Three Tiers

Day 193

Nipa_Hut
Sample Nipa Hut (or Kamalig or Bahay Kubo), an icon of Filipino rural culture.

Part 2 – True Adventures Yet To Be Lived

Chapter 20: Three Tiers

Before visions of buying schools began floating around his always whirling cranium, Jack had long dreamed of being a business owner himself one day. In fact, he had started up a couple of companies in his youth – as in registering a business name but not going much further than that.

There was of course SellYourself.ca. He also registered his own name in an attempt to do some computer consulting which he did do in his spare time for a couple of years – mostly to family, friends, and neighbors.

In his early twenties, jack was going to design greeting cards with a Pilipino co-worker/friend. They called the business NIPA (a type of stilt house indigenous to the cultures of the Philippines) Graphics. They had a logo and did create and print a few designs, but nothing ever really transpired.

Jack didn’t know anything about running a business then and still didn’t before finally jumping in with both feet mid-forties, pulling others feet in along with him.

That fear of leaving a job and starting a business and the mystery of business ownership, didn’t stop Jack from thinking about these dreams on and off the entire 25 plus years since his adulthood began. Who was he kidding? If he really thought back, he spent a great deal of time as a youth reading in depth about the likes of the Warner Brothers, Disney’s, and Fleischer brothers, which surely planted those early dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. The proof was now on this children’s bookshelves.

If there was one thing Jack knew with half of his life now having passed him by, it was that he didn’t want future generations of kids including his own, feeling stuck and scared like this all of their lives. Dreams of youth are nothing more than a lifetime of could have been’s without the tools to if nothing more, explore in some fashion that with which the heart desires. Especially something that carries over decades and isn’t just some passing fashion.

After his grandfather passed away, Jack thought a lot about starting a foundation in honor of his grandfather. Some lengthy discussions with a family member and internet research on how to start a foundation ensued. A URL with his grandfather’s name (Arvid Andersen), was purchased as well but he starting thinking of all the amazing things his own parents had accomplished throughout their lives and determined that when it did come time to start a charity, that he would find a way to recognize all of them. Sure, they didn’t fight in World War II, survive the Great Depression, or travel the world, but their experiences were fascinating and important and what they had done for their children, friends and extended family, was worthy and inspiring of honor.

When Jack realized that in order to bring back IMH, that he was going to have to not only lead the charge, but he had do so outside of public educations umbrella, he knew he wanted to marry everything; The dreams of business, the desire to open a foundation, and now offering alternative education. How to do it seemed to somehow already have a path carved in his imagination but no words or imagery could pull it out and onto paper as easily or as vividly.

Vividly. It wasn’t really. It wasn’t a dream Jack awoke from one night and could easily write it down as if a novel unraveling from the tip of his pen, but it was there in chunks. Three neat little bubbles like thought clouds as he stared into space. The problem was that the individual clouds had not been fully developed plans either. Sure, many notes and thoughts had continued to enter his thoughts since he first dreamed of being a part of such things, but neither was a business plan awaiting funding or partnerships. They were just dreams.

Maybe three tiers was a crowd, but Jack liked crowds. They exhausted the introvert in him but so did the idea of running any one of these entities never mind all at once. Jack laughed picturing a book he used to read to his two girls. “Dream Big Pig.”

Jack looked over at a recently purchased Hilarious House of Frightenstein album. The Markowitz brothers and their friends once had a dream. Now it’s the longest running kids television show in Canadian history. They put the right roster together. That was the key. Then they went out, took a leap of faith, and did it.

Deep breath.

You’re not doing this alone. You have no intention of doing this alone and never have. You’ve long dreamed of being a part of a team again; One full of so much passion and devotion for the game and not the prize.

Education. Enterprise. Philanthropy.

Three tiers.

Hip, hip ….

W to the P

Day 140

LBAS_Image

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!

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 Cheyenne, reached out for her hand, and led her to the dance floor.

Cheyenne 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. Cheyenne 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.

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.

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