Happy Birthday Jill

I’m pretty certain my mind is firmly split into two camps when it comes to a number of topics, including the thought whether my ex (or anyone other than Kev) ever reads this blog anymore.

Equally ambivalent are my feelings about exposing my inner thoughts on a public blog, or rather keeping them all buttoned down inside,  thus protecting heart, mind and even possible retribution in a court of law or from anything that could hurt my family in the future (even from those within it).

Today, I’m going to let a little hang out. I make a conscious decision every time I communicate with my ex-fiance to use her full name Jillian. My personal reasoning is that it formalises things; keeps things a little emotionally distant – a true coping mechanism. Calling her Jill (or the much more personal “Jillie)” is just too revealing for me, displaying too much vulnerability with the woman I chose to make life with. Its obvious to me that I still feel for her, and as ridiculous as it sounds at times –  there are lots of quiet moments when I still long for that connection with her; a happy future together.

So, Happy Birthday Jill. I wish you all the blessings in the world.

 

 

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The Shack, Passenger, Dreams and Peace

In late 2008, I was dating someone whom I really admired. She gave me a book called The Shack to read and despite my desire to please her, I just could not get into that novel. It really all seemed a bit weird to me and many efforts resulted in the same thing – “this book is dumb”.

Still, I had good intentions towards this book. I took the pile of pages with me from Victoria, Vancouver Island all the way to Calgary, Alberta where I figured one day I would do it justice. Yeah right!

When we as a family decided to check out the “Far East” in the Canadian Maritimes, I again faithfully packed the book for the journey. First to PEI and then onto Nova Scotia. Google tells me that I transported this tome 6160 kilometres – and I never did read one more page of it.

When my ex fiance decided to separate, shut down our life there and relocate back to Victoria again, it was time to do the big purge. While this is a very sore topic, it was also an opportunity to get rid of extraneous junk. Things like university books that were good for starting fires and a box of 50 tennis balls that had sat idle for 4 years. Things like that book called The Shack. Good riddance!

I gave that box of tennis balls and that book (and many other things) to my favourite neighbour of all time and about six months later he called to say that he had read about half the book. Hallelujah! Finally, someone could go cover to cover. He said that reading the book would help answer some of the questions I had about God and Christianity as a whole and that it was worth the time. Amazing to think this is the same man who professed being illiterate to me when I first met him. Turns out desire is always stronger than circumstance. (profound no?)

Forward a couple months into the future and one day on the nets, I was checking out a site where I could procure a copy of a certain movie called The Shack. If it was good enough for my neighbour, it was good enough for me. Movies are easier to consume than books mostly, and so the movie sat there waiting for me to watch it. Forward another couple of months odd, an address change (my fifth in 12 months – absolutely dreadful), one lonely night, a swig of cider and boyo was it ever time.

I cried a lot, and I cried often. As a Father myself, I am easily moved into compassion and tears when parents with younger children get hurt, or killed in the movie. This movie pushed all the buttons for me. I didn’t understand all of the movie, but I did see some things that have made a huge impact (aside from the obvious). (all copyright etc etc belong to The Shack/ distributors etc etc)

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Holy Manna from heaven. This sight took my breath away. Now, I am not 43 years old anymore so I am not duped by the very real fact that this whole place was massaged into a technicolour dreamscape by a massive set building film crew.

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But check out that garden as he approaches. Fairybook stuff.

 

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The view from inside looking out to the yonder. When I saw this, I knew it had to be somewhere like the many places I’ve seen and experienced like this in BC. Like….. the Slocan/ New Denver etc. Turns out it was (apparently) Cultus Lake, Vancouver area. Not too far from me now.

And now for some more gratuitous screenshots (Dropbox visual included!)

 

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My girls love the music from the band Passenger. I try to skip the parts where there are swearwords and thankfully no swear words have been said. I know it will happen eventually but for now I like to think of my girls as having fairly innocent speech patterns.

Here are a few lines from the song, “Things that stop you dreaming”

“Well if you can’t get what you love

You learn to love the things you’ve got
If you can’t be what you want
You learn to be the things you’re not
If you can’t get what you need”

Thats poignant stuff and I wonder if its not true for my ex too. I teach my girls when they hear those lyrics that no one can stop them dreaming ever  – and over time with repetition and increasing maturity I am quite certain that they will understand what I mean by that.

That belief in the power of dreams includes my own, which I will try to focus on now. Although I am losing interest in writing this next part below due to a sudden aversion of “letting it all hang out”, I’ll push on and type out a basic outline of what I intended to say from the start. And I’ll edit it later on when I get the inspiration.

————–

Part of this posts title says, “Dreams and Peace”.

I don’t like where I live at all. I dream of big vistas in front of me and having lived that way for about two years (GTF farm/ Brule Point/ Cobble Hill), I am now facing from my desk something beautiful (a private forest) albeit with no sweeping vista. One of the Neuro Linguistic Programming visualisations that I frequently use has its beginning centered on finding a safe, happy place intensely personal in nature that allows oneself to communicate unfettered with whats really inside.

This place above from The Shack does it. Having tried farming, living and maintaining a large acreage, etc etc, this scene from above is the kind that keeps being a draw emotionally for a variety of reasons. It feels like a place that I could call home.

And isn’t that something worth working towards?

One year anniversary: the day everything fell apart.

At 2pm this day a year ago. my ex fiance left the farm with our children and (unknown to me) bag/s full of clothing/ supplies to go to a doctors appointment. She appeared for that Doctors appointment, but never actually saw him as she left his offices to go take up residence for the next month or so at an abused womans home.

By the furthest of country mile’s, its been in every way the most destructive year of every person in my immediate families life.

As an anniversary piece, I just wrote a very honest account of what happened that day, the next few days and months but I am declining to publish it in case it gets used against me in court in the near future.

I have learned that I am truly a noob when it comes to understanding Canadian legal action and also learned that as a father, I am solidly a second class citizen in this countries family court.

There has been ten life times worth of damage effected in this one year – emotionally, relationship wise, mentally, spiritually, financially. Its been devastating.

I wish my ex fiance Jillian good things: emotional and mental healing, better and better parenting skills, strength for the road ahead, good fortune in her business dealings. I also wish spiritual healing for her and all the Grace that comes with that.

I wish those same things for myself at the same time. I am thankful for my spiritual relationship rekindling and the people who helped support me on that path. And of course to the One who is that relationship too.

To my/ our children: I am devastated for you for what has happened in this last year. I am so extremely sorry for the confusion you are facing and the painful life lessons you are learning as a result of the people you trust most in this world. You will learn that parents are incredibly fallible and will make absolutely terrible decisions despite the fact that they made you, love you, wish your best at all times. Parents can suck – even though they (we) love you desperately.

I wish for you my children stability, peace, joy, healing for your minds and hearts, strength, Spiritual companionship. Just know that I will always fight for you every moment of my life, and that my arms, ears, eyes and heart are always open to you at any time of day. You are each easily my greatest achievement in life, and I (still) cant believe that I am blessed enough to be a guide in your journey in life. I love you.

Lastly to Ruby, my beloved dog: I am fighting for you my dear dear companion and friend. Hopefully we will prevail.

Reaching inner peace

My good friend Kevin sent this beautiful piece by Seneca this morning.

 

Seneca

 

Whilst reading Mr Money Moustache some months ago, I found this post which introduced me Seneca and the Stoics. A pretty good band name right there.

Seems that I learned this all by myself years ago as a child, and certainly again and again as a young man. Anybody who really knows me usually sums me up with being a persistent and tenacious man as part of the descriptors. Part of that drive comes from negative visualisation.

I always thought I was a wack job for being so driven and mostly tried to stifle this incredible drive by suffering from the tall poppy syndrome. You can only imagine what opposite forces of such strength resulted in. People would often shake their head in disbelief and imagined madness when seeing how I refused to give up (including my instructors in the army as a 17yr old) and I have lost many friends who tried to keep up doing certain feats.  I miss you Trevor – a lot. And I miss some other people who are best not to mention now for fear of reprisal.

As an older man now in his mid 40’s, I am reaching peace with this drive, and giving up on fear of being a tall poppy on certain things. I’m starting (baby steps) to see it as a real strength and wonderful skill set to possess and as I do that, something interesting is happening:

Giving up portions of the many things I’ve done in life (and succeeded in wonderfully) because they all direct to one simple purpose. I need time to put that purpose into words, but the basis of it all is minimalism and being genuinely happy when I actually have very little physical goods. In that state, still a veritable wealth of goods compared to some people in Africa I’ve met and seen, but an absolute pittance to my new found North American counterparts.

Its all about finding your own path isnt it? Because I think that may be all that matters – peoples opinions will disappear, peoples pressures will change and wither, and in the middle of the night at 2am even with someone beside you, who is really with you, inside of yourself, besides you and your thoughts? A Spiritual being? I’ve never met or heard of anyone who operates solely from a spiritual source of energy because we’re all just humans after all, with all of our failures and qualms and quirks. So, really, we’re pretty much alone in this world in ourselves, and its only a spiritual connection that can really bind to an outside source.

Or maybe I’ve been hurt by love just too much.

 

 

 

 

Nostalgia

 

The best thing to ever come out of our time as a family in Nova Scotia was the birth of our third daughter, Storm.

She is a constant reminder to me of all that is good in the world. A smile when she sees me, her tiny body fighting sicknesses to get better and beaming when she does, trust in me as she lays her head in comfort on my chest when I hold her. Reaching out to me with her little hands and arms in faith that I will be there for her, and of course I can’t resist picking her up when she does.

GTF might be gone, but it is not forgotten. Out of death comes life, and as we know from the bible and biology a seed must die in order to live. I am longing to see what will come out of these literal burnt ashes, the death of a dream, and I am excited to see it present itself when it does.

For me, its not an easy road. I miss my family, I miss my daughters. I miss having someone close to talk to, and I miss all of the workings of a family living life. I miss the discussions and the camaraderie and the inside jokes and shared celebrations.

Of course I dont miss the negative side of it at all. There have been plenty of painful lessons to learn along the way so far, and I am sure there are more to come. Taking stock and spending months upon months of reflection on what went wrong and why tells me that there is more to reflect on, more to change, more to learn about, more to internalise. So, much, more.

I am inspired by simple things these days. Outside of myself, its seeing my daughters. Seeing them play, seeing them play with each other, seeing them interact with others, seeing them grow tall and strong and more capable. Caring for them. Playing with them. Seeing how they respond to changes in my fathering style. Enjoying their closeness and enjoying doing what I can to encourage them to grow in self belief, confidence, conflict resolution with each other, forgiveness to others, taking time for self, being happy with what they like and not relying on what others think (ie: encouraging their formation of self), and so on.

I’m also enjoying the idea of making home for them the way I want to. I’ve enjoyed hand crafting their beds, their toys, their indoor monkey bars and climbing wall in my lounge. Enjoying the process of bathing them in a steel tub. Enjoying them using the kitchen table as I made it – a gathering place to use and if it gets dirty and dented then thats part of the fun at this time. I am proud of these things, and I look forward to making home more to my liking. Truthfully, I want to make all my physical things going forward, for my family and I.

Check this out if you are ever curious. Best 24mins I ever spent watching anything on a screen

Inside of myself, its a storm sometimes. I do feel differently at times about where I find myself in life now and what its brought. Its certainly no straight line day to day, night to night. I appreciate the few good friends I have had the blessing on leaning on emotionally and talking to. Having the opportunity to talk honestly and getting good, useful feedback in return that is helpful. Kevin, Carlo, Sam, Pat, Myra. In Nova Scotia, the love and gentleness and help of Menno was my Godsend, and the genial support of George helpful. There are others who have helped along the way too and I am grateful for what they have done for me.

At times, I feel peaceful inside, that Canada is the right place to be. At other times, I feel that a culture more like my own might be better like New Zealand. Thanks to a discussion I had last night, I came to the realisation that for the next 17 years I have the adventure of raising my girls till they are ready to exit the coop. I love framing it like that, because it makes those 17 years exciting and something to look forward to, instead of feeling forced to live in a part of the world I don’t want to for a number of reasons. With this reframe, I am sure it will my improve my experience, engagement and therefore enjoyment.  I really do want my family and I to live as best as we can, and have the time of our lives doing it too.

The Gamut

Over the course of my 43 years of living, I’ve been encouraged several times by several people I respect, to write a book. My experiences in life have been extremely wide ranging, and life altering. I’ve often been told that I’ve been able to survive it because I am tough. I dont know about that, but I can sure tell you that I am well acquainted with grief, and very familiar with heart ache.

The people encouraging me to do that have given me two reasons for writing this vapour ware book. To help me process the history (often violent and painful) thus creating a type of catharsis, and then second to encourage others in the world because if I can do it, well then, someone else can do it too.

Over the course of the last two days as I was pressure washing a driveway, deck, house, stairs, etc I was afforded about eight hours of pure alone time, lost in my thoughts with a set of good quality ear muffs blocking out the sound of a noisy engined gas powered machine jetting out pressurised water at a 40deg dispersion angle. At at the end of the work, I became reacquainted in my memories suddenly with Mr Pete Johnston who was one of those encouraging the book writing. I was and remain weary of putting all my gory details on the web, but if I am happy to write a book – isnt disseminating the history that way essentially the same thing?

I might change the name of this blog as a result to…. The Gamut. You see, I came up with that name in my 20’s for this book because in life, I have literally lived through most every category of pain possible, outside of my children dying before me. And I find that too hard to contemplate for more than a split nano second.

In six days time is my third born daughters first birthday and what pains me greatly is that I have been essentially missing for half her life. Not through my choice mind. No longer am I allowed to see her 24 hours a day, every day. It literally eats me from inside that I cant see that great grin and how her face lights up every time I say Hi to her or when she sees me whenever I want to. Half her life. What an epic #*$&(# mess. I feel absolutely horrible for my daughters. So innocent, so pure, so beautiful. Subject to this horse shit, subject to their parents crap. I’ll say this out loud – this is not putting our children’s needs first. This is putting parental crap first and that is an absolute crime that our children do not need nor deserve. Not what I had envisaged when I made my children with my partner, Jillian. Am I pining for my kids and family unit? That question needs no answer.

Money makes the world go round

As most fathers who have gone through divorce or separation in this country can attest, using a lawyer (just about mandatory) is the most debilitating financial action one can go through. I’ll say it again – spending copious amounts of money on legal action that I really dont want and having flipping nothing to show for it at the end of it all. And despite me begging to stay out, I found myself in court on 4 or 5 occasions. The most expensive single day? $4K. So that I could win one more hour with my children a week.

My costs to the lawyer could have bought several second hand vehicles. Not the 1999 kind either. Could have paid the farm mortgage for a couple years. Could have leased a brand new large 4WD tractor for around 6 years. Could have…. you get the picture.

In arriving here on the Wet Coast I havent seen my children much. It bothers me a great, flipping great deal. My whole life was geared towards one point, and thats family. Not having them around is the single most painful event possible, outside of a child’s death.

I might have found a place now. Serendipitously, its on the edge of a farm which I have always admired since first laying eyes on it about 7 years ago. I aim to make friends with the farm boss (I think its owned by a large corp now), and bring my daughters to scope out the cows and the like. Smelling their big old poop and pee smell was surprisingly a welcome event and I felt all kinds of nostalgic.

The driving will suck and of course, I have to have a vehicle. Jury is out whether this will be more cost effective than staying in Victoria itself, but hopefully the venue and immediate access to nature will be worth the cost of time and money.

I’ve also dipped my toes into work again. This feels so good, as I’ve had early success. Careful to not go crazy, while frankly I’m dealing with baby tiny new potatoe sized funds to get it going.

Whats that done for me is learning for the first time in my life how to budget. I’ve come across some spiffy information from people who I feel a very weird connection with. This is not perhaps thinking I’ve found my (financial) tribe, it IS finding my tribe. They’re the kind of people who scavenge despite being financially independant, who insist of driving ten year old cars (at the newest) whose MPG are on the leanest end of commercial offerings.

They’re the kind of people who espouse stoicism and good choices and how putting every dollar I have to work for me is one of the most freeing choices I could ever make. In this process of feeling abundance (try negative visualisation for an immediate joy boost) I’ve been able to escape into nature (my go to for healing and comfort when I’m beat up by the world) and find my true desires and BOYO are they minimal.

Jill always dreamed of a simple life and the funny thing is that I couldnt accurately describe that for myself in the way she possibly could. I visualised it quite differently in a way in practice. Not only did we buy a large farm, with more land than I have ever had before (as in. WAY MORE.), but larger outbuildings and barns than I could ever had dreamed of. And then, taken on more tasks and more jobs than it was smart to do, or even reasonable. Trying to get it all done in one calendar year meant a stress load that was inhuman.

The reason I mention this is because being forcibly removed from my farm and all the hard work I did everywhere wasn’t my choice in the slightest. I had offered to pay for it all and make it work and do the maintenance etc etc. It was the life we had dreamed of right?

Well, not really. Too much work, too much stress and I became a focused tunnel vision dude to the likes of which reminded me of how I did things to win in the army stuff. Its a strength of mine to go way beyond the physical and mental capabilities of the vast majority of people, but it can also blow the people I love and care about off quite easily. Kind of a like a personal sword of Damacles.

Being forced away has forced me over the many months of heartache, tears and isolation from the people I love most to really reconsider what I had been doing. And that is the gift.

This gift has allowed me to see that at the deepest core of me, I do actually value simplicity and people be damned (voices in my head of people I have to impress for example). Having lost it all, its helped me realise that I dont want it all. A simple roof, with long lasting construction in a small easy liveable place that I dont have to worry about is the ticket. I’ll write more about that next. I expect it will be short and simple. Much like the vision.

 

 

 

It’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to…

An ode to an old song, with creative license intact, inc.

Recently, I’ve been fretting ever so hard about how to get a place for myself and my daughters. Its been significantly harder than I could ever imagine. As in, nightmare proportions…

I drove 8000 something kilometres to get Nova Scotia to Victoria BC where my ex fiance had taken our daughters. It was a solo trip, and in some ways liberating (much easier to look after just 1 person than 5) and in many ways lonely, boring , repetitive and uncomfortable. Just ask those people involved in 13 separate accidents I encountered in one 105kilometre stretch as I hit a good snow squall….

Despite having my cell and truck searched at the border (they thought I was coming to the USA to work, which I clearly wasnt) and encountering some testy bastards along the way, I actually also met some lovely, helpful, generous people too. What a wonderful experience. I slept well in the back of the truck, saving money and forgoing the luxury of a fresh shower every morning. After all, I had spent the entire summer in 2013 or 14 designing, creating, making and installing an internationally praised camping/storage/sleeping platform in the truck. It was actually darn comfortable.

I also learned to use my hand cloth to “bath” pretty much every day in Starbucks, HighVee and Walmart. Made a mess, but I took that opportunity to clean up there too. Its pretty gross walking into a toilet in a public store and seeing it gross with human activity lets be frank. I ensured my visits were first thing in the morning (6am) where the facilities had just been rigorously cleaned.

Into Canada (nice friendly border guards!), I found that coming to Victoria was a bloody nightmare. So many cars, so many people, so much grime that is typical in a city. People smoking weed walking down the main street (what a disgusting smell), and where I lived for a short time, the air was heavy at night in particular with the dense fog of cannabis. My host there was the only person in Victoria to offer me a roof to lay my head under before I arrived. I was ever so damn grateful.

I then moved onto my old Professors house where I was welcomed. I write this from there, where I had no clue what a huge bloody hassle it would be getting a decent and somewhat reasonable place to stay in a city with 0.5% occupancy rate.

Turns out, people compete for places at that sort of rates. The rental for a one bedroom without parking and without utilities is 40% more expensive than the farm’s mortgage. Its pretty insanely criminal.

If I was happy pissing away $2500 a month for rent, I could get my daughters and I a nice house or maybe even just the top floor of a house in quite a number of places. What a joke.

So, my efforts have expanded to OUTSIDE the city, where I’d be happier anyway. Raise those precious girls in a more natural, quieter environment without the pressures of sitting in traffic so bad, that Victorians call it the Colwood Crawl. Whats equally offputting is how close houses are to each other here. I could literally swing a cat and smack the opposing walls of two houses here. As we say in South Africa, nee dankie.

 

 

And its all come to an end…

On September 20, my ex fiance took my our children and left the farm without my knowing about it. She wanted a separation and whilst I was out in the field planting Willow trees she left on the auspices of going to the Doctor with the girls. She woke up the girls early from their midday nap and Skye our eldest came crying and lay on my chest for comfort. Eden came to say goodbye to me at Jill’s behest and seemed happy, and looking forward to the outing. Storm was just fine too. They left for the Doctor.

I had no clue what was coming next. A Doctor visit (who practices

Was Jillian involved in an accident? Are they hurt? Did they get carjacked??? I called Jill and I got VM. Even worse. I texted and texted and called and called. After 30minutes I got a call from Jillian telling me she wasnt coming back.

My heart shattered in a trillion pieces.