First Job, Thinking Caribbean, Money and the Power of a Hug

First Job, Thinking Caribbean, Money and the Power of a Hug, Some happy thoughts from my little world for another week.


For the last few days, Jordyn has asked if I am writing a blog this week or not. When I told her I have something roughed out, she asked if she could read it first. I told her, she could read it after it is posted online, like anyone else. But she insisted, asking for me to send it to her in advance. It made me think, why is she so curious all of the sudden about my blog? Then it occurred to me. She is curious what I am going to say about her and her new co-op position that starts next week.

Well, let me start by saying that I am so proud of Jordyn and everything she has become and the challenges she has overcome on many levels of her education. The many years of tears and fights and late late hours, studying and working towards the eventual end of education and the beginning of her work life. Life long learning aside, there is an end to formal schooling and a time that you need to figure out what you “want to want to do” for the rest of your life and I think she has at least narrowed it down.

Aside from that period she watched like 11 seasons of “Bones” and said she wanted to be a Forensic Anthropologist, Jordyn has always said she wants to work with kids. It’s been over the last 6 months that she has narrowed that down to work with deaf kids. You see Jordyn has an amazing rote memory. She has watched hundreds of hours of YouTube videos of people teaching sign language, mostly signing popular songs and she loves it. That brings us to her co-op. Next week, Jordyn starts a 16-week placement in the library at a deaf school in Milton. Congratulations Moom and we love you!

That somewhat kitschy pop song from the 80’s on the Cocktails’ soundtrack, about a utopian, mythical and magical, nonexistent island in the Caribbean called Kokomo has always made me think of warmth and summer time. Sung by the Beach Boys, it also speaks a bit to the musical sound of yesteryear for sure, but more importantly, it reminds me of a different time and place in my life.

Now, all these years later, I get to have a daily flash back to life in the 80’s, the movie, the sound & lyrics, when I arrive home and am greeted by the loving new Carr family member. Yes, something happened that we said would never happen again. To be truthful, it was just Nathalie and I that said it would never happen. The girls had always held out hope, and in one way or another pressured us over the last little while to the point that we finally gave in. We got a new dog.

Taken by Julia!!!
She is not a new dog. Kokomo was rescued from an Indian reserve, west of Hamilton after what looks like might have been a tough 2 years of life. She has scars on her legs and paws and one on her nose and when we first saw her curled in a ball in the cage, she avoided eye contact at all costs. She was so scared to meet us, that after we finally said yes, we had to actually carry her into our car to go home. Unable (or unwilling) to walk on a leash, she was timid and in a constant state of fear and seemed overwhelmed by the whole process of life itself.

What a difference almost 4 months make. She is learning tricks. She’s got a crazy fun and sweet personality. She loves now because she is loved and that make us all very happy. Now, it has come at a price. In future blogs, perhaps I’ll tell you the shoes or the drape story, or the escape from the crate twice story, or if you are really lucky, the hanging out of the 2nd floor window story, but truth is she is just awesome and I am so glad that we gave in and now have her happy to see us face, greeting us everyday.

I love the girls, obviously. I love who they are and who they have become and love the little situations that remind me that they are becoming self contained, contributors to this world. They think on their own, do things for others, they show compassion and empathy and also, of course they each have smarts and a great sense of humor. Last week, after the good night hugs and kisses, the girls disappear up stairs and head to bed. After about 5 minutes, Jordyn comes to the landing on the stairs, and shouts to both of us, “Dad do you have 10 dollars I can have?” Now I am the softy and usually always give them what they ask for. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t ask questions or give them a hard time about it, it just means, that they know who to come to.

I want to get a handle on what she is going to spend this on, so I pause the TV and ask, “Can you be more specific?” She looks at me from across the room, as if I have just asking the most personal question imaginable and says, “Like a 10 dollar bill?” I just loose it and start laughing, and Nathalie get’s in on it too. “I know what 10 dollars is, I am asking what you are going to use it for?” And instead of answering the question, she deflects, “that is not what you asked!” Then Nathalie agrees with her and the whole, what should have been a simple question and answer becomes “pick on Jimmy” day. OH whatever, here is your money!

Just getting caught up on sharing some of the memories from the past 10 months of missing blogs, I have to start writing about the amazing trip the girls and I took last July. The idea of the early summer road trip was hatched, 3 weeks before we left, while sitting in my hot tub late at night under the stars. I was thinking that Janey, my twin sister would be sitting under the same stars at her home in Newfoundland at the same time, and how wonderful it would be to experience that with her. We hadn’t seen her in 4 years, so it was time.

After the long drive there, and a few days of getting acclimated to the surroundings, I woke early one morning and found myself sitting on her large deck overlooking the ocean and I wrote this piece.

Sound of Silence
I love that song. 1964 Simon and Garfunkel. I haven’t really thought about the words and the meaning for very long, but today, this morning I did. I’m up earlier than I’ve been since we arrived in Newfoundland. I had breakfast and went to sit on the deck that surrounds the house and the sound of the outdoors hit me. Still wind with bright, somewhat cloudy skies with the smell of the ocean and the almost deafening sound of silence.  

When I was a kid, I spent lots of time at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto and one of my favourite displays was the sound proof tunnel.   You walked in and with every step the air pressure changed and the sounds of nothing grew louder. Like everything disappeared and I so remember that feeling.

This morning, that happened again. A single bird chirp in the distance; a cough from a guy on the road, a ways away. Flies. But smattered in between, is the amazing sound of silence.

What is it about the hug that is so powerful? I am a big fan of both giving and receiving hugs. I have always loved the pre-embrace, the lingering hold and the release. If there was a secret to giving a great hug, I think it is holding for an extra 3 seconds past when you think you should. The first time can actually remember feeling the power of it; I was 16 at my Grandmother’s funeral. I remember the cemetery and can see the rows of cars and the people and can actually remember the way it made me feel good at what was an otherwise very sad time for me. In my memory, it is a little fuzzy as to who is actually doing the hugging. One time I remember it is my Mom, but I also have had the same scene play out in my head with it being my twin sister.

This week, when I just finished hugging a good friend, I thought I should try and capture my thoughts on this amazing, often underused form of affection in my blog. I look forward to my yearly Seneca convocation and always hug each of my students, as they walk the red carpet and pick up their diplomas. In that instant, I am somehow hoping that they understand the impact each of them have had on me and that they understand that no matter their contributions to the class, or what shows up on their future career radars’, that they can each make a difference in this world with their own actions and if it is just giving a hug themselves, then that is wonderful too.

This past week I had a run-in with someone in my neighborhood about something so small, that it made me think to myself, how there is someone that just wasn’t hugged enough as a child. My last thoughts on hugs are simple. Hug More. They contain a power that needs to be used by more people in this world. You would think that if I could hug anyone right this moment, I may select my Mom or my Dad, but right now, I think they would be number two and three… The hug I miss the most right now is my sister Janey. She gives a great hug.

In closing
I love that my girls and Nathalie share a wicked sense of humor and they often think and act and say the same things at the same time in a marvelous symphonic performance in perfect harmony. When they are all on, it is often me that is their muse and I guess I am ok with that.

On the weekend, we where all heading out to a lunch, and so everyone was getting ready feverishly and I believe we were late. Julia was out of sight in her room, Nathalie in hers’, and Jordyn was in front of the mirror in the bathroom. I walked in, just as Jordyn was asking her Mom if she looked ok? Nathalie said, “You look nice Jordyn” and me, I thought the same, but always wanting to be a little controversial, answered the questions NOT asked to me with, “ah I don’t know looks a little ugly to me!” Without eye contact or a single beat out of place, both Nathalie and Jordyn, from separate rooms say at the exact same time, “So is your face!” I guess I totally asked for that.

Off to find my own mirror,

Thanks for reading, have a safe and great week,

Hello, Valentines Day, Friends and Retirement

Hello, Valentines Day, Friends, Retirement and Much Much More, the Carr family blog is back in Black and Badass

May 15, 2015 was the last post to the confessions pages… a couple months shy of a full year and oh what a change. In that time, the two girls and I packed up the car and with my older sister and my father and drove east to visit my twin sister and her family in Newfoundland.   I had one of the busiest summers I have ever had with my DJ’ing – 13 weddings. I wrapped up 3 different semesters at work and started another couple and we as a family had pool time, sun time and at times fun time with much needed relaxing, not to mention a family wedding, a few birthdays and of course Christmas time.

This past almost year has had its share of incredible highs and a few defeating lows, but through it all, I terribly missed therapeutically sharing the comings and goings of my little family in the form of this blog.   So, if you will humor me for a while, I will try to get back to it… and scribe my weekly thoughts, observations and I will do my best to recap what’s going on around the halls, in this little corner of the galaxy in the form of the confessions pages. Comments are always welcome! Happy reading!

Happy Valentine's Day 2016
Happy Valentine’s Day 2016

It is V-Day, as in the celebration of love and all things red. I love my wife every day of the year; so I don’t buy into the extra pressure to give in to societal and commercial expectations to profess, bla bla bla… OK, I do. We always try to do something nice for each other and mark the occasion. I was reminded of the day, this year by arriving at school the Friday morning to find three girls sitting at a table in the cafeteria. A fourth showed up, and presented the others with cute little red hearts, wrapped in crunchy cellophane with pretty bows, and the 3 girls went nuts. “I’m insta-gramming that!” one said, while they all started taking selfie’s with their gifts. That is when I said, that no matter what. No matter the deal we make this year, “We’re not getting anything for each other, right?” and no matter the pressure or the expectations of society or your circle of friends, why wouldn’t you want to make someone happy, if even only for a minute, with a small, insta-graming worthy gesture like that?

I have talked lots over the years about the important role friend’s play in our lives. Family is one thing… they serve a role of course, but I think there is a built in tension that comes with blood. Your family has history. They know often where the skeletons are buried. But friend’s, that’s different. What I haven’t talked about is the key role of the so-called friend. Just for the record NONE of these friends know about or would read my blog, so if you are reading this, it is NOT about you.

Months ago, it occurred to me, after some tension with old friends that there are different kinds of friendships. So you have those you don’t see in years, but dropped back into a social setting, would likely act as though no time had passed. Those are classic friends. Then there are the all in friends that have a level of connection that seems difficult to understand. A, “my car is broken down at the side of the road” will always lead, no matter how far, your all in to come get you, and finally, the so-called friend. These friends, come into your life for whatever reason, and you care for them on a level, but if after a while, they do or say something that rubs you the wrong way, they are moved to limited profile material on FB. Still in the circle, but on the outside of it.

Nathalie uses an interesting number scheme on the friendship scale. Everyone starts at a 10, and as time goes on or things happen you lose numbers. Some we have met go from 10 to 0 with just one, racist or derogatory comment. Once you loose a number, you never gain it back. Trust me on this, after 26 years together I’m a 7 and holding.

Now, the secret of life and what makes things interesting is that fact that often people actually move between the friendship categories, and this is just fine. The point of my post on friends is simple. We learn and benefit from all the friends in our life no matter their category and we have to always remember this and even thank them for the role they play or once played. I think in the end, the so-called friends in your life are often just as important as the classic friend and the all-in friends.

Writing this story third in the order seems to me a little like I am burying the lead. Perhaps this should have been first on the list of importance. But, anyone who knows me would already know this information and I am not really ready to talk in detail about it. One of the most significant events not covered off in the blog over these missing months, and without a doubt the lowest point of those months was the death of my Father in November. I will write more in the future and will share some very personal thoughts about his life and the impact it had on mine, but for now, I just want to say that we are having a celebration of his life coming up in April and if you want more info or to be included on this list, please get in touch with me.

Girl’s Marks
Last time I wrote, the girls where wrapping up grade 7 and 10 and did amazing. That was an accomplishment in it self and we sure where proud with all of their hard work. But in retrospect, their accomplishments back at the end of those grades; last June pale in comparison to the marks and advancements they are receiving this latest few months in grade 8 and 11. Years ago, Nathalie and I became these back-a-way parents, never pushing the girls to achieve. Never asking more than their best effort, and as a result, we have strong, smart funny and well balanced learners that work hard and do so for their own reasons. And this makes us just so proud. Keep up the great work girls!

My magic number is still 2026. The year I will be able to retire with my full pension. I am so lucky and happy with my life and all that I have been able to accomplish and the way it has all worked out. If life is a big pinball machine, I have taken a few bounces around some smaller point obstacles, but I have been very lucky to have hit a few solid bumpers that have steered me in the right direction. The people in my life that have given me opportunity and the ones of have believed or given me the benefit of the doubt.

Having been at the college as long as I have, many of those people that supported me and gave me chances at the start have since retired and I was proud to be part of their retirement celebrations. These are people I have talked about in the blogs of the past. However, this past week I spoke at a celebration of someone I have not talked about before, but without this one person, I am not sure I would be where I am today.

The very first person I ever talked to at Seneca was Heather. She called me on the phone to tell me that my application was moved to the waitlist, and that if I came to pay a deposit, that it would be likely that I would be accepted in the program for September 1991. I came and paid my money to Heather and could see instantly that she was a great person. Helpful and friendly and she showed in a few short conversations that she genially cared about me and my success.

I use to think it was just about me, then I watched her deal with others and I learned fast that she was the real deal. With that one phone call, that set in motion my education, me discovering my ability to teach and then every job subsequently after graduation and my eventual fulltime teaching position with the magic number of 2026, so from the bottom of my heart, thank you Heather.

In closing
There have been lots and lots of funny little girl stories of the last bunch of months that are all worthy of closing out this first blog back post, but the one I have selected always makes me smile for several reasons. Now, the first thing to point out is I was not actually there. This story comes in Nathalie’s voice. And the second thing I need to say, is that there is a “bad parent” potential angle to this story and I don’t care what anyone things. Yes, our kids have twisted, sometimes-inappropriate sense of humor and I think it is awesome!

I was out DJ’ing a wedding on a Saturday afternoon during the summer and the girls are hanging by themselves in the pool. Nathalie being a big fan of nature and not having a mean bone in her body doesn’t like it when the ants and other insects walk directly in the pool. She will always try to talk them out of it, sometimes with words, but mostly with a little splash of water or in some cases a whistle size blast of air from her mouth. This particular large ant was resistant to all forms of re-direction as it didn’t listen and it walked over the spray of water, and when Nathalie puckered her lips and sent some air their way it wouldn’t move. Nathalie says, “Wow it’s so big, I can’t blow it!” Without missing a beat, Julia says, “That’s what she said!” and starts to laugh. See we had talked together on a road trip just days before this, as a family the merits of this particular juvenile response to just about anything, and although she understood the concept and the content, she just never had an opportunity to use it like this, and she nailed it. Such a proud parents moment.

Off to go get the, “my 12 year old is funny t-shirt!
Thanks for reading and have a safe and great week.


Writing, Forward Motion and a Moment To Take Back

Writing, forward motion and a moment to take back, an extended snap chat view into the life of the Carr’s, no sugar added.

Well, it has sure been a bit since I have cracked open the file labeled confessions to jot down some thoughts about my crazy life. It doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it, I have. I have even written a few things in absence of the blog. I channeled IMG_3090my inner E.L. James to craft some erotica, thinking it may lead to a bounty of riches and a lucrative movie deal, but the jury is still out. I wrote a couple sternly worded emails, a nice birthday card, and on Facebook and Twitter, I have cleverly observed and quipped about life a bunch of times all with words arranged in this way or that. I Just haven’t done it on here and I have missed it for sure. And after a conversation with one of my big fan’s and regular blog readers this morning, I figured they would at least be happy to read this.

Forward Motion
The last few months have been an interesting time to say the least. Up’s and down’s with mood, energy and attitude, wrapped in one of the coldest and hardest winter’s I ever remember. Birthdays and anniversaries, Mother’s Day and the like all marking time, as they do every year, all a constant reminder of one of my favorite thoughts / lessons – Forward Motion. I have said that if I ever write a book perhaps a “self-help, do as I say, not as I do” kind of thing, I would for sure call it Forward Motion.

I have talked about it often, and have even referenced it in my classroom and blogs-gone-by, but nothing like a few difficult months followed by some good stuff, only to be followed by more bad, to punctuate the point. YES bad will happen but it is always followed by good, so the trick in life is to keep moving. You can’t get time back, so life is most certainly forward motion. It’s a great message and what has helped me emerge on another positive arc.

So, my Dad has had a couple of small medical setbacks, and I am sure this could be new news to some whom I haven’t shared this info with before this. He is 81 and had been living on his own for a long time, and for the most part taking care of things up north. But for the time being he is alternating his time, staying with both me or my sister Deb. He has finished his treatments, and aside from being weak, he’s pretty much his regular self.

Take Back
Ever say something that right after it leaves your mouth, you think… I wish I didn’t say that? A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was having a bit of a crisis of faith around a friendship, and was seeking my ear and shoulders to bounce her thoughts off of. I politely listened and concluded that what they needed to do, was write their thoughts down in an email, but (and here’s the important part!) NOT send it. I told them, that likely after you have a couple of hours or a day to calm, re-read your message. IF it still caries the same weight then send it, but if it sounds too harsh, upon reflection, change it. OR more than likely what will happen is that you will come to realize that it is not worth the potential negative outcome, and you will in the end, just delete it.

Solid advice I think, and proudly I slept soundly, feeling like I just invented conflict resolution. Cut to the very next day, and me in a discussion with a different friend, and the same situation, but with the tables turned on me. Like a complete idiot, I angrily bash out a quick nasty response that is cloaked in insecurity and negativity, and as I hit the send, I hear my own inner voice echoing the conversation I had just hours before. Too late of course. Sent. And just like that I prove I was right, possibly in the hardest way possible.

New Boss
For the 6th time in the last 5 years, I have a new boss at work. And, I am optimistic that the change is for the good and we can finally get back to a level of stability. I have liked each of the bosses I have had (like I would say differently online!) but I am certainly hoping my new one will stay and I looking forward to coming months and the getting back into the next groove.

It would also seem weird at this time of year to not acknowledge the changing of semesters. I will hopefully speak more about this extremely energetic group of graduates in a couple of weeks, when I get to watch them walk across the stage into the next chapters of their lives. It sure is exciting to be part of that transformation. I love my job!

Las Vegas
IMG_3139Thank you in part to my new boss, I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel discussion about implementing social media into your broadcasting curriculum at this year’s BEA conference in Las Vegas, and it was fun. What I CAN tell you about the trip (you know the rule!) was that the weather was only nice for a few hours, one day, I only gambled once (ok maybe twice) betting $5 dollars all on black in roulette not for me, but for a colleague at work and that two things struck me about the town. As I arrived the smell of public smoking amazed me, and this being my second time, my quest to find smiling happy people still failed.

I would LOVE to go back, but next time it will have to be with friends. One thing that I wasn’t expecting to have happen, after I was told I could just arrive at the airport early to catch an earlier flight, only to find that they had no seats. I decided to rent a car and drive to the Hoover Dam just for kicks.

In closing
As I have send before I always write myself cryptic email’s, with the subject “blog” with normally 1 word or a sentence that will hopefully remind me of the situation that I wanted to write a blog entry about. I threw out one called “CD’s” cause for the life of me I can’t remember what it was about at all. But the one I am referencing now I do remember, and what would a Carr blog, be without a little levity?

I am not sure when it was said, or the specifics or the reason, but I remember us talking in the car, on our way someplace. Nathalie was talking about our somewhat loud, fun laughing family. The topic shifted to that fact that everyone is special in their own way. Then it was repeated and directed towards me, like I was the special one in our little family. Without missing a beat, Julia smiles and says, “But don’t worry daddy, I like your kind of special”.

Off to look for my “I am special t-shirt”!

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week.