Yesterday, thanks to the advice from a friend to save my Instagram story to my profile, I came up with a new hashtag #BlackDadWorries that spells out how I feel in the face of all this death. And death isn’t even calling it what it is—murder, with Black lives continually cut short, and the message made clear: there’s nowhere out there where Black people should reasonably expect to be safe from a world that’s trying to get them.
My boys are still young, but they’re growing up quick, developing worlds and lives of their own. And while I’d love just to sit back and let them develop on their own so they can build senses of self in the truest sense of the phrase… the world we live in won’t let me do it. Yes, they’re six and four, but they’re six- and four-year-olds who hear they look “dirty” because their skin is darker. Six- and four-year-olds who hear they’re not white enough to play with other kids. I’d love to take things slow, but their world’s developing quickly, and it makes me wonder when I’ll need to sit them down and tell them what the world’s really like.
What do you even write about when the whole world’s burning down? Multibillion-dollar sports empires ended their seasons early. The travel industry shut down in one fell swoop. I didn’t start talking about COVID-19 right away because it was all anyone could talk about, but as soon as we closed schools down for three weeks across Ontario, how could I not?
When I first published The Corona Chronicles on March 13th, though, I was so short-sighted. I called the three-week quarantine “March Br3ak”, thinking this would all somehow resolve itself by April. I didn’t jump on long-term prep right away, figuring I could do some catch-up once things calmed down a bit.
But then our businesses shut down on the 16th. Travel another four days later. We learned that this was no small thing—we needed to learn a “new normal” with a very uncertain future ahead. This was no three-week ordeal.
And as the days dragged on and I kept writing about the experience, it only grew clearer there was more going on than a single post could contain. I needed a full series.
So here, in week eight of The Great Quarantine, I’d like to welcome you to The Corona Chronicles: The Series, where we talk about life as a family in Toronto, trying to stay sane each day as we find new ways to adjust.
I, for one, look forward to returning to some semblance of normal soon, but until we do, you can expect me to keep writing about it.
Be well, everyone, and keep doing what you need to to make it in these times!
Until the next, I remain,
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
It’s the end of a decade, and I can’t help but reflect on where I am now versus where I was back in December 2009.
This entire decade, pretty much, has been the balancing act between the blog, the family, and the day-to-day work as a public servant for Ontario.
Back then, I’d just started my first job out of the Ontario Internship Program, putting my time and energy into that and the time I spent with Sarah. I didn’t even really use Facebook at the time, much less everything I’d get up to on Twitter just a year later—the world I spend all this time on now as a Canadian Dad was utterly inconceivable to me back then, because so much less was on the line. Nor was I married. Or had any kids. So many of the things that make me a better man and keep me coming back to do the best that I can for all that are things I wouldn’t appreciate until I had them.
But a decade later, my friend Ramy put it to me best—the more you do something, the more your capacity grows to take on even more, and that’s the mentality I’m keeping with me as I get ready for 2020. Work smarter. Plan better. Make better decisions. I’ve come this far this last decade while doing whatever I wanted and getting better at it along the way. But you eventually hit a point where that just doesn’t cut it anymore, and in 2020, I think I’ll finally learn what I’m made of.
LESSON ONE: Success is More Than Just a Number on a Screen
One thing I can tell you that separates the me today from the person I was a decade ago is that I think differently.
When I started this blogger journey, I treated success like it was a quantifiable measure. That I was the sum of the followers I had. Or that I should measure my happiness by the number of comments I got on my work. I would chase after engagement rates, post frequencies and Domain Authority scores, thinking that they were the keys to my success, but what I understand now is that they’re all just indicative of something much larger at play.
It goes back to what I’ve been saying all along—the medium doesn’t matter if you’ve got an amazing story to tell.
When I took a break from creating as intensely as I usually did in the last few months of the decade, it made me understand that it was what I probably should’ve been doing all along—taking the time to make my work great instead of just good. You get used to trying so hard to be first or trying to be on trend that you forget that great work usually doesn’t just pop out of thin air. If you don’t spend the time and nurture it, you’re only doing yourself a disservice.
What that sweat equity looks like for me is bleeding pens dry. Blazing through as many notebooks as I can. I’m trying to spin gold from a dining room table full of straw every night, and as much as it pains some right now to see me work as hard as I do, I keep doing it because I know there are higher heights I can reach if I try.
‘Tis the season for holiday parties, holiday traffic, and a whole gaggle of germs with cold and flu season upon us… just in time for the holidays.
With our youngest hit by a pretty nasty cough over the weekend, productivity ground to a halt. You can easily take for granted how much you’re doing until something more important comes along and forces you to reprioritise. I learned over time to feel the pressure a little less and accept that my family doesn’t need me to be the best creator in the game—they need me to be present.
And so as I lay down in the bottom bunk of my sons’ bed with a kid who woke up for maybe the twelfth time that night, I put all thoughts of podcasting aside and took care of home as Dave Hollister aptly put it back in 2000.
But now that he’s up and running again, so am I, and it’s time to continue our storytelling journey with Chatting with Casey, Episode 15—I’m Where I Need to be Right Now.
It’s always nice to take a break from our lives and spend a little time on vacation, but when you own your own business, you need to plan for that.
Eight Tiny Reindeer, Two Great Friends, One Awesome Episode!
One thing 2018’s taught me is that I need to get ahead of my schedule if I ever want to spend any time apart from it.
The last third of this year’s had me hustle to get everything off my plate, knowing that as soon as the holidays finish, I have substantial obstacles ahead. So I’ve been working days, weeks and even months ahead to create my best content to avoid ever being backed into a corner again.
And this podcast episode’s no exception.
Recorded on November 15, 2018, after plenty of texts back and forth between Carlos Diaz and myself, Chatting with Casey episode 13 started up with a misbehaving SD card, quick sprints to Shoppers and Rexall, and the hope that one day I get myself a studio so I can do these conversations justice.
But regardless, it was a great convo between Carlos Diaz, Rob Tinkler and myself, and I hope you’ll be ready when 8 Tiny Reindeer debuts this Saturday—may you enjoy listening to it as much as these guys did making it!
But for now, you can hear all about it on the podcast!
“Just because he got her pregnant doesn’t mean he needs to be a Dad.”
“How do you know she wasn’t trying to trap him into a relationship? These women will go to extremes to lock a brother down!”
“Why does he have to change his life because something unexpected happened?”
The allegation that Drake may have fathered a son has brought out an ugly side in people I thought I knew. Men who want to shirk the responsibility of fatherhood when it stares them in the face, preferring to live in pursuit of fun instead of going for something perhaps more meaningful. Guys who see women as objects and children as burdens—who’ve yet to mature enough to understand the value of family and the joys it can bring you.
These worrisome thoughts took me back to my second keynote at Parenting 101—”It’s Hard Out Here for a Dad”, my talk on what it’s like to be a Dad, and why we all need to get a better understanding of it!
I hope you enjoy it!
Another week in the bag, and until next week, I remain,
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
Work at something hard enough, and you eventually hit a point where everything starts to click.
I’ve been grinding away especially hard at the blog, the job, and everything in between of late, trying to make sense of everything and cut down on the clutter that’s always in the way. And after working my way through requisitioning a purchase order at work and finally getting a few elusive posts within mere sentences of completion, it all finally came together. What I should be doing.
And it’ll take so much writing to get there!
So the plan is this—we’re gonna keep creating ’til the wheels come off. Sarah has this dream—that one day I’ll be able to exist without my mind always thinking about what I’ll next use to fill my content calendar.
And you know what? It’s entirely possible… I just need to get ahead. Schedule content ahead so I can step away for weeks at a time without worry. Get back to seeing the people I haven’t managed to connect with in ages.
Short-term pain. Long-term gain. We can make it happen!
I looked good on paper. I’d just finished my best year yet as a blogger, already looking to take things a step farther with a retooled Tales from the 2.9. And adulting was alright, too—I had the routine down with the morning drop-offs, the house was kept relatively clean, and there wasn’t anyone clawing at the door for money. Life was good, and as my friends would point out, many would kill to be in my shoes—but don’t get any ideas. However, all that didn’t make for great storytelling, and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get my words quite right. The volume was there, but the tank was empty—it was time to look for some new inspiration.
But 2018. 2018 brought the Dad 2.0 Summit 2.018, and it felt like I was finally ready. The kids were in all-day programs, the conference’s costs within my means. I could work remotely and go somewhere I’d never been before—it felt like the pieces had finally come together to make this trip my own.
You’ll often hear me joke that we’re simply graduating from the “Terrifying Threes” to the “What the Fours,” but no matter what comes out of your father’s cynical, hardened mouth, I want you to know that you’re a pretty great kid.
I’m plenty hard on you—your little brother is literally copying your every move right now, so I need you to be a good role model for him—but it’s all because I want you to become the best you possible. You won’t get this until you’re much, much older, but the time I spend as your Dad often makes me reflect on my childhood, realising much of what I hated my parents for back then became the life lessons that make me who I am today. It won’t be easy for you—unfortunately, I’ll likely make sure of it—but I hope you’ll eventually realise I’m doing it to make the best you possible.
Through our great moments—wrestling, cuddling and our excellent “Good Morning” routines for your classmates—and the not so great ones, like when you cry over things I don’t see as issues and or where you refuse to eat and later complain over your hunger… I hope we can sit down sometime in the future, laughing about this over a beer.
You make me laugh, make me shout, and on the rare occasion make me cry (but I don’t break easy, sir), but I’m happy to call you my son and it’s great to see what you contribute to your world. You’re clever, compassionate and really good at making friends—though my focus is on rules, manners and obedience, you have what it takes to become a far better person than your Dad is, and I hope you always know that.
What the Fours — Let’s Make This an Amazing Year!
It’s hard to believe you’re already four, and even looking back at old photos and your younger brother, you already stand out so much as your own person. You’re a little ball of energy who loves experimenting with his hands, and the more I learn about you, the more I want to support your strengths and interests so you never live a life that doesn’t align with your values.
All that said, happy birthday to you. You’ve celebrated with Mom and ate an opulent McDonald’s dinner as per your request. I hope you’ve had a great day, kiddo—here’s to many more!
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
Though I’ve listened to plenty of rap since buying my first boombox in ’97, I’ve rarely heard anything representing me. Sure, it’s largely Black music, but from a different narrative than my life altogether. Middle-class. Raised in a two-parent home. Private school education, married with kids—nothing you’d want to hear about in the club. And though I found some kinship in Childish Gambino’s “Not Going Back” and Drake’s “You & The 6”, the struggle of growing up Black while lacking enough Blackness for your peers only reflects part of my identity. There’s so much more to my life!
But life is full of surprises. You never know who’s going to create the work that speaks to your soul, and a former hustler from New York’s Marcy Projects would be the last person I’d expect to understand me, but with his thirteenth album 4:44, I can tell you for a fact that JAY Z gets it. With topics like legacy, family and the constant pursuit of excellence, it’s an album speaking to everything I’m trying to build with my efforts here at the blog!