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.

W to the P

Day 140

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Hello aliens! It’s me, Jack. (but not really). This is my first blog post. (but not really)

Come laugh, imagine, and explore with me. Hopefully in that order.

Let’s buy a school. Anyone have a few extra mil under their floor boards?

No really.

Although this is the day I created this blog, I will be posting the chapters that I have already written as separate posts, and back-dating the threads to correlate with the original chapter release dates.

Not sure why.  Maybe it’s the OC… to provide some kind of detailed timeline to remember this journey by.

Yea… that’s the ticket!

Sideways

Day 134

Sideways 

Pablo Picasso was quoted as saying, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

The beginning of this tale is rather silly. I’m not apologizing. I am just giving you a heads up. If you’ve lost your funny, I might lose you at ‘I’m a girl’, while writing in an English accent.

The underlying purpose of this project is of course anything but silly. Having said that, the end goal is that creativity will absolutely take the driver’s seat through the visioning, planning, implementation, and life cycle of this idea which we hope is infinite.

Education as a whole, stole my creativity. It shut down my funny. So, to borrow a line from U2, we’re stealing it back.

Bear with me as I release years of stymied humor. Allow my inner child to be free, creative, witty, emotional, random and full of wonder.

I don’t want you to take me seriously. I want you to come laugh with me – or better yet at me. Be free. Find that thwarted creative. Discover the wonder that was once alive and thriving within that little boy, girl, kangaroo, or all of the above in you.

Life is serious enough. This project is serious enough. We’re serious enough in our adult, caregiver, employee, employer roles.

I know you are iN. I can smell your curiosity through your screen. Or you’re sitting too close and that’s pastrami I just caught a whiff of. Ew. Here’s a virtual mint.

Cranial Conception to Grad Reflections

Day 119

Part 2 – True Adventures Yet To Be Lived

Chapter 16: Cranial Conception to Grad Reflections

I figured the best place to start was at the end.  Imagining how I felt when the dream had been realized. Seeing the support, the tears, the laughter and celebration as we welcomed a fresh look at education, business, community, and how it could all come together in a seamless network.  

We brought back that village that had been missing. That sense of family. Belonging. Acceptance, and a strong delivery of the whole in a very personal manner.  

This was our first graduating class. We had turned everything on its head. Education presentation and monetary structure, business interconnectedness and how community supports both, and vice a versa.  This was business and community modelled after education instead of the long-standing history of the reverse.

Years of network building, fundraisers, public engagements, learning and the proverbial blood, sweat and tears had led us to finally opening our doors, and now standing on this historical stage. This venue had seen 100 years of graduates before, and today, the first of a new and inspiring era in education.

– – –

It was 5 years before when Jack first stood on this old stage looking out into a full auditorium of parents, family, friends, educators and in those first rows, what was supposed to have been one of the last graduating classes of this historied institution.  

The idea of going into education himself had already long been present,  but as he delivered the first of three graduation speeches he was to make that week, he suddenly seen today’s reality in its completed form. For those moments as he talked of the history and traditions of this school, his own education, and advice for the graduates as they started upon their adult journeys, those students became his own. Their parents and other supports, part of his network. The teachers, principals, and staff dear friends and colleagues as well. This was was his dream (all of their dreams), realized. In Jack’s mind, this was already the end he was only today, realizing.  

There were only 12 students graduating with a Provincially recognized diploma or certificate this first year, and 87 students total in all grades in a facility with a capacity to traditionally hold 1500 students,  but interest throughout semesters 1 and 2 quickly gained momentum thanks to an inspiring, award winning onsite social media campaign managed by their teaching partners and students.

425 new students from within and beyond Waterfall City were already enrolled for year two meaning the schools new capacity based on smaller class sizes, in-house community partners,  and alternative classroom setup and delivery methods, was to already be realized in season two of East City K2Life.

This was unlike any graduation Jack had ever attended. From the decorations, performances, the emotion of the families and students (even educators), who found a special place after years of educational struggles, right down to the awards the students came up with for their teachers and staff.

As the students proudly made their way through the front archway into the Welcome Garden, Jack choked up seeing the teachers and educational assistance sitting in their lawn chairs as they had each morning with their coffees greeting students in rain and snow every school day, now symbolically welcoming them to their adult lives and signifying their and the school’s ongoing support for the remainder of their life’s journey.  

The weather hadn’t cooperated well on this momentous occasion but nobody from students, staff, families, community supports, and of course Jack and his family, allowed any obstacles to stand in the way of enjoying every moment of the journey. The downpour of rain somehow made it all that much more exhilarating and refreshing. Then the thunder rolled and all went screaming and laughing for the cover of home – their school.

Halfway through the evening, the rain suddenly stopped, and the setting sun shone brightly through the open gymnasium doors. At that moment, Jack looked over at his partner Kate, reached out for her hand, and led her to the dance floor.

Kate had been there every step of the way. She believed in Jack and this dream, and worked tirelessly to ensure this vision was shared and realized. She was the reason that East City came to be. Kate gave Jack the motivation he needed through every obstacle that came between 5 years prior, and this very night.

In the end, that became East City’s principal vision. Belief in self. Without it, a dream is just a dream we don’t believe in.

Krazy Over You

Day 42

On August 16th 2017, I received a message from a band out of Brooklyn. I was working on growing our followers and as many do when you follow them, Nescora sent me a DM asking me to check out their tunes on Soundcloud. I love music so I did.

All of the tracks were catchy, but one song immediately struck a chord with me. I listened to it probably a dozen times that day. I knew then and there that it would make a great theme song for Let’s Buy A School. I also imagined that the movie depiction of our book would be well served by being named after the song, Krazy Over You.

Krazy Over You is a mesmerizing, gentle ballad about someone who finds strength and meaning in another. Lost and alone, searching for belonging, they have found this person whose company makes time fly.  They spend a lot of time together and there is nothing they’d rather be doing and nowhere they would rather be. The subject wants to be there when things get tough, and cannot get enough of their presence. They have found home in their company.

To me and this project, the song immediately also had a double meaning. This is the way the former Ivor Memorial High School community, the subject of this story, felt about their school and to this day, 3.5 years after it’s closing, it’s still held in a touching regard by it’s students and staff.

Throughout all of their education the IMH students had been bullied, suspended, there were constant calls to home, and they had reached high school with grade 3 reading levels. Ivor Memorial lifted them up, gave them a reason to go to school and made them feel included for the first time. It’s where they met their first friends, had their first boyfriend/girlfriend, where they participated in talent shows, sports teams and went to dances and looked forward to and felt at ease in a school.

Other than the kissing part, although perhaps a character could kiss the floors of a place where they finally found ‘home’, the lyrics hold true for both the underlying human and facility love stories in this book.

Nescora was extremely accepting of the idea to use ‘Krazy Over You’ as our title track and should this project see the light I envision for it, the world will find their way to a song worthy of it’s stage and Nescora will be compensated the way an artist deserves for creating such a beautiful work of art. Let’s make the latter happen anyway.

Please support Nescora and all Independent music, by downloading their album on iTunes. Mini Coop is also a great track (they all are), but it’s our next favorite. It would fit nicely into the human love story as well.

Happy listening and thank you again, Nescora. It means a lot to have you as part of our journey.

Sincerely,

Jack (but not really)

Have a listen to all of Nescora’s tracks on Soundcloud as well.

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.

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.