Realty Executives of Sudbury Ltd.

Steve Caswell

Steve Caswell


Realty Executives of Sudbury Ltd.


Ready, Set, Wait!

(Published on - 3/7/2023 12:15:44 AM)

Before I get into this week’s blog, I want to send some big hugs and love to our Eastern brothers and sisters in Nova Scotia.  Such a horrible and tragic story that happened to such friendly and happy people.  No one deserves to wake up to the week they have had. 

I’ve had some shitty days in my life. I mentioned in my Adversity blog that my story wasn’t shittier than anyone else’s story, everyone just has a different story.  I’m retracting that comment now.  There are 100’s, if not 1000’s, of people in Nova Scotia who instantly have a way shittier story than me and I sincerely feel deeply for them.  They’re tough as hell out there, so I know they’ll get past this, but it will be a tough road and I hope they know they have the entire country’s support behind them.

As we mentioned in our weekly update to our clients, what unfolded out east was an extremely blunt reminder that it could be worse.  As we all woke up on that Sunday morning that felt the same as yesterday and likely the same as tomorrow, our Nova Scotian brethren were waking up to a completely devasting change to their “Groundhog Day”.  Hopefully everyone put their frustration of being quarantined in their back pocket that morning and appreciated just how lucky we were to wake up into that boring, new normal.

Now, although the families and communities of those 22 people now have a devastating recent past to come to terms with, there are also over 2000 families across Canada that are suffering with loss because of COVID-19.  Although our hearts all broke simultaneously for Nova Scotia, unfortunately we have become numb to the others as they are just “aggregate stats” and numbers on the screen.  The numbers are just too big for the media to interview every single family member from those 2000 plus Canadians we’ve lost since the onset of this, but I’m sure hearing them all individually would help us put real loss to those “stats” we’re hit with during daily updates.

It’s not our fault, it’s just the nature of it.  When we get walloped by a snowstorm, we don’t recognize each individual snowflake.  When cottage country is flooding, you can’t count the rain drops.  But, in either circumstance, it can be overwhelming and even become devastating. 

Over 2000 Canadians gone is devastating.  Hell, one is devastating, but the scale of loss has become so large that we’re nearly immune to it when they add another 10 here and another 50 there.

These are people.  These are the elderly that raised us and provided us the opportunities we have today.  These are the frontline workers throwing their own body on the grenade to save us.  These are the most vulnerable people in our society that we have failed to protect.  But, piled together, they’re just a number on the screen.

Now we’re seeing provinces starting to present plans to loosen up restrictions and we’re all feeling some cautious optimism that we’re about to get the green light to start moving in the other direction.  Personally, I feel the same as all of you that we might be lining up in the starting blocks waiting for the race to start.

But, as we’re based in Sudbury, Ontario, I’m using this blog to tell everyone in Ontario to settle down.  This race won’t seem fair when it starts, but life hasn’t been fair to a lot of people lately.  Some runners will get to take off, while we’re going to be stuck at the starting line looking at the race official wondering why we’re being treated differently.

As we’ve seen, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick have specific dates in the very near future where restrictions start to loosen.  And, when reviewing them, I get so excited seeing how we’ll get to golf again, we’ll get to go camping, we’ll get to hang out with another household and soon get to hang with friends/family in small groups.  Then we’ll get to go out for dinner, we’ll be able to get a haircut and we’ll be able to move back towards what we remember as normalcy.

But, I’m wrong.  That’s THEM, not me.  Not us.

We have to wait.  We have to continue to be patient in Ontario.  We have to put our jealousy and frustrations aside and be happy for, and proud of, our fellow Canadians that they did what needed to be done to save the lives of their family members and their neighbours. 

Daily, in Ontario, we’re still seeing the reminders that we’re not quite out of the woods.  And that statement seems so blasé when the reminder comes in the form of a daily death count.  We’re still seeing more families losing loved ones, more Canadians passing without any family around them, more Ontarians being sent to empty funeral homes where only a handful of people get to say goodbye.  There are no Celebrations of Life for these people that are victims of a widespread disaster.  There are no hugs to those that have lost loved ones. 

After creating a lifetime of family, friends and community, they die alone.  Sure, that's harsh, but it's 100% necessary to remind you why you’re still stuck at home while some of our fellow Canadians are starting to make plans for a day at the beach.

The provinces that are starting to loosen up are past the truly ugly part of this phenomenon – we, in Ontario, are not.  And it’s important we remember why we’re not going to the camp/cottage, why we’re not crowding arenas and why we’re not bringing the grandkids over to grandma’s so we can go out for a night on the town. 

We’re doing it to save lives.  We’re doing it so people don’t die alone without their family there.  We’re doing it to support the most vulnerable in our community while we watch Netflix and bbq steaks.  We’re doing it because every single person deserves the right to be alive on the other side of this.

Ontario, be patient.  The more we stay calm, curtail our frustration and remember that others’ lives depend on us, the quicker we’ll be golfing, having a fish fry at camp and hugging grandma.

Look at that daily death count for what it is – an extremely blunt reminder that your days could be worse.

For now, it’s time to hurry up and wait.  The race won’t seem fair, but let’s make sure every single person is given their fair chance to get to the finish line.

Contributed by:

Steve Caswell

Cell - 705.561.8767


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other salespersons, staff or affiliates of Realty Executives of Sudbury LTD. Brokerage, Realty Executives International, the Sudbury Real Estate Board, Ontario Real Estate Association, Canadian Real Estate Association or any of their subsidiaries.  For any concerns pertaining to the content herein, please contact us immediately at

Silver Linings Of COVID19

(Published on - 3/7/2023 12:07:54 AM)

Is your frustration setting in yet?

Looking at social media today is a lot different than scrolling through only two weeks ago.

At the onset of this, platforms were full of compassionate “hang in there” and “let’s do this” messages accompanied by some hilarious memes.  Although these messages are still popping up occasionally, they’re being drowned out by anger and infighting.  This is the onset of widespread frustration.

Some are starting to see who their “friends” really are.  Who they thought were good people, have now turned into complete assholes while they argue and push political, social and personal agendas.  I’m blown away in the comments how people are coming to virtual blows over issues that have zero relevance to their life while pushing their opinions as though the whole world should line up behind and support them (at least six feet apart, of course).

I am simply baffled how many Canadians find it reasonable, and of such utter importance at this moment, to argue about politics online.  As I mentioned in one of the earlier posts, it would be nice if politicians would get along, answer questions truthfully and directly, and put partisan politics aside.  They’re not, and now they’ve got camps filling up on all sides of the spectrum of people that feel it’s their sole responsibility to promote or destroy those positions.

Honestly, why the fuck do so many Canadians feel the need to worry about Trump?  He makes a decision, gets skewered by the media and then the personal opinion posts start flooding social media.  Then Trudeau makes the same decision and he gets praise from the same people.  I haven’t even said what the decision was, but some of you are already getting mad just reading that and proving my point.  Why?  That’s just nonsensical partisanship rearing its ugly head in the back of yours.  Put it back in the box and leave it there.

I wrote a blog on Human Behaviour during COVID-19 and an earlier one of how we're all doomed.  More people should read them and wake up.  We’re Canadians.  We’re supposed to be polite and friendly.  We’re supposed to be humble and accepting.  We’re supposed to be understanding and thoughtful.  But there’s a great number out there who are forgetting this with their daily diatribe of opinionated bullshit.

In our recent weekly update to our clients, I offered up a trick my mom taught me years ago when you’re in pain – take ten deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth.  The first breath is shallow, and the pain is still there, but by the time you get to the fifth and sixth breath, you’ve gotten past the shock and are realizing the pain is manageable.  I’m offering this advice to those feeling frustrated as well.  Frustration is pain that you’re going to expel onto someone else if you don’t get control of it, and no one needs additional pain right now.

When I coached hockey, one of my favourite lines with the team was “Positive thoughts equals positive results”.  No, it’s not a guarantee that the outcome will be 100% positive, but you can will yourself into believing that things can be good and, when you’re feeling positive, you’re more than likely going to get through whatever the issue is in the right mindset and at least be on track to a positive outcome.

Which leads me to why I’m writing this blog – I want people to start seeing some positive things that have happened or are happening.  Put the political bullshit on the back burner, stop the online vitriol and grab some positive thoughts to share and support each other on for a while.

Essential Worker Recognition

This pandemic has really opened all our eyes to the important people we often forget about and take for granted.  From the nurses, to the lab techs, to the grocery store shelf stocker to the sanitization crews to the people putting in long hours on the roads to get our essential goods to us, we’re finally realizing how important these people are to our daily lives.  This is great news. 

The unfortunate part is this was taught to us a long time ago, but it took such a severe situation to recognize it.  In Dale Carnegie’s book, How To Win Friends And Influence People (I believe this was written in the 1930’s), he talks about a school janitor who goes about his daily routine and just gets the job done.  But once he’s shown sincere and honest appreciation, he works harder and goes the extra mile to perform his job even better.

We used to scold  the kid bagging our groceries for squishing the bread, now we’re thanking them for working long hours to stock the shelves.  We used to say, “that nurse has a shitty bedside manner”, now we’re seeing how hard they’re working behind the scenes and that may be why they didn’t have time to pander just to us.  We are now seeing those once invisible cleaners and showing appreciation for attacking the surfaces we wouldn’t want to touch these days.

We all owe sincere and honest appreciation to all these people.  There is no way I could list every profession or person here that is deserving, but we each individually now know who these people are that we may not have seen or treated well before and now fully understand the direct impact they have on our daily lives.

Besides, the more we show them we appreciate them, the harder they’ll work to get us through this.

Nice Lid

It’s not just the workers that have been deemed essential, I’m sure we’re all pretty appreciative right now of even those in the non-essential categories.

Missing your hairdresser or esthetician yet?  How about that bartender who always asked how your day was and would listen to you rant?  What about the motivation your Pilates instructor would give you?

As I mentioned in the last blog, take a shot at the family haircuts – your hairdresser will be elated to see you and show off their skills at fixing the mess you created.  Imagine the rants your bartender is going to have to listen to the next time you nestle up to the bar and remember to give them your ear for awhile so they can have their chance.  And your Pilates instructor will be more than happy to book you in for two extra sessions a week to burn off those isolation pounds.

Send them all a message and let them know you can’t wait to sit in the chair, climb up on that stool and get on that mat so they know they’re still essential to you.

Grandma Is Online!

“How do you turn this thing on?”

“What do you mean I have to ‘like’ something?” 

“Where is this internet I have to go to?”

One of the great silver linings in all this is our technology.  Sure, as mentioned, it is being used too much by assholes to push their agendas and pick fights, but it’s also become a huge asset for us to stay connected today and combat the feeling of isolation.

Honestly, I used to hate the idea of a video call.  It seemed weird and, really, it was just my own insecurity of being on camera that was holding me back.  I have done commercials before and have been videotaped speaking, and I could do it with ease when the cameras were off, but I never liked when the red light went on at the top of those camcorders.  (remember those things?)

Now, I love it.  This isolation has given me a sincere appreciation for these tools we have at our fingertips.  I love getting to see my friends and family on the other side of the screen.  It brings a feeling of connection more than just a phone call.  You can see the smiles and laughter.  You can see the eyes light up, and even roll in some cases, but it’s more of an emotional connection than just a voice ever could be.  And sharing our emotions “in-person” will help us in the long run.

Call your grandparents, call your parents, call your kids, call your friends, call your co-workers.  Get on the video chats and show your face.  Show off your smiles and share some laughs.  Just don’t talk politics….

Who Let The Dogs Out?

How freakin’ happy are the majority of dogs these days? 

Our furry, four-legged family members are being spoiled these days.  Walk after walk after walk after walk.  I’m sure there are dogs out there that are silently waving the white flag thinking, “do we seriously have to go for our sixth walk today?”

Like Elvis declared, “ain’t nothing but a hound dog, crying all the time”, and our basset hound is no exception.  She whines as her form of crying that we’re not there.  Whenever we leave the house, she cries so incessantly that she gets to a howl of distress from the loneliness.  Well, now that we’re with them basically 24/7, we don’t hear much whining these days!  It actually seems like we’re getting looks of, “why are you still home?  Don’t you have shit to do?”

And, although the four-legged “kids” are getting spoiled, we’re also spoiled by them.  We get to feel comfort of snuggling with them on the couch when we’re having a bad day, we get to laugh at them when they are ripping around soaking wet after their “home spa day” bath and horrible DIY haircut and I’m sure there’s plenty of us out there that are having more in-depth conversations with our dogs these days – as we know they’ll always agree with our opinion!

Give Fido an extra belly rub today – they’re your emotional support team that always has positive thoughts about you.

We Can Breathe

I am not a climate alarmist, but I am also not a denier.  I am, like most, rooted in the middle of the spectrum that agree we should take better care of our emissions, but not at the sake of reducing our lives to nothing.  I certainly don’t agree with using climate change as a tax grab, but I also think we should do something.

The silver lining here is that hopefully both extremes on that spectrum now get to see what extreme action looks like. 

The climate alarmists should be able to recognize that this is what the world looks like if we go too far.  Our economy is decimated, and millions are unemployed.  We are being told this economic suffering is going to mimic the Great Depression.  With no planes flying, no one driving, minimal industries operational and so few working, it’s time we realize that Canada is a resource driven economy and we can’t shut it down overnight to “save the planet for our kids”.  Ask past generations if the Great Depression was what they wanted to leave for their kids….

On the other side of the coin, the deniers should take a hard look at the environmental changes we are seeing in such a short span of time.  We’re all seeing the pictures of the Himalayas now being visible, we’re seeing dolphins populating the canals in Venice, we’re seeing wildlife take over roadways and towns and we’re seeing smog lifted from major cities.  These are all positive changes.  And this only took two months or less to start affecting our planet in a positive way.

Hopefully both sides will use this as an opportunity to stop the virtual infighting, show some appreciation for the other side’s opinion and work together to find solutions that can leave our kids a cleaner planet while still providing them an opportunity to prosper.

Out For A Hike Are Ya, Bud?

I know there’s some online arguments swirling about how stores should only be selling “essential” items.  The box stores, like Walmart, have an advantage of having groceries while still offering everything else you may need, or even not need.  I get it, it’s not fair to Foot Locker, Canadian Tire and Roots that they can’t sell their products through traditional brick and mortar stores while Walmart can still sell these items.

However, what I do find positive is seeing the guy that would normally be buying Cheetos is now looking at running shoes.  Instead of buying a case of pop, people are looking at free weights.  Instead of looking in the store freezer trying to select an ice cream flavour, they are now choosing what colour of yoga mat will look good on the living room floor while matching the couch throw pillows.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in the Adversity blog, people handle things differently.  These are the people that are now taking an inventory of their situation and trying to make the best of it. 

Good on you to take this situation into a positive and healthy direction.  Go get’em!

Kids Grow Up So Fast!

Not anymore!  Very rarely do we see posts anymore about “where did the time go” as kids are getting older.  No longer are parents absent for every big event while they’re rushing to connecting flights or checking into another hotel on the road for work.  There is no longer an empty chair at the family dinner table.

Now, parents are witnessing every millimeter of growth.  They’re getting to spend the time with their kids that they’ve always wanted to.  Some, of course, are probably thinking they’re getting a little too much time with the kids, but they can take a moment to pause and remember all the times they couldn’t and wished they had.

But it’s not just kids.  Spouses are reconnecting over a glass of wine and a movie.  They are sitting down for dinner and talking.  They’re having thorough conversations about their finances and formulating a game plan (this is a positive no matter how bad the financial situation is).

Enjoy this family time.  When the gates reopen and we all need to fill our wallets to survive it, you’ll miss the simple times of watching cartoons with the kids and cuddling on the couch watching Netflix.

Wash Your Hands

Talk about a lesson in hygiene for everyone! 

My new shower routine starts with washing my hands before anything else (please do yourself a favour and don’t grab a mental picture here – oops – maybe you just did).  Think about that – I want to make sure my hands are thoroughly clean before I shower.  What a world.

Everyone is washing their hands probably 100% more often than they did.  And they’re probably doing it 100% more thoroughly as well. 

Houses are likely cleaner than they have ever been.  People have now learned how to cough and sneeze properly to protect others.  And there’s a new appreciation for personal space these days….

Hopefully this remains the new normal when this is all over.


I said in the Human Behaviour blog that everyone has been looking at people differently these days.  They’re skeptical about everyone else and, in some cases, looking at people with utter fear.  This is not the silver lining, but I did mention in that blog how I highly doubt anyone has ever caught COVID-19 from a smile or saying “good afternoon” to someone.

Now that everyone is wearing masks, for the most part, I’ve realized that people don’t just smile with their mouth.  Michelle and I were in the grocery store, a simple life chore that has suddenly become very worrisome, and I could tell Michelle was stressed, as I was as well.  So, I cracked a joke to break the tension.  Although she had a mask on, I could instantly see she was wearing a huge smile behind it just by the reaction in her eyes.  It was cute and made me feel happy.

Just because we have to wear masks, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t smile.  Let people see your politeness and your smile in your eyes.  They’ll notice it and you may just pass on the smile virus that we all need to spread rampantly these days.

Positive Thoughts = Positive Results

It’s ok to be worried about catching COVID-19.  It’s ok to be worried about the upcoming economic struggles most of us will go through.  It’s ok to be worried about the emotional pain we, and others, will go through or are already going through.

But it’s also ok to look for the positives and let yourself focus on those.  It’s ok to be happy with spending lots of time with the kids.  It’s ok to dial up someone on FaceTime and share some laughs.  It’s going to be great to look back after COVID-19 and think, “that’s when I really started to get in shape” or “that scare really helped us focus on getting our finances in order”.

Spending your days thinking about positive thoughts and avoiding joining the chorus of frustration and infighting online is what will get the strong through this.  Looking forward with optimism and hope will help keep your emotions in check.  Smiling through that mask, giving an essential worker sincere and honest appreciation and looking at any way to make today better for yourself, and others around you, will keep us all going in the right direction.

We’re still in the eye of the storm, but now is the time to take ten deep breaths, look for the silver linings in the clouds, focus on the positive and get back to being Canadian.

Contributed by:

Steve Caswell

Cell - 705.561.8767


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other salespersons, staff or affiliates of Realty Executives of Sudbury LTD. Brokerage, Realty Executives International, the Sudbury Real Estate Board, Ontario Real Estate Association, Canadian Real Estate Association or any of their subsidiaries.  For any concerns pertaining to the content herein, please contact us immediately at

Ridiculous Quarantine Ideas

(Published on - 3/7/2023 12:05:02 AM)

So, folks, anything new?

As mentioned in a past blog, that’s my stupid intro line I’m using in correspondence these days.  It’s bizarre but makes me chuckle and we can all use a good chuckle these days.

Considering our last blogs have been bleak, yet positive and supportive, we wanted to take this week’s blog post in an entirely different direction.  We’re all heading into our fourth or fifth week of being locked up at home.  Remember, this is a right thing to do to SAVE LIVES.  We’re all doing our part and I’m proud of all of you.

We’re all seeing the posts on social media of all the great things our friends and family are doing to pass the time – decluttering the house, starting to do yoga, learning a new language, trying a new recipe, blah, blah, blah.  Those are all good, but, to liven you up and make you chuckle, we’re taking these suggestions into another dimension.  We’re going beyond the normal and jumping right into the ridiculous to give your friends and family something to really talk about, give you and your quarantine mates some good laughs and get you out of the Groundhog Day scenario we all seem to be stuck in these days.

Before I get right into it, our legal team requires us to post the disclaimer that this is strictly for entertainment purposes only.  If you decide to employ any of these suggestions, it’s on you.  Basically, if COVID-19 disappears tomorrow and you have to return to work with a mohawk, we are not liable.  That being said, if you get to be back to work tomorrow, we’re confident no one is going to give a shit what your hair looks like.

Further, we are not trying to be insensitive.  We understand the struggles and frustrations we're all dealing with but, we've all heard the saying, sometimes laughter is the best medicine.  We all deserve a good laugh right now.

This blog is a list of suggestions that we’ve had some fun compiling.  We’ve included who we feel each one is appropriate and inappropriate for under each heading.  Some of these are just plain inappropriate to begin with, even pushing the boundaries of "offside", but it just adds to the fun!

To make things even more fun, Amanda, Michelle and I have each picked our favourite and we're awarding PRIZES for the best story, picture or video submission that you submit for that ridiculous thing to do!  You’ll see a notification after the ones we’ve chosen as our favourites after each description.  Some we do NOT want to see your pics, nor is it probably even legal to post them! 

If you’re shy, you can email your submission to our team account at with the subject line stating the ridiculous idea you took part in and are trying to win.  But, keep in mind, if you do win, we reserve the right to post your submission as the winner on our Facebook page.  For the more adventurous types, feel free to just post your submission in the comment section of this blog’s Facebook post, along with the idea title.  Keep in mind, those that post in the public domain will get extra consideration!

If we select yours as the winner for that category, we’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to your favourite local restaurant so you can order in and celebrate your victory!  You don’t have to be in Sudbury to win this as our clients, friends and family are stretched out far and wide.  And anyone is eligible, so don't be shy to share this with anyone else who needs a laugh.

We will announce all winners on Saturday, April 25th on our Facebook page.  So, if you already have big plans that day, you may want to postpone them......

Now, without further ado, let’s take this boring quarantine and make it ridiculously entertaining!


Shower Routine

Appropriate for:  Individuals, Couples
Not Appropriate For:  Families (all at once…..)

These days, we know there are plenty of people out there that might be skipping the daily shower routine.  More often than in the past, you’re probably thinking “why bother?”  You don’t have to smell good for anyone, your family has already seen you filthy on the couch before and it’s just such a chore to peel off those pajamas only to throw them back on again.

We disagree.  Now’s the perfect time to address that boring and tired shower routine you’ve been using for years, or possibly even decades.  Peel off those pajamas, get in there and mix it the hell up!

If you take hot showers, turn it to cold.  If you use your right hand to soap up, put that luffa in the left hand and give it try.  If you always wash your left armpit before your right, head to the right stink zone first.  If you don’t use a luffa, try it.

Get way into the back of that shower caddy and grab that shampoo you bought at Dollarama three years ago that you thought sucked.  Maybe it gets better with age!  Speaking of shampooing, have any of us actually “repeated” like the bottle tells us?  This is the chance to give it a whirl!

Warning – there are things you can’t or should not do differently.  Don’t be stupid and try conditioning your hair before shampooing it.  (p.s. – I can now confirm this doesn’t work).  Don’t do a handstand to rinse your butt like one of my old hockey teammates used to do – not only could you hurt yourself, it’s just plain weird.  And, yes, my buddy actually does this.

For obvious reasons, there are no prizes for this one and PLEASE refrain from submitting any pics!


Ditch The Bic

Appropriate For:  Anyone
Not Appropriate For:  Anyone who has had laser hair removal.

Thinking about shaving?  Full stop.  That’s a hard no!  Why would ya?

I skipped my first couple of shaves and the hassle of trying to shape my goatee.  As it started to get increasily fluffy and incredibly white,  Michelle said, “just let it grow”.  She's right - why the hell not?  I'm normally scary to kids but now they might think I'm Santa's older brother!  As a bonus, it actually helped me with changing up my shower routine as well.

Gents, ever thought, “man, I’d probably look so cool in a Lanny McDonald stash.”  Or maybe you’re just realizing you’re jealous of the guy with the beard braid on Tiger Kings.  Or maybe you’ve seen some guy with crazy “chops” and think, “why would he think that looks good?” only to find out now you think it looks stellar on you!  Run with it.

But we’re not just talking men and facial hair here.  Let it all go.  Go complete 60’s hippy style.  Women – it’s time to pay the men back with those hairy legs scratching you in bed.  Hell, at one time, armpit hair used to be sexy and, just like carpet used to be cool before everyone went back to hardwood floors, maybe that flowing armpit hair will make a comeback and you’ll be the one who gets to say, “I was doing it before it was cool again!" 

Speaking of carpet……. Um, hard no.  Won’t go there.  Well, maybe I just did…..

There won’t be prizes for this one, but don’t by shy to continually send us your before/during/during/during/during (not sure how long till the “after” will come) COVID-19 styles! 

But please do NOT share any flooring shots…..


Kris Kingle Snips

Appropriate For:  Families, ages old enough for scissors
Not Appropriate For:  Couples (pretty sure we all understand the danger there!)

Sticking with the hygiene theme, this one is fun for the whole family! 

We all know what the Kris Kingle game  is – you pick a name out of a hat and buy a gift for them at the office, classroom or family Christmas party.  Lots of fun getting to see the reactions when people open their gifts!

This is the same concept but, instead of gifts, whoever’s name you draw gets to give you a haircut!  But there can be no mirror used – that’s the element of the Kris Kringle surprise when the big reveal happens.

Ever wonder what dad would look like with a mohawk?  How about getting the salad bowl out on mom for some past payback when we were kids?  Sick of looking at your teenager with that gelled up “bedhead” look while you’ve always pictured him with a military brushcut?

It’s hair, it will grow back (apologies to all my bald friends out there).  Like I said in the opening statements, if you get called back to work, no one is going to give two shits what your hair looks like after this and they’ll actually get a kick out of the “new you”.  Don’t think for a second your hairdresser will get offended – they’ve probably been quietly hoping you’d finally change up that ‘do and they’ll love the challenge of creating something nice out of the mess your six-year-old gave ya.

NOTABLE EXCEPTION – as noted above, there may be some bald members of the family out there.  They’re not getting out of this.  Whoever is supposed to cut the hair of the bald person, gets to take all the other hair off the floor, including dog hair, and make them a wig that they have to wear.  Use that shower cap from the hotel you grabbed seven years ago or grab an old t-shirt and make a bandana that you can glue on to.  Whatever you do, don’t glue directly onto anyone’s scalp – no one needs to use paint thinner or Goo-Be-Gone as part of their new shower routine…..

Get the scissors out, grab that bottle of hairspray that’s been in the back of the cupboard since 1992, plug in that razor and away ya go!!!!

 PRIZE ALERT!!!!!   




Pack Your Bags

Appropriate For:  Anyone with a spare bedroom
Not Appropriate For:  Younger kids providing room service

We all want a getaway right now.  Oh, what we’d give to get away to another place in this moment and think about something else.   Who doesn't want a vacation right now to get away from all the other quarantinites you’re stuck with? 

I mentioned the hotel you visited in the last one, and it’s time you booked that mini vacation right now!  There’s a way to do it with no booking fees, free cancellation and no long travel days.

Think of the guy on Price Is Right announcing this for ya during your Showcase Showdown:

“This incredible quarantine getaway will have you and your guest whisked away with roundtrip walk-fare from the master to your spare room where you’ll enjoy a two night stay in the shitty sheets you use for guests, barely enough shampoo to wash half your head, room service with microwaved dinners for two and the familiar feeling of ‘I packed way too much for this trip’ while you relax under the $10 dome light you installed from Home Depot.  Pack your bags!”

Before your vacation starts, it’s of utmost importance to prepare your getaway bathroom.  Take all the soap, shampoo and conditioner out of the bathroom and replace it with the smallest bar of soap you can find and a tablespoon of that shitty, 3-year-old Dollarama 2-in-1 shampoo in the shower caddy.  If you don’t have a bar of soap you stole from a hotel, just grab that piece in the bottom of your soap dish that you didn’t get rid of when you put a new bar of soap on top of it. 

You’ll also have to remove that triple-ply toilet paper you now have five year’s supply of and replace it with just standard loose-leaf pages.  And, very important, make sure to put a hair somewhere on the pillows that you can find when you pull back the sheets.

Set your vacation departure time and date and start preparing.  Grab that carry-on and throw some clothes in, pack up your shaving kit (but, remember, no Bic razors) and even throw in a bathing suit in case the bathtub turns into a pool for the afternoon.  Also be sure to be late for departure by throwing in those extra shoes you “might” wear and that book you’ll never read.

If you have some older kids, let them operate the hotel for you.  Set up a table outside the spare room door where they can greet you with a “whatever” attitude while they type on their phone, have them carry your bags and show you how to turn on the TV while they’re looking for a tip, call them when you need fresh towels (be sure they grab those ones way in the back of the linen closet that smell like they’ve been in the back of the linen closet for years) and even order room service (be sure to align your expectations to the kids ages – cereal for breakfast and Michelina’s for dinner).

Ah, finally getting away from it all.  Time to kick back and enjoy cause, before you know it, you’ll be packing up and heading back across the hall!


2nd First Date

Appropriate For:  Couples, Families
Not Appropriate For:  Couples who say the wrong things

As the days go by, you’re beginning to realize you’ve already talked about everything – twice.  You can only share COVID-19 “breaking news” so much, you’re to a point where you don’t care about the meme their friend posted on Facebook and you just want to talk about something new.

It’s time to book a 2nd First Date at 5pm and then become the new you!  Both of you!  Or even all of you if the whole family is invited!

If you’ve ever watched Modern Family, Phil and Claire Dunphy do this every year for Valentine’s Day.  They’ve created alternate personas for themselves and they play the role.  Now as Clive Bixby, a travelling businessman, and Julianna, the local, lonely housewife, they dive into their new roles in hot pursuit of one another.  The clip below shows you how to get started and also shows you how couples have to be careful with this one!

At noon, separate in the house and don’t talk to each other.  Create a new character for yourself – anything.  Spaceman, cowboy or even an astronaut-cowboy like Ashton Kutcher proclaimed he wanted to be on That 70’s Show.  Spend the afternoon forming your character – when your next mission is, why you don’t like the colour blue, how your sister is married to the king of wherever, etc.  Dig deep and be creative.

Now it’s time to get ready for the big date.  After using your new shower routine, grab that cologne or perfume that has been in the drawer for ten years.  Style up your new pink mohawk that your daughter gave you.  Reach into the back of the closet and grab something you haven’t worn in ages.  But, before you leave for the date, be sure to pre-order delivery from your favourite local restaurant for 7pm cause your new character is a shitty cook.

5:00 pm has arrived.

Of course, any good first date starts with drinks at a local, lounge style bar.  We’ll call this lounge “the living room no one ever uses”.  After getting to “know” one another, at 6pm you feel it’s time to head out to the restaurant for your reservation.  When you arrive, as usual, your table isn’t ready, so you’ll have to nestle up to the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail or five.  We’ll call the restaurant bar “the kitchen island”.  After a little more chit chat (and a knock at the door that your food has arrived), you’re ushered to your table for dinner.  We’ll call this "the dinner table."

The key to this is, like any other date, the more wine that gets poured, the more entertaining the conversation gets!  But it’s important to NEVER break your character.  Might even be a nice touch if the characters were from a land where people didn’t look at their phone every five minutes……

You can also do this with the family after the Cross Dress Closet Cleanout (coming up).  But, if you keep it to just a Couple, and you play your cards right, you may just want to combine this one with the mini-vacay and/or Nudist Resort!


I’m Crushing Your Head

Appropriate For:  Individuals, Couples, Families, Sensei’s
Not Appropriate For:  Jedi’s

Our generation may be at a huge advantage on this one with our love for The Kids In The Hall.  This awesome idea comes from a skit where Mark McKinney “crushes heads” of others while he sits in the shadows.  But, it’s important to be careful with this one as there are different levels for this.

BEGINNER LEVEL – this is where you learn the art of head crushing. 

You start by placing your thumb on the bottom and index finger on top slightly apart from each other.  You’ve now created your very own head crusher.  Put them closer to your eye (do not touch your face, of course) and then find your “victim”.  This could be your kid with their back to you watching cartoons, it could be your spouse that’s shown you one too many Facebook memes, do it to your parents when you’re having a Facetime chat with them or even practice on yourself in the mirror. 

Once your fingers are locked on the target, you just crush.  Over and over again – crush. 

As you can see in the quick tutorial below on the proper technique for head crushing, adding in rambling nonsense is also a huge asset.

INTERMEDIATE LEVEL – once you have created a large repertoire of successful head crushes, you can move into this next level of training. 

Pull up a chair to the front window or, on a nice day, put a lawn chair on your front stoop or get out on the balcony.  You’re now ready for multiple crushes and moving targets – the guy driving the delivery truck, the squirrel running through the yard or even try the more difficult “double crush” on the dog and the owner’s heads simultaneously as they walk by. 

Don’t panic – all your previous training on your fellow quarantinites has prepared you for this stage!  If you’re still uneasy about taking your head crushing out on the public, below is a sample to help you with moving targets and how to handle confrontation from a passerby:

ADVANCED LEVEL – this is where shit gets real. 

Grab a worthy competitor, with preferably an equal head crushing skill set.  This could be someone you’re quarantined with, it could be your neighbour across the street in their window facing back at you or it could even be your friend that you’re virtual messaging with.  Start crushing.  As you’re crushing, you can introduce rules like “can’t do it to someone driving a red truck” or “the person can’t have a hat on” or “you can’t crush someone who's head has clearly already been crushed”.  You create your own penalties.

You have to be careful to not get too competitive here.  Understand you’re both experienced and appreciate each other’s abilities.  Below shows what can happen when people try to use different systems and clash over trying to use the same targets. 

MIYAGI LEVEL – do NOT try this level until you are 100% sure you’re ready.  This takes a lot of wax on, wax off to perfect.  Any mistakes here could be very serious.

If you feel you’re ready, and only you can determine this, go to your utensil drawer and grab those chopsticks way in the back that came with your Chinese food order 12 years ago.  Pull them out of the paper sleeve and separate them.  To be classy and show great discipline, you will have to rub them together to remove any splinters to avoid giving your victims slivers.  Now place them in your hand like you’re grabbing a piece of California Roll and crush!

JEDI’S BE WARNED – this is NOT an appropriate pastime for you.  You may contain more of "the force” than you know, and the results could actually crush someone’s head.  As you can see below, we don’t need any accidents here.

 PRIZE ALERT!!!!!   





That’s My Spot

Appropriate For:  Pet Owners
Not Appropriate For:  Fish, Reptile, Arachnid and Bird Owners

Ever notice that your pet seems to love their favourite spot – might be the doggy bed in the corner of the living room, maybe the back of the couch or maybe it’s the windowsill where your cat performs the daily neigbhourhood watch

Well, our lives have been upended at the moment, so why not pay it forward to your pet?  Walk over to them all comfy in their favourite locale, kick them out of “their spot” and then curl up in it yourself.  If they look at you in pure bewilderment, you got’em.  Take that, Fido! 

But, you have to maintain consistency to send home the message.  If they simply ignore you and head over to another favourite spot, make like shampoo and “repeat” until you finally get the ‘WTF are you doing?’ look out of them!

Regardless, you’re likely to find out that their favourite spot needs a little cleaning and you’ll have to go back in to practice your new shower routine.

 PRIZE ALERT!!!!!   




Cross Dress Closet Cleanout

Appropriate For:  Couples
Not Appropriate For:  Guys who will stretch out their wife’s favourite yoga pants

I’d believe that over 90% of us have way more clothes in their closet than they ever wear.  We all stick to our “basics” and, yet, we’re storing a war chest of “if I shed a few pounds” or “these might come back in style” or even the “I don’t even remember buying this” clothes that never see the light of day.

Grab your partner, and even the family, and get in everyone’s closet!  You might be saving it thinking “I’m not sure, but I think this still looks good on me” about some items, but you may have a totally different opinion of it when you see it on someone else.  Seeing that blouse on your husband with his beer gut, his new giant sideburns and the pink mohawk may help you realize “oh, that’s awful”.  Once this image is embedded in your brain, there’s no going back – you’ll never consider wearing it again when you flashback to that visual and now you can finally give up on that dream of ever wearing it again.

Would you still want to wear the dress in the video below after seeing your better half doing this?  Or maybe you might think it looks even better now?

Let the kids get in on it too!  Kids love dress-up and have probably always wanted to try on your clothes.  Roll up those pant legs for them, put a new hole halfway down that belt so it fits their waist and let them stumble down the hallway with those shoes that were off limits.

Why not combine this with the 2nd First Date idea for the whole family and everyone gets to design their new character from the wardrobe?

We definitely want to see these pics – don’t be shy!  Guys, harness your inner Mrs. Doubtfire, get on that dress and throw on some blush.  If Scott, the #BeardedLady can have the gonads to do it on live tv, surely you can put on a quarantine show for your wife and kids!

Gals, throw on that tank top that makes you cringe when he wears it and show off that fresh armpit hair.  It’ll either make him throw it out or he’ll start the “armpit hair is sexy again” trend we were hoping for!

Folks, today’s a different world already.  Gender and male/female were already passé before this happened.  Embrace this brave new world and give it whirl!  You just never know how gender neutral you actually were…..

 PRIZE ALERT!!!!!   




Nudist Resort

Appropriate For:  Individuals, Couples
Not Appropriate For:  Families or Couples using power tools

Ewwww, nudists.  That’s what most of us probably think in normal times. 

We’ve all heard about the Hedonism resorts in Jamaica and, if you’ve been down there, the boat tours often take you by the beach where they all stand up and wave.  If you haven’t seen it, do not picture a beach full of Playboy models and Chippendales – FYI. 

There's no better time to see if you’re a closet nudist!  Set the date and give it a shot!

The morning of “Nude Day”, hop out of bed, rip off the pajamas and get buck.  Jump in the shower, using your newly refined shower routine, dry off and then burst out of the bathroom in your birthday suit and full confidence ready to face the day!

But, you should be aware that there are some things to be very careful about that you may not have realized.  For instance, when you’re making breakfast, be very careful when making the bacon!  Grease splashes hurt when you get hit in the hand, so you don’t want to find out where else this grease can splash.  More importantly, you should close the blinds.  The last thing you want to find out is your neighbour is working on their Intermediate Level of head crushing.

Also, like the Seinfeld episode, when he’s dating a nudist, there are forms of good and bad naked.  This is NOT the day to pull out the power tools and tackle those DIY projects.  If you work out, this is not the day to use the exercise bike or rowing machine.  If you have a work conference call or you have a video call with your grandmother, you should probably reschedule “Nude Day” for another day. 

Check out the clip below for a refresher on good and bad naked before you go “all out” with it….

Taking quarantining to the “nude” level will certainly be entertaining for all involved, but we’re NOT interested in seeing your pics celebrating your new lifestyle

But, you never know, maybe you might wake up the next day and do it all over again while looking at next winter’s vacation at Hedonism.  And think of the money you’ll save on laundry detergent!


Have Fun With It!

We hope you’re having, or had, as good of an Easter weekend as possible and maybe even the holiday brought some resemblance of normalcy with egg hunts and nice dinners.  As we’ve mentioned, and we all know, we’re in this for the long haul, so don’t let boredom or the Groundhog Day feeling creep back into your home after the holiday.

We've provided these ideas to loosen things up and to lighten up your lives.  If you do go for it, do them safely.  They'd be a great way to get out of your comfort zone and have some big laughs about it.  You'll make time fly instead of feeling like it's lingering.  You'll make memories you’ll surely look back on in years and howl at how much fun you were able to have through a trying time. 

Just because you’re “trapped”, doesn’t mean your imagination has to be.  It’s time to be fresh, try even harder to brighten everyone’s day and embrace the ridiculous.  After all, we can all agree that we never knew just how ridiculous our daily lives would be today.

Stay home, stay healthy and be ridiculous.

Contributed by:

Steve Caswell

Cell - 705.561.8767


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other salespersons, staff or affiliates of Realty Executives of Sudbury LTD. Brokerage, Realty Executives International, the Sudbury Real Estate Board, Ontario Real Estate Association, Canadian Real Estate Association or any of their subsidiaries.  For any concerns pertaining to the content herein, please contact us immediately at

In The Face of Adversity

(Published on - 3/7/2023 12:04:23 AM)


Hardship.  Misfortune.  Hard times.  These are synonyms that pop up for adversity.  And there is no doubt we are all facing adversity at this moment.

Miriam-Webster defines adversity as “a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty and misfortune.”  But that is only a technical definition.  

We are all different and unique from everyone else.  No two stories are alike.  No life, from start to finish, is the same as another.  Sure, there may be similarities with some, but that would only be on the surface while the individual mindsets would be completely different.

Look at identical twins, for instance.  The pairs that I know have different careers, different partners, different bank balances, different styles and different personalities.  Even conjoined twins would have a different perspective of the world around them and definitely a different definition of adversity than most of us.

The actual definition of adversity is not straightforward like Miriam-Webster states.  It is unique to each of us based on our own personal context.  Your perception of adversity will be different than mine.  We’ll both have a different vision in our minds when we think of that word.  As will your definition be different from your kids, your parents, your siblings, your friends and every single other person in the world.

The irony of all this is that all our unique stories have just left their natural courses and we have all now been bound together, moving forward in a parallel format.  We’re all being affected and inflicted by the same problem on a worldwide stage and, yet, our stories and perception of adversity will still remain completely unique to ourselves.

The nurses and doctors on the front line would probably define adversity by the long hours they’re working, their fear of losing patients at increasingly rapid rates, the worry about getting infected themselves and infecting a family member when they go home for that few hours rest.

The parents out there would be defining their own adversity as trying to explain to their kids why they can’t go to the park, trying to get work done while still trying to keep the kids entertained or putting on a brave face at the dinner table for the kids knowing the economic struggles they’re enduring and what lie ahead.

The elderly, living in isolation, are seeing the stats where their definition of adversity is having to stay quarantined, trying to get food and groceries delivered that hopefully aren’t carrying an extra COVID bonus, distraught that they can’t hug their grandkids and, most importantly, trying to beat the stats and stay alive.

No matter who you are or what your current circumstance, your past has created your context for adversity.  And it is always evolving, so our future perception of adversity will be defined by these times we’re going through now.  The key is to harness this framework the right way to get yourself through the adversity you’re facing on your individual level.

I’m going to share how my version of adversity has grown over time.  Maybe it will help you or maybe sharing this will help me as a reminder of what is important.  Hopefully it will help all of us.

Before I get into it, I want to make a very clear statement that I am in no way looking for sympathy cause of my past.  I’m well past that.  I’m long past the anger I’ve had.  I still am affected emotionally at times, but I believe that’s healthy to continue to move forward.

Further, everyone has a backstory.  Mine is just different – not better or worse.  I know there are plenty of others out there with tough storylines and great resilience, so this is not a “mine’s shittier” comparison by any stretch.  And the shitty storylines continue to unfold daily for plenty of families out there during this.

People often say, “everything happens for a reason”.  I call bullshit.  But this is a phrase people use to help them cope with situations of adversity, and that’s 100% ok if it works for them.

I believe more in the saying, “play the hand you’re dealt”.  You can’t change the cards and the card you pick up that’s face down on the deck could make everything better or totally fuck you, but it’s random and these forces are completely out of your control.  But the cards in your hand are in your control and you can make decisions to work them into the best conclusion for yourself.

I’ve compiled four short stories for you that have ultimately defined my adversity.

5-Year-Old Emancipated

I was a punk when I was a young kid.  Likely drove my parents nuts.  And I know damn well I drove my Grandma, “Ma”, crazy.  She was a stubborn, old Finlander who would sit in her La-Z-Boy, chain smoking Matinees, handing out punishments to the kids trouncing through the camp like we were all on speed and a bulk pack of chocolate Easter eggs.

Her favourite disciplinary measure was the “roosinoighta”, pronounced ‘Ru-see-noigh-ta”.  That’s the best I can do for you.  I’m probably nowhere near the correct spelling, IF there even is a correct spelling.  I have a feeling this was a bullshit, made up name for it and any Finnish readers can chime in on this.

This form of punishment was tough as a kid.  When I misbehaved, Ma would tell me to get up into the birch trees on the hill and bring her back a “roosinoighta” for punishment.  This meant you would have to go into the bush and find the stick she was going to discipline you with while she lit up a Matinee, or five, and watched you eerily through the giant picture window like it was the Long Lake version of the Bates Motel.

Do you know how hard it is, with eyes welled with tears, to pick the stick that you’re going to get whacked with?  Do you know how devastating it is when you come back into the camp and Ma says, “not big enough - get back up there”?  Adversity was trying to find the right sized stick that would pass as “large enough” while still trying to keep it small enough to limit the pain.

Now, before anyone gets fired up about child abuse, this was the 70’s and I got spanked plenty of times – rightfully so.  But we never actually got “hit” with the stick.  We’d get a tap on the ass with it while we raced off to our room for grounding while everyone else was getting to swim, sauna and jump off the dock.

The punishment was the act of forcing us to choose our own fate.  We knew our choices would end in pain, but we were able to make decisions to limit the pain by finding the one that “just passed” the benchmark.  All the while the selection process was the true penalty.

Nevertheless, now in the prime of my life at 5-years-old, I had enough of this “regime” I was living under.  The conditions of having fresh blueberries every morning for breakfast, living on the lake for the summer months and getting to stay up late playing Rummy 500 were completely unacceptable if it came with the ongoing threat of the “roosinoighta” looming over me.  Enough was enough.

After I got the tap on my ass and sent to my room, I made the decision to make my move.  I grabbed my packsack, ignored Ma’s instructions to get back to my room, grabbed three grape juice from the fridge and packed them in with my bathing suit and colouring books.

Ready to face the world on my own, I looked Ma and my Mom straight in the face and said, “I’m leaving home” in between balling my eyes out and the snot rolling down my face.  The response I got was, “good luck” – not exactly the “we’re sorry, come back and you can do whatever you want” I was hoping to get.  Now I was committed.

Facing a whole new level of adversity that I just obligated myself to, I began my march up the driveway to greener life pastures.  I wish I could find the picture my Mom took when she asked me to look back while she was laughing hysterically and waving goodbye.  I was that epic meltdown, crying kid mess that we’ve all seen, and been.  But she still didn’t seem to care about me, so I kept walking.

My first stop with my newfound independence was at my aunt and uncle’s house.  They lived about 150 feet up the hill and shared the same driveway.  I hadn’t even made it off the property yet.  But, needing to figure out my next moves, I took a break to tap into my rations of grape juice and tell my aunt (my Mom’s younger sister) of my new plan.

How she kept a straight face during my tale is something only a Finlander would be capable of.  She nodded her head, in complete understanding of my decision, then told me I should go downstairs and talk to my older cousin.  I headed downstairs, grabbed the other Intellivision remote control and we played video games while pounding back my last two grape juice.  This was freedom.

Somehow, I woke up in my bed at camp the next morning.  Realizing the blueberry pancakes smelt too good to avoid, I sucked it up and decided to stay knowing they knew just how close they came to having an emancipated son.

This was my perception of adversity.  I was dealing with a major struggle and made quick, knee-jerk, emotionally driven, irrational decisions that put me right back where I was when I started.

They say most peoples’ response when faced with adversity is “fight or flight”.  And I flew like a boomerang.

There’s Been An Accident

It was Sunday, July 21st, 1991, and my Dad knocked on my bedroom door around 830am.  He said, “your sister and I are going to Penage for the day.  Want to come?” 

I loved Penage, and I still love Penage, it was where I went for the other half of my summer after the Long Lake camp noted above.  It was the “Caswell Family Camp” on the North Shore that my grandparents built in 1939 and was shared by all family members down the line from them.  It was a great spot that once created great memories.

But, at this point, I’m at the age of asshole 16-year-old that would rather hang out at Southridge Mall or sit in a basement somewhere hoping to “hook up” with a buddy’s sister or cousin.  Driving 45 minutes to the lake and putting around in the boat all day with my dad and sister just wasn’t on the “cool” radar for today’s agenda.  I politely said, “Nah, I’ll see ya tonight,” while I rolled over and did the teenage thing of sleeping in till almost lunch.

I got to my buddy’s place and we were doing the “cool” thing – hanging out in the basement.  My parents had no idea where my buddy’s place was, let alone the phone number, but somehow there was a phone call for me.  When I picked up, I was told, “Steve, get home.  There’s been an accident”.

I ran at full speed.  I made Forest Gump look like “He Was Walking!!!!”  I could’ve probably ran to Penage without losing any speed while my mind raced with a million thoughts.  What was the accident?  Who is hurt?  Who is going to be at my house?  I’m not religious, but I sure was praying hard that my dad was ok.  Of course, my sister as well, but my dad was my mentor, my best friend and one hell of an awesome guy.

As I got home, there was no time to enter the house, instead there was a car waiting in the driveway with my cousins.  I was whisked away on a direct shot to Sudbury General.  I was asking every question and there was nothing but blank stares and “let’s just get there” responses.

As I raced into the ER, I asked the nurse where Bill Caswell was.  Her reply, “sorry, there’s no one here with that name.  But I have a Heidi Caswell on the list” – my sister.  My heart sunk.  I was crushed.  It’s like I was still running home at full speed and didn’t see the brick wall that just popped up in front of me.

I was taken through the swinging doors into the back where my mom, who was a nurse in Labour & Delivery at Sudbury General, was being consoled by family and some of her colleagues.  But no sign of my sister yet.  My mom was a mess, but we embraced.  She was barely able to get out the words as to what happened at Penage, but she explained that Heidi was ok - albeit completely traumatized and in shock.  But they have yet to locate my dad.

We went in to see my sister and, with a completely blank stare on her face, she gave us a vague explanation of what transpired and how she was able to swim to shore where she was airlifted out.  My mom and I tried to stay strong, but it was impossible.  Literally impossible to just put on a brave face.

Here’s adversity in all its glory, brought on by the same story, yet three completely different versions of it all within the same family. 

I had just been told my best bud in the world is missing and presumed drowned.  My Mom just lost her best friend and husband and is now alone to continue raising two kids.  And my sister had just battled adversity watching my Dad go under while she was swimming to shore.

Then came the “What ifs”.  What if I had gone that morning?  What if Heidi had stayed with him?  What if he’s just on the other shore confused in the bush?  What if…. What if…. What if…..

What ifs” don’t help adversity, they add fuel to the fire.  I know that now but didn’t then.  It doesn’t matter what could have been done to change things, I can only change what’s going to happen next.

Obviously, this was devastating to our family nucleus.  We lost the head honcho.  And in the months following, after the 10-day search for his body came up empty, things began to unravel.  My mom and I started butting heads about who was the “man of the house” now.   And being an asshole 16-year-old, I felt I was.  She felt she was.  But neither of us let it go.

Over the next two years, I spiraled downward.  I was full of hate, I was full of regret and I was full of self-blame cause of the “what ifs”.  I was in and out of the house and had a complete “who gives a shit about life” mentality.  Basically, just a giant, and dangerous, “fuck the world” mindset.

Then I got complacent and found myself in some real shit.  I won’t get into too many details here (maybe a story for another day), but I found myself sitting in the bail court lock up waiting for my hearing.  Just to be clear, this was a non-violent issue, but I was a newly minted 18-year-old that had just fucked up.

When I came out of the tunnel to see my lawyer, I asked where my mom was.  He replied with, “she said to let you rot”.

This was it.  This was bottom for me.  I had let my rampant emotions control me and this is where I ended up.  Not even my own mom would help me anymore.  The boomerang went badly off course and never came back on this one.

Boy, was this a wake up call for how to deal with adversity.

For my issue, I ended up with a punishment of 18 months’ probation and 150 community hours.  In hindsight, the judge definitely helped me straighten out into the person who’s writing this today.  It was a harsh penalty considering what I had done, but the judge did warn me, "it is for your own good and make sure you don’t ever end up back in front of me again.”  It was good for me.  Thanks Judge.

I committed to everything fully and served my time.  I also started working part-time, recommited to high school, got back to playing hockey again and tried to go back to the life I was living before tragedy struck.  My mom and I struck a peaceful chord and we agreed to go back to being a family while she had adopted a new tone as well with her newfound saying being “life is for the living”.

The adversity I faced, my mom faced, and my sister faced was all drastically different.  And how we individually responded to the same circumstance we all were hit with was unique to each of us.

But, it’s important to note, that my emotional and irrational reactions to it caused even further adversity to my mom and sister.  My actions caused greater suffering to others at a time when we needed to all heal together.

Some did say, and have said, “you were a teenager dealing with a traumatic situation, so it’s ok that you went off the rails a little bit”.  I disagree – there are no excuses in life.  And it wasn’t “just a little bit”.  I didn’t just come off the rails – I flew off the rails and took all the other passengers with me. 

My flight response affected my loved ones and my complacency almost ruined me.

“Heidi, The Police Are Here For You”

It was Sunday, December 17th, 1995, and I awoke to an early morning doorbell that was seriously impacting my hangover.  My buddy, Ryan, and I had done our usual night at Ralph’s and capped it off with the famously low-fat Big Drippers delivered from Sub City.  So, I wasn’t sure if the malaise was from the rums at the bar, the brick of greasy roast beef in my stomach or a combination of both.

I emerged from my basement bedroom, passing “Coondog” in his usual sleeping spot on my dad’s old La-Z-Boy, and I headed towards the door.  Down the entry hallway, I could see a policeman through the glass on the front door.  With a whisper, “Shit, Coondog, it’s a cop”, he propped up in the chair pretty quickly as I’m sure his mind was racing through last night’s events the same way mine was.

I opened the door and said, “good morning, officer.  How can I help you?”  His name was Grant Shaw and, although I didn’t know him before that moment, we became friends afterwards.  He replied with, “is your sister home?

I could feel the stress leaving the La-Z-boy as I also felt a rush of “whew, not us”.  I yelled upstairs, “Heidi, the police are here to see you” as I wondered what she possibly could have witnessed the night before when she was out.

Then Officer Shaw walked in and said, “no, I have to talk to both of you.”  This cannot be good.

When Heidi came down, I once again heard the “there’s been an accident” line.  I just ran head long into that brick wall again, yet I hadn’t even moved this time.  He went on to inform us that Mom was killed in a head-on collision, along with her close, nursing buddy, at the hands of drunk driver.  The lone survivor, out of six people, was my mom’s boyfriend who she had just started seeing as it took her that long to get over the loss of my dad and move on with her own life.

Before I could even digest the news, a rush of people came into the house – aunts, uncles and my girlfriend’s dad, John Smith, who is also a Realtor® and a great friend to this day.  I looked over at Coondog and his face said it all.  Although it wasn’t his flesh and blood, he was wearing that same blank, traumatized stare that Heidi had on in the hospital only a few years prior.

Here I was, 20-years-old, had now lost both my parents, just inherited a house, two cars and, what we would discover later, living with a schizophrenic sister.  Merry Fucking Christmas.

With all the sobbing, hugging and “what ifs” filling the room, John pulled me aside with a non-emotional tone and said, “don’t agree to anything, don’t sign anything and take your time figuring this out”.  To this day, this advice likely saved me from backsliding into the same way I responded to my Dad’s accident.  Sage and calming advice, in the face of adversity, from one hell of a great guy.

I bucked up and dealt with the cards in hand.  The life all my friends were going to enjoy, heading off to live in a dorm and pursue that university degree, was wiped out and replaced with funeral plans, lawyers to see and decisions to be made for the future that required a level head and an “adult” mindset.  I was now feeling the same adversity my mom dealt with after my dad’s accident, with the exception that I had no asshole teenager trying to take over the house.

A day after I got the news, one of the best things that happened was thanks to all my best buds from high school.  We’d always go to Jeff’s place (aka Caughy) and hang out in his basement.  After two days of dealing with some seriously heavy shit, having a constant parade of people coming through the door with food and condolences and having family staying with us to make sure we were ok, the boys grabbed me and took me to Caughy’s.

I was one of the boys that night.  I wasn’t a guy who had just lost a parent, instead they’d grill me about the shirt I was wearing, they’d kick my ass on the pool table and make me get my own beer.  I wasn’t getting any special treatment and it was perfect.  Getting taken out of the chaos of the “your life has just been drastically altered” situation and getting to spend time with good friends as “just one of the guys”, even if only for a few hours, was just what the doctor ordered.  These guys are not psychologists, but somehow they managed to teach me a valuable lesson about stepping outside of adversity and how a moment of normalcy can reframe and refresh your mindset when you’re forced to jump back in.

The night after my mom’s funeral, I burst.  It was a tough stretch, from initially getting the news to walking out of the church, and my emotions had finally caught up to me.  Had I let my guard down?  Or had I become smart enough to contain my emotions until the heavy lifting required during a stage of adversity had passed?  Yes, to both.

A week later, I attended another funeral for my good friend’s mom.  She had been battling cancer for eight years, consistently in and out of the hospital type battle, and her two sons took great care of her through it.  My buddy came up to me in tears after the funeral, wrapped his arms around me and said, “you’re the strongest guy I know.  I’m going to need ya through this.”  He was wrong.

I told my mom to have a fun night on Manitoulin Island before she left and woke up to a police officer at the door.  He put a lot of his young life on hold, while I was being an asshole teenager, to help his mom in her daily battle.  Who really was the stronger of the two?

Regardless, we both were living the same outcome, but had two drastically different paths of adversity to get there and, similarly, two different paths coming out of it.

I got through it.  And I fought like hell.  I ignored the “what ifs” and I often did it with a smile on my face remembering my mom’s line – “life is for the living”.  But, most importantly, I suppressed my irrational response of “flight”, faced the situation with my emotions under control, made the tough choices and hung in there till I was passed it all.

Odile Roars Ashore

As some of you may now, Michelle and I spend some time in the winters in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  We were spending too much on various one-week vacations in the winter months, trying to escape the snow and figured we’d look for a place to be a little more planted and embedded.

In September 2014, I was in Cabo San Lucas getting us setup for our first upcoming winter there.  And for those who may not know, September is right in the heart of hurricane season down there.  But, for the most part, where Cabo is situated and how the peninsula is laid out in relation, most hurricanes get into “the shoot” and miss Cabo, or occasionally just throw a glancing blow of rain and some winds before they steer off into the middle of the Pacific.

As a somewhat nervous hurricane rookie, I heeded the warnings that were coming.  There were a few storms spinning offshore and we were told one was going to hit us.  I can’t recall the name of that one, but I also can’t remember the name of the one that missed New Orleans a few days before Hurricane Katrina hit either.

In almost identical fashion, the one that was “supposed” to hit us, didn’t.  It got into the “shoot” and off it went into the Pacific.  A few nights later, as I was out for dinner with a few fellow Canadian locals that I had just met, I mentioned that Odile looked like it was going to hit us.  I was lightly grilled about being a “novice” and that it would likely hit the “shoot” and be on its way.  Likely…..

Knowing complacency can be dangerous, I still went through all the motions of preparation even if it was “likely” to miss us.  I thought, “what’s the big deal in having some extra tuna and water in the cupboard and a jerrycan full of gas for the car.”  On Thursday, the day after the dinner above, I went about a casual day of prep and had the comfort of knowing I was ready.

By Sunday, September 14th, it was now evident that Odile was on a direct path for us and it was going to be a massive blow.  Complacency had come home to roost for plenty of people.  Grocery stores were packed, long lines at every gas station and people scrambling to board up their windows as the winds began to pick up.  Instead, I actually went out for a few beer and watched some football as the “novice” who already had all his ducks in a row.

Choose any cartoon word from a Batman punch you want – “POW!”, “BLAM!”, etc.  Hurricane Odile began to make landfall around 4pm on Sunday, with plenty of people ill-prepared still in the stores and gas station lineups, as a Category 4 hurricane.  The scale is one to five for those who don’t know, where a Cat-4 is considered devastating.

By 7pm that night, the boards on the windows had been ripped off and the bedroom window was being bent open with the winds and had water coming in like someone was standing outside it with a firehose.  I am not embarrassed to say that I was screaming at the window - “FUCK OFF, ODILE!!!!” - as the 235 km/h sustained winds had basically everything airborne that wasn’t tied down and slamming them into everything that was tied down.

Then it abruptly stopped.  Dead silence.  No wind, no rain, no nothing.  Although I had never been in one before, I knew we were in “the eye” of the storm.  It is profoundly surreal.  It’s almost as though these storms are genetically designed to provide a false sense of security, so people let their guard down in order to inflict maximum damage.

Then you could hear the roar starting to gain momentum again as the eye passed and we were entering into the backside of the storm.  This is even worse than the front side.  This is where most of the damage is done where the winds are even stronger.  This was getting very real, very fast.

After screaming every other profanity I knew at Odile, I finally was able to doze off around 3am.  The winds were settling, I knew I had made it and, after taking a quick inventory, I knew my immediate surroundings were safe to get some much needed rest.

I woke up at 6am, went down to the kitchen to make coffee, wading through about a foot of water, and opened up the front door.  This was my first true visual of what just happened.  Giant palm trees in the community pool, cars smashed in the parking lot and neighbours without any doors or windows left.  It was clear this was NOT what the area and the locals were used to.

I grabbed the mop and bucket, opened up the windows to get some air flowing and did a full clean top to bottom of the house.  Just because it wasn’t normal outside didn’t mean it couldn’t be as close to normal as possible inside, which gave me that sense of grounding for the moment.

After driving down to the main drag, it was evident that this was widespread devastation.  Almost every electrical pole was on the ground, water wasn’t flowing, the roads were basically impassable, and all communications were down.  This was a true Zombie Apocalypse with everyone roaming around staring at each other blankly in utter shock.  I went back to home base to absorb what I just witnessed and ground myself again.

The next day, I took a ride into town to see what it looked like.  It was bad - really, really, really bad.  As I was walking around taking pictures, I had locals advising me to “get back to your hotel, this isn’t safe for tourists to be in”.  After a quick stop in to see how my buddies were doing, I went back home.

When I got back, I noticed a tree that had been uprooted near our place.  I grabbed my battery powered reciprocating saw and started hacking away at the tree to create kindling and fire logs.  My neighbour, who was completely ill-prepared for this and didn’t have a window left intact, yelled to me, “what are you even doing that for, Caz?”  I replied, “well, Mike, who knows what’s upcoming and we might be cooking our food over a fire pretty soon”.  You could tell he was in the same stage I was in after my dad’s accident – complete denial and anger that this was “happening to him”.  I, however, was in a new stage of coherent decision making on the fly and planning for any possible outcome.

That evening, as I was BBQing burgers on the rooftop, I saw fires starting to burn in the Walmart parking lot as rumours were buzzing that rioting and looting had begun.  Only 36 hours after the hit, the entire area was beginning to completely destabilize.  They weren’t allowing tourist buses to get through the narrow road openings to get to the airport.  The military was overwhelmed and had to simply let the looting occur as long as there was no violence.  And the individual communities had no security personnel as they were busy trying to help their own families survive.

On the flip side, there were workers in backhoes digging out the roads, cleaning the beaches and just generally helping others out.  These people were in the same situation and decided to do something about the adversity they were facing by helping, instead of selfishly making it worse for others.

My wife, of course, is back in Canada going through her own adversity.  She can’t contact me, she’s seeing news reports of the chaos and, other than one message that got through right at the end of the storm before communications ceased, she really had no idea of my well-being.  I’m sure she was walking around with a look on her face like Coondog had.

The next day, I got together with my new friends and ended up moving in with them for a “power in numbers” type of scenario for our safety.  We were all in this together and we were going to get out of this together.  But, they are bar owners in Cabo and, as the people they are, they refused to leave until they found each one of their employees and give them money knowing that they were hopefully heading out and the bar would be closed for who knows how long.

Our lives at this moment consisted of cold beer (thanks to a generator!), showering in pairs so one person could use a pitcher to dump pool water on the other, having to walk back to the pool after using the bathroom to grab a bucket to flush and staying isolated in the house otherwise for our safety.  It was becoming barbaric.  But we kept our eyes focused on the end game – getting the hell out.

Five days after the storm hit, we had heard rumours (that’s how news was spreading), that there were evacuation flights coming in.  Emergency communication had been restored, but it was spotty at best.  I asked Michelle to reach out to our friends in Los Angeles and Phoenix to be ready for the possible arrival of myself and friends, simply assuming (and hoping) that we’d end up in one of those locations with familiar faces.

We packed a bag each and hopped in the car for the airport.  The carnage was evident on the entire ride out.  It was bad.  And then even worse when we saw the airport basically destroyed.  We parked the car in a random field, left a note for whoever found it to hopefully leave it there and locked the doors.

As we walked up, there was a massive line up of Mexican nationals, looking to board military rescue flights to the mainland, that were being distributed rations in the near 40C heat.  We considered going back to the house assuming there would be no way we’d be getting on a plane that day from the back of that line and, once the sun goes down, we are not safe outside of the confines of our safe space.

Out of the blue, a Southwest vested gentleman approached us and said, “if you’re Canadians or Americans, your flight to Phoenix is on the tarmac.  Follow me.”  As we were walking, my eyes started to well up.  I made it.  I did it.  We did it.

After a two-hour flight, I got to embrace our great friend, Deb, who was waiting for us at arrivals.  I’m sure she still remembers the smell of that hug after showering with pool water and Lysol wipes for five days.  I introduced my friends and we had a 30 mins drive back to Deb’s place where we must’ve said “holy fuck” 100 times.

When I got in the shower and Rory’s disco lights showerhead started hitting my face, I'm not ashamed to say that a considerable amount of the water going down the drain were tears as I knew it was over.  I definitely still have some PTSD thinking about everything that I had endured and how it ended at that exact moment.

There was a giant community that all suffered from the same traumatic blow.  In the face of adversity, some turned selfish adding to the chaos, some cried over spilled milk, some made sure they didn’t leave without taking care of others and some bound together to make it out as a group.

We brushed aside complacency, made calm and intelligent decisions to prepare for the days ahead, became “as one” for our safety and stayed in the fight till it was over.

Hope This Helped

Like everyone else, my definition of adversity and how I respond to it has evolved over time.

Long gone are the days of being the “why me?” person.  Long gone are the days of allowing uncontrolled emotions forcing me to make irrational decisions.  Long gone is getting angry in the middle of it.

Instead, I’ve looked adversity dead in the face and proved to myself that if I resist the urge to run away from it, keep my emotions in-check, take my time to make the appropriate decisions and continually be prepared for what might occur next, I’ll be ready and able to get through anything. 

And there will always be an opportunity for me to let my emotions come out when it’s over.

Right now, we are in “the eye” of the storm.  We’re passed the initial punch and we’re in that surreal moment where things seem to be standing still.  This is a big eye and it will take time to pass us, but we have to acknowledge that the backend of the storm will likely be worse than front.

We have to resist the urge to lay blame and get angry about it.  We have to resist the urge to become selfish.  We have to avoid becoming complacent.  We have to resist our emotions from taking over.

Take this time to analyze your situation.  Take this time to make informed, responsible decisions that will shuffle your cards to make the best hand.  Take some time to shut off the news and find some normalcy you’re more used to.  Take this time to be prepared for the back side of the storm.  Most importantly, we all have to take this time to bound together and get out of this as a group.

With what we’re in now, we all know we’ll have good days and bad days, we’ll get upset and we’ll laugh, we’ll shake our fists and we’ll cry, but all of it is ok.  The key is to remember that others are experiencing the same and to share your good days with those that are having a bad one, try to make someone laugh when they’re upset, open their fist up with a wave of compassion and put out your shoulder as a place for someone to shed their tears.

There will be time to heal and reflect back with emotion after the important work is done.  But, for now, we all still have too much hard work to do to get this all behind us.

Remember, your personal definition of adversity is unique only to you.  Nurture it and embrace it.  It's that definition you've created that will be your guide through this.

I love this picture too much not to close with it:

Continue to stay home, stay healthy and stay safe.  We will get through this.

Contributed by:

Steve Caswell

Cell - 705.561.8767


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other salespersons, staff or affiliates of Realty Executives of Sudbury LTD. Brokerage, Realty Executives International, the Sudbury Real Estate Board, Ontario Real Estate Association, Canadian Real Estate Association or any of their subsidiaries.  For any concerns pertaining to the content herein, please contact us immediately at

COVID19 Human Behaviour Analysis

(Published on - 3/7/2023 12:03:52 AM)

So, anything new, folks?

That’s my twisted new opening line I’m using these days when reaching out to everyone during these times.  But that is my “human behaviour” in the face of adversity, which will be the topic of my next blog you’ll find here or on our team Facebook page next week.  That blog will focus on providing the life experience I’ve dealt with when faced with adversity that some can’t even imagine…..

For now, though, this week’s blog is focused on the current Human Behaviour we’re witnessing throughout the spectrum – social media, online, the news, the politics and even face-to-face interactions.

Before I get rolling into this, anyone who knows me well, knows I’m somehow capable of fitting seven “F-bombs” into a three-word sentence.  Normally when I write these blogs, or anything for that matter, especially when I’m passionate about the subject, I have to review the piece in its entirety and “reword” some portions to exclude the heavy use of profanity for public and professional domains. 

As you may have seen in my last blog, I basically finished the message with my inaugural blogging “F-bomb” as I felt it was required to send home the message.  So, as a disclaimer, like we all hope with our current monthly payments, I’m putting a “pause" on my politically correct way of polishing my writing for the short term.  But, let’s face it, I’m sure the kids at home and even the tightest-of-asses out there have slipped out a “fuck” or two this week….. 

Back to the topic at hand – Human Behaviour when faced with a crisis.  And, at quick glance, it’s evident that some are rapidly shedding that persona of “Canadians are too nice”.  We are beginning to see the true nature of people as we begin to recognize this duration of self-isolation is going to be a lot longer than expected.  Some people often think I’m an asshole because I wear my heart on my sleeve and I don’t pull any punches.  But I'm getting a little worried that I’ll no longer be recognized as such in today’s climate while people begin to surpass me, in spades, in pure assholeness

I’ve broken this blog down into categories as it’s important to review each one individually.  The unfortunate part is, by the time some readers get to this, there may be an even greater number of categories that have surfaced where people continue to devolve into animals, while others become angelic with their efforts.

Fear Not – The Self-Righteous Have Arrived!

Where, oh where, would we be without the wonderfully self-righteous?  They always know what’s best for everyone as they hold themselves in such high regard while belittling the masses.  Just how we would ever know how wrong we are at making our own personal choices without these morally superior people telling us?

Like everyone, I’m actively following the news these days.  My days used to be more business news categories, any major city/provincial/federal government announcements related to housing and a glancing blow at the other “blood thirsty, click-bait” headlines to see if there’s anything entertaining to enjoy with my morning coffee.

But, now, holy shit.  As we know, every single article is about COVID-19, or somehow “stretch-goal” related to it.  The real story starts when you get to the end of the article as the comment sections are alive with the self-righteous.  And their incredible use of hindsight to demoralize anyone else in their wake is simply impressive.

We all know NOW that those returning home from outside Canada have a mandatory 14-day quarantine in place.  But when our Prime Minister looked directly at Canadians abroad and said, “it’s time for you to come home”, there were none of these protocols in place.  Was it a mistake to do that without having tougher restrictions and mandatory requirements in place before sending that message?  Of course it was, but we only know that NOWAs I mentioned in my “We’re All Doomed” blog, governments are trying their best to stay ahead of this while still keeping peoples’ civil liberties’ in mind.  Therefore, these aren’t “mistakes” at the time, they were the flipping of a coin in a fast-paced environment that bounced the wrong way.

So, as a result, a ton of Canadians did what they were asked to do by their leaders.  (I elected to not use a “boatload” of Canadians in that line out of sensitivity for the now destroyed cruise industry.)  They did exactly what they were told to do only to return to the onslaught from the self-righteous.  They’re being called “selfish” for going on a vacation or living abroad during harsh winter months.  They’re being told, “they should’ve known better” when they got on a plane to travel before any travel advisories were put in place.  They’re being ostracized like lepers upon their return home when people say, “they just came home but I saw their kid in their own backyard building a snowman” well before the message changed from “stay home and don’t come in contact with anyone else” to “do not leave your house under any circumstances”.

But those are just the lighter fare of the unusual dish of non-Canadian being served up.  Some commenters have been adamant that these returnees, at the behest of government, be placed in warehouses at the airports under military guard.  Seriously.  One commenter even went as far to say, “they should be chained to their toilet for 14 days”.  Wow.  You are truly a self-righteous asshole.

I get it.  We NOW know that travel is likely responsible for the introduction to Canada.  How else does anything get from China or Europe or the U.S. into Canada?  But the border wasn’t closed until well after the first introduction and all we needed was one.  

As we’re discovering during this, every action we take today, we don’t see the reaction for 10-14 days.  Therefore, the current skyrocketing of cases in Canada can likely be attributed to everyone that was asked to return home at once, funneled into tight spaces on planes, sat in cattle-call line ups in customs, and then headed out into Canada to find their way home from the major airports – taking connecting flights, spending overnights in hotels, driving or taking cabs home and stopping for gas, food, to say “hi” to the grandkids along the way, etc.

Again, we’re all acting and reacting daily to the everchanging landscape, but it seems the self-righteous commenters online and in social media have had this all figured out for quite some time – using heavy condescension as though this is the 7th time they’ve gone through a worldwide COVID crisis.  It must be so nice to be so much wiser than everyone else while hiding behind a fake name passing judgement on others without knowing their full story. 

Yet, ironically, these people could easily be community spreaders with no symptoms as they’re lined up at Costco to buy their 15 year supply of toilet paper…..

But, to be fair, you can’t have books lined up on the mantel without a bookend at each end keeping them in place.  The self-righteous aren’t only those that live in the shadows online behind fake account names, they’re also the jackasses that were ignoring the health officials and governments’ requests of going into self-isolation upon returning home.

These people definitely fit the high & mighty persona.  They come back on a crammed plane, funnel through customs without keeping their distance from others, check off the box that they “acknowledge they have to self-quarantine” and head home.  Instead of following the advice, they drop their suitcase and head out to the bank, the grocery store, stop in to see the family and then head over to their buddy’s garage for a couple cold ones to have a few laughs about their trip.

These beauties are the ones who have transferred this from a battle of travel cases to now a battle of community spread.  These are the people that have the 70-year-old from Florida, who goes straight home and isolates for 14 days, being ostracized and lambasted as “selfish” by her friends and neighbours.  These people are the ones that have created the mandatory quarantine for travelers and, most likely, the entire country lockdown soon to come as cases continue to spike.

As of this moment, thankfully, the self-righteous are the outliers from the majority.  But these bookends seem to be squeezing closer and closer as the days progress.  And, as communities begin ramping up their “snitch on your neighbour” protocols, we’re going to see more and more uncharacteristic dissention among Canadians unfold.

Deny, Deny, Deny

This group could also be included in the Self-Righteous category, but I thought it reasonable to give them their own space on here.

It’s just a flu” or “more people die from the flu” are some of the ongoing excuses we hear from this group.  Or, even worse, this is where you see the birth of some of the conspiracy theorists rearing their heads.  (Spoiler alert, there’s more on conspiracy theories to come!) 

The members of this illustrious group make these comments of denial and then go on to flaunt the recommendations as though they’re invincible to this.  They’re young, so they don’t have to worry about it.  They’re only going to have dinner and drinks with friends they know well, so all will be fine.  We’re even still seeing some in our industry that are claiming “we’re an essential service, so I can still show houses as long as I have hand sanitizer”.  Regardless of where they fit in there, they all have a similar mindset - “meh, whatever, if I get it, I’ll just stay in bed for a few days and be fine.  Otherwise, it's no big deal”

This is not the flu.  Whether it is was constructed as viral weapon is irrelevant at this point.  Just cause you’re young doesn’t mean you won’t pass it on to someone who isn’t or can’t handle it.  This is not business as usual for anyone – essential or not.  This IS a big deal.

I asked the question before, but here’s a few more.  If you knew you could end up killing your friend while having a beer together, would you do it?  What if there was a chance you killed their kid, their parent, their grandmother or their neighbour by having that dinner party?  Would you still go on business as usual trying to make that paycheque if the possibility of death applied to you, your family, your client, their family or the next person that walked in afterwards?

Or, how about a straightforward question – do you feel your actions are necessary or essential enough that you believe they’re more important than the life of someone else?

The deniers are a dangerous group.  Very dangerous.  Their laissez faire attitude towards this will not only cause a wider spread of damage to everyone else, it will cause this to be prolonged even longer than we are all hoping it will be.

Everyone makes their own choices in life.  But the choices you make should never include threatening the life of another person.  If you want to continue to not believe it, do us all a favour and stay home for now.  When this is all over, we’ll give you the podium to show us how wrong we all were and that this was just a regular flu.

Partison Politics Are Back!

Again, referencing my “We’re All Doomed” blog, we had such a nice stretch of non-partisan cooperation from our politicians.  They all wanted to help and support each other to make sure the people saw them as one voice, standing arm-in-arm singing Kumbaya, helping Canadians on a daily basis while they head into battle against that microscopic foe we know as COVID-19.

The Liberals got all parties in the House of Commons to come together to quickly pass the initial relief package they had announced to Canadians.  And the parties all agreed to a quick passage based on Trudeau’s announcements to us.  Until, that is, the Liberals tried to slide in provisions giving them unadulterated, unfettered and unlimited reach to tax and spend anyway they wanted until Dec 2021.

I’m pretty confident almost everyone in Canada is watching Trudeau’s daily presser.  He’s been doing a solid job in the face of this and was gaining some good ground against even his harshest critics.  But I’m pretty confident not one Canadian can say they heard him announce the condition that, to get this support package, Canadians had to grant him sweeping authoritarian powers.

Maybe it was just a busy day and he accidentally skipped that page of the prewritten statement he was reading from.  I won’t go as far as to say that maybe Trudeau feels “Canadians experienced the announcement differently”, but the information about this attempted power grab was never brought to anyone’s attention until moments before the parties were to vote on it.

Even the staunchest Liberal supporters may admit this was a bad play during a time of such political cohesion.  And, whoever authorized this attempt to take advantage of a crisis to seize the House of Commons should be ashamed.  Sure, there are probably some Liberal supporters out there that will say, “bullshit, it was the opposition parties that held this up”.  If that is your opinion, please let me know the last time the NDP and Conservatives were both on the same page for anything, let alone Singh and Scheer putting aside their utter disdain for each other and acting like teammates.  That tells a much different story.

But, again, there are bookends to every mantel.  Although Trudeau and the Liberals were wrong with that partisan play, they, in turn, reopened that mixed can of common one-line zingers and finger pointing that politicians love to injest.  Scheer wasted no time in using the "we're not giving them a blank cheque" zinger and wagging his finger in condemnation of the government’s response to the crisis thus far as being too slow, not enough, etc.  This is not the time for partisan political games whether or not the “but he started it” sandbox rule applies. 

Keeping the government accountable is 100% the opposition parties’ duty.  And the minority government worked the way it should.  But  trying to win cheap politic points on the back of one bad play during a crisis and deploying hindsight vision as the basis for your arguments is not.

So, as Canadians, our extremely narrow window of non-partisan politics and cooperation of the parties may have come to an abrupt halt.  But at least we had some unity for a brief moment that may offer a glimmer of hope that the post COVID-19 Canada might be non-partisan. 

Ya right.

The Expert Disagrees

Oh, the media.  Not unlike politicians, they actually looked like they were realizing everyone was on to their schtick before this shit hit the fan.

After fueling the HYSTERIA-20 I talked about in my previous blog, causing widespread panic and mass hoarding of supplies, they seemed to settle into a more “keep the peace” approach.  Not sure if they were instructed to do this from the governments or not, regardless, it was the right play.  They toned down the rhetoric and started asking people to be conscious of washing their hands, they repeated story after story that the supply chains for food and essentials would not run bare to halt the rush on panic buying and, most importantly, they started to emphasize the portion they were burying in their stories that, for most people, symptoms are mild-to-moderate and they will fully recover. 

Now, with self-isolation being so widespread in Canada, it's even nicer to see the positive news stories they’re sharing – people singing from balconies, messages of positive support in windows for neighbours and people enjoying socializing together though messaging platforms.  All really good stuff to help people realize not every Canadian has turned asshole.

But, the bi-partisan reporting was short lived.  We’re now seeing the media headlines turning back to fit their narrative.  They’re now back to finding these “experts” from the deep corners of the web that agree with their storyline.  They’re back to not asking the tough questions of some leaders, while taking anything another says out of context.

Nothing gets the press more excitable than the leader to the South.  And, for some bizarre reason, many Canadians feel the need to be fully engulfed in these discussions and waste their lives arguing about it.

Trump has horrible hair, definitely sounds like an idiot often (whether in person or on Twitter) and does not at all know how to be politically correct. 

On the flip side, he’s not a politician.  He doesn’t pull punches, wears his heart on his sleeve and and doesn't care who's tree he rattles.  He doesn’t avoid questions by regurgitating the same canned response over and over and often answers them so bluntly that the PC crowd see it as offensive.  There are definitely cases where it is warranted, however.

Because of his directness with responses, he gets absolutely impaled by the media who doesn’t like him.  He makes a stupid comment, off the cuff because he’s not reading from a script, and trips over his own feet without the preprinted help.  The CNN’s of the world pounce on it and take full advantage of the one sentence out of the two minute response to alter the context and amplify it to suit their message to help sell commercial slots for "The Situation Room".  Yes, some of it is justified, but not of all it should be believed as fact based, unbiased journalism.

Back in Canada, most are cognizant of the fact that the mainstream media (CBC, CTV, TorStar, etc) are left in their partisan leaning.  They don’t ask the tough questions of left leaning leaders and occassionally it seems like they even lob in some soft questions for Trudeau to knock out of the park for soundbites they can use on the evening news.  Then they purposely avoid including any potentially critical responses from other parties that may not fit within their storyline.  Although, when it’s a party on the other side, they’ll always seek out that opposition party member or that “expert” for their comments.

But, on the other bookend, we do have the right leaning media as well.  It was almost shocking to see Toronto Sun posting positive stories about the Feds at the onset of this.  But then the door opened a crack with the aforementioned Emergency Bill draft release and they quickly devolved into their old ways of skewering Trudeau and the Liberals for every decision ever.  Like the left media, they find the right leaning "experts" to disagree with the goverment directives, just like we see Fox down south when they can always find an “expert” from some “no one knows where the hell it is” school or organization that confirms everything The Donald said was 100% accurate.

I’ll repeat what I said before, wouldn’t it be nice to get factual, unbiased news?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have the media hold all our parliamentarians to account, regardless of party stripe, and force them to directly answer the hard questions without the usual dodge, dip, duck, dive and dodge and regurgitation of the scripts?  Wouldn’t it be nice if opinion pieces weren't being portrayed as actual "news" stories?

Possibly, in time, we'll be able to look back and analyze whether the lifespan of this chaos could have been shortened had the media stuck to reporting the facts and forced the politicos to look us in the eyes and directly answer the questions truthfully.  For now, only the self-righteous know that hindsight will prove this in the future.


A week ago I was saying, “come on, you can’t seriously believe this shit” with the conspiracy theories that have been popping up.  Now, I’m already numb to the amazing stories that are surfacing.

Why don’t we just say COVID-19 was the director of the fake moon landing?  And COVID-19 is the offspring of Bigfoot and Lochness.  Maybe COVID-19 was responsible for flattening the Earth.  Did you know, if you listen to COVID-19 backwards, it's a message from the devil?

No, those aren’t real ones I’ve seen, but I won’t be shocked when they come out.

Some of these conspiracies are blatantly absurd.  But some require some thought and investigation to refute.  And these are the most dangerous.

There are too many people out there that digest anything they see on social media.  Some are more careful than others, but some simply hit “share’ the second they find something that is HUGE and people must know!  And, in our current state, the number of people on social media has exploded exponentially adding to the danger.

Here’s a theory for everyone – don’t worry about it right now and just do your part by staying home.  When this is all over, there will be a ton of analysis, finger pointing and blame going around.  There will be investigations and there will be ramifications for how this started and how it was handled.  Will we ever hear the complete story?  Probably not. 

The reason there are conspiracy theories is based on what we’re being fed from the powers that be that often leaves gaps in their story.  Whether it’s for “national security”, to avoid being seen as not politically correct or just because there is an underlying issue they don’t want to share with us, The Great Unwashed, to protect their own asses, these become flashpoints for these stories to take off. 

Add to this the fact that some people have too much time on their hands (especially these days) to create websites, edit video clips into one and write long, vaguely detailed stories that try to connect all the dots (such irony as deep as I'm into this currently), there is too much bullshit fueling additional bullshit, that fuels bigger bullshit and then people ending up inhaling a pile of shit and think it smells great.

Moral of the story – we’ll find out some of the answers for all this after the fact, but don't add fuel to the fire by giving these any legs online.  You can rest assured that the self-righteous probably already know the outcome, the politicians already know it’s the other party’s fault and the media knows not to ask their favourite about it, while railroading the “other guy” about it. 


Like others, I’ve scrolled far more than I ever have through social media these days.  But there is so much stuff getting posted, it’s hard to keep up.  And I’ve been adding to the pile more frequently than usual as well.

I have to acknowledge the IMPRESSIVE, hilarious memes that are being created.  Honestly, hats off to the beautiful minds out there who create these pieces that tickle our funny bone while we’re scrolling through all the other noise.  I’ve actually been brought to tears laughing hysterically at some of these.  Bravo.  And thank you for the relief.

Then there’s the positive messages of support for everyone involved.  And the posts of assisting politely in spreading the word.  And the messages of love, compassion and care so that no one thinks this is only their cross to bear.

But, of course, these are still open platforms where two of the previous groups are running rampant – our conspiracy theorists and the self-righteous.  We see these conspiracy posts spreading like wildfire  thanks to people doing no research on what they’re sharing.  And then the self-righteous, not exclusive to any specific post, telling us how wrong we all are.

I especially love the assholes who throw out comments like “what are you doing?  Quit being selfish.  You’re supposed to be in Canada, and you’re supposed to be social distancing!  Get home now and quarantine for 14 days!”  Upon further review, most of us saw that it was a “TBT” (Throw Back Thursday) post of the poster golfing in Arizona from 2018.

Folks, we’re in this for a longer haul than you’re being told.  We’ve got to stay positive, supportive and lighthearted in these domains we all “share”.  We have to ignore the self-righteous from telling us what’s best for us and we have to avoid letting conspiracy theories gain any momentum.

Rather, share with everyone that you've now had your 9th diet cheat day in a row.


So, in an effort to get fresh air and get some exercise, I try to go for a good hike every day.  I find it so valuable for peace of mind.  A chance for me to be alone with no COVID-19 opinionated news, no conspiracy theories scrolling by my eyes and no comments from the self-righteous making me want to reach through the screen.

I head out with a bottle of water in one hand and my phone with my favourite playlist in the other.  I hike at a good pace and often come up with the stuff you're reading now, not even realizing my hike is done sometimes.  And, up until two weeks ago, I’d pass the usual suspects that I shared the path with that I’d see at the same time every day with a “how’s it going?” or “good afternoon.”

Now, the path is busier with more people getting out for exercise.  But, now, with social distancing, people are almost jumping into the bush or into traffic just to stay away from me.  I approach people, keeping my distance, of course, where I give the usual greeting only to have them looking at me like I’m a serial killer.  But not just me, everyone is looking at everyone like this.

I get it.  I’ve been “hoarding” razors lately.  (aka – why waste time shaving these days?)  I understand I’m a little scary looking to begin with.  But the switch flipped with COVID-19 and now everyone is scared shitless of each other.  It's ok for us all to have our spidey-sense up these days and be way more cautious than we normally go about our daily lives.  But no health official has said you can get infected by saying, “good afternoon” and I highly doubt there are any cases of community spread that were caused by smiling at someone.

Take some deep breaths, at least six feet away from someone, and get back to being the overly polite Canadians we are.  You know the saying - smiles are contagious, but it's the good type of community spread we need right now.


Fear not - t’s not all despair and assholeness that is ramping up.  In the midst of all this, we’re also seeing the absolute best of Human Behaviour shining through. 

We’re seeing exhausted health care professionals continually finding their second wind.  We’re seeing the supply chain workers punching in without knowing when they’ll punch out.  We see the cleaners willing to put their hands on and into areas that most of us wouldn’t even consider getting within two meters from these days.  We’re seeing businesses stopping their profitable product production lines to completely shift gears to make affordable products for everyone.  And this is only a short list of all those doing extraordinary things for all of us.

We see the people, mentioned before, on balconies singing to their neighbours, we’re seeing people volunteering to help those far less fortunate than probably anyone of us reading this, we see the young delivering groceries to the elderly, we see people helping people that used to not.  We’re seeing cities turn into communities again.

These people have never lost their Canadian way and I know we’re all grateful for that.  But the best way to show gratitude is to do our part in keeping this country unified.


Folks, we’re all coming to the conclusion that this is going to linger a lot longer than we all originally thought.  This is going to cut deeper than we probably ever could’ve imagined.  But we’re all going through it. 

And things will get worse.  People will start to feel too isolated, people will be getting cabin fever and people will start suffering from mental issues.  People will begin feeling the economic fallout.  And things on the worldwide web, news and social media will likely start to take a hard downward, negative turn as all these things take hold.

But that doesn’t give any one of us the right to be unCanadian.

Whether you’re old or young, whether you lean politically left or right, whether you've traveled or not, whether you have a room in the house specifically to store toilet paper or not, whether you agree with me or not – the danger to our health and the eventual economic struggles are for real for all of us. 

Let’s get back to what the world has always thought of us instead of getting pulled into their webs of division.

Let’s get back to saying “sorry” for anything, even when someone else was in the wrong.

Let’s get back to being supportive of each other in a time of need instead of judgmental about decisions we made before things happened when only hindsight can confirm we were wrong.

Let’s get back to smiling at each other and saying, “how’s it going?” without acting like we’re each carrying a grenade with the pin pulled.

Let’s show the world how Canadians can always pull together as a nation to limit the damage.

Let’s put out the kindergarten field trip rope so everyone can grab on and find our way out of this together.

Let’s get back to being teammates because we’re all on the same team.

True North Strong isn’t just for us to come together for NBA playoff runs.

Stay home, stay healthy and stay Canadian.

Contributed by:

Steve Caswell

Cell - 705.561.8767


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other salespersons, staff or affiliates of Realty Executives of Sudbury LTD. Brokerage, Realty Executives International, the Sudbury Real Estate Board, Ontario Real Estate Association, Canadian Real Estate Association or any of their subsidiaries.  For any concerns pertaining to the content herein, please contact us immediately at


Questions? Need Advice? Complete this form for more information.

Contact Information::

Copyright 2024 Realty Executives All Rights Reserved


Steve Caswell

Disclaimer: Each office independently owned and operated. Please disregard this message if you are already under contract with another real estate professional.