Good Bye 2022, Hello 2023
2022 was quite the year. It came with an interesting blend of highs and lows. Celebrations and lessons learned and carried forward for a better future.
I learned some HUGE lessons this year, including who and how many people truly support me, the value of boundaries, that it's okay to say no, and what truly matters.
Starting with yet another lockdown in January and a second straight 1 friend outdoor birthday party for my son, I really had minimal hopes or expectations given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.
The year started off with a lot of board games, home workouts, online school, and learning how to skate. For the kids, not for me. I still can't skate.
Both of our kids broke bones in January, first Jameson falling off a bar stool in our basement while playing and then Jenna after Jameson fell on top of her while she was trying to push herself up off the ground. Thank goodness for healthcare heroes like my wife and her crew to be there for us whenever we needed over the past 3 years.
Even though the province was on lockdown, the fundraising continued. Partnering with great local businesses to raise money for important causes is always a fun and important thing to work through and see come together and thrive.
In February, not a ton changed. The weather continued to be great for outdoor exploration around London through our ESAs and hiking trails, and we truly discovered just how much our Golden Retriever is a snow dog.
Also, my now former City Councillor let me down one time too many when I shared a concern with him, and I for the first time in my life begun considering a run for public office. I attended a webinar put on by the City of London and began laying out an idea for what I might need to put myself in a position to unseat him.
After seeing snow coming through blown seals in our front door, we also put a deposit down with a member of Dad Club London to replace our front door and the windows surrounding it finally, something that was way overdue given that the wood was now crumbling and rotting.
Other than meeting Doug Ford, my oldest applying for Pearson, and hitting up the Maple Syrup farm before it closed, it was a quiet month. Personally, I had one of those weird moments where someone who you thought was a good friend turned out to really hate you and it was something as silly as a photo of your recycling bins to be their final straw. That was a weird encounter but also a huge life lesson that trust isn't something you assume based on silence.
March hit and the world's most accident prone six year old broke another bone, this time falling off the back of the couch she was trying to balance beam across while I was on a. work call. Didn't even make a peep.
I also did the Polar Bear Dip for the first time. It was apparently the coldest day in the history of the event, and I didn't know this prior to dunking myself under the water and essentially knocking the wind out of myself. I have the CTV London clip and it's pretty funny to watch. Screenshot from it below.
In March, Jameson also tried organised basketball for the first time. He hated it because he was playing with 5-8 year olds and had never played before, so the skill gap between himself and an eight year old who could shoot and make layups was very frustrating for him. But he stuck it out.
In my own Sunday night 35+ old guy slow motion mens league, I threw down a couple of dunks and my knees didn't turn into dust. That was a relief in my daily battle to continue to be 25.
In April, we got to attend our first wedding since pre-pandemic days, and our oldest tried Brazilian Ji-Jitsu, a long standing goal of hers after reading Jocko Willink's "Way of the Warrior Kid" together.
Unfortunately, due to her size she had to train with boys her age or older, and at one point got slammed onto the back of her head and decided it wasn't for her anymore.
Friends and I got to attend the Blue Jays opening weekend:
and we successfully pulled off a free Easter Egg hunt with treat bags for 75 kids in our neighbourhood
An interesting and valuable lesson that I learned in April was just how starved for resources and opportunities TVDSB elementary schools are. I've been on the Home and School Association for a few years now, which has given a first hand look as to how little is truly paid for by the board's massive > $1 billion budget; and how much parents and community are relied upon for a full educational experience.
Over the pandemic, we collected playground equipment off kijiji and marketplace and built a mini park in the middle of our cul-de-sac. Our giant kids have outgrown a lot of the stuff already, and we donated a mini slide to the school's Kindergarten playground, which leaves a lot to be desired.
Within days, it was in the dumpster because 14 kids climbed on it at once and it broke. The excitement of something new was that overwhelming. Lesson: if your kids school or a school in your neighbourhood is looking for support, please support if you can. Many schools have next to nothing and little options to do something about it.
In May, COVID showed up in our household after 26 months.
After three days of sitting indoors, we decided to go for a family hike in Dorchester at the Mill Pond. I slipped on an embankment when my dog tried to jump in the pond and in putting my hand down to stabilise myself impaled it on a cut off metal spike protruding from the ground. I ended up in urgent care. With COVID. Oops.
Here's the 48 hours later picture. Keep scrolling if squeamish.
In May, we also did family photos:
Summer is always our favourite time of the year. Playgrounds, splash pads, pools, The Rec Room, tee ball, summer camp, cottage trips, all of the fun and memorable stuff.
Our kids had their first toy and book sale/lemonade stand and made $150! Entrepreneurship is cool.
On June 3rd, I officially filed my paperwork for running for city council for my neighbourhood. Getting COVID and testing positive for two weeks straight put a delay on my ability to get the paperwork signed by 25 people and completed, but we were officially all systems go.
The cutest soccer player I know started Little Kickers and had the BEST time.
My girls had their first ever live performance in June, and crushed it.
In June, I pinched a nerve in my neck one rep maxing out on overhead press as part of the 5 by 5 strong lifts program I was doing. A huge lesson in my age catching up to me, warming up properly, and a bunch of other things. It took upwards of 5 months to feel remotely better, and I truly learned the value of a chiropractor. Shout out to Dr. Matt at Wortley Wellness!
We also got to see one of our favourite bands live in person, The Lumineers, on my first ever trip to Budweiser Stage/formerly Molson Amphitheatre. What a great place to watch a show!
It was nice to return to a sense of normalcy by things like restarting the monthly dad lunch meet-ups where we support locally owned small businesses.
Family outings also continued, including checking out the maker space for the first time as a family on Father's Day at London Public Library Central Branch
In June we also had our first in person event at Mountsfield since before the pandemic! It is amazing to see the difference in making community between having fun and playing games and activities in person vs trying to organise yet another Zoom or Teams meeting.
In response to the ongoing need for equity and social justice for racialised individuals in our city, Dad Club London was able to collaborate with the City of London to create and unveil the first crosswalk honouring the BIPOC community at Dundas and Wellington, and unveiled it along with a number of local dignitaries and important community advocates and leaders.
In July, we made our annual trip up north to our happy place, spending the first half of the week with our friends and their kids and the second half with Joy's brother who has a place the next lake over.
Upon our return, we got to go on a date night with two other couples to see Russell Peters perform live. Great show with great friends, blocking views the whole time being in the middle of a row with my 6'6 buddy sitting beside me.
In July, my kids and I also started volunteering monthly with Antler River Rally, a local group that cleans up the Thames River and surrounding areas. Great experience for kids to learn the importance of giving back and protecting nature and feeling good about their efforts.
In July, we had our third and biggest monthly Twitter meet up, where friendly local online people get together in person to support local and enjoy each other's company. These meet ups still continue today.
Due to the nature of my campaign, I started doing outdoor lunchtime workouts behind my office building and getting a few coworkers to join. Lots of fun, and look forward to resuming once the weather turns back to nice again.
Dad Club London built and entered their best Pride Parade float to date, a full size rocket ship. We dressed as astronauts and handed out all of the Rockets candy Bulk Barn had in stock. Tons of fun.
I also got to take my first ride on an E-Bike, through downtown/Blackfriars/Wortley with Andrew from London Bicycle Cafe. Highly highly recommend.
My kids and I took our first ever LTC bus ride together to the Crouch Neighbourhood Block party and had a blast. The bus will be used more often in 2023 for sure.
We tried to take an overnight trip to Toronto for my oldest's birthday for the Shawn Mendes concert, but he cancelled the morning after we booked the hotel room, six days before the show. We still had a great time and hit up the Ontario Science Centre and lego land and swam for hours in the hotel pool.
I continued to campaign my face off, learn as I go, and be supported by some incredible people along the way. I truly treasure all 41 people who volunteered on my team, everyone who gave advice and cheered along the way, and every conversation we had at the doors in Ward 11.
It was a ton of work to connect with all 22,000 + voters in my neighbourhood, but totally worth it.
In August we were able to finally once again gather almost 100 parents and kids for our back to school picnic at Springbank Park. Nice to be back together in a large capacity for the first time since Summer 2019!
In September, I stopped for my free birthday drink from Starbucks, but otherwise continued to campaign every. single. day. I missed 90 minutes on the trail for a board meeting while my volunteers went without me, and otherwise was there every other minute of the campaign.
I ended up running myself ragged and picking up a nasty respiratory virus that wasn't COVID but required an inhaler, but election day waited for no person.
I participated in my first ever debate. I was more nervous in front of 80 people than I was playing basketball in front of 21,000 people. But I prepared my face off and performed very well.
For the month of September we did a ton of "Campaign and thens" where we would campaign together and then go to the park or the fair or pool or whatever. Balance was crucial to surviving such a busy time, especially given that I did not shirk or pause any responsibilities related to work or other volunteer roles.
Remember the contractor I mentioned back in February? Well by June he promised an install date and didn't show up and the excuses commenced. By July I knew there was no door. He admitted the money was gone and he couldn't repay it. We ended up filing a police report and are waiting for the very backed up London Police Service Fraud Unit to investigate. I also met a LOT of other victims by relentlessly holding him accountable and spreading the word online. We are up to 13 victims and over $102,000 in confirmed missing deposits.
I averaged 24,000 steps a day and wore out a pair of shoes but our small and mighty team of first timers hit every door in Ward 11.
I also dealt with a lot of bullshit. I don't scare, period. But my wife was harrassed, my friend's kids were harassed for supporting me, and I experienced all kinds of hate flung at me or about me online. Emails like this one were common.
I figured out who this guy was. He was banned from Dad Club London in 2018 for making racist remarks. Some grudges never go away I guess,
I also met someone in July who purported to want to help me. I spent three months helping them whenever I could, and had to draw the line two weeks before e-day because I was in a time crunch and had to focus on myself. That boundary led to them contacting MY BOSS to file a first ever complaint about me and threatening to file legal action against me. For saying "sorry but I'm not available until after October 24th and this has to wait."
Incredible. I had to take 4 hours away from campaigning to compile a 73 page report for my employer's lawyers in case they made good on their threat.
Election Day came. My team and I had a big party in our basement to thank everyone for their dedication.
We didn't win. And that's fine. The campaign and my thoughts are covered in my October 26th blog post. I received enough votes to win multiple other seats, and received hundreds of kind messages after election day, and the future looks bright wherever I end up civically in the future.
Receiving kind notes like this one from prominent members of our neighbourhood made it all worth it.
Halloween was a blast, and I took all of one photo, but it was a ton of fun to head out with multiple families and watch the kids run around like maniacs, cackling with glee.
In August, we hired a new contractor to replace our front door, for another $8,000. He came in November and replaced it. To this day, we are still owed $1,650 by the first contractor and are awaiting to hear from London Police on their investigation of our criminal complaint.
Jameson started his second season of indoor soccer
and we were fortunate to attend Marcus Mumford live in concert for our first trip to Massey Hall with our friend Antonio.
Now, a grievance.
While campaigning for City Council. I had to complete an application form to join any city boards that I wanted to sit on in case I was not successful. I applied to re join one board I was already on for the 2018-22 term. I was voted in by council once again as part of a contentious vote process, but was surprised and frustrated to see that as part of our process to further local democracy we use a striking committee to review applications and make recommendations to council for appointments. After an election in which we had 25% voter turnout, I discovered that this striking committee was comprised of members that included Patti Dalton, the head of the London District Labour Council, and someone who campaigned against me. Despite serving as the chair and vice chair of this board, as elected by my peers, this striking committee did not include me in their list of recommended appointments. If we want to further democracy and public participation, we have to stop making civic engagement so chummy and cliquey. My wife shouldn't be getting emails from her own union leadership telling her not to vote for me. She can make her own decisions, and I was one of the most pro-labour and social service candidates top to bottom in the entire race. To then let those same union leaders make recommendations for board appointments makes absolutely no sense, and to not include the outgoing vice chair who was requested to be chair for a second term by their peers and declined, really defines why so many people don't engage.
Either way, I'm glad to be back, and have shared these same concerns with City Hall who is re-examining this entire process for the 2026 election.
In November, my oldest re-started volleyball. My middle kid was supposed to play, but she broke HER THIRD BONE for 2022. This time, her older sister pushed her off a slide horsing around and she broke her OTHER elbow.
Being done with elections gave me more time to do things that included volunteering at Salvation Army Kettles, attending chamber events, kicking off the 6th Dad Club London Christmas fund that cracked $30,000 lifetime and helped 16 families and three local agencies supporting families in poverty, and visiting my friend Bronagh at #ldnont tv on Rogers!
We were able to get out and celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary
and successfully and safely attend three different family Christmas gatherings, plus the Dad Club London Christmas party.
My kids had their first Christmas concerts at School since 2019.
This post is wrapping up a perfect and much needed Christmas vacation. We have spent the last week hopping playgrounds and movies and malls and libraries and other places that we like to visit, and catching up with friends and family.
I also took a much needed positive step forward for myself, and resigned the Presidency of Dad Club London as of January 4th. That's going to be its own post shortly, but I realised how bad of a job I was doing in setting boundaries when someone flipped out on me when they asked for help and instead of delivering immediately like I always do, I told them that I wasn''t sure if we could. Mix that with someone I actually like calling me at 1:40 AM on a Tuesday needing something, and other people complaining because I wasn't answering fast enough, and it was time to get away for good. I saw on Apple Health that I picked up my phone 176 times in one day. That's bad. I have a wife and three kids. They need and deserve my attention far more than a role I've never once been paid for.
Thanks for reading this far on my 2022 year in review.
Thank you to my wife and children for loving me so fiercely and supporting me so loyally. Thank you to my friends for always having my back and supporting my crazy ideas and feeding into my positive energy
Thank you 2022 for reminding me that I can do anything when I'm all in on it, and the sky's the limit.
2023 is going to be all about balance, boundaries, growth, new opportunities, and getting back to my roots and putting the McCalls first before sharing my leftovers, which still moves mountains in the long run.
If you supported me in any way in the past year, thank you. Plenty more awesomeness to come. Let's do it.