious.

Believe me, if it wasn’t, I’d be writing about something else entirely. I’d be writing about a topic that any North American could identify with since my column publishes beyond my hometown and I don’t want to bore my readers with articles they can’t relate to.

But who hasn’t at some time been caught up in the frenzy surrounding a special event in their own city, whether it be a festival, a parade or a sporting event? And who hasn’t known someone who’s miserable about all of it in the face of other people’s joy?

As thousands of my fellow residents have banded together in the last five months, writing letters and logging countless hours in an effort to win the bid for Kraft Hockeyville, there are a few who spend almost as much energy complaining about the whole idea.

If you’ve never heard of Hockeyville, it’s a contest sponsored by Kraft that gives smaller communities across Canada a chance to win $100,000 in arena upgrades, gain national exposure and receive the exciting opportunity to host an NHL game at their very own rink.

At this final stage of the contest, my hometown of West Kelowna is one of the five finalists and the frenzy here has hit impressive heights. And while it might appear that it’s because of the prizes being offered, I believe it’s because of the strong camaraderie being felt in a community that once felt very divided.

In my mind it’s proof that positive energy and working for the greater good can affect people in powerful ways. But not everyone.

“I think it’s stupid,” a grumpy gal told me one day. “It’s a huge waste of time. People need to get a life.” Oh well, you can’t please everyone.

For fun I went out and conducted interviews with people and public officials channeling her grouchy attitude. While I wouldn’t want to live my real life that way, she was a fun character to play for a few hours.

Being negative is tough. I know this because I get that way from time to time and it’s physically and emotionally draining. Switching gears to a more positive attitude isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

And the effort so many people have put into winning this contest has been worth it too. One of the things that divided our our new municipality a few short years ago was deciding on our name. That resolved, there’s now an overwhelming majority of us excitedly united and hoping to be called Hockeyville. Win or lose, that wonderful solidarity is an amazing prize that’s already ours.

To watch the video of me being a grumpy grump reporter, please visit LoriWelbourne.com

Oh, the places he’s gone

Two years ago I proudly watched the opening ceremonies of The Winter Olympic Games as it was televised from my home town of Vancouver. As one man took center stage from a towering pedestal platform, I heard “We are More” for the first time. His poem started out with the words “Define Canada,” and it ended up doing just that in an electrifying way I wasn’t expecting.

For two and a half minutes, Shane Koyczan dramatically recited his powerful words to me and roughly three billion other people around the world. The performance was a refreshing and brilliant surprise, but what was equally amazing was that this unknown poet was given the opportunity in the first place.

“When I was first invited I thought I would be performing for people as they were walking into the stadium,” he said. “And I thought that was a great opportunity.”

With a belief that it’s the same show whether he’s performing for two people or 2000, Shane got through his performance feeling more anxious about the height of the stage than the massive size of his audience. Yet nerves weren’t about to stand in his way. As he spoke about Canada being the true north strong and free, he himself appeared true, north, strong and free, as he unleashed an art form onto the world that doesn’t get the recognition or exposure it deserves.

“Poetry has never been an easy sell for people who want to see a live show,” he said. “I personally love a lot of poetry from old text books, but it’s not always relatable. I think the Olympics gave people a glimpse of what poetry can be, and in that way it’s been very positive.”

An admirer of his work, I was excited to meet and interview him last week. When he arrived at my studio I told him that I wanted to interview him in an unusual way, one that he was probably not accustomed to. He surprised me yet again with his immediate willingness to play along with my favourite childhood poet, Dr Seuss and I.

Later on I found out that he also had a favourite artist from childhood when he revealed one of his biggest influences was Charlie Chaplin.

“My grandfather and I had been watching his movies in chronological order,” he said “They were all silent films at first, but eventually sound was added, and when I heard Charlie talk and deliver the final speech in the Last Dictator, I felt my life change in that moment.”

The power of words and their remarkable influence stuck with him and ended up serving him well as an adolescent. After years of being bullied and feeling ill-equipped to connect with his peers, he started writing down prepared responses for the times he was spoken to. This expressive outlet, combined with a newly discovered knack for performing, brought out the artist in him.

Often referred to as a slam poet, or a spoken word artist, Shane has written a book about being bullied and has another new book of poetry, a CD and is now doing shows across Canada with a band that he brought in to add another level of entertainment value to his fans.

I’m looking forward to seeing him take center stage to give an electrifying performance once again.  For his tour schedule please visit: ShaneKoyczan.com

To watch our weird, awkward interview please visit LoriWelbourne.com

Footsy Etiquette

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, is the way to a woman’s heart through her feet? In my case, the answer is a resounding yes.

I love getting a foot massage, and if I were a princess living in a castle with servants at my beck and call, I’d have one every day for hours on end while relaxing with a wonderful book.

Unfortunately I’m not a princess and I don’t live in a castle. I’m a middle-aged gal living in a messy ‘70s house with a husband, a son, a daughter and two dogs – none of whom will endlessly rub my feet.

It’s not as though massages never happen in my house; they do. My daughter or I will often ask my husband for a massage while we’re watching TV. Because she has more free time, my daughter is usually the recipient.

My life is so busy that I don’t even give myself a pedicure before going for reflexology.  Are you wondering what reflexology is? Okay, it’s the touching of feet, if you must know. But it’s also a healing procedure.

I discovered it a few years ago when my friend and neighbour would come over to my house to give me a treatment. The theory is that all parts of the body are connected to the bottom of the feet, so tension and ailments within us can be improved through a strategic foot massage by a registered practitioner.

I didn’t have any ailments to complain about, but I had all sorts of stress that seemed to soften after having my feet in her hands. I also was able to engage in some social interaction with my friend and saw that as valuable time spent. But because of my hectic schedule I only had a few sessions with Karen before she switched to a different profession.

And then, as fate would have it, another one of my friends switched professions as well – to reflexology.

I like to believe that everything happens for a reason and the reason my friend Kim Girard went to school to become a registered practitioner in reflexology was so I would resume getting my feet touched and be forced to get pedicures so they would look pretty enough to deserve her treatment.

“Your feet are fine,” Kim said when I shared my regret over not filing down the callouses and polishing my nails before my first appointment with her. “I’ve seen worse.”

True or not, I felt better after she said that, but I vowed to have a pedicure before visiting her at Sole Reflection Reflexology the next time. And I did. And I felt better.

Preparing my feet before seeing Kim is similar to tidying my house and putting everything away before the housecleaner arrives. Not that I actually have a housecleaner. But if I were a princess in a castle I would for sure.

To watch the video that goes along with this column please visit LoriWelbourne.com or

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MKgnuuWquk