Personal Development


 Photo by Conor Samuel on Unsplash

Chapter XXXVIII – The GTA

I am Jude. In many respects, Canada’s largest city has all of the characteristics of any large American metropolitan area. During the second leg of our vacation, we were able to experience the overwhelming size and unique diversity of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

In fact, it is very much like Miami, our previous travel destination. It has become a global melting pot, there is hustle and bustle everywhere and they are both incredibly expensive.

And then there’s the traffic. It supercedes some of the American cities I have visited. Congestion, bottlenecks and delays are part of the everyday commute anywhere near downtown Toronto. 

The only variable appears to be the intended time of departure or arrival in relation to rush hour. It’s a simple formula. The closer to rush hour, the greater the gridlock and the longer the drive. 

We stayed with some close friends in Burlington, which is located on the shores of Lake Ontario halfway between Toronto and Niagara Falls. It was a reunion of sorts because of Covid restrictions, and our hosts couldn’t have been any more hospitable or accommodating.

They led us on a memorable tour of the region, that was headlined by a bike ride along Lakeshore Drive to Sandy Beach in the downtown core. 

A dedicated bike path runs along the waterfront and offers a beautiful view of the skyline. The  temperature got up to 38C but the wind off the lake kept it completely comfortable all day. 

We also drove to Niagara Falls and were able to experience the immensity and power of one of nature’s wonders of the world. The size, height and sounds of the falls were awe-inspiring and unforgettable.

The attractions amusement parks and themed restaurants on Clifton Hill were almost as impressive. I’m exaggerating, but the sideshow associated with tourism and entertainment in the city is appealing to both children and adults. 

And then there was the food…

Eating has become much more complicated since I began eliminating meat, eggs and dairy products from my diet several years ago. In many ways, I also gave up putting any consistent effort into cooking. I became disinterested in food and began eating simply to live, and that hasn’t been near enough. 

Thanks to the Talbot’s every meal we had in the GTA was amazing. In fact, the food was one of the highlights of the trip. The roti, the fresh pasta, the falafel and orzo salad were among the best I have ever tasted – and that is no exaggeration. 

The food wasn’t just good, it was great. It reminded me that eating can be healthy and still taste fantastic. 

Nova Scotia obviously doesn’t have the food options Toronto does but not many places in the world do! However, I can become much more intentional and creative with my own cooking. I just need to invest a little more effort into meal preparation, and I plan on doing just that. 

In retrospect, Toronto exceeded all of my expectations. I never want to live there but definitely want to visit the city again. Did I mention the traffic?

Side Hustle – Unshackled Solutions Life Coaching and Consulting 

The Get Unshackled Health & Wellness Program began last Tuesday while I was away on vacation. Shout out to Ishraq, Livy and my daughter for holding it down and getting us off to a great start.

The goal of the program is to encourage local youth between the ages of 13-18 to adopt a healthier lifestyle through physical activity, mindfulness and personal development. 

This program is open to all adolescents regardless of their fitness level. We are committed to providing each participant with effective tools and strategies to support their physical and mental wellness. It is our desire to motivate these youth to Break Free from any self-imposed limitations and encourage them to Be Better versions of themselves.

Please contact Jude Clyke at (902)957-0602 or Joanne Jarvis-Jordan at (902)305-6512 or email:

The sessions have been taking place at Victoria Park but the weather has resulted in several workouts being completed at the RECC. Everyone seems to be having fun and responding well to the physical activity and the Wednesday evening Zoom sessions. So far, so good…

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I, on the other hand, struggled through my first workout. The Russian twists and the mountain climbers got me. 

I fully anticipated that the physical exercises would be a challenge after the surgery and subsequent layoff, I just didn’t realize how much. But I got this. 

Your Next Best Read – The Gifts of Africa: How a Continent and its People Changed the World by Jeff Pearce

The West will begin to understand Africa when it realizes it’s not talking to a child—it’s talking to its mother.

Jeff Pearce

As soon as I saw that quote, I knew I had to read this book. It was a bit longer than the ones I have been reading most recently but it was well worth it.

We learn early on in school how Europe and Asia gave us important literature, science, and art, and how their nations changed the course of history. 

But what about Africa? There are plenty of books that detail its colonialism, corruption, famine, and war, but few that discuss the debt owed to African thinkers and innovators.  

This book introduces us to some of the greatest minds, movements and contributions from the continent of Africa. Many of them unrecognized and unknown. 

Additionally, one chapter provided some unique personal context and transported me back in time to my young adulthood. 

It is devoted to the great Steven Biko, a brilliant South African freedom fighter who was murdered by the Secret Police while in custody. It highlights his revolutionary philosophies and subsequent impact on the world. 

I watched Cry Freedom, in 1988, a year after its global release. I was seventeen (17) at the time. This wildly successful and critically acclaimed film was set in 1970’s South Africa under Apartheid. It was produced by Sir Richard Attenborough and starred my favorite actor, Denzel Washington. 

Interestingly, the movie has remained with me for over thirty (30) years not only because of Denzel’s amazing portrayal of Steven Biko but because of the movie’s slanted focus on Kevin Kline’s’ character, a white newspaper editor who took great risks to publish the truth after his friend’s violent death.

I vividly remember how confused and angry I was when it ended. In my opinion, Steven Biko was the greatest South African Freedom Fighter of his era and yet he was reduced to a secondary supporting role in the movie. And it just felt wrong.

The Gifts of Africa is bold, engaging, and takes the reader on a journey of thousands of years. It tells the stories behind the milestones and accomplishments and provides insights into how great Africans thought, and how they passed along what they learned.

Despite overwhelming technologically disadvantages, economic disparities, colonialism and a  lack of resources – AFRICANS have bravely resisted and overcame.

I highly recommend this objective treatise on the contributions and accomplishments of Mother Africa. 

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

Positive Reflections – What’s Good?

Our lives are always evolving. Change is one of the only invariable constants. 

The ups and downs of life are essential elements of the human condition. They challenge and shape who we are and provide opportunities for personal growth and development. 

I am attempting to welcome, and even embrace, the vicissitudes of life. We need to appreciate the lessons and blessings in all things, regardless of the circumstances. And that begins with our mindset. We can experience joy and fulfillment in our everyday lives or resign ourselves to hopelessness and discontent. The choice is ours. 

I am facing changes in both my personal and professional life as I return from a much-needed vacation. 

Between my back operation and my summer leave it seems like I have been away from work since March. And for me, that’s a long time. Coming back, my specific area of focus and job responsibilities will be somewhat different, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But it will present some change. 

I completed my life coaching program in May and intend to obtain my certification by the end of July. I anticipate starting right away so I need to find clients, manage the bookkeeping and complete a host of other administrative responsibilities associated with the business. This is all completely new.

And my daughter has returned to work after almost a year of maternity leave which means that we will have the cubs more often. Nothing could make me happier but it will require some significant adjustments. 

Additionally, I am committing to making some additional internal changes to improve my health, lifestyle and decision-making. I am increasing the intensity of my workouts, improving my eating habits and exploring intermittent fasting. 

There is a lot of uncertainly and it can seem overwhelming when I consider everything I intend to accomplish in the next three months. 

However, I am excited about the immediate future and all of the opportunities that these changes will present. Bring it on!

Public Announcement

I continue to receive unexpected blessings. After communicating with my nephew over the last three months, I met him for first time while I was in Toronto.

Like many young brothers raised in similar circumstances, he is struggling to find his way. 

However, despite facing overwhelming obstacles (some of them self-imposed), he still possesses optimism and a steadfast belief that he can alter his situation, which are both critical components of resiliency. 

There are a couple of things I want you to know. 

Regardless of the circumstances, understand that you have the power to change your reality through consistent efforts to Be Better. There is scientific proof that we can alter the way our brains function by shifting our thinking. Your mindset is everything. 

Remember that what you do today will create your future tomorrow and that if you want more, you have to be more. There are no shortcuts.

Continue taking incremental steps to Break Free from the thoughts, emotions and behaviours that no longer serve you. Replace them with daily affirmations, positivity and self-compassion.  

Remind yourself that you are uniquely blessed and endowed by the Creator. You possess a wealth of untapped skills and abilities. There is greatness in you waiting to be manifested. All that is required is consistent effort and intention.

Seek out mentors and positive influences to shepherd you along your personal development journey and remember that your associations define you.  

And lastly, go out of your way to be good to people. Serving others is part of our divine purpose. Giving freely will provide its own unexpected rewards. 

I am glad we connected and would like to remain in touch. Take good care of yourself nephew. 

Your past does not determine your future – you do. So get busy defining what that looks like, your life depends on it! I am Jude. 


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