Little bitty, ’bout Jack & Cheyenne

Day 174

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Jack and Cheyenne (but not really)

Part 2 – True Adventures Yet To Be Lived

Chapter 19: Little bitty, ’bout Jack & Cheyenne

Jack and Cheyenne met 6 months into Jack’s first term as an elected official, in the middle of his last ditch effort to reverse the decisions to close IMH.

Jack shared equal access to his two girls. He had been separated for 3 years when he and Cheyenne met. That time together had enabled him and his daughters to create a very strong bond between them. Jack found the kid inside. He found patience, determination, and will. Most of all, he found the dad he longed to be and the father he always knew was within him.

Jack had dated a little bit over those years but for the most part it was just the three of them until that Spring of ‘15.

Cheyenne was a single mom who had full custody of her daughter. They had been on their own since her child was 2. Cheyenne was a very successful local manager of a not-for profit and involved in fundraising events when Jack stumbled across her social media profile.

The first connections were really no more than two people building their social  networks, and engaging with like-minded individuals. A month after that first connection however, after many messages back and forth, the two met for the first time over dinner.

They talked for hours about their lives, their work, passions, family, and of course, mostly their children. Jack’s girls, were 8 and 6, and Cheyenne’s daughter was 7.

From that first night, the two were inseparable.

When their kids finally met, at an Annie sing along at a local community theatre, it was also love at first site for the three clowns. They ran around the theater, up onto the stage, through the aisles, and joked around and laughed well into the night in the streets outside the show.

The girls had their troubles over the years as siblings do, but it was always evident when push came to shove (literally), that the occasional cat fight was not something they ever wanted to get in the way of them all being family.

Cheyenne was Jack’s cheerleader – all of their biggest boosters. She was constantly lifting all the girls up, complimenting them and when it came to Jack and his dreams and goals, she was quick to share them with anyone and everyone with great pride and genuine belief.

When Cheyenne believed in something, she would stop at nothing to ensure it got the credit, time, and exposure it deserved. The year before Jack and Chy (shy) met, he had started a little community event for his children after he realized he wasn’t going to be able to spend Halloween with them for the first time. He called it an alternate Halloween that happened a week before the actual holiday, which consisted of a gathering in the park with games earlier in the evening, followed by actual trick-or-treating through the neighborhood at participating homes. That first year seen about 20 kids and a dozen or so participating homes but by the fourth year, the event had ballooned to 250 kids, 40 participating homes, insurance, permits, bouncy castles and so much more.

It was all her. A man is only as good as those he surrounds himself with and Cheyenne was a big influence in all of their belief in themselves. She made Jack stronger. Made him feel like he could conquer anything and everything – including the world which is what this project often felt like. It was a substantial endeavor but somehow she made it feel small – manageable.

From the moment Jack first mentioned the idea for the school and its related entities, Cheyenne was iN. She had questions. She was also Jack’s best critic, but not out of disbelief. On the contrary, she pushed him hard which in turn, helped him strengthen, expand on, and better clarify his vision.

To Jack, Cheyenne was this sweet, giving, forgiving, connector. She was a natural networker in all aspects of her life. Before the idea of the school had even been floated, Cheyenne was making many valuable and sincere community connections. She literally connected people in her full time role, and all those that surrounded Chy benefited holistically from her natural instinct to want to help and the hard work she tirelessly put in behind the scenes. Cheyenne made sure that those she felt needed to get together to achieve like-minded goals, from finding a job/an employee to making a dream come true, met.

One day early on in the project, Jack thought to himself, ‘would I be here today attempting to achieve such a lofty endeavor, had Cheyenne not come into our lives?’. The answer was a resounding no. Chy added so much to their lives. She brought this peace. An understanding and patience with him, his girls, and everything life threw at them – which was a lot. Somehow after all these years together, she was still there by all of their sides. Sometimes she looked a little beaten down, but she still found a way to look at Jack with an adoring love. She would cock her head slightly, do this thing with her lips, and stare so innocently and child like his way.

There were many days where Jack wondered why Chy had stuck around as long as she had. They had been through so much in a relatively short time, but he knew by now that her love was unwavering. He trusted her love for all of them and her pure, and dedicated commitment to being there through everything and anything. There was no doubt in his mind that this woman’s heart was one he could always count on.

Divorce had taught Jack that he didn’t need anyone. It allowed him to see what a great father he was, and that he could do anything he set his mind to surrounded by the right people. Now that he had Cheyenne by his side, he also knew that even though he could survive on his own, he no longer wanted to. Cheyenne was the final romantic path for Jack. It took 40 plus years, but now looking back through everything life had thrown in his way, Chy was worth every obstacle. Every heartache. Every tear.

Jack and Cheyenne. Two Canadian kids doin’ the best they can.

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.