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.

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.

Suffocating Creativity

Day 2

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 3:  Suffocating Creativity

It’s exciting being excited about the excitement that writing a story more than 500 words contributes to my spirit. Where the tale will go? How I will get to the conclusion? What adventures will the journey entail and what will I learn about life and myself along the way?

It’s mystical. Magical. It’s so much a part of who I am. That someone I denied to exist for far, far too long and who I continue to ignore at times throughout my ever shortening time on this earth.

I miss creative writing and the peers I used to write with. I do write stories related to my political role from time to time in local community papers. I enjoy sharing space with so many other passionate neighbors throughout the area I live in. So many are selling this great neighborhood on social media and in passing which is an exciting thing to be a part of. Our City is going through a great renaissance so playing any role in that change is empowering.

For someone like me who has lived in this place all of my life, it’s like people are now saying they believe in us too because nobody held any regard for our City up until now. The locals have always seen the beauty in this little big town but when one goes through life hearing others talk smack about your hometown, it kind of defines you as a person as well. We are our towns. They become us. It’s nice that others see our beauty now even if they are a bit tardy.

I’ve been a creative soul as long as I can recall to be honest with myself, so all this seriousness and the drama that often comes with politics and corporate life does eat away at you. I love it all too but there is so much that I wish to see changed.

Having that urge to tell a tale is invigorating and I miss it. I have felt this craving for some time now but I also do enjoy being an advocate. Writing and speaking up in those regards I have found to be more fulfilling in a different way.

I believe a big reason why I have been feeling so lost and unsatisfied with both my jobs as of late is the lack of creativity in my life. Expression. Exploration. Freedom.  Oh how I enjoy drawing with my kids or telling the tales of our lives together as if I were of English decent – well I am two parts English or three if you include my step grandmother.  Those moments are few and far between however.

For one, I am often too exhausted. More so than a man of 44 should be really. I read a story by author Steve Goodier once that talked about skidding in at the end of your life sideways rather than packed up perfect and seemingly unscathed in a perfect, tidy little white box. For me, each day seems like a desperate slide into home plate leaving scars and bruises that take days to recover from. So with a goal of one day skidding in sideways, I feel I must slow down a tad and take my own life by the horns for fear I might fall in backwards unexpectedly before my time.

I love being busy and wanted and needed and important and that my days are full, but I have long tired of sweating the small stuff. I want a different life for me but I also want a different life for everyone. Most importantly, I want a more meaningful future for my girls and their children should they wish to venture into parenting themselves one day – hopefully before I do any final skidding or stumbling myself.

What I should be doing at this stage of my thought process is writing a business plan and in fact I have written one before so I know I can do that. Then there is that desire for creativity in my life. So, I thought why not marry the two needs in an effort to move this rather time-sensitive initiative forward sans some boringly formatted bank proposal, by appealing to the calling inside my spirit that longs to be more free in it’s wonderings.

Why not write this vision as a storyteller? Picturing how it might all unfold to see if I have still sold myself on this concept never mind the many people, the time, and the money it will take to launch such a lofty endeavor?

I will either succeed or fail at gaining your belief, and or your monetary or physical support. That is not what is important. What matters is the journey and what it teaches us about ourselves and the fascinating people we meet along the way.

I often wish I could be more straightforward in my approaches, but I have long since become happy with who I am and how my brain and heart sees the world and my place among those thoughts.

Let us imagine together. Let’s learn. Let’s laugh a lot. Yes even at me. Should all of this lead us forward in the spirit of this dream, all the better. If not, hopefully you at least don’t feel this journey was for not and that you too learned something about others, a missing need, and most of all, yourself.

Let’s first sleep though and draw the curtains on the first day of this written journey shall we. Falling asleep at my desk is one of those odd places I have nodded off before so I do not wish to suffer whiplash before bed this evening. The used mattress I purchased off off a buy and sell website from a chiropractor some six years ago is pain enough each morning never mind other self-prescribed tortures.

Good dreams then.