Tag Archives: #Family

Stranger in a Strange Land: my daughter’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Cara, child mine daughter oldest, is in Tartu, Estonia, preparing to give a TEDx talk on Defensive Architecture.  She’s been globe trotting a little, taking part in a work-related workshop in Frankfurt, and has had time to visit Latvia in her free time.

Technology can be a wonderful thing, giving us a real connection particularly during challenging times.  I noticed Cara, 6808 km and six time zones away, posting on Facebook about the 17 pedestrians that were hit in Toronto in a four-hour period yesterday evening.  These are important issues to her as an urban planner and citizen of the downtown.

More importantly, Cara was able to have a text conversation with me about her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Between struggling with her personal preparations for tomorrow’s talk, being shoved in a grocery store, being mocked by a barista in Estonian to the accompanying snickers from other customers and then dropping her coffee as she fled through the door I get why she was upset.  I reminded her that given that she is Anglo-Canadian she probably sounds and looks American.  She replied that she’s often been mistaken for one, and in Europe, that means being subject to a fair amount of derision lately.  I opined that maybe painting a maple leaf on her face might help.

There were lots of back and forth and affirmation, and I pointed out that she is a world expert on her subject and that it was normal to worry about not being able to be perfect, that only some time after it was over would she be able to look back and feel a sense of satisfaction and completion.  She may be 34, but mostly she needed to hear that daddy missed her and loved her no matter what.

I can remember picking up a copy of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land when I was 12 or 13 and struggling to get through the first few pages.  I picked up that book many times in my teenage years, never getting past the first few chapters.  In fact, I was off put by both the messianic message at the end and the often-tortuous tension of establishmentarianism (church/state), when in my early twenties I finally read it.  And as for free love and communal living, it was about as appealing to me as individualism in Atlas Shrugged.

I’ve always been an outsider looking in.  High school dropout and military veteran who went to university, anti-authoritarian while embracing the comfort and expectations of being a liberal democrat, most recently pony-tail challenger of the orthodoxy in my industry.  I have no doubt had I been more conscious of my choices and understood the impact of trying to be a norm breaker, I would be far more successful today.  I am a norm breaker only within the bounds of what I can get away with and then only within a very tightly prescribed range.  Perhaps my life would have been easier if I didn’t try to keep within those ranges.

We’ve all felt like Alexander (in Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) at one time or another.  And I always seemed to have those days when I was conflicted, torn between two courses of action even though I wasn’t clear in my own mind which direction I should take

The richness of the tapestry of my life has allowed for many terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.  But for every 5 of those, I’ve had 95 opportunities to grow and excel at the things that I’ve been very good at.  As much as I enjoyed and learned by being a parent, I’ve also learned a lot from my children, especially lately.  James, the youngest boy, is extraordinary at what he does, and I should have respected his wishes not to go to university.  Shannon and her husband Emi have taken all the good they’ve learned from me and his parents and are heads and shoulders better parents than I ever was.  I should have respected Rob’s gentle soul and his creativity rather than trying to push him into the very structure that in many respects I rejected.

It is not that I love Cara more.  Certainly, it is true that each of my children represents one aspect of myself, just more fully expressed.  Cara’s academic journey mirrors not just my journey but she is realizing my frustrated academic ambition.  Although each of my children have likely felt an outsider looking in, it’s her turn.

I had to remind her that we all have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, but running off to Australia is not going to solve anything.

(It would be fun though).

Post Script:  What does that have to do with investing?  Everything and nothing.  Our path to our goals is never straight, and if we don’t focus on the journey to get there and what we’ve learned, we’re going to have too many days of angst and disappointment.  On the other hand, if we write down and have a look at where we want to go, then put it away focusing on the trip, you’ll surprise yourself and get there before you know it.  And you’re not going to get lost along the way.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years. During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space, Centre for Social Innovation at Queen and Spadina downtown Toronto.

 Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

Goal Setting is About the Journey, Not Necessarily the Destination

Standing around waiting for direction from my youngest daughter Shannon as we were painting their new home, I was struck by a sense of déjà vu.  This time, however, the voice wasn’t mine but hers.  And I did exactly what I was told.

Shannon and Emi have accomplished the impossible.  Staging their home for sale in Mississauga in August, they managed to get their selling price after the traffic of multiple showings, shopped for and found their new home in Burlington with a close more than two weeks before they had to be out of their existing home, gutted the basement and rewired the new house from aluminum to copper, pulled all the trim, fixed the wear and tear, hung new trim, painted the two boys’ rooms and moved a household of four, packing and loading at the same time.

Linda and I, like many others, have pitched in.  But the pressure, the responsibility of making a new home fall squarely on them.  Both have a view of excellence that verges on perfectionism, and Linda and I could see frustration and discouragement written all over their exhausted faces.

Events can conspire to get in the way of things – after all 3 ½ year old Alessio and 1 ½ year old Adriano need attention and as much as they love their extended family, they want mommy and daddy.  When they had their home inspection there was no way they could have known that the previous owners had improperly cut into the floor joists to install a basement window.  With an eye to restoring their bungalow that has exceptionally good bones, I’m sure all the non-code “improvements” that must be undone weighs.

I know where Shannon gets her impossible reach and her ability to mostly accomplish what she sets out to do.  Emi, her spouse, is an equal in terms of both expectations and work ethic.  But if I feel guilty about anything, it’s that when I was younger, the parent of a blended family of four, that I didn’t have the grace to say we did well, or we’ve accomplished a lot.  I suppose too much time spent in the unfinished 5% robbed me and my children of the joy of the 95%.  I know that’s rubbed off on Shannon.

As a single parent before Linda and I came together, I did everything I could to raise my children differently than my parents did.  I’m grateful for Shannon and Emi’s child-centric household and reasonable expectations.  And I am amazed that Shannon and Emi have taken the best from their respective parents but have moved the bar so much further – they have become the parents I wish I could have been.  Perhaps they can take what they learned from me about planning and executing projects and improve on it too.

Goal setting is a perplexing process.  Deciding where you want to go is a function of time, resources and route.  The speed at which you get there is not only a function of the limits of the chosen method, but subject to unexpected detours and pee breaks.  From time to time you must school yourself to look back and see how far you’ve come.  And lastly, the destination that you arrive at is the one that is important to you, not the one you started towards.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 5 days we’ve given the “kids”.  There is something therapeutic about working with your hands, especially when you can immediately see the results of your work rather than sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day.  And for all the groans and all the aches and pains the exercise has been great. I’m honored that they trust us enough to invite us to be part of their “next steps”, and gratified that they trust us enough to tell us what they want and how we’re going to get them there.

But mostly I’m proud of my youngest daughter Shannon and her spouse Emiliano.  Despite all their challenges, despite the intermittent anxiety, despite their exhaustion and discouragement, I can say this much for sure: they’re made of good stuff, have already accomplished the impossible and despite their respective crankiness, you can see their deep caring for each other and their little ones.

I hope they take a step back and look at the 95%.  They’ve done good.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years. During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space, Centre for Social Innovation at Queen and Spadina downtown Toronto.

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

 

Using Love to Weave a Good Life Together

Whether the smell of fresh cool lake water on a hot breeze or sun-warmed pine needles, there is something powerful in my mind that drags me back to another place, another time.

Last night Linda and the family were doing a memory-lane visit, on the family chat, to our home on Indian Road in Sudbury; Linda tells me that today marks the 10th anniversary of our family’s permanent move.  And for all the grand memories, for all the laughs, for all the warmth of our family of six, there is no turning back from the urban journey we’ve been on since.  We’re a bigger family.  One son-in-law.  Two beautiful grandsons, one and three.  One sig-other for both oldest daughter and youngest son.  For all our good memories together, we continue to create new ones.

The tapestry of Linda and my life together isn’t some monochrome, loosely woven, tread worn, ready to be discarded rag.  Rather, it is a richly colored work in progress.  The pattern has changed over time.  The introduction of others, whether the young Irish who fled the Great Recession at the end of the last decade, or the bar staff who liked us because we weren’t pretentious and accorded them the respect that was their due, people who’ve worked with us or for us, or our children’s friends as they grew into adulthood, all have changed the pattern and color of the weave.

Linda and I are the same age.  We met when she was a student of mine.  And lest you make some bawdy connection, we fell into dating when she finished university and I was no longer a lecturer.

I’m not sure how I would characterize being in love with Linda.  It wasn’t some mad, headlong clutching and grabbing rutting behavior.  Instead, it started on Lake Ramsay, sitting on a granite outcrop at 3 in the morning, talking, and not talking, listening to the gentle lapping of the lake on the shore.  Coming to love with each other that way provided us with the warp that gave us the strength to weave a life well together.

Things developed rapidly.  Not only did we come together six weeks later as a blended family, and bought a house soon after, our four children were just as adept at coming together as brother and sister.  It was, well, just right.

Others’ expectations created problems for us from the beginning, trying to cut our threads.  Many of Linda’s friends and confidents challenged her, suggesting that she was rushing things.  My best friend claimed that she had ruined his life.  My work relationships were threatened, ultimately leading to my termination.  My clients, who in retrospect were taking advantage of me in the guise of friendship, treated her as a handmaiden.  Neither of our families approved.

And we often heard people calling us the Brady Bunch or commenting on how hard it must be – but it was neither some uptight mid-American view of how blended families were supposed to work, or some conflict filled approaching Armageddon.

It was fun.  It was ordering ten pizzas or barbecuing hamburgers at midnight because we learned the benefits of party-ending carb comas that rapidly reduced the house party from 60 to 10.  It was getting impatient and lighting a fire in the pit with gasoline only to have the fire department arrive because apparently 60-foot flames were not acceptable.  It was laughing at a daughter doing a “grass angel” on the side lawn telling Linda how much she loved her after her first experience getting drunk.  It was travelling from city to city watching rep basketball.  It was keeping a skid steer for a whole summer because all the kids and their friends loved tooling around the property “landscaping”.  It was ditching a truck that had broken down on the side of the road so that we could rush off to a Leaf’s game.

If I give pause, as I am tempted to do this weekend, it is not because I am tried of weaving.  It is because I want to allow some of the color that is important to me back in; you know, the coolness of the water on a warm breeze or the smell of sun on the pines.  But most importantly, I want some time with Linda in the space between to listen to the water lapping on the shore.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years. During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space CSI (Centre for Social Innovation) in downtown Toronto.

 

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

 

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.