Qualifications

Day 66

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 14: Qualifications

Am I qualified for this adventure in which I seek? For the first time in my life, I will allow myself the confidence to answer a quick and firm ‘abosfrogginlutely’.

I’ve spent the past month seemingly trying to help you understand what a mostly uneducated,  still living in his hometown 40 something has to give to a project of this magnitude, but actually, this has all been about my own belief in self. It has been a lifelong struggle with self-confidence but at 44, I am finally there. Not kind of. Not almost. I have arrived.

I am so much more than stamps in a passport or letters on a piece of paper. Not to belittle the value in either but this whole project is about seeing the world through an alternative lens and I think a life seen through these passionate green eyes, qualifies me to realize so much more than I have allowed myself.

Leadership is about the team you surround yourself with. Matching values, intentions, and a strong mix of skills. I cannot do this alone and nor do I wish to.

I grew up playing sports and being a member of a team. I have long wanted to feel the energy of being a part of a group so driven to go all the way like many teams I played on as a child. I miss that passion, but I believe that pneumonia scented spark can exist in business, in community, and at home.

There is a great deal of change and innovation that must come, for more to know what it’s like to be an equal architect of a strong, supportive, winning team. By winning, I mean having fun, learning, and finding a sense of family through success and failures because we can’t ‘win’ every time. When we are as passionate about the journey as we are our end desires, there can be equal satisfaction in watching your friend across the pond celebrate their victories.

INSE will be highly successful if you’re belief in our vision is equal to our passion for this concept to see the light of day.

We can do this together if you’re iN.

Well commUnity

Day 22

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 11: Well commUnity


If I were to highlight what I loved most about going to church and being a part of any one faith, hands down it’s the food.

No seriously, what I appreciated most through my own experiences, was the sense of community and belonging that, inspired by young, admiring love, most drew me in while exploring Catholicism in my early 30’s.

Although that eighth month long journey found me faithless and sitting in tiny pews in a freakishly small church on the side of the highway, it reminded me of that sense of association I felt when I played hockey as a child. That family. Mostly, it made me see that religion, quite literally in this case, comes in all shapes and sizes.

It was another year before the thought of faith entered my life again, once again taking us back to that summer with the Natives in the valley. Although I hadn’t yet been versed in their belief system through that experience, I did learn a great deal about their traditions, their spirit, their strength and desire to protect Mother Earth. From Sacred Fires to an illuminating sweat lodge ceremony in the midst of a quiet urban forest,  that growingly addictive sense of community was once again present in my life.

People were living in trees, tending to the fire 24/7 to ensure the flame did not burn out, and others were organizing efforts to bring food and water to all those sacrificing time and spirit to save this paradise from destruction. For the first time ever, I was witness to the story not well told in a time when Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. These were the moments that made me realize the importance of learning about all sides of any situation.

That battle may have been lost in some regards, but things were changed and important lessons were learned.

It was around this time that I truly found writing again – a passion that I had let digress since those young, inspired middle school years. Writing led to being published. Led to meeting so many people volunteering their time to better their communities. Led to starting my own advocacy. Led to fighting for my children. Led to being an elected official. Led to this very story about the very thing I want to bring to our little city, to make it a better place by filling a void left by decisions I respectfully disagree with.

I clean alley’s. I run an event for kids each year. I pick up garbage while walking the dog at night.  I’m a politician. I am also a baseball coach. All of this inspired forward by people in my past and present whether strangers in the park or through the stories of giving back to his community brought out in my grandfather.

Community also comes in various shapes and sizes. From our sports leagues, our own streets, our broader towns and most importantly, our family networks. Knowing the importance of community and having the skill set to work together through good times and challenges, is key.

Being an active part of my community has strengthened everything else in my life from passion, acceptance, belonging, worth, communication, patience, humbleness, and kindness. I love the person I am more and more as I connect deeper with my community.

My work is better. My family is better. I am better.

I involve my girls as often as I can in the work I do in my community from cleaning parks, to arguing on the doorstep of strangers I hope will vote for me about who will knock on doors. I want them to know the value and importance of being involved, not to mention the peace I might find if they would only stop teasing the crud out of one another for 5 minutes. Long enough to go to the loo would be nice.

As with everything else, there is a balance between work, play, community and family so that is important to remember, but what engagement beyond our own lives naturally gives back to our spirits is invaluable and the key to a stronger, more harmonious and respecting society.

We must understand and value all roles played by all individuals across all aspects of our city networks to truly understand our own value and worth in and amongst the greater picture.

Once again, it’s okay to want something in return for engaging in your community. Like promoting your business or looking to network to find employment. I will guarantee however that if you go in expecting nothing, you will come out richer in ways you couldn’t have imagined. You’ll have people shopping at your business. You’ll find employment. You’ll also come out with something far greater than pulling thorns out of your tailpipe cleaning up overrun alleys or collecting business card bits out of the lint catcher thingy that were left in the back of your jeans. You’ll find connection. Pure, real, connection if you are sincere and real in your intentions.

Religious or not, you will find faith in something. Belonging. Appreciation. Understanding. Love. Acceptance.

Finding Our Voice

Day 18

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 12: Finding Our Voice

It took me a long time to find my voice. Well, I found it in humor in english and gym class in middle school, and math class in high school. I also found my buttocks in the principal’s office or at my desk in the hallway.  

As an adult who had long lost his funny internal sidekick, I first found my serious, somewhat mature voice in the form of the written word in my late twenties. It wasn’t until the end of my thirties, that I finally found my vocal cords.

I’m still quite nervous talking in front of others and have found myself pulling away from the public eye from time to time. I have also woken up sweating with panic at the thought of a successful outcome of this project, but I try to push forward in an effort to teach my children to never give up or let fear take the reins. In the end, I do like public speaking for the right cause.  

I don’t want my children to take this long to find their confidence and the inner strength to fight for what they believe in whether it’s starting a conversation with someone they are attracted to, or standing up to woman’s or Native rights or whatever their cause may be one day.

There is so much power in finding our voices. I feel more alive and impassioned than I ever have as I prepare to enter my mid forties – minus the joint and back pain, being tired all the time, and the greys overtaking my thankfully still thick head of hair. Take that, father time. It may take me 3 days to recover from a game of adult baseball but my inner confidence has never felt so young.

One thing I have learned on the journey to finding my voice, is that we can go too far with the courage that comes with learning to speak our minds. I have been left regretting some actions and written words and to a degree am still in the midst of un-finding my voice. By this I don’t mean shutting up and crawling under a rock. It simply means it was time to listen a lot more than talking. It’s hard when you spent your life being that quiet kid forever listening intently, and now you are suddenly an adult with so much to say to someone other than your pet frog, and a desire to be a big part of so many conversations.

To me, it doesn’t matter who you are whether a child, factory worker, office exec or hockey star, all voices are needed in the conversations of life. I especially have a great deal of respect for stars who use their far-reaching voices to promote positive, inclusive change for a harmonious, diverse world. They often catch a lot of flack from peers who feel it’s a stars job to just shut up and play the sport they are paid to play, or act in the movies they are paid to appear in. On the big screen of life, the play is but an entertaining distraction. It’s what those characters stand for in real life, that keeps me supporting their art.

Let’s help our youth and everyone in our societies find their voice,  and to use that call in a manner that unites us rather than places walls between us.

Losing My Un-Religion

Day 16

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 10: Losing My Un-Religion

Hunk ‘o junk. Sorry, I had to break the religious tension. A story for another time.

I don’t want to get too much into religion. It’s a touchy subject and really has little relevance to the project. Well none of this babble has any real matter now does it for those waiting for this long, self-centred intro to be finally over so we can get to what the bloody h-e-double ringette sticks this is all about already.

I will say that I do not like religion for it’s occasional judgement of others, or the part it plays in war and strife or the pain in my sciatica after an hour sitting in those hard pews. I do like the light banter afterwards in the community room and pancakes and coffee and more pancakes. When it comes to getting people out, have food will travel as the saying somewhat goes.

I have however in all seriousness, come to understand, as someone without religion in their life, the importance of having faith in something in whatever form that takes. Like the Leafs will win the Cup or Friends will have a comeback.

Although religion, for me, has no formal place in work, education or play, I believe it’s extremely important for all of our children (all of us for that matter of course), to have a good understanding of those we share our communities with every day from religion, traditions, and customs. Faith is an important part of so many of our lives. We must respect, honor, and value that in education, work and play because it’s there in our signal to the creator after a score, the rosary hanging from our family photo at our cubicle, or in the attire we wear at school.

I found my faith one summer in a valley learning about our country’s Native roots. If being Aboriginal was a religion I could simply pick up one day, I would have after that summer and a lifetime going to the local reserve with my grandfather, hearing his passion for our First Nations peoples, and his lifelong desire to do more to make their communities stronger.

As a politician, sitting on the First Nation Metis Inuit Community Advisory Committee and our local Indigenous Education Circle, has broadened my respect, knowledge and belief in their teachings and protective nature. Increasingly, it has me wanting to do more and to be constantly conscious of Indigenous teachings with the decisions I make in my life.

So although I cannot be Aboriginal and I chose not to take on any one faith, there are many beautiful aspects to all religions, traditions, cultures, and ways of life that we can all adapt to help us live a life that affords us to achieve our spirits, and those that share this space with us, true potentials. That includes our earth and all of its living entities.

Where once I believed in total separation of church, state, and education, I now see the utter importance in having an open and sincere discussion about faith, rather than shovelling it under the bulging rug. Not as a one over the other discussion or with any criticism, but rather as a matter of seeing the good intention in all of it. If nothing else, then quite simply the importance of believing in a power greater than us. Like lightning or tornados or mom’s chasing us around the house with a bar of soap.

I didn’t need the fear of God. I had the absolute terror of a cheesed off, cursing mother, with bulging central lobe veins leaping after one disrespectful little bugger.  She is my creator and as she often reminded me, also had the power to remove me from the world in which she brought me into. Luv ya mum.

Familie

Day 11

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 9: Familie

Seeing as though my grandfather was a big influence in my life and he was born in Denmark, I thought I would add a little Danish to the mix. Dane on my mum’s side, Scottish on my dad’s, and England-born grandmother’s all around.  The Scottish roots go back a few generations however from when they immigrated to Canada.

Not only am I lucky, as lucky as divorced and broke and 2 jobs each between my partner and I go, I am extremely rich when it comes to family and friends.

Most of all, there are my two girls. Then, there is my partner who is my cheerleader, and her daughter who sits smack dab in the middle of our 3 girls birth years.  Then add an 80lb dog, a Garfield-esk cat, and two of her fluffy- sleep during the day’ kittens and one Gecko. There you have our immediate home. We even have to feed the crickets and worms and the outside cats even come to our kitchen window for a pet and a snack, so all I really seem to do except work and sleep is clean poop and feed things. Lucky they are all cute or fascinating like worms are.

My parents have toughed out many struggles and are 45 years into their marriage. They are certainly an inspiration and my biggest role models. Both my grandparents lived death-do-us part romances, except my mum’s mum died when I was just a baby. All I have of us is a photo of her holding me and a toy airplane. She and planes had a ‘never go on one’ relationship. My grandfather did remarry but at 99 a few years back, he left my step-grandmother twice the widower.

My grandfather and his second wife both lost the loves of their lives far too young. They also were on two different sides of the war. One fought it in while his darling and child stayed back home, and his second love lived surrounded by bombs going off in the second world war while her husband was in battle. Both her men would survive that war.

I have one sister who is one of my best friends. Both my dad,  mom and both my grandfather’s were of big families of 5’s and 7’s so I have lots of cousins who I have mostly been very close with.

As for friends, I have so many buds I have known since birth or early grade school. We may not see each other all that often even though some live close by, but I know they are always there and I hope they know I am always here. I wish for these friendships to continue because through breakups and other important life moments, it’s comforting knowing I have them. It’s always nice of course but life goes by in a rush.

My family is very sociable, kind, giving, lovers of children and animals, reunions, drinks and a game of cards here and there. We are passionate about our local team, big local supporters of small business, and together a very passionate, talented, and creative lot.

None of us have really left this place. It’s common for locals and if you stick around for awhile, you see what a hidden gem our hometown is. Some have ventured off for a short while or came back and moved not too far away. Otherwise, at any given moment we could probably scare up 50 family members including new relatives that pop up from time to time as pasts reveal the very human nature of all of our families.  We are far from perfect but perfect in every way that matters.

Our family flaws are never far from front and centre but our true nature and strength always shines through during good times like weddings and other family gatherings, and tough times such as repair needs or deaths. There is always an opportunity to celebrate and never a second thought to a hug, a kiss, or a strong man shake.

Family is so important and for those that aren’t so blessed, it’s our opportunity to share the strength that our loved ones give us each and every day. I think we do this very well as does the community I live in. I feel that’s because so many families I am surrounded by are of the same cloth. Dealt more shyte than a litter box and maybe a bit broken and guarded, but always giving and quick to love again even though their love is always forever.

I am lucky that my children have known a great grandfather and so happy they have been able to have a close bond with my parents and sister. I know how important all of these relationships have been for me including the bond I had with my aunts and uncles.

My pooch sits up for a little love as a cool summer’s wind rips through our yard, making me think of how I am also lucky to have the forgiving, forever-love of this sweet soul. She and my cuddly cat have been with me through many lonely nights.

There are so many great souls in my life that I feel have all contributed to a powerful passion with so much pent up love and giving to express.

Strengthening that sense of belonging to a family is something I feel is extremely important and a big driver of this project.

Daddy

Above image credit: My two girls (really)

Day 10

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 8: Daddy

Is there anything more amazing than hearing that call? ‘Daddy?’

It is surely soon to slip away. It’s long since been ‘dad’ for 1.

~

For those imaginary people following along this, quote unquote, live writing journey, it’s been a few days since I have hacked away at this tale.

As I believe I have stated – the memory isn’t as good as it never was so perhaps I have, I am a single father. Kind of a misleading phrase considering I am no longer single and I never truly have been. As in single parents without the assistance of anyone to rescue them from tantrums, gadget duals and dirty laundry on top of clean laundry on top of toys on top of candy rappers on top of cat. I believe the run on sentence nicely symbolizes a day in the life of those bearing child minus a sanity assistant. Those angels need a medal or opioids or a big free frickin’ party for single parents at each month’s end sans children and avec whatever the frig they want. Parenting is hard bloody enough with another person or half of one or even one that comes down with the lurgy every time it’s their turn to watch the little buggers.

I love my girls with all of my affection. I have fought hard to be in their lives half of the time and I would gladly accept all of of it. Although, there has been a moment or two in recent months as they enter the ‘can I get away with locking them in their rooms’ years, that I was ready to send them back to mom’s. Of course the moment I get in the car and head for home when our time sharing ends, I already wish them back. Back to give me a hand when I realize on returning home that there is makeup and sparkles all over the bathroom sink, evidence of a long game of dressup, and rubber bullets spewed across the living room and in kitten mouths. Of course in all seriousness, that is codswallop; wishing them home to clean not the mess they make, because I will cherish the already fading desire to want to be with me rather than friends or boys. My aluminum bat is ready and has already had a couple of symbolic taps in my palm.

Before their mom and I separated 5 years ago, I had not gone but a couple of days every once in a blue moon without seeing them. I had to kiss their sleeping foreheads goodnight after spending hours on transit travelling back and forth to work for a few years, or had to settle for having a few moments to read them a story before bed, but otherwise we were hardly apart.

I am lucky to be in the situation I am, aside from an ‘always love her for giving me the greatest gifts ever’/loathe/dislike existence with my former spouse, as I know so many great dads fighting for access when all they want to do is be a part of their children’s lives as much as possible.

Although I cannot change my situation, even though every day I regret the time I have lost and will continue to lose with my gals, I believe I have a lot to offer – especially my children, to help others be better equipped for life’s challenges. This includes understanding relationships and especially our own personal needs. Not that I am a trained professional or have any paper qualifications, but I do have many thoughts on how we can as a society, avoid completely messing the family bed. After all, I  myself have written numerous pages in the Mucking it up for Dummy’s self-destruction manual. I have many degrees in lived experience.

I do not for one moment believe we should encourage bad couples to stay together as our prisons are already in abundance, but I do believe we can provide our children with more tools to help them avoid at least a few setbacks in their lives. Life has so many obstacles as it is. Like tapered jeans, brothers exposing your unaroused neckedness to a love interest and the whole trailer park while you sleep, a Parisienne full of party weekend buds breaking down 5 minutes after departure, or that perm that you thought was a good idea that you’ve never been able to obtain the negatives for.

Divorce seems such a waste in so many ways. Like all that hard-earned cash gone to pot for know-nothing lawyers. Most importantly of course, it’s a waste of precious time without our little beings. The creatures we have waited our entire life to meet and nurture and not totally fudge up before graduating into this sometimes dark and lonely world. I don’t wish this life on them or anyone for that matter. Well maybe some, but not really.

I interviewed other soon-to-be fathers when we went to prenatal classes before our first child was born. I wanted to know what they were thinking, dreaming, or fearful of with regards to becoming a new zombie dad. I in turn wrote a story about my own feelings towards fatherhood. I was scared and excited and in a bit of a fog, but never did I imagine being where I am now. It makes me sad often, like this very moment only hours from having said goodbye for another week. Looking out the window at our small pool awaiting a child’s play, laughter, banter, and the family dog in its second life leaning over the edge waiting to be splashed too with tongue dangling like a rabid lunatic.

‘Single’ life ‘aint all candy bars and rainbows. Sorry it is candy bars; and lot’s of strong coffee like the paste my partner concocts each ‘mor. I mean mmmmm. ‘I love you honey.’

I am so grateful for how close these years have brought me to these girls and mostly proud of my accomplishments, but I have missed and will continue to miss, so very much.

I guess you could say my heartache has inspired me to at least help others avoid similar paths. Whenever they aren’t here, all I do is think of them. At least I can be doing something in their absence that they have inspired, because that is what they have been to me since the moment I first held them or even talked to them in their mommy’s belly. My inspiration. My purpose.

Where once I fancied being famous, called crap on social media, or to be chased by neurotic photographers, now all I want is to be a dad and anything in life that provides me the freedom and peace of mind to be a better father to my children.

I was at the family court house the other day – my nightmare away from home these past few years. As I entered, an elderly woman, perhaps a grandmother or 30 something mom who hasn’t slept in years, said to the police officers as she exited, that ‘this place might just be the most depressing there is.’ I couldn’t agree more.

Why does it have to be this way? All parents deserve better. The children especially.

I love you girls. Sleep well. Virtual kisses and hugs.

The Road to Now – As if walking backwards

Day 9

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 4: The Road to Now – As if walking backwards

I am an elected official. I guess that’s as good a place as any to start, or introduce you to an end to where I am at this moment.

I am a Trustee for the local public school board – the same one I was educated within, hired by my neighbors through a Municipal Election that takes place every four years. We share the ballot with Mayor hopefuls, councillor candidates, and those vying for positions as Trustees for the Catholic and French school boards.

Nobody knows who the haiti we are or what the bloody heck we do. Not even most teachers. That the curriculum does not discuss our place in politics is often brought up by my colleagues. It, as well as our part-time role, highlights our importance in the eyes of others elected in the past to represent their communities.

It’s odd to find myself here even three years into my first and likely last term as a public official.

I ran into an old vice-principal I had in high school a few months back at an open house at a Muslim mosque of all places. It was a lovely, informative, and enlightening evening. I imagined him returning home however,  having an apostrophe of a young teen who spent countless hours in his office and graduated by the seat of his pants. A young know-it-all who made weird, distracting noises, barely passed his favorite subject – art. Who had a knack of playing reunion agent between his father and the Principal who once were teacher and student. The same kid who attended summer school, night school, and who elected to take basic courses in grade 12 for fear he would not make the graduation stage with his peers should he seek more challenging subjects.  My plan worked of course but I am not sure what it really achieved looking back?

I imagined that former educator fearful of the fate of our education system with the likes of me at the lead, but I know that is not what he was actually thinking. It seemed from our great and lengthy discussion that he and other past teachers I have spoken with, have long been fearful without my assistance in further mucking it up.

Being an elected official is a bit tricky, confusing, and in a part-time role, often lonely. We don’t have assistants. We answer phone calls, respond to emails and social media messages and attend neighborhood meetings like full-time officials do. We even get lambasted through these same mediums and find ourselves from time to time the reluctant subject of newspaper articles. We also have families, regular jobs, and other everyday tasks to manage as well.  We sit on committees, attend regular board meetings, and are invited to countless events by community partners. It’s a difficult balance.

I perhaps have found all this a great deal more challenging as a single father who only sees his children half of the time and choses to be selective of what takes me away from my children. It is for this reason that there isn’t a day that passes where I don’t think of calling it quits early so I can go back to just being a father. I love being involved in my community. I really do,  but I cherish being dad to my two cuties most.

It is my desire to mostly focus on being a dad that is the real driver to this story and seeking broader support and buy-in before going any further. I try to take small steps each day towards this imagined goal but I cannot move forward with anything that will take me away from my greatest passion – those girls. For this venture to succeed, I must have the human and monetary investment that will assure all of those involved can live their lives in a ‘family first’ fashion.

I did not take on the role of Trustee from a purely ‘betterment of my community’ standpoint  I must admit. Unfortunately there was a monetary value to that decision to enter politics as well. I was divorced, struggling financially, and was looking for something to supplement my income. I was in search of a thing I could be passionate about and that might lead to an eventual career change having been in the same job for 16 years on election day, October 27th, 2014. Let’s just say that I have come to the realization in my third summer as Trustee, that there is no monetary benefit for anyone in a similar situation as I am. That’s okay though because there truly is far more to be gained from this role beyond our honorariums.

So money is a wash then. Time is being taken away from parenting. Stress levels are high. I have little time for the important things like dishes or laundry or on occasion a shower. Like today. Phew. Yesterday? Bloody hell.

Much of my vacation days are also used for events and meetings related to this ‘part-time’ job. My purpose is now constantly being self examined and my place in politics is growingly becoming moot given what I advocated for and what I have actually accomplished.

I do love my role and am extremely honored to serve in this manner. I am very lucky to have been elected to this position. There isn’t a day goes by that I am not thankful and humbled by having been entrusted to represent my communities voice for something as critically important as their child’s education.

I do have so much more to say about my position as Trustee, but I do not wish to expose the storyline beyond the title just yet. So true to me, I will engage in a bit of a ‘squirrel’ moment for a chapter or two or three, and skip around a bit to what has lead me down the path to now sitting at my diner-esque kitchen table imagining this tale.

Quid Pro Quo

Day 7

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 3:  Quid Pro Quo

So where was I then? Aw right. I am a girl. No, a boy. No, a man. Yes. I must be a man now for the true events that haven’t taken place yet are of a very important nature and requiring of a great deal of seriousness and a boatload of cash. That’s where you come in. The oodles of bills and coins flowing from your virtual pockets 100 years after this story was written. Not because you have paid £15.30 for a paperback novel by an unknown ‘writer’ who has to find creative ways to stay focused, because you are reading this story for free on your computer or handheld device right now. At least I hope you are still with me.

Hello? Anyone there?

The vaults of currency for this project will simply appear (at least that is how my tale will end), constantly through the airwaves over the years because you have read or heard of this story and feel it’s something you believe in as well. I fancy £2 from every reader would help us achieve the purest, most sustainable version of the model we are seeking for our venture. Of course your response will determine whether this is a straight forward novel, or a choose your own adventure story where the alternative here is that it all goes to pot, and I am seen as an even more crazed lunatic than is thought any other regular day.

I am not looking to get rich. Um. Yes, absolutely not.  I simply want to make an honest wage doing something I believe in. This is from the man being straight-faced now.  No quips. No sexy English accents. (clearing throat and getting all serious) Plain old boy.

Okay. Accents on.

We all want something out of life but we should not expect it. I do fancy a million pounds but of course one needs to play the lotto to win I guess. I would love a new vehicle. Just a mini-van will do although I miss dreaming of Mustangs and Fiero’s. Stick shifts and fitting 24 bottles of beer where you might find an engine in any other car, are certainly more sexier than seats that magically fold into the floor or VHS players that keep the kiddies quiet for 5 minutes at a time. Yes, VHS players. Who knew. It is even easily removable because at some point in time one needed to worry about a VHS machine being stolen from your family car disguised in red, with a spoiler and fancy rims.

All jokes aside, we must do the things we do because we love it. Because it’s right. Because it feels good. If there is reward great, but that cannot be the end goal, the purpose, or the expectation. We all want something and that is okay.

Indeed I will get a great deal in return should this dream be realized because I will be doing something I can be passionate about every day. In the end however, the expectation is that the effect this vision will have will be far-reaching in our communities and my return will be but a small blip of the grand effect felt by others.

The value of this ‘thing’ is in your belief of this vision. Plain and simple.

So there is no Quid pro quo here. No expectation of payment for reading this story – either from me or you. I don’t demand you virtually toss me a pound or two simply because. I do expect that this story and these thoughts will be for some and not others. There is hope of course. Hope that the former outways the latter.

Come on then. Let’s talk about where I have been and what brought me to where we are here and now, for we must first understand where we have been, before truly knowing where we must go.

These events actually did happen already. Honest they did.

Short and Sweet

Day 5

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 2: Short and Sweet 

Listen to Audio Track 

Reading has always been a challenge for me. I have what one might identify as novel narcolepsy. I don’t actually have narcolepsy but one might guess as much looking at the photos my little sister often posts to my Facebook wall  of me asleep in random places and usually with an upright drink in my hand.

I do love to read but stories broken down into smaller bits assist with my uncontrollable urge to nod off one or two pages into a chapter or side stepping into a story I find written in between the lines. Head nods and constantly having to go back a couple of paragraphs to remember where I left off make enjoying a good book both painful and challenging. Smaller chapters provide me with that motivating ‘only a couple of pages to go’ element that helps me keep focus.

So both to assist in the ability to comfortably read back my own book a million times before publishing, and in the spirit of the dream I wish to make a reality, this imagined tale is packaged with those with short attention spans in mind. If you are not of this category, than simply ignore the random bold titles every so many pages and continue as if the chapters are twenty pages in length. I wish I carried your steadfastness.

A Piece of Paper

Day 3

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 7: A Piece of Paper

I won’t bash my current job or employer because my unhappiness, I am quite certain, is all about me and that grass is greener vision. Not that any other venture wouldn’t have it’s boring, unsatisfying moments but I want to know that feeling of taking a leap of faith. Trying something new. Being bold enough to follow one’s aspirations. Believing in what you have to offer the world. If not for me, then for wanting to teach my children through leading by example. How can I tell them to explore, not be afraid, believe in themselves, that they can do anything, if I too don’t listen to my own voice?

20 years is a long time. My father worked 37 years at the same job. My grandfather 30. I will do anything for my family but there is cake and I’d like at least a nibble.

I do not wish to bore you all that much (if at all ideally), with details of my current employment but I will (tell you not bore you I hope), share enough to perhaps sell myself if you will because my resume is mostly about life and the experiences that fill the page with invisible ink rather than the limited black text.

Squirrel.

I’ll step back for one second and talk about something I did when I was drinking in Hollywood at 26. Don’t worry. It’s PG.

The dream of working for Disney or any other studio in California hadn’t gone away with ‘quitting’ animation school. I brought some of my work with me on that trip with the hopes of passing it around to studios in search of anything. Even cleaning floors to start.

Not to put myself down but I knew then as I do now, that my work didn’t come close to what I seen on the walls each day in college. There are some crazy talented artists in this world and I thoroughly enjoyed starting at it on display in the halls at school. It was an inspiring place to be.

On my return to Canada, I did hear back from one studio to whom I submitted my work to. They recommended I look to posting my art online to sell myself. It stuck with me that they took the time to call and offer advice so I did just that. I bought the URL Sellyourself.ca – Sell something you believe in, and started posting my work and even getting into a little (Macromedia) Flash animation.

Sellyourself was a part of me for quite a long time although professionally it never led to anything. Personally however, simply owning the URL and what I learned through building websites, teaching myself new tools, and having an incentive to draw more and post it, was an invaluable experience.

I did go back to college part time and obtained all credits over a couple of years, required for a certificate in animation portfolio development. It once again led to nothing but I was glad I accomplished that. Not to mention that I also met many more talented artists along the way and even landed a short gig helping out with an animated short via that adventure.

Believe in yourself. Sell yourself. It sticks. Well it didn’t but the dream did. I was basically just selling my own disbelief in me really. It’s still something I work on every day. Believing that is not urinating on my ego.

No papers.

So anyway here I am trying to sell myself to myself through a creative medium that as an adult, has superseded my early artistic aspirations.

I wrote my first story in middle school. Up until then never, outside of playing hockey, had I been so passionate about something that I spent most spare moments doing it. It was 100 double-sided pieces of foolscap paper in the end, all hand written and still sitting in a bin in my basement to this day. It was almost 20 years before I would really write again outside of some occasional poetry and diary entries. This was the time my first story, albeit a commentary piece in our local newspaper, seen print. What a rush.

I have been very lucky in my full-time career. The opportunities, the friendships, the experiences, what I have learned and the confidence I have gained from this journey have been worth all 5,000 plus days of employment. The problem is, I have wanted a change for so long but all these barriers above have stood in my way. Sorry they didn’t. I did.

Papers.

This 19 year journey is a big driver for my imagined endeavor though. I was taught by the owner of my first full-time job that rather than complain about something, come into his office with a solution. I did just that and many of those thoughts were put into action. It’s a valuable lesson of which has stayed with me and will live on through this project. I learned more from that 6 year job than I ever learned in school. Not really but hey, ‘No Surrender.’

I do have at least one project left in me which I am extremely excited for and honored to be a lead on. The company is starting to seriously look beyond pieces of paper which speaks to our voices being heard through our yearly internal surveys. They are a really good employer.

Should this project move forward, it will be a big and welcomed change for my long-time colleagues. I know should I when I move on, that there will be great satisfaction in knowing that things in the only department I have worked in will be so much better. That their tools will be with the times and their skills will be transferable should they hopefully spread their wings and explore the industry. I believe in the end, this change will help them feel like they are remaining current and that they are valuable assets in the job force. They are already in so many ways but I know I haven’t felt confident enough to move around in this industry.

I care for so many of the people I have and do work for. They have been such a big part of my life. I work with a great deal of talented and passionate people and I will always remember these times very fondly. What am I saying there is likely two years to this project. I also know this will all connect somehow in the end so I won’t get too emotional.  

Insert violins.

What can I say I am a bit of a sap. Okay a lot of one. All of one. All in but my shoelaces.

Night then.