Sometimes life has a way of pushing us in the direction we were meant to go, even if it’s not where we had planned originally. Kiel, my first interview of The Coffee Date Campaign is one of those people.
He grew up living with his parents, but after they divorced, his relationship with his mom became turbulent. He explained that he was bullied at school and that with the growing tensions at home, he needed a new start.
The decision was made for him to move to Kingston to live with his dad.
The transition provided him with a fresh start and an opportunity to be himself and make what would be long lasting friendships without the bullying he had faced at his previous school. The new start also allowed him to grow and realize that making people happy was an underlying desire that would eventually shape his life.
I try to live life in a way that provides happiness not just for myself, but for others and try to create experiences that are memorable and positive.
Over a breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and home fries at a local diner (the name is Bobby’s if you’re looking for a new breakfast spot), Kiel told me more about himself. He’s currently working in the construction industry with a temp agency and as a server for a local catering business. His dream job is to one day own and run his own catering business.
Before he discovered his passion for the culinary industry, Kiel was in school for architectural technology. To pay for his schooling, he worked in the restaurant industry. The change of direction from his original plan to his current one is drastic, but began when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. With his diagnosis, he realized that the construction industry would not be financially stable enough to pay for his medications and treatments. He then made the decision to remain in the food industry which worked well as he hated the idea of a desk job.
The world has a funny way of working out though, because he is now working mostly in construction to fund his dream of opening his own catering business.
Following his dream
Experience is extremely important in any business, but as Kiel put it, so too is knowledge. When asked what a barrier to opening up his own business was, he explained that the industry is ever growing and despite his extensive experience in the field, there are new programs and methods that he knows little about. To bridge this gap, he has decided to return to school next fall in the Hotel and Restaurant Management program at Algonquin College.
In the meantime Kiel is planning the details of a bartending business which he hopes will then branch into catering.
The definition of happiness:
The definition of happiness is different for everyone, but Kiel describes it as a ‘happiness triangle’ with humour, imagination and love being the three points. In his series of articles on The Adventures of Ecogeek blog about this concept, he explains that without all three, he couldn’t have complete happiness.
Kiel told me that his Crohn’s is largely affected by his stress levels in life and one of the coping mechanisms he has developed is humour. Even when he was in the hospital after his surgery, he was able to joke about his recovery and make the doctors smile, laugh and shake their heads at his puns –something he tries to continue on throughout his day to day life.
Imagination is the second point of the triangle. Kiel explains that he is always ready with a pen and paper on hand in case an idea pops into his head. As the saying goes, ‘think outside the box’, Kiel says that he’s ‘outside the city that box is in.’
Finally, love is the third point of the happiness triangle. Being happy and loving has to begin with yourself, Kiel says. Without that basis, it’s extremely difficult to put yourself out there and invest effort into others. Dr. Brené Brown, the author of The Gifts of Imperfection, says in her book that ‘if we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging’.
When asked if there had been a time where he didn’t love himself, he described his years as a teenager and the tumultuous relationship with his mother, something he says, has improved with time.
Kiel provided a great example of how his desire to create happiness led to a themed birthday party and a Crowd Funded trip to Manchester England for his mother, where Coronation Street, her favourite TV show, is filmed.
Kiel’s goal is to make other people happy, which in turn makes him happy. He does this mostly by being an easy going person who always has a smile on his face. Emotional contagion, a phenomenon whereby people mimic and ‘catch’ the emotions of another person, is something that occurs on a daily basis. That’s why when someone is in a good mood and smiles, others around them become joyous and smile as well, something that Kiel knows very well.
He attempts to incorporate the three points of the ‘happiness triangle’, humour, imagination and love, into his daily life to create happiness for his family and friends. He hopes to also use these principles in his catering business by easing the stresses of others and making sure that they are enjoying themselves during the event.
As we all know, weddings or big events can be extremely stressful as it is without something going wrong. Kiel’s goal is to ensure that the day goes as smoothly as possible and that everyone is enjoying themselves. He went on to explain how he can create happiness through catering by giving guests an experience where they can walk away with a smile.
Life can be busy and sometimes difficult so I asked Kiel how he overcomes this to remain the easy going, good natured guy he is. His response was coping mechanisms, like dancing. Kiel does swing, blues, swag and west coast dancing at the social events around Ottawa. I can walk on to the dance floor, shut out the world and just be in the moment.
I know I struggle with not being bogged down with life and I am definitely going to take Kiel’s advice of living more in the moment and smiling just a little more often.