Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Best Of...

Play favourites I tell people. It's how life works. Some people and things just wiggle their way into your favourite emotional places or find prominent spots in what should be your hard to reach high esteem shelf. You could probably explain it all if you tried...why this person means something to you, or how that particular thing found a primo spot in your frontal lobe, but sometimes I think it's better to just like something and not try to figure it out.

I'm not putting much thought into this summer's "Best Of..." list

Best People

One year ago we dove head first into a lacrosse program that provided opportunities to play for those people who otherwise would not have one, for whatever inability, no connection to the game, no programs for your age or gender...the reason wasn't important. What was important was that someone gave you a stick and some inspiration, maybe a little steering, and BAM...there you had a lacrosse player. We've been wildly successful, touching the lives of over 150 people. Jimmy Twohander started with 12 little girls, from ages 3 - 11. We called that particular set of bouncing balls Janie Twohander, and have since accumulated more kids, adult men and women in two communities, including delivering programming for people struggling with mental illness and homelessness. No less than 100 of those 150 new lacrosse players were women and young girls...of those women and young girls we've met some pretty brilliant people. Across all of the programs we've met some pretty brilliant people. People like Cass Crowe and Blair Nield...

...two amazing people of seemingly unmatched kindness and enthusiasm. It's not often that you find two people that despite decades of differences still manage to leave some footprints on your welcome mat. They have...because they're light years ahead of most people in terms of who they are and how they impact the world around them. You get excited to see them and are happy to waste any amount of minutes on them. You wish people might think of you as you think of them. That's heavy.

Of course the list is full of wonderful people, both new friends and old...Dustin and Kelly Wellman leading the pack of old, and Sara and Joel Boisvert marching along with the new, alongside people like Julie Duffy and Kat Enders. It's ranks are filled with the brilliant, the kind, the easy to be with, and both the inspiring and grounding. We're lucky people to find ourselves spending our time with such awesomeness, very lucky.

Best Place

There's no place like home, and this particular one is overflowing with some serious magic. Some of it we make on our own...some of it seems to fall from the sky, or drift up around us from beneath our feet, but it's magic no less, and we're starting to learn that we really needn't wander very far to find what we're looking for. It's all right here. Anywhere else is a brief, sweet distraction.

We live just a few blocks from the beach. We hear freighter's horns in the night, and feel the cool air that drifts in from the lake on even the hottest of days. We have things to do, and people to do them with. We have giggles in the air, all through the house, and backyard. We have everything that we need, right here. I never ever thought I'd say that.

Best Distraction

I dont know what our home would be like without Harry Potter. It douses our conversations. It shapes our daughters interpretations of the world. It puts our girls to sleep. It provides escape and release. It makes for car ride games, and dinner table questions. It helps to make us who we are.

I joke with Zoey that if she ends up our Hermoine we'll be oh so endlessly proud, and she beams. She'd love nothing more than to do that. Even Maggie struts around the house whispering Harry Potter now. Ms. Rowling has become omniscient in this home.

Best Option

There is firewood, and there are pirate stories about Nearly Hopeless Ned and his First Mate, Wrong Way Rick..or there are real life stories about the Treasure of Oak Island. There is occasionally music floating out from a phone, and there is sometimes company, although never enough. The girls get excited. I get excited. It feels like we've done something when we've done not much at all. It's a brilliant way to be together. There can be one more beer than you intended...never a drunken thing, but definitely a could feel perkier in the morning type thing. We cook hot dogs and fall out of chairs (mostly Maggie) and laugh a lot. There are snuggles, and sleeping bags, and pleas to stay up late. It's made summer feel like summer.

We're running low on wood, but we made it through an entire summer with the pile that we had. As Fall approaches there will surely be college football on the radio, and sweatshirts and jeans...There'll be more visitors and more pleas to not go to bed. By the time the snow flies I'll already miss it.

The Knock Out Punch

I've got these two girls that turn me into fine china...fragile...something you need to handle with care. They make me more vulnerable than I'm comfortable with sometimes, and inspire humility in doses that rumble my foundation. They make me more proud and happy than I ever imagined was possible, and then torture me at times, leaving me frazzled and embarrassed...feeling like something much less than a good man. I miss them every second I'm not with them, every second.

I'm no different than any parent, I suppose, and my children are no better or worse. They are mine, however, and so I'm fractured into pieces when I don't hear their giggles, or when their footsteps in the hall don't wake me. I'm mortified by how mortal they make me...full of worry and regret, bursting with uncertainty and hope. It's impossibly perplexing what your own children can do to you. They render me a fool on most occasions. They make me cry. They make me smile. They make me wish I was a better person. I've taken some big punches in my life, things that changed the way that I looked out from behind my eyes, but I've never taken one that brought me to my knees like the one they've thrown.

The Power of Creativity

My head doesn't often shut off...not ever really. It's exhausting, and can at times be debilitating. I'm not kidding. Run an engine for six months straight and see what you get. Mostly though it's a good thing. I'm well beyond creative. There was a time when saying something like that would have seemed strange to me...oddly arrogant, except for the fact, you know, that it's true. I write things. I draw things. I have ideas. I'm more comfortable with saying it now. It's the truth, and it's just plain old who I am. I don't even want to talk to the hot water heater repair guy but I'll happily tackle a new idea without knowing if it will work. It's a strange phenomenon, and I don't always understand it. It's dragged me into some wonderful spots, but it's also left me feeling somewhat isolated at times. When you're head doesn't work like other heads it can be, well, lonely. I get irrationally excited about things that others shrug at. I feed on emotion and inspiration. I manage idleness and conflict horribly. In the end, I'll take the's a powerful thing.

Sometimes I wonder if I've landed in the wrong spot...if my head and heart were meant for other things...if I didn't just land where I am by accident, because I was good at it, and because it mattered to me. That's still the classic philosophical matters to me, and so I couldn't walk away if I tried. That's the secret you know...find things that matter. Still, there are times when I can't help but wonder what else this ever churning and chugging brain could get busy with.

I find comfort in creativity. There isn't much as soothing as making something out of nothing, even if it's just an idea...a few moments earlier it was nothing. It's really the only kind of evidence of my work. I don't build book shelves or tile bathrooms but I can write one helluva story to read to my daughters...I can slap together a game that will occupy hours of their curious little eager time, but I would have difficulty laying carpet. Shrug...

It's odd what has value and what does not. What I am good at doesn't necessarily translate into financial success, or tangible recognition, yet laying carpet can help you retire. I don't understand it, nor do I can be upsetting at best. I just try...and let my head and heart go where it wants. I hope for the best and pray someone is looking out for me. I wouldn't trade my head for yours, not ever. The power of creativity humbles me. I'm awestruck by what it can achieve, but waking up with fifteen thoughts in your head makes a guy just want to go back to sleep.

Friday, August 29, 2014

New Header...'Bout Time

Maggie is two years's about time this stops being "The Zoey Blog" don't you think? We do. She's not just luggage anymore...not just a lump of blankets and soggy diapers. She hasn't been for a long time. These days she can use the potty, or loudly refuse to do anything she doesn't necessarily want to do...she can brush her own teeth and have perfectly inexplicable melt downs in public. She's a big girl now. Besides...Zoey was getting a little cocky after all those years of hogging the banner all to herself. It's time we changed things up before it amounted to therapy for the unsung sister...regardless of the fact that her mug consumes vast amounts of space here. We're all about equity know, when we get around to it.

Life Right Now...

Life is good. There are few complaints. Sure we'd like more company around the fire. Sure we'd like to nail down this "at home in your community" thing...we're most often not, but if you flip through the photo album..ahem, Flickr'll find a fabulous existence marked by love and purpose and pride. We're doing alright here in 2014. I think sometimes it just takes some reflection to realize it. Taking several months off from this blog did nothing to rest me, in fact, it only unsettled me. It's become obvious that I need this place to escape to...that I need this outlet to express myself...and that I am a much better open book than I am sitting on some shelf, unread, collecting dust. Turns out I need you as much as, well, some of you people seem to need this...for entertainment, for comfort, for reassurance or seems this place does all of that for quite a few of us. Taking a break from it only illuminated that.

As Fall quickly approaches (ugh) and summer (what summer?) fades, we've made some changes and commitments around here. June is returning to work...leaving the banking world behind, and finding a new P/T home in health care...working in a support role for a large health care company, and in a chiropractor/sports injury clinic. She's excited. Zoey starts SK and will be at school EVERY day this term. I'm still juggling my own work with the lacrosse program and those demands are endless. We've vowed to save towards something. We've vowed to spend less, and enjoy our own community more. Maggie is starting P/T daycare...just a single day each week as we struggle to find options to manage our ever changing schedules and the demands of child care. Things are good, and busy, but overwhelmingly good.

We've had a good summer, nothing as typically insane as the past summer in Hawaii or Brooklyn, or anything as crazy as that, but good. We've had to remind each other that we can't always be tramping off to such brilliant places, and although we've missed that kind of adventure (I've gone nearly mad without it) we're confident that our next great adventure requires some discipline and saving. Amazing things don't just happen...well, yeah, sometimes they do, but we figure that it's more than time enough to start making plans and helping the universe along as it steers our little family into the future. We're hanging on tight and doing our best to be deliberate. Patience is not one of my virtues.

As the air cools and our trips down the street to the beach grow less frequent, there will be more coffee on the deck instead of beer, more words typed than towels dried, and we'll get to see one another more often, even if it's just here. We've missed you.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Like a Moth to a Flame...

Back from the whispy vagaries of summer living without a blog to anchor you to reality. I suppose, if I were being entirely truthful I'd admit that it's been months upon months of whispy vagaries pre-occupying us and this blog has fallen fallow. However, all it takes are old friends and a wonderful thing that you've been doing since high school and the inspiration is back to pour my head and my heart into something...something I suppose is, well, very public. It's odd because I so often don't think of this place as such, but it most certainly is a very public thing. For me it's a more personal place, and that's how it will remain, regardless of who sees it, or who attempts to mine meaning from it. This is the place that I've watched my family grow and so it will always be special. Of course, there are people who have, on occasion, made it feel less so, I fear it will always be the kind of place that trips and stumbles and carries on...or I hope it will be.

What better way to return to form than with an outpouring of affection and appreciation...

Each year I find it more and more moving that I have found such incredible people across the span of my life...and naturally, or perhaps not, I am dumbfounded by the legions of less appreciative who so willfully disregard such blessings. Gala Days in Port Lambton, ON has become something of a hub that I feel I might always orbit around. I step from Second Street into the Donahue family's backyard, great old friends and new, and am welcome from the instant my feet feel grass. Don, whose home it is, almost invariably is the first to turn and smile and wave us on in, or his daughters Jody, or Robin...and once there we find all manner of old connections. I somehow manage to feel ten feet tall because Barb Barclay offers a hug and a blushing compliment, or Brooke Miller squeals in excitement to see our girls. Tracey Barclay, Barb's daughter finds us quickly and fills us with wonder that there can be such an amazing woman on the planet that we know, and love, and can call our own, even if it's just for a day or two. Paul Dickinson and Jody Donahue smother us in acceptance and easy friendship, like family. There are dozens of others that pull from us the very best of who we maybe have become over the years, and help us to remember that there are indeed places that define you more than others, and for some strange reason, the ball diamonds and backyards of Gala Days do just that for our family. They make us feel perfect...loved, and like we belong.

Even as we find certainty that we can't feel any more at home we stumble into a dozen more old friends...Ivy and Pete...Mary Ann...Hoop...we soak ourselves in best friends, Birdie and Kaylen...Corey and Steph...we touch the arms and slap the shoulders of smiling people whom we've missed but never forgotten, and before we know it the weekend is disappearing and fading into one more memory. It's the sweetest of summer recollections each season, and I find myself missing it before it's even gone.

It's a fine place to start back blogging, perhaps few finer when you consider the way it makes our hearts and heads swell with love and fresh perspective. There are old friends whose children I now know and have fallen into fits of wild appreciation for...Mitch, and Brendan, Cali and Jace, Soph...even a applesauce marinated Hud. I see old friends who sons and daughters are taller than their parents, and there always seems to be a baby or toddler ready to remind you that it's been a long time since high school, but not that long. It's brilliance in a backyard and I suspect the Donahues know what kind of magic they've mustered right there under those trees, beside that baseball diamond, just off of second street, just down from the river. I love it, just like all of the people it attracts like a bug light. I think sometimes that good people will always find good people, but great people pull them in like a magnet. I couldn't miss standing in that backyard each August if I tried, the pull is too strong, the people too wonderful. That's right, I said wonderful...mamby pampy maybe...true.