February 3, 2019

My Children, My Teachers – Take Two

In March 2017, I wrote a blog post called “My Children, My Teachers“where I talked about my children daring to follow their dreams and the lessons that taught me. This past week I was thinking about what Max and Hannah have been up to since then and how I continue to learn from them.

Of course I love Max and Hannah and think they’re special. Most parents feel the same way about their children. What I’m writing here is not to brag (although I’ve been guilty of that) but to share my belief that oftentimes, younger people can serve to enlighten us.

Early on, I realized Max and Hannah had to figure out their own paths. I told them both, “Don’t go to university or college unless 1) you know why you’re there, i.e. you’re furthering your goals or 2) you want to be there for the love of learning.”

Max didn’t listen entirely and ended up taking a one-year college program simply because he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. No education is a waste, however.

He did well, picked up some knowledge and skills, and had something to add to his resume. He also spent a few years in the naval reserve after which he went to university, again likely because he was uncertain as to what to do next.

Max ended up leaving the reserve, and after his first year of university was complete, decided not to return.  Instead, he joined the workforce, moved out on his own, and started to pursue his passion: music.

Max has a day job detailing cars. I don’t expect he’ll do that for the rest of his life, but right now, it’s honest work. The beauty of his current job is that he works regular hours during the week which allows him his evenings and weekends to focus on his music career.

He’s also a singer-songwriter. In June 2018, Max released his first album, Not Your Outlaw, and it’s done well for him. A couple of his songs have enjoyed air time on local radio stations, and another big station has expressed interest in the music from an album he’s currently recording.

Just last weekend, he was awarded Music PEI’s 2019 Country Recording of the Year for Not Your Outlaw, a significant achievement for someone who’s still new on the music scene.

When Hannah finished high school, she said she didn’t want to go to college or university. Instead, she decided to work. She found a job at a local building supply store and bought a car. A few months later, she ditched it all and moved to Calgary. Over the next few years, she traveled the world on her own dime…over thirty countries. She worked along the way, studied yoga in India, learned a lot about holistic health, dabbled in astrology, and adopted a vegan lifestyle.

Presently, Hannah’s back in Calgary where she rents a house with a friend and works as a server in a restaurant. Hannah is frugal and money savvy. Although her mind goes non-stop and she has a tendency to get ahead of herself, she’s capable and independent. She’s also a fast learner, and when she makes a mistake, she doesn’t have to be told a second time.

Hannah’s now toying with the idea of going to university to study dietetics given that she’s very interested in health and nutrition.

She takes a holistic view of health but has decided that a traditional course of study is the way to go in order to ensure that her credentials are recognized by “the establishment.” With that under her belt, she can branch out in her own direction and incorporate her holistic knowledge and training.

Both Max and Hannah have charted their own course, and for the most part, neither has given into pressure about what they should or shouldn’t do with their lives. This, of course, has taught me a few things.

Doing what you love makes life worth living. What you love may not pay the bills, at least in the beginning, so you’ll likely have to find a job that earns you a living. This doesn’t mean you can’t do the things you love. This blog doesn’t make me one red cent, but it gives me the opportunity to write which I love doing. Plus I get to share my thoughts, and I’m slowly building a platform for my retirement. I’m glad to see my kids doing things they enjoy. It’s inspired me to do the same.

Doing what you love helps you deliver. When you love what you do, you put more of your time and energy into it. You spend more time thinking about what you’re doing and how to do a better job. You focus your energy on it and give it your all. Watching Max’s dedication, focus and drive with regard to his music and Hannah’s fulfilling her desire to travel the world has inspired me to pursue my own dreams even though I’m well into middle age. Truly, it was the two of them who gave me the courage.

It’s good to do your own thing. The hardest part is figuring out what your thing is. In Hannah’s case, it’s been travelling; in Max’s, it’s writing music and performing. Once you know what you want, you can set your mind on achieving it. This is the time that people and situations present themselves to help you move forward. |f you decide what you really want, it will be tough for anyone to stop you.

It’s okay to change your mind. Max didn’t pursue policing which he thought he might do at one point. He quit the naval reserve and university too. But today he’s very happy with his music career and the direction he’s headed. At one time, Hannah said she’d never go back to school. Now she’s thinking about heading to university in order to get the education she needs to have a career in an area that interests her: health and nutrition. Yes, it’s important to make a decision and focus on something but there’s no reason you can’t change course. I used to feel badly if I didn’t stick with something. Not anymore. Things change, including me and you.

Your time table is your own. Too many young people are pressured into pursuing further education as soon as they finish high school. I’m a big fan of education, formal and informal. However, people need to be ready to do it and want to do it. I know with 100% certainty that if Hannah had gone to university right out of high school, she would have dropped out by the end of first semester. She was smart enough to know it herself so she took a different path. If she does end up in university, she’ll have the maturity to deal with the workload and stay focused. It took me fifty-one years to get published in a book. I only started writing this blog a couple of years ago. I wasn’t ready before that. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing anything before you’re ready. Otherwise, it just won’t work.

Over the years, I’ve learned from a lot of people, many of them older than me. However, I can’t discount the fact that I’ve learned from those who are younger than me, sometimes a lot younger. I’ve learned that people of all ages and from all walks of life can be my teachers.

Thank you, Max and Hannah, for continuing to teach me valuable life lessons. I look forward to many more.