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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Facing Change

Over the course of this blog, I've shared more than a little personal information with all of you.  I've also given you a first look at much of my work and, surprisingly, it's easier to share a private thought than it is to share a drawing or a story that I've written!  Recently, though, my posts have been more about "Dapper and Dreamy" than anything relating to me, personally.  Today's a little different.  Today I want to talk about change.

That one word...  "change"...  It can inspire such excitement and such fear.  Often, at the very same time.

Four years ago, I made a change.  After a life of basically letting things happen - allowing change to come when and where it chose - I made a huge U-turn.  After working in the same industry for twenty-two years, seventeen for the same company, I quit.  I simply walked away with little safety net but a lot of hope.  And excitement.  And fear.

It hasn't been an easy four years.  Financially, it's been very hard.  It has required me to ask for help.  It has forced me to find and develop new talents and abilities.  And, it has allowed me to see who I really am and who I really might become.  To use the corporate jargon that I've come to hate...  I've been going through a re-branding.  Gone is Jake Gariepy, steady, responsible insurance salesman.  Gone is the daily choice of which tie to wear.  Gone are the concerns about things that I really, truly had little or no interest in.  Gone, too, is the worn out, cranky and nearly hopeless individual that I had become.

I've discovered so much in the last four years.  First, I have been reminded of the enormous good fortune I have had in my marriage.  My wife didn't balk when I said that I wanted to quit my job.  She didn't question the sanity of a man with eight children walking away from a fairly solid career.  She encouraged - no, she insisted, that I follow both my dream and my heart.  She hasn't wavered once although I did for the first three and a half years.  Happily, I've also discovered that I can spend virtually any amount of time with Melissa and I am never, ever, bored.

Our changed family life has also allowed my children to show new sides of themselves.  At once, they have had to become more self-sufficient in terms of entertaining themselves, finding ways to earn money and understanding that financial success was not at the core of their father's values.  And, they've had to deal with the constant presence of both parents.  Not necessarily a positive thing in the lives of teenagers!

Having said all of that, my relationship with my family has grown beyond all measure.  I've been with my little Max every day of the last three and a half years.  I've been able to be a part of every aspect of his care and growth.  I have been available at all times for my children when they've faced challenges and, in the last four years, some of those challenges have been huge.  It's given all of us opportunities that we could never have expected.

So what replaced that "old" Jake?  I am still, and always will be, a work in progress.  My faults and weaknesses are still my faults and weaknesses.  I still find myself prone to over-thinking and self-criticism and, as my family will attest, I still have my many, many idiosyncracies.  But, there have been some positive changes, too.  For the first time in my life, I feel genuinely excited and hopeful about my professional future.  By that I mean that, one day, I might really be a writer and an artist!  In my own view, there's a long, long road ahead.  But, I've come this far and why waste all the work and turn back?

A few of the changes have been thrust on me.  When I started this journey four years ago all of my kids were still living at home.  They ranged in age from one to seventeen - one lovely daughter and seven marvelous boys.  Today, that lovely daughter is married and expecting her first baby in the fall and two of those marvelous boys are living on their own, working and studying and creating lives.  Another is about to fly the coop and, for the first time ever, we may be able to leave the house in something other than a minivan.

The transition from "young dad" to "young grandpa" is the newest and most formidable change so far.  And...  I'm ready to face it!


  1. I find your experiences very inspirational. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. "and understanding that financial success was not at the core of their father's values"
    I think you have great values Mr Dapper.
    This is an outstanding blog post. Thank you for opening up and sharing.