Letting Your Inner Child Shine Through

IMG_4057.jpgI have been accused of being far too serious in life at times, it started I am sure with work as I would present a business/serious version of myself to my coworkers.  I was the boss and in order to get things done in a busy and often hectic kitchen there was no time to be personal, it was always business first.  I would often carry this look on my face throughout the course of a shift and not smile for hours on end.

I also didn’t share much of myself with those I worked with, instead presenting a professional version of Ed Dillon and wouldn’t really share any intimate details of my life, or if and when I did it was to a very few and select people.  As with a lot of things in my professional life, that would bleed into my personal life and I started to portrait these characteristics at home as well.

I would take everything seriously, I wouldn’t laugh smile or take the enjoyment in all the little things in life that make is so worth living.

I was too busy being serious.

What a sobering thought to have, too busy being serious to actually enjoy life.  I guess being a full time father of four children you need to take life seriously in order to get everything done that needs to get done.  There is no divide and conquer in my world… laundry that’s me, groceries ditto, clean the house? Ed your up, dinner, baths, budgets, driving kids around, cutting the grass, going to the doctors, the list goes on and on and on…

When I would do things for fun, I would unfortunately adopt this principle and at times make these activities not fun, I was being too serious.  Far too serious where it would suck the enjoyment from others, and that was never a good thing.

So last night I spent the night playing pool, and then later my x-wing miniatures games, these are two things where a short while ago I would take things very seriously.  If I missed a shot I would get angry and upset, if I was defeated on the field of battle I would slink away with my tail between my legs and let those negative emotions ruin the rest of the evening.

I found that last night I was able to let my inner child shine brightly and had such a fun evening.  I enjoyed playing pool as I was making some difficult shots and letting out giant Ric Flair woooooooooooooooo.

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When I would miss a shot I started to laugh and give the ball shit, getting close and personal and letting (#7 in particular) that I was coming for you… and oh I certainly did, banging those balls into pockets with such gusto the table shaked a bit.  I am only slightly exaggerating but to my point I was having a blast.

With regards to X-Wing, I went a little crazy on boxing day and bought myself a decent fleet but with no one to play with, it isn’t always fun just playing with yourself.  I mean you know exactly what your opponents moves are going to be because you are the opponent.  Last night Kristi and I sat there for a couple of hours flying our ships around the board and the whole time (while I blowing her off the table 🙂 ) I was making Star Wars sound effects, quoting lines from the movies and being a little kid again.  It brought me back to so many great memories of my childhood playing Dungeons and Dragons.

It was just a fantastic night of fun, and a very important lesson for me to learn about not taking things too seriously.  Have fun, enjoy the moment, be a kid.  Life is far too short not to!  Have a great day everyone, I’m off to go for another run!

2017 Top 10 ~ Camping Trip to Ottawa (#3)

To start July I celebrated my 45th birthday, and shortly afterwards I had 10 days scheduled off from work for a nice long vacation.  One I felt was sorely overdue after the events of the previous 11 months and the experience of separating, selling my house and moving on with my life.  I spent a lot of my down time trying to plan the perfect road trip with my kids…

One of my biggest fears was seeing this trip turn into something from the movie Vacation, where is something can go wrong will go wrong.  I also feared extended hours in the car with two teenage girls and the potential issues that might arise.  I had talked to the girls about what they wanted to do and the things that they wanted to see, and to be honest I didn’t quite get the reaction that I was hoping for from them.  They didn’t seem super excited as I was for this trip…

That being said I have learned so much about me, and my relationship(s) with these girls that next summer the trip of a lifetime will happen and it will become an annual tradition.  I was a different person back then as opposed to the man that sits here today.  At some point I decided to break this road trip into two seperate ones… a trip with my buddies (as I was planning on draggin my daughters to some US ballparks) and one with Emily and Megan.

So upon returning from the States (more on that later) I unpacked, and then repacked the Jeep and we were off.  The plan was to head towards Ottawa as I had booked a KOA campground for several nights, on all the back roads to explore this great country that we have.  One of the things the boys and I had talked about just a few days before was saving turtles when you would see one trying to cross the road, Ryan was telling the story about he rescues turtles and turns to me and says, “I am sure your the same Ed?”  I nodded politely and the conversation carried on.  In my head I was thinking that one I’ve never rescued a turtle, and two I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a turtle crossing the road.

Well wouldn’t you know it after only a few hours on the road, there right in the middle was the poor little turtle trying to make it across the road.

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Hmmm, I love turtles.  Thanks for the rescue?  Nope I pee on you instead!

We immediately pulled over and ran out into the middle of the road to rescue the poor little guy, when I bent over to pick him up by the edges of his shell he did what all good turtles tend to do.  Pull his head inside of his shell and then proceeded to piss all over my left.  Thankfully my dexterity was up to the challenge and I was able to Tennessee two step my way out of the stream just in time.  We placed the turtle onto the side of the road, and facing in the same direction he was already headed, jumped back in the Jeep and we continued on the way.

Rescuing turtles will always be something that I will now be on the lookout for!

We continued to head North, stopping at not only the Candy Shoppe on the 400 North, we also hit up the Kawartha Dairy for a delicious ice cream cone and pulled over at several national parks to stretch our legs and have bathroom breaks as needed.

Once we got to our campsite in Ottawa and settled in, it was time for dinner.  Over the first few months of the this summer I learned how to cook over an open campfire.  Not the easiest thing to do as every single campfire will be different in terms of its intensity and distance from fire to food.  It requires constant supervision and adjustments throughout the cooking process as too not too burn anything.  Yes I’ve ruined a few hot dogs in my day but I pretty much have gotten the hang of it, and not once did I have to break out the Coleman stove that I bought as backup.

Nights around the campfire are my favorite.  Sitting there listening to good music, talking and sharing stories, roasting marshmallows and making smores.

My only disappointment with this trip was my inability to get Emily to re-engage with some family time each night.  She would retreat into the cabin with her headphones in, listening to her music and sending out an endless parade of SnapChats to her friends.  Megan was all in and I had just the best time with her playing frisbee, catch and other games around the campsite.  Emily was reluctant to join in on any of this family fun, she wouldn’t even go swimming with us at the pool and the lake.

The next day the weather was not the best and we did some shopping at the Tanger outlet mall in Ottawa and had some lunch while in town.  We did a lot of shopping over the summer, getting the girls some fun things along the way and I basically replaced my entire wardrobe and shoe collection this year.  I think this shopping trip was my last of this year in terms of clothing as my perception on money and how best to spend it was already starting to change… (more on the that in my #1 post for 2017.

I has asked the girls what they wanted to do while up in Ottawa and two common things come from this conversation, one was to go Zip Lining and the other was the chance to drive the Jeep.  Both of these were crossed off the list the next day!  I have a healthy respect for heights and was a little afraid of what the day might bring, but it was a beautiful drive over and across a large river dividing Ontario and Quebec that was a delight to see.

The zip lining course was at the top of a mountain and it was a long and winding road up to the top through some beautiful summer views.

We arrived on time, got all geared up and had the chance to watch the group ahead of us finish up with the final zipline back to the base camp.  We walked out into the woods, had our orientation and away we went.  My only other ziplining experience was in Jamaica and it was much different than what I experienced in Ottawa.  I figured it would be a guided tour through the trees with instructors in front and behind us, travelling in a large group.  Well that was not the case at all, we were pretty much on our own as the instructors kept watch from the safety of the ground.  Being the first three on the course we were able to go at our own pace, and with two adventurous girls leading the way we quickly were ahead of everyone else and having just the best time imaginable.

The course started off with several climbing in and around type obstacles to orientate one from being off the ground and to get more comfortable with the zipline to come.  It was actually a really fun time for me and I quickly got over my fear of heights to the point where it wasn’t even a factor.  Watching my girls hit each line ahead of me allowed me to see what I was in store for, how fast the line might move and to prepare for each landing.  The difference between an 80 lb girl and a 180 lb man are quite different in terms of speed and impact on each landing.  I was able to generate a lot more speed across the ziplines than either of the girls were able to do so.

We had so much fun this day, I was able to conquer some of my own fears and felt that I grew closer to each girl throughout the afternoon.

Up next on the agenda was some off road driving in the Jeep after searching for the right road to drive on.  With Emily turning 16 later in the year I knew that she would want to get some experience behind the wheel.  I didn’t want to just trespass in an open field or on private property so while drive around the water I simply followed a sign for an empty lot for sale.  The road turned from paved to gravel, and then eventually to no road at all and we ended up on an abandoned lot down on the Ottawa River.  It was perfect!

I drove the Jeep right up to the edge of the water and enjoyed a few minutes of sheer beauty and some peace and quiet.  Right up until the girls were attacked by a few wasps… hilarity ensued!

I was able to do some off roading across this lot and back up and down the “road” that led down to this cottage, and I even allowed the girls a chance to get behind the wheel of the Jeep for a trip themselves.  Both girls showed no fear and had a blast driving the Jeep with not another soul around.

After several trips up and down and back again we headed back to the campgrounds for another fire roasted dinner of deliciousness.  We would spend one more day in Ottawa before returning to the real world back here in Barrie.  I know personally I had a wonderful time and learned a lot about myself and what is truly important in life and spending time with my girls.  We would go camping several more times throughout the summer as I shared the wonderful world that is mother nature.

It was during this trip that I started to realize just what was important to me, the Summer of George has started with the idea of having the time of my life and doing a lot of crazy things that money could buy you.  Sitting in the best seats if you will, replacing a wardrobe, buying countless baseball jersey and matching ball caps, Star Wars battle drones, and many other things…  This extended road trip was the beginning of my understanding of what truly is important in life, my family, my friends.  Spending time with them, having fun, creating memories.  One that last a lifetime and are not easily forgotten or replaced, this thought process I would chase for the remainder of this year and wouldn’t fully understand until mid September.

Keep Dancing in the Light

There is a light burning in everyone. You see it in a child’s smile or the kind gesture of being told Merry Christmas by a complete stranger. I have come to a place in my life where I fervently look for this light in every situation I am placed in. There is always some good, one just needs to find it. And when I do, I never stop Dancing in the joy that is an optimistic mind, hoping for a better and brighter tomorrow.

I have started to share some of my favorite music recently, songs that inspire me or can instantly change my mood based on how I may be feeling.  I had some good feedback on the songs that I shared last week, so I am continue to share my favorites over the next few weeks.

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Better Place ~ Rachel Platten

I’ll tell the world, I’ll sing a song
It’s a better place since you came along
Since you came along
Your touch is sunlight through the trees
Your kisses are the ocean breeze
Everything’s alright when you’re with me
And I hold my favorite thing
I hold the love that you bring
But it feels like I’ve opened my eyes again
And the colors are golden and bright again
There’s a song in my heart, I feel like I belong
It’s a better place since you came along
It’s a better place since you came along
I see the whole world in your eyes
It’s like I’ve known you all my life
We just feel so right
So I pour my heart into your hands
It’s like you really understand
You love the way I am
And I hold my favorite thing
I hold the happiness you bring
But it feels like I’ve opened my eyes again
And the colors are golden and bright again
And the sun paints the skies and the wind sings our song
It’s a better place since you came along
It’s a better place since you came along
Now I’m alright
Now I’m alright
Everything’s alright
‘Cause it feels like I’ve opened my eyes again
And the colors are golden and bright again
There’s a song in my heart, I feel like I belong
It’s a better place since you came along
It’s a better place since you came along
Songwriters: Rachel Platten / Sally Seltmann
Better Place lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Songs Music Publishing

When You Least Expect It

I went and saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi on opening night and was very excited to do so for a number of reasons.  I was five years old when the original Star Wars movie came out in 1977, and I was captivated right from the beginning.  I grew up living in the Star Wars universe, I had the toys, the t-shirts and the Jedi mindset.  I would often walk to school as a boy trying my best to lift rocks with my mind, and never quite being able to do so.

My friends and I would have lightsaber battles, pretend to be our favorite characters and as The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were delivered a few years later, they had me for life.  I collected the comics, I read all the post universe books and I even have the original movie posters, laminated on hard wood and hung in my heavily Star Wars themed man cave.

Yes I have a full sized Darth Vader costume and fully functional (as a toy can ever get) lightsaber.  There are Darth Vader and Yoda stickers on my Jeep and I even wear a Darth Vader head necklace.  I needed to paint this picture for you, as this passion, this love runs very deep.  And yes ladies I am single, ha ha!

I bring that up because I am single by choice not because of my love of Star Wars and being an ultra nerd.  I haven’t thought of getting back into a relationship for over a year now as I’ve enjoyed my time with my children, and I have enjoyed the last few months really discovering who Ed Dillon really is.  Every day forward is one step further away from the Dark Side of the force and into the light.

So to say I was excited about the premiere tonight is an understatement.  I was reconnecting with some of my old Keg buddies and I had asked Tiffany if she wanted to come along.  Tiffany and I have become very close over a short amount of time, and now living next door, she has in fact become the girl next door.  We had a pretty awesome play date with our kids today, followed up by another visit in the afternoon where we did arts and crafts, hide and seek and Monsters… with Jenny and Austin.

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Emily, makeup artist extraordinaire

As the evening wore on, she came back over and had asked Emily if she would do her makeup for the evening out.  I practiced my pool skills in the other room in anticipation of my friends arrival, and to give these ladies a chance to get to know each other a bit better.  I popped in and out of the kitchen, where the makeup was being done and could see what a wonderful time they both were having, bonding and growing closer together.

It turns out my friends never made it to my house and instead we met at the theatre before the movie started.  Tiffany I could tell was a bit nervous in meeting my friends for the first time, and there were some other interesting topics of conversation while we waiting.

I need to backtrack a bit and quickly tell the story about the previous night, while watching Legends of the Fall.

I have been introducing Tiffany to a few of my favorite movies over the past three days, first it was The Shawshank Redemption, last night was Legends of the Fall starring Brad Pitt.  While the movie itself was good, to me what was more interesting was what was happening on the couch as the movie progressed.

To say Tiffany’s life is complicated at the moment would be an understatement.  Let’s just say that she has a lot of things on her plate, and life has dictated that she needs to wait another month before some of the major issues can get sorted out.  Sitting around waiting that long can drive anyone a little crazy, so she has chosen to keep busy and keep her mind off her issues if you will.  And what started as an introduction over dinner a couple of Saturdays ago, quickly followed by Breakfast at Tiffany’s the next day, Sunday, we have been spending a lot of time together lately.

And we have started to grow really close to each other.  There has always been an understanding of her situation and our interactions have always been under the guise of friendship and nothing else.  She clearly indicated how she feels on certain things and established guidelines very early on.  I completed agreed, and away we went.  Well, life is always in motion and things can change very quickly, and unexpectedly.

Friends has always told me that I would meet the right person when I wasn’t even looking, and while I was skeptical of letting fate decide things boy did it sure happen.

Back to Legends of the Fall, we are sitting on the couch enjoying the movie, Emily was also down on the other couch in the living room working on a sketch she is doing for her boyfriend as a Christmas present.  There was a small amount of distance between us but I noticed immediately that we were in fact closer together than while watching Shawshank the night before.  To be honest, I had a giant cushion to me leftside which forced me to sit a bit closer than the night before.  As the movie rolled on, through the shifting of body weight and moving around the couch we ended up sitting side by side with our legs gently rubbing against each other.  I then noticed her foot gently resting on the back of my calf, and then I felt her hand resting on my arm.  This didn’t happen all at once, slowly over several minutes.  I was still sitting with my hands folded in my lap trying my hardest to be on my best behaviour.

The feeling to me was electric.  I was aware of every slight move, every time there was even the slightest amount of contact.  And truthfully I was really enjoying it. I am in no way suggesting that Tiffany was in any way being the aggressor, it was merely two people who had grown close over the past two weeks getting more comfortable sitting next to each other.  I was feeling the energy in the room, and taking her slight physical clues to heart and when she leaned forward a bit I raised my arms and started to rub and caress her shoulders, her neck and then play with her hair.  She leaned back into my arms and shoulder and I spent the rest of the movie with my arm around her and eventually we ended up holding hands while our thumbs and fingers caressed each other.

As the movie wound down and finished we talked about some interesting topics until late in the night and eventually we both needed to get some sleep, we said our goodbyes had a nice warm hug and went our separate ways.

Today we talked about the previous night, what had happened and honestly how comfortable it all felt.  We talked about the boundaries that we have previously discussed and whether or not they had been crossed.  That topic would pop up throughout the evening and as we both sat there tonight waiting for my friends to arrive, which they never did.  We ended up meeting them at the theatre before the start of the movie and on the drive over we talked about what was to come and we both agreed that we just wanted to enjoy ourselves.

There was a point tonight when Emily was done her makeup and she was sitting up on my kitchen counter, she used her feet to pull me in towards her and I honestly thought that was about to be our first kiss.  To use a Star Wars reference, this is Red Five I’m going in!  The only thing that stopped me was Emily was still in the room packing up her makeup brushes, had she not been there I have no doubt the first kiss would have happened right then.

Meeting my friends outside of the movies, the force was with me and I parked right beside them in a busy lot without even knowing it.  I was invited to blaze with them, and honestly it wasn’t even a consideration.  I have moved so far beyond that life now I never want to go back, it was not even a bit tempting.  It felt great to turn down their invitation and went inside to wait in line for the movie to start.

The Last Jedi was a pretty good action, adventure type film with some nostalgia thrown in and even a rip off of few scenes from Return of the Jedi, and The Empire Strikes Back.  I was able to overlook that for the most past and the movie itself was pretty good for what it was intended to be.  Tiffany even enjoyed it, being a non Star Wars fan commenting on the force, and how it is in all living things and binds the galaxy (and life) together.

For me, I was only half paying attention to the movie.  The other half of my attention was to Tiffany sitting beside me.  I kept thinking about her, about the last two weeks we have spent together.  I was thinking about some of our conversations from the last two days, and the hard reality of life moving forward for both of us.  I have not stopped thinking about this beautiful lady from the moment I first met her.

She has been captivating me in a way no other person ever has.  I don’t know if I ever really and truly believed in soulmates, or kindred spirits but perhaps that is because I had never found mine, despite the fact of being married twice and having several different relationships in my life.

Sitting here at this very moment, I now know that it does exist.  As I have finally found mine.  It has hit me so hard and so fast and so unexpected that it has me spinning.  I am captivated from the second I see her, until the moment she leaves.  I think about her in the hours in between, writing this and sharing this now is only going to complicate things in her own life and I entered this friendship with the best of intentions.

I just want to shout from the rooftops just how awesome this lady makes me feel.

I have found my soulmate, and there is a possibility that I will have to let her go and say goodbye in the New Year.  I know this full well, yet I have allowed my heart to be open to her, to share my everything with her.  When we are together it is the best feeling in the world, the best feeling that I have ever had.  In our short time together I have seen her laugh and cry and share and show love and compassion, and she truly is everything that I have ever wanted in a woman, a partner, in another person.  For me she is the complete package, yes we are kindred spirits and yes she is my soulmate.

It may have only been two weeks, but when your heart knows it knows.  It feels like I have known her my whole life, and when we are together time seems to rush up and stand still all at the same time.  The last two weeks the universe has opened up new possibilities to me that I never knew existed, I love Tiffany.  I know I do. As excited as I was tonight to see this movie, I was more excited holding the hand of the lady beside me, smelling her hair, resting my head upon her and listening to her breath.  These small tiny experiences meant more to me than a hundred Star Wars movies.

I don’t know what to do next, there are things that are beyond my control, and fate can be cruel at times.  I do know this for certain.  I am so grateful that she has come into my life, I am so much the better for just knowing her.  My children are so much  better as well, they have all instantly opened up to her as well.  Megan has kept her judgement still, I think maybe perhaps Tiffany has Dad’s attention right now.  Emily tonight, with her makeup skills and the things that they talked about.  Jenny asking if she could come over and do crafts again, and Austin and the Never Ending Pillow fight has been just so amazing to me.

She has called me out and challenged me on topics and themes that she believes strongly in, she has already helped me grow into a better man and father.  She blows wind into my sails and has inspired me to be even better in the kitchen.  A box cake mix will never be bought again!  It will be painful and difficult if I have to let her go, time will tell. I want to cherish and enjoy every second that I can spend with her over the next month, in whatever capacity that may be.  I’ve been struck by lightning, and I love it.

Just as I’m sure that I love her.  Tiffany will get up in the morning and read this post, I don’t know what will come of it, and what tomorrow may bring.  Please now this, I’ve meant with all my heart and soul every word I have said to you over the past few days.  I know you’ve got so much going on, and I am sorry that I have complicated it even further.  I need you to know and understand just how I feel about you.  Yes it’s comfortable.  Yes it’s wonderful.  Yes it’s amazing, just as you are.  There is nowhere else I would rather be than in your arms, and seeing your beautiful smiling face.  Thank you for going to see Star Wars with me, that in itself shows just what an amazing lady you truly are Kristi.

Sitting On Top of the World..

And I’m feeling fine!  To quote the famous singer Al Jolson.

My mom introduced me to Al Jolson as a young child, and we would sit and watch The Jolson Story and Jolson Sings Again.  Talk about someone chasing their dreams!

I cannot begin to tell how I awesome I feel this morning, it’s almost like the heaven opened up on me and rained down. (I have the feeling I am going to cry a lot while I write this, as I did last night).  It’s all good so please read on!

I had dinner plans with Tiffany last night, our plan was to go The Keg as I had not been to one since I walked away from my job this past September.  It’s always busy, at any restaurant, in the month of December and last night was no exception.  I did have the foresight to make a reservation which helped, and when we arrived there was a light smattering of snowflakes in the air.  Ahh the magic of Christmas and for the first time in over 20 years I am finally getting to enjoy it.

Dinner was as awesome as expected, the food was great but the company was even better.  Tiffany and I picked up right where we left on Sunday morning and sharing just an amazing conversation picking up right where we left off from Sunday.  Sharing stories from each of our pasts, and learning more about each other on such a personal level.  I sat there throughout dinner listening to, as we called it a Shitstorm of life events that she had to continually deal with her entire life right up to present day. What life has dealt her, well I don’t think that I would have had the personal strength to overcome it and at the same time have this wonderful smile still on her face.

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We talked about how and why she was able to maintain such a positive outlook on life because what she has, the way she looks at life, the way she can continually turn lemons in lemonade is truly amazing and inspiring.  Sidenote, she ordered lemonade with dinner.  She told me that with all that life has thrown her way the only control that we have in our lives is way we react to it, how we let it affect us on a personal level.  We both agreed that there is much in life that is beyond our control and the only thing that each of us, everyone can, is themselves.

I’ve only recently been able to adapt this attitude, this mindset, this outlook on life recently..

Test 1 ~ literally just happened, driving Megan to school and noticed that my Jeep was broken into overnight and my sunglasses were stolen.  It’s just a thing, right Tiffany?

I want to be able to make sure this attitude towards life sticks with me for the rest of my life.  I honestly believe that it will as I have chosen to surround myself with people that this exact outlook on life.  That can take the weight of the world as it comes, can process and deal with these stresses in a positive and production manner, to battle the darkness with light as opposed to living in that darkness and feeding its vicious cycle.

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Tiffany and I could have talked all night I am sure, and I am also sure that more opportunities will present itself in the days and weeks to come  Driving her home at the end of dinner, sharing stories about our most embarrassing moments and ending the night with a nice warm hug (we can all use lots of these) and as I drove I thought that I had a pretty great evening…

It turns out that this was only the beginning of the magic in store for me.

When I got home I checked in on both my teen-aged daughters, first Megan hugging and kissing her goodnight.  Then it was knock on Emily’s door, she was happy and in a good mood.  She was being the shoulder to cry on for her friend that needed some support last night, I asked if she had a chance to look over the house expectations that I had laid out for her a few days ago, which she initially refused to even acknowledge.

She told me that she had and was going to choose option one, staying at Dad’s house.  I asked if she was willingly to accept all of the conditions, again saying yes.  I knew instantly that I was going to cry as I could feel the hope and love flooding into me, Emily asked if I was going to cry to which I replied, yes.  Her friend turned to me and said that I could cry with her…  it was a very touching moment for me.

Emily and I still have a lot of work together moving forward and I need to see through her actions more so than her words that she really wants to change her life.  It is a process that we will work together on, and in time it will also help repair our relationship building a new one together.  One small step at a time, but I am filled with a new sense of hope.

Saying goodnight to Emily I returned to my room ready for bed, a few tears rolling down my cheeks.  I opened my email to read this…

I hope that your week has improved. I can’t imagine what you are going through as a parent and dealing with all you have on your plate. I want you to know that I give you credit for stepping up and being the best single dad that you can. I have seen a huge difference in Austin since September. You are a huge part of the little boys happy life now and he makes sure everyone knows it. As I said on Monday I am here to support you and the kids in anyway that I can. I have been a part of your family for the past 5 years. Stepping back from daycare was really hard for me because I truly care and believe that I am a small part of the child’s community that can make that difference. No matter what has happened with Emily know that everyday is a new day and never give up no matter how hard it maybe because one day she will need the great dad that I have started seeing in the past few months. 

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Bonnie was our child care provider when we first moved to Barrie and as you can see continues to be an important piece of my support circle moving forward.  Upon reading this it just another wave of tears to my eyes.  The positive energy, the openness the love that I have trying to put out into the world, in such a short time has come back to me a 100 times over.  Just having hope and happiness in my life has really changed my world.

Living Outside the Bubble

One of my friend’s on FaceBook shared the picture below, and it emcompasses everything that I have come to believe in over the past few months.

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I spent 45 years of my life blissfully unaware of anything that existed outside of the bubble that I had created for myself.  As the years went by the thickness of my bubble grew and grew, eventually I wasn’t able to see beyond its barrier and for me nothing else existed in the world.

When we are first born, we are born outside of this bubble.  Think about it, as a child you are not weighed down by the weight of life itself.  It is our experiences as we grow up that force us into the bubble, call it a defence mechanism.  All the negative things that happen to us push us just a bit further inside.

For me, and many of us we first start to lose our fearlessness when we are kids and playing anh hurt ourselves.  In that moment we start to live with fear and play it safe.  You slow down a bit when running full speed because last time you tripped and scraped your knee.  As we age things like peer pressure and wanting to fit in, to be like everyone else teaches us to hold back, to not be the true version of ourself, to settle for less because we want to be accepted, to be like everyone else.

My first marriage was a perfect example of settling due to fear and insecurities.  I wanted to have children before I was 30 and settled for a woman that I knew wouldn’t make me happy, I just that she would be a good mother because she worked in the childcare industry.  I kept the same job for 20 years but was only ever to reach at certain level in the company as when I got comfortable it became about being comfortable and I stopped growing.  I was afraid of change.  This all led to a dull life and just surviving.

I spent 25 years trapped in this existence.

I have been rediscovering my childhood through the eyes of my son, he will turn 4 next January and I am so blessed that I have been able to stay at home with him over these last three months.  Everyday I get the chance to see the world through his eyes and have such a unique perspective on everything.  Watching and PLAYING WITH Austin on a daily basis I can see his confidence as his explores new things, he is constantly laughing and always happy, he wants the most out of every day he is with me never stops asking me to play, he has no fear when he embraces the unknown and always has an abundance of  energy.

He lives every second of every day outside of this bubble.

And I just had an epiphany as I was pulling the banana bread that I just baked out of the to cool, it’s our job as parents to help our children exist outside of this bubble their entire life.  Imagine that.  To teach them to continue to live their lives with the eyes and the attitude of a child that has no fear, that embraces the unknown that doesn’t settle for comfort and will continually to test their boundaries and grow.

I knew this journey I am on would take me to some amazing places, and I knew the power a parent has being able to influence and shape the destiny of their children.  Both good and bad.  I am only now learning what that really means and I am excited for each and everyday that the future holds for us.  One filled with love, testing our limits and growing spiritually, physically and emotionally in every way possible.

In my own life I want each and everyday to be filled with an abundance of happiness, to live without limits and embrace the unknown.  I am able to do this more and more everyday, I celebrate the little success and the small steps that I can take to move forward and further away from that bubble until it seems like a distant memory or a lifetime ago.

Yesterday after school I was picking up Jennifer as I always do, this beautiful 5 year old is definitely an old soul and looks at the world in a way that I absolutely love.

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She asked me to dance with her while we waiting for Megan to meet us outside, and I found myself standing on a wooden stage holding her in my arms slow dancing to John Lennon’s Imagine playing on my phone.  It didn’t matter to me that a 100 other parents and kids were watching us, we were dancing and singing like no one was watching.  As we were doing this the most magical thing happened.

Almost every other kid in Jennifer’s class joined us on the stage and danced around with us.  Here I am all 6 foot, 5 inches of me dancing with my daughter for all the world to see and a host of other children circling around us without a care in the world. Now close your eyes and imagine the smile I had on my face.  Got it?  I challenge you to do something today to put that smile back on your face again.

That my friends is the power of living outside your bubble.

And I guarantee that you will be glad you did.  Have a great day everyone!

 

That Girl’s Got Moxie!

I have mentioned my 20 year Keg career a few times, and well that isn’t entirely true.  I had a short six month sabatical from The Keg when I went and worked for Moxie’s restaurant for more money, the promise of a better schedule, much closer to home and as the owner said, the chance to be a Rock Star!  Figuratively speaking of course.

I found the systems in place, and the strict weekly schedule and the additional hours expecting to go above and beyond the required 50 hour work week, I quickly realized that I had been sold a bill of goods.  Meaning I had been promised one thing, and was given something completely different.  I didn’t last long there and quickly returned to The Keg a mere six months later.  Other than learning that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, there was only one good thing that came from my time there, her name was Dani.

Starting a new restaurant and getting to know all the staff isn’t always easy when you have work to do, and the role of the Chef is very hands on.  There was never much time to have any kind of personal conversations, wearing a headset, listening to the chatter, running the kitchen and having a hand on every dish that left the kitchen keep me very busy.  Add to that my usual business first attitude towards work, that professional front I had in place I kept everyone on a professional level.

Dani saw right through that charade immediately.  She could see that there was more than meets the eye and set out on a mission at first just to make me smile, and then beyond that to get to know me on a personal level.  She was determined to get to know the real me. dani

You see Dani had Moxie.  Defined as sass, courage, spunk, determination, attitude and she has all of these attributes along with many others.  I found her to be funny, charming, genuine and very beautiful.

She ended up being the only person during that six month period that I socialized with outside of work.  And in the few months that we worked together we became very close.  She would eventually leave Moxie’s to go on a trip to South America, Brazil if I remember correctly.  I have given her one of Lance Armstrong’s books with lots of notes and messages written to her in the margins.  Notes about living life and chasing your dreams, and she has done that ever since to this day.  We did talk via FaceTime during her trip a few times and kept in touch every once in awhile.

Right before I left Moxie’s I was married to Danielle, has Jennifer shortly thereafter and we lost touch with each other for awhile.  In essence she went her way and I went mine.  One of the good things about social media is the ability to both find and keep in touch  with friends from our past and for many years we would silently and at times not so silently observe each other’s lives.  During these years I watched her grow into a beautiful strong independant woman.

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Recently the comments and interactions increased and we keep saying that we needed to get together and see each other again.  Well that finally happened yesterday!  We met in Milton and went hiking at Hilton Falls, one of my favorite places to visit.  What had been forecasted as an overcast potentially rainy day turned into a warm afternoon filled with sunshine.

We spent the next several hours hiking through the woods and not only catching up on old times, reliving some great memories of our past.  There is a fire pit overlooking the falls where we had lunch and talked about the last seven years of our lives, the time that had past seen we last saw each other in person.

We walked about 15 km that afternoon through the woods and got to know each other all over again.  We talked about Emily and she was able to offer me another unique perspective from her own life about the difficult situation that I am dealing with in regards to Emily.  I was also able to listen and offer advice and suggestions with some of the issues that are going on currently in her life.

We have shared similar issues in our past both overcoming similar problems recently, passing through fire and emerging stronger on the other side as a result of these experiences.  We are both clean and clear of the restaurant industry and talked about the pitfalls, and rewards of that line of work.  She has a very bright future in front of her indeed currently working the promotions field and has lengthy trips planned to South Korea and Russia in the new year.  Those are going to be some amazing adventures to experience and I look forward to my silent FaceBook stalking of these adventures.

She is one of my favorite people for this very reason.  She went above and beyond to get to know the real me, to fight through the outer layer of defense that a lot of us have in place to protect ourselves.  She has an ability to opening share and listen at the same time, and has always been there for me with messages of love and support over the years.  I feel fortunate to have as part of my life, even in the small way that she is.  I wish her nothing but peace, love and happiness as both continue to navigate this thing called life.

We both have the month of December off from work and have promised to see each other again before 2018 hits and she is off an another amazing adventure.  We will make that happen.

Thank you for listening to me and sharing just a wonderful walk through the woods.