missing my roadie

IMG_0533I am writing this entry while on tour supporting my first single ‘All Your Dresses’. Currently I am in Winnipeg where I just performed at a little converted book store called Sam’s Place. It’s a comfy, and wonderful little music venue, very reminiscent of the many I have seen in small town Canada. Over the years  I have grown to love these venues, and the connection with an audience that truly appreciates the arts.

I have a down day today to catch up on emails and family before I hit the road again to continue my journey westward to Victoria. As I sit here and write I can’t help think of my family at home and wonder what they are doing.  Are they at the park? the store? out for a walk? Today I am missing my daughter just a tiny bit more. I kept peering into the crowd and half expected to see her last night. Why you ask? Well….not because she’s here, but rather because she wasn’t. You see for the first time in my career while playing the Peterborough Folk Festival last week my kids were in the audience. It was such a nerve racking experience but also a wonderful one. In fact my daughter joined the show when she unexpectedly came up on stage and stopped the show mid set to ask me to play ‘her song’! The audience laughed, and so did I.

However, when the laughter stopped and I began to play I was brought to tears by the sight of my daughter watching me honor her request. She looked at me with such pride and love; it was a sight I will never forget. So last night as it came time in my set to play ‘her song’ I gazed down at my set list, then over the audience, and again a tear welled in my eyes. This time however  it wasn’t because of who was in the crowd, it was because of who wasn’t. I miss my roadie!

First Haircut

 

It was an exciting day for Maggie Mae this week as she got her very first haircut! It’s crazy to me that she is growing up so fast.  I selfishly wish there was a way to freeze frame our life and relationship right now. I love what we have right now and can only hope she will always look at me with the same wonderment.IMG_0983

Starting all over again

MM JH

Toddler Tuesday: starting all over again

After a long absence I’m continuing my blog about my life as a father and working musician. I’m not special and there are quite a few like me making this fatherhood thing work. I just want to share my experiences to let you in on what my day to day life is like, with a few funny anecdotes, and observations.

When I last made an entry my daughter was 2.5 years old and I was just returning home from a tour out east supporting Frantic City. Now fast forward and I have a little 6 month old boy added to the mix and a new record called Shape and Sound.

The set of challenges this time is far greater than what I experienced before. It’s funny you go through boot camp with your first; the sleepless nights, the fevers, the feedings, first steps, first words, and then one day you have a walking talking functioning person!! Why would you go through all that again? I guess because you forget about all those things and you focus on what is in front of you. A great kid !!

It’s the same with making a record. The long hours, the creative process, the rewrites, the mix, remix, all the while not knowing how it will turn out!

I spent the last 18 months getting up at 7am, making breakfast, packing lunch, then walking my daughter to school.
Then in studio by 9:30 to write, pre-pro, and finally record my latest album, all the while finished by 2:30 so I could pick her up again. Once home it was a whole new set of challenges, only a new born can present.

I also spent time away, touring Canada aboard Via rail, and several trips to write and record in Nashville. This took a toll on me physically and mentally like nothing I could ever imagine. However, it has truly been worth it! I guess because like having a child or any other endeavor if its easy you’re not doing it right! You have to put the work in, and see it through no matter how tired or unsure of what it is all for during the process. When it’s all said and done and you look back at what you made, all those long hours now seem so fleeting.

And  as I sit here with my daughter , (as she listens and sings along to my latest album), and my little boy plays on the floor next to us I can’t help but think…..I’d like to make at least one more…….album that is!!!

Toddler Tuesday – Going Home

Well I’m on my way back from my East Coast, currently somewhere over NB via Porter. As I write this, I am reflecting on my journey and thinking of my family. I met so many nice people; journalists, TV anchors, venue owners, as well as catchinimageg up with old friends. Each city left me with the same feelings; excited to play, nervous, and in the end happy to connect my music with new people. When each night came to a close, long after the crowds went home, I would finished my last check of social media, look over my itinerary, but most importantly, I finally had time to say goodnight to my loved ones.

On my way home on the plane, I am gripped with such feelings of longing, and love at the thought of seeing them when I land. I wonder what they are doing? How their day went? What Maggie Mae will eat for breakfast? Even what crazy sentence she will start her day with!!! These are exciting times for me to be sure. My new album, a great team in my corner and an amazing supportive family. Yet here I am both enthralled at the possibility of launching a record, and all the while wondering if it’s all worth it! Success at the cost of missing out on any of my family’s adventures is something I think of often. I am reminded of my childhood, how my father worked so hard, building a life for his 5 children where they would want for nothing, and need even less. But at what cost? I never saw him most days, he never attended my games, parent teacher interviews were always ‘Mom’ teacher interviews. I awoke most mornings to him gone in the mornings, and still away come dinner. Not that he didn’t do his best to be around or participate. He took us everywhere when he could, it’s just that it wasn’t as often as we all would have liked. He gave me the best of everything except time and maybe that’s why I act as I do in life. I know I should get home more- I know I miss my family everyday- yet I’m driven to succeed and build something for them.

I’m not sure where this record or the next one will take me, nor am I sure what if any success it will have, but I am driven to try. It is a passion that has been with me since childhood, one that was so strong, I ignored it for fear of failure. What do I do if I don’t succeed? Best to rest on my laurels, right? I know I’m talented. That’s good enough. Since 2006, I have put my money where my mouth was. I emerged myself in a career that has since flown me all over the world these past 10 years. I have run the gamut of venues, playing for Presidents, Hollywood elite, Miss Universe, right down to a single drunk named Ed at a local tavern. Each night the crowds differ but my passion does not. I am a songwriter, I am a singer. It is what I was born to do.

Here lies the rub…
I now find myself. with each achievement, with each new rung up the ladder, drifting further and further away from a loving family. This is now the cost of success. What once was the fear of failure, is now replaced with the fear of missing the moments in my daughters life; the time that I myself missed as a child.
Don’t worry friends or fans- I am not going anywhere. It is all I know. I just think about it now more than ever and with each flight, train, or car ride I miss my ‘home’ .
With that thought, I will leave you with this song I penned about this very subject. It embodies everything I feel, whenever I am away from those I love so much .
It’s simply titled Going Home… Enjoy!

 

 

Going Home-

 

I used to laugh at everyone
Who feels just like I do

I never missed a single one
My heart not built for two

But now I feel this pull
The only one I’ve ever known

If I could click my shoes
There’d be no place to go but you
I’m going home
I’m going home to you
I’m not alone
I’m not alone when I’m with you
Look at the scene that’s rolling by
The window in my view

I see the yards and passerby’s
With all my thoughts on you

And still I feel this pull
The only one I’ve ever known

If I could click my shoes
There’d be no place to go but you

I’m going home
I’m going home to you
I’m not alone
I’m not alone when I’m with you

I’m going home
I’m going home to you

I’m not alone
I’m not alone when I’m with you
Don’t you worry honey
I still feel the same

Time apart is only
Making me go insane

It’s all I can do to get by
My mind is always on you

Ooh ooh ooh
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
Been on the road for 7 days
But feels like 21

Reflection back
Reveals my age hope I can go on

If I could click my shoes
There’d be no place to go but you

Even now I feel this pull
The only one I’ve ever known

Is going home
I’m going home to you
I’m not alone
I’m not alone when I’m with you

I’m going home
I’m going home to you

I’m not alone
I’m not alone when I’m with you

 

 

Toddler Tuesday – Maggie’s New Friend

Happy Toddler Tuesday everyone !

Have you ever wondered why or how we pick our friends? I don’t think I ever gave it much thought, until these last few weeks when Maggie Mae made a new friend. It all started when a family moved in next door. My wife and I have lived on the same street next to an empty house for the last year or so and it finally sold. It is a beautiful large estate with large steps leading up to it’s front door and a giant locked gate which has been hiding the backyard from view of neighbours with prying eyes- like myself!

Maggie Mae, being an adventurous little child, had spent many days exploring it’s giant steps and front yard. She was always fascinated with its layout- especially the large garden gate. “What’s behind the door?”, she asked. “There’s a lion!”, I answered. Every day we’d play this game and I’d give her a new response. That was until a few weeks ago when the giant gate finally opened! Maggie Mae looked up at me and said, “Oh no, it’s a lion!” Even I wasn’t sure what it might be, so I told her we would just have to wait and see.
There she was, staring at the large gate, eyes opened wide with excitement, eagerly anticipating what might emerge. To our amazement, out walked a little girl. Her name was Rosie. Maggie Mae and Rosie became immediate friends. It’s an amazing thing to see them play together. Every morning, one of the first thing I am asked is, “Can I play with Rosie? “, and again, right after school .

When I think about it, I’m not really sure why Maggie Mae is so enamored with Rosie. Is it because they genuinely have a chemistry that allows them to like the same things; have the same wants? Or could it be that Rosie walking through that gate, was as exciting as the lion Maggie Mae was expecting. I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is, although Rosie wasn’t a lion, a tiger or a bear, she turned out to be something even better…a best friend!

Toddler Tuesday ” Playing Hooky”

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Happy Toddler Tuesday everyone

As I begin to write this I am sitting on a plane in Ottawa, on my way to Moncton, for the first leg of East coast tour. I want to share a little story about yesterday and how it ties in with one of imagemy favourite childhood memories. This is the story of the day my father bought a new convertible. He drove it home from Toronto and parked it on the front lawn right in front of the kitchen bay window for all to see. When my brothers and I woke up in the morning, we took our usual places at the breakfast table and proceeded to eat. It was a typical day; but that was all about to change!
As we were scarfing down our last bites before catching the bus my father proudly walked in the room and asked if we liked the new car? New car? As I turned around my jaw dropped parked outside was a brand new Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. It was bright ‘guards’ red with black interior and it shined like nothing I had ever seen before. Ever since he was a small boy and first saw a 356 speedster, it was his dream to own a convertible Porsche. This was his moment and he choose to share it with his children.
As we all ran outside and climbed in and out- oohing and awing all over the place- in unison we exclaimed,
“Can we go for a ride?” I remember my dad looking at my mom for approval as the bus was arriving soon to take us to school. She nodded, not wanting to put a damper on the excitement of the day.
So here we were, what started as a regular Thursday morning before school, turned into all of us playing hooky.
We drove all over the place top down, with its air cooled flat 6 engine roaring (anyone who has ever heard a 911 howl at 7000 rpms knows what I mean) To this day, it’s a sound I can pick out from a mile away. I remember the excitement in my father’s face as he accelerated, making full use of its power and all the while taking corners at a controlled but very fast speed. We drove around all morning, stopping only for ice cream at Maples Corners, and the occasional pee break!

Once home, I began what was and is a lifelong love affair with cars, especially that one.

How does this tie into my day yesterday? I wish I could tell you I bought a brand new convertible but sadly this not the case. No, my story is a little less glamorous, but easily as satisfying for me anyway. As my daughter sat on the couch I was in the kitchen making her lunch for the day, thinking about my tour, the flight, what to pack, etc.

With the window open to the kitchen I heard this unmistakable sound (the roar of a 911) as I leaned toward my window clamouring for a look, I saw it. Flying up the hill, in all its beauty, as it pulled to a stop across my street. I was immediately transported to that day so many years ago. I knew right then what I needed to do. I waked into the living room, looked at my daughter and exclaimed, ‘ let’s play hooky!” She looked at me and said ‘what’s that?’ ‘It means you and daddy aren’t going to school, we’re going on an adventure’, I explained. She was in! We walked outside, the world at our feet. We walked to a smoothie shop and as we left she climbed on my shoulders, drinking her smoothie, smiling at our reflection in the store front windows. We went to the bank, window shopping at the toy store, the park, a wading pool, the beach, and finally had some gelato at the waterfront. As we sat there eating gelato, she looked at me and said, ‘I love ice cream!’ ‘Me too’, I said. ‘Daddy’, said Maggie-Mae, ‘I love Hooky!!’ ‘Me too’, I said!!
‘Daddy’, she said, ‘I love you.” ‘Thanks honey.’ ‘You’re welcome’, she said.

During the long walk home, Maggie-Mae laid in my arms, fast asleep from the morning excitement. My arms were burning as we made the 45 min walk home, but I enjoyed every minute. As I placed her in her bed to finish her nap, I couldn’t help but notice the smile on her face; she looked so content.

While I sit here and reflect on that day so many years ago, I realize that although there was obviously a shiny red car to be excited about, the real reason I was so happy was because my father was so happy. He beamed at his kids that day, he took the same enjoyment at watching his children eating ice cream that day as I did today.

And even though the shiny car is long gone the memories of that day remain.

Years from now it is my hope that my daughter will be able to look back and remember days like yesterday and many more to come. I want to be able to make each day an adventure, to participate fully. And if there happens to be a shiny new convertible in any of her childhood memories I won’t mind at all!

Toddler Tuesday

toddler tuesday

Happy Toddler Tuesday everyone!

Knowing I had a busy week doing radio promo for my new record, I decided to save time by writing a piece last week. However, when I was about to hit send, I decided to write about something else entirely. I’ll explain. This weekend I had the pleasure of performing at a beauty pageant and while there, I was struck with a few thoughts; how crazy it is for these young ladies to put themselves before a panel of judges before a massive audience; the courage it must take to walk out on stage and how much work it takes for all involved.

How is this connected to Toddler Tuesday’s? Being the father of a little girl, I found myself wondering if I would let my daughter enter a pageant. Now, I am not entirely sure.

I sat back stage and watched the girls narrowed down – from 100 to 50 to 12 – finally there was one left standing. I watched the disappointed faces of those who weren’t chosen. I watched as countless young girls walked by, each one different in colour, shape, mannerism, not knowing how or why they were being judged different then the last. This wasn’t a race; it wasn’t based on a lap time; there was no definitive way I could see how the choices were made. It was then that for the first time in my life, I looked at these pageants as not only a man, but as a father.

It made me wonder about a few things…
How do you decide what is the ‘ perfect mold’? Who says beauty is tall-why not short? Does not confidence instill beauty? Isn’t there beauty in all types? Isn’t there beauty in innocence and naivety? And most importantly, how do you arm your son or daughter with the ability to enter into this world where they are constantly judged?
How can I, as a father, instil self confidence in my little girl when all media throws these perfect images and types down our throats? This is a scary thought as we live in the days of social media and the craze of reality shows.

I am reminded of a clip from Cheers when Coach’s daughter explains why she puts up with bad men in her life. I just love the response of Coach. He loves his daughter and he loved her mom… he could never imagine that someone could see his child as anything but beautiful.

I guess what I’m saying is that no matter what, when my daughter comes to me and tells me what she wants to do, I’ll support her and wish her all the best . No matter what the outcome, I hope with all my heart that she will know that real beauty is not won on stage, not decided by a panel, but earned each and every day. It is how we live our lives, how we treat others that define who we are. It is what makes us human and it is the true meaning of beauty.

I’m hoping that my family will never let anyone define them and that they will find ways to define themselves. I also hope that I will always be there to give them the support they need to make their own decisions and that they will believe in themselves enough to make the right one-or at least the right one at the time!

I digress…:) Please enjoy this video. It sums up the way I feel about my wife and daughter perfectly. I couldn’t sum up it up any better. Here’s to all the ‘ Coaches’ out there, seeing with their heart, as well as with their eyes, what beauty truly is.

Toddler Tuesday: Weekend Fun

Had  a great long weekend with family and friends celebrating Victoria Day. Among the many things we got up to the most important thing we did was catch up on play time with our kids. My daughter completely exhausted me with her skateboard, trips to park, swing set, and finally her first tennis lesson.

I must say though it made me realize the importance of being active with your children. Of course we need to have structure , and we need to utilize some of our time learning, reading amd setting boundaries. But, with kids they haimageve so much energy , it serves no purpose to let them sit around. As I watched her  laughing, falling down , or just being silly with a bucket of sand, I was constantly reminded of my fathers words when we were little boys running around the house ” get out and play ” 

I always thought my father kicked us outside to give him some peace and quiet, ( and truth be told some of it was) however, I like to think that in his heart of hearts he understood that an active child was a happy child, and a happy child makes a happy parent.

 

Toddler Tuesday

Toddler Tuesday

Today I can’t help but talk about what happened at the park with my daughter Maggie Mae. It is a concern that every parent has at one point , what do you do when your child is confronted by a bully? I remember when I was a little boy there were a few times someone tried to ‘pick’ on me . Having grown up with 3 brothers I was very used to rough housing and asserting myself accordingly. I think because I didn’t process that I was being bullied there was no emotional damage done. Instead I got in trouble for fighting, sent to the office or sent home ..and that was that! When my father asked me what happened I told hiimagem that ‘ he started it’ this was ok for my dad, and I think he got some pride in knowing I could defend myself.

However, that was then and this is now. I like to think I’ve changed as a person and don’t condone violence as a solution to anything. It always makes a situation worse. But today has made me question this somewhat . Today was the saddest and scariest moment I have ever had to deal with while out with my daughter. Today was a day when you realize not everyone is nice , and more over when my daughter realized the same thing .

I was talking to another parent from the other side of a 5 foot fence as I watched my daughter playing with another small girl. Laughing and smiling she was blissfully unaware of what was to happen next.
What happened next was two boys about 7 years older than my daughter walked over to the girls, (and to be honest they had bad intentions the whole time , but I let it go ), even as they said ‘ hey no babies allowed in here’ I decided to let it unfold trusting that these two children would just move on. However, in a matter of seconds it escalated and this one child had my 2.5 year old pinned to the fence with his hockey stick . He ‘the ringleader’ started calling her names and wouldn’t let her move past him , I was in shock! what made it worse was Maggie Mae had a look of pure terror and confusion on her face. One minute she was so happy now fighting back tears trying to process what was going on .

I can honestly say I jumped that fence with a single bound , and covered the 15 feet of ground like I was at least 10 years younger. When I got about 3 feet away I saw Maggie Mae look past them and lock eyes with me and she had this ‘ help me look ‘ in her eyes. I wanted to grab this kid by the scruff of his neck and throw him to the ground. But instead cooler heads prevailed. As I got there his compadre bolted leaving this bully to deal with me alone. I looked at him and said what’s your name? , how old are you? , his lip started to tremble as he answered. I looked at him again and said ‘your bigger than her and your scaring her, and it isn’t nice’. He was still looking at me , his lip still trembling , and I leaned in and said ‘ I’m bigger than you, and how does it feel to have me in your face?’ He looked at me put his head down and said ‘ not nice’ ‘ exactly ‘ I said back now apologize. He did!

The reason I’m writing this is not only to get it off my chest, but to help internalize why someone would want to do something like this. What makes a child a bully? What makes people treat others like they often do? Is it how they were raised ? Or is it just nature at its worst? Regardless I guess what I need to figure out is what to do about it. How do you prepare your children to deal with this.. Can you ? I won’t always be there .. At some point she will be on her own with no one around to help . This is not a question to be answered today obviously but I wanted to get the discussion going . I want to get feedback on what you have tried , or have found in your own lives, with your own children. Please feel free to comment .

Toddler Tuesday

toddler tuesday

Today was my daughters first ride on the ‘Train’ ! It was an amazing experience for me to see her react to something new. The wonder in her eyes , and the excitement of seeing people all around her. It is never lost on me the importance of moments in a child’s life. It is truly amazing to see things through children, the innocence, and the joy of the smallest things; there is a lesson there I think for all! As we get older the wonder leaves, replaced by experience, maybe hardened by these events as well.

It occurs to me, we  adults should take a moment for ourselves to enjoy the little things , just a little bit longer…yes ..we should…. and as I reflect on these thoughts watching MM smile and sit quietly looking out her TTCwindow, I see her brow raise slightly,  with the  realization that we all know to well…the TTC is slow!! She actually told the driver to ‘drive’ !! I and everyone around her laughed !

Apparently the wonder of the TTC only lasts so long!
Welcome to Toronto .