When I was a kid my dad was a workaholic. He was stressed out most of the time. And, though we did go on family vacations twice a year, the rest of the time he spent hard at work. He’d come home from the office, eat dinner, and then go into his study where he’d review the day’s paperwork and numbers until he went to bed. He didn’t help with the dishes or household chores. He rarely spent time playing with us. His mind was mostly on the company (a family steel business) he was trying to run successfully. He was stubborn, and that caused some fights between us, but most of the time he just did his thing, and I relied on my mom to take care of me, entertain me, teach me, help me, and parent me.
As I got older my relationship with my dad changed. He was a huge help when it came to decoding my Grade 12 economics textbook, and he had a much easier time relating to my brothers and me as teenagers. Still, it took until I was finished university for him to really change and for our relationship to morph into what it is today.
While my dad was busy doing his thing, I was busy trying to cope with my little brother Michael. He was four years younger than me, and the biggest pain in the you-know-what! He wasn’t the type of kid who could keep his anger or frustration or angst to himself. He’d let you know when he was pissed off. In fact, he’d let the whole world know if it came to that. It wasn’t unusual to go out for dinner as a family only to be completely embarrassed by him as he threw a fit because his chicken fingers didn’t look the way he’d expected them to.
With a dad who was always working and extremely stressed out and a little brother who was on a mission to drive us all crazy, you can probably imagine that my house wasn’t one of those super-calm places where everyone got along splendidly. It was loud. It was chaotic. At times it was overwhelming. And, while there was always more than enough love to go around (and we wanted for nothing), we certainly experienced our share of drama.
If you had known us back then, I bet you’d never imagine that in 2012 my dad and brother Michael would be celebrating the launch of a Hay House published book entitled: Empowered YOUth: A Father and Son’s Journey to Conscious Living. I bet you’d never believe that my dad would go on to leave the family steel business and become a life coach (one who leads meditations groups, is highly spiritual, extremely calm, and overflowing with love). Or that my brother would start up an organization, The Youth Wellness Network, dedicated to inspiring and empowering youth to live happier and more positive lives.
You’d never believe that the dad who was too focused on work to ever play with his kids, would be running around his condo pretend grocery shopping with my two-year-old daughter—laughing like a little boy. That the dad who didn’t have time to hear me out as a teenager, would wind up helping me and mentoring me more than anyone else in my life. That the dad who was filled with so much anxiety that he lived with bleeding ulcers and severe Crohn’s disease most of his life, would go off all medication and rely on wellness and natural health solutions to live symptom free.
If you had known Michael back then, if you’d seen him hiding from my mom in department stores, banging on my bedroom door and swearing at me, freaking out at the dinner table...you’d never guess that he’d go on to help parents and educators learn to better work with and relate to kids. That he’d be in classrooms across Canada and the US helping students learn how to love themselves more. That he’d be speaking at Hay House events alongside spiritual gurus like Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay. (Check him out in New York City this November!). That he’d be a self-help, personal empowerment author at the age of 27.
But that’s life for you! You never know how things are going to turn out.
Empowered YOUth is comprised of two stories. It’s about two men growing up at different times but facing very similar experiences. One the father and one the son. It’s honest, heart-warming, and sad. But so inspiring! Because while Michael and my dad suffered so much as young people, their transformation proves that no matter how tough life seems, change is always possible.
To say I’m extremely proud of my dad and brother would be an understatement. I too put in a huge amount of work into this book, editing and re-writing it to help them ensure it was a success. When I read their stories, I realized how deep their suffering was at times, and how huge their transformations really were. I felt sick when I read about my dad longing to put an end to his suffering as a teenager and Michael feeling like no matter what he did or how he acted, he never fit in. I felt inspired when I read about how they started to work together (while I was away at university) as coach-and-student, and in doing so began to repair their damaged relationship. I felt proud when I read how they both began leading by example, taking significant steps to change their lives in order to empower others to do the same. I felt empowered to make a more conscious effort in my own parenting; to realize what’s really important and to focus on allowing my daughter to be who she is, rather than imposing my values, beliefs, and limitations on her.
To celebrate the launch of their book, my dad and brother are hosting an event on October 17 in downtown Toronto. Tickets are $15 and include a copy of the book. They will present the practical tools and strategies they used to restore peace and repair connection within our family; while also providing a blueprint for change when it comes to personal growth, happiness, and living the empowered YOU. I hope you will join us!
LOCATION: The ING Direct Café, Downtown Toronto (221 Yonge Street)
DATE: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
TIME: 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
I’m also going to shamelessly ask that you consider buying a copy of the book or recommending it to someone you think who would benefit from reading it. It’s for parents. It’s for teens. It’s for teachers, youth workers, educators. It’s for anyone looking to make a change. It’s an easy-to-read story about a family. It’s easy to relate to. And it’s super uplifting. Once you read it, be sure to let me know what you think!