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National We Day

Sometimes Inspiration Hits When You Need It Most

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend my third We Day event. I went into this We Day thinking that I had seen all there is to see when it came to the Free The Children event, and I left with something I hadn’t realized I needed. Personal inspiration.

Life has been busy lately. With family, a full time job, part time job and a blog to look after, I had started to feel overwhelmed on an almost daily basis. In essence, my time had become small units of monetary value and I was having trouble seeing it any other way. Family was still number 1, always, but every other aspect of my life was suffering and I was too busy to notice it.

Enter, We Day. This was by far the largest We Day I had been too, almost quadrupling last year’s Ottawa attendance. As I sat and listened to speaker after speaker share their stories as the 16,000 children in attendance screamed and flashed their strobe-like wristbands, I was transported back to the place I was in a year ago. That place was one of kindness and love, where the prevailing thought on my mind was making sure I left the world a better place than I entered it.

I got to hang out with my inspiring friend and We Day speaker, Hannah Alper. I met another amazing youth in Vishal Vijay and had the chance to speak to two amazing local girls from Huntley Centennial Public School, named Isabelle Poulin and Chelsea Wilken, who were all doing their part to create a positive change in our day to day lives. Listening to these children speak and share why kindness was important to them, reminded me of what was important to me.

When I got home that day, I immediately re-launched Kindness Canada, as it had been on the back burner, and started re-organizing my life. I realized that I still have time to do all the work that I was doing, but I plan on doing it smarter so that I have more time to focus on the things that are most important to me. Those things are my family, my health and my commitment to making the world a better place, one smile at a time. I guess this sounds cheesy but it’s how I feel, so I’m not sure how else to word it.

The We Day movement is something that I knew nothing about a year ago, and yet I have no idea where I would be without it. Everyone from the founders to the PR team and speakers are all amazing people and it just reinforces the benefit of building a strong community. I realize that the event was created to inspire children to change the world, but it has changed my world, multiple times over. Please do yourself a favour and check out the Free The Children website and the videos within it. They will change you in a very good way. Also, keep an eye out for Hannah and Spencer West as they embark on the We Create Change Tour, which started this week.

Here are some shots from the National We Day event I just attended. It’s not the same as being there but it’s still pretty cool!

We Day Speakers, Isabelle Poulin & Chelsea Wilken

We Day Speakers, Isabelle Poulin & Chelsea Wilken

Simple Plan frontman, Pierre Bouvier, rocks the We Day stage

Simple Plan frontman, Pierre Bouvier, rocks the We Day stage

 

Hannah Alper and Vishal Vijay give their powerful presentations.

Hannah Alper and Vishal Vijay give their powerful presentations.

Power In Numbers

Power In Numbers

 

 

 

WeDay Logo

We Day ~ Montreal Recap

Last week, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend my second WeDay, this time in the amazing city of Montreal. Some might call this greedy but it was a special chance for me to see my friend, Hannah Alper, performing live on stage as WeDay’s newest speaker. Spoiler Alert: She totally crushed it!

The Montreal event was different from the Ottawa experience in that it only had about 2,000 students, which made for a very intimate setting. The crowd was still deafening at times, as they heard from amazing speakers like Martin Luther King III, Chris Tse & the Kielburger brothers, as well as performances by Luca “LazyLegz” Patuelli and Sam Roberts. As you would expect from an event like WeDay, the positive energy flowing around the room was very high and the emotions were even higher.

My Highlights

There were a number of highlights from my most recent WeDay experience and I’ve decided to lay them out in point form to the best of my ability.

1. Martin Luther King III

It’s not every day that you get to listen someone as powerful as Martin Luther King III live on stage and I am grateful for the opportunity. While his message was tailored to the children in attendance, I can assure you that it was certainly not lost on me when he urged them to find their calling in life. It’s something that I am still searching for but feel like I am getting closer every day.

2. Chris Tse

I’m not going to lie, going into this day, I had no idea who Chris Tse was. I was invited a couple days before the event and didn’t have a lot of time to read up on all the speakers. It turns out that it was probably a good thing because Chris blew me away with his wit and in the way that he poetically threw out his words as if he were writing a book right in front of us. In describing his upbringing, I loved when he talked about how his parents had set up “Math Mondays”, “World History Wednesdays”, and his least favourite, “Non-Fiction Fridays”. He was incredible and is someone I will be following from now on.

3. Spencer West

This says it all.

4. The Alper’s. All of them…

You know the saying, “It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know”? That seems infinitely appropriate here, because without Eric, Candace and Hannah Alper, I would not have been able to experience something as amazing as WeDay. From the initial invitation, to having the opportunity to sneak backstage to meet the likes of Marc & Craig Kielburger, Spencer West, Martin Luther King III and Sam Roberts, I am forever indebted to this family. Getting to see Hannah calmly speak in front of all of those kids, gives me further inspiration and nerves to pursue my goals of inspiring through public speaking. And, she was absolutely amazing as she shared Malala’s storyup on the stage. So, thank you Alper’s! You have inspired me in more ways than one and I plan on using that insporation for good.

5. Meeting Molly Burke!

This was the big highlight of the day for me. Thanks again to Candace Alper, I had the special opportunity to meet and hang out backstage with Molly Burke and her guide dog, Gypsy. I was first introduced to Molly and her story at WeDay in Ottawa earlier this year. Her story of bullying is one of the most powerful I have ever heard on the subject and I wanted to meet her so I could let her know that her message reaches more than just the children she speaks to. As expected, she was very cool to hang out with and admitted that she is very superstitious, just as I am. Her new presentation was just as powerful as the one from Ottawa and the world is definitely a better place for having her in it.

If you have school aged children, I highly encourage you to start by showing them the videos on the Free The Children website and encouraging them to get involved in their school or community. The long term effects of this action will benefit their future multiple times over.

We 365 App

Free The Children also unveiled the very cool, We 365 phone app, which is going to revolutionize the way we give back. It’s an app that tracks all the good you do and awards points for each task you complete and hour your volunteer. It has challenges, allows you to create groups and even has prizes. This video explains it better than I can, and for every sign up on We365, Free The Children will immunize a child overseas.

Martin Luther King IIIMolly Burke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hannah AlperSam Roberts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spencer West

KC White

Introducing Kindness Canada!

I’m excited and proud to announce a project that we have been working on for a few months now, that is finally coming to fruition. The new website is called, Kindness Canada, and is hopefully going to be a place that will inspire the kindness in everyone.

The initial goal is to start off small by asking you all to submit your stories of kindness, either in written or video form. I don’t know if you are like me but I know that every time I read an uplifting story, I get inspired to want to get out there and do something kind for someone else. And that is the goal of Kindness Canada. It is to take the every day kind acts that we see and hear about and turn them into an inspirational and interactive storybook for all to read.

We have also created The Big List of Random Acts but need your help in filling it out. You are invited to submit your random acts of kindness and each week we will add a new random act to the list.

There is much more in the works for the site, including events, random act blitzes and finding a way to start giving back. In the meantime, I hope you will consider submitting your kindness stories, posts about what kindness means to you and your random acts, so that we can turn this into something inspirational and spectacular!

I would like to give a quick shout out to the people who made this vision a reality. Our Kindness Ambassadors are Rebecca Stanisic from A Little Bit of Momsense, Amber Rehman from Fatekeep and Patricia Oliver from Positively Pampered Patty. Finally, a very special Thank You goes out to the man behind the web design of both this page and the Kindness Canada page, Mr. Shawn Merrikin of Shawn Merrikin Web Design & Hosting. Without him, I would completely lost and that is not just lip service, as I would be quite literally lost…

All that’s left to do is to let the Kindness Revolution begin! You can check out the Kindness Canada Website and also follow us on Twitter @KindCanada and our KC Facebook Page. I hope you enjoy the new project as much as I have enjoyed putting it together!

Small Victory

The Small Victories

It seems like only a few weeks ago that we were working on which shoe went on which foot. Yesterday, you zipped up your own coat for the first time and seeing the pride in your eyes, further fueled the pride in my fatherly heart.

It’s these small but very significant victories that make being your parent the incredible journey that it is. Every single day you do something to amaze me and I have a feeling that this is going to continue for the rest of our time together.

I hope you never lose your sense of adventure and your willingness to want to learn new things. It’s in watching you strive to achieve our goals that I find the strength to go after mine, in an effort to prove to you that your efforts are never in vain. Your presence has made me a better man and I am thankful every day for you.

Power Hour Blissdom

The Power Hour That Changed My Life ~ #BlissDomCA

When I woke up this morning, I stumbled out of bed, packed my lunch and mindlessly drove to my place of business. As I sat at my desk, staring at my screen the way I usually do on Monday morning, I was hit with the harsh realization that the moments I had been accustomed to experiencing throughout the weekend were now quickly fading into memories. There were no bright eyed coffee enthusiasts shouting “Good Morning”, ready to be inspired, all on only three hours sleep; nor was breakfast set up, waiting to be picked apart and then refilled as many times as was needed.

It was my second trip to Blissdom Canada but things feel monumentally different this time around. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to go through the roller coaster of emotions that I felt throughout my time in Mississauga and I still feel like it is going to take some time to realize the full impact this conference will have on my life.

At the very top of my list was having the opportunity to achieve a personal triumph when I took to the stage for the Power Hour. If we’re being completely honest, I only applied for it because I assumed that with all the talented writers and speakers out there, I would never get picked. I was trying to cheat fear by being able to say that I at least put myself out there and it backfired beautifully. As the big day crept closer and the anxiety grew, I started playing mind games with myself. You know that Sesame Street skit, “One of these things just doesn’t belong here”? I glared at the names on the Power Hour board, Sharon DeVellis, Elan Morgan, Joe Boughner, Shannon Fisher and Erica Ehm, all established in their own way, and I began to fabricate all the excuses I could give to get out of it, when something funny happened. First, Elan told me everything would be alright, then Joe sent me a very kind letter of encouragement, which was followed by Erica being very kind and warm upon seeing me, closed out by amazing conversations with Shannon and Sharon. The next thing I knew I was up there, in front of everybody, sharing a story so personal that I was afraid I wouldn’t even get through it. And, nobody booed. I somehow managed to harness that fear and instead let my passion shine through, and it felt damn good.

In the hours that followed, I received so many encouraging tweets, messages and congratulations that, for a while, I lost complete control of my own emotions. It was surreal and overwhelming to hear a few people say that my presentation had actually made a difference in their lives. That short, seven minute presentation and the series of events that followed, have completely changed me, for the better, of course. I walked on to that stage, unconfident, unsure of my place in the group and scared as I’ve ever been; and I walked off feeling as though I truly deserved to be there.

So, as I sit here at my desk, still staring blankly at the screen, I’m hit with the harsh realization that the moments I had been accustomed to experiencing throughout the weekend were now quickly fading into memories. But, they are memories of the time I pushed through the fear and accomplished something that will inspire me to keep reaching as high I want to climb, for the rest of my life.

BlissDom Power Hour

Blissdom Canada: Inspiration Is Waiting For You

Blissdom Canada

When I showed up at the Blissdom Canada conference last year, I had been blogging for about 8 months. I still had the feeling that I had been duped by my friend, Shannon (zchamu), who said that there would be plenty of men at the conference and that I NEEDED to go. She ended up being right about one of those two things…

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that I was outnumbered about 20:1 in the Women:Men department, and most of the men in attendance were well established bloggers and media personalities, so it was just a tad intimidating. That said, I made a decision before walking into the room at Blissdom, that I would not accept fear as a reason to not get the most out of my experience. So, I said hi to almost everyone I wanted to say hi to, I asked questions at my round tables, I met new and amazing people, I dressed in a super hero costume, I did interpretive dance, I sang karaoke as loudly as I possibly could and I walked into a room where I was in the clear minority, and pretended like I was just like everybody else, which I kind of was. All of those things combined, helped me to leave Blissdom Canada with a completely new outlook on blogging and what I wanted to be, both as a blogger and as a person.

Seriously, they are not paying me to say any of this. Even as new and inexperienced as I was, the take aways from Blissdom Canada have set me on a path that I could have never imagined when I started this little blog. I get to cover kids shows & music festivals, work with amazing companies and bloggers, raise money for charity, help people in need, do TV and radio interviews and now I can add speaking at conferences to my list of accomplishments. All of this started at Blissdom Canada, where I learned to have the confidence in my abilities that I desperately needed to try some of the crazy things I have done.

Now I ask you, other than money, why are you not sure if Blissdom Canada is for you? Are you shy? Think you are too new? Do you get hives because Tanis “Attack Of The Redneck Mommy” Miller might be standing right next to you and you don’t want her to notice how sweaty and unreasonably excited you are to meet her? Are you intimidated by Erica Ehm and her Yummy Mummy Club superstardom? I was, but guess what? Just say hi. They are incredibly kind people and I promise you they won’t bite. Or at least they didn’t bite me… There are so many excuses not to come but I hope my story is something that you can relate to, because you’ll write me a thank you letter once you get home from it.

Let me go one step further. Here is my offer and promise to you. If at any point, you get overwhelmed, lonely, nervous, shy, sweaty or any other thing else that happens to us for some unfair, no good reason, I invite you to come and hang out with me until it subsides. I’ve been there and understand how tough it can be to be the new kid on the block. Plus, I had some great people help me out on my first trip to Blissdom and want to pay that kindness forward. So, tweet me, DM me, FB me, find me, and say hi. Don’t let nerves ruin your experience.

And, finally, Men of the blogging/social media/brand world! This is NOT just a conference for women. In fact, I can’t think of one time where I was made to feel unwelcome or where the content was completely woman centric. So get off your butts and join me at this thing. If not, I am going to return to Blissdom Canada again this year, more confident that ever, and I am going to be one of the few guys again and I will get all the guy spotlight and …. Actually, on second thought, maybe you guys should sit this one out.

Captain Caffeine! At Your Service!

Captain Caffeine! At Your Service!

Share and Inspire With #GoodNewsMonday – 2nd Edition

Monday

I ran an impromtu “Good News Friday” thread on Facebook and Twitter a couple weeks ago and it was really inspiring to see everyone sharing their good news for the week. Considering Friday is usually already a good day, I decided to move the “Good News” event to Monday, where more people could usually use a pick me up.

The concept is easy. Every Monday, pop on over here and share your good news stories in the comments. I have already been inspired by reading all your good news to date and can’t wait to see where this thing goes. Without further ado, I’ll kick things off!

I was lucky enough to spend all day Saturday at Big Music Fest in Belleville and had the very cool opportunity to see the Counting Crows perform, as well as meeting Hedley and spending quality time with my wife and some of my blogging friends. It was an amazing weekend and something I will remember forever.

Now it’s your turn! What good news do you have to share with everyone this week? Leave your story in the comments below and have a great week!

Adam Duritz Counting CrowsChris Hedley

Share and Inspire With #GoodNewsMonday – 1st Edition

Monday

There is a new feature on the blog this week and it’s one I am very excited about. I ran an impromtu “Good News Friday” thread on Facebook and Twitter last week and it was really inspiring to see everyone sharing their good news for the week. Considering Friday is usually already a good day, I decided to move the “Good News” event to Monday, where more people could usually use a pick me up.

The concept is easy. Every Monday, pop on over here and share your good news stories. I’m sure we’ll start off with a small crew but my hopes are that it will catch on and then we can use this tiny space to inspire each other to chase after all the good things we want in our lives. I know that it has already affected me a great deal and I’m excited to see where this thing goes.

Before we get to the sharing, I’ll kick things off with my good news stories for ther week. First, after living in my house for 4 years, we finally have a beautiful deck for our backyard and my house suddenly feels like a home. Also, I had the opportunity to do my first TV segment as Canadian Dad and the feedback has been overwhelming and extremely humbling, so, thank you. Finally, we spent Saturday afternoon at our community BBQ, where I got to pretend I was a superhero with my son.

Okay, now it’s your turn! Please take a moment to share your Good News stories in the comments section below and let’s get inspired together. If you feel so inclined, take to social media and use the hashtag #GoodNewsMonday to spread the good word!

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On Finding The Missing Piece

Missing Piece

You can never be truly prepared for fatherhood. Even after having one child, I had no idea how a second was going to affect my life. As it turns out, my children have opened my eyes to a world that I had been sorely missing. The following is not a commentary on whether people with children are happier than those without, but more of a look at how my children have changed the way I see the world.

Here’s the thing, before my wife and I became parents, I was very happy. I had a good job, played in a rock band, often stayed up late and we had lots of quality time together. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was missing and it wasn’t until becoming a father that I found the missing piece. Passion. I’m not talking about the passion for loving my wife or my family, which has always been and will always be there. I’m talking about being so passionate about something that you can’t imagine doing anything else but leaping towards it and hoping you don’t plummet to the earth.

My passion, as it were, is in trying to make a difference in the world. I’m not talking about creating world peace, as nice as it sounds, but instead I’m talking about a passion in trying to make a difference in people’s lives, one person and one day at a time. Not just giving money, food or clothing either, but in just giving people a reason to smile day in and day out. I have my children to thank for this and the reason is simple; every time I look at one of them, I think to myself, “what kind of man do I want my children to learn from and remember?” My father left me with amazing memories and I hope to do the same for my children.

When I started writing about my adventures in parenting, I thought it would be a fun place to share funny stories and pictures. I had no idea that it was going to alter the way I think and feel about almost everything in my life in the way it has. I feel like a completely different person than I was just five short years ago. I am not afraid to share stories about my issues with anxiety, my fatherhood insecurities or my hopes and dreams, because I don’t want my children to bottle up their emotions in the way I used to. That’s not a shot at my parents either because they were always there for me, it’s just the way I was.

They have pushed me at every turn to want to be a better man, father and human being, and I intend on using that drive to become the best role model I can possibly be for them. This is where my new found passion comes in. Life can be hard, and not only is there fulfillment in taking the time to make someone else’s day, but in my experience at least, I’ve never been happier in knowing that I have the power to make others happy. My hope is that I can inspire my children to want to inspire others and I will keep fighting for that as long as I am here.

How Princesses Provided A Fairy Tale Ending For One Little Girl

Official Princess Parties

The opinions on Princess culture run from those who love everything about the fairy tale stories, to those who think princesses are ruining our little girls and driving us further into debt with all the commercialization. I have always been in the middle. I love how much my little girl adores the princess culture but I don’t think it’s turning her into anything more than a little girl who has found something she loves.

I had a change of opinion this past week, however, when something amazing happened. My friend Christine, who blogs for “Life on Manitoulin”, was forced to take an emergency helicopter ride with her 4 year old daughter, who was experiencing severe stomach pains. When they got to Ottawa and were released from CHEO, following the little one’s surgery, I got the chance to spend some time with them. Her little one, tough as nails by the way, started telling me all about her favourite princesses, as little girls do.

Christine had asked me if I thought we would be able to hire a princess on such short notice and seeing as how I am no stranger to hanging out with and writing about all things princess, I decided to try to help out. I called Official Princess Parties, a company that has already impressed me in the past, and I definitely wasn’t prepared for the kindness that followed.

I explained why I needed someone on such short notice and the owner mentioned that they were all booked up for the next couple weeks, but would send out a feeler to see if anyone was interested in the extra work. Not one minute later, while we were still on the phone, she had already received 3 messages back with people saying they wanted to help out. That would have been enough for me to sing their praises but the owner then mentioned that she wanted to provide this visit, to cheer up a scared little girl, on the house, and my heart exploded. Our princess showed up that night and had everyone mesmerized and smiling from ear to ear. She was perfect and it is exactly the thing that little girl needed at that moment.

Long story short, you can think whatever you want about the effects of princess culture, but this single event and watching the joy on that little girl’s face was enough to convince me of the overwhelming positives that can come from it. At the pace life is moving these days, sometimes it’s just nice to let kids be kids, and when it comes to princesses, I am fine with doing just that. Thank you to the amazing staff at Official Princess Parties for making this little girl’s pain a little more bearable.

Princess Funny Faces

Princess Beauty Julia

Princess Tiara