Insecurities are a B*tch!

Insecurities are a B*tch!

Insecurity

Well, it’s been a week, let me tell ya! It actually started off great. I got some new client opportunities as well as some really positive feedback from my existing clients, which had me feeling quite happy with myself. On top of that I’ve been going to the gym regularly and am starting to see some of the hard work pay off. So yeah, I was feeling pretty darn good both inside and out.

And then it happened….dun, dun, dun, dunnnn…. (Sorry for the dramatics – this’s just how the words are flowing outta my brain right now.)

I had a conversation with someone close to me that triggered some of my insecurities. The person I was speaking with wasn’t doing anything malicious and had no idea that what they were saying was having any negative impact on me. I totally own the fact that my insecurities are my own and while this person triggered them, they didn’t create them. Nonetheless, those insecurities were triggered and it didn’t take very long at all for the high’s I was feeling to come crashing down.

Funny how that happens. I was feeling so good about myself and about life in general. I even had some moments when I walked by my reflection in a mirror and thought “hey baby, I like what I see” (again, voice in my head, sorry). You would think that in this confident state I would be able to disarm any triggers and process the ‘negative’ information with a rational mindset.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Those insecurities came bubbling up and all of a sudden the thoughts went from “I like what I see” to “I’m not even looking”.

A little time has passed and I’ve regained some clarity. What I know now is that insecurities are hard-wired into us and are often our ‘comfort zones’. How can something that doesn’t feel good be a comfort zone? Well, it seems to me that a comfort zone is anything that is familiar. That doesn’t necessarily mean that what is familiar is actually a good thing. In my case, I’ve grown up with these insecurities and so they are very familiar to me. They are also what often comes up first anytime I’m triggered. I’m no psychologist but I think that my insecurities pop up as a defense mechanism. You see, it’s easier for me to deal with the negative feelings that go along with my insecurities than it is for me to deal with something new. What’s that saying, “the devil you know” or something like that?

Anyway, insecurities are like bad habits. They are ingrained within some of us and it takes time to learn new habits. For me, I’ve spent a lot of time learning to process my triggers in a more effective way. In today’s case, even though my insecurities popped up and drew me in, I was able to feel them and then walk out of them. That’s progress y’all and I’m happy that the time it takes me to walk away from my insecurities is improving each time they are triggered.

So how do I walk away from them? What helps me is to regain some perspective. I’m a ‘details guy’ and like to look at things logically. What I have trained myself to do when an insecurity pops up is to first feel it and allow myself to sink into the crappiness of it. I don’t spend much time down there because quite frankly, crap stinks and I’d rather be smelling the roses. After I’ve felt what I need to in order to understand the source of the insecurity, I take stock of my life and refocus my attention on what I have achieved and the progress I have made. That tends to be such a great exercise for me! Most of the time, when I actually step back and look at the progress I’ve made, I can put that pesky insecurity in its place and realize that logically speaking, it is outweighed by the progress. However, there are times when taking stock makes me realize that the insecurity is reminding me that there’s still work to be done. That’s when I have to work hard to find my motivation and ask myself if I want to keep allowing the insecurity to outweigh my progress or if I’m ready to kick its butt. I usually choose the kick-butt option.

So there you have it – my two cents on insecurities. Thanks for listening and helping me work through the challenges. I hope my words have helped you as well.

Potty Putter! Seriously?

Potty Putter! Seriously?

potty_putter

Okay people, this one just blows my mind! I was recently walking through a shopping mall when I saw something that literally made me stop in my tracks. It was a Potty Putter. What is a Potty Putter you ask? Well, as the name suggests, it’s a product that allows you to putt on a miniature golf course while you’re on the potty. Seriously? Shaking my head people, shaking my head…

Seeing this sparked a conversation with the friends I was with and I came to realize that people do all sorts of things while they are on the potty. Some people have a stack of magazines in their bathrooms so that they can catch up on their reading while they ‘go’. Some people, and I know a few of you, actually make phone calls while they’re on the loo. Yup, I’ve been on a phone call before where 10-15 minutes into the call I hear a flush! And the person I’m speaking to isn’t trying to hide it or anything. In fact, I often wait while they wash their hands. YUCK!!!!

Come to think of it, I bet a lot of people sit on the toilet and use their smart phones to check their emails or Facebook or whatever. Good Lord people! That is beyond disgusting! Remind me never to use your phones.

So what is this all about? I mean, personally, I like to get in and get out. I don’t quite understand this idea of sitting around, sometimes in a rather stank stench, when you don’t have to. A friend of mine recently said something that made sense – “Kids are like farts, you only like your own.” Gross, but makes sense. I guess people don’t mind the stench of their own…’business’. But still, have we gotten to a point where we want to spend copious amounts of time on the toilet doing things like playing mini golf?

Of course, there is the argument that for some people, it takes time for things to, um, ‘get moving’. Not everyone has a good digestive system where nature calls and then answers right away. For those people, I guess I can understand wanting something to do while they wait. Perhaps they can enjoy being alone with their thoughts, or getting a nice break from phone calls and emails etc. But Potty Putter – nope, I don’t get it.

What do you guys think? Am I out to lunch on this one or do you also feel that the toilet is meant for two things – ‘number 1’ & ‘number 2’?

Gratitude – Appreciate What You Have

Gratitude – Appreciate What You Have

gratitude

We’ve all got ‘stuff’ going on in our lives that feels heavy at times. Whether it’s a tough day at work, bills coming in at the end of the month, traffic, family issues, whatever – I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t have something that feels heavy for them at some point. Even the people who seem to have it all – money, great families, all the elements of ‘living the life’, even they have things that feel heavy for them at times.

So? Does that mean we should all wallow in self-pity and walk around with ‘woe is me’ on our faces all day long? Hell no! Listen people, I’ve led a very blessed life and am so lucky to have the life I do. I’ve also been through some pretty heavy stuff in my time. Some stuff was really daunting and I felt quite alone in it. Sure, I had some tough days but what I came to realize is that life is only as good as I let it be. On those dark days when I felt everything was against me, it was. On the days when I felt like life was full of opportunities for me, it was. Are you seeing the unifying theme here – whatever you think about your life is what is reflected back to you.

Does that mean you should just float past the heavy stuff in your life and keep your head up all the time? Nope, I don’t think so. I was once given an analogy that I have carried with me ever since. I was asked if I knew how powerful an ocean wave was. I said yes, of course, waves are incredibly powerful and can range from calm to massively disruptive. I was then asked if I knew how a wave gained its power. This one stumped me. I learned that for a wave to gain power, it needed to first sink to the depths of the ocean, and then rise up again. It is in that ‘rising up’ that it builds momentum and energy, which then allows it to crest and carry with it all the power of the ocean.

The analogy was to relate the cycle of the wave to the cycle of our emotions. When something heavy comes along, we need to sink deep into it and really feel it. If we just skim the surface of it, we’re not going to get the energy we need. However, we can’t stay down in the depths of it for too long either. So how do you rise back up from the depths? What works for me is to take stock of my life. What I have found is that no matter how heavy things may feel, if I really open my eyes and look around, I can always find at least one positive thing that helps me rise up again. In fact, when I start looking, there are usually a lot of positive things around. They can range from small things like the sun shining, to big things like having the support of my family and friends. Whatever the positivity, when I focus on it, it helps me rise up, like the wave, and crest with even more energy and power.

Everyone is different but for me, I know that focusing on negativity doesn’t serve me well. I want to be aware of the negativity so that I can learn the lessons it has to teach me, but wallowing in it demotivates me and doesn’t help me move forward in my life. Instead, I choose to be aware of all the positivity around me and use that to refuel my tank, so to speak, so that I can continue to navigate life.

Next time you’re feeling heavy about something, take some time to look around for the positive elements of your life. See how you feel afterward. There’s little you have to lose but so much that you could gain.

Go forth people, be grateful for the life you have, whatever it is, and I promise you, you’ll feel better and so will the people around you.

Apple Trusts their Customers – Wow!

Apple Trusts their Customers – Wow!

Apple-Trust

I was recently in an Apple store and experienced something I had never experienced before. Apple is renowned for its exceptional customer service so it has always been one of my favourite places to shop. Their sales staff are friendly and most importantly, knowledgeable. Did you know they also trust their customers more than any other retailer I have encountered before?

On my recent visit, the sales person I was speaking with asked me if I wanted to pay for my purchase with her or through the Apple store app. I was curious about how the app worked so I decided to try it out. The sales person stayed with me just in case I had any questions but the app was so easy to use that all we ended up doing was chatting about the latest iPhone.

After I had paid for my purchase, she told me my receipt would be emailed to me and asked if I needed anything else. I didn’t so she thanked me for my visit and wished me a nice day. I looked up at her expecting her to give me something, a sticker or something that marked my purchase as paid. Or perhaps she would tell me to show my app to some security guard on my way out. However, she said nothing so I asked her how they knew if someone had actually paid for their purchase. She smiled back at me and simply said, “We trust our customers.”

Say what!?! They trust their customers? She saw the look on my face and started laughing. We ended up talking about it for a few minutes and what it basically boils down to is that anyone can come into an Apple store, pick up any item that is available for self-purchase, use the app to pay and walk out – all without speaking to a sales person. So in effect, if someone wanted to walk in and pretend to buy something, they could easily walk out without actually paying for their choices. There’s no security guard, nothing. I suppose the sales people could randomly ask people to show their receipts but this certainly wasn’t a practice I saw while I was there. Apple has instead chosen to trust their customers to do the right thing.

I love it! I seriously love it! In today’s day and age it seems like a lot of people are inherently suspicious, especially retailers because of the millions of dollars they lose each year to shoplifting. To hear of a multi-billion dollar company such as Apple taking this novel approach is such a breath of fresh air. I haven’t looked into the stats but my instinct tells me that when you have a system where you are allowed to exercise your free will and choose what you know is right, instead of having it enforced, most people will choose to do the right thing. Maybe my eternal optimism is shining through here but I really believe that people are, for the most part, good. I’m not big on shoplifting, all the drama of being arrested etc. tends to steer me in the direction of simply paying for what I want the old fashioned way, but if I was a shoplifter, I think I’d think twice before stealing from Apple. I suppose you could say it would be like stealing candy from a baby – just wouldn’t be that satisfying :-)

I wonder if Apple has done research on this (my guess is yes) and that’s why they opted for this trust based retail experience. I was already a big fan of Apple before but I have to say that now my loyalty is even further reinforced. I feel good about shopping at their stores and will continue to support them with my retail dollars.

Now I know there are going to be some haters out there who will say something along the lines of “Apple makes tones of money by overcharging for their products so they can afford to risk some products being stolen.” Sure, I suppose that might be the case. And yes, they do make billions of dollars in profits each year but isn’t that what they are supposed to do? They are, after all, a business in a capitalistic society so yeah, I’m thinking making money is kinda important for them. It doesn’t change the fact they are still choosing a retail practice that isn’t common in the industry. Some might say they are as innovative in their retail shopping experience as they are in the products they create. Whatever the case, I liked what I saw and just had to share it with you guys.

Trust, what a novel concept!

I’m Gonna Party like It’s My Birthday!

I’m Gonna Party like It’s My Birthday!

Birthday

Cue the music – it’s my birthday! Yup, today I turn 34 years old. To some that number means I’m still a ‘child’, to others, it means I’m getting old. To me, as cliché as it sounds to say, age truly is just a number. I know some twenty-something year olds who are wiser and more mature than some forty-something year olds, vice versa and everything in between. So really, age is just a number and it has little correlation to the way you act or the amount you’ve achieved in your life.

That being said, I do like to take stock of my life as each year is lived and think about what I’ve learned, what I’m still learning, and what I want to continue to learn in the next year of my life. Although there are many things I want for the next year, one is coming to mind that I would like to share with you today.

I want to be BIG.

No, I’m not having a Tom Hanks flashback from the movie “Big” and wanting to ask Zoltar to grant my wishes (although, a genie granting some wishes would be nice…) When I say I want to be BIG, what I’m really saying is that I want to stop being small.

I read a quote by Marianne Williamson many years ago that has always stuck with me. In it she says, “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

For me, that really resonates because I have always been a bit of a caretaker in the relationships I have with my family, friends and all those around me. If I’m being honest, there have been many times when I have made myself smaller so that someone else can feel bigger. Whether it’s backing down in an argument even when I feel I’m right, or diminishing my achievements so that the person I’m with can be praised for theirs instead – it all comes down to me not enjoying the full spotlight, even if it is just for a few moments, and instead, turning it onto someone else.

Sure, I tell myself that I’m humble and that I’m modest. Yes, that’s all true, I am all of those things. However, there is nothing wrong with celebrating my own achievements from time to time. I know I would never do so at the expense of someone else so I know I will always maintain humility in my celebrations. There is no harm in defending my arguments because I know that I will always be respectful of others and never try to tear them down. So why then do I still not let myself shine?

Well, as Marianne continues in her quote, she says “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

That, my friends, is why I say I want to be BIG this year. I want to live more authentically and let the people who mean the most to me see who I truly am. It may feel odd at first, in fact, I’m pretty sure it will, both for myself and for the people around me, but like any change, time will allow for acceptance. I truly believe that in being authentically BIG, the confidence that comes with that will help inspire others to do the same.

I get excited thinking of the amazing dialogues that we can have if we all feel comfortable enough to speak our minds truthfully and respectfully. Can you imagine the growth and the learning that will come as a result of that?

And how incredible would it be to really bask in the glory of our achievements – big and small. I know that when I see someone really absorb and celebrate their achievements, I end up feeling motivated and inspired by them to work harder towards my own goals. Yikes! We could really start a revolution here people! A bunch of BIG people who aren’t afraid of being BIG because they know they are no bigger (and no smaller) than everyone else around them.

In fact, a dear friend of mine actually inspired me to write this blog and said something very powerful. She said, “We are all unique but no one is more special than anyone else.” That is so true! We are all equal when distilled down to the core. Some of us may be rich, poor, smart, challenged, whatever – we come into this world the same way and we go out the same way, no one is more special than anyone else.

So that’s my birthday wish. Thanks for humoring me. Now go celebrate yourself!

Here is the full quote by Marianne Williamson.

Be Big Quote

I Accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I Accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Yesterday I was nominated to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. As per the rules, I have 24 hours to either dump a bucket of ice water on my head or donate to the ALS charity. Although I believe in recent weeks people have been called out for being slacktivists and not really doing much to help ALS if all they do is dump a bucket of ice water on their heads. Now the new rules are to do the challenge and donate to the charity.

I’m always up for a fun challenge (and making a fool of myself) so I accepted the nomination and completed my challenge today. Good golly miss molly that was COLD! My face is still tingling from the chilled out experience but it was lots of fun and I look forward to seeing the people I nominated also complete the challenge. And yes, I ain’t no slacktivist so I also donated to the ALS Association. You can check out the video below.

I’ll admit, I didn’t know much about ALS before the Ice Bucket Challenge. However, seeing video after video on social media prompted me to look into the association and read up on what ALS actually is. For that part, the viral campaign has been successful. I’m sure I’m not the only one who decided to learn more about the disease and all that increased awareness is definitely a good thing.

Since starting in July, 2014, the campaign has raised over $100 million dollars to date – compared to only raising $2.8 million dollars in the same time period last year. So obviously the campaign is successful in raising a huge amount of funding. Now the question is what will the association do with all that money? Given the huge increase in donations that this Ice Bucket Challenge has brought in (a 3,600% increase), one has to wonder if the association is prepared enough to effectively utilize that much money. One can only hope.

So we know it’s raising awareness and we know it’s raising a lot of money but let’s not bypass the downsides. All this awareness around ALS has also resulted in a decrease in funding for other charities that don’t have a viral campaign to raise their awareness. It has also left those other charities desperate to create a viral campaign of their own which means they are increasing their marketing budgets (and potentially decreasing their research budgets). There’s also the point that Matt Damon recently brought up in his ALS challenge video. He opted to use toilet water to complete his challenge because he couldn’t justify wasting tap water when his own charity is aimed at providing more access to clean drinking water to developing nations around the world. As he mentions in his video, although toilet water might seem disgusting to drop over your own head, the fact is that toilet water in western nations is actually cleaner than the drinking water that is available in many developing nations.
Ice Bucket Challenge

After all is said and done, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has its own pros and cons, just like anything else in the world. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s the way you want to contribute to charity or not. At the very least, I hope you will take the time to learn about the ALS Association, as well as other very deserving charities around the world.

US Gun ‘Control’ Laws are Irresponsible – Plain and Simple

US Gun ‘Control’ Laws are Irresponsible – Plain and Simple

Guns-Kids

You’ve no doubt heard by now of the 9 year old girl who accidentally shot and killed her instructor at an Arizona firing range. If you haven’t heard, here’s how the story goes. A family, on vacation, thought it would be fun to take their children to a firing range so that they could learn how to fire a gun. Let’s just stop there for a second. What parent, in their right mind, thinks that handing a gun, with live fire, to a 9 year old is a fun idea? A 9 year old people, seriously! Am I the only one who sees that as being the first fatal flaw with this type of society?

Well, let’s continue. The little girl, was handed the gun but not just any gun, oh no, they put an Uzi in this child’s hands – that’s right folks, an Uzi is a semi-automatic pistol that was first used by Israeli Defense Forces.  Hmmm, defense forces, yup, I can understand them holding guns. A 9 year old, not so much?

The 9 year old girl is shown how to use the gun and fires one shot at the target in front of her. After that one shot, her instructor thought she was ready to experience ‘full-auto’ and takes the safety off. That’s when the girl fires again, is jolted by the recoil, and ends up firing the gun into the instructors head, killing him.

So there you have it folks – a man, who is an army veteran by the way, is now dead. A 9 year old girl has experienced what it feels like to take another human life and has to now live with that for the rest of her life. What does the man who operates the shooting range have to say? Well, he’s shocked, of course, because he never thought this would happen. Especially because he has a strict policy of only allowing children 8 years and older, that’s right, I said 8 years and older, to fire guns – under adult supervision and the watchful eye of an instructor, of course. Oh well now I can understand where this guy is coming from! With a strict policy like that, even I wouldn’t have seen this coming. NOT!

People, we’re talking about kids here! I know that some of our American friends down south cling to their 2nd amendment right to bare arms more firmly than they cling to their own lives – that’s a whole rant in itself, but we’re talking about children being handed weapons that are designed to inflict harm and kill. There’s no other purpose for a gun – it’s meant to ‘protect’ you and inflict bodily harm to whatever it is you feel you need protection from. Is that really something you feel is appropriate to put into a child’s hands?

Listen, I have a 9 year old nephew who I love dearly and who I believe to be of great intelligence. He’s a kid who understands emotions and the consequences of his actions extremely well. Would I ever, even for one second, believe that it would be appropriate for him to hold a gun, loaded with live ammunition, in his hands? HELL NO! There isn’t a single person who could convince me that doing so would be ‘okay’. He’s 9!!! He may be the most intellectual and emotionally capable 9 year old on the planet but the fact still remains that he is 9 years old. He can’t possibly understand the responsibility that comes with holding a weapon that is capable of taking a human life in his little hands. People, I’m 34 years old and I don’t even understand that!

So what happens now? Well, the instructor who was killed will be buried and mourned by his family. Maybe he’s a father, a husband, an uncle, a brother, a son – whatever he is to whomever he leaves behind, his loss will be felt deeply. And the little girl who accidentally took his life, she will have to come to terms with what she did. Lord only knows how she will do that. And the parents of the little girl, they will have to learn how to deal with the fact that they are responsible for her and have to accept full responsibility for putting her in that situation. They have to accept the responsibility of all the consequences that came from this bad choice that they made.

If you ask me, nobody wins! There have been more shootings in the US than I can even count in recent years. And each time the gun control debate comes up, after one of these horrific tragedies, the NRA (National Rifle Association) speaks loudly about their beloved 2nd amendment and say things like “we need to have more people who know how to use guns properly stationed at schools and other public institutions to protect our people.” Oh yeah NRA, keep telling yourselves that. Maybe that will help you forget the fact that your lobbying and your seriously screwed up sense of reality has caused the deaths of countless men, women and children in the US.

As far as I’m concerned, their blood is on your hands. Sure you can say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. I agree with you. However, guns make it a hell of a lot easier to kill people. Perpetuating this notion that you have the right to bare arms and protect yourself gives these people who decide they want to carry out mass shootings a reason to justify their actions. In their minds, they are protecting themselves from all the people who were mean to them or made them feel like they were outcasts. It puts guns in the hands of those who are mentally ill and lets them take innocent lives.

All because of your ‘God given right to bare arms’.

My Top 10 ‘Inside Thoughts’

My Top 10 ‘Inside Thoughts’

InsideThoughts

I tend to have a lot of random thoughts going through my head and they’re not always ‘appropriate’ for public consumption. Thankfully, I’ve learnt to filter what comes out of my mouth but I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite ‘inside thoughts’ with you today.

Here are my top 10:

1. To the people who crowd the gates at the airport, well before the boarding time:

  • Are you travelling with a small child or need extra assistance? No.
  • Are you seated in the exit row? No.
  • Is your row boarding right now? No.

Well then, kindly move your ass out of the way so that the rest of us, who are able to follow instructions and are actually supposed to be boarding right now, can get onto the plane.

2. To the guys at the gym who feel it’s absolutely necessary to grunt, groan and make other loud sounds – you sound like a cross between some farm animal and a baboon, so if it’s the zoo you were looking for, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you’re here to actually work out, I assure you that the muscles in your throat aren’t benefiting from all those grunts, so kindly shut up.

3. To the lady I see every now and then riding the elevator, when I say hi and ask how you are, I’m really just being polite. We’re not close, we’re not really even friends, so please keep your replies brief instead of telling me your life story. I’m actually not that interested in the pain in your lower back, or the rash you must make an appointment to see your doctor about. Just a simple, “I’m doing well, how are you” will suffice. I promise to keep my reply brief as well.

4. To the people standing behind me in line at the checkout – ever heard of personal space? Apparently not. Well let me explain it to you, if you’re practically up my armpit (I’m a tall guy), you’re too close. If I booty-check you each time I reach down into my cart to get the next item, you’re too close. If I can feel you breathing, you’re too close. Bottom line, if you don’t back that truck up, don’t be surprised if you get an ‘accidental’ elbow whack.

5. To the telemarketer who just called, I heard the first 30 seconds of your sales pitch – man you can talk a long time without taking a breath! I have politely declined your ‘amazing limited time offer’ but you seem to think I just need some more convincing. I don’t. I suggest you accept that no, does in fact mean no. Otherwise, I’ll be forced to school you in effective communication, or, I’ll just speak really loudly (because it’s obvious you aren’t going to stop talking anytime soon) and then hang up on you.

6. To the tech support guy I call (after exhausting every possible option because I already know how painful this call is going to be with you) – please actually listen to what I’m telling you. I understand that you must have some sort of a script in front of you but could you please inject it with some common sense and good listening skills? I don’t need to hear your script. What I need is for you to listen to my issue, hear what I have done to try and resolve it, and then offer a solution. If you don’t have a solution, just say so but if you ask me one more time if my computer is plugged in, I may have to unplug you.

7. To the guy I’m speaking with, I’m offering you a piece of gum, please take it, your breath is awful! It smells like an animal crawled into your mouth, worked up a good sweat, then died and has been rotting away for a few weeks. If I have offered you a piece of gum more than once in the last five minutes, you’d be doing us both a favor by putting it in your mouth and turning your face away from mine.

8. To the people who hear that I’m gay and married, no, it is not appropriate to ask who ‘the guy’ is in our relationship. Newsflash – we both have penises! I understand that it might not be easy for your small mind to comprehend but we’re both ‘the guy’ in the relationship and somehow, we seem to manage just fine.

9. To the border security agent – yes, I’m Muslim and I’ve traveled to several Muslim countries. Nope, don’t know how to build a bomb, nor do I have any radical or extremist thoughts floating around in my head. Well, actually that’s not true. I do have one radical thought that keeps coming up. You’ve now asked me 3 times if I have any alcohol or tobacco to declare and I’ve said no each time. It seems to me that if your job is to keep our country safe, perhaps your attention to details needs a little work. Just sayin…

10. To the guy who is sitting next to me on the plane right now, it’s not cool for you to have your elbow half way into my seat. Seriously dude, it’s bad enough that you’re hogging the arm rest but you’ve got to get that elbow out of my space. I’ve pushed my elbow into yours a few times now but you don’t seem to be picking up what I’m laying down so is it time to get a little more physical? (If he’s reading this while I type, something tells me we’re going to have a very interesting conversation!)

Part 3 – Our Wedding Day

Part 3 – Our Wedding Day

Part-3-Wedding

It’s hard to believe a year has already passed since Ryan and I got married. In the past few months, we’ve been remembering everything that led up to us getting married last year. It started with a New Year’s Eve proposal, followed by a funny reaction when telling my parents, and then 7 months of planning our wedding, launching our cookie bakery, and a road trip around North America.

Let’s start with the road trip. One of the first things I remember talking about with Ryan, very early on in our relationship, was how we both always dreamed of taking a massive road trip. There was something about hopping in the car and just driving that we both really connected to. As we were revelling in our new engagement and envisioning our wedding, we started to think about what we wanted our honeymoon to be like. We remembered the idea of the road trip and at first, laughed it off as an impossible option. However, we’re both big dreamers and so we decided it would be fun to spend an evening planning out a route and figuring out some logistics to see what it would actually entail. As we got into it, it started to feel like perhaps we could actually make it work. We worked out all the numbers, as well as the dates and decided to go for it! It was something we connected to when we first started dating and now that we were taking the next step and getting married, it seemed like a fitting “full circle” moment.

I’ll tell you about the road trip in another blog but the highlights are that we crossed Canada and the US going from Vancouver to Montreal, down the East Coast all the way to Key West, back over to the West Coast stopping at places like New Orleans, up to the Grand Canyon, down to San Diego, and then back up the West Coast to Vancouver. It took us about 6 weeks to complete the journey and it was by far the best time Ryan and I have had together. The places we went to, the restaurants we ate at, the adventures (and misadventures) along the way, all formed some memories that I think we’ll be talking about until we’re old and grey!

We talked about our new business as well as the wedding throughout our road trip and by the time we got back to Vancouver, we knew what we wanted to do. Being by the water was a really important component for both of us and one of our best friends suggested getting married on a yacht. At first we weren’t sure but as we thought about it, we realized it was perfect! Not only would be married on the ocean, all of our out-of-town friends and family would get to see the Vancouver coast line and experience one of the best parts of living in Vancouver. We managed to find a great yacht with an amazing captain and staff. It all came together really well and we were able to involve most of our immediate family and closest friends throughout the ceremony and events before and after it.

My brother was going to be my best man and Ryan’s best friend was going to be his best person. Our niece and nephew were our ring bearers (which was probably the cutest part of our whole wedding). We asked one of our closest friends to perform the ceremony for us. She was absolutely wonderful and was so overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude when we asked her. She put together an incredibly beautiful ceremony for us that she wrote after interviewing us in the months before. She asked us so many thoughtful questions about who were individually, as well as who we were as a couple. The end result was a beautiful ceremony that really shared who we were with everyone at our wedding.

The funniest part of the wedding ceremony was rehearsing it before the big day. Ryan and I had written our own vows and wanted to keep them a surprise for the big day so we didn’t go through that part of the ceremony. However, our friend did insist we talk about how we wanted to ‘seal the deal’ so to speak. Having been married herself, she shared lots of really valuable insight about the wedding day with us and suggested we try to figure out how wanted to kiss and get comfortable doing that in front of a crowd. I know, a bit strange if you think about it but it was actually such great advice. She made us practice the kiss each time we rehearsed the ceremony and thank goodness she did because it had Ryan and I giggling like little kids! Thankfully we managed to get the giggles out before the big day!

One of the elements that was really important to me was for Ryan and I to make our own wedding cake. I know what you’re thinking and yes, everyone told me that I was crazy for wanting to make our own cake. I even had to convince Ryan! We had made 3 wedding cakes before for family and friends so as far as I was concerned, we had all the skills we needed to bring our dream cake into reality. Yes, looking back on it, it was a bit stressful to be making our cake two days before our wedding but it was all part of the adventure!

As my mom had requested, we had a henna party the evening before our wedding. Her idea was actually quite genius because it gave our two families and sets of friends a chance to ‘break the ice’ and connect before being trapped on a yacht together for 4 hours. The ladies in my family got to bond with the ladies from Ryan’s side by telling them all about the henna tradition and what it all meant. The men on both sides hit it off as well, talking over food and drinks. It was exactly what Ryan and I had hoped for.

On the day of our wedding, Ryan and I had the morning to ourselves to take it all in. We were both overjoyed with how everything had gone the night before. We wanted our wedding to not just be about the two of us but also be about everyone coming together. So far it had seemed like everyone was genuinely having a great time together and for Ryan and I, that was the best wedding present of all.

As we began getting dressed, I could feel myself getting butterflies in my stomach. I was so excited to be marrying Ryan! Even though we had been together for over 6 years, something definitely felt different that day. Getting married felt like we were crossing a new threshold in our relationship. There was something extremely special about declaring our love for each other in front of the people who were most important to us. Not to mention the outpouring of love and support we had been feeling from everyone leading up to it. We had friends and family fly in from all over the world and as far as the UK and Eastern US. For everyone to spend all that money, take time out of their busy schedules, and genuinely want to a part of our big day is something neither Ryan nor I will never forget or take for granted. It was truly humbling and such a great honour.

The time had come for us to head over to Granville Island where our yacht was waiting for us. We got there before all of our guests so that we could welcome them all properly. Each group of family and friends that walked up along the dock and into the yacht congratulated us, blessed us and offered us their best wishes. It was so amazing!

As we set sail, all of our guests were seated on the upper deck while Ryan and I waited on the lower level with our best people, our ring bearers and our friend who was performing the ceremony. We chose a point on the edge of Stanley Park where the captain was going to park the yacht while the ceremony was being performed. One of Ryan’s most favourite artists is Holly Cole and we had chosen a beautiful song of hers to walk down the aisle to. As it began playing, my heart began pounding. It was time! It was finally time. Each member of our wedding procession walked up the stairs and down the aisle to the front of the yacht. Ryan and I had a couple of moments on our own before it was time to walk down the aisle too. We looked up at each other, our eyes already a little wet with the emotions, and said a couple of quick words.

We held hands and walked side by side down the aisle. I kept my eyes down but I could literally feel the love and support from everyone around us. I don’t know how else to describe it other than to say it felt like this bubble of love was all around us. I could feel my eyes welling up with tears but I choked them back because I was determined to keep my composure. We walked slowly towards the front of the yacht and stood in front of our friend performing the ceremony. My brother and nephew were standing by my side and Ryan’s best friend and niece were standing by his. Our friend began the ceremony and said the most beautiful words about us. Then came the time for our vows. I went first. I recited the first few lines of one of ‘our’ songs followed by some special words about what Ryan meant to me. I have to admit, I choked up a bit but still managed to keep the tears at bay. Not the same story when Ryan read his vows. I won’t share what he said but they were the most touching and beautiful words I had ever heard. Needless to say, a few tears slipped passed the goalie :-)

Next up were the rings. Both our niece and nephew were absolutely adorable and I think they felt really special to be able to stand up there with us. We placed the rings on each other’s fingers and then came the big kiss. We looked into each other’s eyes as our friend pronounced us ‘married’, leaned in and kissed. It was perfect! Our guests clapped and cheered and it was official! We were married!!! To cap it off, the Aretha Franklin song we chose to walk out to started to play, filled with her soulful and diva-licious trademark sounds. Everything worked out absolutely perfectly and it’s a day that Ryan and I are never going to forget.

Part 2 – Telling the Family

Part 2 – Telling the Family

Part-2-Tell-Parents

The morning after our engagement, New Year’s Day, Ryan and I went for a walk by the Santa Monica pier. We were both still so excited from the events just a few hours ago and were buzzing with ideas of what we wanted our wedding to be like. We were starting our new cookie business (Boys Own Bakery) and knew that was going to be a lot of work. A summer wedding was what we both felt would be ideal and we knew we wanted it by the water. So the question was whether we should wait for a year and a half and plan our wedding for the following summer? Or should we go for it and have our wedding that same year?

Starting the bakery was going to be a full time job. We were planning on attending farmers markets all summer long and knew that we had a ton to do if we wanted to launch our bakery. Could we really find time to plan a wedding at the same time?

On the other hand, being engaged for a year and a half just seemed like way too long for us. We had already been together for almost 6 years so it’s not like we needed time to get to know each other or get used to the idea of living together. But planning a wedding, especially in Vancouver during the summer, was going to be hard. If we wanted to do it, we needed to hustle!

We talked about it and by the time we got to the airport later that day, we had pretty much decided that we were having our wedding that year. When looking at dates, we thought the August long weekend would be the best bet for great weather. We didn’t realize it at the time but that weekend was also Pride Weekend in Vancouver. Looking back, it’s hilarious how it all worked out because not only was my extended family going to be adjusting to the fact that I was marrying a man, they were also going to do it all on the gayest weekend of the year! As I always say, “go big or go home!”

Almost our entire family lived out of town so we had to get the invitations out and logistics figured out pretty quickly. First, we needed to tell our family. I spoke to my brother and sister-in-law on New Year’s Day and was dying to tell them the good news. However, Ryan and I decided that we wanted to tell our parents first, out of respect. So I bit my tongue when talking to my brother and waited. I had a trip planned in 10 days to go back home to Edmonton anyway so I thought it was best if told my family in person.

I was so excited (and nervous) the day I boarded my flight to Edmonton. I knew my parents were going to be supportive no matter what but I also knew that the idea of me marrying another guy was going to have an impact. I didn’t know how they were going to feel about that and if they were going to be worried about what the family might say or what their friends might think. They belong to a close-knit Muslim community where everyone knows everyone else. My whole family knew I was gay for a couple of years and had even met Ryan at family events. So there wasn’t much of an issue there. My parent’s friends however, they may have been another story. Still, I felt that my parents were well-respected enough within the community that everyone would be supportive. So off I went to tell them what I hoped would be good news.

My parents had just got back from a trip to the Far East where they visited Hong Kong and Singapore and a few other places. On the ride home from the airport, my dad could not stop talking about the fake wallets he had bought for Ryan and I. I think he had bought something like 10 wallets from all the top designers and was so excited for Ryan and I to have first pick. It was pretty funny!

I thought about telling them about our engagement in the car but then thought just in case it was too much of a shock, we would be safer when we were all sitting down and not travelling 110 km/hr on the highway. So I waited until we got into my parents’ house before sharing the news. We were in the kitchen and I was wearing my engagement band but they hadn’t noticed yet. I told them I had something important to tell them and they both looked at me like deer in the headlights. I had a history of telling them ‘important things’ in the past that tended to throw them for a loop. There was that time when I decided to drop out of Computer Systems Technology at NAIT and skip my final exams (I didn’t tell my parents until after returning home from a trip to London). And of course, there was the time I told them I was gay (yeah, that one was a real doozy!) So it was understandable for them to be a little on guard when they heard the words “something important to tell you.”

I held up my hand and pointed to my engagement band as I told them that I had proposed to Ryan. My mom looked shocked at first but quickly smiled and hugged me in congratulations. My dad, well, he left the room. My mom and I looked at each other and didn’t know what to think. I whispered to her “is he mad?” but she looked just as confused as I was. A minute later, my dad walked back into the kitchen holding a stack of wallets and asked me to pick one out for myself and for Ryan. I just looked at him and asked him if he had heard what I had just said. He took a moment and then said, “Oh yeah, congratulations!” as he hugged me. And then it was right back to the wallets.

Needless to say, I was more than a little confused. I picked out our two wallets and then we all sat down at the kitchen table for tea. I asked them how they both felt about the engagement and that I understood they were probably quite surprised. I told them they could ask anything they wanted and I promised not to be offended. It started off slow at first so I volunteered some answers to questions I thought they might be wondering about. Slowly I got my dad to open up a bit and he asked some questions about what we had in mind and if we were going to be inviting the whole family. I knew that he was a bit uncomfortable with this but I let him know that my family was one of the most important things to me and it wouldn’t feel the same if they weren’t there. He totally got it and I promised him that it was all going to be okay. It didn’t take long for him to come around and start getting excited about the idea.

My mom on the other hand, she was already planning things in her head. We had gone over to one of my cousin’s houses later that day and I told them about my engagement. They were all so excited and were practically jumping up and down. Instantly they all said they would do whatever was necessary to be in Vancouver with us, no matter what. I think that sign of support really helped my dad as well. My mom chimed in soon after I told them and proposed a henna night for the ladies! You see, typical weddings in our culture are 4 day events. One of the days involves the bride getting henna done with all of the ladies in the family while the men enjoyed a big feast. When my mom suggested the henna night, I just laughed at her and said “just who do you think the bride is in this scenario?” She looked at me like I was stupid and simply said, “there doesn’t need to be a bride! This is about us ladies having some fun!” That was enough for me and I already knew Ryan was going to be all over the idea! In fact, the year before at my cousin’s wedding, he was first in line to get henna painted onto his hands and the design he choose was the envy of all the ladies that night! Ahh Ryan, such a character!

I got to tell my brother that same day too and he was amazing, as usual. He was so excited for us and I knew he had our backs. I told him about my dad’s reaction and he assured me that he would help our dad come around and get excited about it all. I knew from the moment we started planning the wedding that I wanted my brother to be my best man. I was his best man when he got married and it was something I will never forget. As far as I was concerned, there wasn’t a single other person in the world I wanted standing by my side as I got married to Ryan. When I asked him, I think he was really touched and honoured. Anyone who knows my brother knows that he’s not the most emotionally expressive guy but I knew that it meant a lot to him to be my best man. My sister-in-law was awesome too! She was all over the idea and said if my brother got to be my best man, she was getting to plan my bachelor party! She just had to say two words and I was sold – “Vegas Baby!”

All in all, it worked out being one of the best trips back home to Edmonton. By the end of the weekend, my dad was fully on board and was even bursting with pride as we called each member of our very large family and told them the good news. He was already boasting about how his son was getting married and how he wanted to make it the best day possible for our entire family. What really blew me away was something he did all on his own, without saying a word to myself or my mom. He picked up the phone and called Ryan, who was still in Vancouver. My mom and I were there and were both caught off guard when we heard my dad say “Hi Ryan!” We practically held our breath as he spoke but what he said to Ryan is something I’ll never forget. He congratulated him and welcomed him into our family with open arms. He told Ryan that he had never seen me happier and that my happiness meant everything to him. He also said that before this weekend, he had two sons and now, he had three. It was quite simply the most amazing thing my dad has ever done. And of course, he told Ryan all about the fake wallet he had bought for him!