Today we will have the chance to share a bit of the incredible life story of Jason MacKenzie, father of two daughters, husband, writer, life coach and the guy behind thebookofopen.com.
“In my first marriage my wife, and the biological mother of our children, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder which is a mental illness that causes pretty radical and dangerous behaviour in deep and oftentimes suicidal depressions and just a very wide ranging spectrum of behaviour and it is all painful and destructive and it is really a horrible thing to witness somebody you love going through or anybody going through.”
When we think about struggle and how to overcome it as a family we know we can have on Jason an example, and a good one, on how to deal it. It wasn’t easy for him and it took a great deal of effort and failed attempts but he fought, he learnt and he became a better man, a better father and now he knows how to succeed in life together with his family.
“I really didn’t have many tools to cope with the incredible emotional trauma of what was happening to me and I started drinking very heavily and it was because I couldn’t cope with the feelings I was having. So I tried to drown them basically in alcohol.”
Besides going through a very bad time with his first wife he also had to deal with his alcohol addiction, which he fought and won through an amazing story that every son, daughter, father and mother should listen to at least once.
“It really took me a long time, it took me 4 years after my first wife’s death to stop drinking and it is amazing how that happened. I had promised my daughter, Melody, who was 9 at the time that we were going to have a special day together and I really hyped it up, that it was going to be great and the whole thing. You know when the day rolled around I did what I so often did, I waited for the clock to strike 11 o’clock, I went to the pub, I took her with me, had a few beers there, went to the liqueur store, came home and drank the day away. Did nothing special with her and when my wife came home she talked to her and Melody came up and looked me in the eye and told me she was disappointed.”
Coming from his own experience and amazing story, a great example of how powerful your relationship with your kids and close family can be, he learnt to overcome the problems and we are sure many of the Diversity Dads out there can also learn and will certainly feel inspired by his story.
“I had this incredible moment of clarity and I just knew I was done drinking. And the reason is I allowed myself to be vulnerable enough with myself to take a fearless inventory of myself. And I was able to say for the first time without judgment that “I am 41 years old, I drink every day. I am causing my wife, this incredible woman who has come into our life and helped rebuild our family, I am causing her no end of worrying and concern and now my kids are telling me they are disappointed at me. I want something different.” and that was the first time I was ever able to just say that to myself. The truth, without judgment. And it freed me. It just freed me to create something different.”
“It is more than father to daughter or father to son. It is human being to human being. When our kids know that we feel what they feel they will come to us when they feel those emotions too. It is the simplest and the most profound way to form a unbreakable connection with our kids.”
It is not all bad experiences and overcoming our problems and addictions though. We will see just how much Jason was able to take out from his relationship with his daughters and how many amazing things he has to say.
We hope you take as much wisdom, knowledge and have such a great time listening to his story and to what he has to say as we did!
“What we typically do is, we are told whether it is on our personal lives or professional lives too, the path to improvement is through solving problems. In other words, we find what is not working about us and we fix it and then by doing so we automatically get better. The problem is what we focus on grows.”
“So, appreciative enquiry is a method of really helping people understand what energizes them and gives them life and what is already working in their lives.”
“Let’s say your child comes home from school and they get a specific mark on a test. So they get a 85% on the test. There’s two ways to handle that. One way is to say “Oh, good job. What did you get wrong?”. And then, maybe an approach would be “okay, to not get those questions wrong in the future you should study more.” That’s a pretty standard response. But another approach, and the appreciative enquiry approach would say “let’s understand by asking questions, what worked for you to get an 85% and then how do we do more of that?” so maybe it was “how did I as a parent support you in getting that mark?” and what you might find out is that you didn’t give me chores three days before the test, you created a space for me to thrive, you committed to me that if I ever had a question for you, you would be willing to stop what you were doing and answer. (…) You are taking what is already working and just finding ways to do more of that to perform at a higher level.”
“During that time I had a very narrow definition of what it meant to be a strong man and father. That definition was strength is logic and strength is using the power of my mind and the power of my will to influence events. But I thought emotions were weakness because they are irrational and I just thought weak people let themselves get bogged down or hampered by their emotions.”
“We all experience every human emotion. Whether we choose to admit it or not is another matter. But every single one of us feels anxiety, fear, discomfort, grief when something tragic happens and we also feel joy, passion, gratitude and hope.”
“I am seeing the woman that they are going to become. I can see how they are interacting with the world and I can see how they have such a high level of awareness. Of their place in the world, the power their choices have to create their world and the impact that their thoughts, and words and actions have on other people. I compare it to myself at their age. I was sticking Lego up my nose at eleven years old.”
“I was driving her to figure skating and I just pulled the car over and I just said “I don’t really think you probably remember this moment; I am sure you don’t.” And I walked through that, I sort of recounted or relived that moment when she told me she was disappointed at me. I just thank her for having the courage to be honest and telling me how she felt. Because her having the courage to be honest with me gave me the courage to finally be honest with myself.”
“After I told her that we had that conversation she looked at me and said “Daddy, you always made me feel really special”. That moment was, I don’t know if magical is the right word. It was just so powerful.”
“My biggest obstacle, as far as a specific moment, was sitting them down and telling them that their mother was dead. That was a very very hard thing to do obviously.”
“We as parents think we are supposed to know everything. And we don’t know everything and our kids know that we don’t know everything. When we pretend that we know everything our kids think that everything we say is suspect.”
THE BOOK OF OPEN WEBSITE
Twitter – @TheBookOfOpen
jason (at) thebookofopen (dot) com
“Let’s learn together. Let’s grow together. Let’s be dads together. Peace.”