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Progress

I remember my first book reading earlier this year. Only four kids showed up, all sitting in the front row attentively listening and asking questions for over an hour. I enjoyed every moment of it, and gave them all a copy of my novel before I left. Fast forward to my book reading this past week at Father Bressani. Three full classes with chairs set up inside of the school library. It wasn't the largest overall group I've read to, but definitely the largest group of students. For me it was amazing, just seeing all those eyes and ears focused on my message; young people curious about the themes of my book, how I got to the point of actually writing a book, and just asking questions about life.

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For me it represents progress, it confirms that I'm taking the right steps and more and more people are seeing value in my novel and its themes. I also took part in the Branded Conference in Toronto as a Consultant. The best part of that day for me was meeting all the other consultants and being inspired by what they've done and the path they're heading down. It was also fun guiding all the eager entrepreneurs and sharing my knowledge and experiences to help them find their own path.

All in all, this was a good week. Met a lot of incredible people and continued to do what I set out to do since the first day I started writing this book and that's touch people with my words.

Till next time...

 

Boys Will be Boys: My Talk at Westview Collegiate

What a great experience! Just last week I visited Westview Collegiate for the first time, a public high school in the Jane and Finch area here in Toronto. Less than a week later I was in front of an all boys grade 9 class who are part of a specialized program studying goal setting and the dealing with the transition period both socially and professionally. A lot of people wrongly have the concern that young people are inattentive and not particularly interested in anything that doesn’t involve or benefit them. But since I’ve started making appearances at high schools in and around Toronto to discuss my novel and the themes surrounding it, my experience has been the exact opposite. All of the students at all of the schools I have spoken at have been completely engaged and have asked questions both during and after my presentation. I’ve even had students email me days and weeks after my being there to talk about the impact of my novel and my message.

Yesterday was no different, and the boys had questions that were personal and challenged me to be completely open and honest with who I was and what I’ve been through, but they also asked questions about following their passion, about choosing careers, and of course about making money.

It was a great feeling to actually be a source of reliable information. I hope to see these guys two or three years down the line and learn where they’ve ended up. Potential is in all of us, but it’s like you can actually see and feel it with young people. I saw tons of it yesterday as they expressed their ambitions of being brain doctors, photographers, NBA players, military men and so much more. They believe anything is possible, and they should.

Huge thank you to the staff at Westview. I’ll be back their again soon to speak to students from the English department in detail about the form and themes of Thoughts of a Fractured Soul. Till then…..

Boys Will be Boys: My Talk at Westview Collegiate

What a great experience! Just last week I visited Westview Collegiate for the first time, a public high school in the Jane and Finch area here in Toronto. Less than a week later I was in front of an all boys grade 9 class who are part of a specialized program studying goal setting and the dealing with the transition period both socially and professionally. A lot of people wrongly have the concern that young people are inattentive and not particularly interested in anything that doesn't involve or benefit them. But since I've started making appearances at high schools in and around Toronto to discuss my novel and the themes surrounding it, my experience has been the exact opposite. All of the students at all of the schools I have spoken at have been completely engaged and have asked questions both during and after my presentation. I've even had students email me days and weeks after my being there to talk about the impact of my novel and my message.

school-417612_640

Yesterday was no different, and the boys had questions that were personal and challenged me to be completely open and honest with who I was and what I've been through, but they also asked questions about following their passion, about choosing careers, and of course about making money.

It was a great feeling to actually be a source of reliable information. I hope to see these guys two or three years down the line and learn where they've ended up. Potential is in all of us, but it's like you can actually see and feel it with young people. I saw tons of it yesterday as they expressed their ambitions of being brain doctors, photographers, NBA players, military men and so much more. They believe anything is possible, and they should.

Huge thank you to the staff at Westview. I'll be back their again soon to speak to students from the English department in detail about the form and themes of Thoughts of a Fractured Soul. Till then.....

 

Treats Only

I wish I could just pause time and capture these moments in some kind of memory jar that can be open at my request. Halloween is an odd time for my daughter. Living with me she's an only child and would get anxiety at the thought of going door to door on her own asking for tricks or treats. We'd usually only make it to four or five houses before she would call it quits and we'd head back to our 20141031_073415own home to give away candy to other young halloweeners. But this year was different. She's twelve and now I wasn't her only companion on these door to door excursions. Her best friend from school came by and together they laughed, ran, danced, and sang their way across the streets knocking on each door for what seemed like only a moment but was actually about an hour.

I was only a spectator this time, watching my previously withdrawn daughter nearing flamboyancy. What an incredible feeling to see just how much she's grown in one short year. She's become her own person and being a young father myself who knows what it's like trying to find myself, she has made me more proud than she can ever imagine.

We ended the evening in classic fashion with hot chocolate and scary movies. It's one of those moments I wish never ended. My personal Halloween treat.

Hostage

I was dishonest, I admit it. I lied about something that I shouldn't have and completely disrupted my relationship to the point where I have to accept that it will probably never be the same. It was straight chaos for weeks and what I think really exacerbated the dispute was that my girlfriend never thought I could ever do anything wrong. She thought I was perfect and would make a point to tell me that almost everyday.

But that's just it, I'm not perfect. I never was. I make mistakes, a lot of mistakes. I sometimes say the wrong things at the worst times. Sometimes I forget to do things or I'm late for a date. And guess what, sometimes I even lie.

flower-370101_640I'm not proud of what I've done and I don't want this post in any way to justify me lying. My only goal is to say that we all have many sides to us. Both males and females can be equally caring and unemotional, headstrong and docile, angry and forgiving. We just need the maturity to decide when to best act on those emotions. No one person should be held hostage to being that one person all the time. We are multidimensional, emotional beings and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I still have a lot of growing to do myself. I'm slowly coming into the person I want to be but truthfully I'm not sure I'll ever get there. I may always be a work in progress, trying to balance each side of my personality while trying to consider those around me who matter most. Hopefully they're patient enough to stick with all of the "me's" long enough for me to figure things out. Guess I'll have to wait and see....

Hostage

I was dishonest, I admit it. I lied about something that I shouldn’t have and completely disrupted my relationship to the point where I have to accept that it will probably never be the same. It was straight chaos for weeks and what I think really exacerbated the dispute was that my girlfriend never thought I could ever do anything wrong. She thought I was perfect and would make a point to tell me that almost everyday.

But that’s just it, I’m not perfect. I never was. I make mistakes, a lot of mistakes. I sometimes say the wrong things at the worst times. Sometimes I forget to do things or I’m late for a date. And guess what, sometimes I even lie.

I’m not proud of what I’ve done and I don’t want this post in any way to justify me lying. My only goal is to say that we all have many sides to us. Both males and females can be equally caring and unemotional, headstrong and docile, angry and forgiving. We just need the maturity to decide when to best act on those emotions. No one person should be held hostage to being that one person all the time. We are multidimensional, emotional beings and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I still have a lot of growing to do myself. I’m slowly coming into the person I want to be but truthfully I’m not sure I’ll ever get there. I may always be a work in progress, trying to balance each side of my personality while trying to consider those around me who matter most. Hopefully they’re patient enough to stick with all of the “me’s” long enough for me to figure things out. Guess I’ll have to wait and see….

I Cried Today

Yes I cried today. For the first time since making that fateful decision to leave my daughter for university south of the border, scared that she would forget who I was and what I meant to her, I cried. Ask me why I cried and I can't give you an answer. It's just one of those moments that everything seems overwhelming and nothing seems possible. For me these are rare occurrences; I'm a dreamer who believes anything is possible and nothing is out of reach.

landscape-342149_640But today, right now, I just feel like crying.

And I don't want to stop. I don't want anyone asking me if I'm OK or if they can do anything to make me feel better. I don't want help, I don't want to feel better and NO everything not is OK.

I want to cry; let out all of these emotions that I would never let out publicly, let out this entire facade of pretending I'm in complete cowood-273825_640ntrol of my life and everything and everyone in it. I want to let all of that go, uncontrollably, until I feel like stopping or until the hurt stops.

I had this conversation the other day and someone asked me my biggest fear. Without hesitation I answered "being average." I don't even know what that means right now. "Being average?" Maybe I mean failing. Maybe I mean not selling a million books. Maybe that means not having the courage to live my life exactly as I want without concern of how others will view my decisions or my actions.

I actually don't know; and I don't want to know.

All I want to do right now is cry until I feel like stopping or until the hurt stops.

 

 

Dark Knight: The Only Way to Jump is Without a Rope

This journey has been so amazing in so many different ways. Writing this book has taught me a lot about who I am as a person, my passions and ambitions, and what and who I am wiling to sacrifice to realize my dreams. Yes, I did say "who." At times I've had to separate myself from people who were close to me because in some way they were a negative distraction. While these were difficult decisions and difficult sacrifices, I knew in my heart they were necessary. The success of this book has become so important to me that almost any sacrifice would have been worth it. For better or worse, I only know one way to pursue any passion, and that's to completely immerse myself. To jump heart first without a rope and know that my morals, work ethic, decision making and my unwavering belief in my talent will carry me through to the other side. 

While my book "Thoughts of a Fractured Soul" is still a couple of weeks away from being officially released to the world, I wanted to take this opportunity to salute all of my Dark Knights--the risk takers, self-motivators, independent people who disregard what others say and follow their dreams unapologetically until they are fulfilled. I jump for you all in hopes that others will be inspired to take that same leap. 

I Am Not An Author

I am NOT  an author. My career ambition is to be a successful writer.  That is what I work towards each and every day that I open my eyes. I hesitate to say author because anyone that publishes a book can be considered an author. I am a writer; someone who lives with words and is in constant analysis of the world around me.

Next month will mark a milestone in the 6 year journey as I release my first novel Thoughts of a Fractured Soul. I can't begin to explain my excitement and sense of of accomplishment in completing this manuscript. Thoughts of a Fractured Soul is much more than a fictional tale, it is a warning; a life lesson to all who enter its pages. 
I have read so many books where an individual works hard to overcome hardship or tragedy, and that hard work leads to eventual success. But throughout my life, I have encountered so many more people that have started with a strong foundation and that do not face any severe hardships or ever have to endure any serious personal tragedy. Yet these people continue on unfulfilled, choosing to settle for a life of mediocrity instead of following their ambitions. To me, these stories are the true tragedies and I’ve expressed this tale through my debut novel "Thoughts of a Fractured Soul." 
  

Lest We Forget: The True Grassroots of Canadian Basketball

It feels so good to be Canadian right now. I turn on the television and see one of Drake’s new videos, then flip the channel again and see Anthony Bennett getting selected first overall in the NBA draft and can’t help but screaming I told you so loud enough for it to travel as far south as possible. For so long us Canadians have fought for the recognition we deserve. Fought to show the world what we’ve always known; that Canada is a country full of talented, gifted, and motivated individuals.
Maybe the most noticeable ascent to prominence has been in Canadian Basketball. Anthony Bennett being the first ever Canadian to be the top pick was a culmination of decades of work put in by many coaches, players, parents, scouts, and so many more people who have invested in the development of Canada basketball. So imagine my surprise when I read a CBC article by Stephen Baldwin suggesting that the current success of Canadian basketball should primarily be attributed to Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) program CIA Bounce. Could he be serious?
I had to pause for a minute when I finished reading the article. Don’t get me wrong, I do recognize what CIA Bounce has accomplished since they were created less than a decade ago (My 13 year old cousin plays for CIA Bounce), but not only would it be a disservice to attach the success of Canadian basketball primarily to that program, it would be factually incorrect.
It is impossible to assess the rise of Canadian basketball without mentioning the two biggest reasons that Canadian basketball is even relevant today; and those two reasons are Ro Russell and Wayne Dawkins. If it wasn’t for the work that these two put in long before CIA Bounce was ever conceived, then there would essentially be no foundation for Canadian basketball. That means no Anthony Bennett, or Tristan Thompson, or Corey Joseph, or Andrew Wiggins. There would be no CIA Bounce or any other AAU type program that borrowed the platform from both Wayne and Ro alike. 
And who am I to be making such a bold claim? First of all, I was fortunate enough to play for both coaches beginning in 1998 when Grassroots was just forming and we took trips to the ABCD Camps, Nike Camps, and countless tournaments all across the U.S. I’ve travelled to France with Grassroots to represent Canada in an international amateur tournament where we lost in the championship game to a Carmelo Anthony lead U.S team in a thrilling finals match that saw Denham Brown score 42 points and solidify himself as one of the best high school players of his time. I’ve been at a Grassroots practice with Syracuse, St. Bonaventure, Michigan, Texas, and many more top division one schools observing from the sideline. In other words, I was there; almost from the very start.  

My personal experiences aside, let’s look at what Ro and Wayne have accomplished in their combined 42 years of coaching and training experience. To date they’ve sent 280 men’s players and 110 women’s players to division one programs. They’ve sent hundreds more men and women to either division two, CIS or Junior College programs. Forty of these players have played overseas, and 4 of these players have either played (Denham Brown) or currently play (Tristan Thompson, Andrew Nicholson, Corey Joseph) in the NBA. Not to mention that 80% of the Canadian National team for the past decade have either played or participated in a Grassroots program run by Dawkins or Russell. 
If you believe I was pre-emptive when I said that there would be no CIA Bounce without the foundation that Wayne and Ro formed with Grassroots, then all you have to do is ask CIA Bounce co-founder Mike George who is an alumni of the Grassroots program. He should know the history of Grassroots and what Ro and Wayne have done for Canadian basketball. He should know that Grassroots was Nike sponsored for 12 years. He knows that Grassroots was the number one ranked AAU team in North America in 2008, the same year they became the first and only Canadian team to ever win the Vegas Super 64 Tournament, one of the biggest AAU tournaments of the summer.
Every morning when I turn to The Score for the previous night’s highlights and see that small Canadian flag beside the name of an athlete in the box score, I smile like a proud parent seeing their child live their dreams. I have that rite to smile, I’ve earned that rite. And if I am a parent, Ro Russell and Wayne Dawkins are pioneers; visionaries that have birthed opportunities for every Canadian basketball player on the court today living their dreams at the highest levels. Lest we forget, and if Canada basketball is truly honest with itself, Ro and Wayne will never be forgotten.

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