School, Seventeen, Life’s Canvas and Pride

School, Seventeen, Life’s blank canvas and showing your rainbow Pride, stories from the last 16 weeks of the Carr’s.

Julia-award-editIt’s been a bit since I scribed a tale or two about the comings and goings of the Carr’s, so why not today I say? Although I won’t cover off all the exciting things that have transpired over the almost 4 months, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least talk about a couple of the big things that have happened. First and foremost, summer is here, and that would mean that we made it through another school year.

I wrapped up my summer semester a couple of weeks ago around the same time that Julia graduated from grade 8 and Jordyn finished grade 11. Their marks where fantastic and their efforts where acknowledged and recognized and we are so proud of all they have both achieved. In fact, during a beautiful graduation ceremony, Julia was awarded the Eric Young Memorial Award for – Outstanding Efforts. Jordyn finished her co-op placement, using her sign language skills, helping out at a local school for the deaf and truly learned the positive you get from giving back.

We have never been the parents to push our kids super hard, so when they are able to achieve on their own, the awards value is even greater. Two amazing kids, full of love and energy with great futures, but perhaps most importantly, 2 incredibly proud parents.

In the last 4 months, we’ve had a couple of birthdays, but let me reflect on one of them. Stories that relate to time and the passage of it and the unarguable fact that it is moving, whether we want it to or not are always fun. Do you want to feel old? Simple way really, besides looking in a mirror is look at your kids and try to remember what it was like last year or the year before or even better 17 years ago. 17 years. Wow, 17 years ago, Nathalie and I had no children, had just celebrated a few years of marriage and were basically just making our way in life.

Then we had the most beautiful little girl drop into our laps, and everything changed. We were parents for the first time. We had to take care of someone other than ourselves. The responsibility seemed a little greater for us in life. We had bills and jobs and aspirations and this little bundle of joy with a blank slate, ready for the world. We had to teach and guide and share life’s skills with this baby and help her grow up.

In a blink of an eye, 17 years has turned this pretty little red headed baby into a woman. Someone who thinks independently and laughs; someone who is responsible and caring and loves and who is loved. Someone we are so proud of each and every day, and we did that. Sure there were great teachers and loving family members and friends and other factors that helped, but we did it. With love and respect, many tears and a bit of trial and error, we helped make this amazing little moom grow into who she is today.

Blank Canvas
A few friends of mine are dealing with some very large life changes. In conversations with each of them, I have talked about the fresh new canvas and thought my analogy was worth a share for what its worth.

When we are young and life is ahead of us, it is parents and friends and people around us that help pick the content of our life painting. Teachers help us understand the foundation of knowledge that build our shapes and base colours. Their likes and dislikes, become our likes and dislikes, their emotions and beliefs help form ours. By high school, our paintings are outlined and our direction and content is somewhat shaped. We may have lots of work to do to fill in the colours and form detail in our pictures, but they are coming along. In college or university, we learn how to shade things to make things stand out. We gain perspective and understanding on how all the elements work together. We can learn to make our life picture a masterpiece with that extra guidance. We can do it without it, but it just seems more finished with the extra help.

We get married or find jobs or build careers, and each day we add more to our painting. Maybe we change jobs, and we paint over a part of the painting to start again or make the adjustments we need to allow the painting to still be a true reflection of us and what or who we’ve become, but the painting is never really done. It keeps changing and adapting, until that day that we are presented with a major life change. That is the day your canvas is white washed. You still have all the experiences and lessons that got you the picture that was there, but now you have a fresh start; an opportunity to repaint it all or not. A chance to use those colours or shape that you never used in your original work of art, for whatever reason. Perhaps because of someone’s lesson or thoughts ushered you in a different direction or through circumstance something hadn’t even occurred to you. A fresh start is like a brand new pallet with new colours and a blank canvas and a blank canvas is a scary proposition, but the truth is that your life painting, in the end, will be the better for it. Keep painting.

Dancing Water
lake-editHad a chance to visit a cottage up north for a night after a gig, and was blown away by the morning beauty. It was still cool and the air was crisp but the trees across the lake, with the sunlight and breeze had every shade of green represented and with the slow wind, the branches moved and danced to an imaginary symphonic conductor. The ripples on the water joined in on the majestic performance and with every swell and crescendo, the water danced in the most magical way. I was taken aback and wrote this in my mind, and finally now committed it to the permanent record.

pride-editI have always fully supported the pride movement and have always wanted to go downtown Toronto during the parade, but just never made it. That is until this year. I’m so happy to have shared a fun afternoon with friends and family and to have finally shown my support for inclusion, NOT exclusion; acceptance NOT hate. So happy to have also shown the girls that for this world to work better, we have to all come together and celebrate our similarities and our differences. Given the other things that have happened in this world the last few days, it would seem that this is a lesson we all could benefit from sharing. #onelove #loveislove #fh8

In closing
I often wonder how we got so lucky sometimes. I have never won the lottery or a big jackpot at a casino, but as far as family and life and love, I am so lucky. I do believe in fate, and karma and the powers of positive energy and positive thinking, so sometimes that contradicts the idea of “luck”, but non-the less, I feel like I have had a good run. I just wonder how others see it sometimes.

A couple of months ago, I learned a little about how Julia sees it and thought I would share. It is no secret, but we all love our Chinese food in the Carr house. Chicken balls, some rice and a beef dish of some kind. I always knew that Julia loves reading the fortune cookies but I didn’t realize that she actually saves them. Well, I found her stash. She keeps them under her phone case, and when she left it in my room, beside my charger one day, I had to snap a picture. It would seem that the one on top says it all, and I couldn’t agree more! “Just be yourself you are wonderful!”

Off to try and be wonderful!

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week,

Happy, Sad, Up and Down with The Crazy Old Guy

Happy, Sad, Up and Down with The Crazy Old Guy, blog stories for the week that was.

Often, when most needed, a bit of happy news drops right onto your lap, and yesterday while on the bus home from work, I got a great phone call. How I am not going to share all the details of the story, due to the sensitive nature of it, but will say that someone that I have tried to help motivate a bit, through positive conversations and support over the last 3 or 4 years, came to the end of a long fought journey, and has emerged from the ordeal, a much, much stronger person.

It’s funny how several conversations I have had this week involved this same theme. The idea that you have to have the bad with the good, and it’s how we deal and regroup and get out of it, that tells a true tale of our inner person. I told the person on the phone that I would raise a glass to celebrate their great news and I will do so, not only for them, but also to usher what I think will be the great rising of the positive tide.

Crazy old guy
As a teacher I am proud to have made some connections with students over the years. I count among friends, many of my grads that have stayed in touch. I follow their lives, on Facebook, like some kind of a voyeuristic crazy old guy. I’ve watched as they have married and have had kids. I’ve “liked” their selfie portraits and shared their pet photos and cat videos. I have had two different sets of former students, marry and go on to make beautiful children, and it all just makes me just a little bit emotional. Just the thought that I have been, even just a small blip on their full life radar, makes me swell with pride.

One of the hardest things I had to learn, as a teacher was that not all the students approach not only production and sound, with the same excitement and energy that I do, but also they put different weight on most elements in their life in general. Coming to the realization that that was OK was a hard lesson. Knowing that many of my grads would not actually pursue Broadcasting hurt at first, but became so much more powerful the more I thought about what I do. Yes I teach commercial production, mic placement and recording techniques, but I also teach the power of positive thinking, self-evaluation and time management. It was this realization that allowed me to be a better teacher, and for that I thank my students.

Ron and I at his retirement party in 2004

Ron Lowe
This week we had a memorial celebration for a man that made a big difference in my life. I don’t think I can over sell this, but a man who without, I am sure I would not be doing what it is I am doing today. I first met Ron as my teacher in RTV111. I loved his passion and energy and his commitment to his students. His patience, was unwavering. I only learned many years later that he was not a fan of teaching that particular course. I would have never seen that in the studio class. Meticulously covering step by step, the fundamentals of the audio console and basic commercial production and the dreaded 15-minute radio show.

3 semesters later, I was back in his classroom as a bit of a TA and he could see that I had the ability to teach, even before I did. I graduated, and a couple of months after, he called me up and asked if I was interested in teaching the technical part of the first semester production class. I laughed and kind of joked with him about being crazy, and he suggested I would regret it if I didn’t at least give it a shot. “Try it for a semester and we will see how you do!” he said. And just like that I was hooked. I have been so blessed to have had some wonderful teachers in my college life, but with this latest loss, the number that are gone is tragically far too high now.

Over the last few years I don’t think I have done as good as a job as I should have, in staying connected with those, who in the past have made differences in my life. People like Ron. So, as a way of acknowledging it, and perhaps a way to teach me a lesson about following my own advice, I am going to challenge you the reader to take 5 minutes and touch base with someone in your life that may have made an impact. Maybe it was a teacher or a family friend or a relative that helped with a good piece of advice over your life. Do yourself a favour AND make that person feel great, say thank you today.
Thank you Ron for being an inspiration, for giving me my career and for teaching me the importance of helping others.

Things that make you…
You ever overhear something that makes you go, ummm? I take the GO bus, and love the ease of the mode of travel One day this week, I was walking to my particular bus gate, and passed a driver having a conversation with a passenger, standing outside her bus. The prospective passenger, making small talk says, “How are you doing today?” Now, first you have to understand I am a big fan of calling the answerer of just such a question, on their lying, made up, only saying fine, cause I know you don’t really care, answer. I do it all the time. “Are you sure?” I will say after hearing the casher say, “fine”.

But, back to the bus platform this week, the driver was honest and said, “Well, to tell you the truth, I am very tired today, didn’t sleep well last night.” Ummm… Ok so, now you want me to get on this bus, knowing that you haven’t had a full 8 hours of sleep, driving an 11-ton, deadly weapon? I guess there are sometimes, a simple, “doing swell, thanks” is called for.

In closing
It would seem this week the blog is a little heady and thought provoking, so time to end with a little 12-year-old sass. Nathalie took the girls out for dinner on Thursday and I laughed at the conversation they had, when Nathalie sent me a transcript via text. I guess Nathalie was eating some bread and a crumb went, “down the river” as we say. Nathalie fumbled a little and pulled it out of her cleavage and Julia watched the whole thing, shaking her head she says, “You just HAD put your hand down there?” Nathalie says, “I was getting a crumb!” and she says, “Sure Sure!”

Well, heading to see if I can find my own crumbs!

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week.

Friends, Blogging and Life Lessons Learned

Friends, blogging and life lessons learned, stories from the Carr family while on the 9-month journey to today.


Her beauty Just makes me happy!

This is not the first time I have started a blog with some kind of apology or reasoning, for being a few months behind, on what started as a weekly look behind the Carr family curtain. I can honestly say that I miss it. I miss the open-eyed awareness I approached day-to-day life with, while I was always looking for something to write about. It has been more than 9 months since I have written a blog, so it’s time. Time to lift the curtain. Plus there have been a few people on my list of supporters that have been dropping hints and pretty much giving me a hard time about not doing it. So, here we go!

Family is important. But, you can’t pick them. They are yours whether you want them or not. But, friends however, you are completely in control of. Over the years, Nathalie and I have been very lucky in this regard. Blessed with many great connections and people that have breezed into our lives, for whatever reason, making lasting impressions. Some have breezed out, but the truth is that we could still drop ourselves on a deserted island with any of them and be right back where we were.

I like to think that it’s an “us” thing, as in we are the cool ones, and there may be truth to it, but I think the fact steams from us being pretty much the same, no drama, easy going people we have been most of our lives. We can be loud and fun and we can laugh or cry with the best of them, but we are always true to us.

The realization I have come to this week, thanks to a conversation with one of the true friends, is that we do have a finite amount of time in life, and it would make the most sense to maximize the amount of time you spend with the people that most reflect this thinking. It may even have some kind of time warping, life extending friendship powers, I am not sure, but finding people to hang around with that approach life like this somehow makes the time you spend, that much more rewarding.

The Vase
One of my favourite stories from the past few months involves Julia, our Chief Household Comedic Relief Officer. We have been power watching a number of popular shows this summer. Son’s of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black and Mad Men for short, and it was during one of the Mad Men episodes that Julia had something to say. Now the show is set in the 60’ and the 70’s and aside from the very interesting look into the world of advertising, it is also a look at an era that I am fascinated with.

In this particular episode, a newly married husband and wife are talking about the husband NOT getting the promotion he wanted, and that she wouldn’t understand what it was like, to not get something that you have wanted for a long time. The wife, one of the very strong female leads, gave up her career and life to be his wife, so proceeded to illustrate this point by grabbing a vase, and whacking him over the head. Julia sees this and says, “What did she do that for?” Nathalie explains, “The Husband said something stupid and was being an idiot and she wanted to make the point clear to him”.   Without missing a beat, Julia says, “Quick hide all the vases in here… I am just protecting you Daddy!” Glad to know she’s looking out for me!

So school has started, and for both girls they are settling into their new classrooms and new educational eco systems. Julia got the grade 7 teacher she wanted to have this term and had for at least a few days all the people she wanted in her class. After the day 10 adjustments, she lost a couple of people that she liked, but was, in true Julia fashion more concerned that those friends at least had some other friends to hang with in their new assignments.

Jordyn in grade 10, was excited to see her friends again, and happy with her classes and teachers. Well… mostly happy. Her only comment was that in her second period class has more than 20 boys and only her. “Even the teacher is a boy Daddy!” she said with a shake the head disgust that made me smile. Now, I’m a bit on the fence whether I think this is a good thing or not, but in the end it may just teach her some valuable life lessons. Like hopefully that 15-year-old boys are silly and she should just stay away from them? Is that too much to ask?

In closing
The last couple of weeks have been filled with some highs and lows. It is always hard around this time of year for us, but more than the beginning of a semester and start of school, and the end of the summer and the season change and the anniversary of my Mom’s death, this year, I have had to deal with a few new things that emphasize change. A couple of weeks ago, one of the most inspiring retired faculty members I have known passed away. I will be writing more on Ron Lowe in coming weeks. This week, one of the guys I have been working with the longest at the College had his retirement party. However, nothing illustrated change and the fact that it is gonna happen whether I want it to or not this week more than a texting conversation I had with Jordyn, so today I close the blog with an edited transcript:

Daughter, “Dad if I dait a gut how many years apart do we have to be 2 or 1”
Dad, “What??? Please ask again, I don’t understand what you are saying”
Daughter, “If I dated a guy how many years apart do we have to be 2 years apart or 1 year apart?”
Dad, “80000 years apart you have to be.”
Daughter, “I don’t know what that means”
Dad, “That means. I don’t want you to date. Ever… But, you asked the wrong parent… Jordyn, you don’t have to be any years apart. It would be better if I guy is a little older than you. But it doesn’t matter. What’s the age of the guy you are interested in? (Always asking the hard questions!)
Daughter, “17”

Dad, “I don’t know. Ask your Mother.”

Now, off to find a quiet corner to curl up and rock myself to sanity.

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week!