100 Day Run Challenge Update…

North West BakerySo for the first time in maybe forever, although I know I did some crazy things while Ironman training a few years ago, today I did my second 10 km run in as many days. I had every intention of doing a nice and easy 30 minutes job on the treadmill at the YMCA while the kids ran around the gym downstairs with there hair on fire (not literally).

Perhaps it was the fact that I actually only ran 9.96 km yesterday and not the full ten that kind of bugged me today. I have OCD and I felt I needed to fix that, or perhaps it was the fact that I was wearing a t-shirt advertising my start up baking company for the first time…

North West Bakery

And I figured that the longer I ran the more advertising I would be getting. Is it wrong for me to have parked myself in front of a few out of shape folks sweating away and working hard? And here comes some in shape triathlete running for an hour advertising a bakery company right in front of them.

I ordered a bunch of items from Vista Print including a banner for the outside of my house, business cards, car magnets for my doors and the aforementioned t-shirts… I have high hopes that this business venture allows me to remain at home longer with my younger kids to continue to enjoy he magic of their childhood.

Tomorrow will definitely be no longer than 30 minutes or 5km, which ever comes first!

Does anyone have any tips for muscle and leg recovery that I might use? After all I still have 89 more runs to go!

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.


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.


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. 

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.

The House Rules

In a follow up of my post earlier this morning, Finding the Inner Strength to Do the Right Thing  these are the conditions that I wanted to talk to Emily about last night that she absolutely refused to even look at.


Option 1 – Live at Dad’s House

To continue to live here you must be willing to accept ALL the following conditions.

(1) Follow a simple weekly schedule that will allow you to complete the following tasks,

  1. Get up in time for school, including having breakfast
  2. Have the appropriate clothing for the weather
  3. Have everything you need for school that day.
  4. Set aside time each day to complete homework and projects so you can stay ahead of timetables and due dates.
  5. Complete and hand in ALL assignments.
  6. In your bed with lights off at 11pm, phone turned off at 11:30pm asleep by midnight (ideal goal).
  7. Monday through Friday nights you come home after school to complete job list, homework, etc…
    • All homework finished you may hang out with friends, home by 10pm.

(2)Tell the truth. Do not steal.  Respect your yourself and the other members of our family.

  • Lying cannot be tolerated anymore. You need to be honest with yourself and with others, this past Friday showed me clearly how easy and natural it is for you to spin a tale and lie directly to my face.  You have broken and damaged that trust and it needs to be rebuilt over time.
  • Do not take from others and earn what you need. You will be given the opportunity to earn money via a chore chart every week.  You will not be given money by me anymore for any reason.  You also need to pay me back the $100 in Uber charges from the past ten days.
  • We will talk to each other in a respectful manner. When we have an issue, we will talk about it, have a discussion and come to a conclusion together.  All problems will be resolved in this manner.

(3) There are to be ZERO drugs and alcohol used while living here, this means on the weekends when are hanging out with your friends. This is a ZERO tolerance policy moving forward.

You have watched me struggle with this problem for too many years, it was one of the factors that pushed us apart. If you continue to smoke weed it will keep us from drawing back together.  It is a dangerous addictive and damaging drug for a developing mind.  Yes the Canadian government will legalize it next year, but they will also place restrictions on it who can use it (age related) and the penalties for driving while high, etc.. These already exist for things like alcohol and cigarettes.  Once you reach the legal age for these substances then you are free to with as you please.

(4) We will find you someone that you can talk to about the issues that you are having in your life. Above and beyond your school guidance counselor who will help you with school related matters.  You need someone to talk to about all the baggage that you are carrying in your life.

  • Your relationship with me, how you feel about things, what you felt like over the past four years, and over the past two years especially.
  • Social pressure and anxiety that you may feel.
  • Depression, negative thoughts and emotions and better ways to deal with these feelings as opposed to internalizing and keeping things to yourself.
  • In the last few weeks with everything that you have gone through, I don’t feel you have opened yourself to anyone fully yet. Even when I talked with Shy’s mom she told me that she never got the full story from you.  I cannot even begin to tell you how opening up and sharing all the baggage that I have been carrying over the past several years has weighed me down.  By sharing my stories and experiences with sometimes complete strangers has given me such a strength I cannot put into words.  I suddenly realized that so many of us carry around this baggage that we do not need to all by ourselves.  This is my support system…
    • Amber McCauley – the family therapist I’ve started to see
    • Jason Mackenzie – runs the men’s support group that I joined on Amber’s recommendation. It has about 200 members all over the world and all struggling with different issues.  They is such power in numbers and every time I have shared a piece of me, I have felt the love and support come back a hundred times over.  This past weekend I shared the story of Uber and lying and stealing, and I had 28 different responses and opinions.
    • Jodi our next-door neighbor. She is an incredibly giving woman and does tons of mentoring and giving back to her community.  She delivers food for Wheels on Wheels, she mentors parents that have special needs children.  Both of her children suffer from autism and HDSD and require full time assistance, yet she still makes times to give back as much as she can.  Including reaching out to me this past summer and has become a very close friend.
    • Ryan Lewis, my best friend has been instrumental in talking things out and being a sounding board for each other. We would talk/text daily for a few months encouraging each other with our goals of quitting weed.  He is such a genuine person who has strong values, the same outlook on life as I do and has been there to listen in a very nonjudgmental way.  It was the reason that I enjoyed playing golf so much this summer as those afternoons were spent having fun and talking about ways we could improve our situations.  He has such strong connections with both of his parents and spends much of his time these days helping out both his mom who runs several business in Northern Ontario (landscaping, FedEx delivery, etc.. she showed him some tough love when he was younger and getting into trouble, and to his Dad who lives in Newmarket and is bound to a wheelchair taking him to and from the doctors on a regular basis, helping with his medications, setting up his new place and so much more.  I don’t know of anyone that gives back to his parents as much as he does right now.

And I look to continue to expand this circle as much as I can. I have made several other contacts in my men’s support group and I will be starting a 26-week Master Mind course with 10 other men starting in January.  This involves a 75-minute weekly phone call that focuses on mental health, financial security and physical and spiritual well-being.  There is so much more to this course and it will help take all that I have learned recently to the next level.

All of this has only come from my ability to be open and not afraid to share all that I have been struggling with in my life.

(5) Be a member of this family.

And by that, I mean you are free to do whatever you want in your free time as long as you are following the conditions laid out above and below.  We will plan outings to the YMCA, I will be having movie nights, I plan of getting a working Wii for the kids for Christmas and will start playing Mario Kart.  I want you to be included, and I want your input on things that YOU want to do and like doing.  I want you to develop an interest or hobby that I can support in anyway needed, in terms of paying for it, driving you to and from, helping you find what you are looking for, etc.…  Channel some of your time and energy into something that you want to do, just for you.

(6) Get a job. It is time for you to put together a resume and start looking for a part time job.

  • It will provide you additional money above and beyond what you can earn from the Chore Chart.
  • It will start to teach you some aspects of responsibility and develop a work ethic, working with others, etc…
  • It can lead to new friendships and new opportunities in the future.
  • Start to become more active, exercise not only your mind but your body as well. This is entirely your choice as to how you would like to proceed with this, the easiest perhaps is to join us at the YMCA when we go several nights a week and walk/run on the treadmill.  The kids will be starting a Hip/Hop dance class there on Mondays in December, they will continue their swim lessons on Thursdays and we most likely one other night of the week as with the winter schedule they have increased the amount of child mind hours available.  Megan has really enjoyed going and you will quickly see the benefits as well.
  • We will talk weekly on how things are going, evaluate how things are going and talk about making adjustments as needed.

I agree to the above conditions of living here and will do my best to uphold and follow through.  I also understand that I will make mistakes along the way and will need help from time to time.  I will not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help when I need it.

________________________________  Emily Dillon

The Benefits of Option 1

I will pay for your monthly cellphone bill.

I will pay for a Family subscription for Apple Music.

I will drive you to and from school (as I can and may not always be available, especially when I return to work in the new year).  If you miss a class then you will be on the bus for the rest of the week.

You will receive a monthly clothing budget of $100 for your needs. Dad will take you shopping on Wednesday evenings if you need something from the mall.

Additional money may be earned via the chore chart, once jobs are completed to my satisfaction.  Transferred to your bank account each Friday.

You will be allowed to have friends over to our house on Friday nights including sleepovers as you see fit. (On Saturday mornings to Sundays you will visit your mom’s house for the rest of December.)  In the New Year if you have been able to follow along with the plan we will discuss the option of you going out to friends’ houses.

I will drive you to and from work (as I am able to based on other family needs, swim lessons, etc.), to job interviews or whatever other work related tasks you may require.

You may your TV and Bell cable box back into your bedroom, following the conditions set up with your cell phone.  Off by 11pm.

I will be open to talking about additional benefits of living here that are discussed when we sit down and talk each week (The drive to and from Mom’s house is a perfect chance to do this… you get the drive down on Saturday and Megan can have the drive home on Sunday)

I agree to the above benefits for Emily living at home and will let Emily know if and when something needs to be altered.

___________________________________   Edward Dillon

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Today was another fantastic day continuing the trend of yesterday, and last night and I kept the adventure going this morning and into this afternoon.  I don’t normally ask complete strangers to go out for breakfast but I did last night and it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made.  Please allow me to explain.

fxLYm7x0My neighbor Jodi invited me over for a chat last night with her husband and another lady that she has been helping, we shall refer to her as Tiffany.  I have no issue openly sharing my life and I will certainly respect the privacy of others as much as I can.  Tiffany is dealing with her own issues in life, Jodi thought she would offer a different and unique perspective on the issues that I am having with Emily as there were some similarities in their stories.

AS the evening progressed and the conversation bounced around from topic to topic I found myself intrigued by her openness and willing to share her story with us.  As the night wound down and I said my good-byes I went home and started to think to myself that I wanted to talk with Tiffany more but in a one of one setting.  So I sent over a quick email asking if she wanted to have breakfast with me this morning.  And she accepted.

So two things of note right away, it’s not something that I have ever done before asking a relative stranger out for breakfast and I would quickly find out she had not done anything like this as well.  So up this morning, shower and away we go.  It was a quick 10 second walk to knock on the front door 🙂 and off we went.  There is a restaurant here in Barrie called the Farmhouse, which is an old converted farmhouse right on the shore of Kempenfelt Bay with a great view of the water.  We were seated on the upper level and in the corner table which gave us the best view of the water on a beautiful Sunday morning.  You could still see the fog lifting off the bay even with the bright sunshine all around.

The Farmhouse Restaurant in Barrie, photo from this past summer.  I highly recommend it.

Social anxiety, meeting new people, worrying about being able to carry and have a conversation with someone I didn’t know always caused me a great amount of stress.  I would often go out of my way to avoid situations like these, or make up excuses to back out at the last-minute.  Those thoughts and feeling didn’t once enter my mind last night or this morning and every time that I have challenged myself recently I have been initially surprised at how easy it actually is.

On the drive down I inquired about she met Jodi, we chatted about dinner the night before and when we arrived we were seated, ordered some coffee and got into some deep and heavy topics of conversation right away.  It was a blessing that we were seated along on the upper level and it was almost an hour? maybe before another table was seated.  I don’t recall how long, we were there for almost three hours but it didn’t feel nearly that long at all.

Your perception of time is always an amazing thing, sitting in class as a kid waiting for school to end the second-hand on the clock seemed to take forever.  The exact opposite seems to happen when you are in great company and having a good time.

facial-quotes-5Having the room to ourselves, Tiffany was able to tell me her story, about the issues that she was dealing with.  I sat there sipping my coffee listening to this beautiful woman open up and reveal intimate details of not only her past but her present situation as well, again to a complete stranger.  Personally I have learned the power of sharing, the power of talking with another person about what is going on in your own life, and I suspect that Tiffany feels exactly the same way.

I asked questions at breaks in the conversation, I dug a little deeper on certain things and in the course of sharing her story with me I felt that I was able to get to know her much better and have a deep understanding of the events in her life that had shaped her into the person sitting across from me today.  Seeing up close another person completely open up and be honest gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

As the morning progressed, the menus remained untouched and it was my turn to share my story.  Just as Tiffany had done, I didn’t hold back and shared the events of the last 20 years of my life going over both marriages, why I got married to each lady (topics for future posts indeed!) and ultimately the reasons these relationships would end in failure.  I talked about all of my children and the conversation eventually ended up with Emily.

The secret (well maybe not) reason that I wanted to talk with Tiffany in the first place was to get a female perspective on the thoughts and feelings that may be swirling around in Emily’s head.  What a young lady thinks about their Dad who wasn’t there at a period of time when she perhaps needed me the most, and what actions could be taken next and possible reactions I might receive from Emily.

If you would like to know more of the back story between my daughter Emily and me, I’ve written about our situation in our last several posts.

We would eventually order and have breakfast but over our three-hour conversation I was presented with thoughts and options that I would not have been able to come up with on my own.  I have spent my afternoon preparing a much more detailed and written version of what the expectations are for any child under my roof and have planned a date with Emily tomorrow evening after school to review these options with her and talk about her life moving forward.

Several of the key points came from my Breakfast with Tiffany.

The talk won’t be easy but it might be the most important conversation that I have had with any of my children to date.  I so desperately want her to get some help, despite her repeated plea to me that she is fine.  I can see her struggling with a lot of the same issue that I was as well.

We finished out breakfast and stepped outside shortly after noon and marveled at the beautiful December weather that we were having.  The summer was not a hot one here in Canada by any stretch of the imagination and on December 3rd it was nicer than a lot of the days this past year.  Certainly a lot more sunny!  It felt like God had open up a small piece of heaven and it was shining down on us.

When we got home I thanked her so much for sharing with me, letting her know what a great time that I had and I sincerely hope we get the chance to do it again really soon.  I made a new friend today, and added another peice to my ever expanding circle of support.  I hope she looks at me in the same way.

You honestly never know what tomorrow may bring, and you need to open to all possibilities.  Life will surprise you when you least expect it, we remember the bad but often close ourselves to all the good out there.

Thank you Tiffany, breakfast was lovely.

We All Need Good People in our Lives

headinthesandFor too many years I had my head buried in the sand.  And by that I mean I kept my eyes to the ground and really wouldn’t make eye contact when I would pass people on the streets, in the mall, even at work.  Perhaps especially at work, as the kitchen operations manager for The Keg I would often do laps of the dining room and I would look at people’s dinner plate, checking for food quality.  Ten to fifteen times a night I would lap the dining room and always, always had my eyes down looking at each table and the plates on it as I would pass by.

I realize now in retrospect that I had it wrong the whole time!  What I should have been looking at was everyone’s eyes and face, to see they were enjoying themselves and having a good time.  That information alone would have told me all I would need to know, having a good time then the food must be good as well.  Making eye contact, smiling at our guests would have made me and them feel better.  After all ins’t a smile contagious?

I was an introvert, and I didn’t like people.  I kept to myself, and presented a very business like front at work.  I presented a professional version of to keep everyone at an arms distance away from me and at the same time I didn’t go out of my way to get to know my co-workers on a personal level.  Since moving out on my own when I was 18 I already had this mindset and never in all the places that I lived (and there were a lot, I moved on average once a year for 10 straight years) did I get to know any of my neighbors more than a casual nod of the head in passing, some not at all.

Even friendships from childhood, friendships I had made when someone would ignore my walls and want to get to know me anyways on a personal level.  Those people I liked the most as they put forth the effort to see what was beyond the image that I had presented to everyone else.  Over the years, even those special people I let fade away and lost contact with.

Let’s take Facebook for example, those of us that use it most likely have some of childhood friends on our friend list, I know I did but I never went out of my way to actually reconnect with any of them.  I would have considered myself a silent Facebook stalker, as everyone once in a while I would see what they were up to.  At times ignoring or making up excuses to reconnect.  Too busy, too many kids, too caught up in my own head at times.

When I started this journey I have started to look at people much differently than I ever did and I have found myself doing things that I never would have before in my life.  And every single time that I push my personal boundaries and do something that once upon a time I would anxiety about or uncomfortable with I would jump in head first.  Let’s go back a few months shall we…

My neighbor Jodi came by my house one summer day offering me a couple of extra winter coats that her daughters had outgrown, and having two daughters slightly younger I thought that it was an incredible gesture and that was the literal start of our friendship.  Over the weeks to come we would continue to talk and get together a few times a week and converse almost daily now by email.  She has become a very close friend and important part of the support circle that I have been creating.  She helped open my eyes to new thoughts and new possibilities, she helped change my life.  Had I not been open to her and kept my old mentality that exchange at my door may very well have been the end of things, and I so very glad that I didn’t as she has helped me in numerous way.  I just returned from a delightful dinner with her, her husband and another lady that she is mentoring.  It was a delightful evening full of great conversation, and as I sat there I was thinking wow Ed, you never have done something like this before.  It was really great.

Thank you Jodi.

The other side of the coin is old friends.  Lot’s of times we bump into an old friend, chat for a few minutes and ultimately leave the conversation saying we should get together some time.  I know I would do this, and never follow through.  Far too many times.  This morning I actually reconnected with one of my best friends from grade school and high school, James.  We grew up in Milton together along with a circle of friends, and today I drove down to his house in Toronto to have an afternoon full of nerd adventures playing a Star Wars miniature game along with another old friend John David.

The old Ed would have had much anxiety meeting old friends, not to mention a room full of strangers that I had never met before.  I considered bailing on the outing last night and even this morning as I had a convenient excuse built-in with the issues going on with my daughter but I ultimately decided that a day reconnecting and catching up with old friends was exactly what I needed to take my mind off things.

And boy was I right!  Driving down from Barrie to Toronto taking all the back road to both enjoy the view, avoid the gridlock on the highways gave me such a sense of peace that I was able to think about the situation with my daughter and rock out to some great tunes.  I parked my Jeep, walked up to the front door and knocked.  The second James saw me through the window he threw up his arms in the arm with a big smile, opened the door and we immediately embraced in a big long hug.

It has been 28 years since I had seen my childhood friend and both immediately agreed that it had been far to long.  He was open and welcoming and we sat down and chatted for a few minutes about life and then headed down stairs to meet the rest of the crew.  I gave John David another big hug and spent the next several hours getting blown out of the sky (in the game) and reconnected with a couple of class gentlemen that I realized after I left had missed for far too long.  It was a great afternoon talking about the old days, meeting new friends and just enjoying life and each other’s company.  When it was time to go James walked me out to my car, exchanging another big hug and made plans to meet again real soon.


It was an incredibly powerful afternoon and evening for me.  I will definitely have to write more about these guys and some of our childhood adventures as they are some of the happiest times of my life.

Nothing about today was difficult or hard for me.  Once i started to drive I did not feel any kind of anxiety or feelings of nervousness.  It was pure joy and enjoyment in the company people who I call friends.  True friends with no motivation or hidden agendas, genuine people that honestly care about my well-being and that of my family.

I learned a lot today, not only about myself but about my view towards the rest of the world.  Quick side story, at a traffic light waiting for the light to change green I looked to my right and watched a wonderful old couple, perhaps in their 80’s laughing and smiling at each other just enjoying each others company.  I thought to myself we all should be so lucky.  It brought a tear to my eye.

All of my Children are HERE!

I am very happy to write that Emily is currently upstairs sleeping in her bed, in fact all four of my children and sleeping soundly under my roof for the first time in several weeks.  It has been one heck of an emotional day that started at 6:30am this morning with tears running down my face as I listened to a very powerful song from Simple Plan called This Song Saved My Life.  I instantly started to think of Emily and how much I missed her..

The first stanza is as follows…

I wanna start letting you know this
Because of you my life has a purpose
You helped me be who I am today
I see myself in every word you say
Sometimes it feels like nobody gets me
Trapped in a world where everyone hates me
There’s so much that I’m going through
I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you
I was broken
I was choking
I was lost
This song saved my life
I was bleeding
Stopped believing
Could have died
This song saved my life
I was down
I was drowning
But it came on just in time
This song saved my life


When I picked up Emily today we had a long talk about the last few weeks, I (as nicely as I could without turning it into a lecture) about the expectations of coming home and what I expected of her in terms of behaviour and life goals moving forward.  I will get to those in a second.  I was as open and honest with her, which isn’t easy for me as I have been here with this blog.


I told Emily that she was my catalyst for change.  She was the reason that I wanted to change my life, to get better, to be a better father and dad.  Through her actions, and at times her words she was screaming out loud for a Dad that would be there for her.  I had spent too many years wrapped up in my own world, focusing on career and personal gains, wrapped up in addiction to both drugs and stupid iPad games.


July 2005 018.jpgWhen in front of me the whole time was this little girl, slowly growing up in front of me and I was too wrapped up in my own shit that I couldn’t see it.  Emily inspired me to make change in my life, to get better not only for her but for me as well.  I have really enjoyed reading about other people’s rise out of the darkness, we all share similar stories of overcoming the darkness in our lives.  The issues may be different, but we all share something in common, that there is something that triggers the change.

To me this was a father bearing his soul to his daughter.  I wanted her to know the power that a child can have.  Any person can have to inspire another to be better than the sum of their parts.  I hope to do that for others one day.

I wanted Emily to have a clear understanding of that, and what I expected from her coming home.  I explained to her that we are in this together, and that running away is just running away from your problems, and that I would always be here for her, that she wasn’t alone, and help comes when you least expect it.  It sure did for me.  In many different ways and many different forms, in places that I never expected as soon as I opened myself up to it.

I would love your thoughts in the 11 House Rules if you will for Emily, Megan, Jennifer, Austin and myself to follow moving forward.  In no particular order…

  1. Have a simple schedule in the morning, getting up with enough time to do what you need to get ready for school, including having breakfast.
  2. Get a minimum of  hours of sleep at night to get the proper amount of rest, phone turned off and put away at least 1/2 hour before bed.
  3. Go to school.  Complete projects and assignments on time.
  4. No drugs or alcohol period.  I’ve done too much research on the damaging effects on a developing brain.
  5. Don’t take things that don’t belong to you, respect others property.
  6. Weekly chore list, including bedroom tidy and laundry done before going back to mom’s house.
  7. We will talk out our problems, anger hostility and disrespect don’t have a place in our life anymore.  Be honest with yourself and others.
  8. Ask for help when you needed.  Don’t be afraid, ashamed or embarrassed to need it.  I was and resisted for too long, we all need help from time to time.  You don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.
  9. Eat dinner and help clean up afterwards.  Your body needs fuel and if you’re not hungry you most likely filled up on junk before dinner.
  10. Exercise, very important for long-term feelings of wellness.  Something as simple as going for a walk will do the trick.
  11. Be happy, enjoy life.

That’s my list.  I also mentioned that I was not going to force family time upon her, and that she was free to choose to do what she wanted as long as the above guidelines were being followed.  I did suggest that spending time with her brother and sisters playing would take her mind off any stress or anxiety in her life.  I know I do…

I ended our conversation asking her what she needed or wanted from me, mentioning that I didn’t need an answer right away and wanted her to think about it.  Tomorrow we will talk about consequences as opposed to punishments.  Everyday moving forward I hope to learn more and more about being an effective, loving and awesome Dad.

A Letter to Emily

This is a letter that I wrote to my daughter before her 15th birthday in Sept. 2016

First off I want you to know that this letter is not because you are in trouble or have done anything wrong. What it is, is a letter to my beautiful and ever-growing daughter as she transitions into a woman leaving the little girl she once was far behind.

What I want this letter to be is me sharing my thoughts and feelings with you. I am not very good with my words as they often come out wrong or I get tongue-tied very easily. I let my emotions get in the way of my ability to communicate. I let my emotions get in the way of playing fun family sports like our cottage Olympics.

And very recently, like in the last few days I’ve suddenly realized how my actions as your dad have in turn effected the girl/woman you are right now. Watching our lack of interaction yesterday made me cry. At the end of the day, my oldest daughter wanted to spend her entire Saturday at home staring at tiny 2.5 inch cracked screen. I asked if you wanted to play cards, I asked if you wanted to watch a movie, I asked and stopped by your door several times to see what you were up to, and if at the very least we could talk.

You wanted to do your own thing I will always respect that. A little later that day I started to vacuum the house, and Austin stopped what he was doing and grabbed his vacuum to copy and follow along and help Daddy.

Watching him copy my movements and actions I had a moment of clarity as it is called. That is a moment when you suddenly completely understand something. Truly understand and get what the meaning of your direct actions are.

Looking at Austin and then looking at you I had that moment of clarity.

You have watched for years your Dad ignore you so he could stare at a tiny 2.5 inch not broken 🙂 screen, playing Clash of Clans or whatever other waste of time stupid game I was currently playing.

What I should have been doing is playing with you and Megan.

Instead you watched your Dad stare at a screen, and you learned from watching that well, that is what you do to entertain yourself. Stare at a screen.

Emily let me be perfectly clear here. There is nothing wrong with your actions. You are not doing anything wrong. It took me 44 years, and the entire invention of and development of computers and technology and right up through into and including yesterday to finally understand.

I cannot blame my lack of relationship with you on anyone else but me. You learn your behaviours from the world around you. When you were young and in your formative years. These are the years where you pick up habits, learn to handle your emotions and a billion other things. But a lot of how to behave and how you will act in society or out with other people is also formed in these years. So in other words the girl that you are today is in part because of how I was as a Dad. Yes there were other factors involved but I was one of them and I should have been the biggest.

The last few years I have had many thoughts about life and kids and family and how it all worked together, how they all interacted with each other. When I was a kid like yourself I had pretty much a very similar to the life that you have today. A similar upbringing if you will, the way you were raised. I see myself much like my parents were, and are today. Definitely some differences but I find that those things were we are different were choices that I had made somewhere along the way when I was old enough to understand why my parents did some of the things that they did.

You my dear are definitely your father’s daughter. In the way you handle your emotions, your inability to communicate what is going on inside your head, to the words you use, to some of the choices you make.

This is very hard for me to admit.

The easiest thing for a parent to do is do nothing.

It’s easy. Nothing. It doesn’t take any work to do nothing. No effort required to do nothing. Nothing today… nothing tomorrow…

So as I sit here and type this letter. It would be easy to do nothing.

Just let you be. Do nothing.

You seem to be happy on the surface level. I cannot seem to get a good deep heart to heart talk with you, but then again I’ve never taught you, or heck, even talked to you in that way. Part of me hopes this letter is the first step in repairing that relationship and ability to talk with each other.

I just saw you cry because you think you have no friends. It’s seems to be a tough weekend for that. And by that I mean feeling lonely. I am pretty sure that after yesterday and not having any real contact with your friends or even your family you will feel lonely.

This is Dad being totally honest Emily. On Friday night and for about a half an hour on Saturday morning I cried because perhaps like you were feeling today I feel incredibly lonely right now. Dad doesn’t really have any close friends right now either. It has been a really tough summer for me in terms on doing things that I enjoy with my friends at work. Much like me, lots of things to take up your time. Too many in fact.

I didn’t get to play baseball this year which I always enjoy. I didn’t get to play volleyball last week because of my back. I was going to have a party here last Sunday but decided to cancel it the last-minute so I could come to the cottage with you guys and was really looking forward to an awesome week there with my family.

But it just didn’t happen like I had wanted it to. That first Monday morning I woke up and had no strength in my lower back. We never really talked about it much but my back kept me from swimming a lot, from going kayaking, playing sports, etc…

That one game of catch we played I couldn’t even bend over to pick up the ball, and I am sure that to you I appeared irritated and angry. NOT WITH YOU Emily. But with my inability to play catch with my daughter. That is what I was upset with.

And this is what I have been talking about the last few paragraphs of this letter. I couldn’t talk to you about my back and just explain what happened, and perhaps come up with some other activities we could have done together. And spent that time that I really, really wanted to spend not only with you but the other guys as well.

The cottage was relaxing. But again Emily, I was lonely there. Danielle spent most of her time with her family and sister, the advantage of having them there from her point of view. And let’s look at Danielle’s family real quickly. They are all still a apart of each other lives now that they have grown up and are raising their own kids.

Look at Dad’s side of the family. We don’t really see Julie or David much anymore. My Mom and Dad even less than them. But it didn’t always used to be this way. Over the years it seems that my family just drifted apart. People kept moving just a little bit further and further away. We started to see each other less and less. And now it’s like once a year. You had the chance to see Sydney and Morgan earlier this summer for a swim date, but you didn’t want to get out of bed. Why? I am guessing you were tired cause you were up late with a face buried into a 2.5 inch screen.

Social media vs the real world.


Is it because you have watched your dad not put much effort in over the years to see his family, and just act the same way. A behaviour you learned from watching the life around you unfold. It is not something you would ever pay attention to but your mind and the way it works would pick up on it, it is what I called a learned behaviour.

If for example, my family was around all the time and we saw them often and had dinner there on a regular basis then you would grow up with the same ideas, the same thoughts on how this is how a family works, and that is how most likely you will interact with your family when you get older.

Do you see where I am going with this?

Danielle does this with her mom and sister on a regular basis.

Dad doesn’t seem his parents or sister much at all.

So here I sit as a 44-year-old father of six kids. And I can tell you that I WANT, I need my family interaction to be like Danielle’s family is and continues to be. Much more so than what I have with my parents and my brother and sister. I miss them all very much, and wish we did things more together as a family. What we don’t have is that one person that will continue to make sure everyone stays in touch and organize and works to make sure the family stays in touch. Even if you live 1/2 way around the world.

Look at your mom quickly, she still makes a point of talking to you at the very least every couple of days even when you are on vacation. It is important to her to maintain that communication with you because she wants that to be a part of her life as you ladies get older and develop lives and families of your own

Emily so do I. This is what doesn’t let me sleep at night, is the fact that why am I not doing the same thing? Why am I not the guy that makes sure his family stays together, stays in touch and talks to each other.

Why am I doing nothing?

The answer is because it is easy to do nothing. As stated before nothing takes no effort, especially when you are afraid. Emily I am very afraid.

I am afraid I am too late.

I am afraid that by trying to create a stronger bond I will push you further away.

I am afraid that I will lack the conviction to follow through with what I say, or in this case type.

I am just afraid. Big tough grumpy old Dad is afraid. I am afraid to try.

Or least I was.

You know what I am more afraid of than any of that?

Being alone.

I am very afraid of being alone. I often think of my Dad at the age of 86 sitting in that condo all alone. How does he think and feel? How alone does my Dad feel? He was afraid to do anything to change the relationships in his life. Maybe he didn’t take the time to realize and understand how his actions now would affect the rest of his life. I know my Dad was all about work and I don’t have many memories of us doing things together.

I am afraid you have the same thoughts and feelings towards me.

Emily I love you so very much. As a child and parent relationship is takes a lot to damage or destroy that relationship. We will always love each other.

My parents never ever once talked to me about how they felt. What they were thinking. They were mom and Dad and that was that. Even to this day they have never talked to me about raising kids, what they thought and felt. What they wanted out of life, how they struggle with time OR lack of it.

None of these things. Today kids just aren’t like that anymore. I can see it through working at the Keg for 20 years. And working with a 14 to 30 crowd of people over a 20 year span you can see the differences in the way I talk to, relate to and manage a 14-year-old girl from 2016 than I would a 14 year old girl back in 1996.

The world in which you currently live is way different in the way we communicate with each other. It used to be a phone call and actually talk to someone… Back in 1996 there was no Facebook, no Instagram, Snapchat, etc… And somewhere in this transition from actually talking to someone transformed to sending a few words on a screen.

I can live with and will certainly continue to use technology as society dictates it goes, but what I will not do anymore is stare mindlessly at a screen when there are many, many other wonderful things that I could be doing with my time.

Taking my beautiful daughters shopping is certainly one of them. I hope we can and expect that these things will continue to happen between us.

At this point in our lives. I want us to be friends. I want you to think your Dad is cool and you want to spend time with him. That’s it.

If we can do that, then everything else that I want out of life comes along with that. We need to have a bond between us that transcends time and distance. Meaning even if life takes you to the other side of the world I want you and I to have a connection that only a father and daughter who love each other, are friends and can talk to the other person.

Emily I want to be your biggest supporter in your search for your dreams.

I want to be the shoulder to cry on when things don’t go your way. When life isn’t fair. And Emily, it’s often not fair.

I want to be there for advice, for support, to help pick you up when you fall. And to be there to celebrate your greatest successes. Whatever that is. Where ever life may take you.

I want to be a better Father. A better Dad. And a better friend.

Do Nothing. That’s easy.

You are worth every single effort it takes from this second forward to be a Dad. I love you.

The Last Year of My Life

Hello world, my name is Ed Dillon and I am a 45-year-old father to four amazing children.  And there was a number of years where I had the pleasure of being a Dad to six kids and at times it was very chaotic.  I came up with the #SixKidChaos and it has kind of stuck ever since, so when I was trying to think of a clever name for this blog, well I already had one in place.

Life happens to all of us, I’ve been married twice and now divorced twice.  And at times it seems to be more than I can bear.  I struggled with addiction in the past, and I’ve spent many years battling the nothing.  That feeling when life is dragging you down, everywhere you look it seems as if despair and heartache are around every corner.  You just cannot seem to shake that feeling and it paralyzes you in doing nothing.

This past year I have learned more about life than the previous 44, it started with the decision to separate from my second wife as things were just not working.  That was in September of 2016, and I instantly became the happiest person in the world.  Everyday was an adventure, I was exercising more than I ever had, I was posting on social media my workouts, my runs.  I took my son on many great adventures through the woods, hiking and seeing some amazing things.  I was literally on top of the world.

In November of 2016 the world seemed to crash in on itself.  Two things happened in a short amount of time, first I decided to try to reconcile with my wife.  She was not the least bit interested and what was originally my decision to separate, I had given her back the emotional control and now it felt like I was getting rejected and the emotional pain became more than I could bear.

I immediately became miserable, stopped working out, the addiction worsened and I no longer was the happiest man on the planet.  It was like going from the highest of highs to suddenly the lowest of lows, had I known how this would all make me feel then I never would have suggested a reconciliation in the first place. It did, however teach me a valuable lesson about being in emotional control of your life.

It was shortly after this that I found out that I as being transferred from my job.  I was the Kitchen Operations Manager for the Vaughan Keg Steakhouse and Bar, and I had worked at this location since it first opened in 2006.  We were one of, if not the busiest dinner location in the company, I worked hard and I played hard.  My 10 years there I was able to experience so many amazing and wonderful things above and beyond the normal aspect of the job.

Getting to meet my childhood hero, and World Series champion might top the list, getting to cook him dinner and then sit down afterwards sharing a beer and some great stories..

What other job has things like that happen on a regular basis?  There eventually will be a section of this blog telling all of these amazing adventures!  However, just surrendering the emotional control back to ex-wife, and then finding out that I had to leave the place that I loved, well it became far too much to bear.  I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone I was leaving, as the company wanted to keep it quiet as we were about to head into our busiest season of December and it needed to be business as usual.

The reason I was asked to switch locations revolved around what is called a QWL, or Quality Worklife Survey.  The Keg would generally do them twice a year, and it allowed all the employees to rate where they worked, rate the managers (to which I was one of them) and a variety of different topics.  Some I scored well on, and others I did not…  As it turned out in a company of over 100 locations I had been rated the lowest of any manager.

This building, and the staff (well some of them) no longer wanted me in the building, and the company’s choice was to let me go, or move me to another location to start over if you will.  And so it was on December 31st, 2016 after working a long shift where we did over 1000 meals I walked out the door shortly after midnight, without saying a word to anyone I was done.  I gave that building almost 11 years and I was no longer wanted.

That month of December was the hardest month of my life.  I never really shared or talked to anyone about month but I did spent the next six months dancing around with the nothing, feeling oh so sorry for myself.  Just as I had spent the middle part of 2016 not happy with myself and my relationship to which my attitude and demeanor towards other people was noted and no longer tolerated.

This whole experience taught me some very valuable lessons on how to deal with other people, how to interact and talk with employees on a greater scope than boss to staff.  It also taught me about being in the driver’s seat of one’s own life and what can happen if you give that control to the wrong person.  I tried very hard at my new location to fit in and let the past go but I found it almost impossible to emotionally connect with this staff after what the previous staff had done.  I just could not see the difference in the two.

In May of 2017 I finally  moved out on my own, taking my oldest two daughters along as I had full-time custody of them, and saw my little ones every day that I was not working.  It was in the summer that I started to feel good about myself again, and I tried to re-establish some lost connections with Emily and Megan.  When school started in September I had already seen changes in my eldest daughter as she was getting into trouble and withdrawing from family life at every chance she could.

My experiences from the year before taught that I needed to change something if I wanted to connect with these children again, working an evening and weekend job as a single parent is not the way to raise teenagers.  Far too much freedom, and freedom to make the wrong choices became crystal clear, I had tried to quit but was talked into working a part-time schedule of three days a week.

Honestly if I had the knowledge today that I had back then it could have worked, but trying to run a kitchen on a three-day a week schedule only works if you have the support system in place to make that happen.  We didn’t and work stress increased immediately as things that I would normally do when I would be working on a Thursday or Friday were often left unattended and for me to deal with on Saturday when I would go back in.

And so I walked away completely from my job, I went in on a Wednesday wrote my resignation letter, left my keys on the desk, gave my buddy a call and went golfing.  I knew I had time to figure things out, from the sale of my house earlier in the year I had been living the high life, the Summer of George is you will but then realized that I could use this money to re-establish and reconnect with my kids.  After all my youngest was only going to home for one more year before starting JK, and that is exactly what I have been doing over the past 10 weeks.

I can happily say that I have overcome the addiction, got a therapist, joined some support groups, opened myself up to my neighbours and friends and started to create a system of support for myself as I have felt very alone living here with no family or friends around.  I started writing emails to my neighbour about my experiences and she suggested that I share my experiences with others, to help inspire change in their own life as I have started to do in my own.

The journey I’ve started on is a lifelong adventure, with real destination just the desire to enjoy the ride as much as possible.  What I really want is to find that happier than life guy that existed from September to November of 2016, he is living down inside me somewhere… I just have to dust him off and get him back out there.

I will be as open and honest as possible here, I will share intimate and detailed stories on my life and my experience.  I find the entire writing process to be a very good outlet on my mental well-being, and if I can help even just a single person in some small way then it is more than worth it.

Have a great day everyone, and thanks for visiting Six Kid Chaos.

Ed Dillon

The Power of the Nothing

The nothing comes from a fantastic movie that I enjoyed as a child called The NeverEnding Story, I can hear the main theme in my head as I type this.  The clip below will give you the history of the nothing and how it relates to the film itself.

For me the nothing has always existed in my life.  It has taken large periods of time away from me and always seems to be hanging around when we all reach our lowest points, when we are being tested the most.  Most times I wasn’t aware that the nothing has its powerful grasp on me.

As this site continues to grow and I share more posts, I will tell you all about my eldest daughter and the struggles that I am having with her.   She recently turned 16 and told me that she was moving out of my house, despite my efforts over the past 10 weeks on trying to get us help with therapy, quitting my job so that I could spend more time at home with my four children.  Everything that I have tried seems to push her away even more, and despite my desire for only the best for her she has to want it as well.

The day she walked out the door, the nothing pounced on me and pulled me back into a state of inaction.  I had been going to the gym everyday for the past few weeks, I had been eating healthy and it would seem that I was able to shake the old life I was trying to grow out of and the nothing pulled me back down to nothing.

First to go was the gym, nothing.  No exercise, no activity for over ten days.

Next was the diet, chocolate, pizza and beer all became my friends again.  Fruit, whole grains, protein shakes, nothing.  All gone.

I had trimmed down to 175 pounds, and within ten days I was back up to over 190 because I had done nothing.

I sat on couch, watched way too much television, barely played with my other three children because I was busy feeling sorry for myself, my brain was caught in this endless cycle of trying to figure out what had happened.  I was pouring over the past few months, giving everything this girl needed, getting her all the support I could to make her feel happy and loved.  She has been struggling with depression, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, changing her social circles, starting to skip school.  I could see what a destructive path she was on, and I wanted change for her.  We also struggled with our relationship as when I was remarried ten years ago stepmom and daughter fought a lot.

The job I had was a lot of evenings and weekends, and I was there for her when she needed me the most.  I was lucky to figure all this out this past summer when we were out of that toxic relationship and on our own.  She took her freedom, and nights alone at home to heart and as mentioned started to get herself into trouble.  I feared where this was headed and wanted to get her the help she needed.

Unfortunately the nothing had her as well.  Nothing is wrong she would often tell me…


So I took action, I did something.  I changed the man that I was and am now walking a path that took my life into a completely different direction.  I could feel the stress lift off my shoulders, I was able to forgive myself for my past and the times when I did nothing.  I was becoming a better man, and a better father.  I had convinced myself that I was going to take my children and show them a better life.  One filled with the wonder of nature instead of the mesmerizing 2.5 inch screen that far too many teenagers stare at for far too long on a daily basis.

I was reaching out, I was sharing, I was starting to give back when the opportunities would arise, and I started to look for more.  The children were happier, I was engaging them more and more every day.  All except Emily, she continued to resist and walk her own path.  It made me more determined to continue what I was doing and eventually she would forgive me for the past few years, see that I had changed the man I was, and the father to them.  I showed her what this new life was going to be all about.

She didn’t care.  She didn’t care about anything… nothing if you will.

The last two weeks really messed with my head.  Doing nothing I would question and second guess myself.  Why had I done this, when the child that needed my help the most still wanted to have nothing to do with me.  Everything felt forced and awkward.  Nothing is our relationship was changing, nothing was getting fixed, nothing was getting better.

I could not break this mental cycle I was trapped in.

I am very fortunate, as this cycle has trapped me before, the last time was a nine month cycle of nothingness that was a direct result from divorce #2 and the time it took to slowly withdraw from that toxic relationship, sell the house and finally move out on my own.  That is when I last escaped from the nothing.  I got my life back, and started to live again.

Fortunate that it did not take nine months to break this cycle, only nine days.  And with the help of the support system that I have been slowly putting into place these last six months.  A family therapist, a few men’s support groups that I have joined, and just enjoying time with my other children have all helped me battle the nothing.

In the film, The NeverEnding Story the nothing is destroying Fantasia, the place where our hopes and dreams live.  As we get older we stop believing in things as we did as children, we give up on our dreams and let them slip away into nothing.  All that it takes is to believe in yourself, keep your dreams alive and keep on moving.  Literally and figuratively.

So while I may have ended up pushing Emily away further, it does not mean that I have given up on my goals and will continue to push and move things forward as best I can.  Life is never ever going to go the way that you plan, even the best laid out plans will have speed bumps and pitfalls along the way.  A big part of my journey was to learn on how to battle the nothing, and when it took hold how to shake it quickly as possible.

Last time was nine months of nothing, this time only nine days.  I would argue that is progress.  Perhaps next time it’s only nine hours of nothing.

If you do nothing guess what?  Nothing happens.  Nothing will change.