So, I’m a Dance Dad

My two daughters just finished their year end dance recital and after watching two hours of dance-I have come to the conclusion that I am a dance dad and I love it.

Why I love it is not about the dancing. I love music and art, so I do enjoy dance, but it is more what I am seeing come from within my little girls. They both have danced since she age 3 (their mom danced and did professional theatre, so trying dance as a little girl was inevitable).

However, what I have seen in both is such growth- measurable growth as an athlete, artist and person-a desire to compete, to be better, to work harder. Becoming stronger, both physically and mentally, as well as a real growth in responsibility and commitment-has all further developed thanks to dance. A beaming smile to be able to go on stage and DANCE!

Success in life is so important and the way to measure success is really very simple. Are you BETTER today than you were yesterday-and what are you doing to be even better tomorrow? That is all that matters. It is not about being the best. It is not about money or fame-it is an internal measurement. Are you better?

Watching my daughters dance is inspiring. It makes me ask myself this very important question. AM I SUCCESSFUL? AM I BETTER TODAY THAN I WAS YESTERDAY? I am not about to put on a ballet leotard and dance-but how am I better in my life?

What can I do to be better as a father, a husband and friend? What can I do to better hone my craft? Most importantly, what can I do to be a better citizen-to make the world better? What can I do to better share my gifts, my time and knowledge-to contribute? To give. To be successful.

I always say my kids inspire me and when the final curtain closed on Gotta Dance 2017, my daughters, had once again inspired me more than they even know. Dance-so much more than music and steps-success is in every breath.

 

Wedding Season-Is it Over Yet?

Now that another season of weddings is drawing to a close, I have to say I love marriage. I love my marriage. I love religious marriage. I love civil marriage. I love gay marriage. I LOVE MARRIAGE! But I hate weddings. I don’t hate having a wedding, or attending a wedding, I just don’t like what having a wedding tends to entail these days. And more importantly what they do to brides and grooms.

I am all for the celebration of two people committing to each other and I love parties, but the time, effort and money that I see going into a wedding blows my mind.

When I sit down with a client that is struggling to pay bills, or save for a down payment telling me that they are planning a big wedding celebration that they clearly cannot afford, I have to wonder why? Celebrate your love and union with your family, friends and partner-throw a party, pop some bottles and eat some ribs-but don’t go into debt to do it!

Furthermore, don’t let planning a wedding consume you. It is not that important. Your marriage is-your wedding isn’t.

Here are my top tips for those looking to take the plunge:

1) Don’t go into debt to have a wedding. This is likely the biggest mistake you can make heading into a marriage. Finances (along with infidelity), is the most common reason for divorce. Starting your marriage under an unnecessary debt load is putting pressure on your finances and your marriage-where’s the love in that?

2) Don’t extend an engagement for the perfect venue (whatever that means)-if you have 2 years to plan a wedding, you will take 2 years. If you have 6 months, you will take 6 months. Both events will essentially be the same.

3) Accept by telling any supplier you are planning a wedding means at least a 25% premium on their fee (I don’t have statistics to verify this-but I am confident you could plan the exact same event labelled as a family reunion for a whole lot less money.) Weddings have become a huge industry. You are paying a premium to have a wedding-know this going in and budget accordingly. You ought to prioritize and be willing to cut things. Your centre pieces are great-but were they really worth the $1000?

4) Remember it is not YOUR DAY. Sorry, it just isn’t. You are throwing a party and it should be about your guests. They are coming for you, so please acknowledge that fact by ensuring they have a great time and don’t have to incur costs that may be beyond their comfort levels. Making them wait, not having transportation options, having 7 speeches about how great you are-this is all about YOU. Make it about the people that are there to celebrate you, your love and your commitment to each other. You wouldn’t throw a dinner party to honour yourself (unless you are at narcissistic A-hole.). So don’t throw a wedding doing that either!

5) Your wedding day may very well be the best day of your life (although it will likely be replaced with a new greatest day at some point), but remember, it is just one day. What really matters is your commitment and effort to every day that comes after.

Marriage is not some amazing, blissful fairy tale on its own. Marriage is empty and you as partners need to fill it. Commit to your vows. Your commitment to love, support, passion, compromise and adventure-taking less and giving more-that will make your marriage full. If more couples put the time, effort and resources into their marriages that they put into their weddings, I think we would see a lot more happily ever after.

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Slaying the Tickle Monster

I no longer attack my daughter with tickles.

She doesn’t like it because she says it makes her feel like she is going to pee. Sneaking up on her and attacking her with the “tickle monster” while she was frantically telling me to stop, seemed to me to all be in jest. That is until I realized that I was giving her voice no power. She was saying “NO, STOP, I DON’T LIKE IT, OR WANT THIS.”

By continuing to tickle her, I was saying with no words at all, I can overpower you, I can do what I want to your body and person and I don’t need your consent. How awful is that?

In social development a clear understanding of consent must be learned at a very young age and it is important that as parents, and responsible citizens, we teach it. I think we ought to be even more cognisant of how young boys deal with consent. A boy being tickled, or wrestled with more often than not, has his voice ignored. Just a little rough housing has no harm, unless said boy doesn’t want it. A boy, just like a girl, needs to know if he says no, it means no. If he hears no, it means no. If we as adults, reject his voice, how can we expect him as a grown man to respect the voice of someone else?

This past school year a group of boys tried to kiss girls in my daughter’s class. Why the boys wanted to do this is irrelevant-what mattered is many of the girls didn’t want to be kissed. The boys would chase, girls would scream. What might seem to be 5 year olds being silly kids is a root to a much deeper problem. The understanding of control of your body, respect of another’s and fully understanding any advancement towards another person is not acceptable without their consent, is fundamental in social upbringing. Why is this such an important lesson that must be instilled consistently, and from the start?

Rape. Just writing it makes me cringe. Having two young daughters I am more aware of rape culture than I ever used to be. The fact that rape culture is even a description of an epidemic sweeping our society is an awful reality, but is a reality that cannot be ignored.

Unwanted sexual advancements and assaults, especially in schools (places that should be held in the highest regard in society), are occurring at staggering levels-with many cases never being reported at all. We cannot be silent about it. When you have college campuses draped with banners proudly boasting appalling messages of RAPE, you’ve got a major problem on your hands.

It is not all in good fun to flaunt “thank you fathers for freshmen daughters” or “fresh meat” or “you’ve been her daddy for 18 years, we’ll take it from here” or the worst of the bunch, “NO MEANS YES”.

No should be the most powerful word anyone can say to another person. NO doesn’t just mean NO, it means STOP. The problem is somehow, especially with a mob mentality, consent is seen as an ambiguous concept that is up for interpretation. When in fact, consent should be and is the clearest damn thing that exists. If a person doesn’t say yes, then they have said no.

Let’s make sure our little boys and little girls know this while learning their ABC’s and 123’s and if you have to slay the “tickle monster” to help teach this lesson, bring out the sword.

Get After IT!

I have always been a strong believer in getting things done. Procrastination is a dirty word. If something can get done, it should get done. Leaving things for tomorrow has never made any sense to me. This is certainly the case when it comes to personal finance. The earlier you start the better you will be. I recently came across an article in the Globe and Mail by Rob Carrick as a memo to twentysomethings to not be too eager to buy real estate. You can read the article here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/…/patience-…/article23295965/

This “advice” drives me nuts. Sure some twentysomethings should avoid buying real estate, but for many, if not most, buying a home early in life can be one of the best financial moves they ever make. Like most things in life, with real estate, the earlier you do it, the better the long term return. Language and music skills, athletics and yes, finances! The best thing I have ever done for my personal finances is buying real estate early in life. Yes, it forced me to grow up a bit, but that is okay. Being a responsible society contributing adult is not a condition to be avoided! Why was it such a good idea? For starters I got lucky (this is an important caveat), I hit the rising market homerun-but that is not the whole story. I also lived for free. Yes, for free. I was able to do this with renters/roommates paying for my mortgage and bills. In your twenties you are a lot more open to a frat style house and this is great way to own and live. I essentially went through college building tax free equity on the hard earned dollars from other college kids, or those twentysomethings that didn’t want to own, but were happy to pay me to live in a home. I learned how to be a landlord, manage renters and maintain a home. I had real world experience and responsibility, but could still play like any college student -as my living cost was paid for. There is no way I would have done this later on. If I had waited I would have not wanted roommates (I am too old for that!-Would be the excuse). I would have missed an opportunity and frankly missed out on 10 years of investment gains that I will never be able to make up in my lifetime. This move set me far ahead of my peers from a financial standpoint (I still lack that tall gene), simply from owning a home long before any of them thought about it. Did a sacrifice a bit of freedom? Perhaps, but the long term gains, have made up that “freedom” in spades.

Like a Girl

I am blessed to have two little girls. I must admit when I imagined fatherhood, I never thought I would have two girls. I have an older sister, so I imagined having a girl, but I always saw a son as well. I think this is pretty natural for men. However, having girls is a real eye opener for a man. I really cannot imagine my house filled with anything but girls, now that I have them. Seeing the bond between sisters is just beautiful. However, when I tell people I have two girls, or when they see my two little ladies, I often get these sorts of responses:

“Wow, I feel sorry for you when they are teenagers”

“Now you have to worry about all the boys. I am lucky, I just have to worry about one boy”

“Good thing you own a shotgun”

I know these comments are mostly in jest, but they are really bad gender stereotypes. I am honoured to have the responsibility to raise, thoughtful, smart, confident and beautiful women. Women-that will have a sense of self-worth. Women-that will know what love is and what it means to be loved. Women-that will know what a good man is and how they ought to be treated. Sometimes, I may have to wear fairy wings and paint toenails, but what is more manly than that? I am not worried about boys, or hormones. I look forward to these stages ahead and the growth I will experience as a father and man raising my girls.

Now, if you are a father with boys in this coming generation, I hope you are teaching your sons to cry like a boy, express emotions like a boy and nurture like a man. You better, so your sons are prepared for girls like mine. If you ask my daughters to speak like a girl, you are going to get a precise and confident opinion. If you ask one of my daughters to do ladies work, she’ll change your flat tire and frame your basement. And if you ask my daughters to throw like a girl-watch out, because they’ll bring the heat!

ellieandeva

A Week in Her Shoes

This was not a social experiment, but the result of necessity. My wife lost her 98 year old grandmother this past week and headed to join family and celebrate her life. My wife’s family is from Barbados (a nice perk compared to in-laws from Brandon, MB-no offense, to Brandon). However, from Calgary, the trip is a long one. To further complicate things, I was in Montreal at the annual mortgage conference when this was happening. We literally crossed paths at the airport in Calgary (me on my way home, her on her way to the Caribbean.

So, there I was with my 2 kids (aged 2 and 5), active dog and the need to be running my brokerage, especially after being away from it for 5 days. I have a great team at Mortgage Connection, so that part went off without a hitch. So, just the kids, this will be fun, this will be easy. It certainly has been fun, but it is not easy. I already know my wife is a huge part of my success; she is my constant cheerleader and support. She never complains about early mornings, my extended nights. How I am always buzzing with ideas, can be a bit high-strung and sometimes go into super mortgage mode. She just takes it in stride and takes care of things. The truth it she is much more part of any and all my successes than I even knew. I always feel blessed to have such happy kids, such a loving, inviting and warm home. I now have a much better idea on what it takes to pull this off (there is nothing like real work experience).

Some points that really hit HOME this week:

1) Never ask a mom what she did today: First off this is a thoughtless and empty question. I hate this question for anyone, but especially a mom. Instead, ask what happened today that gave you a good laugh, made you smile, or happy. After being home for a week, I was quite content to get meals in the kids, the dog walked, some outdoor play time and a bit of laundry folded. If I showered-bonus. Asking me what I did would likely result in me saying: “Well, I survived, the kids are sleeping and no I didn’t vacuum and yes we are out of milk. How was your extended business lunch and hot latte?”

2) You will miss adult conversation more than you think. Yet, talking to children is way more REAL!

3) Crafts, clay, painting, games and Lego are actually more fun as an adult then when I was a kid. How does one go about working for Lego- specifically in the product testing area?

4) Planning and a schedule is more of a suggestion than a rule: Set an alarm, get ready for school, or dance, or gymnastics with what seems like plenty of time, only to be derailed by a terrible two tantrum, or, “Where is your jacket? How is it not in the closet? It was here yesterday?” 20 minutes later, jacket found in the toy chest and now late-awesome. Oh and my coffee is sitting on the counter, nice and cold with one sip missing…

5) Never tell me a stay at home mom doesn’t have a job. They have a full-time job, with no breaks, no pay and very little respect from society (which is a complete joke considering they are raising society). Working moms you have a double whammy. How you keep the two worlds on track is remarkable-all I can say is Bravo. Now a single working mom-that is a task that is beyond me. After playing that role for a week, I really don’t know how you beautiful women do it. The older I get the more I realize women are far superior to us men. From now on I am referring to them as WOWMEN.

For more stuff like this-check out Mortgaged, Married and Minivan’d

joebecks

A Lession in value and other things…

Should a five year old have access to an iPad-maybe? I mean it certainly has some apps that kids love. And Steve Jobs did help my eldest learn to count when she was 2. I am sure child experts will say limited screen time is a must, or that they shouldn’t be on it at all. I am no expert and I am worried kids are too into gadgets (but adults are the worst example!) This is not about the appropriateness of iPad usage-it is about what to do when your child breaks said iPad.

Our daughter dropped ours and the screen smashed-I mean Charlotte’s Web style. This was an accident though-she literally dropped it. So, anger is not the right reaction. Here is an opportunity for a lesson.

The first question from her scared self-“Can we fix it?-can we get a new one?”

The right answer-“No, we can’t-not now.” The iPad is expensive, it costs a lot of money and we can’t afford to go buy one right now. We need to live WITHOUT this now.”

Whether we could run out and buy a new one, or not is irrelevant. What we can TEACH in this moment is that things cost money-money has value and things that cost money have value. Money has limitations and sometimes we do not have the resources to just buy something.

So, I asked my daughter-“What do you think we can do here?” her first response “Ask Santa for a new one for the next 6 Christmas’s”

This is pretty good, but I followed up with another question “Well, you broke it, so what do you think YOU could do to help fix the accident?”

“Well, Daddy, I could do more chores, I could save my money and I can help buy a new one.”

I responded “Yes, you can, but it will take a really long time to have enough money to get a new one.”

And here is where the life lesson sinks in.

“I have to be okay with that Daddy, it costs a lot of money and i’ll help-we can live without an iPad right?”

“You bet we can darling-you bet we can.”

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