Tag Archives: #TEDTalk

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.