Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's the small things that can get you thru

Sometimes I get wrapped up in life and my mind runs non-stop with things (like pending unemployment) and it seems to be all I talk about.  But then there's this other side of my life where I notice all these little things that occur that make me slow down and realize what I have.  Since I'm looking at an open future right now I thought it might be nice, for a change, to jot down a few things that make me smile.

  • When I carry William out of the tub, to his bedroom to have cream rubbed on his overly sensitive skin and then pjs we ALWAYS pause at the mirror and look at each other... and maybe make a funny face.  I have done this with EVERY SINGLE bath I have given him.
  • When William crawls into bed early in the morning, or midway thru the night he has to snuggle in.  And he's not content or settled unless he's sharing my pillow and has an arm wrapped around my neck.
  • When driving in the car, I sometimes try to scare William by sliding my arm between my seat and the door to grab his leg.  And he always catches on, without changing the look on his face, and blocks my hand with his foot within a few seconds.
  • William's favorite Christmas gift wasn't the Nintendo Wii that Santa brought to his Mom's house, but the Buzz Lightyear Trouble (board) game Santa brought to my house.  And we play it non-stop. 
  • I like that when my Sister and I are about to hang up from talking on the phone we now tell each other we love each other.  Even though there's provinces between us now I think we're closer than we've been since probably high school.
  • I love to watch William and my Mom (Gramma) interact.  William is closer to my Mom than I was with any of my Grandparents, and I like to think I was pretty close with my Grandparents.  I also am glad that William remembers my Grammie and will often make comments about characters in a book or on a tv show resembling her. 
  • It makes me proud that William is an avid learner.  He's constantly sounding out words, trying to read signs or even point out patterns.  And even when he has homework he's excited to do it.  I know it's early but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.
I'm sure I could come up with a million other little things that make my day... sometimes you just need to focus on those and know everything else will fall into place. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

The ugly side

As far as parenting William goes, he's been a dream child.  I hear stories from coworkers, friends and other family members and I cannot believe that things can really get that out of control.  Usually, I tend to look at the parent and wonder if it's their behavior that makes their child act out of control, or whether that person is just a complainer (because that's a disease that my generation has become infected with).  

Two prime examples are when people talk about the terrible twos or how out of control their children behave when they eat chocolate.  Really two years old was an amazing year and each year gets better.  And as far as chocolate or soda goes I never see abnormal behavior after William (or any child) consumes those.

The fifth year of William's life has brought out an ugly side that Jaime and I are left unsure how to handle.  William has turned into a child that is pushing boundaries in one area: he doesn't want to participate in organized activities.  The two examples which have been the most difficult have been softball and swimming lessons.  Wish soft ball the season's first practices started out okay.  He was excited, made hits and ran the bases, but then something changed.  He became aware that everyone was watching him and he no longer wanted to even go on the field.  We tried making him sit thru all the innings with his team on the bench and watch, even if he wouldn't participate, but we soon gave into the fights thinking perhaps he just didn't really like soft ball.  

When school started we had some hesitation with him being excited to start but it all changed and he's excelled in school and looks forward to going everyday.  We thought perhaps it was just soft ball and wrote it off.

And now William is registered in swimming lessons.  He was in them when he was younger, but they were parent/tot classes and really didn't get anything out of them, other than being in a pool on a weekly basis.  I have taken him swimming quite regularly over the years since, but I decided this year I had to enroll him again because swimming is truly survival knowledge.  I would be somewhat failing as a parent to not give him this basic knowledge.

Since it had been a couple of months since William and I had been in the exact pool that he would have lessons in I took him to an open swim for three hours the day before his first lesson.  He realized that he had grown enough to touch thru all areas of the pool and that gave him a lot of confidence.  The next morning however he didn't want to get into the water.  His insecurity over-ruled any reasoning that I presented.  I told his teacher to continue the class without him and made him sit on the edge of the pool and watch his two other classmates as they went thru the lesson.  After class was over I went over what they had done in class and asked him what he had been afraid of and there wasn't anything.  He left promising that the next time he would get in.

This week we went back to the open swim all Saturday afternoon.  We did most of the same things that were covered in the previous lesson and he seemed good to go.  I even put him in a life jacket for a portion of the swim to know what it felt like to have no dependence on me in any capacity in the pool.  He was so proud of himself and said he'd be in the pool the next morning.  Sadly, this morning was the same old story.  He had tears streaming down his cheeks and was very silent.  I had to again tell the instructor to continue without him and told William that I was disappointed and forced him to sit on the edge of the water while I went back with the other parents.  And for about 20 minutes a different instructor came over and talked with him trying to coax him into joining the class.  It was a no go.

I'm at a loss.  I remember what it was like to be the child who was paralyzed with insecurity and didn't want to participate.  But I don't want William to be that child.  This behavior held me back in many areas of life.  He deserves better and as parents we need to help him overcome this hurdle.  But how?  I don't think it's really something he should be punished for, because it's really an emotional response for him and not behavioral. And I don't want to offer rewards, because that is just setting us up for years of problems having him do anything.  So what option do we have?

How do you get your child to grow up with confidence and willing to go outside their comfort zone?  

Friday, January 21, 2011


One week from today will be my last day of work at ING.  I am both looking forward to that day and slightly dreading it.  I am looking forward to it because I have reached the point where I find it hard to maintain my commitment to the company.  Not that I am not working, but I find it hard to justify working my ass off and staying late, when the door has been shut on me.  I'm dreading it because I have made some great friends here and I have still not secured my next job.

I spent a couple of sleepless nights budgeting my severance funds in my head.  Making sure I'd have enough cash to make my car payments, insurance premiums, RESP payments, etc until I am again gainfully employed.  I wish I was one of those lucky souls who is debt free but it's an unfortunate reality that divorce has taken a definite toll on my finances and my final "pre-bill" was in the multiple thousands of dollars.  I disputed the charges and have yet to hear back.  I'm hoping they will show some mercy.

A couple of weeks ago I forwarded an email, including my resume, to a headhunter here in Halifax.  It's a group that do a lot of staffing for accountant positions.  I had hoped to attain something on my own but since time is running out I figured I had better use all of the tools available to me and forward the information.

This Monday past, I met with the headhunter and we discussed my past experience in detail, salary expectations, industries I may be interested in working in, whether or not I would consider contract positions; all things I expected.  The woman, unfortunately, doesn't have much of a social personality, and I found that really hard to understand.  I would think that someone in her position would be very social; isn't that how she sells her clients?  I realized that when I was answering her questions I was talking for long periods of time and she would tune out at a certain point in my response.  I guess she just wanted the direct answer and not much background.  I also found it discouraging when she told me I was expecting the high end of the salary range for my experience.  This is hard for me to understand because when I took this job I took a fairly large pay cut, but I weighed out my being content at work versus cash and happiness won.  I didn't regret it, but at the same time I'm making about the same salary I was making at 26.  I'm 33 and feel like based on performance reviews, education and experience that I shouldn't have to again expect a pay cut just to fit into an organizations budgetary constraints.  We'll see how that battle goes.

And on Tuesday I went back to the office of the headhunter to write a test.  I'm guessing it's a placement test and was 35 multiple choice questions in 30 minutes.  I did very well on the test, which was a huge relief, since I'm sure that would have an effect on the types of jobs she will forward my resume for. 

So here I am, 6 working days (including today) until I'm unemployed for the first time since I was 18.  My severance package is generous so I could afford to be off until probably April before I have to cut into my RRSPs.  And I'm slightly terrified. The unknown has always been a huge fear.  If I knew I would be unemployed for the month of February I could handle that.  But this unknown factor is playing tricks on my brain.  I know I'm employable.  I'm a fast learner, socially capable and have spent tens of thousands of dollars educating myself.  I just need to get an interview.  Once I'm in an interview I'm completely comfortable and can sell myself.

Just waiting for the big break!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Disposable friend

It's funny how a person or group of people can make me, at 33 year old man, turn into an insecure 14 year old.  What is it about someone that can make me lose my confidence?  And I have allowed those moments effect my thinking enough that I consider avoiding interactions with those people.

I don't know if it's because I grew up never feeling like I ever truly fit in.  Or that I was made to feel like the disposable friend many times over the years.  I thought all the work I have done on myself over the last few years have reduced the importance I used to place on fitting in and allowed me to move forward with little concern about other's opinions of me.  I guess old habits are hard to break.

But since we're in 2011, I have made a strong commitment to myself to reach my potential in all aspects of my life.  I'm not going to avoid situations that may initially be uncomfortable, instead I'm going to embrace them as new challenges for me to over come.  This weekend will be one of those challenges, a close friend's birthday party.  

Coincidentally, I received a phone call around 9:30 Monday night from a friend I haven't seen since Hallowe'en. He's someone I've gotten to know over the last couple of years and someone who has turned to me for help on a couple of occasions.  I respect his determination in life and admire him for, at times, walking to the beat of his own drum.  His call was solely to find out where I've been lately; that he's noticed my drifting away from the group.  He wasn't looking for cause or gossip, just wanted to know everything was okay and show genuine care for our friendship.  As if I didn't respect him enough already, he's gone ahead and boosted my confidence without even knowing it.  He reinforced the thinking I've been trying to foster when I'm feeling  insecure; that most of it is my own mental game and that people do value my friendship.

Perhaps I'm not disposable.  This year I'm starting to believe it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hey Jude

I try not to talk about this too much on here, because I don't want to sound like a broken record but I miss my wife.  I will never get over her.  She was my absolute best friend and I ache to have her back in my life on a daily basis.  

I know people say that in time we will be able to develop a friendship again, and I'll admit that things are much easier now then they were in the fall of 2008.  But ever day we're not friends is a day I feel is wasted.

And what brought on this outburst of thought?  The Beatles.  I was on iTunes fully expecting to purchase the red album but Jaime and I spent so many hours listening to the Beatles that I don't think I can ever listen to a Beatles song without remembering our amazing road trips.

I love her and always will.  A part of my heart will always be missing because I no longer live a life with her.

Something big this way comes??

Well the end of employment is now in sight and I've reached that stage I knew I would reach.  That stage where I can't get to sleep at night because I'm worried about money.  I lay with my eyes closed thinking about how many weeks I will be able to afford to go without a pay cheque.  How many car payments?  How many cell bills?  Should I cancel my gym membership?  Should I put William's RESP on hold?

It's a terrible time of the year to be looking for a job... at least that's what I've been told a few times by and employment counselor that has been assigned to our office.  And he actually had the nerve to tell me to just take any job and then look for something else when I secure something.  Is that what employment counselors get paid to tell you?  I thought that he would suggest ways to research employment opportunities that would stimulate me.  Help me find headhunters that would increase my odds of becoming gainfully employed.  That I should make the best of an awful situation and try and improve my position.  Nope.  Thankfully I'm not paying him.

Today I decided to submit my resume to a placement agency that specializes in the accounting industry.  I have heard some good things and some bad things, but lets face it... a job is better than none.

I'm also holding out hope that a Collections Officer position that I applied for with the province will at least result in an interview.  The pay would be comparable and it would get my foot in the door and possibly lead to opportunities that are far more stimulating to me than month end accruals. 

Who knows what the next few months will bring... I just wish I at least knew how long I would be unemployed so I could budget accordingly cause this lack of sleep is cramping my style.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Imma own this one!

I'll look back on 2010 as a year I learned many great lessons.  It was a year that I realized that I could make friends without the help of anyone, that given time people always show their true colors, that if I hold certain expectations of others then I will probably be disappointed, that being single was something I was okay with, and that eating cleaner can do some amazing things to your body.

My 2010 did not end on the highest note, however I count my blessings because most of the things which were negatives were trivial.  

I lost my job towards the end of the year and still haven't been able to secure my next posting.  I can feel the stress building within me but I'm trying to stay positive.  I believe things happen for a reason and have to trust it was for the best.

In the spring of 2010 I lost one of my best friends.  Well I guess I didn't lose him, but instead asked him to leave my life.  Sadly, there was some actions going on behind my back that made me realize that I was being played for a fool and I only take things so long.  The spring was the straw that broke the camel's back and I made it clear that I wouldn't be walked over any longer.  Because of that choice, that friend then campaigned with my circle of friends to get deep into the circle and push me out.  He's pretty much succeeded and it culminated this fall.  I took it personally and it still hurts, if I'm being completely honest.  But over the last couple of months I realized that I'm not responsible for the actions of others, that I cannot control what others say about me and that I truly don't have to try and defend myself to anyone.  If any of my friends believe the lies told about me and/or don't have the respect enough for me to talk to me about it, then I really don't need them in my life any longer either.  It's a sad reality but one lesson I'm happy I learned.

I look to 2011 with a lot of promise.  Things are going to look up and  very quickly, I have no doubt.  I will find a new career path and am looking forward to a new challenge.  If I had the option I wouldn't even finish out the month because perhaps the pressure of being unemployed will kick my drive into gear.

I also have two trips on the horizon.  My family is going somewhere tropical (probably Cuba) in April.  We've talked about it for the better part of a year and I have already started saving for William's portion of the trip.  I love the beach and to spend a week in the sand and warm waters with my family is going to be a dream come true.  The other trip is to Vancouver.  I've never been to the west coast of Canada yet and it's on my bucket list, so when I got an invite to a July wedding in the city I pretty much committed to being there.  I just need to know I'll be employed and then I'm booking my flight.  

And based on the crazy times I had with friends this year, I have no doubt 2011 will also bring adventure.  I realize that life is short and although I have big strides planned for my financial position, with proper planning and budgeting I hope this year will be one of the best so far.  I have new friends and memories to make and after a few months of rebuilding strength and enhancing my confidence I have no doubt I will own this year.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A mover and a shaker

On boxing day we went to visit at a friend's house... the music was pumping and everyone got into the groove...  

And since every moment in life is a learning experience... I took the time to notice how convenient it would be if I drink and dance in feety pjs... that way when you crash it doesn't matter... you're set for sleep.