Achieving goals doesn't just happen. 35 years have gone by, and I'm still not the fireman I said I would be back before kindergarten! The good news is, I don't want to be a fireman anymore.
But at some point, decisions must be made—forks in the road. I let my fireman dreams go sometime between grade one and losing my last baby tooth. The plan was traded for becoming a professional soccer player, which lasted until I started playing guitar at twelve. You get the idea.
Some things in our lives are just stages. Other things are not. I've been thinking a lot about the constants in my life. People, habits, ideas, foods, you name it. It's not so much about how far back they go. It's more a question of if they've been around and stayed relevant since they were first encountered. In a previous and recent post, I wrote about our essence and the programs we run as individuals. I'd like to elaborate on that a bit and invite you to ponder the same thoughts with me. Let's see where it takes us!
For me, becoming aware that "programs" are even a thing has completely changed my life. It's not like now that I am aware, I'm above programming—quite the opposite. I realize just how susceptible I am to programming. Therefore, I've become conscientious about what I allow into my being, through my eyes, ears, even my mouth. (Yes, food too!) Had it not been for Christina's passion for healthy food, I would 100% be a very different shape than I am. Because of her influence, I have adopted a constant habit of excluding more and more junk from my grocery cart since we first met.
Shows, music, friends, family, snacks, routines: We each have the right to pick who and what we allow to influence our behaviors and actions. AKA who we are.
Pretty basic stuff, right? As a parent, it's super evident for me when my kids hang around kids they shouldn't be or have gotten onto watching some channel on youtube with bad attitudes, foul language, etc. Adults, news flash, we're no different. When Christina and I first got married, we promised to never own a TV to always maintain a strong bond and family connection. Unfortunately, through screens and smartphones, we find ourselves constantly battling the same crap, different pile.
The truth is, as parents and spouses, we have no idea what we are doing. It's our first time at everything, all the time. The constants: our vows, our ideal of becoming healthier, and our belief in forgiveness.
So, there's that I've been thinking about.
Staying true to the things that you've held dear your whole life. My love for family and friends is unconditional. My respect, however, is not. Removing influences and programs that have proved themselves to be malware causing me to shut down in the past is something I am in the process of systematically doing. And it's led us here as a family, to this moment.
My job as a painter. I'm removing it. Deadline pressures have caused me to put my family on the back burner far too many times. (There's this virus program floating around out there that basically convinces the host that being reaaaaaaally busy is cool. That it gives purpose, no matter how mundane the tasks that the busyness is comprised of.)
The safety net of our home, we've removed it. We've been discussing how important our sleep is at this point in the journey. With a good night's rest, we have a great attitude of excitement and adventure. When we have a rough sleep these days, we wake up fearing the position of homelessness we are in. Wait, is having a home a program? Isn't that normal? I think so. Everyone should have a place to call home. I guess the program feels that those who don't are somehow 'less' because of it.
My possessions. Almost all removed! While I must respect my children's desire to keep the things they want to save as their own constants, I'm down to 2 pairs of pants, a shirt, a sweater, a few sentimental items like my late sister, Faye's guitar, and my own guitar. You know what?? It feels amazing! Today I sold my favorite tool, a cordless finishing nailer. It was tough to do. When I let go of the notable items I've feared giving up, I'm finding that more space is in my heart for loving something of higher significance. I still have a bit of shedding to go in the tool department, but it's nice to be at the point of realizing it's going to be okay. They are not needed constants, and they do not make me who I am.
I touched on the importance of sleep a paragraph ago.. on that note—time to hit the hay.
I want to end this post with a list of thank-yous. Although I fear leaving someone out, I'm going to try anyway.
Karen from Just Cuts in Trail. -Gave me and the boys haircuts the other day and refused payment. So generous and supportive of what we are doing as a family.
Auntie Donna Halpin. -Taking the kids for a sleepover and feeding our little beaks. We love you!
Kathleen Schrader. -Okay, this gal is the STAR of thegivingexperiment.com, and she is actually going to be coming to Guatemala with us! Kathleen has a heart big enough for all of Guatemala to swim in. Full stop. She has been incredible, from helping us complete our 7 passport applications to just going for walks or park visits with the kids, she's been there. Honestly, I could write a 10-page post just about all the ways she has helped us. Respect Kathleen, we couldn't have done any of what we've done thus far without your help. You are clearly an established constant in our family's life, and we want to give you some of the credit you deserve.
Mitch Pryma and Josh Vanderzandermander: Guys, you know what you've done and the way you've supported me. Thank you for your friendship and support through the good and the bad.
Heather Vanderzandermanderbreggen: Coolest lady ever. This woman has adopted our family and shares like every single post I write! Thank you for all that you do, Heather. We sure hope we get to see you sooner than later.
Doug and Catherine Reichel: Your card in the mail made me cry in the post office. Literally. I was in line to pick up a parcel and couldn't resist opening the letter right there when I saw it was from you guys. Catherine, your little girl creativity made the whole world make sense to me for a minute. Thank you.
Mom and Dad: Are you kidding me? You made me! Thank you!
Angie and Jacob Schurman: Super supportive, your interest and love for us is felt, and we hope to continue the growing number of phone calls. Thanks for being the way you are.
Terry Vanderdaddamanderscaaf: I can always count on seeing a read/login from you as soon as I publish something, Terry. Thank you for that support! We hope to see you as a family before we take off.
Solange: Solange, you're such a caring friend! You proofread, you feed, and you bead! Thanks for the necklaces you made the kids and the excellent trampoline times you provide down the road from us!
Megs: How fun to be your neighbor! You gave our Simon a job, long days at the beach with the kids, you have been such a blessing in our life! We love who you are. Sounds like there will be more neighboring in the future so we'll look forward to that for sure.
Clarke Family: You guys are unreal. So glad we've got friends like you to come home to when we come back. Hillary, you're an Aunt to the kiddos and your kids as close as cousins with ours. Your sudden involvement in our lives has been HUGE!
Robbin: You've inspired both of us so much with your morning routine and your drive. What a fun process our friendship has been. I love it when adults first friend our children! Faye adores you, and we are so glad we've had the time we have had to get to know you.
Tammy Butler: A brand new relationship in our lives, and we are already so touched by your kindness and words of support.
Kopp Family: April, you guys are another family we are going to miss! Again, so much support. Wind in our sails. Thank you for your shares on social media and for being with the boys at the ski hill to film and cheer them on.
Amanda Culp and Co.: You are our people! Totally living out the dream of community with us. We love you!
Dwayne Johnson: You're a brother to me, and the chats we have are always so thought inspiring. You are such a good listener, and we are happy you were visiting when the lockdowns took place. That was sweet. So good to have you be a significant player in our 2020 year in that house.
Kate and Ed: You're just good old-fashioned real people. Thanks for showing up every time it mattered to us since we arrived back in the Kootenays. It meant more to us than you'll ever know.
Darrin and Summer Rechi: What a fun time the boys have had with your kids! And Darrin, thanks for the good chats and friendship. We love your family!
Jenna and Scott: Just imagine if you guys hadn't moved to Rossland! I don't even want to think about it! You guys were the perfect neighbors. Thanks so much for all the help, kindness, love, etc. You're family!
Brady and Christine: Same goes! Amazing neighbors. Seeing you guys again, hopefully in the South, will be such a blast. Can't wait!
Braun Clan: A second mom and dad to me in high school, and it's been so cool to reconnect over the last month or so through this project. We are stoked about the connections you have in Guatemala and really look forward to seeing you guys for the first time in a long time.
Irene Wieringa: All the way from New Zealand, a childhood "aunty" I've also managed to reconnect with through this project. Thank you, Irene, for your encouragement!
Kelly and Heather Peters: Proofreading, advice, mentoring, you name it. My math teacher from high school and his wonderful wife! Heather, you fed me the best Italian wedding soup I had ever had when I was 16, and in school, then we became your backdoor neighbors, and now we're in touch forever! Wooo! Thanks for being such a big part of my life.
Sheila Webster: Sheila, you straight up kept our marriage together. When we moved from Sask. Your council and focus on our strengths as a couple made us forget about each other's weaknesses. For that, we are eternally grateful. Thanks for rooting for us through thick and thin. We love you.
Holy moly... I honestly have way more of you to thank, and I just can't on this one. It's sooo late! I'll circle around to it soon.
My glass is full.
Owen Dargatz is a Canadian father of five, husband of one, and writes about life as a family man. Having grown up with three sisters in Peru, he has a unique view and appreciation for Latin American culture, travel, and family values.