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.

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.

Let’s Begin (Again) ♪

Day 1

Part 1 – Who am I? But not totally.

Chapter 1: Ramblings

Listen to the Audio Track

Because I am rather drawn by stories narrated in an English accent, I imagined this tale as if red oh by say Hugh Grant or the lovely Emma Thompson. Well, since I have always loved the name Emma, we’ll go with Ms. Thompson then and assume me a girl instead of a boy because well, it is my imagination and with it I can do whatever the bloody hell I want right?

Let’s carry on then, Ms. Thompson.

I’m a girl.

~

Usually when one reads a tale identified as based on true life, those events have already occurred. A writer hears of something that catches their attention, they seek the rights to said story and the rest is history. Er the past.

I have always been a peculiar girl. In my head. I started talking to animals at a young age and could easily spend hours alone with nature or with plenty of drawing materials, letting my imagination run wild. I’ve learned to mask my peculiarity as I have grown to seem mostly normal, but to do anything in a ordinary fashion still bores me enough to be a little more open to being thought the fool. Age and all of our impending dooms seem to do that as years pass and dreams remain locked up in ones bored brain.

So in the spirit of my lifelong oddness and in a fashion traditional to my life’s story as it has thus far occured, this tale based on true facts, has not yet happened.

I have long dreamed of being so many things. A professional hockey player, an animator for Walt Disney, a teacher, a coach, a famous actress, a regarded writer, an inventor, entrepreneur, someone who others would be inspired by, but mostly as my 20’s were coming to an end, I dreamed of being a husband and a father.

Well, there you have it. We must pass the auditory baton over to Mr. Grant because well, it is important that I tell this tale as a father because as a former husband, it is the struggles of fatherhood that have brought me to where I am today. Imagining my future as if it has already happened to well, determine if this dream that I carry is a good fit for my girls and our futures together as father and daughters.

I am a boy.

As I make my way to the mid-forties mark, I have long come to the conclusion that the most important beings on this earth that I want to inspire or be regarded by, are my two girls. My eldest is almost 11 going on 16, and my youngest is soon to be 9 and thankfully, for a dad embracing two childhood’s slipping away far faster than I would like, going on 9.

As early teenage years sneak in, I am also quickly realizing much to my dismay, that I would rather ensure I raise two respecting, caring and giving girls than a couple of little bugger’s. So, being liked all the time is something I am slowly coming to grips with not being as concerned about. I think I am winning that argument and perhaps it’s the only confrontation I will triumph over in the next 10 years. I am sure at some point they will tell me they hate me not unlike similar words spoken to my own mum, which of course translated to I loved her more than I love you could possibly portray. I hated her for caring and sticking by me always in spite of me being a little explicit b-word. I always had a little trouble communicating my feelings.

Did I mention a house full of girls? Right. I’ll get to my now extended family a bit later then.

I am a boy. Yes I know I said that already as well as saying I was a girl. I know I am a man and an aging, greying, slower moving one at that but the greatest gift aside from the pure, forgiving and absolute love my two beautiful girls have given me, is helping me find the boy inside again.

My grandfather often talked about keeping in touch with the child within and himself, enjoyed an occasional cartoon to his end just a few days shy of his 99th birthday. Like the time we re-lived seeing Song of the South together when I was a child, after I found a copy on VHS via the internet. We sat in his 16th floor flat and watched it together like a couple of school boys, before grandchildren made their way into our lives.

I believe I am man enough when called upon to be a mature and leading adult, but I like the man I am becoming more as I remember the boy and how imagination, hope and belief in self ran rampant in his otherwise randy little loins.

Of course, being a man means you need a job and any one at that to keep a roof over our heads, peanut butter and jelly on the table and clothed enough not to appear a ratty mess. One just can’t quit to pursue far-fetched dreams. I have no regrets for the employment position I find myself in as a mostly uneducated 40-something. I actually have a really good job. Two in fact.

Divorce is grand.

Freedom of Succession

Day 1

Part 1 – Who am I?  But not totally.

Chapter 6: Freedom of Succession

At what point can we justify to ourselves that it is okay to move on – quit something if you will? Whether marriage, employment, friendships, volunteer work, or just about anything else.

The joke at a party usually heard is ‘nobody likes a quitter’, when they ask you if you’d like a fag. “Oh no, I’ve since quit.” Of course, no longer coughing actual lung bits into the loo is a good thing.

Not waking up in random places unclothed is rather desirable when one decides to quit drinking. At least a two-four, as they call it in Canada, over a game of cards.  Your liver loves a quitter.

Our bodies also appreciate a giver upper. Like  that moment we show it a little love and axe the breakfast of champions in exchange of fruit and a glass of O.J.  rather than a chocolate bar, a bag of nacho chips and an extra large double double.

Your heart fancies a quitter I’ll bet, that moment one exchanges lounging in a lazy boy for months on end watching romantic comedies while slurping from a Big Gulp full of cola after a hard breakup,  for a walk to the park with a friend even to oogle dreamily at some passerby who might suit your fancy.

See? Quitting is grand.

I guess as maturity has set in, at least I think it has aside from writing in an English accent or dancing in the mini-van like an idjit with my girls, I have come to realize that the only time quitting is a bad thing for us is when we do it because of poor planning, or our own disbelief in ourselves whether in our abilities or our worth.

I have little regret really. I am of the belief that things in life happen for a reason and in the end I have had a great life so far, but there are decisions I have made that have somewhat haunted me a bit and remain reminders should I find myself in similar situations.

I was once accepted to one of the best schools in the world for studying animation. I had to work at it for a year in a course that helps you build up your portfolio, but I was focused and made that long time dream of studying that magical artform a reality. However not long into my studies, I let poor planning and disbelief in myself get the better of me. That and the thought of moving 2500 miles away from my family has served as a recurring theme in my life of fearing the unknown.

I visited a friend in California who had graduated from the same program that very year, who landed a job with Dreamworks – indeed a tale all of its own, smashing my rental car to bits and all. I spent 9 mostly memorable days in California exploring much by myself, realizing now far too late that I would have loved that working adventure so very much. I would have met many new people as I always do and hey, I enjoy my alone time anyway. What a time it would have been because being there, helped me paint that unknown picture.

Quitting a job is simple. That from someone 19 years into his current employment role. You find another job and quit the other one. As long as you are set for finances and have done your best to judge the longevity of that role, it’s all you can do. What makes quitting hard is not having confidence in yourself to move on. Not seeing your worth and some companies have a way of assisting you with that lack of value in self. Like suddenly needing a college diploma for a role you have done for most of your adult years. I am not sure what college teaches you about clicking a mouse but it does have me quite curious.

The lack of a certificate or diploma can really play on you.  That is something I would like to alter.

I want to do more with my professional life but how those decisions affect my family must be top of mind. My elected position has certainly helped guide me down the path of a possible next chapter.

There are many other things I need to quit. I need to quit the van with the VHS player because well, it’s played its dues and it has a VHS player. I need to quit this house and start new memories with my extended family but that’s been a hard move to make. I love my neighborhood and my first home and money is yet to be growing on the stately trees on our old street.

Most of all, I must quit getting stepped on and be more assertive. There is being a nice bloke and then there is being walked all over by a gaggle of running mustaches.

I have worried about what others thought of me all of my life too so there is that. I think I have put that to bed with my Tops and Trends teddy bear and Mickey Mouse clock though. It’s nice to finally be in this place.

Bugger off then. There is enough judgement in my own noggin’ never mind nonsense from you.

I am trying really hard to listen for my souls succession but it isn’t easy. This summer was to be about reflection for me so I will let these remaining weeks play out, and listen closely to the many voices crowding my cranium.

Is that a running mustache?

Running_Moustache