Vehicular Meditation

Just like many thousands of frustrated, stressed-out and overwhelmed motorists, I too, get aggravated on my commute to and from work each and every day.

I once calculated that I spend the equivalent of about 8 hours in my car, each and every week, commuting to and from work.

8 hours! That is like an extra day of work.

On average, it takes about 30-40 minutes to get to work in the morning (and that is leaving my house around 7:30) and over an hour to get home – relying on city streets because the highway is a gong-show.

More times than not, I come home in a pissy mood. I absolutely hate not moving when I am in my car. I absolutely hate being stuck behind big honking SUV’s, mini-vans, trucks….anything where there is a wall of metal in front of me prohibiting me from seeing what the delay is. My kids and my wife can tell that I am in a crappy mood because normally I am a happy sort of guy.

There are days when the drive to and fro is relatively stress-free. There are other days where, even if the streets are dry and the sun is shining, a full moon must be out because I encounter people doing really crazy, stupid things – taking risks, not paying attention…its very scary.

Normally, as a way of passing the time while sitting in traffic in the car, I will either listen to talk radio, make calls to friends and loved ones or actually just listen to music.

I have found that in recent months, the combination of extreme traffic congestion, annoying radio talk show hosts and phone-in callers, is a recipe for higher blood pressure than I already have.

So, yesterday, fed up and verging on going to my pissy place…I decided to try an experiment.

I got on the road as I normally do and took my regular route home from work. This time, I turned off my cell phone (actually powered it down) and kept the radio completely off. No music, no talk, no phone calls…no anything.

I cracked open the window for some fresh air and just listened to the sound of my noisy snow tires vibrate as the rubber hit the cement. All I heard was the sound of the engine revving. All I heard was the sound of other cars and the periodic horn honking.

This time, unlike times before, I whispered instead of yelling when someone did something stupid. I have a tendency of yelling and shouting expletives at doofus’.

This time, I heard myself breathe in and out. I even began to talk, only in whispers, to myself about whatever came into my head.

I was completely awake and aware of the surroundings around me and was focused on the present – on driving home.

Vehicular Meditation. No, its not a disease or a condition.

It was amazing. It still took me forever to get home…but I didn’t feel the same way I have felt in days past when I pull up outside my home. My blood was not boiling and my mind felt very clear.

I was even able to remain calm as a garbage collection truck was collecting recycling containers and completely blocking the street. I was stuck waiting for the driver to move past for almost 10 minutes.

Have I stumbled across a new stress-reliever technique? Have I solved the problem of texting and driving? Have I figured out a way to be more present? Not sure…but I cannot wait for my drive home tonight.

Stay tuned.

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My Special Day

Once again, like clockwork, it’s Father’s Day.

To all my peeps, I wish you a happy day and “milk it”.

As I am now a fifty year old dad with two teenaged daughters, the importance of Father’s Day seems to be becoming less and less important.

When the girls were little, it was a big thing (as was Mother’s Day). My girls would always do something special – either make a fantastic homemade card or attempt to make something nice for breakfast. I even remember once being treated to an at-home spa day. The girls would cut slices of cucumbers to go on my eyes (then proceed to eat them) and they would offer to give me a back a massage or a facial scrub. It didn’t really matter because my two amazing girls treated me like I was a king…if just for one day.

Now my two little darlings are 15 and 18. They are living life and are both on their own individual journeys – each with interests and friends and school that take their focus off of their parents.

I am spending a portion of my Father’s Day driving my eldest daughter to her job at a nearby summer camp (about a 90 minute drive away). We are at that stage in the year where we both need a break from one another. We are both aware of this and both realize it is necessary. She is 18, goes to university and lives at home with us. I totally understand that she is getting sick and tired of being barked at by her mother and father for not cleaning her room, washing the dishes, helping with the laundry. I, as her dad, am sick and tired of barking at her. It is absolutely exhausting.

So, it seems ironic that we are celebrating Father’s Day at the natural breaking point where a father and daughter need a bit of a break from one another.

But this need seemed to go away earlier this week when I had to drive a town near where my daughter goes to camp, for purposes of work.

She has been finished school since April and has been at home. She didn’t line up any work to fill her pockets with some cash and her days with something to do. It’s been a very long six weeks.

She asked if she could tag along – mostly hoping that she would be able to see one of her friends who lives in this town. She would catch a free ride with me, have me drop her off at friends…do my thing and then pick her up to come home.

Fortunately, none of her friends were available to hang out and she was stuck with me the entire day. We had a fantastic time together. We both share a love of music and while our musical tastes are different, we had conversations about music, we talked about the future, we talked about life after university, her fears about joining the work force, about finding a job with meaning that she would enjoy that would be able to provide her with a decent wage. It wasn’t a dad lecturing to his daughter (which I have often been accused of doing), but just two people talking about the world around them and the challenges we each face as citizens of the world.

We ate lunch together, laughed and burped together and even made some time for a little shopping therapy.

It was absolutely wonderful and made my Wednesday work day seem magical and special. While Father’s Day isn’t until the 19th of June, in my mind, it came early and the best gift I could ever wish for came true. I got to spend it with my beautiful daughter.

This Father’s Day, don’t go to the golf course, do work around the house or chill with your buddies. Do what you’re supposed to do on Father’s Day – be a dad.


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Take a right!

It was 5:15pm and I was setting out on my journey from my office to my home. The trip should normally take about 45 minutes. Today, it wound up taking 90 minutes.

Happy…I was not.

Yes, the sun was shining and the air was warm. Yes, the sunroof was open and the windows were down. But I wasn’t moving anywhere and I was really getting fed up. I absolutely hate not moving in traffic. Plus, I really had to pee, which always makes for fun.

I wanted to be anyplace but where I was – stranded on Victoria Park Avenue in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

I always listen to talk radio shows but today, the combination of the announcer’s nagging voice and the subject matter, forced me to turn off the radio – sitting in my car, in traffic and in silence.

I started thinking – although I never really seem to stop thinking.

We, as people, tend to not “live in the moment”. There is much talk about how important it is to be present – to live in the “here and now”. We hear people talk about not dwelling in the past and not to worry about the future. The thinking is that you have no control over what has happened or what is about to happen – you can only control the here and now.

It sort of makes sense to me. But here I am, sitting on Victoria Park Avenue…wanting to be anywhere but in the here and now.

Also, what does living in the moment look and feel like? How do any of us live in the present? I don’t know about you, but I find that I am on auto-pilot half the time. When I drive to and fro, while I know I should be concentrating on traffic and things going on around me, I am thinking about things I have to do at work, things I have to get done at home, who I owe phone calls to, important dates that are coming up – a bunch of stuff.

How can I erase all of that, retrieve it when I need it and fill my mind with the experiences of what is happening to me right now?

So, this is what I was thinking about only fifteen minutes after getting into my car and getting stuck in traffic.

How can I begin to think differently to allow me to be more present?

What I did next helped.

Without really giving it much thought or consideration, instead of heading down Vic Park, I turned right onto Sheppard. My view changed, my direction changed and the difference of that right turn, forced me to sit up and pay attention. It’s like I switched off the auto-pilot and took control of the wheel.

I started seeing things I hadn’t seen before. Different businesses, stores, cars. I had to put my visor down sooner because the sun was in my face. While I was still sitting in traffic, I was moving faster but also had the time to look at trees, some of which were blooming with beautiful flowers – I even looked up through my sun roof to see the whispy clouds and the brilliant blue sky above me.

I continued on a very different path home – taking different turns and different streets all the while noticing different and new things around me. I even turned back on the radio but this time, switched stations and listened to music instead of talk.

I made it home later than normal but not in the normally pissy mood I come home with after being in disgusting traffic for a very long period of time.

Making that right hand turn and venturing off on a new path home, caused me to become more present and engaged in the moment. I became very aware of what was going on around me because it was all new.

This might be an interesting way to stay focused on the present and not think so much about the past or the future.

Maybe the next time you are feeling lost, feeling like you are not living, feeling like you are aimlessly floating through time and space – take a right hand turn.


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untitledThe milestone that I have waited fifty years to arrive is fast approaching – I am turning 50.

If I live to be 100, then I am at the halfway point of my life on this planet. If I don’t live to be 100, then I am well beyond the midway mark.

Many friends and acquaintances have already hit this point in their lives, me being the December baby…I am one of the youngest in my social group.

I don’t know how I feel about this number. It is sizeable for sure, but so was 40…so was 30. Why does there seem to be some urgency attached to 50? Why is it difficult for so many people who have entered this club to accept?

I have been thinking a lot about my mortality in recent weeks and months. I am thinking about my role, my purpose, what kind of mark am I going to leave when I am no longer around? What will happen after I go, what will I be doing between now and that eventual day to improve the quality of my daily existence…are there things I should be eating or things I should be avoiding?

What about my relationships – with friends, with family, my children…my wife? Are they where I want them to be…do I need to devote more time and focus on them?

Financially…am I good or am I fucked (right now I would say that I will be working until the day I drop dead…but I am ok with that).

Spiritually, what will become of me when I am no longer? Is there an afterlife? What will I come back as….how will my kids and other people who I love and care for, remember me when I am gone? Will I be in their thoughts every day or will I fade away over time?

Are these morbid thoughts? Did I think this way when I turned 40? I don’t recall having these conversations with myself. As for being morbid…no, not really…I am just now beginning to think of things like this because at 50, certain truths set in. While death can happen at any age and for any reason (accident, illness etc), it is now when the chances of illness and failing health become more apparent to me.

Please don’t take offense to what I am writing. I am not trying to be a “Debbie-Downer”. Hell, I have much more life in me. I have many more things to experience, to celebrate and to enjoy. There are other “milestones” that I have every intention of sticking around for….graduations, weddings, trips, bottles of wine, grandparent-hood…colonoscopies!!!

However, I am going to try and implement a few new behaviours that will hopefully enrich my life going forward and maybe those who are near and dear to me.

Firstly, I will try to go to bed each night without any regret. I will try to live each day fully and completely…never thinking when I hit the pillow that “I should have done this” or “should have said that”.

I want to write more…hence the new blog. If I am not an artist, singer or poet, at least I can be a blogger and leave my mark in the digital universe for future generations to discover. While I will never be an Ernest Hemingway, I will be a Stephen Gosewich.

I will try hard to not judge or be as critical as I have had a tendency of being. “Live and let live”. While it might be hard to undo certain behaviours as you get older, I am quite aware of this character flaw in myself and will aspire to work hard to figure it out.

I will listen more….especially to my wife and children. What they have to say is important and the more I hear them the more I have them etched in my brain. The sweetness of their voices and their intelligence is soothing and comforting to me.

I am sure there are some other things that I will work on that I haven’t figured out yet. But, as I turn the page on the first half of my life, I am anxious to discover what is ahead. Just like a good book, I hope the balance of my life here is a “page-turner”!!



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“Boring and Mundane” does not have to be “Boring and Mundane”

As I write this blog, it is Wednesday.

“Hump day” to some – “mid week” to others.

I was thinking about the routine in my life.

My alarm goes off at 6:20 and I deliberately don’t linger in bed for fear of falling back asleep. More times than not, a full bladder has me up before the alarm. Do I hold it in and try to fall back asleep for an hour…do I get up and go really quickly so I can get some more sack time? Decisions, decisions.

In the shower, apply deodorant, brush teeth and do my make-up (nah, not really…just checking to see if you are paying attention), down the stairs to put the kettle on to make some coffee. Now that my kids are older, preparing lunches only relates to what I am planning on making for lunch. Breakfast made. In front of the TV for a bit while eating breakfast, then back upstairs to get changed and then out the door to work.

The drive these days is about 45 minutes…about 60 minutes return (on a good day). Only worse when the weather is inclement.

Work, work, work…then back in the car and home again for dinner and some quality family time. With one kid at university and holding down a part-time job, my evenings don’t include much time with her and if I do see her it’s because I am picking her up from the subway. My younger daughter does hang out with us more but I see that changing as she is now in high school and developing her social network and maybe even doing some homework.

Chilling in the living room until about 10:45-11:00 and then back into bed for hopefully a good night’s sleep.

There it is….my routine. Some minor deviations during the work week and a bit less structured on the weekend.

But, it’s my routine. I cannot imagine not having a routine. While many of the things that I do in my routine are routine, they are an essential part of my life and of living. In fact, they are essential ingredients to life (beyond food, water and shelter).

Adventurous people might say that the routine is mundane. I simply disagree.

I can’t imagine how it will feel the day I die and not be able to go to Costco on lunch to pick up a 6-pack of tuna or to fill up my car with gas at the Esso station near my office. I can’t imagine lugging the recycling container down our front steps every second Tuesday of the week. I can’t imagine having to bleed the radiators every fall or rake the leaves several times before the first snowfall.

Shovelling? Can’t imagine not doing it (well, in this case, I can!!)

I can’t imagine not taking my shirts to the dry cleaners and keeping my eye on my illegally parked car so I don’t get a ticket. I can’t imagine not going to the LCBO with an empty shopping cart and looking at buying some different wines or beers (and maybe a few coolers for my 18 year old daughter).

I can’t imagine not getting my license sticker updated every year and kicking myself for not paying those outstanding parking fines.

I can’t imagine not doing grocery shopping with my wife every Sunday – trying to figure out what the hell to make for dinners during the week. I can’t imagine not having to lug the bags of heavy groceries across the street to the parking lot and to the trunk of my car.

I can’t imagine not taking weekend walks with my wife…walking mostly over familiar territory on a brilliant sunny day talking about this and that…laughing and arguing but always loving each other.

Why am I writing about what some might consider as the boring and dull? Because at the soon to be ripe old age of 50, it’s not boring and dull…its life.

As the band Talk Talk said in one its more popular songs “Life’s what you make it”.

Living life is not only about jet-setting across the world, bungee jumping, or other thrill-seeking activities. There is joy in everything we do because we are alive and not six-feet under.

It is all about the little things that make life so worth living.

I might bitch and moan about taking out the garbage or the organics every Tuesday but that one event is a regular event…every week (barring any work-stoppage), that chore needs to be done and it is a part of my life.

Going through the motions doing chores or following a routine can either be a dreadful or wonderful thing. It’s all in your mindset.

Just remember, it beats the alternative.

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The View From 10,000 Feet

Shame on me for not blogging.

In the same way I often make excuses for not exercising or how I sometimes am just simply lazy, I must admit that I could have blogged more over the past months but to be honest, I have just been dang tired!!

But, here I am, days before we all supposedly take a break from the fast-paced whirlwind called life, anxious to put finger to keypad and share some thoughts and feelings with you.

In my business, we often talk about the “10,000 foot view” of what is going on in the marketplace. Translated, a big-picture overview of what is happening in the industry that I am apart of.

One night, while sitting in congested traffic, I decided to turn off the music, turn off the phone and other than concentrate on the drive ahead of me, I started thinking about my family – my children. I think about my wife too…but for purposes of this blog…I was focused on the kids.

For the three of you who do routinely read my blogs, you will know that my children are a huge part of my life (as all children should be to their parents). While they are growing and becoming more independent and “teenage-like”, I still love them to bits and would do anything possible to make them happy.

With the pressures of life and being part of a family where we require two sources of income to exist, the pace of life can sometimes become too much. There just never seems to be enough time to simply “be”. Everything is rushed and quality time is not as frequent as I would like it to be.

The dinner table seems to be the only place where we are all present and accounted for – yet, even there, the dinner process is rushed because other things need to get done (from homework to dishes and laundry).

It bothers me that we cannot slow down our pace and just enjoy each other’s presence. But, sometimes when we do, tensions run high. The kids don’t do what we ask of them…they forget important stuff, want money for this or that…you know, the usual bullshit.

Its funny how the small things are the things that upset us the most. My older daughter does not put away her clean laundry. She lets it pile up on the floor in her room, with her dresser drawers opened because she shoves everything in and never takes the time to properly put stuff away.

She doesn’t always remember to empty her lunch bag when she comes home or does things in a hurry just to get them done.

My younger daughter seems to be mildly addicted to “screens” (iPhone screens, iPad screens, computer screens, tv screens). A bit of a slug, it frustrates and angers her mother and I that she isn’t doing more stuff with her spare time….like cracking open a book.

The two of them have to be asked to clear dishes after a meal or empty the garbage or clean out the sink of food scraps and don’t get me started about what is happening in the bathroom and shower!!

Yes, it pisses my wife and I off that we have to still do a lot of the heavy lifting around the house. My children are not little kids…they are both in their teens. At this stage, they should know better.

Yet, as I sit stuck in traffic, my head is in the clouds…at around 10,000 feet. From up here, the view is much different. The sky is clear and brilliant blue. As I look down on my family below, none of those things that irk me exist. I don’t see the empty drinking glasses strewn throughout the house, I look past the pile of clean clothes in my daughter’s room. I don’t see the half-eaten turkey sandwich in my daughter’s lunch bag that has been there for a week.

I see none of it.

What I do see are my two beautiful, sweet, kind-hearted, loving children. I see two young individuals who are developing into real human beings…complete with intelligence, opinions, empathy, incredible personalities and huge hearts.

They are good people. Instead of getting stuck in the practice of dumping on them for all that they don’t do, I am reminded of all that they are.

My heart begins to warm as I finally make the turn onto the street where I live. The ride home went faster than I thought. I swear I was sitting in traffic, but my head was a million miles away or, at least ten thousand feet up in the sky!

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I Have Returned…Wearing A Suit and Tie!!

It’s been a while…hasn’t it?
I think I have probably missed you more than you have missed me.
It’s ok. I understand. My blog is easily forgettable. In the blogsphere, there are hundreds of thousands of us writing feverishly each and every day in order to find an audience. I am but a pimple on the ass of all bloggers worldwide.
So, the biggest reason I have been absent from writing is because I started a new job. It began back in late April and has involved considerable training sessions and periods of time away from home (the longest being two weeks).
I work for a publicly traded, big-ass company now. This is completely new territory for me. I am the guy who worked for small companies – boutique-sized firms…even working for myself way back when.
I am not used to this shit. I am not used to shaving every day and wearing a suit and tie. I am a “schvitzer” and summer is here!!
The biggest change I had to deal with I experienced at the beginning of this new journey. My routine completely changed. No more morning spinning class after getting the kids off to school. Now, I am out the door before they leave and am usually the last one to get home at the end of the day.
Meal planning with my wife is a bigger discussion these days because much of the prep work is done on the weekend and we have placed faith in our children to do some of the grunt work before we get home – including setting the table, boiling water…turning on the oven – stuff they weren’t used to doing (I know, I know…they are lazy and should be stepping up more – agreed).
Work is interesting. Working for a big company is even more interesting. Having to complete onerous expense reports is nuts…having to get my blood and urine taken for benefits coverage is a pain in the ass…but worth the hassle because of the payback. Learning all the internal protocols has been a struggle and trying to figure out the sheer stupidity of some of the things the company does – I just don’t get. They spend money hand-over-fist on silly things. I say…pay me more money instead.
I am getting into my groove concerning my new job. I am learning the vocabulary of the business, the cast of characters in our company and who our competitors are – all the usual stuff. The instructors who led the training in Washington said that learning all of this stuff is like trying to drink from a fire hose. I could not agree more!
I continue to be scared shitless. Can I do this? Can I learn something new and succeed? Can I learn to play the game of corporate politics? Can I learn to get along with my immediate colleagues? Can I schmooze my boss?
Can I deal with working for a big American company with their American ways of doing business and the notion that every action I take is constantly being scrutinized and watched by the powers that be?
If you asked me this question about 2 months ago, I would have said…I don’t think so. Now…I am getting used to it.
“Just put your head down and do your job”, is what I keep telling myself. “Yes, of course you can do this. It isn’t rocket science”, I remind myself.
My wife, my biggest fan and supporter constantly nurtures me and reminds me about my capabilities and that I can do anything I want.
Moving into a new work space can make you feel really small and child-like. All of those doubts and worries that swirled around in my head when I was little, came right back up to the surface.
The difference is, I am 48. I am more mellow now then when I was 26 and have improved my social skills…not taking everything so seriously. For those people that I come across (especially in my company) whose assholes are puckered up tighter than a drum…I say, “laugh and chill out”. In the grander scheme of things, all of this nonsense is just that….nonsense.
I am trying to have fun and I promise to the three people who read my blog that I will do my darndest to get back on the horse again and pick up blogging.
I really didn’t realize how much I missed it until just now.
750 words just came right out of me…how easy was that?

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Two Teenagers Versus Two Exhausted Parents

In this corner, with a combined weight of about 260 pounds of tall, gorgeous, intelligence and beauty, hailing from Toronto, Canada, the sixteen year old and her newly minted 13 year old sister.

In this corner, the two tired, worn out parents whose combined weight is…well, that part is none of your business! Lets just call them the 48 year old parents who have been happily married for almost 23 years…Mom and Dad (me!)

The rules…no hitting below the belt (I say this mostly for my own benefit) and always be respectful of your opponents (in this case, the two teenagers being respectful of their parents).

May the best team win.

Best team? Hell no…may the parents win…in fact they should always win..shouldn’t they?

I write this on the eve of my 12 year old daughter becoming a teenager joining her slightly older big sister who joined the club about three years ago.

I have been dreading this day for years.

When I held both of my gorgeous daughters in my arms as newborns, I always had dreams of what life would be like when my girls became teenagers. While I loved having them in my arms, wiping their butts, feeding them, burping them, staying up half the night with them and lugging around their diaper bags and various accoutrements with us wherever we went, I thought about a time when life would be easier…when they could feed themselves, wash themselves, be out of diapers and use words to explain to us what was bothering them if they weren’t feeling well or were sad or angry.

Little did I know that the older my kids get, the harder our jobs are, as parents, in taking care of them.

While our kids were never really prone to having temper-tantrums or “meltdowns”, we would have the occasional flare-up..which was quickly dealt with and if one of them didn’t get their way, a good night’s sleep would help them get over whatever was making them “crusty”, usually waking up the next morning completely forgetting what had gone on the day before.

Bad moods tend to stay around a little longer these days. When someone doesn’t get what she wants, that someone will storm up the stairs to their room and slam the door shut. Usually this is where they stay until they are hungry, they want something from my wife and I, or its time for bed. Big sister introduced this to the family dynamic when she first became a teenager and her younger sister has learned all the tricks of the trade from her older sister.

Back in the early days, bad moods were easy to see coming. They were usually the result of someone not getting what they wanted. These days, bad moods can come from nowhere and for no particular reason. You can be sitting having a reasonably pleasant dinner and the older teenager will all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, turn from Jekyll to Hyde (or is it the other way around?). You ask yourself what you did or said to trigger this radical personality shift but more times than not, you come up wondering “what happened”?

Ahhh, then of course, the issues of “female stuff”. One of the few advantages of being a dad in a house filled with women, is that when it comes to the “monthly visitor”, I am excluded from the dialog and the whole process. To be honest, I am perfectly fine with this. However, because I don’t own female body parts, I am treated like a moron because I “don’t understand”. Thankfully, my lovely wife comes equipped with all the necessary female body parts to help the kids out. I keep to myself and wait until the worst of it is over.

Life definitely gets harder being the parent of two teenage girls. Its all about the drama – who did what to who, who said something to somebody, how “rude” or “mean” someone was to someone else…how cute a particular boy is and “what should I say in my text back to him”?

While I don’t have sons, I was once a young teenaged boy and I don’t recall giving my parents the same kind of grief that our daughters give us. I think boys simply clam up…they don’t say much or if they get really angry, simply beat the shit out of the person that is pissing them off and then its over. I don’t encourage this behaviour…I am a lover not a fighter. But, it certainly seems like an easier and faster solution to a problem. I am sure parents of teenaged boys will disagree with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the hell out of my daughters. They aggravate me, but in the same breath, make me incredibly proud to be their father. I am still amazed that I was instrumental in their creation. Neither of them have an evil bone in their bodies…they are pure, decent, empathic and loving young ladies. My wife and I have done a good job so far. It just so happens that every so often, they drive us both round the bend!

But, fuck…two teenaged girls? In the same house?

Fun and games.

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Twirp, Twirp! Tweet, Tweet?

Firstly, let me say how sorry I am for taking so long to submit a post. I apologize to all of my three or four diehard readers (you know who you are and thanks for the continued support!) To be truthful, I have not felt really inspired to write about anything in particular.

For many of us, this has been a really long, cold, brutal, bleak and generally shitty winter. The days have been dark and miserable and it has been very hard to stay positive and optimistic during this long, drawn-out period of time.

It seems like an eternity ago that we lost power for three and a half days because of the horrible ice storm and moved into my father-in-law’s condo that fortunately had wi-fi!! It was much appreciated and certainly could have been alot worse. So many others were more affected then we were and had very few options to stay warm.

Just recently returned from a warm and sunny weather getaway, I feel renewed and invigorated. The winds of change are upon me with some great new opportunities coming my way.

But the best part is, as I sit here in my office, banging out this blog…I can hear, on this very first day of Spring, the sounds of birds twirping (or is it tweeting…no, that’s a Twitter verb!)

Yes, a very familiar sound that I have missed for quite some time. Last Spring, my wife and I would bitch about the sounds of these birds. Like clockwork at precisely four o’clock in the morning, they would rise from slumber and let the world know that they were awake. Well, maybe not the whole entire world…but certainly my wife and I. We like to sleep with our windows open whenever possible, to enjoy the fresh air and to hear sounds like birds. However, four o’clock in the morning is a bit too early for my liking.

But now, as I sit here listening to them have conversations with each other, I get excited about the possibility that while today doesn’t feel like the first day of Spring…that maybe, just maybe…Spring is right around the corner and that soon Mother Earth will wake up from almost 6 months of sleep and say, “lets give these people a break from Old Man Winter!”

Last Spring, my schedule/routine was very different to the schedule I am about to undertake. In fact, it will be a very hectic schedule…but a good schedule because it will keep me busy with something that I hope I will love and enjoy.

However, evenings and weekends are open. I hope that my wife and I will be able to enjoy these times to reconnect with each other and with Mother Nature and enjoy the beauty of our neighborhood as it comes back to life and is restored to its beauty…ridding itself of all the debris from the harsh winter.

Soon, the buds on our trees will start to emerge, the tulip bulbs will start to grow and emerge and our petrified looking patch of grass at the front of our house, will regain its beautiful green lustre.

I did BBQ during the winter…foolishly freezing my ass off all for the pure enjoyment giving my family a little taste of summer. I would bundle up – hat, coat, boots and gloves and huddle next to the BBQ as it cooked our dinner and warmed me up. Having a nice glass of red wine also helped.

But now, we get to enjoy the BBQ anytime we want…I won’t have to shovel a pathway to get to the BBQ.

As I had the brief opportunity to enjoy wearing t-shirts, shorts and flip flops while I was on vacation, I cannot wait to stop wearing layers. I cannot wait to put away my winter coat, boots and all of the hats, gloves and scarves that occupy my hall closet. I cannot wait to put away the humidifier that has attempted to keep our dry skin as moist as possible. I cannot wait to permanently remove all the salt stains in our front hallway and to put away for another year, the shovel and container of rock salt that has adorned our front porch. Snow tires will soon be removed and I can maybe even attempt to get my car washed and keep it clean for more than one day!

Spring is coming…I can feel it in my bones. I can sense it.

I can’t wait.

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“Relax” is such a nice word, isn’t it?

I have images in my mind’s eye when I think of the word “relax”….a beach with the sound of gentle waves soothing me as I lie in a beach chair, chaise lounge or hammock. Or, I imagine sitting by a roaring fire in a comfortable chair, listening to some mellow music, maybe hanging with my honey and just enjoying the moment.

“Relax” is a word that we use when we want to kick-back, take a load-off, chill, unwind, de-stress, mellow-out, hang…take it easy.

It’s a word we don’t live by enough, as far as I am concerned. In my little world, while weekends are supposed to be the time to relax, often they are not.

Long weekends tend to work a bit better for the word “relax”…holidays are where the word is best used.

However, it seems over the past little while, the word “relax” has been used a lot in my household but for all the wrong reasons.

The champion of the new definition of this word and its use in our family, is courtesy of my 16 year old daughter.

As you can imagine without me saying anything further, when she uses the word “relax” with either my wife or myself, we do anything but relax.

Ms. !6 is a typical teenager. She is our first born, we love her to bits and by and large, she is a great kid who wouldn’t harm a fly. That being said, she is, by all accounts, a lazy-ass and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

No I don’t!

Don’t you hate having to repeat yourself when asking someone – a friend, a workmate, a spouse or in this case, a child, to do something. It could be as simple as putting away clean laundry, emptying the dishwasher, clearing dishes after a meal, making a bed…all very basic and simple tasks that we all must do on a daily basis. These tasks are mundane and boring as hell but are extremely necessary.

But when you ask that person (in this case, our child) to do it, over and over and over…only to be told to “relax”, I don’t know about you but the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I cringe with anger.

“Relax” in this context is translated to mean, “Mom, Dad, don’t freak out…you have asked me a million times to do this…I will, I promise, at some point. But, stop bugging me – your pissing me off!!”

This is not the definition of the word, “relax” that I have come to know and understand. Plus, when Ms. 16 year old says it to us, she doesn’t say it in a mellow way, like when you go for a massage and in a whisper as the new age music comes on, you are told to “reeeee-laxxxx”. No…when she uses the word, she has reached a fever pitch with us as we have already lost our patience with her because she has failed to do what we have asked her to do a million times over.


Damn, I hate that word. I loathe it!

In recent days, we call Ms. 16 out before she uses that word. She knows that we are incensed whenever she uses it and knows that the best way to make us happy and to prevent her from using it in the first place is to simply do what we ask her to do the first time it is requested. We tell her it will save us all alot of grief and yelling. It means, “get off your lazy ass, do what we ask and be done with it, goddamn it!!”

So now, she has all but eliminated that word from her 16 year old teenage vernacular.

Unfortunately, she has replaced it with another equally annoying word – “FINE!!!!”


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